Daily News Analysis – May 22, 2019

Source: The Hindu, Live Mint and Indian Express


NATIONAL GREEN HIGHWAYS MISSION

Context: The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) on Tuesday informed the National Green Tribunal that around 1 crore trees have been planted across the country along highways in the past three years to maintain ecology and environmental balance.

 Essentials

National Green Highways Mission

  • Under the Green Highways Project, the government has made it mandatory to set aside 1 per cent of the total project cost of any NH contract to a Green Fund corpus that will be used for plantation purposes.
  • The afforestation is expected to help in sequestering approximately 12 lakh mt carbon annually.
  • Adopt a Green Highway’ Program: The National Green Highway Mission initiated the program’ to engage corporates, Public Sector units, Government organizations and other institutions for developing green corridor along National Highways through plantation and allied activity on avenue, median and other available nearby land patches.
  • Kisan Harit Rajmarg Yojana: The Yojana is a pilot scheme to extend green belt beyond the existing ‘Right of Way’ of highways by engaging farmers and providing alternative livelihood option to the nearby communities.

CHILIKA LAKE

Context: The Centre and Odisha government have decided to restore the ecology of the Chilika Lake ravaged by Cyclone Fani recently.

 Essentials

Chilika Lake

  • Chilika is a shallow lagoon with estuarine character in Odisha.
  • Lagoons are areas of relatively shallow, quiet water situated in a coastal environment and having access to the sea but separated from the open marine conditions by a barrier.
  • An estuaryis a partially enclosed coastal body of brackish water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea. Estuaries form a transition zone between river environments and maritime environments.
  • The Daya and Bhargavi rivers feed the lake.
  • Seawater is Chilika’s lifeblood. Without a regular inflow, the lake ecosystem would decline.
  • It is the largest wintering ground for migratory waterfowl found anywhere on the Indian sub-continent.
  • Pulicat Lake is the second largest brackish water lake or lagoonin India, after Chilika Lake.
  • The endangered Irrawaddy dolphins are also found in the lake, which is the single largest habitat of this species in the world.
  • On account of its rich bio-diversity and ecological significance, Chilika was designated as the 1st “Ramsar Site” of India.
  • The Nalaban Island within the lagoon is notified as a Bird Sanctuary under Wildlife (Protection) Act.
  • The lake was included in the Montreux Record (threatened list) in 1993 due to change in its ecological character by Ramsar Convention but was later removed from it due to the successful restoration of the site.

 Montreux Record under the Ramsar Convention

  • It is a register of wetland sites on the List of Wetlands of International Importance where changes in ecological character have occurred, are occurring, or are likely to occur as a result of technological developments, pollution or other human interference.
  • It is maintained as part of the Ramsar List.
  • The Montreux Record was established by Recommendations of the Conference of the Contracting Parties (1990).
  • Sites may be added to and removed from the Record only with the approval of the Contracting Parties in which they lie.
  • Currently, two wetlands of India are in Montreux record viz. Keoladeo National Park, Rajasthan and Loktak Lake, Manipur.

WEST NILE VIRUS

Context: The presence of the West Nile virus was identified from the mosquito samples collected from a few districts of kerala.

 Essentials

  • West Nile virus is mainly transmitted to people through the bites of infected mosquitoes of the Culex genus.
  • Birds are the natural hosts of West Nile virus. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds, which circulate the virus in their blood for a few days.
  • West Nile virus can cause a fatal neurological disease in humans.
  • However, approximately 80% of people who are infected will not show any symptoms.
  • The virus can cause severe disease and death in horses.
  • Vaccines are available for use in horses but not yet available for people.
  • WNV is commonly found in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, North America and West Asia.
  • West Nile Virus (WNV) belongs to the Japanese encephalitis antigenic complex of the family Flaviviridae.
  • The virus may also be transmitted through contact with other infected animals, their blood, or other tissues.
  • To date, no human-to-human transmission of WNV through casual contact has been documented, and no transmission of WNV to health care workers has been reported when standard infection control precautions have been put in place.

NATIONAL TECHNICAL RESEARCH ORGANISATION (NTRO)

Context: The Coast Guard received inputs from the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) about a Pakistani ship trying to enter Indian waters.

 Essentials

  • The National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) is a technical intelligence gathering agency under the National Security Advisor in the Prime Minister’s Office, India.
  • It was set up in 2004.
  • It also includes National Institute of Cryptology Research and Development (NICRD), which is first of its kind in Asia.
  • NTRO has the same “norms of conduct” and similar powers as the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW).
  • The Union Home Ministry in May 2018 issued a notification listing NTRO under the Intelligence Organisations (Restriction of Rights) Act, 1985 — a demand of the organisation for over a decade.
  • The act prevents employees of a notified agency from forming unions/associations, bars them from communicating with the press or publishing a book or other document without permission of the head of the intelligence organisation.
  • It acts as a super-feeder agency for providing technical intelligence to other agencies on internal and external security.
  • The agency is under the control of India’s external intelligence agency, Research and Analysis Wing, although it remains autonomous to some degree.
  • The organisation does hi-tech surveillance jobs, including satellite monitoring, terrestrial monitoring, internet monitoring, considered vital for the national security apparatus.
  • The NTRO will operate India’s sole spy ship, following its completion of sea trials at Vishakhapatnam.

COMPETITION COMMISSION OF INDIA (CCI)

  • Context: The Competition Commission of India (CCI) is looking into allegations that Maruti forces its dealers to limit the discounts they offer, effectively stifling competition among them, and harming consumers who could have benefited from lower prices if dealers operated freely.

 Essentials

Competition Commission of India

  • The Competition Act, 2002, as amended by the Competition (Amendment) Act, 2007:
  • prohibits anti-competitive agreements;
  • abuse of dominant position by enterprises and;
  • regulates combinations (acquisition, acquiring of control and M&A),
  • which causes or likely to cause an appreciable adverse effect on competition within India.
  • The objectives of the Act are sought to be achieved through the Competition Commission of India (CCI), a quasi-judicial body.
  • CCI consists of a Chairperson and 6 Members appointed by the Central Government.

 Objective of Competition Commission of India (CCI)

  • Remove negative competitive practices
  • Promote sustainable market competition
  • Protect the rights of the consumer
  • Protect the freedom of trade in Indian markets
  • Protect the rights of small traders from the large traders to ensure their survival
  • Advice and give suggestions to Competition Appellate Tribunal
  • Run informative campaigns and create public awareness about fair competitive practices.
  • The Commission is also required to give opinion on competition issues on a reference received from a statutory authority established under any law and to undertake competition advocacy, create public awareness and impart training on competition issues.
  • The Competition Appellate Tribunalwas formed in 2009 and is a fully empowered body by the Constitution of India. The final appeal after this tribunal can be made in the Supreme Court of India.

COMMODITY DERIVATIVES MARKETS

Context: The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has given the go-ahead to mutual funds (MFs) to participate in the commodity derivatives segment.

 Essentials

  • In June 2017, SEBI opened up the commodity derivatives markets to institutional investors for the first time by allowing hedge funds registered as category III Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs) to invest in commodity derivatives as ‘clients’.
  • The category III AIFs raise money from high net worth individuals and corporates with a minimum contribution of Rs.10 million by each investor.
  • AIFs have been allowed to invest in all commodity derivatives products on the conditions that they should not invest more than 10 per cent of the investable funds in one underlying commodity and they should periodically report their market exposure in commodity derivatives.
  • These conditions have been specifically imposed on hedge funds because such players employ leverage on a substantial basis and use complex trading strategies to make short-term returns, thereby posing a systemic risk to the entire market.
  • On September 26, 2017, SEBI allowed Foreign Portfolio Investors (FPIs) to participate in commodity derivatives contracts traded in stock exchanges operating in International Financial Services Centre (IFSC).
  • Established as a part of a Special Economic Zone (SEZ), Gujarat International Finance Tec-City is the first IFSC in India that provides financial services to non-residents and residents in any currency other than the Indian Rupee.
  • FPIs have been permitted to trade in commodity derivatives contracts subject to three conditions:
  • they can only trade in non-agricultural commodities derivatives contracts (such as gold and silver);
  • contracts would be cash settled on the settlement price; and
  • all the transactions shall be denominated in foreign currency only.

 The Entry of Banks into Broking Services

  • In September 2017, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) allowed banks to provide broking services to the commodity derivatives market through a separate subsidiary set up for the purpose or an existing subsidiary.
  • The RBI has prescribed minimum capital requirements and other conditions on banks to become clearing members of commodity derivatives segments.
  • Further, a bank’s subsidiary cannot undertake trading in commodity derivatives using its own capital (‘proprietary positions’) so as to make a profit for itself.
  • However, it can earn fees and commissions from processing trades done by trading members/clients.
  • This is for the first time that banks have been allowed to participate in the Indian commodity derivatives markets.
  • It is important to emphasize here that all scheduled commercial banks (except regional rural banks) have been allowed to offer broking services for commodity derivatives trading.
  • In other words, a wide range of banks in India, such as State Bank of India (state-owned), ICICI Bank (private sector), Deutsche Bank (foreign bank) and Apna Sahakari Bank (cooperative bank), can now offer broking services for commodity derivatives trading through subsidiaries.
  • In the past one year, SEBI has undertaken other initiatives to introduce new products and removed restrictions on broking services.
  • For instance, commodity exchanges have been allowed to introduce options trading.
  • Besides, SEBI has allowed integrated broking activities in equity and commodity derivatives markets under a single entity.
  • Now, a stock broker can deal in commodity derivatives trading without setting up a separate entity.

 The Future Plans

  • SEBI plans to allow portfolio management services (PMS) providers to participate in commodity derivatives market.
  • The PMS is used by high net-worth investors and is offered by various entities including banks, brokerages, independent investment managers and asset management companies.
  • Besides, the SEBI may also permit foreign institutional investors (FIIs) to invest directly in the commodity derivatives markets with new regulatory norms for such entities.

 Basics

What is a Commodity?

  • Commodity is a physical good attributable to a natural resource that is tradable and supplied without substantial differentiation by the general public: energy, grains, industrial (base) metals, livestock, precious metals, and softs (cash crops).
  • Commodities trade in physical (spot) markets and in futures and forward markets.
  • Spot markets involve the physical transfer of goods between buyers and sellers; prices in these markets reflect current (or very near term) supply and demand conditions.
  • Global commodity futures markets constitute financial exchanges of standardized futures contracts in which a price is established in the market today for the sale of some defined quantity and quality of a commodity at a future date of delivery; execution of the contract may be focused on cash settlement or physical delivery.

 What are Institutional Investors?

  • An institutional investor is a person or organization that trades securities in large enough quantities that it qualifies for preferential treatment and lower fees.
  • A retail investor is a non-professional investor who buys and sells securities through brokerage firms or savings accounts.
  • Most institutional investors invest other people’s money on their behalf. They are the pension funds, mutual funds, money managers, insurance companies, investment banks, commercial trusts, endowment funds, hedge funds, and also some private equity investors.

 What Is a Derivative?

  • A derivative is a financial security with a value that is reliant upon or derived from, an underlying asset or group of assets.
  • The derivative itself is a contract between two or more parties, and the derivative derives its price from fluctuations in the underlying asset.
  • The most common underlying assets for derivatives are stocks, bonds, commodities, currencies, interest rates, and market indexes.
  • These assets are commonly purchased through brokerages.

 What is options trading?

  • Options are contracts that give the bearer the right, but not the obligation, to either buy or sell an amount of some underlying asset at a pre-determined price at or before the contract expires.
  • Options are instruments that belong to the derivatives family, which means its price is derived from something else.

 How are Options different from Stocks?

  • The Options contract has an expiration date unlike stocks. Stocks on the other hand do not have an expiration date.
  • Unlike Stocks, Options derive their value from something else and that’s why they fall under the derivatives category.
  • Options are not definite by numbers like Stocks
  • You can profit from a drop in the price of an underlying stock. In fact, you can profit in all directions depending upon the type of position or strategy you are holding unlike stocks where you make a loss when the stock price goes downwards.
  • Options owners have no right (voting or dividend) in a company unlike Stock owners.

 In brief

  • The UN World Economic Situation and Prospects Report has lowered its forecast for India’s GDP growth in 2019-20 to 7.1% from its estimate in January of 7.5%, citing an overall slowdown in global growth.

PIB – May 21 , 2019


ECONOMY

Topic covered- Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies

Competition Commission of India

Context

  • The Competition Commission of India (CCI) celebrated its 10th Annual Day on 20th May.
  • This day marks the notification of the substantive enforcement provisions of the Competition Act, 2002.

What is the Competition Commission of India?

  • Competition Commission of India (CCI) is a quasi-judicial statutory body of the Government of India responsible for enforcing The Competition Act, 2002.
  • After the Competition Act, 2002 came into existence a Competition Commission of India (CCI) and Competition Appellate Tribunal (CAT) was established.
  • It was established on 14 October 2003.
  • It became fully functional in May 2009.

Composition of CCI

  • The CCI is composed of a Chairperson and 6 members.
  • The members of CCI are appointed by the Central Government.
  • The CCI acts as a market regulator to check on the ill competitive practices in India.

Objectives of the Competition Commission of India

  • To prevent practices having adverse effect on competition.
  • Make the markets work for the benefit and welfare of consumers.
  • To promote and sustain competition in markets.
  • To protect the interests of consumers.
  • Ensure fair and healthy competition in economic activities in the country for faster and inclusive growth and development of economy.
  • Implement competition policies with an aim to effectuate the most efficient utilization of economic resources.

The Competition Appellate Tribunal

  • The Competition Appellate Tribunal (CAT) was formed in 2009.
  • It is a fully empowered body by the Constitution of India.
  • The final appeal after this tribunal can be made in the Supreme Court of India.

The Competition Act, 2002

  • The idea of Competition Commission was conceived and introduced in the form of The Competition Act, 2002.
  • It was enacted to promote competition and private enterprises especially in the light of 1991 Indian economic liberalization.
  • The Competition Act, 2002, is amended by the Competition (Amendment) Act, 2007.
  • The Act prohibits anti-competitive agreements, abuse of dominant position by enterprises and regulates combinations (acquisition, acquiring of control and Merger and acquisition), which causes or likely to cause an appreciable adverse effect on competition within India.
  • The Commission is also required to give opinion on competition issues on a reference received from a statutory authority established under any law and to undertake competition advocacy, create public awareness and impart training on competition issues.

Topic covered- Social justice

Vayoshreshtha Samman

Context

  • Nominations for Vayoshreshtha Samman- National Awards for Senior Citizens 2019 for individuals/institutions have been invited.

About Vayoshreshtha Samman

  • Vayoshreshtha Samman is a Scheme of National Awards instituted by the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment.
  • It comes under the Department of Social Justice & Empowerment.
  • It was initially in started in 2005 and was upgraded to the status of National Awards in 2013.
  • It is awarded for institutions involved in rendering distinguished service for the cause of elderly persons especially indigent senior citizens and to eminent citizens in recognition of their service/achievements.
  • The awards are presented on 1st of October every year.

Topic covered- International relations

India – Indonesia Coordinated Patrol (CORPAT)

Context

  • Myanmar Navy Ship for the ‘Opening Ceremony’ of the 8th Indo-Myanmar coordinated patrol (IMCOR), at Andaman and Nicobar Command.

About CORPAT

  • The CORPAT is an initiative between the Indian and Myanmar navies.
  • It is meant to address issues of terrorism, illegal fishing, drug trafficking, human trafficking, poaching and other illegal activities inimical to interest of both nations.
  • Started in Mar 2013, the CORPAT series has enhanced the mutual understanding and fostered improved professional interaction between the two navies for maritime interoperability.

Significance of CORPAT

  • India currently carries out CORPATs with four regional navies: Myanmar, Indonesia, Thailand and, most recently, Bangladesh.
  • China currently rides roughshod over the maritime and territorial claims of South China Sea and East China Sea countries – including Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines.
  • In this context, CORPAT slots neatly into New Delhi’s overarching policy rubric of SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region) and its “Look East” and “Act East”
  • With this backdrop, the navy conducts diplomacy through joint naval exercises, port visits and discussion forums like the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS), which currently has 35 member states, mostly from the Indian Ocean littoral.

Essential Facts (Prelims) – May 21 , 2019


Kilogram Update

Category: Sc/tech

  • The definition of the ‘kilogram’ has got a global, technical makeover.
  • Until now, the kilogram derived its provenance from the weight of a block of a platinum-iridium alloy housed at the International Bureau of Weights and Measures in France.
  • All other prototypes that served as national reference standards, including the one at New Delhi’s CSIR-National Physical Laboratory (NPL), were calibrated to it.
  • On May 20, the kilogram joined other standard units of measure such as the second, metre, ampere, Kelvin, mole and candela that would no longer be defined by physical objects.
  • The measures are all now defined on the basis of unchanging universal, physics constants.
  • The kilogram now hinges on the definition of the Planck Constant, a constant of nature that relates to how matter releases energy.
  • ‘Kibble Balance’ is a device that was used to measure the Planck Constant and thereby reboot the kilogram.
  • An updated kilogram doesn’t mean that weights everywhere will be thrown off balance. For everyday measurements, consumers wanting to calibrate their instruments — whether it’s for high-precision drug manufacturing or retail weighing machines — will continue doing it the same way.
  • The NPL itself will be relying on the kilogram maintained in the U.S.-based National Institutes of Standards and Technology to calibrate its one-kilogram weight.


Animal Migration

Category: Environment

  • A campaign has been launched to raise awareness on illegal wildlife trade.
  • The campaign has been launched by Wildlife Crime Control Bureau of India and UN Environment aimed at airports across India.
  • Tiger, Pangolin, Star Tortoise and Tokay Gecko featured in the campaign.
  • In India, illegal trade in wildlife has seen a sharp rise in recent years.
  • In the first phase of the campaign, Tiger, Pangolin, Star Tortoise and Tokay Gecko have been chosen as they are highly endangered due to illegal trading in International markets.

Wildlife Crime Control Bureau

Category: Environment

  • Wildlife Crime Control Bureau is a statutory multi-disciplinary body established by the Government of India under the Ministry of Environment and Forests, to combat organized wildlife crime in the country.
  • Under Section 38 (Z) of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, it is mandated to collect and collate intelligence related to organized wildlife crime activities and to disseminate the same to State and other enforcement agencies for immediate action.

Vayoshreshtha Samman

Category: Social sector

  • Nominations for Vayoshreshtha Samman- National Awards for Senior Citizens 2019 for individuals/institutions has began.
  • The Department of Social Justice And Empowerment had invited nominations for the awards on 17th April, 2019.
  • The Ministries/Departments of Government of India and their autonomous organistions/State Govts. or UT Administration can nominate the suitable individuals/institutions for the said Awards.
  • Eligible individuals/institutions may forward nomination for conferment of the award to the Department of Social Justice And Empowerment.
  • The Department of Social Justice And Empowerment as part of celebration of the International Day of Older Persons (IDOP) on 1st October every year has been conferring National Award – Vayoshreshtha Samman to eminent senior citizens and institutions involved in rendering distinguished services for the cause of elderly persons.
  • The National Awards are conferred by the President of India on the International Day of Older Persons i.e. 1st October every year.

Prelims 2019 – Journey from ” I Can – to – I Will”


Let’s begin with a recent happening in Bollywood – release of Kesari Movie. Many of you would have gone to cinema for the movie and many during the preparation time are the ardent supporter of piracy so they prefer watching on the laptop screens.

Point is not to discuss copyright infringement here. First let’s give a brief reference of the story:

KESARI is based on the true story of one of the bravest battles that India ever foughtthe Battle of Saragarhi. Fort Saragarhi, in the NWFP (North Western Frontier Province) was a small post used to relay messages between two major military Forts – Fort Gullistan and Fort Lockhardt.

Ishar Singh , a proud warrior who prefers to live by his community rules, is often found in direct conflict with the orders of his British officers. As a punishment, Ishar is sent to Saragarhi where a bunch of 20 unruly, undisciplined Sikh soldiers await him.

Ishar leads into the battle when an army of 10,000 Afghani Pathans turn up at Saragarhi on the 12th of Sept 1897.  So the story shows how 21 soldiers took on the army of 10,000 and keep them engaged.

Having destroyed Saragarhi, the Afghans turned their attention to Fort Gulistan, but they had been delayed too long, and reinforcements arrived there in the night of 13–14 September, before the fort could be captured. The supreme sacrifice of 21 soldiers is remembered till date.

No doubt, the movie gives the goose bumps but just forgetting the covert message that it carries would be unkind and unwise on our part.

We would like to focus your attention to three points from the history of the Saragarhi battle :

  • undisciplined Sikh soldiers
  • 10,000 Afghani Pathans
  • 21 soldiers took on the army of 10,000

Changes that took place in due course :

  • Undisciplined soldiers became highly organized and disciplined
  • When the opposition seems tough , you have to be tougher
  • There is no alternative of courage and the force called “will power”

So , what is stopping you to give birth to a warrior inside you who can take any challenge head on. You have studied complete year/s –

  • Then what is that puts you in a state of fear ?
  • What is it that can provoke anxiety in you ?
  • Can you be made nervous because you feel that you could have done more ?
  • Do you feel that your competitor has solved more papers than you and has come from other planet?
  • What is that is stopping you to break the chains that exists in mind ? (Read https://chromeias.com/chains-are-in-mind/)

For a moment , just visualize 10,000 people marching and on the other side there are 21 individuals waiting to take them head on –  Is it difficult to imagine the fate of those 21 – not at all. It’s true that 21 soldiers could not survive but see the larger purpose that they served – they had a PLAN to engage the enemy and did it successfully.

Now the same situation you are going to face on 2nd June 2019 :

On the day of exam it’s a battle for you wherein you are going to face:

  • 100 questions
  • 120 minutes
  • 1 individual

Let’s dwell on numbers once and see if we can reach to any conclusion:

Ratio:

10,000 : 21 – 476.19 (Saragarhi)  –  To prove the mettle – each soldier had to take on 476 enemy soldiers.

Where as, in UPSC exam , if we go by crude numbers:

50,000 ( Competition is among 50,000 at max not 5,00,000 ) : 13000 seats for Mains – 3.8 –  that is 4 serious candidates are competing for every seat in Mains.

Which of the two situations looks manageable?

Remember you just have to clear the cut-off – play till the time you feel  ( after analyzing the paper on the spot ) – that I have reached a secure point – after this take minimal risk. But before that you have to be little offensive in your approach – you can compare it with a situation in cricket where in  – one side needs 36 runs in 6 balls to win the match – The batsman will have to make an attempt to hit 6 in every ball irrespective of the nature of the ball – bouncer , yorker etc.

We can overcome any adverse situation or any form of hardships in life provided we are focused on Solution and not the Problem. Though it is common observation but few things must be reminded again and again – and one of the most important factors to overcome in Prelims Exam is Cognitive Narrowing.  It’s a common sight after the exam people discussing questions and then saying – ‘Ohh , what a silly mistake I made? ‘ . So, it would be wise to act smart and do the paper with utmost concentration. Now let’s see few of the challenges that one will face:

  • Paper could be very tough – anxiety and nervousness.
  • The mercury is on rise, which makes it difficult to perform.
  • Centre could be far off – if you reach just on time – it doesn’t give you time to relax.
  • Government schools generally are in a dilapidated situation. (Some aspirants don’t even fit properly in the seats provided).
  • One is not keeping good health.
  • Overburdened with the revision which leads to monotony.
  • Lack of sleep – leading brain to work at sub-optimal level and reducing attention span.

These, more or less, are common for majority of the aspirants – but the winner is the one who identifies and acknowledge his/her challenges and takes adequate steps to minimize them if not eliminate.

We would like to bring to your notice certain facts:

  • Remember, you can go as far as you think you can – be determined to write MAINS (Interview ka baad mai sochenge !)
  • Remember, you can see only what you want to see – be careful while reading question papers – Not reading the In-correct , not-correct is fatal.
  • Remember, you can answer even those questions that you don’t know – be patient and calm – read every word of the question and the options – pick the odd one out or the extreme statements – eliminate them and try to reach answer with street logic. (it works)
  • Remember, you are as good as you think you are – don’t undermine yourself – as a human we have untapped potentialif you lose confidence you are already out of race.
  • Remember, Failure is as close to you as you think it is – If you indulge in negative thoughts – it will have negative consequences. Remember the Law of Attraction – you attract what you think.
  • Remember, that near the cut-off there are 300-400 people on every mark – So give DUE IMPORTANCE to every question – even one more attempt or one less negative can save you at times.
  • Remember – more than absolute knowledge it is the game of most appropriate answer.

Remember –Those 21 soldiers knew their destiny  – still they put on their brave side and achieved the highest form of martyrdom. It is the courage that makes one stand out, So be focused on your DUTY rather than on the RESULTS, as , if  one focuses  too much on the consequences he may not do justice with the process.

To conclude , two lines from Bgagvad Gita , which almost have the answer for any query which grips you at this point :


कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन।

मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते सङ्गोऽस्त्वकर्मणि॥

“You have the right to work only, but never to its fruits. Let not the fruits of action be your motive, nor let your attachment be to inaction”.


Essential Facts (Prelims) – May 20 , 2019


RISAT-2B

Category: Sc/tech

  • RISAT-2B, the satellite due to be launched, will be the first in a new array of Indian all-seeing radar imaging satellites to be deployed after seven years.
  • At least a half-dozen could be foreseen in the near future, mainly to add to the reconnaissance capability from about 500 km in space.
  • A constellation of such space-based radars means a comprehensive vigil over the country.
  • If ISRO orbited its first two radar satellites in 2009 and 2012, it plans to deploy four or five of them in 2019 alone.
  • When it is cloudy or dark, ‘regular’ remote-sensing or optical imaging satellites — which work like a light-dependent camera — cannot perceive hidden or surreptitious objects on the ground.
  • Satellites that are equipped with an active sensor, the synthetic aperture radar (SAR), can sense or ‘observe’ Earth in a special way from space day and night, rain or cloud. This all-weather seeing feature is what makes them special for security forces and disaster relief agencies.


Troll Patrol

Category: Sc/tech

  • Amnesty India is recruiting 2,000 digital volunteers — for Troll Patrol India — to analyse abusive tweets sent to 100 women candidates in the ongoing Lok Sabha election, during, before and after polling.
  • Amnesty hopes to build an evidence base on the extent and nature of online abuse faced by prominent women politicians and its effect on their freedom of expression, and to initiate dialogue on the response and transparency procedures needed from online platforms.

Cyclone Resisting Trees

Category: Environment

  • Plant lovers have urged the Bhuvaneswar administration to undertake plantation of native species which could withstand strong cyclonic winds in future.
  • 99% of trees had suffered damage when Cyclone Fani hit the city on May 3.
  • Native species such as Karanja (Pongamia pinnata) and Chhatiana (Alstonia Scholaris) were found to have withstood ferocious wind speed of Fani.

Ultima Thule

Category: Sc/tech

  • NASA has found evidence of a unique mixture of methanol, water ice, and organic molecules on Ultima Thule’s surface.
  • Ultima Thule is the farthest world ever explored by mankind.
  • It is an ancient relic from the era of planet formation.

Daily News Analysis – May 21, 2019

Source: The Hindu, Live Mint and Indian Express


INDIA CUTS OFF UN PANEL AFTER JAMMU & KASHMIR REPORT

Context: Reacting angrily to a submission from the Geneva-based Human Rights Council (HRC) on the alleged violations in Jammu and Kashmir, India has informed the United Nations body that it will no longer entertain any communication with the HRC’s Special Rapporteurs on its report.

 Essentials

United Nations Human Rights Council

  • The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and for addressing situations of human rights violations and make recommendations on them.
  • It has the ability to discuss all thematic human rights issues and situations that require its attention throughout the year.
  • The Human Rights Council was established in 2006 by a Resolution as a subsidiary body to the UN General Assembly.
  • It replaced the former Commission on Human Rights, which operated from 1946 to 2006.

Membership of the Human Rights Council

  • The Council is made of 47 Member States, which are elected by the majority of members of the General Assembly of the United Nations through direct and secret ballot.
  • The General Assembly takes into account the candidate States’ contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights, as well as their voluntary pledges and commitments in this regard.
  • The Council’s Membership is based on equitable geographical distribution. Seats are distributed as follows:
  1. African States: 13 seats
  2. Asia-Pacific States: 13 seats
  3. Latin American and Caribbean States: 8 seats
  4. Western European and other States: 7 seats
  5. Eastern European States: 6 seats
  • Members of the Council serve for a period of three years and are not eligible for immediate re-election after serving two consecutive terms.
  • At present India is not its member.
  • Iceland was elected in July 2018 to serve as a member from 13 July 2018 to 31 December 2019 to replace the vacancy left by the United States following its decision to withdraw its membership.

 Functions

  • The Human Rights Council has created or renewed the mandates of various “special procedures.”
  • The special procedures are experts appointed to monitor human rights around priority themes or in specific countries with serious human rights problems.
  • The special procedures may be individual experts (“special rapporteurs” or “independent experts”) or working groups.
  • The Council also manages the Universal Periodic Review, a process through which each UN Member State’s overall human rights record is reviewed.

 Sessions

  • The Council conducts its substantive work primarily in Regular Sessions and Special Sessions.
  • Regular Sessions are held no fewer than three times a year, usually in March, June, and September.

Presidency and Bureau

  • The Bureau of the Council consists of five people – one President and four Vice-presidents – representing the five regional groups.
  • They serve for a year, in accordance with the Council’s annual cycle.

INDIA ADOPTS NEW STANDARDS FOR MEASURING UNITS KILOGRAM

Context: On May 20, 2018, the kilogram, the measurement of mass, joined other standard units of measure such as the second, metre, ampere, Kelvin, mole and candela that would no longer be defined by physical objects.

 Essentials

  • The measures are all now defined on the basis of unchanging universal, physics constants.
  • The kilogram now hinges on the definition of the Planck Constant, a constant of nature that relates to how matter releases energy.
  • Earlier, the kilogram derived its provenance from the weight of a block of a platinum-iridium alloy, called the Grand K, housed at the International Bureau of Weights and Measures in France.
  • Recently, countries also unanimously approved updates to three other key units- the kelvin for temperature, the ampere for electrical current and the mole for the amount of a substance.
  • The CSIR-National Physical Laboratory (NPL) is India’s official reference keeper of units of measurements.

 How does the new system work?

  • There is a quantity that relates weight to electrical current, called Planck’s constant – named after the German physicist Max Planck and denoted by the symbol h.
  • But h is an incredibly small number and to measure it, the research scientist Dr Bryan Kibble built a super-accurate set of scales called Kibble balance.
  • Kibble balance is an electromechanical weighing machine that can be used to measure the Planck Constant.
  • The Kibble balance has an electromagnet that pulls down on one side of the scales and a weight – say, a kilogram – on the other.
  • The electrical current going through the electromagnet is increased until the two sides are perfectly balanced.
  • By measuring the current running through the electromagnet to incredible precision, the researchers are able to calculate h to an accuracy of 0.000001%.
  • So, in principle, scientists can define a kilogram, or any other weight, in terms of the amount of electricity needed to counteract the weight (gravitational force acting on a mass).
  • This breakthrough has paved the way for Le Grand K to be deposed by “die kleine h”.

Why kill off the kilogram?

  • The Grand K has been at the forefront of the international system of measuring weights since 1889. Several close replicas were made and distributed around the globe.
  • But the master kilogram and its copies were seen to change – ever so slightly – as they deteriorated.
  • The new formula-based definition of the kilogramme will have multiple advantages over the precision-crafted metal lump that has set the standard for more than a century.
  • Unlike a physical object, the formula cannot pick up particles of dust, decay with time or be dropped and damaged. It also is expected to be more accurate when measuring very, very small or very, very large masses.
  • The updated definition will, in time, spare nations the need to occasionally send their kilos back to France for calibration against the Grand K. The new system will allow anyone with a Kibble balance to check their weights anytime and anywhere.
  • In a world where accurate measurement is now critical in many areas, such as in drug development, nanotechnology and precision engineering – those responsible for maintaining the international system had no option but to move beyond the Grand K to a more robust definition.

 Effects

  • An updated kilogram doesn’t mean that weights everywhere will be thrown off balance. For everyday measurements, consumers wanting to calibrate their instruments — whether it’s for high-precision drug manufacturing or retail weighing machines — will continue doing it the same way.

A mini revolution

  • But scientists are hailing the vote as a mini revolution in the field of weights and measures. One of the things this (new) technique allows the scientists to do is to actually measure mass directly at whatever scale they like, and that’s a big step forward.

INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT (ICC)

Context: India abstained from voting on a UN Human Rights Council draft resolution, in March this year, on the “situation of human rights in Myanmar.”

 Essentials

  • Co-sponsored by the European Union (EU) and Bangladesh, the resolution “expresses grave concern at continuing reports of serious human rights violations and abuses in Myanmar”, particularly in Rakhine, Kachin and Shan States, and calls for a full inquiry into these by the Council’s own mechanism and the International Criminal Court (ICC).
  • Both India and Myanmar are non-signatory of the Rome Statute which is the founding treaty of the International Criminal Court.

 The International Criminal Court

  • The ICC is the world’s only permanent international criminal tribunal.
  • It is headquartered in The Hague, Netherlands, and is charged with investigating and prosecuting crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, aggression, and war crimes.
  • The ICC has jurisdiction over the gravest instances of atrocity crimes and targets only the highest priority perpetrators of these crimes.
  • The ICC prosecutes individuals, not organizations or governments.
  • The ICC is not part of the United Nations.
  • The Rome Statute is the founding treaty of the International Criminal Court.
  • The UN Security Council is empowered, under the Rome Statute, to refer complaints against non-member nations to the International Criminal Court.
  • Burundi is the first member-country to leave the ICC because, in September 2017, a UN commission investigating violence for over two years under President Pierre Nkurunziza recommended a criminal investigation by the court.

Terms in news

What is ‘voter apathy’?

  • Voter apathy is perceived apathy among those eligible to vote in an election.
  • This can happen when voters are disillusioned with the electoral process or with the political parties and candidates, or when don’t think their vote will count, or when they don’t care much for the issues around them.
  • In India, voter turnouts have been going up in the past decade largely due to the Election Commission’s efforts to enhance voter participation in the country.

 Paddy residue

  • Farmers in Punjab use wheat residue as fodder for cattle and it’s only the stalk that is set on fire.
  • The paddy residue is not used as fodder as it’s unfit and hence farmers burn both the paddy stalk and straw close to autumn every year which is a key contributing factor of pollution causing breathing problems in the northern region.

PIB – May 20 , 2019


INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

Credential Presentation

Context

  • Envoys of three Nations Present Credentials to President of India.
  • Ambassadors of Venezuela and Panama as well as the High Commissioner of Papua New Guinea presented credentials to the President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, at a ceremony held at Rashtrapati Bhavan.
  • The envoys who presented their credentials were: –
  1. Ms Coromoto Godoy Calderon, Ambassador of Venezuela
  2. Mr Paulias Korni, High Commissioner of Papua New Guinea
  3. Mr Muhamad Talha Hajee Hajee, Ambassador of Panama

What is the Letter of Credence

  • A letter of credence is a formal diplomatic letter that appoints a diplomat as ambassador to another sovereign state.
  • Commonly known as diplomatic credentials, the letter is addressed from one head of state to another, asking him to give credence to whatever the ambassador may say on his country’s behalf.
  • The letter is presented personally by the ambassador to the receiving head of state in a formal ceremony, marking the beginning of the ambassadorship.

ENVIRONMENT

Ongole cattle breed

Context

  • The Vice President of India expressed his concerns about the neglect of the indigenous Ongole cattle breed and called for protecting and promoting the animal, which has become popular all over the world.

About Ongole cattle breed

  • Ongole cattle are an indigenous cattle breed that originates from Prakasam District in the state of Andhra Pradesh in India.
  • The breed derives its name from the place the breed originates from, Ongole.
  • The Ongole breed of cattle, Bos Indicus, has a great demand as it is said to possess resistance to both foot and mouth disease and mad cow disease.
  • These cattle are commonly used in bull fights in Mexico and some parts of East Africa due to their strength and aggressiveness.
  • They also participate in traditional bull fights in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
  • Cattle breeders use the fighting ability of the bulls to choose the right stock for breeding in terms of purity and strength.

 ‘Not all animals migrate by choice’ Campaign

Context

  • Not all animals migrate by choice’ campaign launched to raise awareness on illegal wildlife trade.

What is ‘Not all animals migrate by choice’ campaign?

  • The International Day of Biological Diversity is celebrated on May 22.
  • UN Environment India and Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) of India launched an awareness campaign ‘Not all animals migrate by choice’ to be displayed at major airports across the country.

Highlights

  • Tiger, Pangolin, Star Tortoise and Tokay Gecko featured in the campaign.
  • In India, illegal trade in wildlife has seen a sharp rise in recent years.
  • Actor Dia Mirza inaugurated the campaign. She is UN Environment’s Goodwill Ambassador for India.

International Day for Biological Diversity

About

  • The International Day for Biological Diversity (or World Biodiversity Day) is a United Nations–sanctioned international day for the promotion of biodiversity issues.
  • It is celebrated on May 22.
  • The International Day for Biological Diversity falls within the scope of the UN Post-2015 Development Agenda’s Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Theme for World Biodiversity Day 2019
  • Our Biodiversity, Our Food, Our Health

 SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Redefined units of measurement

Context

  • The new SI is being implemented worldwide from 20th May 2019 i.e. the World Metrology Day.
  • The World Metrology Day (WMD) is celebrated annually on this very day as the Metre Convention was signed by representatives of seventeen nations on May 20, 1875.
  • The Convention set the framework for global collaboration in the science of measurement and in its industrial, commercial and societal applications.

New measurements units

  • The metric system of measurements, also known as the International System of Units (SI) has been in practice since 1889.

 

  • The decision to redefine the four base units was taken by representatives of 60 countries at the general conference on Weight and Measures (CGPM) at an open session of the international Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM) in Vrsailles, France.
  • There are seven base units of SI – second, meter, kilogram, ampere, kelvin, mole and candela. Some have long been based on physical constants.
  • India has adopted a global resolution to redefine four of the seven base units — kilogramme, kelvin, mole and ampere.

Impact on base unit definitions

  • The previous (as of 2018) and new 2019 definitions are –

Second

  • Previous definition– The second is the duration of 9192631770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the caesium-133 atom.
  • 2019 definition– The second, symbol s, is the SI unit of time.

It is defined by taking the fixed numerical value of the caesium frequency ΔνCs, the unperturbed ground-state hyperfine transition frequency of the caesium-133 atom, to be 9192631770 when expressed in the unit Hz, which is equal to s−1.

Metre

  • Previous definition- The metre is the length of the path travelled by light in vacuum during a time interval of 1/299792458 of a second.
  • 2019 definition– The metre, symbol m, is the SI unit of length.

It is defined by taking the fixed numerical value of the speed of light in vacuum c to be 299792458 when expressed in the unit m⋅s−1, where the second is defined in terms of the caesium frequency ΔνCs.

Kilogram

  • Previous definition- The kilogram is the unit of mass; it is equal to the mass of the international prototype of the kilogram.
  • 2019 definition- The kilogram, symbol kg, is the SI unit of mass.

  It is defined by taking the fixed numerical value of the Planck constant h to be 6.62607015×10−34 when expressed in the unit J⋅s, which is equal to kg⋅m2⋅s−1, where the metre and the second are defined in terms of c and ΔνCs.

  • A consequence of this change is that the new definition of the kilogram is dependent on the definitions of the second and the metre.

Ampere

  • Previous definition- The ampere is that constant current which, if maintained in two straight parallel conductors of infinite length, of negligible circular cross-section, and placed 1 m apart in vacuum, would produce between these conductors a force equal to 2×10−7 newton per metre of length.
  • 2019 definition- The ampere, symbol A, is the SI unit of electric current.

 It is defined by taking the fixed numerical value of the elementary charge e to be 1.602176634×10−19 when expressed in the unit C, which is equal to A⋅s, where the second is defined in terms of ΔνCs.

Daily News Analysis – May 20, 2019

Source: The Hindu, Live Mint and Indian Express


HC: UNITED NATIONS NOT A STATE UNDER ARTICLE 12

Context: The Delhi High Court has ruled that the United Nations is not a State under Article 12 of the Constitution of India and is not amenable to its jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution.

Justice Suresh Kumar Kait gave the decision while adjudicating a plea filed by a former UNO employee who was found guilty of misconduct. In his petition, he claimed that due process was not followed in his case.

 Essentials

Definition of State

  • Article 12 has defined the term State for the purpose of Part III (Fundamental Fights) of the Constitution.
  • According to it, the State includes the following:
  • Government and Parliament of India, that is, executive and legislative organs of the Union government.
  • Government and legislature of states, that is, executive and legislative organs of the state government.
  • All local authorities, that is municipalities, panchayats, district boards, improvement trusts, etc.
  • All other authorities, that is, statutory or non-statutory authorities like LIC, ONGC, SAIL etc.
  • Thus, State has been defined in a wider sense so as to include all its agencies.
  • According to Supreme Court, even a private body or an agency working as an instrument of the State falls within the meaning of the ‘State’ under Article 12.

DUST STORMS

Context: Delhi likely to witness dust storm today. About:

 Essentials

Dust Storms

  • These are examples of local storms.
  • They occur for short durations, over a small area but are

 Dust storms Vs Thunderstorms

  • Dust storms and thunderstorms are a result of nearly similar weather conditions, like intense heat.
  • Areas that have the moisture in air experience thunderstorms while those which don’t have moisture experience dust storms.
  • Both dust storm and thunderstorm activity usually peak in the pre-monsoon period.

Thunderstorms

  • A thunderstorm is a well-grown cumulonimbus (clouds with huge vertical development) cloud producing thunder and lightning.
  • Thunderstorms are caused by intense convection on moist hot days.
  • Convection: It is the upward movement of air after being heated by warmer ground and on account of being warmer than the surrounding air.
  • When the clouds extend to heights where sub-zero temperature prevails, hails are formed and they come down as hailstorm.
  • A thunderstorm is characterised by intense updraft (an upward current of air) of rising warm air which causes precipitation.
  • If there is insufficient moisture, a thunderstorm can generate dust storms.

Why do dust storms occur so often in Rajasthan?

  • The reason for this particular ‘severe dust storm and thunderstorm’ activity is due to very high temperatures in Rajasthan and presence of western disturbance that led to the atmosphere becoming unstable.
  • Moreover, easterly winds from the Bay of Bengal also increase the moisture over the area.
  • The combination of all these factors resulted in this severe dust storm and thundershower activity over Rajasthan.

COMING SOON, AN ALL-SEEING RADAR IMAGING SATELLITE

Context: RISAT-2B, the satellite due to be launched before dawn on May 22 from Sriharikota on PSLV-C46, will mark the resumption of a vital ring of Indian all-seeing radar imaging satellites after seven years. Its applications are in disaster management support, forestry and agriculture.

 Essentials

  • RISAT-2B is a radar imaging earth observation satellite developed by ISRO.
  • At least a half-dozen could be foreseen in the near future, mainly to add to the reconnaissance capability from about 500 km in space.
  • A constellation of such space-based radars means a comprehensive vigil over the country.
  • When it is cloudy or dark, ‘regular’ remote-sensing or optical imaging satellites — which work like a light-dependent camera — cannot perceive hidden or surreptitious objects on the ground.
  • Satellites that are equipped with an active sensor, the synthetic aperture radar (SAR), can sense or ‘observe’ Earth in a special way from space day and night, rain or cloud.
  • This all-weather seeing feature is what makes them special for security forces and disaster relief agencies.
  • A radar imaging satellite is complex to assemble. Interpreting its images is equally complex. ISRO took almost 10 years to realise RISAT-1.
  • It sends much heavier data than plain remote sensing satellites.
  • India has almost kept pace with the world with radar satellites.
  • Radar imaging satellites pick up structures, new bunkers very well, and sometimes help to count them, too.
  • In India we also use radar imaging for crop estimation because our main crop growing season of kharif is in May-September when it rains and gets cloudy.
  • We have used this data extensively for forestry, soil, land use, geology and during floods and cyclone.

KERALA WITNESSES SURGE IN MEASLES CASES

Context: The current global resurgence in measles is having its resonance in Kerala too, which has been witnessing a serious surge in the disease since January.

Across the globe, huge local outbreaks have been caused by travel as well as the increase in unvaccinated populations.

Essentials

  • Countries with the most reported cases include Madagascar, Ukraine, India, Nigeria, Kazakhstan, Chad, Myanmar, Thailand, the Philippines and Democratic Republic of the Congo.
  • The disease is almost entirely preventable through two doses of a safe and effective vaccine.
  • For several years, however, global coverage with the first dose of measles vaccine has stalled at 85%. This is still short of the 95% needed to prevent outbreaks, and leaves many people, in many communities, at risk.
  • Second dose coverage, while increasing, stands at 67%.

 Vaccination in India

Universal Immunization Programme (UIP) 

  • Full immunization against preventable childhood diseases is the right of every child.
  • With a view to provide this right to every child, the Government of India launched the Universal Immunization Program (UIP) in 1985.
  • India’s Universal Immunisation Programme (U.I.P.) is one of the largest in the world in terms of:
  • quantities of vaccine used,
  • the number of beneficiaries,
  • the number of Immunisation session organised,
  • the geographical spread and diversity of areas covered.
  • The UIP provides free of cost vaccines to all children across the country to protect them against 12 life threatening diseases.
  • These twelve vaccine preventable diseases are Tuberculosis, Pertussis, Diphtheria, Tetanus, Hepatitis B, Polio, Pneumonia and Meningitis due to Haemophilus Influenzae type b (Hib), Measles, Rubella, Rotavirus diarrhoea and Japanese Encephalitis (JE).
  • Rubella, JE and Rotavirus vaccine are given in select states and districts.
  • Despite being operational for over 30 years, UIP has been able to fully immunize only 65% children in the first year of their life and the increase in coverage was stagnated in the past 5 years (before 2014) to an average of 1% every year.

 Mission Indradhanush 

  • To accelerate the process of immunization by covering 5% and more children every year, Indradhanush mission was adopted.
  • Mission Indradhanush aims to ensure that at least 90% of the children under the age of two years and pregnant women, who are either unvaccinated, or are partially vaccinated against vaccine preventable diseases, are fully immunized with all available vaccines by 2020.
  • Mission Indradhanush does not target to reduce post natal death rate but targets to reduce diseases and death due to vaccine preventable diseases.

 Intensified Mission Indradhanush (IMI)

  • It is a supplemental aggressive action plan to cover all left outs and drop outs in select districts and urban areas with low routine immunization coverage to achieve the target of more than 90% coverage in a specific time-frame (December 2018).
  • Mission Indradhanush is under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Measles-Rubella Vaccination Campaign India, 2017

  • Measles and Rubella are highly contagious viral diseases that are spread by contact with an infected person through coughing and sneezing.
  • Measles weakens the immune system of the body.
  • Hence infection with Measles often leads to serious complications that include blindness, encephalitis, severe diarrhoea and severe respiratory infections such as pneumonia.
  • Most measles-related deaths are caused by complications associated with the disease.
  • Children below five years are prone to the infection and one-third of all measles-related deaths worldwide occur in India.
  • Vitamin A is key to immune system function, and children with VAD are more likely to contract common illnesses like measles than children without a deficiency.
  • Children with VAD are also more likely to die from respiratory and diarrheal diseases.
  • Vitamin A deficiency (VAD), affecting one-third of children in the world under age 5, is the leading cause of childhood blindness.
  • Golden rice is a variety of rice produced through genetic engineering to biosynthesize beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A.
  • Golden Rice is a textbook example of biofortification, genetically engineered to contain high levels of the vitamin A precursor beta-carotene.
  • Rubella is a mild viral infection that occurs most often in children and young adults.
  • Infection with Rubella may be associated with swelling of lymph nodes and joint pain.
  • Rubella infection during pregnancy can cause abortion, stillbirth and may lead to multiple birth defects in the new born; like blindness, deafness, heart defects; known as Congenital Rubella Syndrome (CRS).
  • India accounts for around one third of all children born worldwide with congenital rubella syndrome (CRS).
  • No specific treatment is available for measles and rubella but these diseases can easily be prevented by vaccination.
  • India, along with ten other WHO South East Asia Region member countries, have resolved to eliminate measles and control rubella/congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) by 2020.
  • In this direction, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has initiated measles-rubella (MR) vaccination campaign in the age group of 9 months to less than 15 years in a phased manner across the nation.
  • The purpose of the Measles-Rubella campaign is to protect children and eliminate transmission of Measles and Rubella from the community by vaccinating 100% target children with MR vaccine.
  • The conduct of Measles-Rubella vaccination campaigns was an important factor in achieving measles elimination in the Western Hemisphere (2002), and the elimination of indigenous rubella in 2009.
  • The campaign dose will be administered to all children falling between the age group of 9 months to less than 15 years of age, irrespective of any past history of disease or vaccination.
  • India has already beaten smallpox, polio, maternal and neonatal tetanus and, very recently, yaws.
  • India was the first country in the world to become YAWS-free.
  • This accomplishment is significant as India has achieved the milestone of being YAWS-free much before the WHO global target year of 2020.
  • YAWS is a kind of bacterial infection that affects skin, bones and joints.
  • Elimination of measles will contribute to achieving Sustainable Development Goal’s target 3.2 which, among others, aims to end preventable deaths of newborns and children under five years of age by 2030.

 Why is inactivated polio virus vaccine (IPV) now been introduced when India has already eradicated polio?

  • Although India has been declared polio free, wild poliovirus is still present in neighbouring countries such as Afghanistan and Pakistan.
  • The poliovirus can be imported by travellers across countries.
  • Till such time as the poliovirus is not eradicated from all the countries of the world, the threat of re-emergence and re-infection of polio remains.
  • This is an important step towards global; eradication of polio which is being implemented in all countries.
  • 2014: No Wild Polio virus case was reported from the country for the last three years and India had a historic achievement and was certified as “polio free country” along with other South East Asia Region (SEAR) countries of WHO.

CDSCO ISSUES ALERT ON PACEMAKERS

Context: A nationwide alert will be announced by the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) on Monday on some faulty pacemakers models sold by the world’s largest medical device manufacturer, Medtronic.

 Essentials

What is Pacemaker?

  • A pacemaker is a small device that’s placed in the chest or abdomen to help control abnormal heart rhythms.
  • This device uses electrical pulses to prompt the heart to beat at a normal rate.
  • A pacemaker also can help a person who has abnormal heart rhythms resume a more active lifestyle.

 Understanding the Heart’s Electrical System

  • Our heart has its own internal electrical system that controls the rate and rhythm of your heartbeat.
  • With each heartbeat, an electrical signal spreads from the top of our heart to the bottom. As the signal travels, it causes the heart to contract and pump blood.
  • Each electrical signal normally begins in a group of cells called the sinus node or sinoatrial (SA) node. As the signal spreads from the top of the heart to the bottom, it coordinates the timing of heart cell activity.
  • First, the heart’s two upper chambers, the atria contract. This contraction pumps blood into the heart’s two lower chambers, the ventricles.
  • The ventricles then contract and pump blood to the rest of the body. The combined contraction of the atria and ventricles is a heartbeat.
  • Pacemakers can:
  • Speed up a slow heart rhythm.
  • Help control an abnormal or fast heart rhythm.
  • Make sure the ventricles contract normally if the atria are quivering instead of beating with a normal rhythm (a condition called atrial fibrillation).
  • Coordinate electrical signalling between the upper and lower chambers of the heart.
  • Coordinate electrical signalling between the ventricles. Pacemakers that do this are called cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) devices. CRT devices are used to treat heart failure.
  • Prevent dangerous arrhythmias caused by a disorder called long QT syndrome.
  • Pacemakers also can monitor and record our heart’s electrical activity and heart rhythm.
  • Newer pacemakers can monitor our blood temperature, breathing rate, and other factors.
  • They also can adjust our heart rate to changes in our activity.
  • Pacemakers can be temporary or permanent.
  • Temporary pacemakers are used to treat short-term heart problems, such as a slow heartbeat that’s caused by a heart attack, heart surgery, or an overdose of medicine.
  • Pacemakers have one to three wires that are each placed in different chambers of the heart.
  • The wires in a single-chamber pacemaker usually carry pulses from the generator to the right ventricle (the lower right chamber of your heart).
  • The wires in a dual-chamber pacemaker carry pulses from the generator to the right atrium (the upper right chamber of your heart) and the right ventricle. The pulses help coordinate the timing of these two chambers’ contractions.
  • The wires in a biventricular pacemaker carry pulses from the generator to an atrium and both ventricles. The pulses help coordinate electrical signalling between the two ventricles. This type of pacemaker also is called a cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) device.

Fig.: Cross-Section of a Chest With a Pacemaker

  • How does a Pacemaker affect our Lifestyle?
  • Once we have a pacemaker, we have to avoid close or prolonged contact with electrical devices or devices that have strong magnetic fields.
  • Even tests like Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI can interfere with a pacemaker.

 Central Drugs Standard Control Organization

  • The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) under Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India is the National Regulatory Authority (NRA) of India.
  • Under the Drug and Cosmetics Act, the regulation of manufacture, sale and distribution of Drugs is primarily the concern of the State authorities while the Central Authorities are responsible for:
  • approval of New Drugs and Clinical Trials in the country,
  • laying down the standards for Drugs,
  • control over the quality of imported Drugs,
  • coordination of the activities of State Drug Control Organisations
  • banning of drugs and cosmetics and providing expert advice with a view of bring about the uniformity in the enforcement of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.
  • Further CDSCO along with state regulators, is jointly responsible for grant of licenses of certain specialized categories of critical Drugs such as blood and blood products, I. V. Fluids, Vaccine and Sera.

ULTIMA THULE

Context: NASA has found evidence for a unique mixture of methanol, water ice, and organic molecules on Ultima Thule’s surface — the farthest world ever explored by mankind.

 Essentials

  • (486958) 2014 MU69, nicknamed Ultima Thule, an ancient relic from the era of planet formation, is a trans-Neptunian object located in the Kuiper belt.
  • It is a contact binary 35 km long, composed of two planetesimals 22 km and 14 km across, nicknamed “Ultima” and “Thule”, respectively, that are joined along their major axes.
  • Ultima, which is flatter than Thule, appears to be an aggregate of 8 or so smaller units,[19] each approximately 5 km across, that fused together before Ultima and Thule came into contact.
  • How the two lobes got their unusual shape is an unanticipated mystery that likely relates to how they formed billions of years ago.
  • The lobes likely once orbited each other until some process brought them together in what scientists have shown to be a “gentle” merger.
  • For that to happen, much of the binary’s orbital momentum must have dissipated for the objects to come together, but scientists do not yet know whether that was due to aerodynamic forces from gas in the ancient solar nebula, or if Ultima and Thule ejected other lobes that formed with them to dissipate energy and shrink their orbit.
  • The alignment of the axes of Ultima and Thule indicates that before the merger the two lobes must have become tidally locked, meaning that the same sides always faced each other as they orbited around the same point.
  • Because there have been few to no disruptive impacts on 2014 MU69 since it formed, the details of its formation have been preserved.
  • With the New Horizons Space probe’s flyby on 1 January 2019, 2014 MU69 became the farthest and most primitive object in the Solar System visited by a spacecraft.
  • 2014 MU69 was discovered on 26 June 2014 by astronomer Marc Buie using the Hubble Space Telescope as part of a search for a Kuiper belt object for the New Horizons mission to target in its first extended mission.
  • In colour and composition, Ultima Thule resembles many other objects found in its area of the Kuiper Belt. Its reddish hue is believed to be caused by modification of the organic materials on its surface.
  • There is no doubt that the discoveries made about Ultima Thule are going to advance theories of solar system formation.
  • The New Horizons spacecraft is now 6.6 billion kilometers from Earth, operating normally and speeding deeper into the Kuiper Belt at nearly 53,000 kilometers per hour.

 Fodders

  • Tashigang in Himachal Pradesh is world’s highest polling station.
  • It is one of the assembly segments that form the second largest Lok Sabha constituency in India.
  • NALSA v. Union of India(2014) held that transgender persons have the right to decide their “self-identified gender”.
  • In the judgment delivered in Arunkumar and Sreeja v. Inspector General of Registration and Others(2019), the Madras High Court has held that a properly solemnised marriage between a male and transwoman is valid under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, and the Registrar of Marriages is bound to register the same.

Baghuz

  • The Syrian town was the last IS-ruled village overrun by Syrian forces in March this year.

Daily News Analysis – May 18, 2019

Source: The Hindu, Live Mint and Indian Express


DROUGHT DECLARATION IN INDIA

Context: With water storage in dams dropping to a “critical” level, the Centre has issued a “drought advisory” to Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Tamil Nadu, asking them to use water judiciously.

 Essentials

  • The drought advisory is issued to States when the water level in reservoirs is 20% less than the average of live water storage figures of the past 10 years.
  • Water falls under the State list and the advisory recommends States to use water for drinking purpose only till the dams are replenished.
  • The CWC monitors water storage available in 91 major reservoirs across the country.

 Drought declaration in India

  • Drought is the consequence of a natural reduction in the amount of precipitation over an extended period of time leading to water shortage causing adverse impacts on vegetation, animals, and people.

 Drought declaration in India – New Terminology

  • Recently, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) officially expunged the word “drought” from its vocabulary.
  • If India’s monsoon rainfall were to dip below 10 per cent of the normal and span between 20 and 40 per cent of the country’s area, it would be called a “deficient” year instead of an “All India Drought Year.”
  • A more severe instance, where the deficit exceeds 40 per cent and would have been called an “All India Severe Drought Year,” will now be a “Large Deficient Year”.
  • The IMD had never used the term “drought” in its forecasts and had maintained that declaring droughts was the prerogative of States.
  • Declaring a drought has never been the IMD’s mandate and, in fact, not even that of the Central government, that’s because drought is not a measure of productivity (agricultural).
  • Context: According to the urban air quality database for 2016 released by the WHO, of the 20 most polluted cities in the world, the top 14 are in India.
  • These include Kanpur, Faridabad*, Varanasi, Gaya, Patna, Delhi, Lucknow, Agra, Muzaffarpur, Srinagar, Gurgaon*, Jaipur, Patiala, and Jodhpur—in that order.
  • Varanasi is one of the cities that is part of the National Clean Air Programme, an initiative by the Union Environment Ministry to improve air quality in 100 cities by 20% at least by 2024. One of the commitments under this is to improve air quality monitoring.

*These cities are not even covered under the National Clean Air Programme.

 Difference between National Clean Air Programme, National Air Quality Index and Air Quality Monitoring Programme (NAMP):

 National Clean Air Programme 

  • It has been launched by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
  • It is a medium term(five-year action plan with 2019 as the first year) national level strategy to tackle the increasing air pollution problem across the country.
  • It aims to reduce particulate matter (PM) pollution by 20-30% in at least 102 cities by 2024.
  • It includes both monitoring network across the country besides ensuring comprehensive management plan for prevention, control and abatement of air pollution.

 Integral components of the strategy framework:

  • increasing number of existing manual and continuous monitoring stations,
  • introducing rural monitoring stations
  • identifying alternative technology for real-time monitoring network
  • augmenting capabilities of existing monitoring stations to measure PM2.5 concentration
  • an Air Information Centre as well as an Air Quality Forecasting system
  • both city-specific source apportionment studies as well as a national-level emission inventory.
  • While the document mentions emission reduction targets, nowhere does it actually quantify these targets. 

 National Air Quality Index (AQI)

  • Launched by the Environment Minister, AQI is a huge initiative under ‘Swachh Bharat’.
  • It is to act as ‘One Number- One Colour-One Description’ to judge the Air Quality for Common Man.
  • There are six AQI categories, namely Good, Satisfactory, Moderately polluted, Poor, Very Poor, and Severe.
  • It considers eight pollutants [PM10, PM5, Nitrogen dioxide (NO2), Sulphur dioxide (SO2), Carbon monoxide (CO), Ozone (O3), Ammonia (NH3) and Lead (Pb)] for which short-term (up to 24-hourly averaging period) National Ambient Air Quality Standards are prescribed.
  • Associated likely health impacts for different AQI categories and pollutants have been also been suggested.

Air Quality Monitoring Programme (NAMP)

  • Executed nation-wide by Central Pollution Control Board.
  • Four air pollutants are being monitored
  • Sulphur Dioxide (SO2)
  • Oxides of Nitrogen as NO2
  • Respirable Suspended Particulate Matter (RSPM / PM10)
  • Fine Particulate Matter (PM2.5)
  • The monitoring is being carried out with the help of:
  • Central Pollution Control Board;
  • State Pollution Control Boards;
  • Pollution Control Committees;
  • National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Nagpur.

‘Clean Air India Initiative’

  • India in collaboration with the Netherlands has launched the ‘Clean Air India Initiative’ which aims to curb air pollution in Indian cities by promoting partnerships between Indian start-ups and Dutch companies and build a network of entrepreneurs working on business solutions for cleaner air.

Clean Sea Programme

  • ‘Clean Sea Programme’ is a Sweden-led initiative to reduce littering of marine ecosystems.

New system to measure air quality

  • India is tying up with the United States and Finland to develop a pollution-forecast system.
  • It will help anticipate particulate matter (PM) levels at least two days in advance and at a greater resolution than what is possible now.
  • At present, the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune, serves as the apex forecaster of pollution trends in Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and Ahmedabad.
  • It generates a likely air quality profile, a day in advance, for these cities.
  • IITM is an organisation under the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES).

NAVY BOOSTS ITS AIR WARFARE CAPABILITY

Context: The Navy crossed a milestone in enhancing its anti air warfare capability, with the maiden “cooperative engagement firing” of the medium-range surface-to air missiles.

 Essentials

  • This was achieved by network-centric operations that helped to combine the capabilities of all military platforms in a formation.
  • The firing was undertaken on the western seaboard by the INS Kochi and the INS Chennai, wherein the missiles of both ships were controlled by one ship to intercept different aerial targets at extended ranges.

US-TALIBAN TALKS FOR PEACE IN AFGHANISTAN: WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR?

Context: Officials from the United States and Taliban representatives have held six rounds of direct talks since October in Qatar’s capital Doha in a bid to end the 18-year war in Afghanistan.

 Essentials

  • The talks hope to preserve the post-2001 progress made in the country after the Taliban government was overthrown by a US-led military coalition for sheltering al-Qaeda, the group blamed for the 9/11 attacks.
  • The Afghan government, however, is not involved in the talks as the armed group has refused to negotiate with it, deeming it illegitimate and a “puppet” of the US. The group says any engagement with the government would grant it legitimacy.
  • The Taliban has long demanded the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, which has been a sticking point in the meetings between the US and the group in Doha and has blocked progress in the talks.

 What is the Afghan president’s loya jirga?

  • Last month, the Afghan president held a loya jirga, a grand assembly which brought together more than 3,200 participants, including politicians, tribal elders and other prominent figures from across the country.
  • The council, which sought to hammer out a shared strategy for future negotiations with Taliban, ended with delegates demanding an “immediate and permanent” ceasefire.
  • The meeting, traditionally convened under extraordinary circumstances, was held in a bid to build consensus among various ethnic groups and tribal factions over restoring peace in Afghanistan.

ANTI-DUMPING DUTY

Context: India has begun a probe into the alleged dumping of digital printing plates from China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam on a complaint by a domestic manufacturer, a Commerce Ministry notification said.

 Essentials

  • Binding tariffs, and applying them equally to all trading partners (most-favoured-nation treatment, or MFN) are key to the smooth flow of trade in goods.
  • The WTO agreements uphold the principles, but they also allow exceptions — in some circumstances.
  • Three of these issues are:
  • actions taken against dumping (selling at an unfairly low price);
  • subsidies and special “countervailing” duties to offset the subsidies;
  • emergency measures to limit imports temporarily, designed to “safeguard” domestic industries.

 Countervailing duty (CVD)

  • It is an additional import duty imposed on imported products (by the importing country) when such products enjoy benefits like export subsidies and tax concessions in the country of their origin.
  • The objective of CVD is to nullify or eliminate the price advantage (low price) enjoyed by an imported product when it is given subsidies or exempted from domestic taxes in the country where they are manufactures.
  • The WTO permits member countries to impose countervailing duty when the exporting country gives export subsidy.

 Anti-Dumping Duty

  • Dumping is a process where a company exports a product at a price lower than the price it normally charges on its own home market.
  • An anti-dumping duty is a protectionist tariffthat a domestic government imposes on foreign imports that it believes are priced below fair market value.
  • Typically anti-dumping action means charging extra import duty on the particular product from the particular exporting country in order to bring its price closer to the “normal value” or to remove the injury to domestic industry in the importing country.
  • Anti-dumping duty is imposed on the basis of margin of dumping which can vary across countries, producers or exporters. Accordingly, there are variable rates of anti-dumping duty on different exporting countries, producers or exporters. 
  • the WTO agreement allows governments to act against dumping where there is genuine (“material”) injury to the competing domestic industry. In order to do that the government has to be able to show that dumping is taking place, calculate the extent of dumping (how much lower the export price is compared to the exporter’s home market price), and show that the dumping is causing injury or threatening to do so.
  • The use of anti-dumping measure as an instrument of fair competition is permitted by the WTO.
  • Disputes in the anti-dumping area are subject to binding dispute settlement before the Dispute Settlement Body of the WTO.

 Anti Dumping and The Customs Duty

  • Although anti-dumping duty is levied and collected by the Customs Authorities, it is entirely different from the Customs duties not only in concept and substance, but also in purpose and operation.
  • The following are the main differences between the two:-
  • Anti-dumping and the like measures in their essence are linked to the notion of fair trade. The object of these duties is to guard against the situation arising out of unfair trade practices while customs duties are there as a means of raising revenue and for overall development of the economy.
  • Customs duties fall in the realm of trade and fiscal policies of the Government while anti-dumping and anti subsidy measures are there as trade remedial measures.
  • Anti dumping duties are not necessarily in the nature of a tax measure inasmuch as the Authority is empowered to suspend these duties in case of an exporter offering a price undertaking. Thus, such measures are not always in the form of duties/tax.
  • Anti dumping and anti subsidy duties are levied against exporter/country in as much as they are country specific and exporter specific as against the customs duties which are general and universally applicable to all imports irrespective of the country of origin and the exporter.

 Extent of anti-dumping duty

  • Under the WTO arrangement, the National Authorities can impose duties up to the margin of dumping i.e. the difference between the normal value and the export price.
  • The Indian law also provides that the anti-dumping duty to be recommended/levied shall not exceed the dumping margin.
  • The anti-dumping duty cannot be levied retrospectively beyond 90days from the date of issue of Notification imposing duty.

 Authority For Anti Dumping

  • Anti-dumping and anti subsidies & countervailing measures in India are administered by the Directorate General of anti-dumping and Allied Duties (DGAD) functioning in the Dept. of Commerce in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and the same is headed by the “Designated Authority”.
  • The Designated Authority’s function, however, is only to conduct the anti-dumping/anti-subsidy & countervailing duty investigation and make recommendation to the Government for imposition of anti-dumping or anti subsidy measures.
  • Such duty is finally imposed/levied by a Notification of the Ministry of Finance.
  • Thus, while the Designated Authority (in the Department of Commerce) recommends the anti-dumping duty, provisional or final , it is the Ministry of Finance, Dept. of Revenue which acts upon such recommendation within three months and imposes/levies such duty.
  • Safeguard measures, on the other hand, are administered by another Authority namely, Director General (Safeguard), which functions under the Dept. of Revenue, Ministry of Finance.
  • The Standing Board of Safeguards (chaired by the Commerce Secretary) considers the recommendations of the DG (Safeguards) and then recommends the impositions of the Safeguard Duty as it deems fit, to the Ministry of Finance which levies the duty.

 Minimum Level Of Imports

Individual exporter:

  • Any exporter whose margin of dumping is less than 2% of the export price shall be excluded from the purview of anti-dumping duties even if the existence of dumping, injury as well as the causal link is established.

Country:

  • Further, investigation against any country is required to be terminated if the volume of the dumped imports, actual or potential, from a particular country accounts for less than 3% of the total imports of the like product.
  • However, in such a case, the cumulative imports of the like product from all these countries who individually account for less than 3%, should not exceed 7% of the import of the like product.

 APPEAL

  • The law provides that an order of determination of existence degree and effect of dumping is appealable before the Customs, Excise and Gold (Control) Appellate Tribunal (CEGAT).
  • However, as per the judicial view, only the final findings/order of the Designated Authority/Ministry of Finance can be appealed against before the CEGAT.
  • Appeal cannot lie against the Preliminary findings of the Authority and the provisional duty imposed on the basis thereof.
  • The Appeal to the CEGAT should be filed within 90 days.

STARLINK PROJECT

Context: SpaceX postponed the planned deployment of 60 Starlink satellites due to strong upper-altitude winds.

 Essentials

  • Starlink is a satellite based broadband network, with the objective of eventually building a low-cost, satellite based broadband network capable of delivering internet access to the entire globe.
  • While satellite internet has been around for ages, it has generally suffered from high latency, unreliable connections, and spotty service areas.
  • With Starlink, SpaceX intends to put a “constellation” of satellites in low earth orbit, thereby providing high-speed, cable-like internet to every corner of the planet.
  • SpaceX will need to launch 4,425 satellites into orbit to achieve its desired coverage.
  • In February 2018, SpaceX and Starlink took a huge step: The project successfully launched the first two Starlink test satellites (named Tintin A and Tintin B).

 Other Competitors

  • Google may be messing around with balloons (Project Loon), but Facebook is developing a satellite in house named “Athena” specifically to offer internet service to underdeveloped areas.

 SpaceX

  • SpaceX designs, manufactures and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft.
  • The company was founded in 2002 to revolutionize space technology, with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets.
  • SpaceX has gained worldwide attention for a series of historic milestones.
  • It is the only private company capable of returning a spacecraft from low Earth orbit, which it first accomplished in 2010.
  • The company made history again in 2012 when its Dragon spacecraft became the first commercial spacecraft to deliver cargo to and from the International Space Station.
  • SpaceX successfully achieved the historic first reflight of an orbital class rocket in 2017, and the company now regularly launches flight-proven rockets.
  • In 2018, SpaceX began launching the world’s most powerful operational rocket by a factor of two.
  • Building on the achievements of Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy, SpaceX is working on a next generation of fully reusable launch vehicles that will be the most powerful ever built, capable of carrying humans to Mars and other destinations in the solar system.

Terms in news

European Alliance of People and Nations

  • Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister and figurehead for the far right in Europe, Matteo Salvini, launched the campaign for the European Alliance of People and Nations, alongside allies from Germany to Denmark, on a platform invoking tougher immigration rules and in some cases Euroscepticism.
  • Euroscepticism, also known as EU-scepticism, means criticism of the European Union (EU) and European integration.

 Indo-Pacific Vision

  • The Indo-Pacific wing has been set up in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in April 2019.
  • The renaming of the U.S. Pacific Command to U.S. Indo-Pacific Command as well as the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act in December 2018 showcase Washington’s more serious engagement with the Indo-Pacific.
  • The Free and Open Indo-Pacific concept was unveiled by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2016.

 Major irritants in the Indo-U.S. trade relations

  • Disagreements over ICT, dairy products, medical devices, India’s e-commerce policy and the U.S.’s H-1B visa policies are yet to be resolved.
  • Trump’s March announcement that preferential trade benefits for India under the U.S.’s GSP program will be withdrawn and the U.S. requiring India to stop its imports of Iranian oil from May, have added to the strain on the relationship.

Taiwan

  • Taiwan’s legislature voted to legalize same-sex marriage, in a first in Asia and a boost for LGBT rights activists who had championed the cause for two decades.

PIB – May 18 , 2019


GOVERNANCE

Directorate of Indian Army Veterans (DIAV)

Context

  • In order to deliver effective care and support to our Veterans and NoKs, a conference and training programme was organised at DIAV, Delhi Cantt.
  • The aim of this programme was to discuss existing and future initiatives associated with veterans & Next of Kins (NoK) and obtain feedback from officials who are directly handling the veteran affairs.

What is DIAV?

  • The Directorate of Indian Army Veterans (DIAV) was raised in April, 2013 as a single window for the redressal of veterans’ issues and aspirations at Army HQ level.
  • Since then, its role and charter has expanded considerably, to include matters beyond the usual pension and welfare related issues.
  • It does not only interact with the line directorates and welfare societies at the AG Branch, but also with other directorates, state governments, skilling agencies and placement partners across the country.

PM-KISAN Scheme

Context

  • Prime Minister of India addressed at the launch of PM-KISAN scheme in Uttar Pradesh under the welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population initiative.

What is PM-KISAN Scheme?

  • The Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana (PM-KISAN) was announced in the interim Budget 2019-20.
  • PM KISAN is a Central Sector scheme with 100% funding from Government of India.
  • Under this programme, vulnerable landholding farmer families, having cultivable land upto 2 hectares, will be provided direct income support at the rate of Rs. 6,000 per year.
  • This income support will be transferred directly into the bank accounts of beneficiary farmers, in three equal installments of Rs. 2,000 each.
  • The Scheme was introduced to augment the income of the Small and Marginal Farmers (SMFs).

 Significance

  • Around 12 crore small and marginal farmer families are expected to benefit from this.
  • It would not only provide assured supplemental income to the most vulnerable farmer families, but would also meet their emergent needs especially before the harvest season.
  • This would also protect them from falling in the clutches of moneylenders for meeting such expenses and ensure their continuance in the farming activities.

Atal Tinkering Laboratories

Context

  • NITI Aayog’s Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) and Adobe today signed a Statement of Intent (SOI) to collectively drive the charter of developing creative skills and spreading digital literacy across all Atal Tinkering Labs in India.
  • What is Atal Tinkering Laboratories?
  • Atal Tinkering Laboratories (ATLs) are the laboratories establishing in the schools across the India under the Atal Innovation Mission with a vision to ‘Cultivate one Million children in India as Neoteric Innovators’.
  • The objective of this scheme is to foster curiosity, creativity and imagination in young minds; and inculcate skills such as design mindset, computational thinking, adaptive learning, physical computing etc.

 Key Features of ATL

  • ATL is a work space where young minds can give shape to their ideas through hands on do-it-yourself mode; and learn innovation skills.
  • Young children will get a chance to work with tools and equipment to understand the concepts of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).
  • ATL would contain educational and learning ‘do it yourself’ kits and equipment on – science, electronics, robotics, open source microcontroller boards, sensors and 3D printers and computers.
  • Other desirable facilities include meeting rooms and video conferencing facility.
  • AIM will provide grant-in-aid that includes a one-time establishment cost of Rs. 10 lakh and operational expenses of Rs. 10 lakh for a maximum period of 5 years to each ATL.

Atal Innovation Mission (AIM)

About AIM

  • AIM is the Government of India’s flagship initiative to promote a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in the country.
  • Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) including Self-Employment and Talent Utilization (SETU) is Government of India’s endeavour to promote a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship.
  • Its objective is to serve as a platform for promotion of world-class Innovation Hubs, Grand Challenges, Start-up businesses and other self-employment activities, particularly in technology driven areas.

Key function of AIM

  • Entrepreneurship promotion through Self-Employment and Talent Utilization, wherein innovators would be supported and mentored to become successful entrepreneurs.
  • Innovation promotion: to provide a platform where innovative ideas are generated.

Highlights

  • As a part of AIM, ATLs are being established in more than 5,000 schools in India.
  • Students of class 6th to class 12th acquire problem solving and innovation skills, developing innovative solutions leveraging Tinkering technologies like 3D printers, robotics, miniaturised electronics, IOT and programming, do it yourself kits with support from teachers.
  • The Atal Tinkering Lab is based on the philosophy to identify and nurture innovation in young students across the country.