CURRENT AFFAIRS MARCH 2019
UNEQUAL REPRESENTATION IN INDIAN DEMOCRACY
In the wake of General Elections 2019, a debate has again surfaced on unequal representation in Indian democracy. As per studies, India has the lowest number of MPs relative to its population across democracies.
- Article 81 of the Constitution of India prescribes that every state and Union territory (UT) would be allotted seats in the Lok Sabha in such a manner that the ratio of population to seats should be as equal as possible across states.
- Article 82, stipulates that a delimitation of parliamentary constituencies be carried out after every census. This task is carried out by the Delimitation Commission established by the Government of India under the provisions of Delimitation Commission Act. It was done after every census until 1976.
- However, government froze delimitation in 1976 until after 2001 Census by the 42nd constitutional amendment (1976). This freeze was extended to 2026 by the 84th constitutional amendment (2002).
SELF-REGULATION OF SOCIAL MEDIA IN ELECTIONS
Social media platforms and the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) have presented a ‘Voluntary Code of Ethics for the General Election 2019’ to the Election Commission.
- The ‘Code of Ethics” has been developed to ensure free, fair & ethical usage of Social Media Platforms to maintain the integrity of the electoral process for the General Elections 2019.
- The purpose of this voluntary Code is to identify the measures that Participants can put in place to increase confidence in the electoral process.
- It will enter into force on 20 March 2019, until the duration of the 2019 Indian General Elections.
Recently, various political parties have been criticized for using vote bank politics during their election campaigns.
- The term ‘vote-bank politics’ was first used in a research paper in 1955 by noted sociologist MN Srinivas. He used it in the context of political influence exerted by a patron over a client.
- But in contemporary times, the domains of this term have broadened. Now, it denotes voting on the basis of caste, class, sect, language, religion, region etc. So, it refers to a group of voters in the society that usually votes ‘en masse’ in favour of a party/ candidate in democratic elections.
- It denotes the voting behavior of the people on the basis of their identity and how political parties try to influence voters on such basis.
PARTY SYMBOL ALLOCATION
Recently the Delhi High Court upheld the Election Commission of India’s allotment of the ‘Two Leaves’ symbol to the AIADMK party following a dispute between the two rival factions of the party.
Rules Governing allocation of Party Symbol
- The Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 governs the election symbols reservation, allocation order and registration of Political parties in India.
- The Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968 empowers the EC to recognise political parties and allot symbols. It aims to-
- Provide for specification, reservation, choice and allotment of symbols at elections in Parliamentary and Assembly Constituencies
- For the recognition of political parties.
OFFICIAL SECRETS ACT
The Government of India threatened to invoke the Official Secrets Act and initiate “criminal action” against the two publications that had run reports on the Rafale deal.
About Official Secrets Act
- It is India’s anti-espionage act, brought in 1923 during the colonial period to prevent all such actions that could help in any way the enemy states.
- The act was retained after independence. The law, applicable to government servants and citizens, provides the framework for dealing with espionage, sedition, and other potential threats to the integrity of the nation.
- It broadly deals with two aspects- o Section 3- Spying or espionage o Section 5- Disclosure of other secret information of the government. This information can be any official code, password, sketch, plan, model, article, note, document or information. Here both the person communicating the information, and the person receiving the information, can be punished.
PM-led selection panel recently cleared the former Supreme Court Judge Pinaki Chandra Ghose as first Lokpal of India.
- The Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013 was enacted after the Indian anti-corruption movement of 2011 with series of protests for the Jan Lokpal Bill.
- However, the appointment of the Lokpal was delayed because of absence of leader of opposition, who is a member of selection panel to recommend Lokpal. After this the Supreme Court intervened and set deadlines for appointing the Lokpal at the earliest
Salient features of The Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013
- Institutional mechanism: Establishment of Lokpal for the Union and Lokayukta for States to inquire into allegations of corruption against certain public functionaries.
- Composition: Lokpal will consist of a chairperson and a maximum of eight members, of which 50% shall be judicial members and 50% shall be from SC/ST/OBCs, minorities and women.
- Appointment process: It is a two-stage process.
- A search committee which recommends a panel of names to the high-power selection committee.
- The selection committee comprises the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, the Leader of the Opposition, the Chief Justice of India (or his nominee) and an eminent jurist (nominated by President based on the recommendation of other members of the panel).
- President will appoint the recommended names.
- Jurisdiction: The jurisdiction of Lokpal extends to
- Anyone who is or has been Prime Minister, or a Minister in the Union government, or a Member of Parliament, as well as officials of the Union government under Groups A, B, C and D.
- The chairpersons, members, officers and directors of any board, corporation, society, trust or autonomous body either established by an Act of Parliament or wholly or partly funded by the Centre.
- Any society or trust or body that receives foreign contribution above ₹10 lakh
- Exception for Prime Minister
- It does not allow a Lokpal inquiry if the allegation against the PM relates to international relations, external and internal security, public order, atomic energy and space.
- Complaints against the PM are not to be probed unless the full Lokpal bench considers the initiation of inquiry and at least 2/3rds of the members approve it.
- Such an inquiry against the PM (if conducted) is to be held in camera and if the Lokpal comes to the conclusion that the complaint deserves to be dismissed, the records of the inquiry are not to be published or made available to anyone
REDUCING NUMBER OF TRIBUNALS
Recently Chief Justice of India while heading a Constitution Bench suggested having as few tribunals as possible.
- The Bench is hearing a batch of petitions, which challenges the amendments in the Finance Act, 2017.
- The amendments to the Finance Act, 2017:
- provides that the central government may make rules to provide for the qualifications, appointments, term of office, salaries and allowances, resignation, removal, and other conditions of service for the Chairpersons and other members of the Tribunals that will continue to operate.
- state that the central government will have the power to amend the list of Tribunals, through a notification.
Tribunals in India
- A tribunal is a quasi-judicial body established in India by an Act of Parliament or State Legislature under Article 323A or 323B to resolve disputes that are brought before it.
- Articles 323-A and 323-B were inserted through the 42nd Amendment Act of 1976 on recommendation of Swaran Singh Committee.
- Article 323A deals with administrative tribunals.
- Article 323B deals with tribunals for other matters.
INDIA-RUSSIA DEFENCE RELATIONS
India has recently signed a $3-billion deal with Russia for leasing a nuclear-powered submarine for the Indian Navy.
- Under the pact, Russia will have to deliver the Akula class submarine, Christened as Chakra III, to the Indian Navy by 2025 for a period of 10 years.
- It is the third Russian nuclear powered submarine to be leased to Indian Navy. Earlier, Chakra I was leased in 1988 and Chakra II was leased in 2012. The lease of Chakra II is likely to be extended to 2027 till the new vessel gets build and tested.
- The deal includes refurbishment of the submarine with the Indian communication and sensor systems, spares support and training technical infrastructure for its operations.
JAPAN-INDIA SPACE DIALOGUE
India and Japan conducted their first Annual Bilateral Space Dialogue at New Delhi.
- The Japan-India Space Dialogue for enhancing bilateral cooperation in outer-space, was established in October 2018. It includes sharing satellite data and surveillance technologies.
- It aims in part to keep pace with the U.S., China and Russia in this area.
Major issues discussed during the dialogue include-
- Space-based maritime domain awareness and satellite reconnaissance through the harmonization of positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) systems and Space exploration.
- Sharing of satellite and radar information as well as ground infrastructure.
- Talks on Global navigation satellite system, Space situational awareness (SSA), Space security and space-related norms.
Recently for the first time India’s External Affairs Minister, attended the inaugural plenary of the 46th session of the Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) of Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC).
- India was invited to attend the first summit of the OIC 50 years ago in 1969 in Morocco. But the Indian delegation had to return midway due to a withdrawal of the invitation after Pakistan’s objection. It was a setback for Indian diplomacy.
- In 2002, it was Qatar that first proposed observer status for India at the OIC foreign ministers’ meet but Pakistan had consistently blocked the move.
- In 2018, Bangladesh along with Turkey proposed restructuring of the charter of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to pave way for the inclusion of non-Muslim countries like India as an ‘observer state’.
- The invitation is seen as a major triumph for Indian diplomacy and a major setback for Pakistan. It reflects recent boost in economic and security ties with West Asian nations.
MALAYSIA ACCEDES TO ROME STATUTE
Recently, Malaysia signed the Instrument of Accession to the Rome Statute, becoming 123rd member state of International Criminal Court.
International Criminal Court
- It is the first permanent, treaty-based, International criminal court, with jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for international crimes of genocide, crimes against Humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression.
- Established in 2002 and governed by the Rome Statute, which was adopted in 1998.
- It has territorial jurisdiction over nations that are party to the Rome Statute or have accepted the court’s jurisdiction.
- It is an independent judicial body distinct from the UN.
- It works in cooperation with UN, Reports annually to the UNGA and also hear cases referred to by UNSC.
- It is located in The Hague, The Netherlands.
- India is not a member of ICC (neither signed nor ratified).
US President has officially recognised Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights, seized from Syria in 1967.
- The Golan Heights are a 1,200 square kilometre plateau on the Israel-Syria border, which were part of Syria until 1967, when Israel captured it in Six Day War of 1967.
- In 1981 Israel passed a law extending its jurisdiction to Golan Heights, effectively annexing it. However, UNSC resolution 497, adopted in December 1981, declared that the Israeli Golan Heights Law “null and void and without international legal effect” and further called on Israel to rescind its action.
INDEPENDENT FISCAL COUNCIL
15th Finance Commission’s Chairman NK Singh has pitched for an institutional mechanism like a ‘Fiscal Council’ to enforce fiscal rules and keep a check on the Centre’s fiscal consolidation.
Issues in fiscal management
- Poor Budgetary Forecasting: Budgets often overstate revenue projections (15 out of 20 years since fiscal 1998) and understate expenditures (12 out of 20 years since fiscal 1998). According to CAG Report in 2017, the over-ambitious revenue targets combined with the lack of transparency in tax administration lead overzealous taxmen resorting to ‘irregular’ and ‘unwarranted’ methods to meet targets.
- Limited Tax Buoyancy: Faster growth in nominal gross domestic product (GDP) usually leads to faster growth in tax collections. However, in India, tax buoyancy shows no stable pattern and hence, forecasting tax revenues is difficult.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has introduced a $5-billion dollar-rupee swap facility for the banks to facilitate permanent liquidity support.
- The Reserve Bank of India has various monetary tools to manage liquidity in the financial market.
- Adjusting repo rates and purchasing bonds by conducting open market operations (OMO) are a couple of tools which the RBI uses regularly either to increase or decrease the currency supply in the market.
- However, despite these efforts, there is a liquidity crunch in the market and as a result, this swap facility has been announced to increase the supply of rupees in the market.
Recently the Reserve Bank of India, imposed ₹2 crore penalty on Punjab National Bank for non-compliance of regulatory directions with regard to SWIFT operations.
- SWIFT stands for the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications.
- It is a messaging network that financial institutions use to securely transmit information and instructions through a standardized system of codes.
- SWIFT assigns each financial organization a unique code that has either eight characters or 11 characters. The code is called SWIFT code.
- The ₹14,000-crore PNB fraud perpetrated by Nirav Modi was a case of misuse of this SWIFT software.
WHITE LABEL ATMS
Recently, RBI has eased business guidelines for White Label ATMs (WLAs) to enhance their viability.
About White Label ATMs
- ATMs set up, owned and operated by non-bank entities are called white label ATMs.
- They are authorized under the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007, by the RBI.
- Cash in ATMs is provided by the sponsored bank while ATM machine does not have any branding of Bank.
- Their role is confined to enabling the transactions of all banks customers by establishing technical connectivity with the existing authorized, shared ATM Network Operators or Card Payment Network Operators.
CAPITAL GAINS TAX
Capital gains on investments made in India through companies in Mauritius and Singapore became fully taxable from April 1 after the concession period of 2 years ceased to exist.
- India amended the double tax avoidance agreements (DTAA) with the two countries in 2016, to prevent aggressive corporate tax avoidance.
- The loophole in these tax treaties had led to a situation where gains from investments into India from the two countries were taxed neither in India nor in the country where the investing entity was located.
- Now, entity from Mauritius and Singapore will have to pay capital gains tax here while selling shares in a company in India.
DATASMART CITIES STRATEGY
The Ministry of Housing and Urban affair (MoHUA) released the new DataSmart Cities Strategy, which aims to better harness the use of data in addressing complex urban challenges in Smart Cities.
Key Objectives of DataSmart Cities
- Institutionalize a “Culture of data”: by creating a formal mechanism for data collection, management and its use by different stakeholders as a potential economic resource.
- Drive Data Governance: towards building capacity in all stakeholders on data informed decision-making so as to foster public accountability and transparency.
- Enable the framing of a City Data Policy: that balance privacy, legal and public benefit considerations. Also define the contours of collaboration between various Governmental/non-Governmental entities on data sharing and access.
HYDRO POWER SECTOR
The Union government has approved various measures to promote hydropower sector.
- Declaration of Large hydropower projects (LHPs, i.e. >25 • MW) as renewable energy projects.
- Hydro Purchase Obligation as a separate entity within Non-Solar Renewable Purchase Obligation for DISCOMS- The HPO shall cover all LHPs commissioned after this order.
- Tariff rationalization measures for bringing down hydropower tariff such as providing flexibility to the developers to determine tariff by back loading of tariff after increasing project life to 40 years, increasing debt repayment period to 18 years and introducing escalating tariff of 2%.
- Budgetary support for funding flood moderation component of hydropower projects
- Budgetary support to Cost of enabling infrastructure i.e. roads and bridges.
MINIMUM SUPPORT PRICE FOR MINOR FOREST PRODUCE
The Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs has launched the revised scheme ““Mechanism for Marketing of Minor Forest Produce (MFP) through Minimum Support Price (MSP) & Development of Value Chain for MFP”
- The MSP for MFP scheme was first launched in 2013 but largely remained a non-starter in most tribal dominant states due to severe gaps in its implementation process.
- It is centrally sponsored scheme aimed to ensure fair and remunerative prices to MFP gatherers.
- It provides direct benefits to the tribal by institutionalizing various avenues in the value chain of MFP such as training, sustainable collection, procurement, value addition, infrastructure, marketing etc.
INDIA’S 3RD IT CORRIDOR IN CHINA
Recently India’s National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) entered into a partnership with China’s Xuzhou city (Jiangsu Province) to help develop India’s 3rd IT corridor in China.
- NASSCOM has already launched two such IT corridors at Dalian, India’s first IT hub in China (in Liaoning Province) and Guiyang (in Guizhou province) to tap the burgeoning Chinese IT industry market.
- The first two corridors have paved the way for cooperation in co-create mode in the emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things and Analytics in the Chinese market.
Why in news? On March 27, 2019, India tested its first anti-satellite (ASAT) missile as part of ‘Mission Shakti’ against a “live” satellite launched by it a few months earlier.
- An anti-satellite weapon is anything that destroys or physically damages or incapacitates a satellite for strategic military purposes. Only the United States, Russia, China, and now India have demonstrated this capability successfully.
- Mission Shakti is India’s response to the potent case of future weaponization of space, where enemy nation can indulge in space war to disrupt critical infrastructure of the nation.
- The DRDO’s Ballistic Missile Defence interceptor was used, which is part of the ongoing ballistic missile defence programme.
- The test was fully successful and achieved all parameters as per plans. The test required an extremely high degree of precision and technical capability.
SMART FENCING ON INDO-BANGLADESH BORDER
The Union Home Ministry has setup the project BOLD-QIT (Border Electronically Dominated QRT Interception Technique) under CIBMS (Comprehensive Integrated Border Management system) on India-Bangladesh border.
- India and Bangladesh share 4096km long international border. But, at various places it is not possible to erect Border Fence due to geographical barriers.
- BOLD-QIT is the project to install technical systems under the CIBMS, which enables BSF to equip Indo-Bangla borders with different kind of sensors in unfenced riverine area of Brahmaputra and its tributaries.
DRAFT INDIAN FOREST ACT AMENDMENT
The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has finalised the first draft of the comprehensive amendments to the Indian Forest Act, 1927.
Key Amendments proposed to the Act
- Shift in focus- Earlier, the focus was on laws related to transport of forest produce and the tax on it. Now, the amendment has increased the focus to “conservation, enrichment and sustainable management of forest resources and matters connected therewith to safeguard ecological stability to ensure provision of ecosystem services in perpetuity and to address the concerns related to climate change and international commitments”.
- Provides definition of Forests, village forests as well as community.
- Introduces new category of Production Forests- These will be forests with specific objectives for production of timber, pulp, pulpwood, firewood, non-timber forest produce, medicinal plants or any forest species to increase production in the country for a specified period.
- Forest Development Cess- of up to 10% of the assessed value of mining products removed from forests, and water used for irrigation or in industries. This amount would be deposited in a special fund and used “exclusively for reforestation; forest protection and other ancillary purposes connected with tree planting, forest development and conservation”.
- Powers to forest bureaucracy- including the power issue search warrants, enter and investigate lands within their jurisdictions, and to provide indemnity to forest officers using arms to prevent forest-related offences. The bureaucracy would also have a veto power in some cases.
UNNATEE (UNLOCKING NATIONAL ENERGY EFFICIENCY POTENTIAL)
Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) has developed a national strategy document titled UNNATEE (Unlocking NATional Energy Efficiency Potential) towards developing an energy efficient nation (2017-2031).
- India is expected to grow at around 8% and almost every economic activity requires energy. If energy consumption (primary energy and electricity) in India were to continue along current lines, it could lead to a growing imbalance between supply and demand.
Microwave ovens and Washing machines will now be assigned Star ratings based on their energy efficiency metrics.
- There will be a revised program for Washing Machines, which will revise the criteria for inclusion of water efficiency in addition to energy performance for grant of Star Rating.
- Initially it will be implemented on a voluntary basis and will be valid up to 31st December 2020.
NATIONAL MISSION ON TRANSFORMATIVE MOBILITY AND BATTERY STORAGE
The Union Cabinet has recently approved The National Mission on Transformative Mobility and Battery Storage.
About the Mission
- Aim is to promote “clean, connected, shared and sustainable” mobility initiative in the country.
- It will have an inter-ministerial steering committee, chaired by CEO, NITI Aayog that will coordinate among key stakeholders to integrate various initiatives to transform mobility in India. • It will support and implement Phased Manufacturing Programme (valid for 5 years till 2024) for large scale, export competitive integrated batteries and cell-manufacturing Giga plants in India.
- The Mission will launch another programme to localize production across entire Electric vehicle value chain and finalise its details.
- The Mission will have ‘Make in India’ strategy for Electric Vehicle components and battery technologies.
The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has issued a notice inviting suggestions and comments from stakeholders on the draft guidelines for implementation of the scheme for farmers for installation of solar pumps and grid-connected solar power plants.
- As a part of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), India has committed to increase the share of installed capacity of electric power from non-fossil fuel sources to 40% by 2030. Further, the Cabinet had approved scaling-up of solar power target from 20,000 MW of Grid Connected Solar power Projects to 1,00,000 MW (100GW) by 2022.
- The government is setting up large-scale solar power plants, but this alone would not suffice to reach the 100 GW target.
- In this context, the government launched the Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (KUSUM) Scheme.
INDIA COOLING ACTION PLAN
Recently the Ministry for Environment, Forest and Climate Change released the India Cooling Action Plan—a 20 year road map (From 2018 to 2038).
About Cooling Action Plan
- India is one of the first countries in the world to develop a comprehensive ‘Cooling Action Plan’, to fight ozone layer depletion adhering to the Montreal Protocol.
- It provides an integrated vision:
- To address the cooling requirement across different sectors of the economy such as residential and commercial buildings, cold-chain, refrigeration, transport and industries.
- To lists out actions which can help reduce the cooling demand, enhancing energy efficiency and better technology options.
AZARDOUS AND OTHER WASTES (MANAGEMENT & TRANS BOUNDARY MOVEMENT) AMENDMENT RULES, 2019
Recently Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has amended the Hazardous and Other Wastes (Management & Trans boundary Movement) Rules, 2016.
- Prohibition on import of solid plastic waste even in special economic zones (SEZ) and by export-oriented units (EOUs).
- Electrical and electronic assemblies and components manufactured in and exported from India, if found defective can be imported back into the country, within a year of export, without obtaining permission.
- The industries that do not require consent under Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1974 and Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1981, will now be exempted from requiring authorisation also.
Recently Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) clarified that forest land with crown density below 40 per cent (open forest) will be treated as degraded forest land for compensatory afforestation (CA).
- The Forest (Conservation) Act of 1980 requires that afforestation is carried out in compensation for forest land diverted for non-forestry uses.
- Compensatory afforestation can be done over an equivalent area of non-forest land or over degraded forest twice in extent of the area being diverted, if non-forestland is not available
Recently Uttar Pradesh has started census of otters in its protected areas for the first time.
- They are carnivorous mammals and adapt to a variety of habitats ranging from marine to freshwater environments.
- The threats for otter population include: habitat destruction, poaching and illegal trade for fur and meat.
- In India, the nomadic hunting tribes such as Gilhara, Badiya and Jogis are known to regularly kill otters for their skin and flesh.
- India is home to 3 of the 13 species of otters found worldwide. These are: o Eurasian Otter (Lutra lutra): IUCN: Near Threatened; CITES Appendix I; Wildlife (Protection) Act Schedule II. o Smooth-coated Otter (Lutra perspicillata): IUCN: Vulnerable; CITES Appendix II; Wildlife (Protection) Act Schedule II. o Small-clawed otter (Aonyx cinereus): IUCN: Vulnerable; CITES Appendix II; Wildlife (Protection) Act Schedule II.
- First ever otter reserve has been opened in Karnataka- The Tungabhadra Otter Reserve Sanctuary.
The Parsi community recently celebrated the annual festival of Navroz.
- Navroz (meaning ‘new day’) is a 3,000-year-old Zoroastrian tradition which includes a ritual celebration that signals the start of Spring and the Persian new year.
- In more modern times, in A.D. 1079, a king of Iran named Jalaluddin Malekshah started observing it on March 21.
SARDAR VALLABHBHAI PATEL
On occasion of the 89th anniversary of the iconic Dandi March, PM Modi published a blog paying tributes to the contributions made by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel to the movement.
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Dandi March • He played a very significant role in mobilizing people for the Dandi march (Salt Satyagraha). • Patel was arrested five days before the march was scheduled. He was sentenced to three months imprisonment and lodged at Sabarmati jail in Ahmedabad. The news of Patel’s arrest shook the entire population of Gujarat who rose up in protest against the government.
6. SCIENCE AND TECCHNOLOGY
Researchers at Delhi’s National Physical Laboratory (CSIR-NPL) have designed a low-pressure chemical vapour deposition (LPCVD) device that allows high quality, single-layer graphene to be grown.
- It is a single layer (monolayer) of carbon atoms, tightly bound in a hexagonal honeycomb lattice.
- It is an allotrope (property of some chemical elements to exist in two or more different forms, in the same physical state) of carbon.
BAN ON E-CIGARETTES
12 states banned e-cigarettes recently, and health ministry has urged all to follow.
What are Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS)?
- They are devices that heat a solution to create an aerosol by vaporizing the solution, which also frequently contains flavours, usually dissolved into propylene glycol and glycerin. They aim to provide a similar sensation to inhaling tobacco smoke, without the smoke and are sold as aids to reduce or quit smoking.
- E-cigarettes, the most common prototype of ENDS, claim to emit nicotine without other harmful chemicals that are present in normal cigarettes. However, there is no convincing evidence proving that e-cigarettes help quit smoking.
The Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Department of Karnataka has called tender for cloud seeding operations during the monsoons of 2019 and 2020. It seeks to replicate the success of Project Varshadhare, executed by the state in the year 2017.
About Cloud seeding
- It is a weather modification process that aims to cause additional rainfall by dispersing substance chemicals (like silver iodide, potassium chloride, and sodium chloride or dry ice) into the clouds that serves as ice nuclei or condensation nuclei for moisture to form rain droplets
NATIONAL AIDS CONTROL PROGRAMME-IV (NACP-IV)
Recently Cabinet approved continuation of National AIDS Control Programme-IV (NACP-IV) beyond 12th Five Year Plan for a period of three years from 2017 to 2020.
- The National AIDS Control Programme (NACP), launched in 1992, as a comprehensive programme for prevention and control of HIV/AIDS in India.
- Its objective was to slow down the spread of HIV to reduce morbidity and mortality.
- It focused on awareness generation, setting up surveillance system for monitoring, measures to ensure access to safe blood and preventive services for high risk group populations.
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully launched the PSLV-C45 rocket from Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota (Andhra Pradesh), which injected EMISAT and 28 international customer satellites into their designated orbits.
Unique Features of PSLV-C45
- It was the first time ISRO launched a rocket that injected satellites in three different orbits. Till now, these satellites have been ejected in two different orbits at the most, with only a marginal difference in the vertical distances between the satellites’ orbits.
- For placing the satellites in 3 different orbits, the rocket needed to undertake 2 revolutions around the Earth. This was achieved by reigniting the 4th stage engines (employed for the first time). Earlier missions used to be “single-shot” operations in which the engines used to fire just once.
Department of Biotechnology under Ministry of Science and Technology has prepared draft guidelines for evaluation of nano-pharmaceuticals in India.
- Nanoscience is the study of materials which are in nanoscale range. o Conversion of any material in nanoscale results in alteration of its physicochemical, biological, mechanical, optical, electronic, etc. properties which can be utilized for different useful activities.
- Nano-pharmaceutical is an emerging field that combines nanotechnology with pharmaceutical and biomedical science with the goal of targeted drug delivery which may improve efficacy and safety profile.
- There are no uniform internationally acceptable guidelines for nanopharmaceuticals.
7. SOCIAL ISSUES
SWACHH SURVEKSHAN 2019
The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) has released the findings of Swachh Survekshan 2019.
Swachh Survekshan 2019
- This fourth edition Swachh Survekshan 2019 increased the coverage of the ranking exercise to all cities under Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban. (Swachh Survekshan 2018 ranked 4,203 Cities.)
- The Quality Council of India (QCI) is responsible for carrying out the assessment.
NARI SHAKTI PURUSKAR
- The Nari Shakti Puraskars were awarded on the 8th of March, International Women’s Day.
- They are conferred on eminent women and institutions rendering distinguished service to the cause of women especially belonging to the vulnerable and marginalized sections of the society.
- Instituted by Ministry of Women and Child Development, the awards are given away by the President of India.
LALIT KALA AKADEMI
- Lalit Kala Akademi recently announced the winners of the 60th Annual Academy Awards.
- It is an autonomous organisation under the Ministry of Culture, established in 1954, by the then Minister for Education, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. It is fully funded by Ministry of Culture.
- It is the Government’s apex cultural body in the field of visual arts in India.
- It has headquarters at New Delhi and regional centers at Bhubaneswar, Chennai, Garhi (Delhi), Kolkata, Lucknow and Shimla.
- It organizes international level exchanges and cooperation in the field of art, promotes cooperation among artists and various organizations, awards scholarships etc
- The Abel Prize in mathematics was awarded to Karen Uhlenbeck, the first woman to win the award for her pioneering achievements in geometric partial differential equations.
- The Abel Prize was established on 1 January 2002, it is named after Swedish mathematician Niels Henrik Abel (1802-29).
- The purpose is to award the Abel Prize for outstanding scientific work in the field of mathematics
E-DHARTI APP AND E-DHARTI GEO PORTAL
- The Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has launched the e-Dharti app and e-Dharti Geo Portal to enable citizens to obtain information and transact on their properties.
- e-Dharti App: is a new online system where all the three main modules i.e. Conversion of property from leasehold to freehold, Substitution of names of legal heirs and Mutation in the name of purchaser, have been made online.
- e-Dharti GeoPortal: Through this application each and every Government property under Land & Development Office (L&DO) is proposed to be GIS mapped. Through this portal the Lessee of the property will be able to see the basic details of his/her property along with map showing its location
MARINE HEAT WAVE
- Recently, researchers have found out that Marine Heat Waves have pushed record number of marine species northwards.
- A marine heatwave is commonly defined as temperatures being warmer than 90 per cent of the previous Sea Surface Temperature observations at the same time of year over a 30year period, for at least five days in a row. It can occur in both summer or winter.
- Indian forces and Myanmar Army conducted a joint operation “Operation Sunrise”
- The operation targeted Myanmar insurgent group, Arakan Army, and a North-East Indian insurgent group the NSCN (K),
- It was required as Arakan Army threatened the Kaladan multi-mode transit project, a joint project of India and Myanmar which seeks to link Kolkata with Sitwe in Myanmar through sea route. It would have provided another route to reach Mizoram from Kolkata.
- AFINDEX-19: It is a joint field training exercises between Indian Army and Armies of 17-African Nations.
- Sampriti – 2019: It is the 8th edition of joint military exercise between Indian and Bangladesh Army to increase inter-operability and cooperation between the two.
- Mainamati Maitree Exercise-2019: It is a series of joint exercise between Border Security Force (BSF) and Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) conducted at Tripura-Bangladesh boarder
- The government is all set to launch— Indian Science, Technology and Engineering Facilities Map (I-STEM) portal, developed by IISc Bangalore.
- It is a national portal of publicly-funded research facilities and equipment to enable easy and timely access of resources to researchers working anywhere in the country.
- It would enable them to compare the usage charges, make payments and schedule the timeslots.
- It will avoid duplication of expensive equipment thus bringing down the cost of doing research in India
YUVA VIGYANI KARYAKRAM (YUVIKA)
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) had launched a special programme for School Children called “Young Scientist Programme” or Yuvika.
- Aimed at imparting basic knowledge on Space Technology, Space Science and Space Applications to the young students with the intent of arousing their interest in the emerging areas of Space activities.