POLICE REFORMS

Background

  • Police is that functional branch of the administrative machinery of government which is charged with the preservation of public order and tranquility, promotion of public safety, health and morals, prevention, detection and punishment of crimes.

  • Police organization in India is based on the Police Act of 1861.

  • After independence some states came out with their own police acts, for example Bombay Police Act, 1951, Kerala police act 1960, Delhi police act 1978.

  • Police is subject matter under the Seventh Schedule of Constitution of India in State list. However Constitution provide executive and legislative division of power between centre and state, as mentioned below –

    • State – maintaining public order, police, prisons

    • Centre – Protecting states from external and internal disturbances, deploying central police forces, institutes for intelligence, investigation and police training

    • Over-lapping functions – Criminal law and criminal procedures

  • Our Police department is being continuously critiqued for being understaffed and untrained. Police reforms have also been on the agenda of Governments since independence.

  • The police is seen as selectively efficient, unsympathetic to the under privileged. It is further accused of politicization and criminalization.

  • The policing system needs to be reformed to be in tune with present day scenario and upgraded to effectively deal with the crime and criminals, uphold human rights and safeguard the legitimate interests of one and all.

  • Various expert Bodies on Police Reforms were

    • Gore Commission on Police Training 1971-73

    • National Police Commission 1977-81, recommended wrt organization, structure, corruption, accountability and modernization of police forces.

    • Ribeiro Committee 1988 was set up by Supreme Court

    • Padmanabhaiah Committee 2000 was constituted to study recruitment procedures for the police forces, training, duties and responsibilities, police officer’s behavior, police investigations and prosecutions.

    • Malimath Committee 2002-03 on criminal justice system

    • Supreme Court Decision on Prakash Singh vs Union of India 2006

    • Second Administrative Reform Commission 2007

    • Police Act Drafting Committee II 2015

Need for Police

  • Overburdened Police Force –

    • National Crime Records Bureau reports says that Indiafaces a shortage of 0.5 million policemen. The current police strength is 1.73 million against the sanctioned strength of 2.24 million.

    • India has one of the lowest rate of police officers per capita- 5 per 100,000 people adding the long working hours makes the working conditions of police personnels tough.

    • 2nd ARC highlighted that extra obligations such as traffic management, disaster rescue and removal of encroachments lead to overburdening of the police force.

  • Quality of investigation

    • The poor quality of investigation of crime lead to only 47 % conviction rate for crimes (The Law Commission 2012).  

    • It can be linked to the lack of training of police personnels, use of obsolete technology, insufficient legal knowledge and cyber infrastructure.

    • The 2nd ARC recommended that states should have specialised investigation units within the police force for better investigation of crimes.

    • There is also lack of coordination between the investigation and the prosecution agencies and there exists a prevailing mistrust in Police for evidence admittance.

  • General administration

    • Poor enforcement of laws and general failure of administration

    • Large gap between aspirations of the people and opportunities with resultant deprivation and alienation

    • Lack of coordination between various government agencies

  • Problems related to police

    • Problems of organization, infrastructure and environment;

    • Unwarranted political interference and criminalization of police;

  • Problems related to ethical functioning

    • Corruption, collusion and extortion at different levels;

    • Insensitivity to human rights;

    • Absence of transparent recruitment and personnel policies.

Recommendations for Police Reforms

  • National Police Commission – The Commission was set up in 1977. It submitted its recommendations between 1979 and 1981. Some of the important recommendations are –

    • System of working of constabulary should be radically changed.

    • It also suggested machinery for redressal of grievances within the police organization.

    • It recommended setting up of a statutory body called the ‘State Security Commission’ in each state.

    • It also recommended that the chief of police should be assured of a minimum prescribed tenure

    • Posting of Superintendent of Police should be the exclusive responsibility of the Chief of Police.

    • Co-ordinating the functioning of the investigating staff with the prosecuting agency.

    • State Security Commission should be provided with an independent cell to evaluate police performance in both qualitative and quantitative terms.

  • Recently Supreme Court has again issued seven directives to be followed by States when appointing the Directive General of Police. (Refer to the Picture)

Way Aheadpolice reforms.png

  • The three greatest problems confronting the country today are:

    • The challenge of international terrorism,

    • The spread of maoist influence over vast areas of central india

    • The cancer of corruption.

  • To tackle these problems we need a professional police force, well trained and equipped, highly motivated, and committed to uphold the law of the land and the constitution of the country.

  • The police are the first responders in the event of any terrorist attack or Maoist violence, and they are also the backbone of our intelligence, investigation and anti-corruption agencies.

  • Economic progress cannot be sustained if we are not able to generate a safe and secure environment.

  • The democratic structure may also crumble if we do not arrest the trend of criminals gaining ascendancy in public life.

  • Government could also adopt the concept of SMART Police Stations which stands for –

    • S- Sensitive and Strict

    • M – Modern with mobility

    • A – Alert and Accountable

    • R – Reliable and Responsive

    • T – Trained and Techno-savvy

  • Modernization of Police Force which has been a long standing demand should be resolved.

  • Police should be citizen centric, autonomous, efficient etc.

GRAM PANCHAYAT DEVELOPMENT PLAN (GDPD)-SABKI YOJANA, SABKA VIKAS

Context

The central government launched a campaign ‘Sabki Yojana, Sabka Vikas’ covering over 2,50,000 gram panchayats across the country on October 2.

More About the Campaign

  • The campaign will involve people at the grassroots while preparing structured gram panchayat development plans, along with a thorough audit of the works done in the last few years.

  • Under the campaign all gram panchayats in the country will have to put up a notice board detailing the work done by it in the last few years, funds received from various sources, details of their allocation and what developmental activities it plans to undertake in the 2018-19 financial year.

  • Gram Sabha meetings made mandatory where trained assistants related to all 29 sectors assigned to gram panchayats, according to the 11th schedule of the constitution, were present

  • The sectors include agriculture, rural housing, drinking water, poverty alleviation programs, social welfare, cultural activities, market and fairs, etc.

  • It was a Public Information Campaign of all programs   in Gram Panchayat office and on Gram Samvad App.

SMART GRAM PROJECT

CONTEXT

The president of India decided not to take further “Smart Gram Project”.

BACKGROUND

  • Under the Smartgram scheme, Pranab Mukherjee had adopted five villages in 2016, when he was the President of India.

  • It involved five “villages in Haryana, i.e. Tajnagar, Dhaula, Alipur, Harchandpur and Rojka Meo, adopted by Rashtrapati Bhavan under its Smart Gram Initiative”.

  • The president’s secretariat approved the expansion of the project to 100 villages.

WHAT IS SMART GRAM?

  • A smart village is a humane, hi-tech and happy village which ensures an enhanced quality of life that contributes to the harmony, happiness, and well-being of all the villagers.

OTHER IMPORTANT DETAILS

  • On May 19, 2016, the former President of India while inaugurating an Intelligent Operations Centre (IOC) in Rashtrapati Bhavan (RB) had declared the President’s Estate a smart township.

  • Pranab Mukherjee directed that the RB smart township model should be replicated in five selected villages in adjoining districts in NCR to convert them into smart model villages.

ONLINE ASSURANCE MONITORING SYSTEM

CONTEXT

Recently a system has been launched which will provide information regarding assurances given on the floor of the Houses of Parliament paper less and available in digital format.

BACKGROUND

  • There were many problems to fulfil the assurance given on the floor of parliament due to human factor and non-compliance of guidelines, making it opaque.

  • Hence, the need arose for an online assurance monitoring system to track the exact status of pending assurances and expedite their fulfilment.

HOW THIS WILL WORK?

  • All assurances being culled out by the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs through e-Office would be reflected on this system and various Ministries/Departments, Lok Sabha Secretariat and Rajya Sabha Secretariat would communicate for all purposes through this system.

MUST KNOW INFORMATION

  • The Software has been developed by the Ministry of Parliament Affairs.

  • The ministry also imparted the training on the operation to some selected officers from various ministries and department

  • IDs and passwords were provided to these nodal officers during training.

  • Information regarding OAMS, including data and figures, is available on the web portal oams.nic.in.

KANGAROO COURT

CONTEXT

Recently a man chopped off his father’s fingers following the order of a Kangaroo Court in west Bengal

WHAT IS KANGAROO COURT?

  • A kangaroo court is a court that ignores recognized standards of law or justice, and often carries little or no official standing in the territory within which it resides.

  • The term may also apply to a court held by a legitimate judicial authority who intentionally disregards the court’s legal or ethical obligations.

  • The defendants in such courts are often denied access to legal representation and in some cases, proper defence.

  • Some examples of adjudication venues described as kangaroo courts are the People’s Court (Volksgerichtshof) of Nazi Germany that convicted people who were suspected of being involved with the failed plot to assassinate Hitler on July 20, 1944.

MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT LOCAL AREA DEVELOPMENT (MPLAD) SCHEME

CONTEXT

A report drafted by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) states that more than RS 120 Billion in Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLAD) funds have remained unused till the end of the 2017-18 fiscal year.

MPLAD

  • This scheme came into existence in 1993. Initially, this scheme was administered by Ministry of Rural Development.

  • Later, in October 1994, Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MOSPI) has been looking into its working.

  • Under the scheme, each MP has the choice to suggest to the District Collector for works to the tune of Rs.5 Crores per annum to be taken up in his/her constituency.

  • The Rajya Sabha Members of Parliament can recommend works in one or more districts in the State from where he/she has been elected.

  • The Nominated Members of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha may select any one or more Districts from any one State in the Country for implementation of their choice of work under the scheme.

NEW GUIDELINES FOR MPLAD

  • Projects implemented by government agencies would now be provided 75 per cent of the project cost as the first instalment, while those implemented by non-governmental agencies would be provided 60 per cent.

  • For smaller projects costing less than ₹2 lakh, the entire amount would be released at one go.

  • No project costing less than ₹1 lakh would be sanctioned with exception in the case of essential projects, such as installation of hand pumps, and purchase of computers and their accessories, solar electric lamps, chaupals and equipments .

  • The basket of works that could be taken up under the scheme had been widened to include projects such as the purchase of books for libraries, and ambulances and hearse vans that would be owned and controlled by district authorities.

  • The purchase of Microsoft Office software along with the training of two teachers per school would be now allowed as part of an effort to promote computer literacy in the country.

  • MPs would be allowed to spend up to ₹10 lakh a year on projects in any State or Union Territory other than the one from where they were elected.

  • A limit of ₹50 lakh per annum has been imposed on contributions to trusts and societies so that more money was available for community-related works.

OFFICE OF PROFIT

CONTEXT

President of India has declined the petition to disqualify to 27 Aam Admi Party MLA of Delhi legislative Assembly for allegedly holding office of profit.

BACKGROUND

  • According to an order issued by the Delhi government’s health and family welfare department on 26 April, the Rogi Kalyan Samitis are advisory in nature and assist health facilities and develop and customise strategies among tasks.

  • Each assembly committee is provided ₹3 lakh per annum as grand-in aid.

WHAT IS OFFICE OF PROFIT?

  • It is a position in the government which cannot be held by an MLA or an MP.

  • The post can yield salaries, perquisites and other benefits.

CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISION

  • According to Articles 102(1)(a) and 191(1)(a) of the Constitution, an MP or MLA is barred from holding an office of profit as it can put them in a position to gain a financial benefit.

  • "A person shall be disqualified for being chosen as, and for being, a member of either House of Parliament, if he holds any office of profit under the Government of India or the Government of any State, other than an office declared by Parliament by law not to disqualify its holder,"

INDIA – RUSSIA RELATIONS

CONTEXT

Russian President Vladimir Putin recently visited India to attend the 19th Annual bilateral summit.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The two sides engaged themselves on various issues, exchanged MoUs and released a joint statement re-affirming the strong ties and strengthened partnership between India and Russian Federation.

  • $ 5 Billion deal for S-400 Air defence system was sealed and finalized.

  • MoU between ISRO and ROSCOSMOS on Joint activities in the field of Human spaceflight programme. The move is said to benefit India’s first manned space mission – Gaganyaan.

  • Protocol for consultations between the foreign ministries has been extended for the period 2019-2023.

  • Co-operation in the field of Atomic energy, Small Industries and Fertilizers.

  • Bilateral trade increased by more than 20% in 2017 and both sides expressed optimism to achieve two-way investment of $30 Billion by 2025.

S-400 (TRIUMF) AIR – DEFENCE SYSTEM

  • Also recognized as SA-21 Growler by the NATO.

  • Described by the “The Economist” in 2017 as one of the best air-defence systems currently made and, is also considered to be superior to USA’s THAAD by industry experts.

  • Type: Surface to Air • Operational range: Up to 400 km and altitude of 30 km.

  • Features:

    • It can be deployed within 5 minutes and can engage up to 100 aerial targets simultaneously.

    • It is integrated with multifunction radar, autonomous detection and targeting systems.

ANALYSIS

  • Strong relations between India and Russia is important for establishing a multi-polar world and for the peace & stability is the Asian region.

  • Partnership with Russia is indispensable for India to maintain strategic autonomy. Countering China and Pakistan in the neighbourhood and, balancing the relations with USA are the key focus areas.

  • S-400 will help India increase the defence capabilities and secure national interests.

  • Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) law, penalises defence purchases from Russia, Iran and North Korea, as soon as the first payment is made, if the US President does not grant a “waiver”. Thus, India’s deal with Russia for S400 may invite USA sanctions.

COUNTERING AMERICA’S ADVERSARIES THROUGH SANCTIONS ACT (CAATSA)

CONTEXT

India has purchased S-400 Surface to Air missile defense system from Russia and reacting on this event US President said that very soon US will decide that whether they will put sanctions on India or not.

What is CAATSA?

  • It is a law under which sanctions will be imposed on countries having significant trade cooperation with any adversaries of USA

Impact of India

  • Russia has been the main source of India’s arms imports since 1960s. If CAATSA is implemented in its stringent form, it is likely to affect India’s arms procurement.

  • It will adversely affect India’s oil import from Iran and  India-Iran bilateral relation

CAATSA and India-US Defence Cooperation

  • CAATSA has the potential to heighten India’s traditional insecurity about the United States as a reliable partner, and sour New Delhi’s defence and security cooperation with Washington at a time when the US is projecting India as a key partner in its Indo-Pacific strategy, with the US National Security Strategy 2017 explicitly supporting New Delhi’s vital role in this regard.

DELHI DECLARATION ON RENEWABLE ENERGY

CONTEXT

  • 21 countries in Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) adopted Delhi Declaration on Renewable Energy in Indian Ocean Region. It was adopted at 2nd IORA Renewable Energy Ministerial Meeting held at 2nd Global Re-Invest India-ISA Partnership Renewable Energy Investor’s Meet & Expo in Greater Noida on 4th October, 2018.

What is Delhi Declaration?

  • Collaboration among IORA member states in meeting growing demand for renewable energy in Indian Ocean littorals, development of common renewable energy agenda for Indian Ocean Region and promote regional capacity building.

  • Promotion of technology development and transfer, strengthening of public private partnerships (PPP) in renewable energy and collaboration among IORA member states and member nations of International Solar Alliance (ISA).

  • Resolved to collaborate with International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)

  • Collaborate with ISA member nations to exchange knowledge and share views and potential interests in renewable energy sector paved by MoU signed between IORA and ISA with focus on joint capacity-building programs, R&D activities in solar energy and exchange of best practices.

  • IORA member nations and IRENA also agreed to undertake expansion of Global Renewable Energy Atlas, world’s largest-ever joint renewable resource data project, coordinated by IRENA.

  • IORA and IRENA will collaborate on opportunities available under the International Renewable Energy Learning Platform (IRELP).

UNITED STATES-MEXICO-CANADA AGREEMENT (USMCA)

CONTEXT

Canada has agreed to sign a trade deal with the United States and Mexico, revamping the North American Free Trade Agreement.

DETAILS OF USMCA

  • It is a changed version of NAFTA which will bring major changes on cars and new policies on labour and environmental standards, intellectual property protections, and some digital trade provisions.

  • Major changes –

    • Country of origin rule – Automobiles must have 75 percent of their components manufactured in Mexico, the US, or Canada to qualify for zero tariffs (up from 62.5 percent under NAFTA).

    • Labour provisions –  40 to 45 percent of automobile parts have to be made by workers who earn at least $16 an hour by 2023. Mexico has also agreed to pass laws giving workers the right to union representation, extend labor protections to migrant workers, and protect women from discrimination.

    • The US farmers get more access to the Canadian dairy market, Canada to open up its dairy market to US farmers.

    • The deal extends the terms of copyright to 70 years beyond the life of the author (up from 50). It also extends the period that a pharmaceutical drug can be protected from generic competition.

    • Sunset Clause – The deal is also subject to a review every six years, at which point the US, Mexico, and Canada can decide to extend USMCA.

MONETARY POLICY AND MONETARY POLICY COMMITTEE

CONTEXT

Recently, Monetary Policy Committee of RBI kept the repo rate unchanged at 6.5% and changed stance from ‘neutral’ to ‘calibrated tightening’.

MORE FROM THE NEWS

  • The current policy stance implies that in the current rate cycle, there is no scope for a rate cut.

  • MPC also decided to keep the policy rate under LAF unchanged at 6.5% and consequently Reverse Repo Rate at 6.25%, Marginal Standing Facility and Bank Rate at 6.75%.

  • The MPC stance at calibrated tightening of monetary policy in consonance with the objective of achieving the medium-term target for consumer price index inflation at 4% with a band of +/-2%, while supporting growth.

  • Reasons for unchanged rates –

    • Recent projections for headline inflation being lower than the earlier estimates, mainly due to deceleration in food prices.

    • providing allowance for the last two hikes in the space in two months to play out their impact

    • interest rate instrument is to be used only for inflation management and the exchange rate must be handled separately through intervention and other short- and long-term measures

    • muted growth concerns arising from tighter global and local financial market conditions and rising oil prices and trade tensions

    • Highly elevated rates prevailing in the money markets and corporate debt segments, partly because of the domino effect on the non-banking financial companies’ sector.

    • real interest now being more than 2%

WHAT IS MONETARY POLICY?

  • It is a macroeconomic policy laid down by the Central Bank which involves management of money supply and interest rate and is demand side economic policy used by the government of a country to achieve macroeconomic objectives like inflation, consumption, growth and liquidity.

  • India’s monetary policy is laid down by RBI in order to meet the requirements of different sectors of the economy and to increase the pace of economic growth.

  • Monetary Policy is of two types – Expansionary Monetary Policy and Contractionary Monetary Policy.

  • Monetary Policy is developed with objectives of – economic growth, price stability, exchange rate stability, generating employment, equal income distribution etc.

  • Various tools to regulate Monetary Policy in India are –

    • Quantitative Credit Control Methods – These methods are designed to control the overall volume of credit created in an economy. These tools are – Statutory Liquidity Ratio (SLR), Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR), Bank Rate, Repo rate, Reverse Repo Rate and Open Market Operations.

    • Qualitative Credit Control Methods – These tools not only control value of loans but also the purpose for which these loans are assigned by the commercialisation banks.

MONETARY POLICY COMMITTEE (MPC)

  • MPC is a committee of Reserve Bank of India headed by its Governor. The Committee is entrusted with the task of fixing the benchmark policy interest rates (repo rate) to contain inflation within the specified target level.

  • MPC has six members – RBI Governor (Chairman), the RBI Deputy Governor in charge of monetary policy, one official nominated by the RBI board and the remaining three members represent the Government of India.

  • The three Central Government Representatives are nominated by a search cum selection committee who hold the office for a period of four years and will not be eligible for re-appointment. The Committee meets for at least four times a year.

  • The Governor has a casting vote and doesn’t enjoy veto power and the decisions are taken based on majority voting.

PRADHAN MANTRI FASAL BIMA YOJANA (PMFBY)

CONTEXT

Union Government has recently updated some of the provisions of Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana. The updated provisions have been put under the scheme on pilot basis.

DETAILS OF PMFBY

  • It is a crop insurance scheme which is in line with One Nation – One Scheme theme and was launched in 2016. The scheme has incorporated the features of the existing two schemes National Agricultural Insurance Scheme as well as the Modified NAIS and has also removed the short comings of these schemes.

  • The PMFBY has replaced the two existing schemes. However, the Water Based Crop Insurance Scheme remains in place, but its premium rates have been streamlined with PMFBY.

  • The main objectives of the scheme are –

    • To provide insurance coverage and financial support to the farmers in the event of failure of any of the notified crop as a result of natural calamities, pests & diseases.

    • To stabilise the income of farmers to ensure their continuance in farming

    • To encourage farmers to adopt innovative and modern agricultural practices

    • To ensure flow of credit to the agriculture sector

  • Provisions under PMFBY

    • There will be a uniform premium of only 2% to be paid by farmers for all Kharif crops and 1.5% for all Rabi crops.  In case of annual commercial and horticultural crops, the premium to be paid by farmers will be only 5%. 

    • The Balance premium will be paid by the government and there is no upper limit on Government subsidy.

    • The Farmers will get the full amount which has been insured without any capping.

    • The use of technology will be encouraged to a great extent. Smart phones will be used to capture and upload data of crop cutting to reduce the delays in claim payment to farmers. Remote sensing will be used to reduce the number of crops cutting experiments.

    • All farmers growing notified crops in a notified area during the season who have insurable interest in the crop are eligible.

    • There are provisions for farmers to compulsorily enrol under scheme who –

      •  possess a Crop Loan account/KCC account (called as Loanee Farmers) to whom credit limit is sanctioned/renewed for the notified crop during the crop season

      • Such other farmers whom the Government may decide to include from time to time

    • Voluntary coverage may be obtained by all farmers not covered above, including Crop KCC/Crop Loan Account holders whose credit limit is not renewed.

  • The Scheme shall be implemented on an ‘Area Approach basis’ i.e. defined area for a notified crop where farmers face similar risks exposures.

FUNCTIONING OF THE SCHEME SO FAR

  • The Coverage of the insurance has significantly increased in kharif 2016 compared to kharif 2015 across India. The number of farmers insured crossed 4 crores during kharif 2016, a jump from 3.09 crores in kharif 2015.

  • The sum insured under the scheme is now closer to the cost of the production which implies that in case of losses, farmers should theoretically get significantly higher compensation than before.

CHALLENGES IN THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE SCHEME

  • Gaps in assessment of crop loss – The sample size in each village is not large enough to capture the scale and diversity of the crop losses. In many cases the district level agriculture department officials do not conduct such sampling on ground and complete the formalities only on paper.

  • Lack of trained manpower – there also lack of trained outsourced agencies and manpower to conduct the survey. Along with this there is a scope of corruption during implementation and non-utilisation of technologies like smart phones and drones to improve reliability of such sampling.

  • Inadequate and delayed claim payment – Insurance companies in many cases did not investigate losses due to a localised calamity and therefore did not pay claims. Only 32 per cent of the reported claims were paid out by insurance companies, even when in many states the governments had paid their part of premium. 

  • High Premium rates – Insurance companies have charged high actuarial premium rates i.e 12.6% (highest all India rate ever) and much higher rates were charged in certain regions such as Gujarat (20.5%), Rajasthan (19.9%) and Maharashtra (18.9%).

  • Massive profits for insurance companies – According to CSE analysis, insurance companies have made high profits.

  • Coverage only for Loanee farmers – PMFBY remains a scheme for loanee farmers while the percentage of non-loanee farmers remain less than 5%  during Kharif 2016 and 2015. It also failed to cover the sharecropper and tenant farmers.

  • Poor Capacity to deliver – There has been no concerted efforts by the government and insurance companies to build awareness among farmers on PMFBY. Insurance companies have failed to set-up infrastructure for proper implementation of PMFBY. There is still no direct linkage between insurance companies and farmers. Insured farmers receive no insurance policy document or receipt.

Other issues such as delayed notification by state governments, less number of notified crops that can avail insurance, problem with threshold yield estimation etc. also existed in the implementation of the scheme.

COMPARISON WITH PREVIOUS SCHEMES

S.No

Features

NAIS

MNAIS

PMFBY

1

Premium Rates

Low

High

Lower than even NAIS (Govt to contribute 5 times that of farmer)

2

One Season – One Premium

Yes

No

Yes

3

Insurance Amount cover

Full

Capped

Full

4

On Account Payment

No

Yes

Yes

5

Localised Risk Coverage

No

Hail Storm, Landslides

Hail storm, Land slide, Inundation

6

Post Harvest Losses Coverage

No

Coastal areas for cyclonic rain

All India – for cyclonic and unseasonal rain

7

Prevented Sowing coverage

No

Yes

Yes

8

Use of Technology

No

Intended

Mandatory

9

Awareness

No

No

Yes (target to double coverage to 50%)

NEW PROVISIONS IN THE OPERATIONAL GUIDELINES

  • The guidelines have been updated to add a provision of penalty for States and Insurance Companies. In case of delay beyond 2 months of the prescribed cut-off date, the Insurance Company as well as the State Government must pay 12% interest rates.

  • The new provisions also include the perennial Horticulture crops (on pilot basis) and it also includes hailstorms in post-harvest losses, besides unseasonal and cyclonic rainfalls.

  • It has also included cloud burst and natural fire in localized calamities in addition to hailstorm, landslide, and inundation.

  • Further it also provides for inclusion of coverage for crop loss due to attack of wild animals on pilot basis with the additional financial liabilities of this provision to be borne by concerned state Government.

  • To help in addressing de-duplication mandatory capturing of Aadhar has also been added.

  • It has also been mandated to the Insurance companies that they will have to mandatorily spend 0.5% of their earnings from the annual premium to advertise for the provisions of PMFBY among peasants.

WAY AHEAD

  • PMFBY is a step in the direction of securing the farmers in our country. Agriculture insurance is recognised as an important part of the safety net for farmers to deal with the impacts of extreme and unseasonal weather due to climate change.

  • Various steps that could be taken are as follows –

    • The scheme should be further extended to tenants and sharecroppers and should also include damage caused by cold waves and frost to crops at individual levels.

    • Farmer should also be provided with insurance documents and should also be intimated before deduction of the insurance premium.

    • To promote the scheme small group of farmers and women groups and SHGs should be incentivised.

    • Robust assessment of crop loss should be done through capacity building of state governments, involvement of PRIs and farmers in loss assessment, auditing and multi-level checking to ensure credibility of data and testing incorporating technology such as remote sensing, drones and online transmission of data.

DRAFT NATIONAL POLICY ON MARICULTURE

CONTEXT

A Draft policy was formulated by an expert committee formed by the National Fisheries Development Board (NFDB).

BACKGROUND

  • India has an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of over 2.02million sq. Km and a long coastline of about 8000km with two major groups of Islands lying in Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea.

  • Marine fisheries wealth is estimated at an annual harvestable potential of 4.412 million metric tonnes and an estimated 4 million people depend on the marine fisheries for their livelihood.

  • India’s marine fisheries are highly diverse but predominantly comprising of small – scale and artisanal fisheries.

  • In India the fish production has increased drastically from 861,000 tons in 1951 to 11.5 million tons in 2010.

  • The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report states that while other world oceans are nearing their fisheries limit, in certain areas, the Indian Ocean’s resources have the potential to sustain increased production.

  • There is also a growing demand for seafood in the country which cannot be met by fisheries and inland aqua-culture alone.

  • Therefore, there is a need to enhance the sea farming sector which is still in its infancy and holds immense potential in the country.

  • Mariculture has already contributed to sustained seafood production in other countries.

  • Mariculture activities in India were initiated in India as early as 1980s by Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute.

  • However, maritime capture in India is characterised by increased and excessive fishing effort, over-exploitation of certain resources from inshore fishing grounds and increased conflicts among stakeholders in the sector.

  • Thus this points towards the need of formulating a policy for guiding the development of mariculture in India.

DETAILS OF THE DRAFT POLICY

  • The Draft National Policy on Mariculture has been drafted with a goal to

    • ensure sustainable farmed seafood production for benefit of food and nutritional security of the nation and

    • to provide additional livelihood options to the coastal communities for better living.

  • The policy will lead to wide spread adoption of mariculture technologies to meet additional seafood demand, ensuring environmental sustainability, socio-economic upliftment of stakeholders and support the emergence of mariculture production of the country.

  • Satellite remote sensing data and GIS will be used to identify potential zones for mariculture on the basis of scientific evaluation of environmental parameters suitable for various types of farming.

  • Government shall encourage the setting up of off-shore technology parks and coastal embankment systems with all support infrastructures for breeding, culture, packaging and trade.

  • As per Article 21 of Constitution States will be empowered to manage marine fisheries and allied activities which includes mariculture. States will be responsible to issue lease for maritime activities in those specific areas.

  • The State would also register and license all farms for a specific period and will give all protection of all farm assets.

  • The provisions made in the 73rd and 74th amendments to the Constitution of India empower the panchayats to perform functions mentioned in the eleventh schedule of the Constitution in 29 subjects including fisheries regarding inland water bodies and therefore, rules for leasing water bodies for mariculture will be made by Local Self Government (LSGs).

  • In the case of natural water bodies, the leases would be given by respective Local Self Governments (LSGs).

  • Mariculture activities would be conducted in a manner that ensures food safety by implementing appropriate national (FSSAI) or international standards and regulations including those defined by FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius.

  • To reduce the risks of introduction and spread of aquatic animal diseases, species specific Good Aquaculture Practices (GAPs) would be developed and implemented.

  • The Government will introduce new schemes for enhancing the skills and capabilities of the traditional fishers and other potential stakeholders to undertake mariculture and popularize the vocation in India.

  • The government will facilitate formation of mariculture cooperatives through skill development and technical /financial support, wherever necessary.

  • Efficient market logistics would be promoted to minimize post-harvest losses and preserving the nutritional quality and value of fish.

  • Cost-effective preservation and packaging facilities will be developed through public-private partnerships.

  • Significance –

    • Protect livelihood of fishermen and reduce conflict among sea farmers.

    • It will also promote sea farming sector in the country and work towards its sustainability.

    • It will further enhance the development of off-shore technology and coastal embankment systems.

    • It will also ensure that Marine protected areas, ecologically sensitive areas such as coral reefs, mangroves, seagrass beds, and other coastal areas are not considered for mariculture. Thus, it will safeguard the marine ecology.

    • It will also promote exports in sea food as it will aim to enhance sea food production

URBAN TRANSPORTATION SYSTEMS

CONTEXT

Recently, a survey was conducted on urban transportation in India.

Background

  • India is a fast-growing country (both in terms of GDP and Population) and has been projected to be one of the three countries to witness maximum urban growth by 2050 along with China and Nigeria.

  • About 60% of India’s population is expected to stay in urban areas by 2050 which forms about 14% of the world’s urban population.

  • With growing urbanisation and population, an increasing pressure is being felt on the urban transportation system as well.

  • It has been noted that the motorization in India has been explosive. Initially, it took about 60 years (1951-2008) for India to cross a mark of 105 million registered vehicles however; the same numbers of vehicles were added in about six years (2009-15).

  • At the same time, it was also noted that the share of public transport will also decrease from 75.5% in 2000-01 to 44.7% in 2030-31.

  • During a study by CSE it was found that cities that have a decent public transport spine, compact urban form, short travel etc. combined with conscious decision-making and prioritization related to sustainable modes could be an answer to this challenge.

Challenges of Urban Transportation Systems

  • Administrative Challenges –At present there are many policies and departments which deal with different sectors of transportation system in India. This results in overlapping areas of functioning and decision making which delays the whole developmental process. Along with that corruption also plays a significant role in delaying the process.

  • Development of Road Infrastructure –The urban areas remain largely disconnected with the neighbouring suburban areas. The roads in urban areas also lack regular repairing and scientific planning and construction.

  • Lack of funding for integrated public transport system – According National Transport Development Policy Committee, by 2031 there is a need of around 10900 – 18500 billion for development of urban transport out of which about 55% is need for public transport. Under the funds for Smart City Scheme share of urban transport is projected at only 21%.

  • Lack of Regulatory system – At present there is no single regulatory body to oversee the development of integrated multimodal transit system, issuance of driving license, penalising offenders.

  • Imbalanced investment – The Urban Affairs Ministry has increased the Metro projects from 12% in 2009 to 54% in 2017 but there is no commensurate increase for expanding the bus fleet even though buses carry more commuters.

  • Lack of a pricing strategy – According to some findings, Delhi metro was ranked second most unaffordable means of public transport in the world while premium public transport services like Ac Bus services are beyond the reach of the lower income group.

  • Transit Oriented Development – The transport system lacks last mile connectivity. The modes of transport system are not within the walking distance thus increasing the time taken for travel and the cost of travel for urban commuters.

  • Environment Issues –High emission of greenhouse gases in metropolitan and megacities has been recorded which can be attributed to various reasons as mentioned below –

    • High level of motorization – With higher personal disposable income and better standard of living people can afford more vehicles and even luxury fuel guzzling ones.energy use.png

    • Share of various modes of transportation – On a whole it can be seen that personal vehicles and heavy-duty trucks drive the consumption levels. In 2013 light duty vehicles used up about 13% of overall energy consumption of the transport sector which is expected to increase to 27% by 2040 and of heavy trucks from 23% in 2013 to 34% in 2040. There is also a decline in the non-motorised transportation such as walking and cycling.

    • Average length of daily travel trips -The city boundaries are expanding leading to urban sprawl which has even though reduced the average density, but it has increased the average length of daily travel trips.

    • Increased travel demand based on increasing population – With the increasing population the travel demand of the people for their daily uses is also increasing which is evident from the increasing trend of the vehicle registration (increase of 700 times between 1951 to 2016) and increased traffic on roads.

    • Quality of vehicle technologies and fuels – CSE claims that the emission factors are representatives of a class of vehicles such as small and mid-sized. The analysis shows that newer cars with heavier engines emit more carbon dioxide than old cars. Along with that the process of shifting to cleaner fuel under the Bharat Standards is being delayed due to technical and financial issues. This in turn also affects the country’s import bill which is due to increased demand of fuel in the country.

  • Public Transport Crowding and off-peak inadequacy – As there is inadequate fleet of buses and other modes of public transport there is high level of commuters travelling in the vehicle which reduces the marginal rate of satisfaction while travelling.

  • High Rate of road accidents – There is 3% increase in fatalities over the previous year, even as the number of accidents declined by 4.1%, thereby indicating a rise in the severity of accidents. Pedestrians constitute about 19% of total deaths in road accidents in India.

  • Safety for travellers – Public transports are considered unsafe especially for women during late hours. This also discourages the use of public transport and encourages the use of private vehicles for single women.

Steps to improve the State of Urban Transportation

  • Time bound implementation of targets – The policies and the targets of developments such as expansion of roads, modernisation and increasing the bus fleet etc. in a time bound manner.

  • Implementation of Policies – Measure which have been recommended under the National Transport Policy could be adopted which cover a wide array of areas to make the urban transportation better and safer for commuters such as traffic management, financing, governance etc.

  • Increase Funding – Central Government should increase the funding for development of roads. Various methods such as issue of bonds, Public and private partnership etc should be adopted. This should also be directed towards easing the pricing of the public transportation so that it is  more accessible to the public.

  • Develop Intelligent Transportation System – This system helps in sensing, analysing, control and using communication technologies to improve safety, mobility and efficiency of ground transportation. It will thus help in smooth public transportation, new economic opportunities, improved safety of commuters etc. (for more details refer to September 2017 current affairs).

  • Integrated and comprehensive planning – The planning urban planning should be integrated with transportation planning. The Transit Oriented Development process should be adopted to improve accessibility and ridership thus making the planning sustainable.

  • Tackle congestion on roads – Examples from other countries such as China who increased the road lengths thereby doubling and tripling them. Other measures such as odd-even policy, rationing the issuance of new vehicles etc could also be adopted. This would also tackle the problem of greenhouse emission in the cities.

OPEN ACREAGE LICENSING POLICY (OALP)

CONTEXT

Recently, contracts of the blocks were signed under the OALP Bid Round1.

MORE FROM THE NEWS

  • The bid round-1 of OALP was launched in January 2018 under the liberalized Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP).

  • This is the first time that bidding in the E&P sector in India was for blocks that had been selected by bidders themselves with government playing a facilitator role.

  • Under the first bid-round 55 blocks have been signed by 6 six companies.

  • Recently, Cabinet delegated its power to approve awards of block for exploration and production of oil and gas, to the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.

  • The delegation of power was for OALP bid under the HELP. These ministries will approve the awards based on the recommendations of a panel of secretaries, called the empowered committee of secretaries (ESC).

WHAT IS OALP?

  • It is a vehicle which allows the Government to offer the exploration blocks for oil and natural gas throughout the year without waiting for the formal bid round from the Government.

  • Under Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP), a bidder intending to explore hydrocarbons like oil and gas, coal bed methane, gas hydrate etc., may apply to the Government seeking exploration of any new block (not already covered by exploration).

  • OALP was introduced by the Government as a part of the new fiscal regime in exploration sector called HELP or Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy to ensure faster coverage and survey of the available geographical area which has potential for oil and gas discovery.

  • Before HELP, exploration was confined to blocks which have been put on tender by the Government.  There are situations where exploration companies may themselves have information or interest regarding other areas where they may like to pursue exploration.  These opportunities remain untapped, until and unless Government brings them to bidding at some stage.

  • This move would help to ease of doing business, increase domestic production, eliminate bureaucratic hurdles and create employment opportunities.

HYDROCARBONS EXPLORATION LICENSING POLICY (HELP)

  • It is a policy which indicates the new contractual and fiscal model for award of hydrocarbon acreages towards exploration and production. It replaced the New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP).

  • The policy aims to enhance domestic oil and gas production, bring sustainable investment, generate sizable employment, enhance transparency and reduce administrative discretion.

  • Features of HELP –

    • Uniform License – provides uniform licensing systems to cover all hydrocarbons such as oil, gas, coal bed methane etc. under a single licensing framework.

    • Open Acreages – It gives the option to a hydrocarbon companies to a hydrocarbon company to select the exploration blocks throughout the year without waiting for the government to hold the formal bid round.

    • Revenue Sharing Model – Fiscal system of production sharing contract (PSC) is replaced by an easy to administer revenue sharing model.

    • Under this regime the Government will not be concerned with the cost incurred and will receive a share of the gross revenue from the scale of oil, gas etc.

    • Marketing and Pricing Freedom has been granted, subject to a ceiling price limit, for a new gas production from Deepwater, Ultra Deepwater and High Pressure-High Temperature Areas.

HUMAN CAPITAL INDEX

CONTEXT

The World Bank released a Human Capital Index (HCI) as part of the World Development Report 201

More about It

  • The World Bank ranked India 115th among 157 countries in its first-ever Human Capital Index (HCI)

  • India’s neighbours Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka were better placed at 106th, 102nd and 74th position, respectively.

  • The index considered parameters like child mortality, health and education

  • The World Bank gave India a score of 0.44 of the total 1.0, lower than the average for its income-level countries.

  • The report, which considered the human capital investments and outcomes, almost reiterated that Indian children are not learning enough in schools

  • Across India, 83% of all 15-year-olds will survive until age 60

  • first report on Human Capital Index

Human Capital Index

  • The Human Capital Index quantifies the contribution of health and education to the productivity of the next generation of workers.

  • The HCI has three components:

    • Survival, as measured by under-5 mortality rates;

    • Expected years of Quality-Adjusted School which combines information on the quantity and quality of education (quality is measured by harmonizing test scores from major international student achievement testing programs and quantity from number of years of school that a child can expect to obtain by age 18 given the prevailing pattern of enrolment rates across grades in respective countries);

    • Health environment using two proxies of

      • adult survival rates

      • the rate of stunting for children under age 5.

PRADHAN MANTRI BHARTIYA JAN AUSHADHI YOJANA

CONTEXT

People from industry pointed out that quality assurance remains a pain point for generic-generic medicines in India.

PMBJA

  • Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP) is a campaign launched by the Department of Pharmaceuticals to provide quality medicines at affordable prices to the masses.

  • It was launched by the Department of Pharmaceuticals in November 2008 under the name Jan Aushadi Campaign

  • PMBJP stores have been set up to provide generic drugs, which are available at lesser prices but are equivalent in quality and efficacy as expensive branded drugs

Objective

  • Making quality medicines available at affordable prices for all, particularly the poor and disadvantaged, through exclusive outlets "Jan Aushadhi Medical Store", so as to reduce out of pocket expenses in healthcare.

Mission

  • Create awareness among public regarding generic medicines.

  • Create demand for generic medicines through medical practioners.

  • Create awareness through education and awareness program that high price need not be synonymous with high quality.

  • Provide all the commonly used generic medicines covering all the therapeutic groups.

  • Provide all the related health care products too under the scheme.

Salient Feature of Scheme

  • Ensure access to quality medicines

  • Extend coverage of quality generic medicines so as to reduce the out of pocket expenditure on medicines and thereby redefine the unit cost of treatment per person

  • Create awareness about generic medicines through education and publicity so that quality is not synonymous with only high price

  • A public programme involving Government, PSUs, Private Sector, NGO, Societies, Co-operative Bodies and other Institutions

  • Create demand for generic medicines by improving access to better healthcare through low treatment cost and easy availability wherever needed in all therapeutic categories.

NATIONAL ELECTRONICS POLICY

CONTEXT

Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has formulated a draft National Policy on Electronics 2018 (NPE 2018)

BACKGROUND

The First National Policy on electronics was came into existence in 2012, it offered incentives to companies to setting up manufacturing units in the country

AIM OF POLICY

  • The draft National Policy on Electronics (NPE) aims to promote domestic manufacturing in the entire value-chain of ESDM (electronic system design and manufacturing) for spur economic development.

  • The proposed policy aims to double the target of mobile phone production from 500 million units in 2019 to 1 billion by 2025 to meet the objective.

IMPORTANT HIGHLIGHTS OF POLICY

  • The policy targets production of one billion mobile handsets by 2025, valued at USD 190 billion (about Rs 13 lakh crore).

  • It is targeted to export 600 million mobile handsets valued at USD 110 billion (about Rs 7 lakh crore).

  • 20 greenfield and three brownfield electronic manufacturing cluster projects have been sanctioned with the project outlay of Rs 3898 crore, including Rs 1577 crore from the Government of India.

  • It promotes a forward looking and stable tax regime, including advance intimation to the industry to plan investments in the form of Phased Manufacturing Programme (PMP) in various segments of electronics, with a sunset clause should be promoted.

  • It mentions that government would levy cess on identified electronic goods to be considered to generate resources for promotion of certain critical sub-sectors of electronics manufacturing such as semiconductor wafer fabrication and display fabrication units.

OTHER IMPORTANT FACTS

  • Promotion of manufacturing of electronic goods covered under the Information Technology Agreement (ITA-1) of the World Trade Organization

  • Exempting the import duty on equipment not being manufactured in the country to reduce capital expenditure for setting up of a unit or for expansion of existing units

  • Replacing the M-SIPS (Modified Special Incentive Package Scheme) with schemes that are easier to implement such as interest subsidy and credit default guarantee to encourage expansion in electronics manufacturing sector.

PRIVATISATION OF POWER DISTRIBUTION

CONTEXT

Private Companies are bidding to acquire Central Electricity Supply Utility of Odisha (CESU Odisha)

MORE ABOUT IT

  • It would be the first transaction since the 2003 privatisation of power distribution in Delhi

  • Tata Power Co. Ltd. is among two bidders

  • Feedback Energy Distribution Co. Ltd (FEDCO) and India Power Corp. Ltd have also placed a joint bid for the asset

OTHER IMPORTANT INFORMATION

 

FOREIGN PORTFOLIO INVESTMENT

CONTEXT

Sebi is planning to merge FPIs and NRI/OCI routes to bring in a single regime for foreign investors and regulate NRI fund inflows

OTHER IMPORTANT SUGGESTION

  • The panel may suggest to the capital markets regulator to clarify suitable actions that FPIs need to take for divestment or re-classification of holdings as per the FDI limits after consultation with the Reserve Bank

  • It is likely to suggest SEBI to consult the government to evolve a more objective criteria for defining high-risk jurisdictions.

HR KHAN PANEL

  • The panel headed by former RBI Deputy Governor H R Khan, which is reviewing FPI regulations

  • It is examining whether any recommendation to merge the FPI and NRI/OCI (Overseas Citizens of India) routes of investment can be made to the government and the Reserve Bank.

  • The move is aimed at helping Sebi in regulating and maintaining reporting of NRIs (Non-Resident Indians), besides assisting NRIs to invest through FPI in a regulated regime.

  • It had suggested changes on several contentious proposals and more time for compliance bringing relief to foreign investors worried over new KYC and beneficiary ownership norm.

  • It had suggested giving six months to FPIs for compliance to new rules, after they are finalised, while the non-compliant investors can be given further 180 days to wind down their existing positions

CARBON OFFSETTING & REDUCTION SCHEME FOR INTERNATIONAL AVIATION (CORSIA) 

CONTEXT

Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has issued guidelines to all airplane operators flying on international routes to capture their fuel consumptions and carbon emissions data annually, starting from January 1, 2019. 

WHAT IS CORSIA?

  • It is an emission mitigation approach for the global airline industry, developed by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

  • CORSIA addresses emissions from international air travel. 

MORE ABOUT CORSIA

  • The CORSIA is part of an effort from the ICAO to halve carbon emissions by 2050, compared with 2005 levels.

  • it aims to address any annual increase in total carbon dioxide emissions from international civil aviation above the baseline value — based on the average of 2019 and 2020 levels — in order to avoid the impact of any unusual fluctuations in air traffic in 2020 levels.

  • it will be implemented in three phases, with the pilot phase from 2021 to 2023, first phase to be operational from 2024 to 2026, and second phase from 2027 to 2035.

  • Even as the pilot and first phases are voluntary for ICAO’s members states to implement, the second phase is mandatory for all countries, including India.

METHANOL COOKING FUEL

CONTEXT

Members of NITI Aayog have handed over a stove with two 1.2-litre canisters of methanol to 500 people in Assam

OTHER IMPORTANT INFORMATION

  • Member of NITI Aayog and eminent scientist V.K. Saraswat launched the country’s first project with methanol as alternative cooking gas

  • It is a pilot project by the Namrup-based Assam Petrochemicals Limited (APL)

  • It’s aim to replace LPG by Methanol Cooking Fuel

METHANOL FUEL

  • Methanol is an alternative fuel for internal combustion and other engines, either in combination with gasoline or directly.

  • It is used in racing cars in many countries. In the U.S., methanol fuel has received less attention than ethanol fuel as an alternative to petroleum-based fuels.

  • In general, ethanol is less toxic and has higher energy density, although methanol is less expensive to produce sustainably and is a less expensive way to reduce the carbon footprint.

  • However, for optimizing engine performance, fuel availability, toxicity and political advantage, a blend of ethanol, methanol and petroleum is likely to be preferable to using any of these individual substances alone.

  • Methanol may be made from hydrocarbon or renewable resources, natural gas and biomass respectively.

  • It can also be synthesized from CO2 (carbon dioxide) and hydrogen.

SOVEREIGN GOLD BONDS

CONTEXT

Government of India will issue sovereign gold bonds and it is going to accept applications from interested investors each month between October and February

AIM OF THE SCHEME

  • It aims to shift a portion of investment demand towards “paper gold” to trim physical purchases and contain their damaging impact on trade balance. 

SOVEREIGN GOLD BONDS

  • The sovereign gold bond, gold monetization scheme and Indian gold coin were launched by Prime Minister in late 2015.

  • SGBs are government securities denominated in grams of gold.

  • They are substitutes for holding physical gold.

  • Investors must pay the issue price in cash and the bonds will be redeemed in cash on maturity.

  • The Bond is issued by Reserve Bank on behalf of Government of India.

BENEFITS OF SGBS

  • The bonds carry a 2.5 per cent annual interest for investors and investors will get the interest payable semi-annually on the nominal value of investment.

WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO INVEST

  • Persons resident in India as defined under Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 are eligible to invest in SGB.

  • Eligible investors include individuals, HUFs, trusts, universities and charitable institutions.

MAJULI ISLAND

CONTEXT

Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) has begun a new Roll on-Roll off (Ro-Ro) facility in collaboration with the Government of Assam to provide the much-needed connectivity for Majuli Island

OTHER IMPORTANT FACTS

  • This Ro-Ro facility will cut down the circuitous road route of 423 KMs that trucks take from Neamati to Majuli Island via Tezpur Road Bridge, by limiting the distance to only 12.7 KM with the use of river route.

  • IWAI has procured a new vessel MV Bhupen Hazarika at a cost of Rs 9.46 Crore for the new service and is providing the needed terminal infrastructure too.

  • IWAI had already started a Ro-Ro service between Dhubri and Hatsingimari which reduced the travel distance by 190 KM.

  • Earlier, RO RO service was started between Dahej and Ghoda in Saurashtra. It reduced the distance of 360 between these places to 31 km only.

ABOUT MAJULI ISLAND

  • Majuli is one of the biggest riverine islands in the world located on river Brahmaputra and faces serious challenges of connectivity.

  • It has 144 villages with a population of over 1,50,000.

  • MAJULI is the seat of Neo Vaishnavite culture founded by 15th century saint and social reformer Srimanta Sankardeva 

DATA LOCALISATION

CONTEXT

Reserve Bank of India asked all the for global online payment firms and service providers to transfer customer data to Indian servers.

MORE DETAILS ABOUT THE DIRECTIVES OF RBI

  • In early April, the RBI issued a circular mandating that payment data be stored only in India by October 15.

  • This covered everyone from Mastercard and Visa to WhatsApp Payments and PayTM.

WHAT IS DATA LOCALISATION?

  • Data Localisation is a concept that the personal data of a country’s residents should be processed and stored in that country.

  • Free flow of digital data, especially data which could impact government operations or operations in a region is restricted by the government.

  • It requires good IT infrastructure and stringent security measures for data related to business operations.

NEED FOR DATA LOCALISATION

  • Call for data Localization is not new and has been a mainstay of Indian policymaker’s demand for foreign technology companies.

  • Justice Srikrishna Committee in a report with the Draft Personal Data Protection Bill released, noted that 8 of the 10 most accessed websites in India owned by US Entities which hindered the law enforcement in while investigating routine crimes or crimes with a cyber element.

  • Police officials are forced to go through long bilateral process with US government to obtain electronic evidence US Communication providers.

  • After the Cambridge Analytica and Facebook Data breach controversy, Indian government is considering asking all global firm to ensure that data of Indians are stored locally.

  • Greater use of digital platform in India also raise issues of data breach. Thus pushing to develop strong data protection rules.

  • As Localisation is a global phenomenon, India should not be an outlier and should develop it as a long term policy strategy.

CHALLENGES

  • According to current rules and regulations US government, a Federal Warrant is required by the Technology Companies to release or share data such as content of emails or messages. There is a notion that storage of data in India will give rise to a strong Indian claim.

  • Access to data may also lead to increased Government demand for data access.

  • It may also hurt the planned investment mandates of the technology firms by raising the cost of setting new local data centers.

GI TAG FOR ALPHONSO

CONTEXT

GI Tag accorded to Alphanso of Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg, Palghar, Thane and Raigad.

What is Geographical Indication Tag?

  • A GI tag is an indication used for products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or reputation due to that origin.

  • Only producers from that specific region can use the GI tagged name for their product.

  • The decisions are taken under the Geographical Indication of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act.

  • The name conveys the distinctiveness and quality of the product.

  • The first product to get GI tag was Darjeeling tea in 2004. Today, 326 products have been accorded the GI tag like Banarasi saree, Tirupati laddu, Blue pottery of Jaipur, etc.

BENEFITS OF GI TAG

  • GI products can benefit the rural economy in remote areas, by supplementing the incomes of artisans, farmers, weavers and craftsmen.

  • The unique skills and knowledge of traditional practices and methods have to be protected and promoted, which could be done through GI tagging.

DEMAND OF ALPHONSO

  • It is in demand in national as well as international market not only for its taste but also for its pleasant fragrance and vibrant colour.

  • It has been one of the world’s most popular fruit and is being exported to various countries like Japan, US, Europe, etc.

SPHERES TO TRAP BISPHENOL A

CONTEXT

Scientists have created tiny spheres that can catch and destroy bisphenol A (BPA).

MORE FROM THE NEWS

  • The scientists have discovered micron-sized spheres which resembles tiny flower like collection of titanium dioxide petals.

  • These petals have two-faced structure with a hydrophobic (water-avoiding) cavity and a hydrophilic (water-attracting) outer surface.

  • Spheres produce Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS). As BPA is hydrophobic it is naturally attracted to the cavity where ROS degrades BPA into harmless chemicals.

  • The spheres are less than 100 nanometers and they lose their trapping ability after about 400 hours of continued ultra-violet exposure.

  • These spheres can be recovered using low-pressure microfiltration and re-used.

NOBEL PRIZE

CONTEXT

The Nobel Prize in Physics, Peace, Physiology and Chemistry was recently awarded.

NOBEL PRIZE IN PHYSICS

  • This year’s Novel Prize in Physics is about the tools made from light i.e. inventions in the field of laser physics. It has been shared by three scientists.

  • Half of the prize will be awarded to Arthur Ashkin – for the optical tweezers and their application to biological systems and other half to Gerad Mourou (one fourth) and Donna Strickland (one fourth) for their method of generating high intensity, ultra-short optical pieces.

  • Arthur Ashkin –

    • Laser Tweezers are used to study biological processes such as proteins, molecular motors, DNA or inner life of cells. Tweezers can capture living bacteria without harming them.

    • Optical tweezers can grab particles, atoms, viruses and other living cells with their laser beam fingers allowing researchers to use the radiation pressure of light to move physical objects.

  • Gerard Mourou and Donna Strickland –

    • They created ultrashort high intensity laser pulse.

    • Their inventions have revolutionised laser physics. Extremely small objects and incredibly rapid processes are now being seen in a new light.

    • Advanced precision instruments are opening unexplored areas of research and a multitude of industrial and medical applications.

NOBEL PRIZE IN CHEMISTRY

  • The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2018 was divided, one half awarded to Frances H. Arnold "for the directed evolution of enzymes", the other half jointly to George P. Smith and Sir Gregory P. Winter "for the phage display of peptides and antibodies."

  • This year’s Nobel Laureates in Chemistry have been inspired by the power of evolution and used the same principles – genetic change and selection – to develop proteins that solve mankind’s chemical problems.

  • The Nobel Prize in Chemistry is awarded annually by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences to scientists in the various fields of chemistry.

  • This award is administered by the Nobel Foundation and awarded by Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences on proposal of the Nobel Committee for Chemistry which consists of five members elected by Academy.

  • The award is presented in Stockholm at an annual ceremony on December 10, the anniversary of Nobel’s death.

THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE

  • The Nobel Peace Prize 2018 was awarded jointly to Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad "for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict."

  • Both laureates have made a crucial contribution to focusing attention on, and combating, such war crimes.

  • Denis Mukwege is the helper who has devoted his life to defending these victims.

  • Nadia Murad is the witness who tells of the abuses perpetrated against herself and others.

  • Each of them in their own way has helped to give greater visibility to war-time sexual violence, so that the perpetrators can be held accountable for their actions.

THE NOBEL PRIZE IN PHYSIOLOGY OR MEDICINE

  • The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2018 was awarded jointly to James P. Allison and Tasuku Honjo "for their discovery of cancer therapy by inhibition of negative immune regulation."

  • By stimulating the inherent ability of our immune system to attack tumor cells this year’s Nobel Laureates have established an entirely new principle for cancer therapy.

FIRST ‘EXOMOON’ MAY HAVE FOUND

CONTEXT

Astronomers have announced the possible discovery of the first known moon outside our Solar System.

What is Exomoon?

  • A moon which orbit planets in other star systems are known as ‘exomoons’.

  • Exomoons are difficult to find because they are smaller than their companion planet and so their transit signal is weak.

  • They also shift position with each transit because the moon is orbiting the planet.

  • This exomoon is 8,000 light-years from Earth in the Cygnus constellation, orbits a gas-giant planet that, in turn, orbits a star called Kepler-1625.

WORLD’S FIRST HYPERLOOP PASSENGER CAPSULE

CONTEXT

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HyperloopTT/HTT) provided the first look of their full-scale passenger Hyperloop capsule at an unveiling ceremony in Puerto de Santa Maria, Spain.

Hyperloop

  • A Hyperloop is a shuttle that travels on magnetic rails but runs in a tube with little or no air.

  • In theory, Hyperloop capsules could allow travel faster than the speed of sound.

  • The technology will be able to propel trains faster than existing methods such as the Maglev, which uses a levitation technology to lift the train cars above a track to eliminate surface drag.

  • In May, Hyperloop TT had proposed to set up the Hyperloop transportation system in Andhra Pradesh, connecting Anantapur, Amaravati, Vijayawada and Visakhapatnam as part of 700-800-km-long integrated public transit system.

MOBILE ASTEROID SURFACE SCOUT (MASCOT)

CONTEXT

The Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout (MASCOT) was developed by the German Aerospace Center in cooperation with the French space agency CNES

  • it is a small asteroid lander launched on December 3rd, 2014, aboard the Japanese HAYABUSA 2 asteroid sample-return mission towards the 980 m diameter C-type near-Earth asteroid (162173) 1999 JU3.

  • MASCOT carries four instruments: an infrared spectrometer (MicrOmega), a magnetometer (MASMAG), a radiometer (MARA), and a camera (MASCAM) that imaged the small-scale structure, distribution and texture of the regolith.

  • The rover is capable of tumbling once to reposition itself for further measurements.

  • It collected data on the surface structure and mineralogical composition, the thermal behaviour and the magnetic properties of the asteroid.

CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE FOR INTERNET OF THINGS (COE – IOT)

CONTEXT

Nasscom and Haryana Government has launched center of Excellence for Internet of Things.

WHAT IT WILL DO?

  • It will provide one of the largest innovation platforms for enabling IOT revolution through connected devices using emerging technologies.

AIM

  • To act as a perfect collaboration for innovation and high-end technologies

OTHER IMPORTANT DETAILS

  • It will provide an opportunity to various stakeholders for intelligence sharing and technology collaboration.

  • It will connect industry, academia and policy makers to bring cutting edge technology in the market.

  • It is most recent addition to a hub-and-spoke network of Centre of Excellence across the country.

WHAT IS CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE FOR INTERNET OF THINGS?

  • It is largest deep tech innovation ecosystem in India, which brings together Start Ups, Innovators, enterprises and the government.

  • First COE-IOT had been launched in Bengaluru

  • It is part of digital India programme

WHAT IT DOES?

  • It focuses on solving real-world challenges utilizing technologies like IoT, AI, Data Science, Big Data, AR/VR, Machine Learning, Robotics and through extensive academic research.

ZIKA THREATS REACHES BIHAR

CONTEXT

A 22-year-old man had been diagnosed with the zika virus infection.

WHAT IS ZIKA?

  • Zika is a viral infection, spread by mosquitoes.

  • First identified in Uganda in 1947 in monkeys, Zika was detected in humans five years later.

  • In 2015, a major outbreak in Brazil led to the revelation that Zika can be associated with microcephaly, a condition in which babies are born with small and underdeveloped brains.

WAYS IN WHICH IT CAN BE SPREAD

  • The vector is the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which also spreads dengue and chikungunya.

  • Zika virus primarily spreads when a mosquito infected with Zika bites you. 

  • Infected people can transmit Zika sexually.

  • Infected pregnant women can pass the virus on to their fetus.

HOW DANGEROUS IS ZIKA?

  • If pregnant woman infected by zika virus then the baby may have microcephaly where babies are born with underdeveloped heads and brain damage.

  • It can cause serious birth defect

  • Zika has also been linked to Guillain-Barre syndrome, a condition in which the immune system attacks the nerves.

  • The disease can cause fever, rash, joint pain and redness in the whites of the eye.

NASA’S NEW HORIZON PROBE

CONTEXT

Nasa’s new horizon probe will pass by Kuiper Belt Object (Ultima Thule). It will set the record for most distant object ever visited by a spacecraft.

OTHER IMPORTANT DETAILS

  • Recently spacecraft has performed a three and half minutes exercise to home in on its location

  • This exercised has made adjustment in the trajectory and hiked the speed by 2.1 meter per second keeping it on track to fly past by Ultima

  • It is the farthest course-correction ever performed. 

WHAT IS NEW HORIZON?

  • It is a mission to investigate and research about the Dwarf planet Pluto and gather information about the mysterious Kuiper Belt – a relic of solar system formation.

  • This mission is part of NASA’s new frontiers programs

  • This mission is under the supervision of by the John Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) and the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI).

  • The Spacecraft was launched in 2006.

  • It is the fifth artificial object to achieve the escape velocity needed to leave Solar System

MOON MOONS

CONTEXT

Recently a paper published by two scientist came up with the  hypothesis of moonmoons.

WHAT IS MOONMOONS?

  • A moon either orbiting around a moon in our solar system or outside it.

MORE ABOUT MOONMOONS

  • A moonmoon exists in a delicate balance – orbiting around large moons that are relatively distant from their parent planets.

  • They need to orbit close enough to remain within the gravitational pull of the moon rather than the larger planet.

  • But they must be far enough away to avoid being torn apart or pulled out of orbit by its moon.

  • There haven’t been any examples of moonmoons found in the solar system thus far, but contenders for places to look could be Saturn’s moon Titan or Jupiter’s moon Callisto.

HYPERION

CONTEXT

Researchers have discovered the largest and massive super cluster of galaxies which is named as Hyperion

MORE ABOUT HYPERION

  • It was identified using the VIMOS instrument on European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) Very Large Telescope in Chile

  • The VIMOS instrument can measure the distance to hundreds of galaxies at the same time, making it possible to map the position of galaxies within the forming supercluster in three dimensions.

  • Hyperion has a calculated mass more than one million billion times that of the Sun, making it the largest and most massive structure to be found so early in the formation of the universe

  • “This is the first time that such a large structure has been identified at such a high redshift, just over two billion years after the Big Bang

  • Normally these kinds of structures are known at lower redshifts, which means when the universe has had much more time to evolve and construct such huge things. 

  • Located in the constellation of Sextans.

THE INNER CORE OF THE EARTH

CONTEXT

Recently scientist came up with a study and according to this study the inner core of the Earth is solid, it is softer than predicted earlier

MORE ABOUT THE STUDY

  • The inner core shares some similar elastic properties with gold and platinum

  • Researchers at the National University of Australia (ANU) found a way to detect shear waves, or "J waves" in the inner core, a type of wave that can only travel through solid objects.

  • The shear waves of the inner core are so small and weak that they cannot be observed directly.

  • The study shows that these results can be used to demonstrate the existence of J waves and infer the cutting wave velocity in the inner core.

TRANSGENIC RICE

CONTEXT

Recently researchers have developed transgenic rice that promises to generate high yields even under conditions of high salinity, high temperature and drought.

FURTHER INFORMATION

  • Pokkali Rice is found in Kerala. It can sustain adverse environment and has high level of Genes.

  • The plant expressed the gene four times more than in traditional plants.

  • Researches used this information and raised another rice plant, IR 64, with OsIF over-expressed in it

  • They did so by using a promoter derived from cauliflower mosaic virus (CaMV).

  • It was found that over-expression of OsIF improved the growth and yield of this plant significantly in adverse conditions of high salinity, high temperature and drought.

  • This plant had a yield of 20 per cent more than a normal one.

ENVIRONMENT POLLUTION (PREVENTION AND CONTROL) AUTHORITY

CONTEXT

Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority has been reconstituted by Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change after the end of its tenure on October 3 2018.

About EPCA

  • It is a body which has been constituted with an objective of protecting and improving the quality of the environment and preventing and controlling the environmental pollution in the National Capital Region (NCR).

  • It has been constituted in response to the Supreme Court order in 1988 for assisting Supreme Court in various environment related matters in NCR.

  • The reconstituted EPCA has been made broad based with 1 chairman and 19 other members.

Functions of EPCA

  • It exercises powers to issue directions wrt complaints relating to violation of orders pertaining to standards for the quality of environment, emissions, prevention of environmental accidents, handling hazardous elements etc.

  • It shall take up matters either suo-motu or on basis of complaints in the field of environment.

  • It is also responsible for implementation of Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) in NCR as per the pollution levels.

  • It also has powers to issue direction wrt to maintenance of ambient noise standards.

CANINE DISTEMPER VIRUS AT GIR

CONTEXT

Recently, 23 Asiatic lions were found dead at Gir Forest National Park due to Canine Distemper Virus.

What is Canine Distemper Virus?

  • Canine distemper is a contagious and serious disease caused by a virus that attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal and nervous systems of puppies and dogs.

  • The virus can also be found in wildlife such as foxes, wolves, coyotes, raccoons, skunks, mink and ferrets and has been reported in lions, tigers, leopards and other wild cats as well as seals.

  • Animals often become infected through airborne exposure (through sneezing or coughing). Transmission occurs from contact with infected saliva, urine, feces or respiratory secretions.

  • Clinical signs appear in 10-14 days after infection and include discharge from nose, dyspnea or difficulty in breathing, coughing, pneumonia, fever, anorexia and respiratory tract issues.

  • There is no cure, only supportive care, so preventative measures to reduce the risk of spreading the virus is key.

ECOLOGICAL FLOW (E-FLOW) IN GANGA

CONTEXT

Government has notified minimum amount of water to maintained in Ganga river on various location

WHY E-FLOW?

  • It is a step in the direction of Government’s commitment towards an Aviral and Nirmal Ganga

WHAT E-FLOW WILL DO?

  • It will ensure that the river has at least the minimum required environmental flow of water even after the river flow gets diverted by projects and structures for purposes like irrigation, hydropower, domestic and industrial use etc.

WHAT IS E-FLOW?

  • Environmental flows are the acceptable flow regimes that are required to maintain a river in the desired environmental state or predetermined state.

LOSS OF NATURAL RESOURCES

CONTEXT

A report on environment accounts report released by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation has revealed that the rate of forest growth is declined by more than 10 percent in all states

OTHER IMPORTANT INFORMATION

  • During 2015-16 when the state GDP in all the states were around 7-8 percent, eleven states has registered decline in their in their natural capital

  • Climate change impacted water resources adversely, the report shows a 24% decline in the area under snow and glacier in some states

  • The report says that high rate of urban growth is likely to affect a productive capacity in states like Punjab, Haryana, Karnataka, Telangana and West Bengal.

  • Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Kerala, Maharashtra and Odisha show an increase in parameters such as transition of fallow land to farmland, increase in forest cover along with growing carbon stock and new sources of minerals.

COAL LIQUEFACTION

CONTEXT

Worldwide there is a growing interest in Coal Liquefaction or Coal to Liquid (CTL) technology especially in coal-rich countries to reduce dependence on petroleum imports, move towards a more sustainable source of energy and ultimately achieving energy independence.

WHAT IS COAL TO LIQUID TECHNOLOGY?

Coal to Liquid technology involves gasification of coal, which in turn produces synthetic gas (a mix of Carbon Monoxide and Hydrogen gas). The synthetic gas can be liquefied to its fuel equivalent in presence of cobalt/iron-based catalysts at higher pressure and temperature.

BENEFITS OF COAL TO LIQUID TECHNOLOGY

  • Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions- Since carbon dioxide emissions can be more readily and cheaply captured from Coal To Liquid (CTL) plants than from conventional coal-fired power stations thus there is a potential for co-development of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Energy Security & Independence- In the face of increasing oil prices and desire for achieving energy security and independence, the Coal To Liquid (CTL) technology has emerged as a promising solution especially in the countries with large reserves of coal.

  • Easy to Use- Another benefit of CTL technology is that the engines of cars need no modification to use the liquid fuel and hence can be readily used.

CHALLENGES

  • High up-front capital investment costs

  • Liquefied coal emits twice as much CO2 as burning oil. It also emits a large volume of SO2. Thus without Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), the carbon footprint of CTL is at least 150–175 per cent higher than that of conventional petrol/diesel production from oil.

  • Critics argue that because of the high costs involved and the environmental implications, CTL processes would only be used in the long term, where there is substantial government support for strategic reasons, and also where the extra CO2 produced can be effectively sequestered.

  • CTL commercialisation is likely to remain limited to niche markets in coal-producing regions offering regional incentives or strategic markets such as the military with specific fuel and security requirements.

WORLDWIDE STATUS OF CTL

  • There are approximately 30 large-scale CTL plants under construction or in the final planning stages around the world.

  • South Africa has been producing liquid fuels from coal since 1955, using the indirect conversion process.

  • The International Energy Agency (IEA) supports development of CTL plants with CCS.

  • In India, based on R&D activities undertaken for the development of liquid fuels from coal, the CSIR has successfully installed and commissioned an integrated pilot plant. 

LIKELY BENEFITS OF CTL FOR INDIA

  • India has significant coal reserves. CTL plants could be an alternative source of liquid fuels in India.

  • The importance of CTL technology for India becomes more important as India is heavily dependent on petroleum imports and has been hit badly due to the recent increase in crude prices and uncertainty over future supplies on account of American sanctions on Iranian crude.

  • CTL plants along with CCS can help India achieve its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) targets pledged during Paris Climate Conference 2015.

WAY FORWARD

Apart from development of indigenous technology, the Indian government should facilitate in bringing leading foreign companies investing in domestic CTL projects with private Indian players. This would help in ameliorating energy security concerns and bring about energy independence of the country.

FOREST FIRE MANAGEMENT REPORT

CONTEXT

Sustainable Forest Management report was released jointly by the Ministry of Environment and Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) and World Bank.

FINDINGS OF THE REPORT

  • Forest Fires are leading cause of forest degradation in India. Forest Fires occur every year in almost every state in India and some districts have been more vulnerable than others.

  • 20 districts accounts for over 40% of all forest fires detected between 2003 and 2016.

  • Similarly, top 20 accounts for about 48% of total fire-affected areas, while having just 12% of the country’s forest cover in the year 2000 and 7% of its land area.

  • Reasons for forest fires – people are main drivers of fires in India and forest fires are distributed close to people and infrastructure. Shift in climate caused by the anthropogenic reason is also one of the reasons of increasing forest fires.

  • Region distribution – Forest Fires in Northeast are concentrated in North-east and Northern state of Bihar. Districts experiencing widespread and frequent forest fires include areas of dry and moist deciduous forest in order lands of Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Telangana that are affected by fire on annual basis.

  • Ecological Value of Forests – According to the scientists of National Remote Sensing Centre, fires affecting forests have significant ecological value. The Fire in 2014 burned about 8.6% of the forest cover in protected areas.

JIMEX 2018

CONTEXT

JIMEX was conducted at Vishakhapatnam.

What is JIMEX?

  • It is a bilateral Maritime Exercise between India and Japan which aims to enhance interoperability, improve understanding and imbibe best practices of both countries.

  • It began in 2012 and the present edition is the third one with last edition conducted in 2013 at Chennai.

  • In the exercise Japanese Maritime Self Defence Forces (JMSDF)  ships Kaga and Inazuma – a guided missile destroyer are participating.

  • The IN will be represented by three indigenously designed and built warships and a Fleet Tanker namely – INS Satpura (multipurpose stealth frigate), INS Kidmatt (anti-sumarine warfare corvette), INS Shakti (the fleet tanker).

  • The exercise will include professional and social interactions between ship’s crews, sports fixtures and operational planning for the Sea Phase.

  • The Sea Phase would include Anti-Submarine Warfare Exercises, VBSS (Visit, Board, Search and Seizure) Drills, Gun Firings, Cross Deck Helo Operations and coordinated operations in Anti-Submarine/ Anti-Air threat scenarios.

Significance of JIMEX 2018

  •  It is indicative of an upswing in the Indo-Japanese defence relations.

  • It also points towards the continued efforts of both Governments to work closely to enhance safety and security of the global commons in keeping with ‘rule-based order’.

EXERCISE AVIAINDRA – 18

CONTEXT

Exercise Aviaindra – 18 was conducted at Lipetsk, Russia.

DETAILS OF THE EXERCISE

  • It is a bi-annual Air force level exercise between Russian Federation and India. The first exercise was conducted in 2014.

  • The exercise was focussed towards anti-terrorist operations in bi-lateral scenario. It would further enhance the co-operation and understanding of concepts of operations.

  • The aim of the exercise was to learn best practices from one another and it also includes simulator training. 

  • The exercise also included briefing on Aerospace safety and anti-terrorist air operations.

SAMUDRA MAITRI

CONTEXT

India has launched a massive operation to aid Tsunami hit Indonesia.

MORE FROM THE NEWS

  • India has dispatched two naval ships and one aircraft with relief material to Indonesia after their acceptance of international aid over a telephonic conversation.

  • India has sent medical personnel and relief material to carry out humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

TSUNAMI IN INDONESIAtsunami.png

  • Indonesia has been hit by two earthquakes. First one was on 5th August which hit has hit Lombok Island of 6.1 magnitudes which triggered a tsunami.

  • The second earthquake had hit Sulawesi which also triggered a damaging Tsunami. The magnitude of the earthquake was 7.5 on richter scale.

SAHYOG HOP TAC- 2018

CONTEXT

Sahyog HOC TAC- 2018 was conducted by the Indian Coast Guard.

DETAILS

  • It is a joint exercise with the Vietnam Coast Guard, to further strengthen and cement the relationship and redefine the joint operations which would be beneficial in dealing with the challenges.

  • This is the maiden joint exercise held in Bay of Bengal, off the Chennai coast, Tamil Nadu and is aimed at acquainting the coast guards of both the countries with each others’ capabilities and at the same time compliment the short comings when dealing with operational procedures of saving lives at the sea.

  • It will undertake coordinated boarding operations, external fire fighting to rescue burning ships, deal with issue of hijacking of oil tankers and rescue of its crew in coordinated anti-piracy joint operations along with maritime environment protection.

ROADMAP TOWARDS ENDING TB IN CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS

INTRODUCTION

The United Nations’ first-ever high level meeting on tuberculosis, held on 26 September 2018, has committed to accelerating efforts and increasing funding towards achieving the agenda of the Sustainable Development Goals to end the tuberculosis epidemic by 2030 and specially focusing on roadmap to fight TB in children and adolescents.

TB is an infectious disease caused by the bacillus Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It typically affects the lungs (pulmonary TB) but can also affect other sites.

WHAT FIGURES SHOW STATUS OF INDIA?

  • India, which accounts for 27% of the world’s tuberculosis burden, had set its own target at the End-TB Summit in Delhi earlier this year: TB Free India by 2025. Considering the state of India’s healthcare, this may be an unrealistic target.

  • Recent report of union health ministry revealed that MDR is high in the children as expected. This has been described as “worrying trend”. As many as 5,500 of over 76,000 children tested in nine cities have been diagnosed with TB. 9% of these paediatric TB cases have been diagnosed to have MDR TB.

WHY TB IS MAJOR CAUSE OF CONCERN SPECIALLY IN CHILDREN AND ADOLSCENT?

  • India tops in the number of TB cases. And the most vulnerable section is children and adolescents. Only 1.84 % children receive preventive therapy. Preventive therapy is given to those who don’t have active TB. As most of children living with family having active TB.

  • Undernutrition of the mother and child makes their immunity weak to fight against the disease.

  • India has large number of poor population and inadequate healthcare, nutrition, and awareness makes high prevalence of Tb.

  • In 2016, the proportion of children among new TB patients reported was 6%. Absence of appropriate samples coupled with decentralised capacity to get good samples from children to test for TB remains a challenge in paediatric TB case detection.

CHALLENGES IN TACKLING TB

  • While detection of tuberculosis (TB) in children remains a challenge, it has now emerged that Multi drug resistant (MDR) is high among children than expected.

  • Under- nutrition: both adult and child under nutrition imbalances the net nutrition.

  • Both private and public sector heavily rely on smear microscopy as initial diagnostic test. Smear microscopy only diagnose 50% +ve cases.

  • Delay in policy implementation: delay in implementation of critical programmes under revised national TB control programme (RNTCP) such as expansion of GeneXpert pilot programme, scaling up drug sensitivity testing, and introduction of child friendly paediatric TB drug.

  • Social stigma attached to TB, people believe disease is incurable, hence under reporting of disease.

  • Huge population density makes vulnerable to the risk of communication diseases specially in children and adolescents.

  • Intermittent drug consumption behaviour leads to Multi drug resistant TB (MDR-TB)

  • Lethargic attitude of the doctors: inadequate prescription and improper monitoring of the patients.

  • Public health infrastructure is at nascent condition hence access to drugs is less especially in rural areas.

  • No consistent follow up treatment:  In 2017 among the Tb cases 22% of treatment outcome not reported.

  • Risk factors: according to WHO reports 2017, 5 risk factors include alcohol, smoking, undernutrition, HIV and diabetes further makes challenging to fight TB.

INDIA’S WAR ON TB

Countering Delay in Diagnosis:

  • Correct and timely diagnosis id the first step in treating and preventing disease.

  • To block transmission, treatment should begin as soon as a symptom shows up. Such as cough which is very common symptom.

  • PPP (Public Private Partnership) is essential for early diagnosis.

  • Employ the biomedical method is drug treatment of latent TB. Experts recommend an age window of 5-10 years when all children must be screened with TST.

Private Sector:  

  • The private sector has a very crucial role to play in checking the rise of TB as it is the first place a patient from an urban area visits. 

  • Developing a comprehensive set of national guidelines could strengthen private sector engagement in TB.

  • Private doctors give information to the government if patient leaves.

Robust research:

  • Require rapid and cost-effective point-of-care devices that can be deployed for TB diagnosis in different settings across the country.

  • New drug regimens are necessary for responding to the spread of drug-resistant strains as is an effective vaccine for preventing TB in adolscents and children.

Technology:

  • Technology must be introduced and utilized in the most effective manner to ensure early access and monitoring. For example, Swasth E- gurukul TB and Tb awareness campaign for eliminating social stigma.

  • Government planning to announce National e health authority, which is a depository of patients medical reports.

  • Nikshay 2.0 launched recently which is web-based application of RNTCP.

  • Introduction of Cartridge-Based Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (CBNAAT), it is a highly sensitive diagnostic tool and can be used in remote and rural areas

National health policy 2017:

  • It envisions holistic framework of Tb eradication and AMR.

  • National strategic plan to end Tb by 2025 & 100% case finding by 2020 and complete eradication by 2025.

Ending social stigma:

  • Mass awareness campaigns like ‘TB Harega Desh Jeetega’ can play an important role in breaking social taboos.

  • Children should be engaged through anganwadis and schools for disseminating accurate messages about TB to their families.

  • Paediatric TB is often a neglected area. Children come from low socio-economic strata with social stigma and discrimination which needs to be de-stigmatised.

Vision document against comorbidity:

  • To adrees the comorbidity of Tb with HIV & implement 4 strategic pillars “ DETECT-TREAT-PREVENT-BUILD”.

  • Revised National Tb control programme ( Nikshay aushadi portal).

Others initiative:

  • Recently Delhi government launched sputum transportation project , leads to better monitoring of Tb patients.

  • Shift to Daily regime of medication using FDC under revised national Tb control programme (RNTCP).

  • Cash benefit for TB patients & Medical Practitioner.

  • Niti Ayog started ranking performance of hospitals.

  • National inter-ministerial commission for fast tracking of health care issues.

WAY FORWARD:

  • Robust regulatory framework at central and state level is need of an hour.

  • Moscow Decleration emphasized need of fixing multi sect oral responsibility towards ending Tb by 2030.

  • Kartar Singh committee on public health system advocated need of health management cadre, even 12 FYP and NHP-2017 also advocated this to improve quality of health services.

  • Cooperative federalism mechanism is needed for achieving the dream of health for all (SDG).

  • Engage all stakeholders like CSO, doctors, government, and international organisations to tackle the menace of TB.

NON- COMMUNICABLE DISEASE (NCD)

CONTEXT

Heads of states got together at the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) to sign a declaration signalling their commitment to tackle non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

HIGHLIGHTS OF DECLARATION

  • The declaration specifically asked food manufacturers to reduce salt, free sugars and saturated and industrially-produced trans fats in their products

  • manufacturers should use nutrition labeling on packaged food to inform consumers, and restrict the marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages to children.

WHAT IS NCD?

  • Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), also known as chronic diseases, is a medical condition or disease that is not caused by infectious agents.

  • NCDs tend to be of long duration and are the result of a combination of genetic, physiological, environmental and behaviours factors.

  • The main types of NCDs are cardiovascular diseases (like heart attacks and stroke), cancers, chronic respiratory diseases (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma) and diabetes.

OTHER DETAILS ABOUT NCD

  • This is the second time that NCDs have been discussed at the UNGA.

  • They were not included in the Millennium Development Goals adopted in 2000 but are now an important target in the Sustainable Development Goals, under which countries would have to “reduce by one-third, pre-mature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment, and promote mental health and wellbeing” by 2030.

  • According to statistics, 41 million people are killed prematurely by preventable chronic illnesses each year.

  • This is 70 per cent of all deaths across the world.

  • Of the 41 million, 85 per cent are in developing countries.

ROAD SAFETY

CONTEXT

Data on road safety released by the government says that roads are turning deadlier to pedestrian

HIGHLIGHT

  • The number of fatalities shot up from 12,330 in 2014 to  20,457 in 2017 — a jump of nearly 66%

  • According to official data, 133 two-wheeler occupants and nearly 10 cyclists were killed daily in road accidents in 2017

  • Tamil Nadu reported a maximum number of 3,507 pedestrians killed in road accidents last year, followed by Maharashtra and Andhra Padesh

  • In the case of two-wheeler deaths, TN topped the list with 6,329 fatalities, followed by UP and Maharashtra

Reasons of Road Accidents?

  • More than 30% of the road signage was not as per the Indian Roads Congress (IRC) standards

  • Distracted driving becomes a larger threat every year and has been the leading cause of car accidents for the past decades

  • Drunk driving is one of the most dangerous causes of accidents in the U.S. and is the most deadly

  • Sometimes accidents are caused by flaws in the car itself.

  • Potholes

  • Over Speeding

  • Drunken Driving

  • Red Light Jumping

  • Avoiding Safety Gears like Seat belts and Helmets

STEPS TO PREVENT ROAD ACCIDENTS

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has taken a number of steps to prevent road accidents and road accident fatalities . These include

  • The Government has approved a National Road Safety Policy.  This Policy outlines various policy measures such as promoting awareness, establishing road safety information data base, encouraging safer road infrastructure including application of intelligent transport, enforcement of safety laws etc.

  • The Government has constituted the National Road Safety Council as the apex body to take policy decisions in matters of road safety.

  • The Ministry has requested all States/UTs for setting up of State Road Safety Council and District Road Safety Committees, and to hold their meetings regularly.

  • The Ministry has constituted Group of Ministers of State Transport Minister to examine the best practices of Transport and suggest issues to improve road safety.

  • Based on the recommendation of Group of Minister, the Ministry introduced Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill 2017 covering entire gamut of road safety.

  • The Ministry has formulated a multi-pronged strategy to address the issue of road safety based on 4 ‘E’s viz. Education, Engineering (both of roads and vehicles), Enforcement and Emergency Care.

  • Road safety has been made an integral part of road design at planning stage.

MIGRANT PLIGHT

CONTEXT

The rape of a 14-month-old toddler allegedly by a migrant labourer in Sabarkantha in late September has triggered a series of mob attacks on migrant workers in northern Gujarat, causing a near exodus from the state.

WHAT IS HUMAN MIGRATION?

  • Human migration is the movement by people from one place to another with the intentions of settling, permanently or temporarily in a new location.

  • The movement is often over long distances and from one country to another, but internal migration is also possible; indeed, this is the dominant form globally.

  • People may migrate as individuals, in family units or in large groups.

  • A person who moves from their home to another place because of natural disaster or civil disturbance may be described as a refugee or, especially within the same country, a displaced person.

  • A person seeking refuge from political, religious, or other forms of persecution is usually described as an asylum seeker.

MORE ABOUT MIGRATION

  • Nomadic movements are normally not regarded as migrations as there is no intention to settle in the new place and because the movement is generally seasonal.

  • Only a few nomadic people have retained this form of lifestyle in modern times.

  • Also, the temporary movement of people for the purpose of travel, tourism, pilgrimages, or the commute is not regarded as migration, in the absence of an intention to live and settle in the visited places

Factors Responsible for Migration

People migrate for several reasons. These reasons may fall under these four areas: Environmental, Economic, Cultural and Socio-political. Within that, the reasons may also be ‘push’ or ‘pull’ factors.

Push Factors

  • Push factors are those that force the individual to move voluntarily, and in many cases, they are forced because the individual risk something if they stay.

  • Push factors may include conflict, drought, famine, or extreme religious activity.

  • Poor economic activity and lack of job opportunities are also strong push factors for migration. Other strong push factors include race and discriminating cultures, political intolerance and persecution of people who question the status quo.

Pull Factors

  • Pull factors are those factors in the destination country that attract the individual or group to leave their home.

  • Those factors are known as place utility, which is the desirability of a place that attracts people. Better economic opportunities, more jobs, and the promise of a better life often pull people into new locations.

  • Sometimes individuals have ideas and perceptions about places that are not necessarily correct, but are strong pull factors for that individual.

  • As people grow older and retire, many look for places with warm weather, peaceful and comfortable locations to spend their retirement after a lifetime of hard work and savings.

  • Such ideal places are pull factors too.

  • Very often, people consider and prefer opportunities closer to their location than similar opportunities farther away.

  • In the same vein, people often like to move to places with better cultural, political, climatic and general terrain in closer locations than locations farther away.

  • It is rare to find people move over very long distances to settle in places that they have little knowledge of.

Illegal Migration

  • Migration becomes illegal if people do not have the permission of the country or borders they are entering into.

  • In recent time, illegal migration has been on the rise. Illegal migration is often fuelled by pull factors.

  • For Example, Rohingyas are in India is an example of illegal migration

GLOBAL HUNGER INDEX (GHI)

CONTEXT

Global Hunger Index was recently released by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and Welthungerhilfe.

ABOUT GHI

  • The Global Hunger Index(GHI)  tracks the state of hunger across the globe. It is a tool designed to comprehensively measure and track hunger at global, regional, and national levels.

  • GHI scores are calculated each year to assess progress and setbacks in combating hunger. Its results appear in a report issued in October each year.

  • Theme of GHI of 2018 is Forced Migration and Hunger.

  • GHI scores are based on four indicators: 

    • UNDERNOURISHMENT: the share of the population that is undernourished (that is, whose caloric intake is insufficient); 

    • CHILD WASTING: the share of children under the age of five who are wasted (that is, who have low weight for their height, reflecting acute undernutrition); 

    • CHILD STUNTING: the share of children under the age of five who are stunted (that is, who have low height for their age, reflecting chronic undernutrition); and 

    • CHILD MORTALITY: the mortality rate of children under the age of five (in part, a reflection of the fatal mix of inadequate nutrition and unhealthy environments)

  • The index ranks countries on a 100-point scale, where zero is the best score and 100 is the worst. The latter signifies that a country’s undernourishment, child wasting, child stunting, and child mortality levels are at the highest level.

 INDIA`S PERFORMANCE AS PER 2018 REPORT

  • India has been ranked at the 103rd position among 119 countries on the Global Hunger Index.
    According to the report, India (with a score of 31.1) is among the 45 countries that have "serious levels of hunger". 

  • India is ranked below many neighbouring countries, including China (25th spot), Nepal (72), Myanmar (68), Sri Lanka (67) and Bangladesh (86). Pakistan is placed at the 106th position. 

  • Data on above indicators are mainly obtained from UN agencies such as FAO, UNICEF, WHO and World Bank.

COMPREHENSIVE GUIDELINES TO CONTROL MOB VIOLENCE

CONTEXT

Supreme Court has laid down comprehensive guidelines to control instances of mob violence.

WHAT IS MOB VIOLENCE?

  • Mob violence or lynching is a form of violence in which a mob, under the pretext of administering justice without trial, punishes and inflicts torture on a presumed offender, sometimes even resulting in murders.

  • Of late, India has been witnessing an unusual increase in crimes related to mob violence, in the name of religion, kidnapping, cow vigilantism etc.

  • It is often fuelled by rumors spread on social media platforms.

DETAILS OF THE COMPREHENSIVE GUIDELINES TO CONTROL MOB VIOLENCE

They include preventive, remedial and punitive steps, to deal with the crime:

  • The state governments shall designate a senior police officer in each district for taking measures to prevent incidents of mob violence and lynching.

  • The state governments shall immediately identify districts, sub-divisions and villages where instances of lynching and mob violence have been reported in the recent past.

  • The nodal officers shall bring to the notice of the DGP any inter-district co-ordination issues for devising a strategy to tackle lynching and mob violence related issues.

  • It shall be the duty of every police officer to cause a mob to disperse, which, in his opinion, tends to cause violence in the disguise of vigilantism or otherwise

  • Central and the state governments should broadcast on radio and television and other media platforms including the official websites that lynching and mob violence shall invite serious consequence.

  • Curb and stop dissemination of irresponsible and explosive messages, videos and other material on various social media platforms. Register FIR under relevant provisions of law against persons who disseminate such messages.

  • Ensure that there is no further harassment of the family members of the victims.

  • State governments shall prepare a lynching/mob violence victim compensation scheme.

  • Cases of lynching and mob violence shall be specifically tried by designated court/fast track courts earmarked for that purpose in each district. The trial shall preferably be concluded within six months.

  • To set a stern example in cases of mob violence and lynching, the trial court must ordinarily award maximum sentence upon conviction of the accused person.

  • If it is found that a police officer or an officer of the district administration has failed to fulfill his duty, it will be considered as an act of deliberate negligence.

GOVERNMENT INITIATIVES TO DEAL WITH MOB VIOLENCE

  • CREATION OF NODAL OFFICERS –

    • Central government has asked states to appoint a nodal officer in each district to prevent the incidents of mob violence and lynching.

    • As per advisory from the Home Ministry, the nodal officer should be a superintendent of police-level officer.

    • It has also asked to set up a special task force to procure intelligence reports about the people who are likely to commit such crimes or who are involved in spreading hate speeches, provocative statements and fake news.

  • CREATION OF TWO HIGH LEVEL COMMITTEES –

    • Two high-level committees were constituted by the Central government to suggest ways and legal framework to effectively deal with incidents of mob violence and lynching.

    • One of the committees was headed by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and the other by Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba.

    • The committee headed by Rajiv Gauba submitted its recommendations to the government in August.

CONCLUSION

Life is precious and the modern state is duty bound to protect the life of its people. The Constitution of India puts a liability on the state to protect the lives of all the people under Article 21 of the Constitution.  But, the recent increase in incidents of mob violence, lynching and massacre pose a tough challenge to the government. These crimes need to be curbed to protect the soul of our democracy.

TEEN AGE GIRL REPORT

CONTEXT

Recently, Teen age girl report was brought out by the Project Nanhi Kali which was launched by the Mahindra group

DETAILS

  • The ‘adolescent girl child’ is a crucial yet often neglected strata by the public and the policymakers at large.

  • Though it is a common place notion that that social institutions concerning adolescent girl child like education and marriageable age are deplorable, the newly released Teen age girl report paints a different story.

  • Key Findings of the report are –

    • 1.73% of the girls aspire to marry only after they are 21 and are having a steady source of income.

    • However on the health front the situation continues to be abysmal.39.8% of the teenage girls still defecate in the open and only 54.4% have the access to hygienic methods of menstrual protection.

    • The availability of sanitary pads for reproductive health is also grossly missing as data points to 45.5% of the girls still using clothing pads due to lack of affordability, cultural beliefs and knowledge deficit about hygiene.

    • The report also brings to the notice about the grim fact that only 50% of the teenage girls have a normal BMI.

    • Based on the survey by 1000 surveyors who interviewed 74000 teenage girls in 600 districts across 30 states, a index was prepared which compares the performance of each state. Kerala and Mizoram are the top two performing states while Mumbai, Kolkata and Bengaluru are the top performing cities.

  • These findings will provide the government to take course correction in designing of schemes and implementing them. This will ensure that the 80 million teenage girls in India.

SCHEME FOR PROMOTION OF THE ACADEMIC AND RESEARCH COLLABORATION (SPARC)

CONTEXT

The Union Minister of Human Resource Development launched the web portal in New Delhi recently.

DETAILS OF THE SCHEME

  • The SPARC scheme aims at improving the research ecosystem of India’s higher educational institutions by facilitating academic and research collaborations between Indian institutions and the best of the institutions in the world.

  • The project is floated at the cost of 418 crore and Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur is the national coordinating institute to implement the SPARC programme.

  • As a part of the programme, 254 top Indian Institutes and 478 top ranked global institutes have been already identified.

  • The salient features of the scheme are:

    • A set of five thrust areas namely fundamental research, emergent areas of impact, convergence, action oriented research and innovation drive have been identified based on the emergent relevance and importance in terms of national impact.

    • Each thrust area will have a section chair. The role of each section chair is to review the shortlist and recommend the potential joint-proposals submitted under the SPARC scheme.

    • A set of nodal institutions have been identified which serve the function of handholding and forging the collaboration between the participating universities.25 such institutes have been identified.

    • There is a support for four pronged components in catalyzing the impact making research.

      • Visits and long term stay of top international researchers in Indian Universities.

      • Visits by Indian students for training and experimentation in premier laboratories worldwide.

      • Joint development of niche courses, action-oriented outcomes and products.

      • Publication, Dissemination and visibility through a high profile annual international conference in India.

  • The scheme is expected to foster an overall vibrant relationship and collaboration between students, universities and researches alike.

  • Power distribution companies have so far been the weakest link in the electricity value chain.

  • Poor payment records of state-owned discoms have not only adversely affected power generation companies but have also contributed to stress in the banking sector.

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