Insights Daily Current Affairs, 10 December 2016

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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 10 December 2016


 

Paper 3 Topic: Infrastructure energy.

 

SECI to Launch 1000 MW Rooftop Solar PV Scheme for Government Sector

 

As a step towards fulfilment of the Government of India’s target for installation of 40 GW rooftop solar power plants by the year 2022, Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) has launched a tender of 1000 MW capacity for development of grid-connected rooftop solar capacity for Central Government Ministries/Departments.

  • This would be the largest rooftop tender to be launched by SECI, and is expected to give a big boost to the hugely potent rooftop solar power generation segment.
  • Rooftop solar systems will be installed with the financial assistance from MNRE in the form of Incentives. The power generated from the systems shall be used for meeting the captive requirement of the buildings and the surplus power, if any, shall be fed to the grid under the net-metering arrangement of the respective State.

 

About SECI:

Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) is a company of the Indian Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, established to facilitate the implementation of Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission.

  • It is the only Public Sector Undertaking dedicated to the solar energy sector.
  • The company’s mandate has recently been broadened to cover the entire renewable energy domain and the company renamed to Renewable Energy Corporation of India (RECI).
  • The company is responsible for implementation of a number of government schemes, major ones being the VGF schemes for large-scale grid-connected projects under JNNSM, solar park scheme and grid-connected solar rooftop scheme, along with a host of other specialised schemes such as defence scheme, canal-top scheme, Indo-Pak border scheme etc.
  • SECI is the leading PSU in the rooftop solar segment, and has already commissioned over 54 MW capacity of rooftop solar projects under multiple government schemes.

Sources: pib.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector or Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

 

Government urges public to restrict the use of newspapers as food packaging material

 

Expressing concern over the practice of wrapping, covering or processing foods with newspaper and printed recycled paper materials in India, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has directed The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to issue an advisory restricting the use of newspapers as food packaging material.

  • The government has also asked the Commissioners of Food Safety of all States/Union Territories to initiate systematic campaigns for generating awareness among all the stakeholders to discourage the use of newspapers for packing, serving and storing food items.

 

Background:

Use of newspapers for wrapping, packing and serving food is a common practice in India. However, this is a food safety hazard. Wrapping food in newspapers is an unhealthy practice and the consumption of such food is injurious to health, even if the food has been cooked hygienically. Indians are being slowly poisoned due to newspaper being widely used as food packaging material by small hotels, vendors and also in homes in lieu of absorbent paper.

 

Why restrict the use of newspaper as food packaging material?

Foods contaminated by newspaper ink raise serious health concerns since the ink contains multiple bioactive materials with known negative health effects. Printing inks may also contain harmful colors, pigments, binders, additives, and preservatives. Besides chemical contaminants, presence of pathogenic microorganisms in used newspapers also poses potential risk to human health.

Newspapers and even paper/ cardboard boxes made of recycled paper may be contaminated with metallic contaminants, mineral oils and harmful chemicals like phthalates which can cause digestive problems and also lead to severe toxicity.

 

Who are vulnerable?

Older people, teenagers, children and people with compromised vital organs and immune systems are at a greater risk of acquiring cancer-related health complications, if they are exposed to food packed in such material.

Sources: pib.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

 

India reports fishery subsidies; aims to protect ‘poor’ fisherfolk

 

India has notified the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on the subsidies it pays fisherfolk amid demands from a U.S.-led group of nations for a ban on subsidies given for illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing.

  • The move comes even as India has expressed concern over committing to norms at the multilateral level that will impact the livelihood of its subsistence fisherfolk.

 

Background:

‘Fishery subsidy schemes’ at the Central, state and union territory-levels in India provided for subsidies worth Rs.284 crore in 2014-15. Tamil Nadu received the highest subsidy with Rs.169.3 crore (of which about Rs.148 crore is in the fuel category) in 2014-15. India argues that with such schemes it aims to “protect and secure the livelihood of traditional and poor fishing communities.”

  • The subsidies were provided to fishermen who were either homeless or poor boat owners, those with registered craft and members of fishermen cooperative societies.
  • The subsidies, in addition to those on fuel, were for purchase of inboard machine/OBM for non-mechanised boats, for providing insurance cover to fishermen for accident due to cyclone/mishap/calamities, for purchasing nets, accessories, life-saving jackets and advance technique equipment.
  • It was also applicable to the supply of deep freezers and ice boxes, for building port infrastructure, for purchasing safety and communication equipment, and for repairing and renovating fishing boats.

 

What’s the issue?

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s ‘State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture,’ almost a third of commercial fish stocks are now fished at biologically unsustainable levels, triple the level of 1974.

  • Therefore, the U.S.-led group, ‘Friends of Fish’, is seeking a ban on subsidies given for IUU fishing, citing the rising global demand for fish and the consequent increase in ‘unsustainable’ fishing.

 

Why India is opposed to this move?

India has expressed apprehensions that the demand for a ban on subsidies for IUU fishing could lead to prohibition even on fishing that could be termed non-IUU. This could, in turn, harm the interests of lakhs of subsistence fisherfolk in poor and developing nations.

Also, currently there is no unanimity among WTO members on what constitutes IUU fishing. Several countries, including India, are wary about agreeing to stringent norms on this aspect due to its possible impact on the livelihood of millions of workers in the fisheries sector.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 3 Topic: Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security; money-laundering and its prevention.

 

Plastic notes will help beat counterfeiting

 

The government has decided to print banknotes based on a plastic or polymer substrate in order to make counterfeiting them more difficult.

Plastic note

Background:

The Reserve Bank for long has been planning to launch plastic currency note after field trials. Such notes were first introduced in Australia to safeguard against counterfeiting.

In February 2014, the government had informed Parliament that one billion plastic notes of Rs 10 denomination would be introduced in a field trial in five cities selected for their geographical and climatic diversity. The selected cities were Kochi, Mysore, Jaipur, Shimla and Bhubaneswar.

 

Advantages of plastic notes:

Plastic notes have an average life span of about five years and are difficult to imitate. Also, currency notes made of plastic are cleaner than paper ones.

 

Disadvantages associated with plastic notes:

  • Higher production cost.
  • Difficult to fold.
  • Hard to count as they are slippery.
  • Huge cost to recaliberate ATMs as existing machines are not compatible.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector or Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

 

Disabled children miss out due to lack of support services: Report

 

The 2016 India Social Development Report (SDR) has been published. Theme this year is ‘Disabilities Rights Perspectives’.

  • The report drew on data from a number of sources, including the census, the National Sample Survey (NSS), data-sets of the India Human Development Survey, and the National Family Health Survey, besides the new data from fresh empirical studies.      

 

Highlights of the report:

  • About 45% of all persons with disabilities (PWD) in India are illiterate. While 38% of all male PWDs were illiterate, the illiteracy rate was 55% for female PWDs.
  • Each category of disability, a greater proportion of women in that category are illiterate than men, with 76% of women with multiple disabilities being illiterate.
  • It estimated that of the 75 million children of primary school age who are out of school, “one-third are children with disabilities.”
  • The number of PWDs in India at 26.8 million, or 2.2% of the population, noting that this might be an underestimate. The World Bank had put the number at 4-8% of the population. Men formed 56% of the PWDs, and 70% of the disabled population was rural.
  • Movement disability accounted for the largest number of PWDs, followed by hearing disability and visual impairment. The report noted that the high incidence of polio in India may be responsible for the high proportion of movement disability.
  • While movement disability accounted for 20% of all disabled children, of the 2 million children in the age-group of 0 to 6 who were disabled, it was down to 9%. This difference could be due to the effectiveness of the polio immunisation program, the report said.
  • 64% of the PWDs in India were non-workers. Of the rest, the majority were only able to find employment as casual labourer or agricultural labourer. Among the States, Tamil Nadu had the least terrible record in providing employment for the PWDs, with 59% of the PWDs being non-workers.
  • At the national level, only 2% of the PWDs were enrolled in any vocational course, with the highest rate of enrolment being in Kerala, where 5% were enrolled in vocational courses.
  • Lack of social services and transport were the top obstacles to the PWDs accessing health care facilities.

 

Way ahead:

The report has called upon the State governments to ensure availability of minimum support such as accommodation, assistive devices and transport for the disabled children to complete their schooling.

Sources: the hindu.