Insights Daily Current Affairs, 23 February 2017
Insights Daily Current Affairs, 23 February 2017
Paper 2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
Cabinet approves the investment proposal for generation component of Arun-3 Hydro Electric Project
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved:
- Investment for generation component of Arun-3 HEP (900 MW) for an estimated cost of Rs. 5723.72 crore at May 2015 Price Level.
- Completion period of the project shall be 60 months from the date of financial closure which is planned for September this year.
- Ex-post facto approval for the existing implementing agency, already incorporated in the name of SJVN Arun-3 Power Development Company (P) Limited (SAPDC) registered in Nepal as a 100% subsidiary of SJVN Limited for implementing the project.
- Any component of work already or being made by the Nepalese authorities shall be so certified by Central Electricity Authority (CEA) and shall be accordingly deducted from the project cost requirements.
About the Project:
The project is located on Arun River in Sankhuwasabha District of Eastern Nepal. The Run-of-River scheme envisages about 70 mtr. high concrete gravity dam and Head Race Tunnel (HRT) of 11.74 Km. with underground Power House containing four generating units of 225 MW each on Left Bank.
- The project will provide surplus power to India strengthening power availability in the country and will also strengthening economic linkages with Nepal. The power from the project shall be exported from Dhalkebar in Nepal to Muzaffarpur in India.
- Employment generation of around 3000 persons is envisaged in construction of the project from both India and Nepal.
SJVN limited bagged the project through International Competitive Bidding. An MoU was signed between Government of Nepal and SJVN Limited for the project in March, 2008 for execution on Build Own Operate and Transfer (BOOT) basis for a period of 30 years including five years of construction period. The Project Development Agreement (PDA) signed in 2014, which provides 21.9% free power to Nepal for the entire concession period of 25 years.
Paper 3 Topic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.
Cabinet approves enhancement of capacity from 20,000 MW to 40,000 MW of the Scheme for Development of Solar Parks and Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved the enhancement of capacity from 20,000 MW to 40,000 MW of the Scheme for Development of Solar Parks and Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects.
- The enhanced capacity would ensure setting up of at least 50 solar parks each with a capacity of 500 MW and above in various parts of the country.
- Smaller parks in Himalayan and other hilly States where contiguous land may be difficult to acquire in view of the difficult terrain, will also be considered under the scheme.
- The capacity of the solar park scheme has been enhanced after considering the demand for additional solar parks from the States.
About the Scheme:
The scheme for “Development of Solar Parks and Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects” has been rolled out by Ministry of New & Renewable Energy on 12-12-2014. The Scheme has been conceived on the lines of the “Charanka Solar Park” in Gujarat which is a first-of-its-kind large scale Solar Park in India with contiguous developed land and transmission connectivity.
- This scheme envisages supporting the States in setting up solar parks at various locations in the country with a view to create required infrastructure for setting up of Solar Power Projects. The solar parks will provide suitable developed land with all clearances, transmission system, water access, road connectivity, communication network, etc. This scheme will facilitate and speed up installation of grid connected solar power projects for electricity generation on a large scale.
- Under this scheme, it is proposed to set up at least 25 Solar Parks and Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects targeting over 20,000 MW of solar power installed capacity within a span of 5 years starting from 2014-15.
The scheme aims to provide a huge impetus to solar energy generation by acting as a flagship demonstration facility to encourage project developers and investors, prompting additional projects of similar nature, triggering economies of scale for cost-reductions, technical improvements and achieving large scale reductions in GHG emissions.
The solar parks will be developed in collaboration with State Governments/UTs. The State Governments/UTs are required to select the SPPD for developing and maintaining the solar parks. All the States and UTs are eligible for benefits under the scheme.
The State Government will first nominate the Solar Power Park Developer (SPPD) and also identify the land for the proposed solar park. It will then send a proposal to MNRE for approval along with the name of the SPPD.
The SPPD will then be sanctioned a grant of upto Rs.25 Lakh for preparing a Detailed Project Report (DPR) of the Solar Park. Thereafter, Central Financial Assistance (CFA) of up to Rs. 20 lakhs/MW or 30% of the project cost including Grid-connectivity cost, whichever is lower, will be released as per the milestones prescribed in the scheme.
Solar Energy Corporation India (SECI) will administer the scheme under the direction of MNRE. The approved grant will be released by SECI.
Significance of UMSPP:
The Solar Parks and Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects will be set up by 2019-20 with Central Government financial support of Rs.8100 crore. The total capacity when operational will generate 64 billion units of electricity per year which will lead to abatement of around 55 million tonnes of CO2 per year over its life cycle.
It would also contribute to long term energy security of the country and promote ecologically sustainable growth by reduction in carbon emissions and carbon footprint, as well as generate large direct & indirect employment opportunities in solar and allied industries like glass, metals, heavy industrial equipment etc. The solar parks will also provide productive use of abundant uncultivable lands which in turn facilitate development of the surrounding areas.
Paper 2 Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
Health Ministry undertakes largest ever drug survey in the world for determining the quality of drugs
The National Institute of Biologicals (NIB) has submitted its survey report to the Government. This is the largest ever scientifically designed and professionally executed drug survey undertaken in the world for determining the quality of drugs.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India had entrusted the work relating to carrying out a Survey of the extent of Problems of ‘Spurious and Not of Standard Quality Drugs’ to the NIB.
- The statistical design of the Drug Survey included as many as 224 Drug molecules belonging to 15 different therapeutic categories of the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) 2011.
- As part of this survey, 47,954 drug samples relating to 23 dosage forms were drawn from 654 districts of 36 States and Union Territories from the supply chains including retail outlets, Government sources and from eight airports and sea ports.
- All the samples were subjected to test / analysis as per pharmacopoeial requirements in the Central and State Drug Testing Laboratories that have been accredited by NABL.
- Overall, out of the 47,012 samples tested, 13 samples were found to be Spurious and 1,850 samples were found to be ‘Not of Standard Quality’ (NSQ). As such, the percentage of NSQ Drugs in India has been found to be 3.16% and that of Spurious drugs 0.0245%.
National Institute of Biologicals an autonomous Institution under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MOHFW)-Government of India is a premier Scientific Organization and a Centre of Excellence to ensure quality of biologicals and vaccines in the country.
- The institute responsibly assures and reviews the quality of number of Biological products available through domestic manufacturers or imports. The operations are carried out in the state of the art Facility of the Institute and in close coordination with Government of India regulatory authorities as Office of Drug Controller of India, Indian Pharmacopeia’s Commission.
- With this overall objective and to strengthen the regulations of biologicals in India, NIB, which is supported by the authorities constituted of Governing body and General body of the Institute plays a vital role.
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.
Cyber Swachhta Kendra
Extending the ‘Swachh Bharat’ campaign to the cyber world, the government has launched the Cyber Swachhta Kendra–Botnet Cleaning and Malware Analysis Centre for analysis of malware and botnets that affect networks and systems.
- This is a part of MeitY’s Digital India initiative aimed at creating a secure cyber space by detecting botnet infections in India and to notify, enable cleaning and securing systems of end-users to prevent further infections.
- The Centre aims to enhance coordination between the Government and industry in order to encourage cyber hygiene among all end-users and to create a secure and safe internet ecosystem in India.
- The centre is operated by the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In).
- The Centre will operate in close co-ordination and collaboration with Internet Service Providers (ISP) and Anti-Virus companies. Whenever an infection is detected, the Centre will send alerts on the infected IP addresses to the Internet Service Providers, who in turn will inform the end-user about the malware and botnet infections on their system.
- The Centre will also work in close collaboration with the Banks to detect malware infections in their banking network and enable remedial actions.
- The launch of the Centre will help the Internet service providers and the banks to keep their networks clean and prevent cases of cyber fraud and theft.
Significance of Cyber Swachhta Kendra:
With the growth in digitalization and proliferation of broadband and mobile internet, security of end users’ systems is vital for enhancing their trust in ICT and online transactions. User information from the computer and the mobile devices can be compromised if systems get affected with Bots. Users therefore need to practice a rigid cyber hygiene regimen to prevent malware infections on their systems and to ensure security of their systems through suitable anti-malware tools.
Paper 2 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.
World Integrated Medicine Forum on Regulation of Homeopathic Medicine
The World Integrated Medicine Forum on Regulation of Homeopathic Medicinal Products: National and Global strategies is being held in New Delhi.
- This is the first-of-its-kind forum considering the increased perception of the international world towards India as a key player in the progress of the homoeopathy drug industry.
- Drug lawmakers, regulators, manufacturers and pharmacopeial experts from various regulatory authorities, eminent scientific organisations and pharmaceutical industries from 25 countries, are participating in the two days forum to strategize the actionable aspects in the homoeopathic drug industry, which, in turn, will promote global harmonisation in the sector.
- The event is organised by Ministry of AYUSH and Central Council for Research in Homeopathy (CCRH) and supported by Pharmacopoeia Commission for Indian Medicine & Homoeopathy (PCIMH) & Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO).
- Major points of discussion will include current regulatory status in different countries; practices and possible trade opportunities in key countries worldwide; possible solutions to regulatory challenges; building knowledge and network to deal more efficiently with challenges at national and global level and a strategic perspective on the possibilities.
- One of the highlights of the forum will be exchange of Memorandum of Understanding among Homoeopathic Pharmacopoeia Convention of the United States (HPCUS) and Indian bodies – Pharmacopoeia Commission for Indian Medicine & Homoeopathy (PCIM&H) and Central Council for Research in Homoeopathy (CCRH) on cooperation in the field of Homoeopathic Medicine.
Homoeopathy is one of the most followed medical systems in India and its strength lies in the fact that its medicines are gentle, safe as well as cost-effective. In the era of growing adverse drug reactions and auto-immune and lifestyle-related illnesses, Homeopathy has a crucial role to play in the well-being of mankind. The use of homoeopathy is steadily growing in India and as per an analysis by Ministry of AYUSH, this sector exhibited an annual growth rate of 26.3% in the past year, the highest among the other AYUSH modalities.
Regulation of homeopathic medicines:
In India, homoeopathic medicines are regulated by Drugs & Cosmetics Act & Rules. All pharmaceutical industries are legally bound to comply with these rules, which, in turn, assures safety and quality of homoeopathic medicines. Further, these industries adhere to Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) that further assure accredited production, packaging and distribution. In that sense, India has a relatively well-established regulatory framework for Homoeopathy. However, the implementation of these Acts and Rules are sometimes challenging at the end of the pharmaceutical industries, and despite their best efforts to comply, some practical challenges remain that come in their way.
On the other hand, the international scenario of regulations of homoeopathic medicinal products is also varied and in many countries, the regulatory provisions are either non-existent or minimalist, thereby advocating reforms in policies for wider accessibility of quality homoeopathic products.
Paper 3 Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.
NASA discovers 7 Earth-like planets
US space agency NASA has announced that scientists researching outer space have found the existence of another ‘solar system’ – seven Earth-like planets orbiting a small star in galaxy 40 light years away – opening up the most promising hunting ground so far for life beyond.
- The Spitzer Space Telescope has found that the planets are as large as Earth and at least three of them are in a “habitable zone”. Almost all of them are rocky and three are likely to have water. Because they are located outside of our solar system, these planets are scientifically known as exoplanets.
- This star system is less than 40 light-years from Earth, or 235 trillion miles away, in the constellation Aquarius.
- At the hub is a small, faint star known as Trappist-1. Seven planets circle Trappist-1, with orbits ranging from 1 ½ to 20 days.
- If Trappist-1 were our sun, all these planets would fit inside the orbit of Mercury. That’s how close they are to their star and why their orbits are so short.
- Three of the planets are smack dab in the so-called habitable zone, also known as the Goldilocks zone, where conditions are just right for water and life to flourish — not too much and not too little stellar energy. The four other planets are tantalizingly close to the Goldilocks zone— so close that they, too, could harbor water and potentially life.
- The ultracool star at the heart of this system would shine 200 times dimmer than our sun, a perpetual twilight as we know it. And the star would glow red — maybe salmon-coloured, researchers speculate.
- Unlike Earth, which rotates on its axis, the planets are “tidally locked to the star.” This means that one side of the planet has only day, and one side has only night. It also means the weather conditions are unlike what we experience on Earth.
Paper 3 Topic: indigenization of technology and developing new technology.
India tops charts as world’s largest defense importer
As per latest report of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), India was the world’s largest importer of major arms in the last five years and its overseas procurement was far greater than that of China and Pakistan.
Highlights of the report:
- As per the report, India accounted for 13% of the total global arms import between 2012–16 which is highest among all the countries.
- The report said while China was increasingly able to substitute arms imports with indigenous products, India remained dependent on weapons technology from Russia, the US, Europe, Israel and South Korea.
- It said India increased its arms imports by 43% between 2007–11 and 2012–16 and in the last four years its global procurement was far greater than those of its regional rivals China and Pakistan.
- In the last five years, the report found that trade of major weapons has increased to its highest volume since the Cold War, triggered mainly by sudden spurt in demand from Middle East and Asia.
- Saudi Arabia was the second largest arms importer in 2012-16, with an increase of 212% compared with 2007–11. Arms imports by Qatar went up by 245%.
- According to the report, Russia accounted for a 23% share of global exports in the period 2012–16 and 70% of its arms exports went to India, Vietnam, China and Algeria.
- The US was the top arms exporter in 2012–16 with a one- third share of global arms exports and its supplies rose by 21% compared with 2007–11. Almost half of its arms exports went to the Middle East, said the report.