Insights Daily Current Events, 28 August 2015
Paper 3 Topic: economics of animal-rearing.
Veterinary varsity promoting silage
Scientists of Tamil Nadu Veterinary University Training and Research Centre recently demonstrated the silage making by using repol polypropylene (silage bags) to a large number of farmers in Tamil Nadu.
- A few farmers in the state have prepared underground silos. But, not many farmers have enough knowledge on silage making. Hence, the Tamil Nadu State government has embarked upon a programme to popularise silage making.
What is Silage?
It is a green fodder compacted in airtight conditions to be used as substitute for green fodder during the lean period for livestock.
How is it prepared?
As per the latest method, cut green grass mass is stored in large sacks made from polythene. Once the bag is filled, the material is pressed to remove the air and thereby preventing decomposition. It is then fermented by adding diluted molasses and preserved for 60 days at appropriate moisture levels.
- Green grasses, sorghum, maize, and various weeds could be used for making silage.
Uses of silage:
- Silage is a potential fodder for livestock living in the rain shadow districts.
- It can be an alternative for the animals in the dry period.
- The fermented silage, stored with the required moisture content, could be fed to cud chewing animals such as cattle, sheep and goats.
- It also has potential to increase the milk yield.
Hence, the state government has planned to demonstrate its potential to farmers through public forums.
Sources: The Hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Centre unveils list of 98 smart cities; U.P. & T.N. strike it rich
The Union government has unveiled a list of 98 cities with Uttar Pradesh taking the largest share of developing 13 smart cities followed by Tamil Nadu, which qualified to develop 12.
How these cities were selected?
- These cities were selected after a nationwide competition between states.
- These cities and towns were nominated by respective States and Union Territories at the end of first stage of ‘City Challenge’ competition in which all the urban local bodies in each State and UT were evaluated based on their financial and institutional capacities and past track record.
Smart City Mission:
The Smart City mission is viewed as the government’s big push for urban renewal in almost 100 Indian cities and towns.
- While launching it in June this year, PM Modi had said “Urban planning should begin at the bottom.”
- The main aim of the Smart city mission is to achieve inclusive growth.
What it does?
- The Smart City Mission promotes integrated city planning, where the government’s policies such as Swachh Bharat Mission and Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation complement each other.
- It will attract investment to boost the economy.
- A Smart City would ensure core infrastructure and give a decent quality of life to the citizens and enable a clean and sustainable environment and application of smart solutions.
- The core infrastructure elements in the Smart City context have been identified as adequate water supply, assured electricity supply, sanitation including solid waste management, efficient urban mobility and public transport, affordable housing, especially for the poor.
- Robust IT connectivity and digitization, good governance, especially e-governance and citizen participation, sustainable environment, safety and security of citizens and health and education are also core infrastructure elements.
- The prime objective is to enhance the quality of urban life by addressing deficiencies in core infrastructure required for better living in our context.
Implementation and financing:
- Government has announced Rs. 48,000 crore for development of 100 Smart cities out of which 98 names are declared and rest two will be nominated in due course.
- States/UTs and Urban Local Bodies have to make an equal matching contribution. This in effect means that central and state governments and ULBs will invest Rs. 96,000 crore over the next five years for making 100 chosen cities smart.
- UD Ministry will provide Rs. 100 crore per city per year over the next five years.
- Additional resources have to be mobilised from other sources including collection of user fees, beneficiary charges, land monetisation, debts and loans to execute the project.
- Borrowings from financial institutions, accessing National Investment and Infrastructure Fund and from private sector through PPPs are also options available for the project.
- More than a dozen leading countries have expressed keen interest to associate themselves with this Mission which include US, UK, France, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Japan, China, Singapore, Israel, Australia.
- Smart City Plans will be implemented by a Special Purpose Vehicle to be set up for each identified city to enable a focused effort for effective implementation.
- States/UTs and Urban Local Bodies will have 50 : 50 equity in SPV.
- The winners include Lucknow and Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar and Baroda in Gujarat, Greater Mumbai, Chennai, Coimbatore and Madurai in Tamil Nadu, and Bhagalpur and Muzaffarpur in Bihar.
- Of those chosen for the project, 24 are capital cities, 24 are business hubs and 18 are cultural centres.
- Cities like Patna, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Thiruvananthapuram and Shimla have failed make the cut in round one.
- North-eastern towns and cities like Guwahati, Kohima, Imphal, Aizawl, Shillong, and Agartala have also been chosen.
Please note that the 98 cities selected under Smart City Mission have a population of about 13 crore accounting for over 35% of the country’s urban population. Under Smart City Mission and Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), 80% of total urban population would benefit from enhanced quality of living.
Do we really need smart cities?
- Across the world, the stride of migration from rural to urban areas is increasing. By 2050, about 70% of the population will be living in cities.
- Existing cities are unable to bear any extra load of migrants. Hence, the smart city idea will work as millions of poor are migrating to cities for job opportunities and better standard of living.
- With increasing urbanisation and the load on rural land, we need cities that can cope with the challenges of urban living and also be magnets for investment.
The concept of smart city is not without challenges. Some of the Major challenges are:
- The success of such a city depends on residents, entrepreneurs and visitors becoming actively involved in energy saving and implementation of new technologies.
- There are many ways to make residential, commercial and public spaces sustainable by ways of technology, but a high percentage of the total energy use is still in the hands of end users and their behaviour.
- Experts say such cities can generate more jobs.
- 10 such new cities can bring in about Rs 9 lakh crore investment (including investments by users) and usher in unprecedented economic growth.
- The smart cities will result in new orders for city planning, engineering, designing, and construction companies.
- The project will also generate huge interest among the global players who might want to partner such projects.
Sources: The Hindu, IE, PIB, NDTV.
Paper 2 Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
Law panel moots early child care as a legal entitlement
The Law Commission of India has recommended that early child care, including crèche and day care facilities, be made a legal entitlement. Currently, only elementary education – for children in the 6-to-14 age-group – is a legal entitlement under the Right to Education.
- The law commission has made several other recommendations in its report on “Early Childhood Development and Legal Entitlements”, which it recently submitted to the government.
Important recommendations made:
- Amend the Right to Education Act to provide early childhood care and education for three-to-six year-olds.
- insert a new Article 24A into Part III of the Constitution to make a child’s right to basic care and assistance an enforceable right.
- Amend Maternity Benefit Act to double it from three months and make it mandatory for every State to ensure that it covers all women including those working in the unorganised sector.
- Every child under six should have an unconditional right to crèche and day-care facilities regulated and operated by the State.
- The fundamental duty of the parent or guardian to provide education should not be applicable only to children between the ages of six and fourteen. Hence, amend Article 51 A(k) of the Constitution so that the duty is placed on every citizen “who is a parent or guardian to provide opportunities for education to his/her child or, as the case may be, ward under his/her care.”
- In order to ensure proper emphasis on the promotion of early childhood development, create a statutory authority or Council for Early Childhood Development both at the centre and state level.
- The Council must be made responsible for laying down minimum universal standards for quality of services, facilities and infrastructure to be put in place across all schemes and provisions relating to early childhood.
- With regard to Section 6 of the National Food Security Act, there is need for evolving guidelines or some methods for identification of children suffering from malnutrition and for referring such children to appropriate healthcare providers.
- The commission had suo-moto undertaken the study on ‘Early Childhood Development and Legal Entitlements’ considering the importance and relevance of Early Child Development from the perspective of national and human resource development.
The Law Commission has also said that despite several recommendations, the welfare of under-six children – which constitutes 16% of the population – remains “locked in Part IV of the Constitution’’ under the Directive Principles of State Policy.
Why Early Childhood care is required?
- The development of young children is increasingly being recognized as a development and human rights issue of critical national importance.
- Early Childhood Development (ECD), spanning from birth to the age of six years is the period that sees the most rapid growth and development of the entire lifespan.
- It is during this period that the foundations of cognitive, physical and socio-emotional development, language and personality are laid.
- It is also the phase of maximum vulnerability as deprivation can seriously impact a child’s health and learning potential.
- As per the 2011 Census, India has 158.7 million children in the age group of 0-6 years, comprising about 16% of the total Indian population.
- In the period 2008-2013, 43% of India’s children under 5 were underweight and 48% had stunted growth.
- According to a World Bank Report published in 2013, the mortality rate of children under 5 years of age is 53 per 1000 live births and according to a 2013 UNICEF Report, more than 60 million children under 5 are stunted.
- India is ranked at 112th position in 2012 in the Child Development Index.
Article 45 of the Constitution reads that the State shall endeavour to provide early childhood care and education for all children until they complete the age of six years. It is a Directive Principle of State Policy and does not create any binding commitment on part of the State.
Sources: The Hindu, PIB, BS.
Paper 1 Topic: Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.
Region and religion both matter for better population indicators
According to the data from 2011 and 2001 decadal Censuses, in the more developed southern States all communities do better than in the more backward northern States. The data also suggest that for better population indicators, region and religion both matter.
Details of the data:
- Between 2001 and 2011, Muslims (24.65%) remained the group with the fastest population growth, followed closely by Scheduled Tribes (23.66%) and Scheduled Castes (20.85%). All three groups have historically had poor education indicators, especially for women, and restricted access to health care.
- However, in States such as Kerala and Tamil Nadu, which are considered advanced in terms of income and development indicators, population growth is low for all communities.
- Those states with higher than average Hindu growth rates have higher than average Muslim growth rates too. Two notable exceptions are Assam and Uttarakhand, where the Muslim growth rate is significantly higher than the national average, while the Hindu growth rate is lower.
- When it comes to sex ratio, Sikhs as a community had the worst sex ratio in 2011 at 903 females for every 1,000 males, followed by non-SC/ ST Hindus (929), while Christians had the best sex ratio (1,023 females for every 1,000 males) followed by STs (990). Here again, region matters.
- In Punjab and Haryana, all communities see their sex ratios plummet to their worst, while in Kerala, the sex ratio of all communities except Sikhs and Buddhists rises above 1,000 females for every 1,000 males.
- In Tamil Nadu, the sex ratio for Muslims, Christians and SCs rises above 1,000.
When the demographic transition is occurring, the better off communities first reduce their fertility, which is then followed by poorer communities. This is exactly what is happening in the above cases. In developed States, access to education and health becomes available to all.
Sources: The Hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.
India gets another eye in the sky
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has successfully placed a GSAT-6 communication satellite in the intended orbit. The satellite will be eventually manoeuvred into the final geostationary orbit at 83 degree east longitude. It was launched on board GSLV D6.
- GSLV D6 is a three-stage heavy weight rocket which integrates the indigenous cryogenic upper stage (CUS). The core of first stage is fired with solid fuel while the four strap-on motors by liquid fuel. The second is the liquid fuel and the third is the cryogenic engine.
- The GSLV-D6 is the second successful consecutive launch of the GSLV series with an indigenous cryogenic upper stage.
- The ISRO had on January 5, 2014, launched GSLV D-5, after a similar attempt failed in 2010.
- The cryogenic stage is technically a very complex system compared to solid or earth-storable liquid propellant stages due to its use of propellants at extremely low temperatures and the associated thermal and structural challenges. Oxygen liquefies at -183-degrees celsius and Hydrogen at -253-degrees celsius. The propellants, at these low temperatures, are to be pumped using turbo pumps running at around 40,000 rpm.
GSAT – 6:
- The 2,117-kg GSAT-6 communication satellite is aimed primarily at benefiting the country’s strategic users and other authorised users.
- The satellite, with a mission life of nine years, also includes a first-of-its-kind S-Band unfurlable antenna with a diameter of six metre. This is the largest antenna the ISRO has ever made for a satellite.
- GSAT-6 will provide S-band communication services in the country.
- This system also includes a first-of-its-kind S-Band unfurlable antenna with a diameter of six metre. This is the largest antenna ISRO has ever made for a satellite.
Why this launch is significant?
- For India, perfecting the cryogenic engine technology is crucial as precious foreign exchange can be saved by launching communication satellites on its own.
- Currently ISRO flies its heavy communication satellites by European space agency Ariane.
- India pays around Rs. 500 crores as launch fee for sending up a 3.5 tonne communication satellite. The satellite cost is separate.
- The S band is part of the microwave band of the electromagnetic spectrum. It is defined by an IEEE standard for radio waves with frequencies that range from 2 to 4 GHz, crossing the conventional boundary between UHF and SHF at 3.0 GHz.
- The S band is used by weather radar, surface ship radar, and some communications satellites.
Sources: The Hindu, PIB.
Paper 2 Topic: Development processes and the development industry the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders.
Government asks varsities, IITs to adopt villages
Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry has asked all higher educational institutions (HEIs) to adopt backward villages in their vicinity, and apply their knowledge and expertise to improving the infrastructure in the grama panchayats under their watch.
- This is being done as part of the Unnat Bharat Abhiyan (UBA).
- Till date, 132 villages have been identified for intervention by HEIs and as of now only technical institutions have shown interest in UBA.
Why such move?
This is being done primarily because no additional resources have been earmarked for the Unnat Bharat Abhiyan (UBA) project that seeks to “bring a transformational change in rural development processes by leveraging knowledge institutions to help build the architecture of an inclusive India.”
Who can take up this project?
The HRD Ministry said that this project could be taken up by every public funded institution and those that need approval of the University Grants Commission and the All India Council for Technical Education.
Tasks that can be taken up:
Some of the tasks that the Ministry would like higher educational institutions (HEIs) to take up include sanitation, drinking water supply, energy including renewable energy, agriculture an allied activities, irrigation, affordable housing, improving educational and health facilities, besides making panchayats IT-efficient.
Role of Gram Panchayats:
- The Ministry has made it clear that the gram panchayats should be consulted in prioritising their needs and plans have to be drawn up by November 2015.
- The prepared plans will then have to be sent to the district collectors for dovetailing with the annual action plans of the departments concerned.
No additional funding has been promised with the Ministry maintaining that the HEIs coordinate with the district administration, NGOs and gram panchayats to use the available funds under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGREGS) and the 14th Finance Commission more efficiently.
Sources: The Hindu, PIB.