Insights Daily Current Affairs, 03 September 2016
Paper 2 Topic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
More than 4 lakh train passengers opt for insurance cover
The railways has launched a scheme allowing a person to get an insurance cover of upto Rs 10 lakh on booking a train ticket online by paying less than one rupee.
- The facility is reserved for passengers of Indian Railways who book e-ticket, excluding suburban trains, through its official website, irrespective of the class of the ticket.
- A person booking a train ticket through the IRCTC website will be able to opt for travel insurance cover for a premium of 92 paise only.
- The cover will not be applicable for children upto 5 years of age and foreign citizens. It will be for passengers holding tickets such as confirmed, RAC and wait-listed ones.
- The scheme offers travellers/nominees/legal heirs a compensation of Rs 10 lakh in the event of death or total disabilty, Rs 7.5 lakh for partial disability, upto Rs 2 lakh for hospitalisation expenses and Rs 10,000 for transportation of mortal remains from the place of a train accident or where an untoward incident, including terrorist attack, dacoity, rioting, shootout or arson, occurs. However, no refund of the premium will be given in case of cancellation of the ticket.
- The scheme is being implemented by IRCTC in partnership with ICICI Lombard General Insurance, Royal Sundaram General Insurance and Shriram General Insurance selected through a bidding process. A total of 19 companies had participated in the bidding process and 17 were found eligible.
- The scheme is also applicable for Vikalp trains, short termination and diverted route. In case of short termination, if the passenger opts for alternate mode of transportation arranged by Railway upto the destination station, then this part of the journey of the passenger shall also be covered under the policy taken.
Paper 3 Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
Majuli named world’s largest river island
Majuli Island on the Brahmaputra in Assam was recently declared the largest river island in the world, toppling Marajo in Brazil, by Guinness World Records. According to Guinness World Records, the island lost around one-third of its area in the last 30-40 years due to frequent flooding of the river.
- Majuli is a large river island in the Brahmaputra River, Assam, India.
- The island is formed by the Brahmaputra river in the south and the Kherkutia Xuti, an anabranch of the Brahmaputra, joined by the Subansiri River in the north.
- The island was formed due to course changes by the river Brahmaputra and its tributaries, mainly the Lohit.
- The river island covers an area of around 880 sqkm.
- Home to an estimated 160,000 people of different ethnic groups, the island is an assembly constituency reserved for scheduled tribes.
- It was recently declared a district and was earlier a sub-division under Jorhat district.
- Majuli is the nerve centre of neo-Vaishnavite
About Guinness World Records:
Guinness World Records, known from its inception in 1955 through 1998 as The Guinness Book of Records and in previous U.S. editions as The Guinness Book of World Records, is a reference book published annually, listing world records, both human achievements and the extremes of the natural world.
The book itself holds a world record, as the best-selling copyrighted book of all time. It is one of the most frequently stolen books from public libraries in the United States. As of the 2015 edition, it is now in its 60th year of publication.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.
IUCN World Conservation Congress
25th World Conservation Congress of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has begun in Hawaii. Since IUCN’s foundation in 1948, member countries have gathered 24 times in all corners of the world. The last Congress was held in Jeju, Korea in 2012. This is the first time the US is hosting the event.
Theme: The theme for this year’s IUCN Congress is ‘Planet at the crossroads’.
- The Congress aims to improve how we manage our natural environment for human, social and economic development.
- The main issues to be discussed at the Congress are wildlife trafficking, ocean conservation, nature-based solutions for climate change mitigation and adaptation, and private investment in conservation.
- Over 9,000 delegates from 190 countries, including heads of state, high-level government officials, scientists, indigenous people and business leaders will share, debate and act on the latest issues in conservation and sustainable development and define a global path for nature conservation for the future.
- The IUCN Congress is expected to set the course for using nature based solutions to help move millions out of poverty, creating a more sustainable economy and restoring a healthier relationship with our planet.
IUCN- key facts:
- IUCN was founded in October 1948 as the International Union for the Protection of Nature (or IUPN) following an international conference in Fontainebleau, France.
- It was renamed as International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources in 1956 with the acronym IUCN.
- IUCN is the world’s first global environmental organization. Today it is the largest professional global conservation network
- The Union’s HQ is located in Gland, near Geneva, in Switzerland.
- It demonstrates how biodiversity is fundamental to addressing some of the world’s greatest challenges such as climate change, sustainable development and food security.
- The IUCN Red List is set upon precise criteria to evaluate the extinction risk of thousands of species and subspecies. These criteria are relevant to all species and all regions of the world. The aim is to convey the urgency of conservation issues to the public and policy makers, as well as help the international community to try to reduce species extinction.
- Species are classified by the IUCN Red List into nine groups, set through criteria such as rate of decline, population size, area of geographic distribution, and degree of population and distribution fragmentation.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
China ratifies Paris agreement ahead of G20
China has ratified the emissions-cutting agreement reached last year in Paris.
- So far, 23 countries have ratified or otherwise joined the agreement, representing just 1% of global emissions, according to the World Resources Institute.
- US and China produce 38% of the world’s man-made carbon dioxide emissions. Both countries have set a 2030 deadline for emissions to stop rising.
The salient features of the Paris Agreement are as follows:
- The Paris Agreement acknowledges the development imperatives of developing countries. The Agreement recognizes the developing countries’ right to development and their efforts to harmonize development with environment, while protecting the interests of the most vulnerable.
- The agreement’s long-term goal is to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), compared with pre-industrial times. It has an aspirational goal of limiting the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F). Temperatures have already risen by almost 1 degree C (1.8 degrees F) since the industrial revolution.
- Under the Paris Agreement, countries are required to set national targets for reducing or reining in their greenhouse gas emissions. Those targets aren’t legally binding, but countries must report on their progress and update their targets every five years. The first cycle begins in 2020. Only developed countries are expected to slash their emissions in absolute terms. Developing nations are “encouraged” to do so as their capabilities evolve over time.
- The developed country parties are urged to scale up their level of financial support with a complete road map to achieve the goal of jointly providing US $ 100 billion by 2020 for mitigation and adaptation by significantly increasing adaptation finance from current levels and to further provide appropriate technology and capacity building support.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Delhi government invokes ESMA, declares nurses’ strike illegal
Declaring nurses’ strike as illegal, the Delhi government has invoked the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA). The Lieutenant-Governor has approved the government’s proposal to invoke ESMA against the agitating nurses.
More than 2,000 nurses are on strike demanding revision of pay scale and allowances. The strike had affected medical services in most city hospitals. The agitation is a part of a nationwide protest with over 70,000 government nurses going on an indefinite strike.
The nurses are opposing the recommendations of the 7th Pay Commission and demanding immediate redress of issues related to pay and allowances.
The Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) is an act of Parliament of India. It is a central law.
- It was established to ensure the delivery of certain services, which if obstructed would affect the normal life of the people. These include services like public transport (bus services), health services (doctors and hospitals).
- Although it is a very powerful law, its execution rests entirely on the discretion of the State government. Each state in the union of India, hence has a separate state Essential Services Maintenance Act with slight variations from the central law in its provisions. This freedom is accorded by the central law itself.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: infrastructure.
Green tribunal nod for Vizhinjam seaport project
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has cleared way for the Kerala government’s Vizhinjam International Seaport project being undertaken by Gujarat-based Adani Group.
- The order was passed on a petition filed before the Tribunal, seeking cancellation of green clearance to the port.
About the project:
The Vizhinjam International Transhipment Deepwater Multipurpose Seaport is an ambitious project designed primarily to cater container transhipment besides multi-purpose and break bulk cargo.
- It’s an ambitious project of the Kerala government and the Adani group commenced the construction on December 5 last year. The port is scheduled to be completed on December 4, 2019.
- The port is about 16 km from Kerala’s capital Thiruvananthapuram and just 10 nautical miles from the International Shipping Lane.
- With both strategic and commercial importance, the under-construction Vizhinjam International Transhipment Deepwater Multipurpose Seaport is estimated over Rs 7,000 crore.
Advantages of Vizhinjam are:
- Availability of 20m contour within one nautical mile from the coast.
- Minimal littoral drift along the coast, hardly any maintenance dredging required.
- Links to national/regional road, rail network.
- Flexibility in design and expansion being a Greenfield project.
- Proximity to International shipping route.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: infrastructure.
Central government approves Sabarimala spiritual circuit
The centre has approved the Sabarimala spiritual circuit. The approval was given by the Union Ministry of Tourism.
- Enhanced facilities for Ayyappa devotees, setting up of solid waste management and sewage treatment systems, and CCTV surveillance are the thrust areas in the Rs. 99.98-crore Sabarimala-Erumeli- Pampa-Sannidhanam Spiritual Circuit.
- The administrative and financial nod for the circuit have been sanctioned under the Union Tourism Ministry’s Swadesh Darshan Scheme.
- Kerala has also received Rs. 19.99 crore as the first tranche to commence work for the fully funded Central project.
- The circuit has to be executed by Kerala Tourism in 36 months of commencement of work and the State has to provide land free of charge.
- Land owned by private individuals and trusts should not be part of the scheme. Barrier-free access for the disabled is mandatory.
The Tourism Ministry had launched ‘Swadesh Darshan’ scheme with an objective to develop theme-based tourist circuits in the country. These tourist circuits will be developed on the principles of high tourist value, competitiveness and sustainability in an integrated manner.
Objective of Swadesh Darshan Scheme:
- Integrated development of Infrastructure in identified theme based circuits.
- Provide complete tourism experience with varied thematic circuits.
- Follow community-based development and pro-poor tourism approach.
- Creating awareness among the local communities about the importance of tourism for them in terms of increase in sources of income, improved living standards and overall development of the area.
- Promote local arts, culture, handicrafts, cuisine, etc to generate livelihoods in the identified regions.
- Harness tourism potential for its direct and multiplier effects in employment generation and economic development.
Features of Swadesh Darshan Scheme:
- The scheme is 100% centrally funded for the project components undertaken for public funding.
- To leverage the voluntary funding available for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives of Central Public Sector Undertakings and corporate sector.
- Funding of individual project will vary from state to state and will be finalised on the basis of detailed project reports prepared by PMC (Programme Management Consultant).
- A National Steering Committee (NSC) will be constituted with Minister in charge of M/O Tourism as Chairman, to steer the mission objectives and vision of the scheme.
- A Mission Directorate headed by the Member Secretary, NSC as a nodal officer will help in identification of projects in consultation with the States/ UTs governments and other stake holders.
- PMC will be a national level consultant to be appointed by the Mission Directorate.
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.
Throughput communication soon for India
India is on the cusp of a satellite-driven digital or broadband revolution, similar to DTH or direct-to-home broadcasting of the 2000s, with a plan to deploy five high-throughput communication spacecraft starting this year.
- Two of the Gen-5 spacecraft are approved and getting ready; the others are said to be at various stages of consideration.
- The first of them, GSAT-19, is slated for launch from India in December. It will showcase the country’s technology capability in the new area of spectrum efficiency that is trending across the globe.
- ISRO will also test new technologies with its HTSs, such as the new flexible ‘bus’ or satellite assembly platform, electric propulsion, Ka band, lithium ion batteries, among others.
HTSs have been game-changers in the West, providing Internet connectivity many times faster, smoother, easier and probably cheaper than now. HTS reuses satellite ‘beams’ several times over smaller areas.
- It will drive a next generation technology revolution. Individuals, planners in government, businesses like banks, ATMs, reservation systems, cellular and private networks and users in remote areas are expected to benefit from improved connectivity.
- HTSs provide at least twice the total throughput of a classic FSS satellite for the same amount of allocated orbital spectrum thus significantly reducing cost-per-bit.
- HTS are primarily deployed to provide broadband Internet access service (point-to-point) to regions unserved or underserved by terrestrial technologies where they can deliver services comparable to terrestrial services in terms of pricing and bandwidth.
- HTS can furthermore support point-to-multipoint applications and even broadcast services such as DTH distribution to relatively small geographic areas served by a single spot beam.
- A fundamental difference to existing satellites is also the fact that HTS are linked to ground infrastructure through a feeder link using a regional spot beam dictating the location of possible teleports. By contrast teleports for traditional satellites can be set up in a wider area as their spotbeams’ footprints cover entire continents and regions.
Sources: the hindu.
Facts for Prelims:
- Sports for AII: I tis a special programme aimed at immediate engagement of youth in J&K in sporting activities. It is being implemented through J&K State Sports Council which provides for village level competitions and development of popular sports, such as, football etc. An amount of Rs.5.00 crore has already been provided to J&K State Sports Council for organizing these village level sporting activities.
- International Conference on LPG cooking gas: First International Conference on LPG cooking gas was recently held in Bhubaneswar, Odisha. The conference was organized by Research & Development Initiative along with leading Public Sector oil companies – Indian Oil Corporation, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation. The conference was attended by more than 300 delegates from more than 10 countries. The conference focused on the need for an LPG enabled household. Problems arising due to absence of cooking gas, the usage of traditional bio mass cooking fuels and their impact on both health and environment were also discussed. The conference also had a session on the hugely successful “Give it Up’ scheme, largest Direct Bank Transfer Scheme PAHAL and Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana.
- Siruvani River: A special resolution moved by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, opposing Kerala’s Attappady Valley irrigation project on the Siruvani River, was passed by the Kerala State Assembly recently. The resolution has urged the Centre not to accept the recommendations of the committee formed by the Environment Ministry, allowing Kerala to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the project. Siruvani is an inter-State river and a sub-tributary of the Cauvery.