Insights Daily Current Affairs, 06 January 2016
Paper 2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
Japan to assist in making Chennai, Ahmedabad and Varanasi Smart Cities
Japan has decided to be associated with the development of Chennai, Ahmedabad and Varanasi as smart cities.
So far, leading countries have come forward to be associated with development of 15 smart cities. These include: United States Trade Development Agency (USTDA) –Visakhapatnam, Ajmer and Allahabad, UK-Pune, Amaravati(Andhra Pradesh) and Indore, France-Chandigarh, Puducherry and Nagpur and Germany –Bhubaneswar, Coimbatore and Kochi.
About Smart City mission- Key facts:
Under the scheme that was launched in 2014, around 100 cities in the country will be developed.
- In September 2016, the last set of 27 cities for financing under the Government flagship Smart City Mission were announced.
- Bottom-up approach has been the key planning principle under Smart City Mission.
- These cities will be developed to have basic infrastructure through assured water and power supply, sanitation and solid waste management, efficient urban mobility and public transport, IT connectivity, e-governance and citizen participation.
- The mission will provide central funding of Rs 48,000 crore to the selected cities for improving their infrastructure and service delivery through application of better technology and e-governance.
- States and Urban local Bodies (ULBs) will play a key supportive role in the development of Smart Cities. Smart leadership and vision at this level and ability to act decisively will be important factors determining the success of the Mission.
- The implementation of the Mission at the City level will be done by a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) created for the purpose. The SPV will plan, appraise, approve, release funds, implement, manage, operate, monitor and evaluate the Smart City development projects. Each smart city will have a SPV which will be headed by a full time CEO and have nominees of Central Government, State Government and ULB on its Board.
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.
Bitcoin nears all-time high as it becomes ‘safe haven’ asset
Bitcoin is at its all-time high. It is all set to become a new safe haven asset as the world grapples with growing economic uncertainty. It has fluctuated wildly since it was created in 2009.
Recently Bitcoin broke the $1,100 barrier on the Bitcoin Price Index to continue a dizzying rise that made it the best performing currency of 2016.
Bitcoin Price Index
Bitcoin Price Index represents an average of bitcoin prices across leading global exchanges that meet criteria specified by the XBP. It is intended to serve as a standard retail price reference for industry participants and accounting professionals.
What are bitcoins?
They are encrypted digital coins created by supercomputers and then traded online or exchanged for goods and services. They are not supported by any country’s government or central bank.
Why they are in demand now?
- Experts say, the chaotic withdrawal of high value bills in India and restrictions on buying foreign currency in China as the yuan slides against the dollar have increased the demand.
- Also, Exacerbating the rocketing demand is a tightening supply of fresh bitcoins.
Paper 3 Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
Government officials seek zero import tax on LNG in budget: Document
India’s energy and environment ministries have asked the government to scrap an import tax on liquefied natural gas (LNG) and impose a levy on use of pet coke and furnace oil to promote cleaner fuel.
Why this is necessary?
India is the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases and relies heavily on coal, gas and oil imports to meet its energy needs and fuel its economic expansion. Its energy consumption is bound to grow as it targets 8-9 percent economic growth from around 7 percent in 2016/17.
Therefore, to cut the country’s carbon footprint, the ministries want to raise the use of gas in its energy mix to 15% in three to four years from 6.5% now. For this to happen, they are demanding zero import tax on LNG.
LNG imports, which account for 44% of gas use in the country, are duty free only if shipped in for the power sector.
Paper 3 Topic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.
Niti Aayog may seek trial run of Hyperloop
The government has referred the proposal to set up a hyperloop transportation system in the country to Niti Aayog. Niti Aayog may now call for a trial run for the technology at some small stretch after which the government will be able to take a call on the matter.
What is hyperloop transportation system?
It is a transportation system where a pod-like vehicle is propelled through a near-vacuum tube connecting cities at speeds matching that of an aircraft.
The hyperloop concept is a brainchild of Tesla founder Elon Musk. US-based Hyperloop Transport Technology (HTT) claimed it costs $40 million per kilometre to build a hyperloop system while building a high-speed train line would cost almost twice. The hyperloop system is being designed to transport passengers and freight.
How it operates?
In hyperloop transporation, custom-designed capsules or pods are expected to zip smoothly through continuous steel tubes which are held at partial vacuum. The pod which sandwiches the passenger compartment between an air compressor upfront and a battery compartment in the rear is supported by air caster skis at the bottom. The skis float on a thin layer of air provided under high pressure, eliminating rolling resistance and allowing for movement of the pods at high speeds. These capsules are expected to be driverless with estimated speeds of 1,000 km/h.
Linear induction motors that are placed along the tube control the speed of the pod. Electronically-assisted acceleration and braking determines the speed of the capsule.
Paper 2 Topic: Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.
Sponsored ads in media to be part of candidate’s expenditure
Election Commission has said that sponsored advertisements on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter would be included in the total election expenditure of a candidate.
- Voice messages of candidates, even if they were received from other states, would be added to the expenditure of the candidate.
- Total amount of expenditure, of which account is to be kept under section 77 of Representation of People’s Act 1951 and which is incurred or authorised in any assembly constituency in connection with general elections to the Legislative Assembly by any candidate, is Rs28 lakh.
- EC has also asked printing press owners to print the names and addresses of printer and publisher of any election pamphlets, posters and such other material printed by them. Any violation would invite action, including revocation of license of the printing press.
- Flying squads have been formed to register cases against both the giver and the taker of bribe and for taking action against those who are engaged in threat and intimidation of electors.
Paper 2 Topic: Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.
Model Code of Conduct comes into force in UP
Model Code of Conduct has come into force following the poll dates announcement in UP. With the Model Code of Conduct in place, the state government has also been directed not to initiate any bureaucratic transfers and asked not to go ahead with any new launches, announcements and inaugurations.
Model Code of Conduct(MCC):
What is MCC?
These are the guidelines issued by the Election Commission of India for conduct of political parties and candidates during elections mainly with respect to speeches, polling day, polling booths, election manifestos, processions and general conduct. It aims to ensure free and fair elections.
When it comes into force?
The Model Code of Conduct comes into force immediately on announcement of the election schedule by the commission. The Code remains in force till the end of the electoral process.
The need for such code is in the interest of free and fair elections. However, the code does not have any specific statutory basis. It has only a persuasive effect. It contains what is known as “rules of electoral morality”. But this lack of statutory backing does not prevent the Commission from enforcing it.
What it contains?
The salient features of the Model Code of Conduct lay down how political parties, contesting candidates and party(s) in power should conduct themselves during the process of elections i.e. on their general conduct during electioneering, holding meetings and processions, poll day activities and functioning of the party in power etc.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources, issues relating to poverty and hunger.
Haryana achieves sex ratio of 900 girls per 1000 boys
Citing Civil Registration System (CRS) data, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar recently said that Haryana achieved a sex ratio of 900 girls as against 1000 boys in 2016. This is much in contrast to the statistics of 2011, when Haryana had the worst sex ratio of 834:1000 among all states in the country.
- The state government had been making concerted efforts to improve the sex ratio, and now it has taken a leap forward by achieving marked improvement in the Sex Ratio at Birth (SRB), he claimed.
- According to the statistics available for sex ratio, CM said that out of 5,25,278 children born in the state from January to December 2016, there were 2,76,414 boys and 2,48,864 girls and the sex ratio at birth touched the mark of 900.
- He said that none of the districts is below 850 mark and 12 districts in the state have recorded sex ratio of 900 or 900 plus in 2016.
- He said that the state had launched a massive drive against sex selection, selective abortion and female foeticide.
- About 400 FIRs have been registered under Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques and Medical Termination of Pregnancy Acts against the offenders after successful raids, including 75 raids conducted across the border in adjoining states in the last about one year.
Paper 3 Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.
China develops its version of floating LNG power plant
A Chinese company, Wison Offshore & Marine, has developed its version of a system for floating LNG power plant that can range between 10 mw to 800 mw units.
- The system features integrated functions of LNG loading and storage facilities, regasification and power generation in a single unit.
- The smallest unit starts at 10MW capacity, while the largest accommodates an 800MW power plant.
- LNG has been selected as the fuel source in Wison’s designs. Alternative fuel options are also available as required.
Significance of floating power generation solutions:
Compared with land-based solutions, the floating power supply is advantageous in fast-track implementation and attractive pricing with flexibility, as the construction work completed in fabrication yards normally results in efficiency and cost reduction. It is also an investment-friendly solution because it minimizes the land acquisition process and requires less civil works. because it minimizes the land acquisition process and requires less civil works.
Paper 3 Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.
NASA selects 2 missions to explore solar system’s asteroids
Aiming to find important clues to the earliest history of the solar system, NASA has announced two missions — one to explore Jupiter’s mysterious Trojan asteroids and the other to study a unique metal asteroid.
- The missions, known as Lucy and Psyche, were chosen from five finalists and will proceed to mission formulation, with the goal of launching in 2021 and 2023, respectively.
About mission Lucy:
Lucy will visit a target-rich environment of Jupiter’s mysterious Trojan asteroids. Lucy, a robotic spacecraft, is scheduled for October 2021 launch. It is slated to arrive at its first destination, a main belt asteroid, in 2025. From 2027 to 2033, Lucy will explore six Jupiter Trojan asteroids.
- These asteroids are trapped by Jupiter’s gravity in two swarms that share the planet’s orbit, one leading and one trailing Jupiter in its 12-year circuit around the sun.
- The Trojans are thought to be relics of a much earlier era in the history of the solar system, and may have formed far beyond Jupiter’s current orbit.
- This is a unique opportunity because the Trojans are remnants of the primordial material that formed the outer planets, they hold vital clues to deciphering the history of the solar system. Lucy, like the human fossil for which it is named, will revolutionize the understanding of our origins.
About Psyche mission:
The Psyche mission will explore one of the most intriguing targets in the main asteroid belt – a giant metal asteroid, known as 16 Psyche, about three times farther away from the sun than is the Earth.
- This asteroid measures about 130 miles (210 kilometers) in diameter and, unlike most other asteroids that are rocky or icy bodies, is thought to be comprised mostly of metallic iron and nickel, similar to Earth’s core.
- The mission will help scientists understand how planets and other bodies separated into their layers – including cores, mantles and crusts – early in their histories.
- Psyche, also a robotic mission, is targeted to launch in October of 2023, arriving at the asteroid in 2030, following an Earth gravity assist spacecraft maneuvre in 2024 and a Mars flyby in 2025.
Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Ban on import of exotic skins
In a landmark decision that will spare the lives of tens of thousands of animals from the exotic leather industry, the Directorate General of Foreign Trade has banned the import of skins of reptiles and fur of minks, foxes and chinchillas.
- Animal rights bodies have hailed the decision by the Centre to ban such imports, saying that the country is now emulating other nations across the world in adopting “cruelty-free” alternatives to exotic skins.
This decision comes in the wake of campaigning for a ban by People for Animals (PFA), Humane Society International/India (HSI/India) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). The Ministry of Environment and Forest and Climate Change, and the Animal Welfare Board of India had supported the ban proposal.
Sources: the hindu.
Facts for Prelims
Andhra Pradesh govt to give scientists of the state Rs 100 crore for Nobel Prize:
- AP government has announced that it will give scientists of the state Rs 100 crore for Nobel Prize.
- This reward is about 17 times more than the prize money given out with the Nobel award, which is about Rs 5.96 crore (Swedish kronor 8 million).
- No other state government in India has perhaps made such a grand offer to its scientists.