Insights Daily Current Affairs, 22 Aug 2017
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.
‘Swasth Bachche, Swasth Bharat’
‘Swasth Bachche, Swasth Bharat’ Programme, an initiative of Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan to prepare a physical Health and Fitness Profile Card for more than 12 lakhs of Kendriya Vidyalaya students was recently launched in Kochi.
What you need to know about the programme?
Swasth Bachche, Swasth Bharat programme will provide a comprehensive and inclusive report card for children covering all age groups and children of different abilities.
Objective of the programme: Making students, teachers and parents aware about the importance of good health and fitness and encouraging 60 minutes of play each day is an objective of the programme.
- Imbibe values of Olympics and Paralympics amongst students.
- Bring back the childhood amongst children and make physical activity and recreational games an integral part of learning process.
- Motivate potentially outstanding performers in various games and sports of excellence, using technology for data capture and analytics, and giving access to schools, parents and teachers are also the objectives of the programmes.
Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.
India’s Exclusive Rights to Explore Polymetallic Nodules Extended
India’s exclusive rights to explore polymetallic nodules from seabed in Central Indian Ocean Basin (CIOB) have been extended by five years. This has been approved unanimously in the 23rd session of International Seabed Authority (ISA) concluded recently at Kingston, Jamaica.
- The rights extended are over 75000 sq. km of area in international waters allocated by International Seabed Authority for developmental activities for polymetallic nodules.
- The estimated polymetallic nodule resource potential in this region is 380 million tonnes, containing 4.7 million tonnes of nickel, 4.29 million tonnes of copper and 0.55 million tonnes of cobalt and 92.59 million tonnes of manganese.
India is the first country to have received the status of a pioneer investor in 1987 and was allocated an exclusive area in Central Indian Ocean Basin by United Nations (UN) for exploration and utilization of nodules. India is one among the top 8-countries/ contractors and is implementing a long–term programme on exploration and utilization of Polymetallic Nodules through Ministry of Earth Sciences. This includes survey and exploration, environmental studies, technology development in mining and extractive metallurgy, in which significant contributions have been made.
What are PMN?
Polymetallic nodules (also known as manganese nodules) are potato-shaped, largely porous nodules found in abundance carpeting the sea floor of world oceans in deep sea. Besides manganese and iron, they contain nickel, copper, cobalt, lead, molybdenum, cadmium, vanadium, titanium, of which nickel, cobalt and copper are considered to be of economic and strategic importance.
International Seabed Authority (ISA) is a UN body set up to regulate the exploration and exploitation of marine non-living resources of oceans in international waters. India actively contributes to the work of International Seabed Authority. Last year, India was re-elected as a member of Council of ISA. India’s nominees on Legal and Technical Commission and Finance Committee of the ISA were also elected last year.
Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.
ICMR inks deal to promote vaccine development
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has signed an MoU with the International Vaccine Institute (IVI) for collaborating on vaccine research and development. India will commit $5,00,000 (₹3.20 crore) annually for a stake in IVI— an amount approved during a Cabinet meeting in January.
International Vaccine Institute (IVI), Seoul, South Korea, established in 1997 on the initiatives of the UNDP, is an international organization devoted to developing and introducing new and improved vaccines to protect the people, especially children, against deadly infectious diseases.
- Created initially as an initiative of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), IVI began formal operations as an independent international organization in 1997.
- Currently, IVI has 40 countries and the World Health Organization (WHO) as signatories to its Establishment Agreement.
- The Institute has a unique mandate to work exclusively on vaccine development and introduction specifically for people in developing countries, with a focus on neglected diseases affecting these regions.
India and the IVI:
IVI has been partnering with Indian vaccine manufacturers, research institutes, government, and public health agencies on vaccine development, research, and training. One of the most successful collaborations was with Shantha Biotech on the development of Shanchol, the world’s first low-cost oral cholera vaccine.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country, different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers.
PM reviews progress of Soil Health Cards
The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, recently reviewed the progress of Soil Health Cards scheme. So far, 16 States/UTs have completed the first cycle of Soil Health Cards distribution, and the remaining States are likely to complete the same within weeks.
Reform measures proposed:
- Appropriate checks should be undertaken for variation, both within a sampling grid, and across different soil testing labs. This would help ensure quality in the reports.
- Soil health cards should be printed in the local dialect of the area, so that the farmers are able to read and understand them easily.
- Soil testing should eventually be possible through hand-held devices. Officials were encouraged to explore the possibility of involving start-ups and entrepreneurs in this exercise.
About the Soil Health Card Scheme:
It is a scheme to provide every farmer a Soil Health Card in a Mission mode. It is a scheme under which the Central Government provides assistance to State Governments for setting up Soil Testing Laboratories for issuing Soil Health Cards to farmers.
- The scheme will be implemented in all states to promote soil testing services, issue of soil health cards and development of nutrient management practices.
- State Governments have adopted innovative practices like involvement of agricultural students, NGOs and private sector in soil testing, determining average soil health of villages, etc., to issue Soil Health Cards.
- The state governments will prepare yearly action plan on the issue and the cost will be shared in the ratio of 75:25 between the Centre and states.
- The scheme assumes importance as the imbalanced application of fertilisers have caused deficiency of primary nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium), secondary nutrients (such as sulphur), and micro-nutrients (boron, zinc, copper etc.) in most parts of country.
Soil health cards:
A Soil Health Card displays soil health indicators and associated descriptive terms. The indicators are typically based on farmers’ practical experience and knowledge of local natural resources.
- The card lists soil health indicators that can be assessed without the aid of technical or laboratory equipment.
- The card, which will carry crop-wise recommendation of fertilisers required for farm lands, will help farmers identify health of soil and judiciously use soil nutrients.
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.
Cloud-seeding project of Karnataka takes off at Jakkur Airfield
Karnataka has launched the much-touted cloud seeding project- named Varshadhare.
How does it work?
Cloud-seeding is a technique employed to increase precipitation in clouds. Experts say precipitation in clouds has been affected recently due to increase in particulate matter in the atmosphere, among other factors.
- Cloud-seeding aims at catalysing the process of precipitation, so that rainfall could be increased by 15-20% in drought-affected areas of the State
- Among the problems for successful precipitation in rain-bearing clouds are that water droplets formed in the clouds are much smaller. Droplets formed in the clouds are blown away in the wind even before they have the time to reach earth. Moreover, small droplets do not have the energy to collide and form large droplets that can come down as rain.
- By introducing impurities such as Silver Iodide, Potassium Chloride and others, the objective is to ensure that the size of the droplets is large enough to fall down as rain.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of organized crime with terrorism.
Commissioning of Second Ship of Landing Craft Utility MK-IV
IN LCU L52, the second ship of landing craft utility MK- IV, was recently commissioned into the Indian Navy.
- IN LCU L52 is the second Landing Craft Utility (LCU) Mk-IV class to be inducted into the Indian Navy.
- The ship has been indigenously designed and built by Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers, Kolkata.
- The commissioning of L-52 is yet another manifestation of the potential of the country’s indigenous design and ship building capability.
LCU MK-IV ship is an amphibious ship with the primary role to transport and deploy Main Battle Tanks, Armoured Vehicles, troops and equipment from ship to shore. These ships would be based in the Andaman and Nicobar Command and can be deployed for multirole activities like beaching operations, search and rescue, disaster relief operations, supply and replenishment and evacuation from distant islands.
The ship is capable of transporting various kinds of combat equipment such as Main Battle Tanks Arjun, T72 and other vehicles. The ship is fitted with state-of-the-art equipment and advanced systems like Integrated Bridge System (IBS) and Integrated Platform Management System (IPMS).
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.
Union Home Minister launches the Digital Police Portal under CCTNS project
A digital police portal under the CCTNS project, which aims to create a national database of crimes and criminals, was recently launched by Home Minister Rajnath Singh.
Significance of the Digital Police Portal:
The Digital Police Portal will enable citizens to register FIRs online and the portal will initially offer seven Public Delivery Services in 34 States & UTs, like Person and Address Verification e.g. of employees, tenants, nurses etc, permission for hosting Public Events, Lost & Found Articles and Vehicle theft etc. Besides, the portal will enable restricted access to law enforcement agencies on topics such as Antecedent Verification and make assessment of FIRs.
The police portal will provide 11 searches and 46 reports from the national database for state police and central investigation agencies. Central investigating and research agencies have also been provided logins to the digital police database to access crime statistics.
The CCTNS project will interconnect about 15,398 police stations and additional 5,000 offices of supervisory police officers across the country and digitise data related to FIR registration, investigation and charge-sheets in all police stations. This would lead to development of a national database of crimes and criminals.
- The CCTNS will facilitate pan-India search on complete national crime and criminal database that is accessible to the investigating officers throughout the country.
- CCTNS is a Mission Mode Project (MMP) under the National e-Governance Plan of Govt. of India.
- In 2015, an additional objective of establishing a basic platform for an Inter-operable Criminal Justice System (ICJS) was added to the Project.
- The project has been extended by the government for one year till March 2018. The one-year extension will help the government to comprehensively achieve the remaining goals of the CCTNS.