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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 03 April 2018

Are you Ready for Insta 75 Days Revision Plan (UPSC Prelims - 2020)?


Insights Daily Current Affairs, 03 April 2018


 

Paper 1:

Topic: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

 

Adopt a Heritage Project

Context: Infrastructure conglomerate GMR and tobacco company ITC Ltd are currently bidding to adopt the Taj Mahal under the ‘Adopt a Heritage’ project. The iconic tomb in Agra was not initially on the list of monuments to be adopted under the Adopt a Heritage scheme, because of its importance. However, it was added to the list in February and a seven-member Oversight and Vision Committee will now decide whom to hand over the bid to.

 

Adopt a Heritage Project:

What is it? The ‘Adopt a Heritage Scheme’ of Ministry of Tourism was launched on World Tourism Day i.e. 27th September, 2017.  This project is a key initiative of Ministry of Tourism in close collaboration with Ministry of Culture and Archeological Survey of India (ASI), to develop the heritage sites / monuments and making them tourist-friendly to enhance the tourism potential and their cultural importance in a planned and phased manner.

How it works? The project plans to entrust heritage sites/monuments and other tourist sites to private sector companies, public sector companies and individuals for the development of tourist amenities. The project aims to develop synergy among all partners.

Monument Mitras: Successful bidders selected for adopting heritage sites / monuments by the Oversight and Vision Committee shall be called as Monument Mitras. The basic and advanced amenities of the tourist destinations would be provided by them. They would also look after the operations and the maintenance of the amenities. The ‘Monument Mitras’ would associate pride with their CSR activities.

 

Facts for Prelims:

In 2007, the government of Maharashtra had announced its own adopt-a-monument scheme, inviting private and public sector companies to adopt heritage sites for a period of five years. This was extended to 10 years in 2014 because of the poor response from companies. So far, the only site to be adopted by a private company under this scheme is Osmanabad district’s Naldurg fort, where tourism amenities are now being managed by Unity Multicons.

 

What’s important?

For Prelims: Adopt a Heritage, Monument Mitras and World Tourism Day.

For Mains: Need for conservation of heritage sites.

 

Sources: pib.


Topic: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

 

National Culture Fund

 

Context: As per latest data released by the government, 34 projects have been successfully implemented under National Culture Fund Scheme till date, thus, promoting, protecting and preserving India’s cultural heritage.

 

About National Culture Fund:

National Culture Fund (NCF) was set up as a Trust under the Charitable Endowment Act, 1890 in November 1996 by the Government, with a view to mobilize extra resources through Public Private Partnerships.

  • The National Culture Fund is managed and administered by a council headed by Hon’ble Culture Minister to decide the policies and an Executive Committee headed by Secretary, Culture to actualize those policies.
  • The Fund aims at inviting the participation of the corporate sector, non-government organizations, private/public sector as well as individuals in the task of promoting, protecting and preserving India’s cultural heritage.
  • All the projects undertaken by the NCF are completed within a specified period, in accordance with an MoU signed by NCF with the concerned donor organization.

 

What’s important?

For Prelims: National Culture Fund.

 

Sources: pib.


 

 

Paper 2:

Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

 

Central Vigilance Commission (CVC)

Context: The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) is planning to use Aadhaar to track the ill-gotten wealth of corrupt bureaucrats.

 

Significance of this move:

Aadhaar is being made mandatory for numerous financial transactions and property deals. Information made available through a person’s Permanent Account Number (PAN) and Aadhaar cards could help the CVC check if financial deals carried out by the cardholder were within his or her means.

 

About CVC:

It is the apex vigilance institution. It was created via executive resolution (based on the recommendations of Santhanam committee) in 1964 but was conferred with statutory status in 2003. It submits its report to the President of India.

Composition: Presently, the body consists of central vigilance commissioner along with 2 vigilance commissioners.

Appointment: They are appointed by the President of India on the recommendations of a committee consisting of Prime Minister, Union Home Minister and Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha (if there is no LoP then the leader of the single largest Opposition party in the Lok Sabha).

Term: Their term is 4 years or 65 years, whichever is earlier.

Removal: The Central Vigilance Commissioner or any Vigilance Commissioner can be removed from his office only by order of the President on the ground of proved misbehavior or incapacity after the Supreme Court, on a reference made to it by the President, has, on inquiry, reported that the Central Vigilance Commissioner or any Vigilance Commissioner, as the case may be, ought to be removed.

 

What’s important?

  • For Prelims: CVC.
  • For Mains: Corruption- issues, challenges and ways to prevent.

 

Sources: the hindu.


Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability.

 

Guidelines for accreditation of journalists

 

Context: Noticing the increasing instances of fake news in various mediums including print and electronic media, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has amended the Guidelines for Accreditation of Journalists.

 

Highlights:

  • Accreditation of a journalist (both television and print) can be cancelled/annulled if the new reported by them is found to be “fake”.
  • On receiving complaints of “fake news” will be referred to Press Council of India (PCI) if it pertains to print media & to News Broadcasters Association (NBA) if it relates to electronic media.
  • Both the agencies will have to dispose off each complaint within 15-days. During the period of probe, the journalist’s accreditation will be suspended.
  • The Accreditation Committee of the Press Information Bureau, which consists of representatives of both the Press Council of India and NBA, shall be invariably be reached out to for validating any accreditation request of any news media agency.
  • If publishing or telecast of fake news is confirmed, the journalist’s accreditation shall be suspended for 6 months for first violation, one year for second violation and will be permanently cancelled if there is a third violation.
  • Additionally, while examining the requests seeking accreditation, the regulatory agencies “will examine whether the `Norms of Journalistic Conduct’ and `Code of Ethics and Broadcasting Standards’ prescribed by the PCI and NBA respectively are adhered to by the journalists” and it would be “obligatory for journalists to abide by these guidelines”.

 

What’s the concern?

Some incidents in the past few years have shown that society and its conflicts manifest themselves in what has come to be known as “fake news” — and the internet does aid its rapid distribution. That is not the malaise of the internet or social media platforms, however. It is the actors, very often, competing political and other special interests which are producers of such content. But, fake news is a huge problem and demands an urgent solution.

 

Way ahead:

Social media platforms are a modern-day Roman Forum. These platforms are agnostic wondrous architectures, enabling different forms and types of self-expression. However, the need for checks around credibility and authenticity seem to have long forgone. What stays is the need for freedom. Which is warranted, of course. Yet, at the same time, need a sense of direction. With a critical sense of objectivity. Social media services can simply not afford to step in the conversation and regulate it.

 

What’s important?

  • For Prelims: Important guidelines.
  • For Mains: Fake news menace- challenges, concerns and legislations in this regard.

 

Sources: the hindu.


Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

 

World Heritage Site

 

Context: As many as 6 monuments/historical sites in the North Eastern states have been identified tentatively for listing under World Heritage Site.

 

Monuments/sites identified/placed under tentative list for listing under world heritage in the north eastern states are:

  • Apatani Cultural Landscape, Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Iconic Saree Weaving Clusters of India.
  • Moidams – the Mound – Burial System of the Ahom Dynasty, Assam.
  • Namdapha National Park, Arunachal Pradesh.
  • River Island of Majuli in midstream of Brahmaputra River in Assam.
  • Thembang Fortified Village, Arunachal Pradesh.

 

UNESCO world heritage site:

A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as of special cultural or physical significance.

  • The list is maintained by the international World Heritage Programme administered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, composed of 21 UNESCO member states which are elected by the General Assembly.
  • Each World Heritage Site remains part of the legal territory of the state wherein the site is located and UNESCO considers it in the interest of the international community to preserve each site.
  • As of July 2017, 1,073 sites are listed: 832 cultural, 206 natural, and 35 mixed properties, in 167 states. Italy is the home for the largest number of sites with 53.

 

Selection of a site:

To be selected, a World Heritage Site must be an already classified landmark, unique in some respect as a geographically and historically identifiable place having special cultural or physical significance (such as an ancient ruin or historical structure, building, city, complex, desert, forest, island, lake, monument, mountain, or wilderness area). It may signify a remarkable accomplishment of humanity, and serve as evidence of our intellectual history on the planet.

 

Legal status of designated sites:

UNESCO designation as a World Heritage Site provides prima facie evidence that such culturally sensitive sites are legally protected pursuant to the Law of War, under the Geneva Convention, its articles, protocols and customs, together with other treaties including the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and international law.

 

What are endangered sites?

A site may be added to the List of World Heritage in Danger if there are conditions that threaten the characteristics for which the landmark or area was inscribed on the World Heritage List. Such problems may involve armed conflict and war, natural disasters, pollution, poaching, or uncontrolled urbanization or human development.

  • This danger list is intended to increase international awareness of the threats and to encourage counteractive measures. Threats to a site can be either proven imminent threats or potential dangers that could have adverse effects on a site.
  • The state of conservation for each site on the danger list is reviewed on a yearly basis, after which the committee may request additional measures, delete the property from the list if the threats have ceased or consider deletion from both the List of World Heritage in Danger and the World Heritage List.

 

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 3:

Topic: Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices.

 

Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY)

Context: The Centre has allowed states to set up their own insurance companies for implementing Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY). Presently, five public sector insurers and 13 private insurance companies are empanelled for implementation of the scheme.

 

Background:

The move comes after several requests from states as well as observations made by Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in its 2017 report that old crop insurances schemes which have now been merged with PMFBY, were poorly implemented during 2011-2016.

 

About PMFBY:

What is it?

The PMFBY, launched in April 2016, compensates farmers for any losses in crop yield. In the event of a crop loss, the farmer will be paid based on the difference between the threshold yield and actual yield. The threshold yield is calculated based on average yield for the last seven years and the extent of compensation is set according to the degree of risk for the notified crop. The scheme is compulsory for farmers who have availed of institutional loans.

  • The scheme insures farmers against a wide range of external risks — droughts, dry spells, floods, inundation, pests and diseases, landslides, natural fire and lightning, hailstorms, cyclones, typhoons, tempests, hurricanes and tornadoes. The scheme also covers post-harvest losses up to a period of 14 days.
  • The Scheme covers all Food & Oilseeds crops and Annual Commercial/Horticultural Crops for which past yield data is available and for which requisite number of Crop Cutting Experiments (CCEs) are conducted being under General Crop Estimation Survey (GCES).

 

Implementation:

The scheme is implemented by empanelled general insurance companies. Selection of Implementing Agency (IA) is done by the concerned State Government through bidding. The scheme is compulsory for loanee farmers availing Crop Loan /KCC account for notified crops and voluntary for other others. The scheme is being administered by Ministry of Agriculture.

 

Why is it important?

While the idea of insuring farmers against crop losses isn’t new, the PMFBY is an attempt to plug the holes in the older crop insurance schemes — the National Agriculture Insurance scheme (NAIS) introduced in 1999 and the Modified NAIS (mNAIS) introduced in 2011.

  • These older schemes didn’t find too many takers among farmers, the main dampener being their limited risk coverage. In mNAIS, the premium was capped at 8 to 12 per cent of the sum insured to limit the government’s subsidy outgo. Thus, for crops where actuarial rates were higher (that is, the premiums were steeper), insurance companies proportionally reduced the sum insured. Many a time, the ‘compensation’ fell way short of even the farmer’s cost of production.
  • The Fasal Bima Yojana has done away with this cap on premium. The sum insured per hectare for a farmer is now decided by the District Level Technical Committee and is pre-declared and notified by the State Level Coordination Committee on Crop Insurance.
  • The farmer also pays less — the premium he shells out is 2 per cent of the sum insured for all kharif crops and 1.5 per cent of it for all rabi crops. For horticulture and commercial crops, the premium is 5 per cent of sum covered. The remaining premium is paid by the government.

 

What’s important?

  • For Prelims: PMFBY.
  • For Mains: Crop insurance- need, challenges and significance.

 

Sources: the hindu.


Topic: Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices.

 

‘ Samridhi – the virtual assistant’

Context: SIDBI celebrated it’s Foundation day on April 2nd with launch of ‘ Samridhi – the virtual assistant’. It will answer standard queries of aspirants 24*7.

 

About SIDBI:

  • Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) was set up on 2nd April 1990 under an Act of Parliament.
  • It acts as the Principal Financial Institution for Promotion, Financing and Development of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) sector as well as for co-ordination of functions of institutions engaged in similar activities.

 

Sources: pib.


Topic: Awareness in space.

 

Advanced Supersonic Parachute Inflation Research Experiment (ASPIRE)

Context: A supersonic parachute that will help NASA missions to land on Mars, was successfully launched into the sky during a key test designed to mimic the conditions of entering the red planet. The Advanced Supersonic Parachute Inflation Research Experiment (ASPIRE) was launched aboard a sounding rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in the US.

 

Background:

An ambitious NASA Mars rover mission set to launch in 2020 will rely on a special parachute to slow the spacecraft down as it enters the Martian atmosphere at over 12,000 mph (5.4 kilometers per second). The Mars 2020 mission will seek signs of ancient Martian life by investigating evidence in place and by caching drilled samples of Martian rocks for potential future return to Earth.

 

What’s important?

For Prelims: ASPIRE.

 

Sources: the hindu.


Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

 

Delhi becomes first city to roll-out Euro VI fuel

 

Context: New Delhi has become the first city in India to deploy Bharat Stage 6 Fuel for both petrol and diesel. two years ahead of the rest of the county. The idea behind this implementation two years ahead of the previously scheduled date of April 1, 2020, is to help battle Delhi’s long-standing terminal pollution problem.

 

What are BS norms?

The BS — or Bharat Stage — emission standards are norms instituted by the government to regulate the output of air pollutants from internal combustion engine equipment, including motor vehicles. India has been following the European (Euro) emission norms, though with a time-lag of five years.

 

Difference between BS-IV and the new BS-VI:

The major difference in standards between the existing BS-IV and the new BS-VI auto fuel norms is the presence of sulphur. The newly introduced fuel is estimated to reduce the amount of sulphur released by 80 per cent, from 50 parts per million to 10 ppm. As per the analysts, the emission of NOx (nitrogen oxides) from diesel cars is also expected to reduce by nearly 70 per cent and 25 per cent from cars with petrol engines.

 

Why is it important to upgrade these norms?

Upgrading to stricter fuel standards helps tackle air pollution. Global automakers are betting big on India as vehicle penetration is still low here, when compared to developed countries. At the same time, cities such as Delhi are already being listed among those with the poorest air quality in the world. The national capital’s recent odd-even car experiment and judicial activism against the registration of big diesel cars shows that governments can no longer afford to relax on this front.

With other developing countries such as China having already upgraded to the equivalent of Euro V emission norms a while ago, India has been lagging behind. The experience of countries such as China and Malaysia shows that poor air quality can be bad for business. Therefore, these reforms can put India ahead in the race for investments too.

 

The government could face two key challenges in implementing the decision:

  • First, there are questions about the ability of oil marketing companies to quickly upgrade fuel quality from BS-III and BS-IV standards to BS-VI, which is likely to cost upwards of Rs 40,000 crore.
  • Second, and more challenging, is the task of getting auto firms to make the leap. Automakers have clearly said that going to BS-VI directly would leave them with not enough time to design changes in their vehicles, considering that two critical components — diesel particulate filter and selective catalytic reduction module — would have to be adapted to India’s peculiar conditions, where running speeds are much lower than in Europe or the US.

 

What’s important?

  • For Prelims: BS Norms and composition.
  • For Mains: BS norms- implementation- issues, challenges and solutions.

 

Sources: the hindu.

 


 

Facts for Prelims:

 

Malaysia approves law against fake news:

Context: Malaysia has approved a law banning fake news ahead of elections.

Key facts: The law makes “fake news” punishable with a maximum six-year jail term. The law covers all media and extends even to foreigners outside Malaysia.

Concerns: Critics fear the law will be abused to silence dissent ahead of a general election.

 

Fimbristylis agasthyamalaensis:

Context: Researchers have reported the discovery of a new plant species from the Western Ghats biodiversity hotspot. Classified as a sedge, the grass-like plant has been named Fimbristylis agasthyamalaensis, after the locality from which it was found.

Key facts:

  • The new species belongs to the Cyperaceae family. In India, the genus is represented by 122 species, of which 87 are reported from the Western Ghats. Many of the known Cyperaceae species are medicinal plants or used as fodder.
  • The researchers have recommended a preliminary conservation assessment of the plant as ‘critically endangered,’ according to IUCN criteria. The report says the species is highly prone to wild grazing.