Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 26 March 2019
Relevant articles from PIB:
Paper 2 and 3:
- Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
- Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: Key features and significance of ISRO’s Young Scientist programme.
What is it?
ISRO has launched a special programme for school children called Yuva Vigyani Karyakram or Young Scientist Programme.
Highlights of the programme:
- The programme aims at imparting basic knowledge on space technology, space science and space applications to the younger ones with the intent of arousing their interest in the emerging areas of space activities.
- Under the programme, three students each will be selected to participate in it every year from each state and union territory, covering CBSE, ICSE and state syllabus.
- The eligibility for being chosen for the programme includes those students who have finished 8th standard and are currently studying in the 9th standard.
- The selection will be based on the academic performance and extracurricular activities of the students, as per the selection criteria already circulated to the chief secretaries of the states and administrators of Union Territories.
- The students belonging to rural areas have been given special weightage under the selection criteria set by ISRO.
- Awareness in space.
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: Key features and significance of the mission.
Context: India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), in its 47th mission (PSLV-C45), will launch EMISAT, the primary satellite and 28 international customer satellites from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota.
This mission will be ISRO’s first attempt at placing payloads in three different orbits.
EMISAT mission and its significance:
- EMISAT is meant for electromagnetic spectrum measurements. It will be released into an orbit at 749 km.
- EMISAT is primarily based on the famous Israeli spy satellite called SARAL or (Satellite with ARgos and ALtika), and inherits its SSB-2 bus protocol for conducting sharp electronic surveillance across the length and breadth of India.
- The satellite would serve as the country’s roving device for detecting and gathering electronic intelligence from enemy radars across the borders as it circles the globe roughly pole to pole every 90 minutes or so.
- As many as 28 small foreign co-passenger satellites will also travel to space with it, but to a lower orbit at 504 km.
- They include 24 small satellites from the U.S., the other four customers are from Lithuania, Spain and Switzerland.
Relevant articles from various News Papers:
- Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.
What to study?
- For Prelims: Sharada Peeth- religious significance, location and related facts.
- For Mains: Significance and outcomes of this development in bilateral relations.
Context: Pakistan has given its green signal for Sharda Peeth corridor. The Sharda Peeth corridor, when opened, will be the second religious tract after Kartarpur corridor in Pakistan-controlled territory that will connect the two neighbouring nations.
The temple has been completely deserted since Partition in 1947. Travel restrictions on Indians also discouraged the devotees from visiting the shrine.
About Sharada Peeth:
- The temple is revered by Kashmiri Pandits among other Hindus across the globe.
- It was once regarded as a major centre of higher learning of Vedic works, scriptures and commentaries.
- The temple is also one of the 18 Maha Shakti Peethas, or a “Grand Shakti Peethas”.
- It is considered to be the abode of Hindu Goddess Saraswati.
- The temple has close resemblance with the Martand temple (another religious site in Anantnag) in architecture, design and construction style.
- One of the accounts of construction of the temple says that it was built during the rule of Kushans (early 1st century). While many other accounts say that Buddhists had a strong involvement in the Sharda region, the researchers have not been able to find evidence to support the claim.
- Academics also believe that Raja Lalitaditya had built the Sharada Peeth for containing the religious and political influence of the Buddhism. The claim is supported by the fact that Lalitaditya was a master of building massive temples.
Where is it located?
Since partition, the temple has been out of bounds for Indian pilgrims. The ancient Sharada temple, as well as the adjacent ruins of Sharada University, are situated in Neelam Valley, which is 160 km from Muzaffarabad, and close to the Line of Control. It is in a small village Shardi where the river Neelam joins Madhumati and Sargun streams.
Sources: the hindu.
- India and its neighbourhood- relations.
What to study?
- For Prelims: Key features of the project and the location of Hambantota.
- For Mains: Significance of the project for India and why is India worried about Chinese presence there?
Context: India’s Accord Group and Oman’s Ministry of Oil and Gas has begun construction of an oil refinery in Sri Lanka’.
Significance of Hambantota:
- Hambantota is right in the middle of vital energy supply lines in the Indian Ocean, connecting the Middle East and East Asia
- Hambantota is the main town in Hambantota District, Southern Province, Sri Lanka. This underdeveloped area was hit hard by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and is underwent a number of major development projects including the construction of a new sea port and international airport.
Why is India worried?
- India’s apprehensions about the apparently growing Chinese presence in the island are well known, given the two countries’ competing strategic interests in the island. The Hambantota port is part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
- Chinese control of Hambantota, which is part of its modern-day “Silk Route” across Asia and beyond, as well as a plan to acquire 15,000 acres (23 sq miles) to develop an industrial zone next door, had raised fears that it could also be used for Chinese naval vessels.
Source: the hindu.
- Infrastructure- energy related issues.
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: The index- key findings, significance, performance of various countries and key observations.
Context: World Economic Forum has released its global Energy Transition index. The annual list ranks 115 economies on their ability to balance energy security and access with environmental sustainability and affordability.
The index considers both the current state of the countries’ energy system and their structural readiness to adapt to future energy needs.
Performance of various countries:
- Sweden retained its top spot on the list, followed by Switzerland and Norway in the second and third positions respectively.
- The United States, which is placed at the 27th position, was found to have made progress in reducing the use of coal in power generation. It slipped in the rankings by two places due to concerns surrounding affordability of energy to households and regulatory uncertainty on environmental sustainability
- The developing countries in Asia, on the other hand, showed significant improvements towards universal access to electricity led by India (76), Indonesia (63) and Bangladesh (90).
Key observations on India’s performance:
- India was found to be amongst the countries with high pollution levels and relatively high CO2 intensity in its energy system. Despite this, the report found that India has made significant strides to improve energy access in recent years and currently scores well in the area of regulation and political commitment towards energy transition.
- While India scored low in terms of system performance, it ranks considerably higher when it comes to readiness to adapt to future energy needs. Overall, India has moved up two places from its 78th position in 2018.
- India is among the five economies that have managed to improve their rank since last year.
- In the BRICS bloc of emerging economies, India was ranked second best, only after Brazil.
Sources: the hindu.
- Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: WMO- objectives, functions, reports and significance.
Context: Every year, on March 23, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) commemorates its founding by observing World Meteorological Day. This year, the organisation is celebrating its 69th anniversary.
Theme: “The Sun, the Earth and the weather”. This year’s theme also sits in perfectly with the next cycle of the Sun’s activity starting in 2020, also known as the Solar Cycle 25.
What is it?
- The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations dedicated to meteorology (weather), climatology (climate), operational hydrology (water) and other related geophysical sciences such as oceanography and atmospheric chemistry.
- Predessor organization — International Meteorological Organization (IMO) — founded in 1873.
- Greenhouse Gas Bulletin.
- Status of the World Climate.
What does WMO do?
- WMO coordinates the activities of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services in 191 States and Territories so that basic weather, climate and water services are made available to anyone who needs them, when they need them.
- WMO guarantees the publication of observations and statistics and furthers the application of meteorology and hydrology (including the monitoring and predictions of climate change and ozone) to all aspects of human activities such as aviation, shipping, water management and agriculture.
- WMO also encourages research and training in meteorology and hydrology and their related applications and contributes towards reducing the impact of weather- and climate-related hazards. This is accomplished through regular, reliable forecasts and early warnings on flooding, drought, tropical cyclones, tornadoes and other extreme events.
- Predictions concerning locust swarms and the transport of pollutants (nuclear and toxic substances, volcanic ash) are also provided by WMO Members.
Sources: down to earth.
Facts for Prelims:
Context: The first batch of four Boeing heavy-lift Chinook Helicopters, CH-47F (I) were recently inducted in Indian Air Force (IAF).
Significance: Procured from the United States, the Chinook Helicopters are expected to provide impetus to the heavy-lift capabilities of Indian Air Force (IAF) and strengthen the defence ties with the United States.
- The CH-47F (I) Chinook is an advanced multi-mission helicopter that will provide unmatched strategic airlift capability to the Indian armed forces across the full spectrum of combat missions.
- With capability of carrying around 10 tonnes of load, these helicopters will be used for lifting artillery, vehicles, battlefield resupply, road construction and engineer equipment as well as transportation of troops and supplies to mountainous sectors in North and North-East.
- These are also used for humanitarian and disaster relief operations such as transportation of relief supplies and mass evacuation of refugees.
- Chinooks have a unique twin engine and tandem rotor design, one of the most visibly recognised symbols of the American armed forces.
What is it? It is Indian Navy’s state of the art Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Training Facility (NBCTF) which was inaugurated recently at INS Shivaji, Lonavala.
- The new facility is expected to help train personnel of naval ships fitted with nuclear, biological and chemical detection and protection systems.
- The nuclear training facility will help Indian Navy in providing realistic simulation of Nuclear, Chemical and Biological warfare to its personnel during their NBC damage control training, which was till now largely limited to theoretical training.
Lose to Wim programme:
Context: The government of UAE has launched the Lose to Win Programme to assist the overweight employees in shedding extra kilos and adopt a healthy lifestyle.
- The programme encourages those struggling with weight issues to learn how to induce positive changes in their lifestyle. The programme involves adopting a healthy diet and engaging in physical activity. It aims to help employees to lose excessive weight within eight weeks.
India pride project:
What is it? India Pride Project (IPP) is a group of art enthusiasts who uses social media to identify stolen religious artefacts from Indian temples and secure their return.
Summaries of important Editorials:
What is Rahul Gandhi’s minimum income scheme? Who will benefit?
Context: Congress President Rahul Gandhi has announced a minimum income of Rs 6,000 a month or Rs 72,000 a year for 20 per cent of families belonging to the poorest category.
What is minimum guaranteed income scheme?
A minimum guaranteed income scheme is one where a set of the population get an assured amount in their bank accounts, which could help them meet their basic needs. Such schemes can be unconditional, meaning that the beneficiary is free to spend the cash without any strings attached.
Fiscal burden on exchequer if this is implemented:
- According to the Central Statistics Office, there were 24.95 crore households in India in 2011. Rural India accounted for a total of 16.87 crore households in 2011. There were 8.08 crore total urban households.
- Assuming every household in the bottom 20% is eligible for the income, it would translate into a total expenditure of Rs 3,60,000 crore (five crore multiplied by Rs 72,000) a year. This is more than six times the outlay of Rs 55,000 crore under the NREGA in 2018-19.
- This scheme alone would add 1.9% of GDP to the fiscal deficit. In fact, the outlay could be higher than India’s health budget, which is estimated at about 1.4% of GDP.
The macro-economic impact of such spending would be three-fold:
- On growth – such spending would give a mini-boost to consumption expenditure, because the poorest will spend the money on basic needs.
- On inflation – prices may tend to go up with higher consumption demand.
- On the fisc – it could result in higher cost of government borrowing and lead to higher fiscal deficit if subsidies are not rationalised.
- It address the issue of income inequality or poverty. These are the best form of social justice for those left behind in an economy, as they offer a safety net to the poor against shocks such as income fluctuations, lack of employment and health issues.
- It seeks to ease the burden on the government, which implements multiple social welfare schemes that have not quite helped in reducing poverty. What that means is that if the government were to eliminate some of the current subsidised schemes (for food, fertiliser and fuel) and allow the beneficiaries to exercise their own choices on how to spend the minimum guaranteed income, then it would be able to focus on providing other public goods and better delivery.
- Other benefits being cited are greater financial inclusion, with more among the poor accessing banking services, which can lead to greater penetration of financial services.
- The primary resistance to such schemes is about the costs involved. There is concern about whether the government has the capacity to implement these programmes.
- There is also the challenge of identifying the beneficiaries, targeting, leakages or misallocation.