Polity & Governance
- 6 Crore Soil Health Cards Distributed
- India becomes Net Exporter of Electricity for the first Time
- SBI launches ‘Unnati’ credit card
Environment & Ecology
- ‘India’s temperature rose by 0.60 degree over last 110 years’
Defence & Security Issues
- Navy gets IAAMS, a new weather monitoring system
Science & Technology
- Sands of Saturn’s moon Titan are electrically charged
- Planetary waves, first found on Earth, are discovered on Sun
Key Facts for Prelims
- FDA approves new eczema drug Dupixent
- Mining banned for four months in Uttarakhand
- Centre for flowers in Jhajjar, Haryana
- New secure pound coin goes into circulation in UK
- Aviation Turbine Fuel Digital Issue and Payment (ATF DIP) system
- INLCU L51
- Hindu New Year celebrations begins
Polity & Governance
6 Crore Soil Health Cards Distributed
The government recently informed the Lok Sabha that so far against the target of 14 crore cards distribution, 6 crore cards have been distributed and remaining cards are under printing.
- Adequate funds have been released to all States, funds amounting to Rs 23.89 crore, Rs 96.44 crore and Rs 126.47 crore have been released during 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17 respectively under the scheme.
About the Soil Health Card Scheme:
In February 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had launched 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.
- Under the scheme, State Governments should adopt 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.
- Under the scheme, the state governments are also required to prepare yearly action plan on the issue and the cost will be shared in the ratio of 75:25 between the Centre and states.
What is soil health card?
The soil health card studies and reviews the health of soil or rather we can say a complete evaluation of the quality of soil right from its functional characteristics, to water and nutrients content and other biological properties. It will also contain corrective measures that a farmer should adopt to obtain a better yield.
How does it help the farmers?
- With the issue of the card, the farmers will get a well-monitored report of the soil which is chosen for cultivation of crops.
- The monitoring will be done on a regular basis.
- The farmers will be guided by experts to come up with solutions to improve the quality of the soil.
- Regular monitoring will help the farmers to get a long-term soil health record and accordingly can study and evaluate the results of different soil management practices.
- This card can become most helpful and effective when filled out regularly by the same person over a period of time.
- The idea is not to compare the varied soil types but to find out methods to improve soil fertility, to access the different types of soil and their ability to support crop production in spite of their limitations and as per their abilities.
- The soil card will help the farmers to get an idea on the crop-wise recommendations of nutrients and fertilizers required in each type of soil. This can help in increasing the crop yield.
India becomes Net Exporter of Electricity for the first Time
According to Central Electricity Authority (CEA), India for the first time has become a net exporter of electricity during the April-February period in fiscal 2016-17.
- Central Electricity Authority (CEA), under Union Power Ministry, is the designated authority of government of India for cross border trade of electricity.
- During this period, India has exported around 5,798 million units to Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar which is 213 million units more than the import of around 5,585 million units from Bhutan.
- In the last three years, India’s export to Nepal and Bangladesh has increased 2.5 and 2.8 times respectively.
- New transmission lines with Bangladesh and Myanmar has helped India sell more power.
India’s power export to Bangladesh:
- At present, India has exported around 600 MW power to Bangladesh.
- The export got further boost after commissioning of the first cross border interconnection between Baharampur (India) and Bheramara (Bangladesh) at 400kV in September 2013.
- It was further augmented by commissioning of second cross border Interconnection between Surjyamaninagar (Tripura) in India and South Comilla (Bangladesh).
India’s power import from Bhutan:
- On an average, Bhutan has been supplying around 5,000-5,500 million units to India.
- A few more cross border links are in the pipeline with neighbouring countries which would further increase India’s power export.
India’s power export to Nepal:
- India is exporting around 190 MW power to Nepal over 12 cross border interconnections at 11kV, 33kV and 132 kV level.
- It has further increased by around 145 MW after commissioning of Muzaffarpur (India)–Dhalkhebar (Nepal) 400kV line (being operated at 132 kV) in 2016.
- It is further expected to increase by around 145 MW shortly over 132 kV Katiya (Bihar)– Kusaha (Nepal) and 132 kV Raxaul (Bihar)– Parwanipur (Nepal).
- Ever since the cross border trade of electricity started in mid-1980s, India has been importing power from Bhutan and marginally exporting to Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar.
- India is also investing heavily on generation infrastructure over the past few years. In the past two years, a massive surge in the local supply of raw materials like coal has also helped power companies to boost output.
SBI launches ‘Unnati’ credit card
SBI Card launched the Unnati Credit Card to spread credit inclusion among masses.
Key features of the Unnati Credit Card:
- The card is targeted at all SBI customers, including the Jan Dhan account-holders across the country. It is primarily tailored for new users of credit cards, those who do not have a credit history.
- The Unnati would have no annual fees (Rs 499/year) for the initial four years and the credit card will be offered through 20,000-plus State Bank of India (SBI) branches.
- Any SBI customer with a balance of at least Rs 25,000 in the savings account is eligible for the Unnati credit card.
- The card is accepted in over 24 million outlets across the globe, including 3,25,000 outlets in India.
- With SBI Card Unnati, add-on cards will be provided to the customer’s parents, spouse, children or siblings above the age of 18.
- The Easy Bill Pay facility of the card can be used to pay electricity, telephone, mobile and other utility bills.
Environment & Ecology
‘India’s temperature rose by 0.60 degree over last 110 years’
According to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), in line with rising temperatures across the globe, all India mean temperatures have risen nearly 0.60 degree Celsius over the last 110 years.
- Further IMD studies have highlighted that extreme events like heat waves have risen in the last 30 years.
As per the fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published in 2014, globally averaged combined land and ocean surface temperature has risen by 0.85 degree Celsius over the period 1880 to 2012.
Many extreme weather and climate events like heat waves, heavy precipitation and tropical cyclones have been observed since about 1950.
Efforts by Indian government to combat climate change:
The government has launched the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) in June, 2008 to deal with climate change and related issues.
- NAPCC comprises of eight missions in specific areas of solar energy, enhanced energy efficiency, habitat, water, sustaining Himalayan ecosystems, forestry, agriculture and strategic knowledge for climate change.
- These missions address the issues relating to mitigation of greenhouse gases and adaptation to the adverse impacts of climate change on environment, forests, habitat, water resources and agriculture.
- All states and UTs have also been requested to prepare State Action Plan on Climate Change (SAPCC) in line with the objectives of the NAPCC highlighting state-specific issues relating to climate change.
So far, 32 states and UTs have prepared their SAPCC.[Ref: Times of India]
Defence & Security Issues
Navy gets IAAMS, a new weather monitoring system
Indian Navy unveiled an Integrated Automatic Aviation Meteorological System (IAAMS) which is expected to bring accuracy in weather monitoring mechanism in the Indian Navy.
- The IAAMS was launched at Rajali Air Station in Tamil Nadu.
- The aim of IAAMS is to modernise the meteorological infrastructure of the nine Naval Air Stations (NAS).
- The IAAMS project will give a major fillip to aviation safety, through automation of weather monitoring process.
- Equipped with the state-of-the-art meteorological sensors, IAAMS undertakes automatic and continuous recording of relevant weather parameters that are vital for accurate weather forecasting.
- It has a special alarm feature that alerts the duty staff during abnormal change of weather parameters that may affect safe flying operations.
- The system can also provide automatic dissemination of routine weather reports as per standards followed by the World Meteorological Organisation to other air stations and Air Traffic Controller towers without human intervention.
- Installation of the system at remaining eight stations is expected to be completed by March 2019.
Science & Technology
Sands of Saturn’s moon Titan are electrically charged
Scientists have, for the first time, discovered that the sands or particles that are spread all over the surface of Saturn’s moon Titan are ‘electrically charged’.
About the discovery:
Experiments suggest the particles that cover the surface of Saturn’s moon, Titan, are ‘electrically charged.’
- When the wind blows hard enough, Titan’s non-silicate granules get kicked up and start to hop in a motion.
- As they collide, they become frictionally charged, like a balloon rubbing against your hair, and clump together in a way not observed for sand dune grains on Earth — they become resistant to further motion.
- They maintain that charge for days or months at a time and attach to other hydrocarbon substances, much like packing peanuts used in shipping boxes here on Earth.
Significance of this discovery:
This discovery may help explain an odd phenomenon — prevailing winds on Titan blow from east to west across the moon’s surface, but sandy dunes nearly 300 feet tall seem to form in the opposite direction.
- Titan is the largest moon of Saturn.
- It is the only moon known to have a dense atmosphere, and the only object in space other than Earth where clear evidence of stable bodies of surface liquid has been found.
- Titan is the sixth ellipsoidal moon from Saturn.
- Frequently described as a planet-like moon, Titan is 50% larger than Earth’s Moon, and it is 80% more massive.
- It is the second-largest moon in the Solar System, after Jupiter’s moon Ganymede, and is larger than the smallest planet, Mercury, but only 40% as massive.
- Titan’s atmosphere is composed of 98% nitrogen.
- Minor components lead to the formation of methane and ethane clouds and nitrogen-rich organic smog.
- With its liquids (both surface and subsurface) and robust nitrogen atmosphere, Titan’s methane cycle is analogous to Earth’s water cycle, at the much lower temperature of about 94 K (−179.2 °C).
Planetary waves, first found on Earth, are discovered on Sun
Researchers at the National Center for Atmospheric Research have found evidence that the same giant, magnetised waves that ripple through Earth’s atmosphere might also exist on our Sun.
- These waves are known as Rossby or planetary waves, and they usually occur way above Earth’s surface, influencing weather patterns and the jet stream winds.
- But this is the first time the waves have been spotted on the Sun.
About the Rossby waves:
On Earth, Rossby waves occur both in the atmosphere and in the oceans, and they form in rotating fluids.
- In the atmosphere, Rossby waves are associated with the path of the jet stream and the formation of low- and high-pressure systems, which in turn influence local weather events.
- In the ocean, a huge Rossby wave have been spotted travelling westward around the planet, and is responsible for a strange humming sound coming from the Caribbean sea.
Scientists have previously hypothesized that the sun could host Rossby waves, but observing wave patterns on the sun is difficult.
About the discovery:
- Scientists lacked the tools to distinguish this wave pattern until recently. It is because, unlike Earth, which is scrutinized at numerous angles by satellites in space, scientists historically have been able to study the Sun from only one viewpoint: as seen from the direction of Earth.
- But for a brief period, from 2011 to 2014, scientists had the unprecedented opportunity to see the Sun’s entire atmosphere at once.
- During that time, observations from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), which sits between the Sun and the Earth, were supplemented by measurements from NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) mission, which included two spacecraft orbiting the Sun.
- Collectively, the three observatories provided a 360-degree view of the Sun until contact was lost with one of the STEREO spacecraft in 2014. The data collected during the window of full solar coverage was studied to see if the large-scale wave patterns might emerge.
Significance of the discovery:
- The discovery could explain why solar activity such as solar storms and flares are so hard for us to predict.
- It also offers the tantalising possibility that we can predict space weather much further in advance.
Key Facts for Prelims
FDA approves new eczema drug Dupixent
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Dupixent injection to treat adults with moderate-to-severe eczema (atopic dermatitis).
- Dupixent is intended for patients whose eczema is not controlled adequately by topical therapies, or those for whom topical therapies are not advisable.
- Dupixent is administered as an injection under the skin.
- Atopic dermatitis is a chronic inflammatory skin disease. It is the most common of the many types of eczema. Its cause is a combination of genetic, immune and environmental factors. In atopic dermatitis, the skin develops red, scaly and crusted bumps, which are extremely itchy.
Mining banned for four months in Uttarakhand
- The Uttarakhand High Court has ordered ‘complete’ ban on mining activities in the State for four months.
- The court has ordered that a high-power committee be constituted to assess the expanse of river bed mining in the State and submit a report. The committee has been directed to submit a report within four months.
Centre for flowers in Jhajjar, Haryana
- A Centre of Excellence for Flowers is being set up with the assistance of Netherlands in district Jhajjar of Haryana to encourage the farmers to take up floriculture.
New secure pound coin goes into circulation in UK
- A new 12-sided one-pound coin described by the UK’s Royal Mint as the “most secure coin in the world” has been put into circulation across the UK.
- There is material inside the coin itself which can be detected when electronically scanned by coin-counting or payment machines, making it impossible to counterfeit.
- Other security features of the coin include an image that works like a hologram and micro-sized lettering inside both rims.
Aviation Turbine Fuel Digital Issue and Payment (ATF DIP) system
- Indian Air force has formally launched web based e-billing system Aviation Turbine Fuel Digital Issue and Payment (ATF DIP).
- It will be implemented from April 1, 2017.
- The web based e-billing system was launched in line with the Union Government’s flagship Digital India programme.
- It has been developed for the speedy accounting and clearance of Aviation Fuel bills of Oil Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs).
- The aviation fuel management in the IAF involves over 2 lakh transactions per year. The new platform will streamline the ATF bill payment system.
- It was jointly developed by the Controller General of Defence Accounts (DGCA) and the Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL).
- Recently, the INLCU L51 was commissioned into the Indian Navy.
- It is first of the eight ships of the LCU MK IV Class.
- The vessel is built by M/s Garden Reach Ship Builders & Engineers Ltd, Kolkata.
- The ship was conceived and designed indigenously.
- It has been built to assist in amphibious operations by carrying out beaching operations and has an endurance of 1500 nm.
- It will play a pivotal role in carrying out maritime surveillance of Andaman & Nicobar Islands for preventing anti-poaching, illegal fishing, drug trafficking, human trafficking, poaching and other illegal activities.
- The ship will also enhance the capabilities of the Andaman and Nicobar Command in Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations.
Hindu New Year celebrations begins
- Hindu New Year is being welcomed in different parts of the country with traditional festivities and celebrations.
- The Chaitra Sukladi, Ugadi, Gudi Padava, Navareh, Navroz and Chetti Chand are the same festivals in different names, marking the occasion.
New year names
Andhra Pradesh and Telangana
Marwari of Rajasthan
Sajibu Nongma Panba
Hindus of Kashmir
Hindus of Bali and Indonesia