Current Affairs Analysis

10th September 2020 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

Rogan art; NSO report on education; Living Planet Report; Flying-V airliner; Kra Canal project; White grub insect larvae; poll campaign expenditure cap; Defence exports increased; 15th Sustainability Summit; ARISE-Atal New India Challenges; ‘Sanskrit grams’; Doorstep Banking Services by PSBs; Patrika Gate; Honorary Consul; Shikshak Parv; India-France-Australia Trilateral Dialogue; etc.
By IASToppers
September 10, 2020

Contents

Government Schemes & Policies

  • Aatmanirbhar Bharat ARISE-Atal New India Challenges
  • Uttarakhand to develop ‘Sanskrit grams’ across state

Issues related to Health & Education

  • NSO report on education

Economy

  • FM launches Doorstep Banking Services by PSBs

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • Since 1970, 68% of the world’s wildlife has been lost: WWF report
  • 15th Sustainability Summit

Bilateral & International Relations

  • First India-France-Australia Trilateral Dialogue

Defence & Security Issues

  • Defence exports increased

Art & Culture

  • Patrika Gate
  • Rogan art

Science & Technology

  • Flying-V airliner

Key Facts for Prelims

  • Kra Canal project
  • White grub insect larvae
  • EC proposes 10% hike in poll campaign expenditure cap
  • Honorary Consul
  • Shikshak Parv

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Government Schemes & Policies

Aatmanirbhar Bharat ARISE-Atal New India Challenges

Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), NITI Aayog launched one of its most awaited programme, the Aatmanirbhar Bharat ARISE-Atal New India Challenges, to spur applied research and innovation in Indian MSMEs and startups.

About the programme

  • The programme will be driven by Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), four ministries—Ministry of Defence; Ministry of Food Processing Industries; Ministry of Health and Family Welfare; and Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.
  • And also by the associated industries to facilitate innovative solutions to sectoral problems.

Challenges for startup and MSME

  • The government think tank NITI Aayog announced 15 new challenges for India’s startup and MSME ecosystem to address.
  • Each challenge will have two winners, each eligible for a grant of up to ₹50 lakhs, which will be given in three tranches.
  • Only projects which are in advanced stages of research and development or have an initial prototype will be selected.

List of challenges

ISRO

  • Propulsion: Green propellants, electric propulsion and advanced air-breathing.
  • Geo spatial information: Using ML/AI useful in crop monitoring, weather forecasting, and program evaluations.
  • Robotics/AR/VR: To support space exploration and outer space monitoring.

Ministry of Defence

  • AI-based predictive models: AI-based predictive maintenance of plant machinery.
  • Auto stabiliser system: Design and development of latest technology auto stabiliser system as form, fit & function (FFF) replacement of existing auto stabilizer system.
  • Communication modems: Wide band HD data communication modem with 4G automatic link establishment data throughputs of the order of 120 kbps.

Ministry of Food Processing Industries

  • Waste to wealth: Effective utilisation of commercial food processing industry waste streams.
  • Alternative food packaging materials: Against the use of single use plastic — materials from food waste to bio-sources.
  • Machines for indigenous food products: Optimised processing conditions and machinery for bulk production of native Indian products.

Ministry of Health and Family Welfare

  • Health data analytics: Use of data analytics to identify early breakout of epidemics based on the historic curve and data.
  • AI solutions: AI-based solutions for antimicrobials resistance (AMR) surveillance.
  • Health care monitoring: Monitoring the logistics of cold chains in immunisation program.

Ministry of Housing and Urban affairs

  • Project water: Water pressure sensing systems to monitor leakage, illegal activity and help manage planned pressure in water supply lines.
  • Project clean air: Development of smart technology to reduce pollution through construction dust by at least 25%.
  • Project move: Development of usable smart technology to create a real-time mobility decision support system for Indian cities.

Key Facts

  • ISRO to adopt 100 Atal Tinkering Labs from Atal Innovation Mission.
  • Officials stressed on attracting innovators using the Mahatma Gandhi Challenge method.
  • Minister of Road Transport and Highways laid emphasis on developing the MSME sector with the help of the ARISE-ANIC initiative under Atal Innovation Mission.
[Ref: PIB, Business Insider]

Uttarakhand to develop ‘Sanskrit grams’ across state

After noting significant progress in a pilot programme to teach Sanskrit to residents of two villages in Uttarakhand, the state government gave it a go-ahead to authorities to develop ‘Sanskrit Grams’ across the state.

  • The academy will be renamed as Uttaranchal Sanskrit Sansthanam Haridwar, Uttarakhand.

‘Sanskrit Grams’ programme

  • Sanskrit is the second official language in Uttarakhand.
  • Villages was selected to be run first at the district level and then at the block level for promotion of the language.
  • The state government currently runs 97 Sanskrit schools, where an average of 2100 students study each year.
  • Aim of the programme is to teach people to use Sanskrit regularly and that will start by teaching people smaller sentences which are used most commonly.
  • The focus will be on the school-going children so that they can learn the language from young age.

Key Fact

  • Villages of Kimotha in Chamoli district and Bhantola in Bageshwar district were earlier developed as Sanskrit villages. Residents have started using the language in their daily communication and they also sing folk songs in Sanskrit.
  • Karamana village in Kerala too where residents speak only in Sanskrit.
[Ref: Indian Express]

Issues related to Health & Education

NSO report on education

In the 75th round of the National Sample Survey, conducted between June 2017 and July 2018, households were surveyed on consumption related to education.

Highlights of the report:

  • One in five students in India supplements school education with private coaching, including almost one in three at the secondary school level or Classes 9 and 10.
  • Private coaching fees make up almost 20% of the total cost of education for those in secondary and higher secondary school.
  • The report shows that 19.8% of students at all levels — from pre-primary to graduate students- take some form of private coaching.
  • Among Class 9 and 10 students, starting to prepare for the crucial board exams and admission tests, more than 30% do private coaching.
  • Among secondary school students, those from the cities and upper castes are able to access private coaching at far higher levels.
  • More than 52% of urban upper caste boys take coaching, in comparison to just 13.7% of rural boys and girls from scheduled tribe communities.
  • The average annual expenditure on education for secondary school students is ₹9,013, of which ₹4,078 goes towards regular school fees.
  • About ₹1,632, or just over 18%, goes towards private coaching. In higher secondary school, students spend more than ₹2,500, also about 18% of the total expenditure, on private coaching.
  • Some States in eastern India seem to spend more on private coaching than the rest of the country. In West Bengal, students actually spend more on private coaching than on their regular school.

About NSSO survey:

  • The first all-India survey on social consumption was conducted by National Statistical Office (NSO) in its 35th round (1981).
  • Objective of the survey: to make an assessment of the benefits derived by various sections of the society from public expenditure such as health services, educational services, public distribution system, etc.
[Ref: The Hindu]

Economy

FM launches Doorstep Banking Services by PSBs

Minister of Finance & Corporate Affairs inaugurated Doorstep Banking Services by PSBs and participated in the awards ceremony to felicitate best performing banks on EASE Banking Reforms Index.

Doorstep Banking Services by PSBs

  • As part of the EASE Reforms, Doorstep Banking Services is envisaged to provide convenience of banking services to the customers at their door step.
  • It is provided through the universal touch points of Call Centre, Web Portal or Mobile App.
  • Customers can also track their service request through these channels.
  • The services shall be rendered by the Doorstep Banking Agents deployed by the selected Service Providers at 100 centres across the country.
  • At present only non-financial services viz. Pick up of negotiable instruments (cheque/demand draft/pay order etc.), Pick up new cheque book requisition slip, Pick up of 15G/15H forms, Pick up of IT/GST challan, Issue request for standing instructions, Request for account statement, Delivery of non-personalised cheque book, demand draft, pay order, Delivery of term deposit receipt, acknowledgement, etc., Delivery of TDS / Form 16 certificate issuance, Delivery of pre-paid instrument/gift card  are available to customers.
  • Financial services shall be made available from October 2020.
  • The services can be availed by customers of Public Sector Banks at nominal charges.
  • The services shall benefit all customers, particularly Senior Citizens and Divyangs who would find it at ease to avail these services.

Performance of PSB on EASE 2.0 Index

  • PSBs have shown a healthy trajectory in their performance over four quarters since the launch of EASE 2.0 Reforms Agenda.
  • The overall score of PSBs increased by 37% between March-2019 and March-2020, with the average EASE index score improving from 49.2 to 67.4 out of 100.
  • Significant progress is seen across six themes of the Reforms Agenda:
    • ‘Responsible Banking’– highest improvement
    • ‘Governance and HR’
    • ‘PSBs as Udyamimitra for MSMEs’
    • ‘Credit off-take’
  • PSBs have adopted tech-enabled, smart banking in all areas, setting up retail and MSME Loan Management Systems for reduced loan turnaround time and PSB loans in 59minutes.com and TReDS for digital lending.
  • PSBs have instituted real-time visibility to retail and MSME customers on the status of their loans.
  • Most branch-based services are now accessible from home and mobile, including in local languages.

EASE Agenda

  • A common reform agenda for PSBs, EASE Agenda is aimed at institutionalizing clean and smart banking.
  • It was launched in January 2018, and the subsequent edition of the program– EASE 2.0 built on the foundation laid in EASE 1.0 and furthered the progress on reforms.
  • Reform Action Points in EASE 2.0 aimed at making the reforms journey irreversible, strengthening processes and systems, and driving outcomes.

EASE Reforms Index

  • EASE stands for Enhanced Access and Service Excellence.
  • The index is prepared by the Indian Banking Association and Boston Consulting Group.
  • The report measures the performance of each PSB on 140 objective metrics across 6 themes.

Six Themes

  • Responsible Banking
  • Customer Responsiveness
  • Credit off-take
  • Governance and HR
  • PSBs as Udyamimitra for MSMEs
  • Deepening Financial Inclusion and Digitalisation.

EASE 2.0 Index Rankings

  • Bank of Baroda has been placed at the first spot.
  • State Bank of India and Oriental Bank of Commerce (OBC) got the 2nd and 3rd place respectively.
  • Bank of Maharashtra, Central Bank of India &erstwhile Corporation Bank were awarded in the ‘Top Improvers’ category basis EASE 2.0 Index.
  • Punjab National Bank, Union Bank of India, and Canara Bank were also recognized for outstanding performance in select themes.
[Ref: PIB]

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

Since 1970, 68% of the world’s wildlife has been lost: WWF report

Global populations of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish have suffered an average two-thirds decline in less than half a century due to environmental destruction, according to WWF’s Living Planet Report 2020.

About the Living Planet Report:

  • The Living Planet Report is a World Wide Fund for Nature’s flagship publication released every two years, is a comprehensive study of trends in global biodiversity and the health of the planet.
  • Focus of 2020 Report is to reiterate a scientific case for the urgent action we need to protect and restore nature and biodiversity.

Highlights of the reports:

  • The report found that 75 per cent of the Earth’s ice-free land surface has already been significantly altered, most of the oceans are polluted, and more than 85% of the area of wetlands has been lost during this period.
  • It shows that wildlife populations found in freshwater habitats have suffered a decline of 84 per cent – the starkest average population decline in any biome.
  • Factors believed to increase the planet’s vulnerability:
    • Land-use change and the use and trade of wildlife.
    • Species overexploitation (like overfishing)
    • Invasive species and diseases
    • Pollution and climate change.
  • The highest biodiversity loss due to land use change globally has been found in Europe and Central Asia at 57.9 per cent, then in North America at 52.5 per cent, Latin America and Caribbean at 51.2 per cent, Africa at 45.9 per cent and then Asia at 43 per cent.
  • The largest wildlife population loss, according to the Living Planet Index, has been in Latin America at an alarming 94 per cent.
  • Almost 90 per cent of global wetlands have been lost since 1700. 
  • The report finds that India has lost nearly one-third of its natural wetlands to urbanisation, agricultural expansion and pollution over the last four decades.
  • 14 out of 20 river basins in India are already water stressed and will be moving to extreme water scarcity by 2050.
[Ref: The Hindu, The Indian Express]

15th Sustainability Summit

15th Sustainability Summit 2020 was held between 8 to 10 September in New Delhi. Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister gave a speech regarding India’s vision behind sustainability.

Highlights of the speech

  • Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister said that Indian Government is committed to reduce the carbon emissions.
  • India will achieve the target of reducing carbon emissions by 35 percent in the next ten years.
  • Country’s solar power capacity has been increasing rapidly and noted that 68 countries have ratified the International Solar Alliance Agreement.
  • Aatmanirbharta is not cutting away from the world and it is being given on innovation and research. Efforts are being made to reduce imports and increase the exports.
  • Only sustainability will save the humankind from the worst of nature furies.

15th Sustainability Summit

  • ‘Action Agenda for the Next Decade’ is designed to focus on shaping up of the coming decade, incorporating learning from COVID-19 and reflecting how the drivers of innovation, technology and systems thinking to build a more sustainable next decade.
  • The Summit will envision how our future will look like by deliberating on solutions that will shape our living, which is sustainable, fair and equitable.

India’s achievement towards a Greener Growth

  • Work on Ujjwala, E Vehicles, BS-VI Engines, Biofuels, Clean air, and Disaster resilience pave the way for a sustainable and resilient India.
  • India have reached 21% and in 10 years will achieve the targeting of 35% emission reduction.
  • A total of 87 GW including solar and wind has been achieved, from 220 GW renewable power targets.
  • Energy mix in the installed capacity now includes 37% of renewable energy sources.

Sustainability Summit

  • The Sustainability Summit is the annual flagship event of Confederation of Indian Industry in sustainability.
  • It was launched in 2006 to raise the bar of dialogue, practice and performance of sustainable business.

Key Fact

  • India has only 2.5 % of world’s land, 4% of freshwater resources and around 20% of world population but still has 8% of the world’s biodiversity because in the Indian culture, flora and fauna are part of life.
[Ref: PIB]

Bilateral & International Relations

First India-France-Australia Trilateral Dialogue

  • The focus of the dialogue was on enhancing cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • The meeting was co-chaired by Foreign Secretary, French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs and Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
  • Objective is to build on the strong bilateral relations that the three countries share with each other. The three sides agreed to hold the dialogue on an annual basis.

[Ref: The Hindu]

Defence & Security Issues

Defence exports increased

  • In the last three years, India witnessed a 700% growth in defence exports – from ₹1,521 crore in 2016-17 to ₹10,745 crore in 2018-19.
  • India is the third largest spender on defence around the world.
  • India account for 9.2% of global arms imports.
  • With the aim to achieve a manufacturing turnover of $25 bn or ₹1,75,000 crore, including exports of $5 bn in aerospace and defence goods and services by 2025, the Defence Ministry recently issued a draft ‘Defence Production & Export Promotion Policy (DPEPP) 2020’.

Art & Culture

Patrika Gate

  • Prime Minister inaugurated the ‘Patrika Gate’ through video conference which is constructed by the Rajasthan Patrika Group of Publications as part of Mission Anupam Yojana of Jaipur Development Authority.
  • The ‘Patrika Gate’ is situated at Jaipur’s Jawaharlal Nehru Marg.
  • Patrika Gate has been built as a unique memorial showcasing the architectural and cultural heritage of all the regions of Rajasthan.

Rogan art

  • Recently, a Rogan art pieces on the masks for COVID-19 was made.
  • Rogan is 300 year-old inherited tradition that once flourished in Gujarat’s Kutch region.
  • Today, Orignally One Abdul Gafur Khatri family of Nirona village practices Traditional Rogan Art.
  • The Khatris are the surviving custodians of the art form.
  • Rogan is the technique of painting on fabric, crafted from thick brightly colored paint made with castor seed oil.
  • At room temperature, the paint is carefully twisted into motifs and images using a metal rod that never comes in contact with the fabric.
  • The main theme of the wall pieces revolves around the “Tree of Life”.

[Ref: The Hindu]

Science & Technology

Flying-V airliner

A team of researchers and engineers from the Dutch-based Technical University of Delft have successfully conducted the first real test flight of the scaled model of the Flying V.

About the Flying-V airliner:

  • It is a futuristic and fuel-efficient long-distance aircraft that could carry passengers in its wings.
  • The Flying-V design derives its name from its ‘V’ shape, integrates the passenger cabin, the cargo hold and the fuel tanks in the wings.
  • Computer calculations have predicted that the aircraft’s improved aerodynamic shape and reduced weight will reduce fuel consumption by 20% compared to today’s most advanced aircraft.
[Ref: The Indian Express]

Key Facts for Prelims

Kra Canal project

  • The Kra Canal project is proposed 120-kilometre mega canal cutting through Kra in Thailand could have been a crucial strategic asset for China.
  • Kra Canal project, if constructed, allows the China to move freely and quickly between its newly constructed bases in the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean.
  • The canal would provide an alternative to transit through the Straits of Malacca.
  • The project was China’s response to putting an end to the Malacca dilemma by bypassing the Strait of Malacca.
  • Straits of Malacca is a narrow chokepoint between the Malay Peninsula and the Indonesian island of Sumatra that divides the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
[Ref: Times Now]

White grub insect larvae

  • White grub, a voracious agriculture pest, after wreaking havoc in the Vidarbha and Marathwada regions has also affected about 3,000 acres of sugarcane crop in the Pune district.
  • White grub is a voracious agriculture pest, White grub insect larvae in local parlance is called humeni.
  • The pests eat at the roots of sugarcane, decreasing the moisture and nutrient supply to the plant.
  • This leads to the yellowing and wilting of leaves and causes extensive damage to the base of the shoot, leading to the dislodgement of the cane in the field.

EC proposes 10% hike in poll campaign expenditure cap

  • The Election Commission (EC) has proposed a 10 per cent increase in the campaign expenditure limit for all future elections given the constraints posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Rule 90 of the Conduct of Election Rules 1961 to raise the expenditure cap ahead of the Assembly elections in Bihar.
  • The current expenditure limit for state and Parliament elections differs from state to state.
  • In case of Lok Sabha elections, a candidate can spend between Rs 50 lakh and Rs 70 lakh, depending on the state they are contesting from.
[Ref: The Indian Express]

Honorary Consul

  • The Embassy of Luxembourg in New Delhi has appointed Seturaman Mahalingam as the new honorary Consul of Luxembourg in Chennai, with consular jurisdiction over Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
  • Honorary consuls are not career diplomats.
  • They are usually citizens of the host country, where they live, work and pay taxes.
  • They are designated by a foreign government to look after the affairs of its citizens.
  • Honorary consuls often don’t get any remuneration from the sending state.
  • Honorary consuls get an opportunity to promote commercial and trade ties and enjoy an added social recognition.
  • They also have access to senior government officials and the global diplomatic community.

Shikshak Parv

  • Shikshak Parv is being celebrated from 8th September- 25th September, 2020 to felicitate the Teachers and to take New Education Policy 2020 forward.
  • The Ministry will be organizing a series of webinars on NEP and its implementation.
  • In these webinars, various important themes of NEP will be discussed by experts.
  • Each theme will target different sets of stakeholders of the education system; useful for all schools, teachers, parents, students as well.  
  • A two-day conclave on ‘School Education in 21st Century’ under Shikshak Parv was organized by Ministry of Education through online medium.
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