ias-toppers-aero-polltuion
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Current Affairs Analysis

16th August 2017 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

Black Carbon affecting Ozone layer; What is Black Carbon? e-biz project; Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline; Customs Union; What is blockchain technology? AFSPA; ‘Disturbed Areas’ Tag; AngioChip - Injectable Tissue Bandage; GeMSamvad
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
August 16, 2017

Contents

Government Schemes & Policies

  • Centre’s eBiz initiative stutters

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • Aeroplanes may be affecting ozone, monsoon

Bilateral & International Relations

  • India moves to revive TAPI gas pipeline
  • U.K. to seek ‘temporary customs union’

Defence & Security Issues

  • MasterCard mulls using blockchain tech
  • Assam, Manipur can now decide on AFSPA

Science & Technology

  • Scientists develop injectable tissue bandage to repair hearts

Key Facts for Prelims

  • GeMSamvad

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Polity & Governance

Centre’s eBiz initiative stutters

Even after 4 years of its launch, the centre’s eBiz is struggling to become fully operational.

ias toppers eBiz Ministry of Commerce

About eBiz:

  • In the year 2013, Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry announced the launch of eBiz, India’s first Government-to-Business (G2B) portal which aims at transforming and developing a conducive business environment in the country.
  • The eBiz portal one of the integrated services projects and part of the 27 Mission Mode Projects (MMPs) under the National E-Governance Plan (NEGP) of the Government of India.
  • It is being developed with the help of National Institute of Smart Government and IT major Infosys through the Public Private Partnership route.
  • The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) is the nodal Central government agency for the eBiz project.

Aim of eBiz:

  • The government aims to integrate more than 200 services to the portal within a few years.

Objective of eBiz:

  • An objective of the project is to improve India’s ranking in the World Bank’s Doing Business index.

Significance of eBiz:

  • The portal will provide a one-stop shop for providing G2B services to investors and business communities in India. The portal will also help in reducing the delays and complexity in obtaining information and services.
  • Businesses that are already operating in India or planning to start operations can use the portal to obtain licences, approvals, clearances, no objection certificates, permits and even for filing of returns.
  • Once these services pertaining to starting, running and closing down a business – completing the entire lifecycle of a business entity — are integrated to the eBiz portal, it will effectively become a single window clearance mechanism.
  • Businesses and investors will be able to use the services 24X7 online, including for completing e-forms online, uploading them as well as the required documents as attachments, making payments online, submitting the forms online, tracking the status of applications, receiving SMS alerts from the government, obtaining the needed licenses or permits and downloading the certificates and getting approvals.

What challenges the e-biz project currently facing?

  • State governments’ apathy: Many State governments have not come on board for critical components of the project.
  • Technical glitches have arisen in the plan to integrate all clearances onto a single system owing to government departments opting for different technology platforms. Even services that were available on the portal, such as registrations with the Corporate Affairs Ministry and the Employees’ Provident Fund, have been ‘impacted’ due to technical issues.
  • Multiple stakeholders: Testing the integration of individual services with the eBiz portal also added to delays. This is mainly because of ‘dependency on multiple stakeholders’ such as NSDG, banks and state treasuries.

Suggestions:

  • Matter should be taken up at appropriate levels in partner departments to take necessary measures in speeding up integration with the portal.
  • Also, additional efforts are required to resolve technology migration issues.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

Aeroplanes may be affecting ozone, monsoon

According to a recent study by climate researchers, aeroplanes may be ejecting significant amounts of black carbon (BC) and this may be depleting the ozone layer.

ias-toppers-aero-polltuion

  • The study was conducted by climate researchers from multiple institutions in India including from the Indian Institute of Science and ISRO’s Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre.

Key facts:

  • Earlier it was believed that airborne BC is unlikely to travel upward of 4 km and dissipate and settle down in few months under the influence of wind and rain.
  • However, this study shows that such particles exist up to 18 km into the stratosphere, a stable region of the atmosphere and there are about 10,000 of them in every cubic centimetre.

What is Black Carbon?

Black carbon consists of pure carbon in several linked forms.

ias-toppers-Black-Carbon

  • It is formed through the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, biofuel, and biomass, and is emitted in both anthropogenic and naturally occurring soot.
  • Black carbon (BC) is a pollutant known to aggravate breathing disorders.
  • Because BC particles strongly absorb solar and terrestrial radiation and heats up the atmosphere it can upset the monsoon system.
  • If deposited on snow, it could accelerate the heating of snow and quicken the melting of glaciers.

ias-toppers-Black-Carbon-sources

Black Carbon affecting Ozone layer:

  • Given the shape and location of these particles, Black Carbon could only derive from emissions from aviation fuel and they pose a problem because these black carbon particles can linger long enough to provide a fertile ground for other chemical reactions that can deplete the ozone layer.
  • The stratosphere is a stable region of the atmosphere and because BC particles absorb heat, they warm the surrounding air, become lighter and rise to greater heights by a process called ‘self lift’ and persist in the air. The sheer volume of air travel means that the black carbon count only continues to increase.

About Aerosols:

  • Aerosols are a subset of air pollution that contains gases, fumes and dust in harmful proportion.
  • Aerosols particles can be both solid and liquid which also affects environmental visibility.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Bilateral & International Relations

India moves to revive TAPI gas pipeline

India will host the next steering committee meeting of the proposed 1,814 kilometre-long Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline.

ias toppers TAPI gas

  • With this, India has reaffirmed its strong commitment to TAPI — first proposed in 1995.

About Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline:

The Turkmenistan–Afghanistan–Pakistan–India Pipeline (TAPI), also known as Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline, is a natural gas pipeline project.

ias toppers TAPI gas pipeline project

  • It is being developed by the Asian Development Bank.
  • This 1800-kilometre-long pipeline will transport Caspian Sea natural gas from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan into Pakistan and then to India.
  • The TAPI pipeline will have a capacity to carry 90 million standard cubic metres a day (mmscmd) gas for a 30-year period.
  • India and Pakistan will get 38 mmscmd each, while the remaining 14 mmscmd will be supplied to Afghanistan.
  • The project will be operational by December 2019.

Significance of the TAPI gas pipeline project:

  • TAPI gas pipeline project is considered as an important initiative of these four countries as it connects energy rich Central Asia with energy starved South Asia.
  • It will enhance economic engagement through regional connectivity by economically integrating region stretching from the Bay of Bengal to the Caspian Sea.
  • It will not just be a commercial project, but also help in providing peace and security in the region.
  • From India’s perspective, TAPI Project will provide an alternative supply source of gas with dependable reserves leading to enhanced energy security.
  • It will further diversify the fuel basket to the benefit of Indian economy as it would be used mainly in power, fertilizer and city gas sectors.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

U.K. to seek ‘temporary customs union’

As UK leaves the EU and therefore the customs union, it has sought a new customs arrangement that facilitates the freest and most frictionless trade possible in goods between the U.K. and the EU.

ias-toppers-U.K

  • It also allows to forge new trade relationships with India and other partners in Europe and around the world.

Why UK leaves customs union?

  • The UK has said it is leaving the EU’s customs union because as a member it is unable to strike trade deals with other countries.

What is the customs union?

  • Countries in the customs union don’t impose tariffs – taxes on imports – on each other’s goods. Every country inside the union levies the same tariffs on imports from abroad.

ias toppers cutoms union

Way ahead:

  • The UK could ask Brussels to establish a “temporary customs union” after it leaves the EU in March 2019. But during this period, it would also expect to be able to negotiate its own international trade deals – something it cannot do as an EU customs union member.
  • The use of interim arrangements would mean businesses would only have to adjust once to the new arrangements. Once this period expires, the UK will look to agree either a “highly streamlined” border with the EU, or a new “partnership” with no customs border at all.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Defence & Security Issues

MasterCard mulls using blockchain tech

MasterCard, a multinational financial services corporation, is looking to incorporate blockchain technology into its operations while meeting the requirements of a globally distributed financial network.

ias toppers MasterCard blockchain tech

  • It would also like a clear regulatory framework in India that lays down what blockchain can be used for.
  • This platform will support a wide range of use cases, including but not exclusive to B2B inter-bank payments, tracking trade finance obligations along the value chain, exchanging KYC (Know Your Customer) or AML (Anti Money Laundering) data between trusted parties, and more.

Why regulations needed?

  • Some blockchain technologies like Bitcoin have recently been associated with ransomware attacks means that regulation must be even more careful when legislating the use of these technologies.

What is blockchain technology?

  • At a very high level, the blockchain is a decentralized ledger, or list, of all transactions across a peer-to-peer network.
  • This is the technology underlying Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, and it has the potential to disrupt a wide variety of business processes.
ias-toppers-blockchain-tech
Infographics-1

Applications of blockchain technology:

  • Using this technology, participants can transfer value across the Internet without the need for a central third party. The buyer and seller interact directly without needing verification by a trusted third-party intermediary.
  • Transactions are not anonymous, but they are pseudonymous: a transaction record is created, but identifying information is encrypted, and no personal information is shared.
How a blockchain works
Infographics-2

What challenges and opportunities does this technology pose for financial institutions?

Challenges:

  • Financial institutions such as banks and brokerages have long held the position of the trusted third party validating the authenticity and accuracy of a transaction. Blockchain significantly alters the need for this trusted third-party middleman.
  • China recently expressed his views regarding blockchain technology that it may not be able to handle the entire transaction needs of a large economy because the technology requires massive computational and data storage capabilities.

Opportunities:

  • With the ownership and provenance of a transaction recorded in the blockchain at the earliest stages of a transaction and verified at every subsequent stage, agreement among all parties involved in a transaction is guaranteed.
  • And because the blockchain can record and authenticate every stage of a transaction, it could theoretically be used to secure and verify any type of transaction, from simple goods-forcash exchanges to complex transaction management, without any third-party interaction.

Regulation of blockchain technology in India:

  • In India, an inter-ministerial committee is currently looking at how best to regulate blockchain technology, if it is allowed at all. One of the proposals is to bring it under market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).
  • Another option is bringing blockchain regulation under the proposed Payments Regulatory Board in the Reserve Bank of India. The Board is to have three members each from the central bank and the Centre.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Assam, Manipur can now decide on AFSPA

The Union Home Ministry is set to give up its power to impose the ‘disturbed areas’ tag on Assam and Manipur.

ias-toppers-curative-plea-on-AFSPA

Implications:

  • The move effectively means it will be the States’ decision to either continue the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) or revoke it.

Background:

  • Earlier, the Home Ministry used to issue a notification declaring States “disturbed areas” every six months. The duration was later changed to three months, pending a periodic review. On August 4, the Ministry extended the AFSPA in Assam for 27 days.

Key facts:

  • It would be the first time since 1990 — when the AFSPA was first invoked in Assam — that the Centre would give up its power to continue or discontinue it.
  • AFSPA is effective in the whole of Nagaland, Assam and Manipur (excluding seven Assembly constituencies of Imphal).
  • In Arunachal Pradesh, it is in force in 16 police station areas and in Tirap, Longding and Changlang districts bordering Assam.
  • Tripura withdrew the AFSPA in 2015.
  • It is not in force in Meghalaya (except in a 20-km area along the border with Assam) and Mizoram.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Science & Technology

Scientists develop injectable tissue bandage to repair hearts

Scientists from Canada have developed an injectable tissue bandage dubbed as AngioChip, smaller than a postage stamp that can repair damaged hearts.

ias-toppers-AngioChip

  • The AngioChip is a tiny patch of heart tissue with its own blood vessels and heart cells beating with a regular rhythm. It is made out of the biocompatible, biodegradable polymer.

Significance:

  • Repairing heart tissue destroyed by a heart attack or medical condition with regenerative cells or tissues usually requires invasive open-heart surgery. The newly developed technique lets researchers use a small needle to inject a repair patch, without the need to open up the chest cavity.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Key Facts for Prelims

GeMSamvad

ias-toppers-GeMSamvad

  • Recently, the Public procurement portal Government eMarketplace (GeM) and industry body Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) have signed a MoU to establish GeMSamvad, a GeM -Industry forum.
  • GeMSamvad aims to create awareness about online purchase of goods and services by government agencies and departments.
  • GeM and CII will work together to create GeM related awareness and onboard industry members from across the country.

 

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