Polity & Governance
- Operation Clean Money portal launched to track evaders
- Sagarmala- DDUGKY Convergence for Skill Development in Coastal Districts
- ‘Tough to solve jobs issue’
Environment & Ecology
- West Bengal government to soon introduce new fishing method ‘cage culture’
Bilateral & International Relations
- India, Palestine ink 5 MoUs on cooperation in IT, agriculture sectors
- India working with World Gold Council to create a spot exchange
- Indian bags key post in UNFCCC
Science & Technology
- Earth 2.0 has water, supports alien life?
Key Facts for Prelims
- India’s first ornamental fish tech park in Chennai soon
- Yellow-eyed penguins could be wiped out in 25 years
- Anshu Jamsenpa
- State gets its own butterfly
- Henderson island
- Mt Lhotse
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Polity & Governance
Operation Clean Money portal launched to track evaders
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley launched Operation Clean Money Portal with an aim to keep a tab on dishonest citizens hiding their income from the authorities and government.
- The Operation Clean Money’ portal has been designed by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT).
- Income Tax Department (ITD) has initiated Operation Clean Money to investigate tax evaders. As a part of the operation, the government has launched a website on ‘Operation Clean Money’ operation.
- Operation Clean Money was launched immediately after government’s demonetisation drive in order to bring the tax evaders with undeclared incomes under the tax net.
- The income tax department has so far identified about 1.8 million persons and asked them to explain their deposits, pay tax or disclose past undisclosed income through the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana.
Significance of the portal:
- It will provide comprehensive information at one place consisting of step by step guides, frequently asked questions, user guides, quick reference guides and training toolkits related to verification process.
- It will enable citizen engagement for creating a tax compliant society and citizens would be able to support the Operation Clean Money by taking pledge, contribute by engaging and educating fellow citizens, and share their experiences and provide feedback.
- It will enable Transparent Tax Administration by sharing status reports and thematic analysis reports.
Sagarmala- DDUGKY Convergence for Skill Development in Coastal Districts
For skills development of youth in coastal areas, the Ministry of Shipping signed an MoU with the Ministry of Rural Development.
- The MoU is for convergence of the Ministry’ prestigious project Sagaramala and Ministry of Rural Development’s flagship programme Deen Dayal Upadhyay Grameen Kaushalya Yojana (DDU GKY).
- DDU-GKY is expected to bring in its skilling expertise to provide skilling for the coastal communities, thereby preparing them to take advantage of the job opportunities that are expected to come up in the maritime sector following port led development under Sagarmala.
- This MoU will meet the exact skill needs of industries in the port and maritime sector and provide the coastal communities right skills for better opportunities emanating from the large scale impact of Sagarmala projects.
- With skill development, there will be close involvement of the coastal communities in Sagarmala and will make them contributors in the economic development and will ensure inclusive growth of the coastal districts of the country.
About DDU GKY:
- DDU-GKY is a part of the National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM), tasked with the dual objectives of adding diversity to the incomes of rural poor families and cater to the career aspirations of rural youth.
- DDU-GKY is uniquely focused on rural youth between the ages of 15 and 35 years from poor families.
- As a part of the Skill India campaign, it plays an instrumental role in supporting the social and economic programs of the government like the Make In India, Digital India, Smart Cities and Start-Up India, Stand-Up India campaigns.
- The Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) announced the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana (DDU-GKY) Antyodaya Diwas, on 25th September 2014.
About Sagarmala port project:
- The Sagarmala project seeks to develop a string of ports around India’s coast.
- The objective of this initiative is to promote “Port-led development” along India’s 7500 km long coastline.
- The Union Ministry of Shipping has been appointed as the nodal ministry for this initiative.
- The project aims to develop access to new development regions with intermodal solutions and promotion of the optimum modal split, enhanced connectivity with main economic centres and beyond through expansion of rail, inland water, coastal and road services.
- It also aims at simplifying procedures used at ports for cargo movement and promotes usage of electronic channels for information exchange leading to quick, efficient, hassle-free and seamless cargo movement.
- It also strives to ensure sustainable development of the population living in the Coastal Economic Zone (CEZ).
- The project, envisaging port-led development, targets to provide one crore employment, direct employment to 40 lakh persons and indirect employment to 60 lakh persons.
‘Tough to solve jobs issue’
According to Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian, India’s current employment challenge is particularly difficult as sectors that did well in generating jobs in the country’s previous economic boom years — information technology (IT), construction and agriculture – are in trouble now.
What are the concerns?
- The IT sector, which was so far very dynamic, has hit a new low. The job losses in the IT sector are due to the (recent) policy announcements by the American government.
- Also, the whole industry is going ahead with automation as a result of which the manpower requirement is going down.
- The pace of job creation fell to a six-year low in 2015 with 1.35 lakh new jobs being created compared with 4.21 lakh new jobs in 2014 and 4.19 lakh in 2013.
- Unemployment rate is rising to a five-year high of 5% in 2015-16 compared with 4.9% in 2013-14 and 4.7% in 2012-13.
What’s the solution?
- The economy needs to clock 8% to 10% growth for greater job creation.
Environment & Ecology
West Bengal government to soon introduce new fishing method ‘cage culture’
A new method of deep-sea pisciculture commonly known as cage culture is soon going to be introduced in Bengal.
What is cage culture?
- As the name suggests, the practice consists of culturing fish inside big floating cages in the middle of the sea.
- This type of fish culture is being successfully practised in Norway, Thailand, Japan, Philippines and some other countries.
- The cages are covered with nets to prevent sea birds from feeding on the fish. They are tied down with buoys to provide stability.
- This is also being encouraged to bring down the pressure on the lakes and inland hatcheries; culture in the open seas would have no environmental impact.
Bilateral & International Relations
India, Palestine ink 5 MoUs on cooperation in IT, agriculture sectors
India and Palestine signed five agreements for cooperation in different areas including agriculture, health and Information Technology.
- The Agreements were exchanged after delegation-level talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas in New Delhi.
Five agreements include:
- MoU on Visa Exemption on Diplomatic and Official Passports
- MoU on Cooperation in Youth Affairs and Sports
- MoU on Agricultural Cooperation
- MoU on Cooperation in Health Sector
- MoU on Information-Technology and Electronics
India working with World Gold Council to create a spot exchange
The World Gold Council is working with the Indian government on plans to create a local physical spot-gold exchange that may start up as soon as next year.
- This is expected to bring more order and structure to the market.
- The plans still face many hurdles including that the state-level rather than central government has responsibility for gold-related matters in India.
- Increased infrastructure such as gold vaults and reliable receipts for metal are also needed.
About World Gold Council:
The World Gold Council is the market development organisation for the gold industry.
- It works across all parts of the industry, from gold mining to investment, and their aim is to stimulate and sustain demand for gold.
- The World Gold Council is an association whose members comprise the world’s leading gold mining companies.
- It helps to support its members to mine in a responsible way and developed the Conflict Free Gold Standard.
- Headquartered in the UK, they have offices in India, China, Singapore, Japan and the United States.
Indian bags key post in UNFCCC
Ovais Sarmad, a senior Indian official, has been appointed as the deputy executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
- He was appointed by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
- The appointment assumes significance as UNFCCC aims to slow down climate change and under it the landmark Paris agreement was negotiated and adopted.
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is an international environmental treaty negotiated at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992, then entered into force on 21 March 1994.
- The UNFCCC objective is to “stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system”.
- The framework sets no binding limits on greenhouse gas emissions for individual countries and contains no enforcement mechanisms.
- Instead, the framework outlines how specific international treaties (called “protocols” or “Agreements”) may be negotiated to specify further action towards the objective of the UNFCCC.
- With 197 Parties, the UNFCCC has near universal membership and is the parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol has been ratified by 192 of the UNFCCC Parties.
India and UNFCCC:
- India signed the UNFCCC on 10 June 1992 and ratified it on 1 November 1993.
- The Ministry of Environment and Forests is the nodal agency for climate change issues in India.
- It has constituted Working Groups on the UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol.
- Work is currently in progress on India’s initial National Communication (NATCOM) to the UNFCCC.
Science & Technology
Earth 2.0 has water, supports alien life?
According to a new study, an ‘Earth-like’ planet orbiting our closest neighbouring star, Proxima Centauri, about 4.2 light years away may have water and the potential to support alien life.
- The planet Proxima B was discovered in August last year, and is thought to be of similar size to Earth, creating the possibility that it could have an ‘Earth-like’ atmosphere.
- Earlier studies have concluded that the planet is present in the habitable zone of its star Proxima Centauri so much so that it receives the right amount of light to sustain liquid water on its surface.
- The planet is of similar size to the Earth and is expected to have an ‘Earth-like’ atmosphere.
- Scientists simulated the climate of Proxima B. The results from the simulation showed that Proxima B could have the potential to be habitable and lie in a remarkably stable climate regime.
- In contrast to Earth, the light from Proxima B were found to be mostly in the infra-red.
Key Facts for Prelims
India’s first ornamental fish tech park in Chennai soon
- India’s first Aquatic Rainbow Technology Park (ARTP) in Chennai would be operational in next three months.
- ARTP would be an ultra-modern exclusive facility for ornamental fish equipped with multi-species hatchery and live feed culture units.
- It is being funded by the Tamil Nadu Innovation Initiatives of the state government.
- It will be equipped with advanced infrastructure and technical expertise for boosting production of high value ornamental fish species, both indigenous and exotic.
- The ARTP is being developed by Fisheries College and Research Institute (FCRI), Ponneri in Tamil Nadu.
- After completion, it would be handed over to ornamental fish breeders and farmers on lease for three years.
Yellow-eyed penguins could be wiped out in 25 years
- Researchers have predicted that New Zealand’s iconic Yellow-eyed penguins may go extinct within the next 25 years due to rising ocean temperatures and climate change.
- It is classified as endangered by the IUCN.
- The study highlights where conservation efforts could be most effective in building penguins’ resilience against climate change.
- Indian mountaineer Anshu Jamsenpa has climbed the Mount Everest yet again, the fourth time in six years.
- Now she becomes first Indian woman to climb Mt. Everest four times.
State gets its own butterfly
- The Southern Bird Wing has been officially designated as the ‘State butterfly’ of Karnataka.
- With this, Karnataka has become the second State in the country to adopt a butterfly. Maharashtra had chosen the Blue Moron in 2015.
- It should be noted here that state butterfly tag does not come with additional protection.
- The Southern Bird Wing is the largest butterfly in India.
- Primarily endemic to South India, it is found in abundance in Karnataka.
- Henderson island, located in south Pacific Ocean, has been classified as the most polluted place on the earth by Tasmania’s Institute for Marine and Aquatic Studies.
- The island contained 37.7 million pieces of debris.
- The island is a world heritage site. It lies between Chile and New Zealand.
- It is one of the world’s last two raised coral atolls.
- The fourth highest mountain in the world after Mt Everest, K2 and Kangchenjunga, Mt Lhotse has recorded the first summit in 3 years.
- Indian climber Debasish Biswas and a woman climber from New Zealand successfully climbed 8516 meter high Mt Lhotse after a team of Sherpas fixed the route to summit.
- John Snorri Sigursson (Iceland) and Cian O Brolchain (Ireland) also climbed at Mt. Lhotse. John and Cian became the first mountaineer from their respective countries to summit Mt Lhotse.
- An avalanche above the icefall section in 2014 and the devastating earthquakes in 2015 restricted the world climbers from making summit on Mt Lhotse.
- Meanwhile with the opening of a climbing route to Mt Everest few days ago, climbers from across the globe continuing their final summit to the roof of the world.
- Mt Lhotse is present on the border between Tibet and the Khumbu region of Nepal.
- In addition to the main summit, the mountain also comprises of smaller peaks like Lhotse Middle (8,414 m), Lhotse Shar (8,383 m).
- The main summit was first successfully climbed by the Swiss team of Ernst Reiss and Fritz Luchsinger in 1956.