Polity & Governance
- The President’s address to both Houses of Parliament
- Govt renames DIPP as Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade
Government Schemes & Policies
- First Swadesh Darshan project in Sikkim inaugurated
Bilateral & International Relations
- India must sign NPT to gain entry into NSG: China
- National Salt Satyagraha Memorial in Dandi, Gujarat dedicated to the nation by PM
Art & Culture
- International conference on Guru Padmasambhava
- Science behind the Polar Vortex decoded
Science & Technology
- ISRO selects 10 firms for transfer of Lithium-ion technology
Key Facts for Prelims
- Human Space Flight Centre (HSFC)
- Piyush Goyal awarded Carnot prize
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Polity & Governance
The President’s address to both Houses of Parliament
The President’s address to the joint sitting of Parliament at the beginning of the Budget Session every year is a Constitutional requirement.
About the President’s address:
- In this speech, the President highlights the government’s achievements and legislative activities in the last year and announces its agenda for the upcoming year.
- It is drafted by the Cabinet and provides a broad framework of the government’s agenda and direction.
- The address is followed by a motion of thanks that is moved in each House by ruling party MPs.
- This is followed by a discussion on the address and concludes with the Prime Minister replying to the points raised during the discussion.
- The President reads the Address either in English or in Hindi.
Constitutional provisions related to President’s address in the Parliament:
- Article 87(1) says: “At the commencement of the first session after each general election to the House of the People and at the commencement of the first session of each year the President shall address both Houses of Parliament assembled together and inform Parliament of the causes of its summons.”
- Originally, the Constitution required the President to address both Houses of Parliament at the commencement of “every session”. This requirement was changed by the First Amendment to the Constitution.
Govt renames DIPP as Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade
The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) has been renamed as the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade.
- Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) was first established in 1995, and then reconstituted in 2000 and merged with the Department of Industrial Development.
- The Department falls under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
- Its main responsibility includes formulation of promotional and developmental measures to boost industrial sector.
- Its mandate is to deal with matters related to start-ups, facilitating ease of doing business among others.
- DIPP looks at the overall industrial policy while individual ministries work on the specific areas allocated to them.
Government Schemes & Policies
First Swadesh Darshan project in Sikkim inaugurated
Union Ministry of Tourism has launched the project “Development of North East Circuit: Rangpo– Rorathang- Aritar- Phadamchen- Nathang-Sherathang- Tsongmo- Gangtok-Phodong- Mangan- Lachung-Yumthang- Lachen- Thangu-Gurudongmer- Mangan- Gangtok-Tuminlingee- Singtam”.
- The project will be implemented under Swadesh Darshan Scheme of Ministry of Tourism.
- This project was sanctioned by the Ministry of Tourism in June 2015.
About Swadesh Darshan Scheme:
The Ministry of Tourism has launched the Swadesh Darshan Scheme in 2014-15.
- Aim of the scheme is to develop theme based tourist circuits in the country on the principles of high tourist value, competitiveness and sustainability in an integrated manner by synergizing efforts to focus on needs and concerns of all stakeholders to enrich tourist experience and enhance employment opportunities.
Key features of Swadesh Darshan Scheme:
- The scheme is 100% centrally funded for the project components undertaken for public funding.
- To leverage the voluntary funding available for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives of Central Public Sector Undertakings and corporate sector.
- Funding of individual project will vary from state to state and will be finalised on the basis of detailed project reports prepared by PMC (Programme Management Consultant).
- A National Steering Committee (NSC) will be constituted with Minister in charge of M/O Tourism as Chairman, to steer the mission objectives and vision of the scheme.
- A Mission Directorate headed by the Member Secretary, NSC as a nodal officer will help in identification of projects in consultation with the States/ UTs governments and other stake holders.
- PMC will be a national level consultant to be appointed by the Mission Directorate.
Objective of Swadesh Darshan Scheme:
- Integrated development of Infrastructure in identified theme based circuits.
- Provide complete tourism experience with varied thematic circuits.
- Follow community-based development and pro-poor tourism approach.
- Creating awareness among the local communities about the importance of tourism for them in terms of increase in sources of income, improved living standards and overall development of the area.
- Promote local arts, culture, handicrafts, cuisine, etc to generate livelihoods in the identified regions.
- Harness tourism potential for its direct and multiplier effects in employment generation and economic development.
What is a Tourist Circuit?
- A Tourist Circuit is defined as a route on which at least three major tourist destinations are located such that none of these are in the same town, village or city. At the same time, it would be ensured that they are not separated by a long distance. It should have well defined entry and exit points. A tourist who enters should get motivated to visit all the places identified in the circuit.
Bilateral & International Relations
India must sign NPT to gain entry into NSG: China
China recently said that India must sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty to gain entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
- China also asserted that “patient negotiations” were required for New Delhi’s admission into the group as there is no precedent for the inclusion of non-NPT countries.
- While the other P5 members (China, France, Russia, Britain and the US), including the US and Russia backed its case based on New Delhi’s non-proliferation record.
What’s the issue?
- After India applied for the NSG membership, Pakistan too applied for the same. China has been opposing India’s entry into the 48-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) on the ground that India is not a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
- Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is a multinational body concerned with reducing nuclear proliferation by controlling the export and re-transfer of materials that may be applicable to nuclear weapon development and by improving safeguards and protection on existing materials.
- The NSG was founded in response to the Indian nuclear test in May 1974 to stop what it called the misuse of nuclear material meant for peaceful purposes.
- Currently, it has 48 members and European Commission is its Permanent Observer.
Why India needs permanent membership?
- India is currently engaged in nuclear trade with international partners based on a waiver from the NSG in 2008.
- The waiver is in the form of a concession without according India the status of a full member and therefore has an element of unpredictability and attendant risks in the long run for India’s long-term nuclear power programme.
- The NSG took a consensus decision in September 2008 to permit its members to engage in civil nuclear cooperation with India despite India not being a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Since then, India has been trying to upgrade the “waiver” into a full member status.
Benefits of full membership:
- Full membership of the NSG would enable India to have enhanced and predictable global access to nuclear technology, fuel, materials and components required for our expanding civil nuclear programme.
- It would advance energy security, contribute to India’s growth strategy based on clean energy to combat climate change, and strengthen global nuclear non-proliferation.
About Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT):
The NPT is a landmark international treaty whose objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and to further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament.
- The Treaty entered into force in 1970.
- Four UN member states have never accepted the NPT, three of which are thought to possess nuclear weapons: India, Israel, and Pakistan. In addition, South Sudan, founded in 2011, has not joined.
- The treaty defines nuclear-weapon states as those that have built and tested a nuclear explosive device before 1 January 1967; these are the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, and China.
- Although the concept of “pillars” is not expressed anywhere in the NPT, the treaty is nevertheless sometimes interpreted as a three-pillar system, with an implicit balance among them:
- disarmament, and
- the right to peacefully use nuclear technology.
Classification of the state-parties:
- States-parties of the NPT are classified in two categories: nuclear-weapon states (NWS)—consisting of the United States, Russia, China, France, and the United Kingdom—and non-nuclear-weapon states (NNWS).
- Under the treaty, the five NWS commit to pursue general and complete disarmament, while the NNWS agree to forgo developing or acquiring nuclear weapons.
National Salt Satyagraha Memorial in Dandi, Gujarat dedicated to the nation by PM
On Mahatma Gandhi’s death anniversary, Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated the National Salt Satyagraha Memorial at Dandi in Navsari district, Gujarat to the nation.
- At the memorial site, he also unveiled statues of Mahatma Gandhi and 80 Satyagrahis who had marched 390 km with him during the historic Dandi Salt March in 1930 to make salt from sea water against the British law.
Dandi Salt March:
- On March 12, 1930, Mahatma Gandhi embarked a historic Salt March from Sabarmati Ashram in Gujarat’s Ahmedabad to the village of Dandi in the state’s coastal area.
- The 24-day Salt March aimed to protest against the steep tax the British levied on salt.
- The march continued till April 6, 1930.
- The significant march came to be known as Dandi March or Salt March, also referred as the Dandi Satyagraha.
- It was non-violent in nature.
- It is historically significant as it led to a mass civil disobedience movement throughout India as millions broke salt laws by either making salt or buying illegal salt.
Evolution of Dandi march:
- During that time, the British had prohibited Indians from collecting or selling salt. Indians were also forced to buy the staple diet ingredient from the British, who, not only exercised monopoly over its manufacture and sale but also levied a heavy salt tax.
- The Salt March was a collective beginning of a mass resistance movement against the British tyranny.
- The government has declared 7th of August to be celebrated as Handlooms Day, every year to promote handlooms.
Art & Culture
International conference on Guru Padmasambhava
A two-day conference on the rich tradition and legacy associated with Guru Padmasambhava, one of the most revered and iconic figures for Buddhists, was organized recently in New Delhi.
- The conference is dedicated to the 50 years of diplomatic relations between India and Bhutan.
About Guru Padmasambhava:
- Guru Padmasambhava is known as the Second Buddha because he played a seminal role in spreading Buddhism and Buddhist teachings across the Himalayan region, including Northeast India, Nepal, Bhutan and, Tibet.
- He was also known as Guru Rinpoche.
- He was born in India and travelled all across Himalayan region in the 8th century to spread Buddhism and Buddhist teachings.
- He is also considered to be the founder of Nyingma tradition, oldest of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism.
- There is an image or painting of the Guru Padmasambhava in every Bhutanese home or temple.
Science behind the Polar Vortex decoded
Meteorologists have blamed a phenomenon called the ‘Polar Vortex’ for the bitter cold that has descended on much of the central and eastern United States this week, forcing residents to huddle indoors, closing schools and businesses and cancelling flights.
What is Polar Vortex?
It is described as a whirling cone of low pressure over the poles that is strongest in the winter months due to the increased temperature contrast between the polar regions and the mid-latitudes, such as the US and Europe.
- The term ‘vortex’ refers to the counter-clockwise flow of air that helps keep the colder air near the Poles.
- The polar vortex is not a recent phenomenon.
- The polar vortex spins in the stratosphere, a layer of the atmosphere 10-48 km above the ground and above the troposphere, where most familiar weather patterns develop.
- Usually, when the vortex is strongest, cold air is less-likely to plunge deep into North America or Europe. In other words, it forms a wall that protects the mid-latitudes from cold Arctic air.
- But occasionally, the polar vortex is disrupted and weakens, due to wave energy propagating upward from the lower atmosphere.
Effects of Polar Vortex:
- When this happens, the stratosphere warms sharply in an event known as sudden stratospheric warming, in just a few days, miles above the Earth’s surface.
- The warming weakens the polar vortex, shifting its location somewhat south of the pole or, in some instances, ‘splitting’ the vortex up into ‘sister vortices’.
- The split higher up in the atmosphere can give rise to both, sudden and delayed effects, much of which involves declining temperatures and extreme winter weather in the eastern US along with northern and western Europe.
- A sudden stratospheric warming also leads to a warm Arctic not only in the stratosphere but also in the troposphere as well.
Science & Technology
ISRO selects 10 firms for transfer of Lithium-ion technology
ISRO has selected 10 companies for the Lithium-ion cell technology Transfer after the examination of Request for Qualification which contained a brief description of the qualification aspects, technology transfer process, timelines and other relevant details.
What is Li-Ion battery?
- Lithium-ion battery or Li-ion battery is type of rechargeable battery that contains several cells.
- Each cell consists of cathode, anode and electrolyte, a separator between electrodes and current collectors.
- In it, lithium ions move from negative electrode to positive electrode during discharge and back when charging.
- Li-ion battery use intercalated lithium compound as one electrode material.
Advantages of Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) battery:
- The lithium-ion battery is light weighted and is one-third the weight of lead acid batteries.
- It is nearly 100% efficient in both charging and discharging as compared to lead battery which has 70% efficiency.
- It completely discharges i.e. 100% as compared to 80% for lead acid.
- The rechargeable lithium-ion battery has life cycle of 5000 times or more compared to just 400-500 cycles in lead acid.
- It also maintains constant voltage throughout the entire discharge cycle whereas voltage in lead acid battery drops consistently throughout its discharge cycle.
- It is much cleaner technology and is safer for environment as it does not have environmental impact as lead acid battery.
- Li-ion batteries find wide application in electronic gadgets, telecommunication and industrial applications as well as in aerospace.
Lithium-ion cell technology:
- The Lithium-ion cell technology has been developed by Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC).
- After the successful deployment of indigenous lithium-ion batteries in various missions of ISRO, the VSSC will now transfer the technology to the industries to establish production facilities for producing lithium-ion cells to cover the entire spectrum of power storage requirements of the country.
- The progress in Li-ion battery technology research has made it the favourite power source for electric and hybrid electric vehicles owing to its high voltage, high energy density, long life cycle and high storage characteristics.
Key Facts for Prelims
Human Space Flight Centre (HSFC)
- The Human Space Flight Centre (HSFC) which would be the core of ISRO’s future manned missions was inaugurated at the ISRO headquarters in Bengaluru.
- Gaganyaan is India’s first manned space mission.
- The plan is to have the first unmanned mission in December 2020 and second for July 2021. The manned mission will happen in December 2021.
- The Gaganyaan project takes the Indian astronauts into space to a height of 350-400 km above the Earth and orbits around the planet for at least a week. The Indian astronauts would be conducting experiments in the space
Piyush Goyal awarded Carnot prize
- The Union Minister of Railways and Coal, Piyush Goyal has been awarded the Carnot Prize 2018 for the transformational changes brought by him during his tenure as Union Minister of Power.
About Carnot Prize:
- The Carnot Prize is the annual recognition by the US-based Kleinman Center for Energy Policy for distinguished contributions to energy policy through scholarship or practice.
- The prize has been named after French scientist Sadi Carnot, who in 1824 published Reflections on the Motive Power of Fire, which became the basis for the second law of thermodynamics. Carnot recognized that the power of the steam engine would “produce a great revolution” in human development.
- The Carnot Prize is awarded to honour those who have revolutionized our understanding of energy policy.