Current Affairs Analysis

1st May 2020 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

Aero India 2020 postponed; Ministry of Coal launches Project Monitoring Unit; Bank of Schemes, Ideas, Innovation & Research Portal on MSMEs; SERB approves funding under MATRICS scheme; MATRICS Scheme; RIL plans India’s largest rights offer; Rights Offer; New GI Tags; Chak-Hao rice; Terracotta work of Gorakhpur; History of river erosion in Ladakh Himalayas; IMD presents names for future cyclones in north Indian Ocean; Year of Awareness on Science & Health (YASH); The Global Report on Internal Displacement; International Labour Day 2020; Gujarat celebrates its Foundation Day; AYURAKSHA; NLC India Limited; Global Energy Review 2020; Central Vista; Estrogen and Progesterone
By IASToppers
May 01, 2020

Contents

Government Schemes and policies

  • Ministry of Coal launches Project Monitoring Unit
  • Bank of Schemes, Ideas, Innovation & Research Portal on MSMEs

Issues related to health and education

  • SERB approves funding under MATRICS scheme

Economy

  • RIL plans India’s largest rights offer
  • New GI Tags

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • History of river erosion in Ladakh Himalayas
  • IMD presents names for future cyclones in north Indian Ocean

Science and Technology

  • Year of Awareness on Science & Health

Also in News

  • The Global Report on Internal Displacement
  • International Labour Day 2020
  • Gujarat celebrates its Foundation Day

Key Facts for Prelims

  • Aero India 2020 postponed
  • AYURAKSHA
  • NLC India Limited
  • Global Energy Review 2020
  • Central Vista
  • Estrogen and Progesterone

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Government Schemes and policies

Ministry of Coal launches Project Monitoring Unit 

The Ministry of Coal has recently launched a Project Monitoring Unit (PMU) for facilitation of early operationalisation of coal mines allocated by the Central Government.

Rationale:

  • PMU has been launched for helping the allocation of coal mines in obtaining various clearances required from the Central/State government authorities for operationalization of coal mines.
  • This will lead to a ramping up of coal production in the country.

Significance:

  • This is an important step forward to promote Ease of Doing Business as it will hand-hold and support Coal mines in obtaining timely approval/permissions to operationalise the mines.
  • This move is also expected to go a long way in attracting bidders for the ensuing auction round of commercial blocks.
  • This measure will improve the production and business environment in the coal industry.
[Ref: PIB]

Bank of Schemes, Ideas, Innovation & Research Portal on MSMEs

Union Minister of Road transport & Highways and MSME recently launched Bank of Schemes, Ideas, Innovation and Research portal on MSMEs through Video Conference.

Major Highlights:

  • The Portal gives access to all Schemes of Union, State and UT Governments.
  • It has the provision for uploading Ideas, Innovations & Researches in the sector.
  • The portal has unique features of not only crowdsourcing of Ideas, but also evaluation and rating the ideas by crowd sourcing
  • It can also facilitate inflow of venture capital, foreign collaboration etc.
  • Users who have any idea, innovation or Research with him/her can share it on this platform which will be reviewed by the concerned Officer and published for public view.
  • Registered users can rate these ideas (Crowdsourcing) and venture capitalists can connect with users having ideas, innovation and research.

Significance:

  • The portal will prove to be of great transformational significance to the MSMEs in particular and the economy in general.
  • The category-wise classification and analysis of information and the achievement will help others learn/take lessons from successful experiences.
  • The portal will be handled by quality professionals to keep it updated on a sustained basis.
  • The portal will help the MSMEs in a big way through information sharing and will help in the research activities like those in rural tribal knowledge, skills will get a chance for spreading their knowledge.
  • It can assist the farmers in planning, production, storage and marketing of their produce.
  • The portal will benefit the potential entrepreneurs as one stop compendium of Ideas, innovation and research ready for commercialization.
  • The Rating of Ideas can be seen publicly which will help in decision making.
[Ref: PIB]

Issues related to health and education

SERB approves funding under MATRICS scheme

Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB), a statutory body under the Department of Science and Technology (DST) has approved funding for 11 projects under the MATRICS scheme.

Salient Features:

  • Most of these studies attempt to propose mathematical/ simulation models to account for various factors relevant to COVID 19 by modifying the basic SIR (Susceptible-Infected-Recovered) models.
  • Some of such factors are heterogeneity of population, the role of asymptomatic population, migration and quarantine, effect of social distancing and lockdown, socioeconomic factors and so on.
  • These studies will be primarily aimed to study Indian conditions and will provide an estimate of Basic Reproduction Number— the qualitative indicator of the degree of contagiousness of the disease.
  • The proposed studies also aim to identify the maximum likelihood infection tree when infection reports and contact network structure are known to substantially reduce the efforts of the administration by targeting a subset of manageable size.

Significance:

  • These will be helpful to forecast future pandemic by using the data available and provide fundamental insights into kinetics and management of infectious diseases.
  • They will address the spread of pandemic and the impact of preventive issues through a parametric prediction process with an outcome consisting of a packaged solution in the form of usable software.
  • The software may be made available for ready use by the Government of India and identify possible cure of COVID 19 through the study of DNA structures by creating patterns of DNA of different viruses.

MATRICS scheme:

  • MATRICS is a fixed grant scheme devised by the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) for active researchers pursuing Mathematical Sciences.
  • To provide fixed grant support to active researchers with good credentials in Mathematical and allied areas.
  • It offers the Research grant of Rs. 2 lakh per annum plus overheads for a period of three years.
[Ref: PIB]

Economy

RIL plans India’s largest rights offer

Reliance Industries (RIL), India’s most valued company, plans to raise Rs 53,125 crore through a rights offer at 14% discount.

Rights offer:

  • A rights offering (rights issue) is a group of rights offered to existing shareholders to purchase additional stock shares, known as subscription warrants, in proportion to their existing holdings.
  • These are considered to be a type of option since it gives a company’s stockholders the right, but not the obligation, to purchase additional shares in the company.
  • In a rights offering, the subscription price at which each share may be purchased is generally discounted relative to the current market price.
  • Rights are often transferable, allowing the holder to sell them in the open market.
  • Cash-strapped companies can turn to rights issues to raise money when they really need it.
[Ref: Times of India]

New GI Tags

Chak-Hao, the black rice of Manipur and the Gorakhpur terracotta have bagged the Geographical Indication (GI) tag recently.

Chak-Hao rice, Manipur:

  • Chak-Hao is a scented glutinous rice which has been in cultivation in Manipur over centuries.
  • It is characterised by its special aroma and normally eaten during community feasts served as Chak-Hao kheer.
  • Chak-Hao has also been used by traditional medical practitioners as part of traditional medicine.
  • According to the GI application filed, this rice takes the longest cooking time of 40-45 minutes due to the presence of a fibrous bran layer and higher crude fibre content.
  • At present, the traditional system of Chak-Hao cultivation is practised in some pockets of Manipur.
  • Direct sowing of pre-soaked seeds and also transplantation of rice seedlings raised in nurseries in puddled fields are widely practised in the State’s wetlands.

Terracotta work of Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh:

  • The terracotta work of Gorakhpur is a centuries-old traditional art form, where the potters make various animal figures like, horses, elephants etc. with hand-applied ornamentation.
  • Some of the major products of craftsmanship include the Hauda elephants, Mahawatdar horse, deer, camel, five-faced Ganesha, single-faced Ganesha, elephant table, chandeliers, hanging bells etc.
  • The entire work is done with bare hands and artisans use natural colour, which stays fast for a long time.
  • There are more than 1,000 varieties of terracotta work designed by the local craftsmen.
[Ref: The Hindu]

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

History of river erosion in Ladakh Himalayas

Scientists from Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology (WIHG) have recently published a study on rivers in Ladakh Himalaya.

Major Highlights:

  • The study brings out a 35 thousand-year history of river erosion and identified hotspots of erosion and wide valleys that act as buffer zones.
  • The study shows how rivers in drier Ladakh Himalaya operated on longer time scales and how they responded to varying climates.
  • The scientists have traced where the rivers draining Himalaya and its foreland erode the most and identify the zones that receive these eroded sediments and fill up.
  • The Zanskar catchment was explored by WIHG team to understand the landform evolution in transitional climatic zone, using morpho stratigraphy and provenance study of landforms like valley fill terraces, alluvial fans (triangle-shaped deposit of gravel, sand, and even smaller pieces of sediment, such as silt).
  • Their research suggested that the wide valley of Padam, with an area of 48 square km, in the upper Zanskar, has stored a vast amount of sediments in these landforms making it a hotspot of sediment buffering in the Zanskar.
  • The dominant factors responsible for sediment erosion were deglaciation and Indian Summer Monsoon derived precipitation in the headwaters despite the presence of a geomorphic barrier (the deep, narrow gorge) between the upper and lower catchments of the river, and it remained connected throughout its aggradation history.

Significance:

  • The study will help to understand river-borne erosion and sedimentation, which are the main drivers that make large riverine plains, terraces, and deltas that eventually become the cradle to evolving civilizations.
  • The understanding of water and sediment routing is crucial as the country gears up its infrastructure and develops smart cities.

Ladakh Himalaya:

  • The Ladakh Himalaya forms a high altitude desert between Greater Himalayan ranges and Karakoram Ranges.
  • The Indus and its tributaries are major rivers flowing through the terrain.
  • The Zanskar River is one of the largest tributaries of the upper Indus catchment, draining orthogonally through highly deformed Zanskar ranges.
  • Two prominent tributaries of Zanskar River are the Doda and TsrapLingti Chu, which confluence at Padam village in the upper valley to form the Zanskar River.

Key Fact:

  • Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology (WIHG) is an autonomous institute under the Department of Science &Technology situated in Dehradun, Uttarakhand.
[Ref: PIB]

IMD presents names for future cyclones in north Indian Ocean

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) released a list of 169 new names for tropical cyclones in the north Indian Ocean region.

Key Features:

  • The list was also issued by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and United Nations (UN), Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).
  • The new names were contributed by 13 member countries of the WMO/ESCAP panel on tropical cyclones (PTC).
  • The countries that contributed 13 names each were: Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
  • Naming of tropical cyclones, hurricanes and typhoons is done for identification, awareness and removing confusion in case there were two cyclones in the same region.
  • It was in 2004 that countries started using cyclone names from the last list. The list was formulated with contributions from eight member countries.
  • All 13 countries decided on the need for a new list during the WMO/ESCAP PTC 45th session held at Muscat, Oman in September, 2018.
  • Regional Specialized Meteorological Centre in New Delhi will carry out the implementation of the naming process whenever a tropical storm in the north Indian Ocean region surpasses a wind speed of 62 km/hr.
  • The name of the tropical cyclone will not be changed if it crosses over from the South China Sea (where they are named as typhoons) into the Bay of Bengal.

Criteria for the consideration of cyclone names:

  • The proposed name should be neutral to (a) politics and political figures (b) religious beliefs, (c) cultures and (d) gender.
  • Name should be chosen in such a way that it does not hurt the sentiments of any group of population around the world.
  • It should not be very rude and cruel in nature.
  • It should be short with a maximum length of eight letters and easy to pronounce.
  • The proposed name should be provided along with its pronunciation and voice over.
  • The panel reserves the right to reject any name, if any of the criteria above is not satisfied.
  • The finalised names may also be reviewed during the course of time of implementation with the approval of PTC in its annual session, in case any reasonable objection is raised by any member.
  • The names of tropical cyclones over the north Indian Ocean will not be repeated.
[Ref: Down to Earth]

Science and Technology

Year of Awareness on Science & Health

National Council for Science & Technology Communication (NCSTC), Department of Science & Technology (DST) has launched a programme on health and risk communication ‘Year of Awareness on Science & Health (YASH)’ with focus on COVID-19.

Rationale:

  • In the absence of vaccines and cure for COVID-19 the communication strategies have to be multidimensional, engaging, informative and delivered with speed and scale.

Salient features:

  • It is a comprehensive and effective science and health communication effort for promoting grass-root level appreciation and response on health.
  • It aims to help saving and shaping the lives of people at large, as well as build confidence, inculcate scientific temper and promote health consciousness among them.
  • The programme will encompass development of science, health, and risk communication software, publications, audio-visual, digital platforms, folk performances, trained communicators, especially in regional languages to cater to various cross-sections of the society in the country.

Need & Significance:

  • The current pandemic requires scientific awareness and health preparedness to help combat the situation.
  • This requires translation and usage of authentic scientific information to convey the risks involved and facilitates communities to overcome the situation.
  • Under the programme, strategies have been worked out to involve academic, research, media, and voluntary organizations to facilitate necessary actions and emergency preparedness of society to address the challenge.
  • Planning has been done to translate and use authentic scientific and health information to communicate the risks and facilitate risk management--an effective science communication requirement for promoting community-level response.

Strategy:

  • The programme is aimed at minimizing risks with the help of public communication and outreach activities, promoting public understanding of common minimum science for community care and health safety measures like personal sanitation and hygiene.
  • It promotes physical distancing, maintaining desired collective behaviour and so on.
  • It also includes information dissemination mechanisms to reduce the fear of risks and build confidence with necessary understanding for adopting sustainable healthy lifestyles and nurturing scientific culture among masses and societies.
  • YASH will envisage specific outcomes, bringing about attitudinal changes among target groups about appreciating risks, associated challenges, solutions, and coping up the situation with courage and confidence; better working relations with community leaders, influencers including doctors, faith leaders and so on.
[Ref: PIB]

 Also in News

The Global Report on Internal Displacement

Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) has released a report titled ‘The Global Report on Internal Displacement (GRID 2020)’ recently.

Global scenario:

  • Globally, around 33.4 million people faced new internal displacements because of conflicts and disasters in about 145 countries in 2019.
  • A majority of conflict displacements took place due to armed conflict; communal violence accounted for a significant portion of the global total of 8.5 million displacements.
  • Most of the disaster displacements were triggered by tropical storms and monsoon rains in South Asia and East Asia and Pacific. Bangladesh, China, India and the Philippines each recorded more than four million displacements in 2019.
  • Conflict continued unabated in countries such as Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Syria. Violence increased sharply in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.

India specific highlights:

  • Nearly five million people were displaced in India in 2019 which are the highest in the world so far.
  • The displacements in India were prompted by increased hazard intensity, high population and social and economic vulnerability.
  • More than 2.6 million people suffered displacement due to the southwest monsoon.
  • It added that 2019 was the seventh warmest year since 1901 in India; its monsoon was the wettest in 25 years.
  • Eight tropical storms hit in the year fuelling further destruction.
  • The northwest monsoon unleashed displacement along with cyclone Maha, which hit Kerala and the Lakshadweep Islands.
  • This was followed by Cyclone Bulbul, which struck Odisha and West Bengal, triggering 186,000 displacements.
  • In addition to displacement due to natural disasters, over 19,000 conflicts and violence also prompted the phenomenon.
  • Political and electoral violence, especially in Tripura and West Bengal, led to the displacement of more than 7,600 people.
[Ref: Down to Earth]

 International Labour Day 2020

May 1 or May Day is celebrated across the globe as International Workers’ Day to commemorate the contributions of workers and the historic labour movement.

Background:

  • During the era of industrialisation, US industrialists exploited the working class by making them work 15 hours a day.
  • It was only on May 1, 1886, that the labour class came together and revolted against this unjust system and asked for paid leaves, good wages and proper breaks.
  • This was the Haymarket affair of 1886, in Chicago, United States, in which a peaceful rally in support of workers led to a violent clash with the police, leading to the deaths of 4 civilians and 7 police officers.
  • Hence, the day remembers the “Haymarket Martyrs”.

Origin in India:

  • In India, the first May Day was celebrated in Madras (now known as Chennai) by the Labour Kisan Party of Hindustan on May 1, 1923.
  • It was also the first time when the Red Flag which symbolises Labour Day was used in India.
  • The day is linked to labour movements for communist and socialist political parties.
[Ref: Hindustan Times]

Gujarat celebrates its Foundation Day

May 1, 2020 is the 61st foundation day of Gujarat.

Key Facts:

  • May 1 is celebrated as Maharashtra Day and Gujarat Day.
  • On this day in 1960 the two states attained statehood after Bombay (Now Mumbai) had been divided on linguistic lines.
  • Officially formed in the year 1960, the idea for the state of Gujarat cropped up in the year 1928 in a magazine called Kumar.
  • Nine years later, writer and freedom fighter K M Munshi first suggested a concept called Mahagujarat.
  • This was suggested in a meeting of the Gujarat Sahitya Sabha, held in Karachi in 1937.
  • A poem by Devshavji Parmar titled ‘Uthtrishta Jagrat’ saw one of the first depictions of Gujarat.
  • Mahagujarat Andolan was a political movement demanding the creation of the state of Gujarat for Gujarati-speaking people from the bilingual Bombay state of India in 1956 under the leadership of Indulal Yagnik.
  • Historically, the state has been one of the main centres of the Indus Valley Civilization.
[Ref: India Today]

Key Facts for Prelims

Aero India 2020 postponed

The Ministry of Defence announced that the 13th edition of Aero India will be held from February 3 to 7, 2021 at Air Force Station Yelahanka (Karnataka).

Aero India:

  • Aero India is a biennial air show and aviation exhibition held in Bengaluru, India at the Yelahanka Air Force Station.
  • It is organised by the Defence Exhibition Organisation, Ministry of Defence.

AYURAKSHA

The All India Institute of Ayurveda (AIIA), under the Ministry of AYUSH and Delhi Police organised SURAKSHA programme for Delhi Police personnel at New Delhi.

  • The joint programme titled AYURAKSHA Corona Se Jung- Delhi Police Ke Sang aims to fight against corona through simple and time tested Ayurveda immunity boosting measures.

NLC India Limited

  • NLC India Limited, has for the first time, commenced production of Coal.  The coal produced from Talabira II and III Mines in the state of Odisha will be used to meet its requirement of its existing and future coal fired power plants.
  • This coal block has been developed through the mine developer and operator (MDO) model which is developed and successfully implemented by NLC.
  • NLC India is a Navratna Public Enterprise under the Ministry of Coal.
  • It annually produces about 30 million tonne lignite from opencast mines at Neyveli in Tamil Nadu and at Barsingsar in Bikaner district of Rajasthan.
  • NLC has four open cast lignite mines, namely, Mine I, Mine II, Mine IA and Barsingsar Mine. 
  • In the recent past, NLC India Limited has successfully commissioned its one of the two Units of lignite based power plant (1000 MW – 2 Units of 500 MW each), the first of its kind in the country. 

Global Energy Review 2020

As per International Energy Agency (IEA) new Global Energy Review 2020 report, Worldwide emissions of carbon dioxide – the greenhouse gas most responsible for global warming – are forecast to drop about 8% in 2020, a record annual decline that’s due to COVID-19 lockdowns.

Impact of lockdown:

  • Global coal demand was hit the hardest, falling by almost 8% compared with the first quarter of 2019. Three reasons: China – a coal-based economy – was the country the hardest hit by Covid 19 ; cheap gas and continued growth in renewables elsewhere challenged coal; and mild weather also capped coal use.
  • Oil demand was down by 5% in the first quarter, mostly by curtailment in mobility and aviation, which account for nearly 60% of global oil demand.
  • The impact of the pandemic on gas demand was more moderate, at around 2%, as gas-based economies were not strongly affected in the first quarter of 2020.
  • Renewables were the only source that posted a growth in demand, driven by larger installed capacity and priority dispatch.

Central Vista

  • The Supreme Court refused to stay the Central Vista development/redevelopment project, estimated to cost ₹20,000 crore.
  • The Central Vista in the national capital houses the Rashtrapati Bhawan, Parliament, North and South blocks, the India Gate, the National Archives, among other historic monuments.

Estrogen and Progesterone

  • Estrogen and progesterone are the two main sex hormones that characterise a woman.
  • Estrogen helps her develop female physical features and also maintains her reproductive system.
  • Progesterone is secreted by a temporary endocrine gland that the body produces during the second half of the menstrual cycle, and helps prepare the body for possible pregnancy after ovulation.
  • The male body too has estrogen and produces progesterone, both in smaller amounts.
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