Current Affairs Analysis

1st October 2020 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

BrahMos Missile; Ambedkar Social Innovation Incubation Mission (ASIIM); Venture Capital Fund for SCs (VCF-SC); Unnat Bharat Abhiyan; Vijnana Bharti (VIBHA); Congo fever; Crime in India report 2019; Greenland; Defence offsets; ICGS Kanaklata Barua; Kanaklata Barua; UAE; UAE Moon Mission; GAVI COVAX facility; Rythu Bharosa Kendra; Sawantwadi Toy; etc.
By IASToppers
October 01, 2020

Contents

Government Schemes & Policies

  • Ambedkar Social Innovation Incubation Mission
  • CSIR Technologies for rural development

Issues related to Health & Education

  • Palghar district on alert over Congo fever

Social Issues

  • Crime in India report 2019

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • Greenland ice melting fastest in 12,000 yrs

Defence & Security Issues

  • BrahMos surface-to-surface supersonic cruise missile
  • What are Defence offsets?
  • ICGS Kanaklata Barua

Science & Technology

  • UAE to launch spacecraft to the moon in 2024

Key Facts for Prelims

  • Gavi COVAX facility
  • Rythu Bharosa Kendralu
  • Sawantwadi Toys

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Government Schemes & Policies

Ambedkar Social Innovation Incubation Mission

An initiative was launched by the government to promote innovation and entrepreneurship amongst SC students in higher education campuses.

About the programme:

  • The programme named Ambedkar Social Innovation Incubation Mission (ASIIM) was launched by the Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment.
  • The ASIIM aims to promote innovation and entrepreneurship among SC students in the higher education campuses, the ministry said in a statement.
  • The ASIIM initiative will be implemented by the Venture Capital Fund for SCs (VCF-SCs).
  • The 1,000 initiatives of SC youth would be identified through a systematic and transparent process and fund them up to 30 lakh in a three-year period as equity.
  • The purpose is to encourage the innovative students to take to innovation and entrepreneurship without seeking jobs.
  • Successful ventures would further qualify for venture funding of up to 5 Crore from the Venture Capital Fund for SCs.
  • The budget of ASIIM for the next four years has been kept at Rs 19320lakhs.
  • The VCF-SC shall extend all support in the form of hand-holding, guidance, mentoring, besides providing equity support up to Rs 30 lakh over a period of three (3) years to each entity of young SC students / entrepreneurs.

Venture Capital Fund for SCs (VCF-SC):

  • Venture Capital Fund for SCs (VCF-SCs) which was set up in 2016 with the Fund size of Rs. 500 Cr.
  • The Ministry of Social Justice had launched the Venture Capital Fund for SCs (VCF-SC)with a view to develop entrepreneurship amongst the SC/Divyang youth and to enable them to become ‘job-givers’.

The need to launch the programme:

  • There is a need to identify innovative ideas and provide focussed support to young entrepreneurs who are engaged in working on innovative and technology-oriented business ideas either in educational campuses or Technology Business Incubators (TBIs).
  • The main objectives of ASIIM also include promoting entrepreneurship among the SC Youth with special preference to Divyangs, supporting (1,000) innovative ideas till 2024 through a synergetic work with the Technology Business Incubators (TBIs) set up by Department of Science and Technology.
[Ref: PIB; Livemint]

CSIR Technologies for rural development

The Ministry of Science & Technology launched CSIR Technologies for rural development recently.

The technologies released included:

  • Improved bee hive for quality and hygienic extraction of honey, CSIR-IHBT, Palampur.
  • Technology for manufacturing of Ginger paste, CSIR-CFTRI, Mysore.
  • Dehumidified drier for food and Agri-products, CSIR-NIIST, Thiruvananthapuram.
  • Technology for agricultural waste (wheat bran, sugarcane bagasse and fruit peels) based biodegradable plates, cups and cutleries, CSIR-NIIST, Thiruvananthapuram.

Major Highlights:

  • These were launched under a joint initiative of Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), Unnat Bharat Abhiyan (UBA), Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (IITD) and Vijnana Bharti (VIBHA).
  • These technologies will be disseminated to society through the Higher Education Institutional network of UBA and local chapters of VIBHA.
  • CSIR- National Institute of Science, Technology and Development Studies (CSIR-NISTADS) is acting as a nodal CSIR Lab to establish linkages between CSIR laboratories, UBA, VIBHA, and stakeholders.

Significance:

  • The technologies which could be deployed in rural areas for development and achieving sustainable development goals.
  • It will create sustainable livelihood opportunities in the rural clusters.

Unnat Bharat Abhiyan:

  • Unnat Bharat Abhiyan is a flagship programme of Ministry of Education conceptualised and launched in IIT Delhi.
  • Vision: Transformational change in rural development processes by leveraging knowledge institutions to help build the architecture of an Inclusive India.
  • Unnat Bharat Abhiyan now constitutes 45 Regional Coordinating Institutions (RCIs) and 2,614 Participating Institutions (PIs).
  • Till date, a total of 13,760 villages have been adopted under Unnat Bharat Abhiyan.

CSIR-National Institute of Science, Technology and Development Studies (NISTADS):

  • CSIR-National Institute of Science, Technology and Development Studies (NISTADS), New Delhi is one of the constituent laboratories of CSIR.
  • It is devoted to a study of various aspects of interaction among science, society and state and exploring continuously the interface between Science, Technology and Society.

Vijnana Bharti (Vibha):

  • VIBHA is a science movement with swadeshi spirit.
  • Founding principles: Swadeshi Movement with modern sciences adapted to national needs.
[Ref: PIB]

Issues related to Health & Education

Palghar district on alert over Congo fever

The Palghar district administration in Maharashtra has asked authorities to remain alert against a possible spread of the Congo fever.

  • The Crimean Congo Haemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) or Congo fever spreads in humans through ticks.
  • This is a matter of concern for cattle-breeders, meat-sellers and animal husbandry officials.

Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever (CCHF):

  • The CCHF is a widespread disease caused by a tick-borne virus (Nairovirus) of the Bunyaviridae family.
  • The virus causes severe viral haemorrhagic fever outbreaks, with a case fatality rate of 10 to 40 per cent.
  • The virus is primarily transmitted to people from ticks and livestock animals.
  • Human-to-human transmission can occur resulting from close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected persons.
  • CCHF is endemic in Africa, the Balkans, the Middle East and Asia, in countries south of the 50th parallel north.
  • There is no vaccine available for either people or animals.
[Ref: Indian Express]

Social Issues

Crime in India report 2019

According to the annual Crime in India 2019 report by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the crimes in SC, ST category saw an increase of 25.7% as compared to 2018.

Highlights of the report:

  • Crime against Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) saw an increase of over 7% and 26% respectively in year 2019 compared to 2018.
  • Uttar Pradesh recorded the highest number of crimes against SCs in 2019, followed Rajasthan and Bihar.

Rape cases:

  • In the number of cases of rape of women belonging to SCs, Rajasthan topped the list with 554 cases, followed by Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
  • Madhya Pradesh recorded the highest number of cases against STs as it recorded followed by Rajasthan and Odisha.

Cognizable crimes:

  • A total of cognizable crimes comprising Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Special and Local Laws (SLL) crimes showed an increase of 1.6% in registration of cases over 2018.
  • An increase of 7.3% cases of crime against women were registered in 2019 compared to 2018.
  • Cybercrimes increased by 63.5% in 2019.

In 2019, 60.4% of cybercrime cases registered were for the motive of fraud, followed by sexual exploitation and causing disrepute with 4.2%.

CHRI statement:

  • The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), a police reforms advocacy group, said few cases were being registered for specific discriminatory action against SCs and STs.
  • Crimes against SCs and STs include categories:
    • Atrocities committed by non-SC/ST members under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities Act), 1989
    • Indian Penal Code and the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955
[Ref: The Hindu]

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

Greenland ice melting fastest in 12,000 yrs

As per a recent study the Greenland Ice Sheet (GIS) is melting rapidly faster than at any other time in the last 12,000 years.

Major Highlights:

  • The increased loss of ice is likely to lead to sea level rises of between 2 centimetres (cm) and 10 cm by the end of the century from Greenland alone.
  • The largest pre-industrial rates of mass loss — up to 6,000 billion tonnes per century — occurred in the early Holocene (the period since the last ice age 12,000 years ago).
  • The researchers studied changes to the southwestern sector of the GIS and predicted mass loss of between 8,800 and 35,900 billion tonnes over the 21st century.

Representative Concentration Pathway scenario:

  • Under a high-emissions Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 8.5 scenario the rate of mass loss could be about four times the highest values experienced over the past 12,000 years, he added.
  • RCP is a greenhouse gas concentration trajectory adopted by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
  • In RCP 8.5, the emissions continue to rise throughout the 21st century and is taken as the basis for worst-case climate change scenarios.

Location of Greenland:

  • Greenland is the world’s largest island located between the Arctic and Atlantic oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago
  •  It is an autonomous territory within the Kingdom of Denmark.
  • Physiographically a part of the continent of North America, Greenland has been politically and culturally associated with Europe (specifically Norway and Denmark, the colonial powers, as well as the nearby island of Iceland).
  • Capital: Nuuk
[Ref: DownToEarth]

Defence & Security Issues

BrahMos surface-to-surface supersonic cruise missile

India test-fired an extended-range BrahMos surface-to-surface supersonic cruise missile that can hit targets 400km away.

About the BrahMos test:

  • The range has been increased from the existing 290km.
  • The extended-range variant was tested from the Integrated Test Range at Balasore in Odisha.
  • The test has cleared the decks for India to induct a second class of supersonic, long-range tactical cruise missiles, propelled by a liquid-fuelled booster capable of hitting targets over 500km away.
  • The missile featured an indigenous booster and air-frame section along with many other ‘Made in India’ sub-systems.
  • The missile was tested for the second time.
  • The missile cruised at a top speed of Mach 2.8 (nearly three times the speed of sound).
  • The configuration of the existing missile – the world’s fastest supersonic cruise missile — has been tweaked to enhance its range.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated scientists for the successful launch, saying the country has achieved “yet another milestone”.
  • According to experts, the next class of Indian cruise missiles will be based on solid-fuelled ducted ramjet (SFDR) technology, which can be used for air-to-air missiles as well as long-range supersonic cruise missiles. The technology has been tested by the DRDO twice — on May 30,2018, and February 8, 2019.

Significance of the test:

  • The significance of the BrahMos test from a mobile launcher was that the cruise missile reached 75% indigenisation with India now having the capability to design the airframe as well as an indigenous liquid-fuelled booster.
  • BrahMos missiles are already deployed in the Ladakh theatre along with a limited number of 1,000km range Nirbhay subsonic cruise missiles to counter the missiles and rockets deployed by the Chinese army in Tibet and Xinjiang.
  • The two armies are locked in a tense standoff in the Ladakh sector of the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
  • The successful launch has paved the way for the serial production of the indigenous booster and other indigenous components of the powerful weapon system.

BrahMos Missile:

  • The missile is an Indo-Russian joint venture.
  • The first supersonic cruise missile system known to be in service.
  • The BrahMos is a multi-stage missile having a solid propellant in the first stage and the ramjet liquid propellant in the second stage.
  • It has land, air and naval variants.
  • The missile is capable of carrying a conventional as well as nuclear warhead of 300 kilograms.
  • It operates on ‘Fire and Forget Principle’ by adopting varieties of flights on its way to the target.
  • It approaches the enemy target with a top speed of Mach 2.8, which is about three times faster than the US subsonic Tomahawk Cruise Missile System.
  • The missile derives its name from the names of two rivers, namely the Brahmaputra of India and the Moskva of Russia.
  • India is also working on a hypersonic missile, BrahMos-II (K), capable of taking out hardened targets such as underground bunkers and weapon storage facilities at seven times the speed of sound (Mach 7) or 8,575 kmph.
[Ref: Hindustan Times]

What are Defence offsets?

The defence offset is an obligation by an international player to boost India’s domestic defence industry if India is buying defence equipment from it.

  • Since defence contracts are costly, the government wants part of that money either to benefit the Indian industry, or to allow the country to gain in terms of technology.

Objectives:

  • Partially compensating for a significant outflow of a buyer country’s resources in a large purchase of foreign goods.
  • Facilitating induction of technology.
  • Adding capacities and capabilities of domestic industry.

Background:

  • The Defence Ministry came up with its latest Defence Acquisition Procedure 2020 (DAP 2020) on September 28, which comes into effect from Thursday, October 1.
  • Changing a 15-year old policy, the government has decided to remove the clause for offsets if the equipment is being bought either through deals or agreements between two countries, or through an ab initio single-vendor deal.

Offset clauses in defence contracts:

  • Only government-to-government agreements (G2G), ab initio single vendor contracts or inter-governmental agreements (IGA) will not have offset clauses anymore.
  • For example, the deal to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets, signed between the Indian and French governments in 2016, was an IGA.

How can a foreign vendor fulfil its offset obligations?

  • Until 2016, the vendor had to declare around the time of signing the contract the details about how it will go about it.
  • In April 2016, the new policy amended it to allow it to provide it either at the time of seeking offset credits or one year prior to discharge of offset obligations.
  • In August 2012 Defence Ministry note mentioned these avenues,
    • Direct purchase of, or executing export orders for, eligible products manufactured by, or services provided by Indian enterprises
    • Foreign Direct Investment in joint ventures with Indian enterprises (equity investment) for eligible products and services
    • Investment in ‘kind’ in terms of transfer of technology (TOT) to Indian enterprises, through joint ventures or through the non-equity route for eligible products and services
    • Investment in ‘kind’ in Indian enterprises in terms of provision of equipment through the non-equity route for manufacture and/or maintenance of products and services
    • Provision of equipment and/or TOT to government institutions and establishments engaged in the manufacture and/or maintenance of eligible products, and provision of eligible services, including DRDO
    • Technology acquisition by DRDO in areas of high technology

Inter-Governmental Agreements (IGA):

  • IGA is an agreement between two countries, and could be an umbrella contract, under which you can go on signing individual contracts.
  • G2G is transaction specific, or an acquisition specific agreement.
  • According to DAP 2020, all other international deals that are competitive, and have multiple vendors vying for it, will continue to have a 30% offset clause.
[Ref: Indian Express; TOI]

ICGS Kanaklata Barua

A Fast Patrol Vessel (FPV) named ICGS Kanaklata Barua was commissioned by the Indian Coast Guard recently.

About the Vessel:

  • The vessel was constructed by Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE) Ltd.
  • These FPVs are medium-range surface vessels and can reach a speed of 34 knots. 
  • It is the fifth and last in a series of FPVs. Other FPVs are ICGS Priyadarshini (named after Indira Gandhi), ICGS Annie Besant, ICGS Kamala Devi (after Kamala Devi Chattopadhyay), and ICGS Amrit Kaur.
  • FPVs are useful for patrolling, maritime surveillance, anti-smuggling, anti-poaching operations, search and rescue missions.

About Kanaklata Barua

  • Kanaklata Barua was a teenage freedom fighter from Assam.
  • She led the Mukti Bahini, a procession of freedom fighters to unfurl the Tricolour at Gohpur police station during the Quit India Movement in 1942,
  • An altercation with police led to firing and killing of Kanaklata Barua.
[Ref: The Hindu]

Science & Technology

UAE to launch spacecraft to the moon in 2024

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is planning to send an unmanned spacecraft to the moon in 2024.

  • If successful, UAE will be the fourth nation after the US, the Soviet Union and China to land a spacecraft on the moon.
  • The mission also includes an Emirati-made lunar rover which will study the lunar surface, mobility on the moon’s surface and how different surfaces interact with lunar particles.

Other Missions:

  • Recently, the UAE launched the Amal/Hope probe from Japan, which is scheduled to reach Mars in February 2021.
  • Upon landing, Amal will provide information about the Martian atmosphere, which will be made available to the international scientific community.
  • Also, the UAE has set an ambitious goal to build a human colony on Mars by 2117.
  • Recently, UAE sent its first astronaut to the International Space Station.

Location of UAE:

  • The United Arab Emirates is located in the northeast end of the Arabian Peninsula.
  • UAE is a federation of seven emirates consisting of Abu Dhabi (which serves as the capital), Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm Al Quwain.
  • UAE forms borders with Oman to the east and north, Saudi Arabia to the south and west.  It forms a maritime border with Qatar and Iran, in west and north, respectively. The Persian Gulf is located to the North and Gulf of Oman in the East.
  • The UAE is a member of the United Nations, the Arab League, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, OPEC, the Non-Aligned Movement and the Gulf Cooperation Council.
[Ref: The Hindu]

Key Facts for Prelims

Gavi COVAX facility

  • The Serum Institute of India (SII) received additional funds through the Gavi COVAX facility recently.
  • It would allow it to double its supply of Covid-19 vaccines to India and other poorer countries.

About Gavi COVAX facility

  • The Gavi COVAX Facility along with Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment is designed to guarantee rapid, fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for every country in the world, rich and poor.
  • Coordinated by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the WHO.
  • The initial aim is to have 2 billion doses available by the end of 2021, which should be enough to protect high risk and vulnerable people, as well as frontline healthcare workers.
  • It also seeks to provide innovative and equitable access to COVID-19 diagnostics, treatments and vaccines.
  • The programme will support the research, development and manufacturing of a wide range of COVID-19 vaccine candidates and negotiate their pricing.

Rythu Bharosa Kendralu

  • Union Minister for Chemicals & Fertilizers launched POS 3.1 software, SMS Gateway and Home Delivery facility of Fertilizers (RBK) for farmers in Andhra Pradesh.
  • Department of Fertilizers has introduced Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) system on 1st March, 2018 on Pan-India basis.
  • DBT 2.0 initiative was launched during July 2019 and since then many more improvements have been made in the system which are being launched as a part of PoS 3.1 Software.
  • The improvements involve two modes of authentication and Re-registration of device under PoS.
  • Under POS 3.1 version, contactless OTP based authentication option has been introduced and Farmers will be able to purchase fertilizer without touching finger print sensor.

Sawantwadi Toys

  • Sawantwadi toys refer to handmade works of art made of wood in Sawantwadi a town in Sindhudurg district of Maharashtra.
  • Sawantwadi is considered to be India’s largest market for wooden models of fruits and wooden toys.
  • Most of these toys are made in the village of Kolgaon in Sawantwadi taluka.
  • These toys are made from the wood of the Indian Coral tree (Erythrina variegata).
  • Craftsmen who make these toys belong to the Chittari community who came to Sawantwadi from Karwar and Goa.
  • It is reported that the makers of these toys face the challenge of competition from mass produced cheap Chinese products.
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