Pangolin-india2
Current Affair Analysis

22nd & 23rd July 2018 Current Affairs Analysis -IASToppers

Pangolin; Public Affairs Index 2018; What are denotified, semi-nomadic, nomadic tribes? Idate Commission; Scientific Research Infrastructure Management and Networks (SRIMAN) policy; QR code; North-East Natural Gas Pipeline Grid; Pradhan Mantri Urja Ganga; Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT); System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting (SAFAR); Air Quality Index; India-assisted ambulance service; International Solar Alliance (ISA); Location of Myanmar; What is Remote Sensing Toolkit? What is NASA’s Technology Transfer program? TreadWill; etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
July 23, 2018

Contents

Polity & Governance

  • Kerala stands as the best state as per survey of Public Affairs Index 2018
  • NITI Aayog nod to panel for denotified, semi-nomadic, nomadic tribes

Government Schemes & Policies

  • ‘Rent-a-lab’ policy to bring revenues to institutions

Issues related to Health & Education

  • NCERT to introduce QR code in textbooks

Economy

  • Five oil PSUs sign JV pact for gas pipeline project in Northeast

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • Odisha police launches drive to bust pangolin smuggling racket
  • Most advanced System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting (SAFAR) inaugurated

Bilateral & International Relations

  • PM launches India-assisted ambulance service in Sri Lanka
  • Myanmar joins International Solar Alliance, becomes 68th member of grouping

Science & Technology

  • NASA launches online toolkit to promote commercial use of satellite data

Key Facts for Prelims

  • TreadWill

For IASToppers Current Affairs Analysis Archive, Click Here

Polity & Governance

Kerala stands as the best state as per survey of Public Affairs Index 2018

According to Public Affairs Index (PAI) 2018, Kerala tops the list as best-governed state in the country followed by Tamil Nadu.

Public-Affairs-Index-2018-kerala

  • The index was released by the think tank Public Affairs Centre (PAC).

About the index:

Public-Affairs-Index--2018

  • The Public Affairs Index (PAI) is released since in 2016 by Bengaluru base Public Affairs Centre (PAC), a not for profit think tank which aims to improve governance in India.
  • It is based on 10 themes, 30 focus subjects and 100 indicators, relying solely upon government data.
  • It covers wide range of themes such as support to human development, social protection, essential infrastructure, women and children, crime, law and order, delivery of justice, transparency and accountability, environment, fiscal management and economic freedom.
  • 2018 PAI also included separate index on children of India, giving measure of how child-friendly each of the states are.

Highlights of the survey:

Large States:

  • Kerala has topped PAI as the best-governed state for the third consecutive year since 2016 among large states.
  • Kerala is followed by Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Karnataka and Gujarat.
  • Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Bihar ranked the lowest, indicating higher social and economic inequalities in the states.

Smaller states:

  • Himachal Pradesh topped the list followed by Goa, Mizoram, Sikkim and Tripura. Nagaland, Manipur and Meghalaya were ranked at bottom of the index among small states (with population less than two crore).

Index on children of India:

  • In the index on children of India, Kerala, Himachal Pradesh and Mizoram topped the index.
[Ref: The Hindu, Indian Express]

 

NITI Aayog nod to panel for denotified, semi-nomadic, nomadic tribes

The NITI Aayog has backed a proposal by Idate Commission constituted by the Ministry of Social justice and Empowerment to set up a permanent commission for Denotified (DNT), Semi-Nomadic (SNT), and Nomadic Tribes (NT).

Idate-Commission-ias

What are denotified, semi-nomadic, nomadic tribes?

  • Denotified tribes are those that were labelled as criminals through a legislation by British government and were denotified post-independence, the Nomadic tribes maintain constant geographical mobility while semi-nomads are those who are on the move but return to fixed habitations once a year, mainly for occupational reasons.

Proposals of the Idate Commission:

  • Bhiku Ramji Idate Commission on DNT, SNT, and NT communities, in its report, had recommended to set up a permanent commission for the communities on the lines of similar commissions for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and Other Backward Classes.
  • In its report submitted to the social justice ministry in January 2018, the Idate Commission said such a permanent commission should have a prominent community leader as its chairperson, and a senior Union government bureaucrat, an anthropologist, and a sociologist as members.
  • Other important recommendations of the panel include granting Constitutional protection to these communities under a separate third schedule after Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, making them eligible for reservation, and extending the protective cover of Prevention of Atrocities Act to them.

NITI Aayog’s proposals:

  • NITI Aayog has offered to set up a working group to come up with policy suggestions on many issues of these marginalised communities.
  • It has also proposed lowering tuition fees and relaxing admission conditions for children from the communities, and easy allotment of land and housing for members of the community in which 90% or more are landless.
  • The NITI Aayog has also supported the panel’s suggestion to form a dedicated National Finance Development Corporation for DNT, SNT and NTs.

Background:

  • The DNT, NT, SNT communities have been identified as the most marginalised by several commissions set up since Independence.
  • The community has for long not been enumerated in the Census data. The Renke Commission report of 2008 had arrived at a rough estimate of their population being between 10-12 crore but none of its recommendations were implemented.
[Ref: Indian Express]

 

Government Schemes & Policies

‘Rent-a-lab’ policy to bring revenues to institutions

The government has proposed a new policy called the Scientific Research Infrastructure Management and Networks (SRIMAN) that could transform scientific instruments in government labs into lucrative assets generating a steady rental income.

‘Rent-a-lab’-policy

About the SRIMAN policy:

  • Under the policy, the government plans to hire out to researchers all lab equipment that cost more than ₹10 lakh. This would also reduce the amount of time such expensive instruments remain idle.
  • According to the policy, the new system envisages institutions declaring on a website how often their instruments would be available for use by those outside the department or university.
  • Those who would like to use, for example, a DNA-sequencing machine, would have to pay a fee and specify the purpose and time they would want it for.

Rationale behind the policy:

  • Currently, the practice of researchers bidding for time-slots to use lab instruments is typically seen more with very expensive equipment, such as radio telescopes and particle-accelerators, which cost crores of rupees.
  • Therefore, it was “common” to find in Indian laboratories, expensive equipment lying idle. A “large number” are not shared and are plagued by issues such as maintenance and availability of spares. This adds to the burden of research infrastructure costs.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Issues related to Health & Education

NCERT to introduce QR code in textbooks

The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has initiated the process of introducing QR code in textbooks.

NCERT to introduce QR code in textbooks

  • This move is aimed at helping students understand chapters better by watching a film or reading additional content on laptops and digital boards.

What is QR code?

  • QR code (Quick Response code) is two-dimensional (matrix) machine-readable bar code made up of black and white square. This code can be read by the camera of a smartphone.
  • It is used for storing URLs or other information that link directly to text, emails websites phone numbers. It is capable of 360 degrees (omni-directional), high speed reading.
  • QR Code can store up to 7089 digits as compared to conventional bar codes which can store max 20 digits. It encodes same amount of data in one-tenth the space of a traditional bar code. It carries information both horizontally and vertically.
  • It has error correction capability and data stored in it can be restored even if it is partially damaged or dirty.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Economy

Five oil PSUs sign JV pact for gas pipeline project in Northeast

Five public sector oil and natural gas companies signed the joint venture agreement to implement the Rs 6000 Crore North-East Natural Gas Pipeline Grid.

ias gas pipeline project in Northeast

  • The five companies are Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL), ONGC, GAIL, Oil India Limited and Numaligarh Refinery Limited (NRL).

About the North-East Natural Gas Pipeline Grid:

  • It is a major initiative to connect all North-East States to National Gas Grid.
  • It will be implemented under Centre’s ambitious Urja Ganga Gas Pipeline Project.
  • With the signing of the agreement, the joint venture company will develop, build, operate and maintain the natural gas pipeline grid connecting Guwahati to the major Northeast cities and major load centers like Numaligarh Refinery, spanning over an estimated length of 1,500 KM. The pipeline will also integrate feasible gas producing fields in the region.
  • The joint venture company will have equal equity contribution from all the partners for development of the natural gas pipeline project.
  • The schedule for commissioning the project will be four years, including one year pre-project activities.
  • The project will connect state capitals of all eight North Eastern states- Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.

About Pradhan Mantri Urja Ganga:

iastoppers-urja-ganga-2

Aim of the project:

  • The gas pipeline project aims to provide piped cooking (PNG) gas to residents of the eastern region of the country and CNG gas for the vehicles.

Key Facts:

iastoppers-urja-ganga

  • The project is being implemented by state-run gas utility GAIL.
  • The ambitious 2,655 km long Jagdishpur-Haldia & Bokaro-Dhamra Natural Gas Pipeline (JHBDPL) project originates at Jagdishpur (Uttar Pradesh).
  • The main trunk of pipeline ends to Haldia (West Bengal) and Dhamra (Odisha). The pipeline passes through Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Odisha.
  • The Urja Ganga project also augments existing GAIL’s network of trunk pipelines covering the length of around 11,000 km by 2540 km.
  • Besides, under this project work on 2540-km long Jagdishpur-Haldia and Bokaro-Dhamra Natural Gas pipeline project will begin and will be completed between 2018 and 2020.
  • Seven East India cities Varanasi, Jamshedpur, Patna, Ranchi, Kolkata, Bhubaneswar, Cuttack – will be the major beneficiary of this network development.
  • Besides, LNG terminal at Dhamra will provide clean fuel to the Industrial Development of the Eastern states of Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar, West Bengal and Odisha.

Significance of the project:

  • The project is considered as a major step towards collective growth and development of the Eastern region of India. Under it, overall 20 lakh households will get PNG connections.
  • It will usher Industrial development in East India by supplying environmentally clean natural gas to fertiliser and power plant, refineries, steel plants and other industries.
  • From Varanasi’s perspective, 50,000 households and 20,000 vehicles will get cleaner and cheaper fuel PNG and CNG gas respectively.
  • It will also help in revival of defunct fertilizer plants in Barauni in Bihar, Gorakhpur in UP, Sindri in Jharkhand and Durgapur in West Bengal by supplying gas.
[Ref: Business Standard, Times of India]

 

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

Odisha police launches drive to bust pangolin smuggling racket

A special unit of the Odisha Police has launched a drive to bust an international syndicate that peddles “endangered” pangolin, one of the world’s most illegally traded mammals.

Pangolin-india

  • A process has been initiated to crack the international pangolin smuggling racket, possibly with the help of the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT).

What is MLAT?

  • MLAT is an agreement between nations to exchange information or provide legal assistance for enforcing laws.

About Pangolin:

Pangolin is only scaly mammal on the planet.

  • According to Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), it is also the most illegally traded vertebrate within its class (Mammalia).
  • Of the eight species of pangolin worldwide, two are found in India. They are Chinese pangolin, mostly found in northeast India and Indian pangolin.
  • Pangolins has large, overlapping scales on its body which act as armour. It can also curl itself into ball as self-defence against predators.
  • Pangolins is an insectivore, feeding on ants and termites, digging them out of mounds and logs using its long claws. It is nocturnal and rests in deep burrows during the day.

Threats:

  • Pangolins is smuggled for its scales as it believed that they possess magic or charms and have medicinal properties. The scales serve as base component for indigenous (traditional) psychotropic substances.
  • China is main illicit hub (market) for smuggled scales of Pangolins, where they have huge demand for medicinal and magical purposes.

Conservation Status:

  • Chinese pangolin has been listed as “critically endangered” by UN affiliated International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List.

Pangolin Conservation Status

  • Indian pangolin (Manis crassicaudata) has been listed as “endangered” in IUCN Red List. It is also a Schedule I category protected animal, under the Wildlife Protection Act (1972).
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Most advanced System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting (SAFAR) inaugurated

Ministry of Earth Sciences has unveiled state-of-the-art Air Quality and Weather Forecast System– SAFAR (System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting) at Chandni Chowk in Delhi.

System-of-Air-Quality-and-Weather-Forecasting-SAFAR2

  • It is first of its kind and most advanced system in India.
  • Such advanced are also proposed to be implemented in other three cities of India- Pune, Mumbai and Ahmedabad.

What is SAFAR?

System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting SAFAR

  • SAFAR was introduced by Union Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) for greater metropolitan cities of India to provide location specific information on air quality in near real time.
  • It was developed by Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune along with India Meteorological Department (IMD) and National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF).
  • It is integral part of India’s first Air Quality Early Warning System operational in Delhi.
  • It will monitor all weather parameters like temperature, rainfall, humidity, wind speed and wind direction.
  • It also will measure sun’s UV-Index (UVI), PM1, Mercury and Black carbon in real time in addition to regular air quality and weather parameters like PM2.5, PM10, Sulfur Dioxide, Ozone, Nitrogen Oxides, Carbon Monoxide.
  • It can also provide measurement of online automatic ultrafine particles PM1 and Mercury, both of which have direct relevance to human health.
  • It will also monitor existence harmful pollutants of Benzene, Toluene and Xylene.
  • SAFAR has giant true colour LED display which gives out real-time air quality index on 24×7 basis with colour coding alongwith 72-hour advance forecast.
  • Based on Air Quality Index on particular day, health advisory and related precaution will be notified to prepare citizens well in advance.

Most advanced System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting

Significance of SAFAR:

  • The main objective of SAFAR project is to increase awareness among general public regarding the air quality in their city well in advance so that appropriate mitigation measures and systematic action can be taken up for betterment of air quality and related health issues.
  • The World Meteorological Organization has recognised SAFAR as a prototype activity on the basis of the high quality control and standards maintained in its implementation.

About Air Quality Index:

Air Quality Index is a tool for effective communication of air quality status to people in terms, which are easy to understand.

Air Quality Index AQI

  • It transforms complex air quality data of various pollutants into a single number (index value), nomenclature and colour.
  • There are six AQI categories, namely Good + Satisfactory, Moderately polluted, Poor, Very Poor, and Severe.
  • Each of these categories is decided based on ambient concentration values of air pollutants and their likely health impacts (known as health breakpoints).
  • AQ sub-index and health breakpoints are evolved for eight pollutants (PM10, PM2.5, NO2, SO2, CO, O3, NH3, and Pb) for which short-term (upto 24-hours) National Ambient Air Quality Standards are prescribed.
[Ref: PIB]

 

Bilateral & International Relations

PM launches India-assisted ambulance service in Sri Lanka

PM Modi recently launched India-assisted emergency ambulance service in Sri Lanka through video conferencing from New Delhi.

India-assisted ambulance service Sri lanka

Key facts:

  • In July 2016, the service was introduced in two provinces of Sri Lanka with grant assistance from India and it will now be expanded to the remaining seven provinces.
  • In total, India has given a grant of $22.8 million- $7.6 million for the first phase and $15.2 million for the country-wide expansion.
  • This is the largest Indian grant project in Sri Lanka after Indian housing project.
  • Besides providing ambulances, the grant covers training of manpower in India and meeting operational costs for one year.
[Ref: The Hindu, Times of India]

 

Myanmar joins International Solar Alliance, becomes 68th member of grouping

Myanmar has joined the India-initiated International Solar Alliance (ISA), thus, becoming the 68th signatory to the Framework Agreement of the ISA that aims for optimum utilisation of solar energy.

Myanmar-International-Solar-Alliance

About International Solar Alliance (ISA):

  • ISA is initiative jointly launched by India and France in November 2015 at Paris on side lines of COP21 UN Climate Change Conference.
  • Its Framework Agreement came into force in December 2017. It celebrated its founding day on 11th March, 2018.
  • It is headquartered at campus of Natioanl Institute of Solar Energy (NISE), Gurugram, Harayana, making it first international intergovernmental treaty based organization to be headquartered in India.

Objectives of ISA

  • Undertake joint efforts required to reduce the cost of finance and the cost of technology
  • Mobilize more than US $1000 billion of investments needed by 2030 for massive deployment of solar energy
  • Pave way for future technologies adapted to needs of solar rich 121 countries lying fully or partially between Tropic of Cancer and Capricon.

Ongoing programmes of ISA:

ISA presently has 4 ongoing programmes

  1. Scaling Solar Mini Grids
  2. Affordable Finance at Scale,
  3. Scaling Solar Applications for Agricultural Use,
  4. Scaling Solar Rooftop catering to the needs of solar energy in specific areas

Location of Myanmar:

myanmar-map-iastoppers

  • Myanmar is a sovereign state in Southeast Asia.
  • Myanmar is bordered by India and Bangladesh to its west, Thailand and Laos to its east and People’s Republic of China to its north and northeast.
[Ref: PIB, Economic Times]

 

Science & Technology

NASA launches online toolkit to promote commercial use of satellite data

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has launched ‘Remote Sensing Toolkit’ to promote commercial use of satellite data.

Remote-Sensing-Toolkit-iastoppers

  • The toolkit was launched as part of NASA’s Technology Transfer program.

What is Remote Sensing Toolkit?

It is an online toolkit that aims to make it easier for users to find, analyse and utilise relevant satellite data for their research, business projects or conservation efforts.

Remote Sensing Toolkit iastoppers 2

  • It has been designed to help users search for data, as well as utilize ready-to-use tools and code to build new tools.
  • It provides simple system that quickly identifies relevant sources based on user input. It makes finding and using NASA satellite data easier than ever before.
  • It aims to spark innovation among entrepreneurial community and lead to further commercialisation of NASA technology.

What is NASA’s Technology Transfer program?

  • The program offers open remote-sensing data benefiting scientific community, other government agencies and non-profit organizations.
  • The program ensures technologies developed for missions in exploration and discovery are broadly available to the public, maximising the benefit to the nation.
[Ref: The Hindu, AIR]

 

Key Facts for Prelims

TreadWill

TreadWill-IIT-kanpur

  • It is an online tool developed by an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur.
  • TreadWill is a website designed to help people deal with stress, low mood, lethargy and other depressive symptoms through different online exercises, questionnaires and games.
  • It will help people cope with issues related to mental health.
  • It will help in overcoming depressive symptoms and becoming more resilient against stressful events in the future.

 

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