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Image Credit: Bloomberg
Current Affairs Analysis

22nd August 2017 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

What is cloud seeding? Project Varshadhari; Soil Health Card Scheme; Swasth Bachche, Swasth Bharat programme; Public health spending; What are Polymetallic Nodules? International Seabed Authority (ISA); International Vaccine Institute (IVI); Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR); Digital police portal; Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS); Landing Craft Utility (LCU) MK-IV L52; etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
August 22, 2017

Contents

Government Schemes & Policies

  • PM reviews progress of Soil Health Cards
  • ‘Swasth Bachche, Swasth Bharat’ launched

Issues related to Health & Education

  • Children deaths and public health spending

Bilateral & International Relations

  • India’s Exclusive Rights to Explore Polymetallic Nodules Extended
  • ICMR inks deal to promote vaccine development

Defence & Security Issues

  • Karnataka Government launches clouding seeding Project Varshadhari
  • Union Home Minister launches the Digital Police Portal under CCTNS project
  • Indian Navy inducts landing craft utility ship – ‘LCU L52’

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Government Schemes & Policies

PM reviews progress of Soil Health Cards

The Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently reviewed the progress of Soil Health Cards scheme.

ias toppers modi Soil Health

  • So far, 16 States/UTs have completed the first cycle of Soil Health Cards distribution, and the remaining States are likely to complete the same within weeks.

What reforms PM has proposed?

  • Appropriate checks should be undertaken for variation, both within a sampling grid, and across different soil testing labs. This would help ensure quality in the reports.
  • Soil health cards should be printed in the local dialect of the area, so that the farmers are able to read and understand them easily.
  • Soil testing should eventually be possible through hand-held devices. Officials were encouraged to explore the possibility of involving start-ups and entrepreneurs in this exercise.

About the Soil Health Card Scheme:

In February 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had launched the Soil Health Card Scheme.

ias-toppers-Soil-Health-Card-Scheme

  • It is a scheme to provide every farmer a Soil Health Card in a Mission mode.
  • It is a scheme under which the Central Government provides assistance to State Governments for setting up Soil Testing Laboratories for issuing Soil Health Cards to farmers.
  • The scheme will be implemented in all states to promote soil testing services, issue of soil health cards and development of nutrient management practices.
  • Under the scheme, State Governments should adopt innovative practices like involvement of agricultural students, NGOs and private sector in soil testing, determining average soil health of villages, etc., to issue Soil Health Cards.
  • Under the scheme, the state governments are also required to prepare yearly action plan on the issue and the cost will be shared in the ratio of 75:25 between the Centre and states.

What is soil health card?

ias-toppers-Soil-Health-Card

The soil health card studies and reviews the health of soil or rather we can say a complete evaluation of the quality of soil right from its functional characteristics, to water and nutrients content and other biological properties. It will also contain corrective measures that a farmer should adopt to obtain a better yield.

How does it help the farmers?

  • With the issue of the card, the farmers will get a well-monitored report of the soil which is chosen for cultivation of crops.
  • The monitoring will be done on a regular basis.
  • The farmers will be guided by experts to come up with solutions to improve the quality of the soil.
  • Regular monitoring will help the farmers to get a long-term soil health record and accordingly can study and evaluate the results of different soil management practices.
  • This card can become most helpful and effective when filled out regularly by the same person over a period of time.
  • The idea is not to compare the varied soil types but to find out methods to improve soil fertility, to access the different types of soil and their ability to support crop production in spite of their limitations and as per their abilities.
  • The soil card will help the farmers to get an idea on the crop-wise recommendations of nutrients and fertilizers required in each type of soil. This can help in increasing the crop yield.
[Ref: PIB]

 

‘Swasth Bachche, Swasth Bharat’ launched

The Union Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) launched ‘Swasth Bachche, Swasth Bharat’ Programme.

ias-toppers-Swasth-Bachche,-Swasth-Bharat

About Swasth Bachche, Swasth Bharat programme:

  • The programme is an initiative of Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS) to prepare a physical Health and Fitness Profile Card for more than 12 lakhs of Kendriya Vidyalaya students.

Aim:

  • The programme aims to provide a comprehensive and inclusive report card for children covering all age groups and children of different abilities.

Objectives:

  • Its main objective is to make students, teachers and parents aware about the importance of good health and fitness and encouraging 60 minutes of play each day.
  • The programme also intends to imbibe values of Olympics and Paralympics amongst students.
  • The objectives are bringing back the childhood amongst children, make recreational games and physical activity an integral part of learning process, motivating potentially outstanding performers in various games and sports of excellence, using technology for analytics and data capture and giving access to schools, parents and teachers.
[Ref: PIB]

 

Issues related to Health & Education

Children deaths and public health spending

Why in news?

The Gorakhpur tragedy has highlighted the abysmal state of India’s healthcare system and focused attention on the country’s low public health spending.

ias toppers Gorakhpur tragedy

Background:

  • More than a century ago, even the advanced countries of the world spent very little on public health. Investments in public health went up in the West after the First World War.
  • The discovery that germs caused diseases spurred the sanitation and public health movement, which helped bring down child mortality rates sharply in the West.

ias toppers public health spending

India lacks in public health spending:

  • Although child mortality rates have been declining in India as well, they are higher than that of several other developing countries, some of which are poorer than India.

ias toppers public health spending2

  • Most of these countries spend more on public health than India does.

ias toppers public health spending3

Conclusion:

  • Unless the health sector garners more attention and resources in India, many more Gorakhpurs lie ahead of us.
[Ref: Live Mint]

 

Bilateral & International Relations

India’s Exclusive Rights to Explore Polymetallic Nodules Extended

India’s exclusive rights to explore polymetallic nodules from seabed in Central Indian Ocean Basin (CIOB) have been extended by five years.

ias toppers seabed-mining-

  • This has been approved unanimously in the 23rd session of International Seabed Authority (ISA) concluded recently at Kingston, Jamaica.

Key facts:

  • These rights extend over 75000 sq. km of area in international waters allocated by ISA for developmental activities for polymetallic nodules.
  • The estimated polymetallic nodule resource potential of this area is around 380 million tonnes, containing nickel (4.7 million tonnes), copper (4.29 million tonnes), cobalt (0.55 million tonnes) and manganese (92.59 million tonnes).

Background

  • India was the first country to receive the status of a pioneer investor for exploration and utilization of polymetallic nodules.
  • It was allocated an exclusive area in Central Indian Ocean Basin by United Nations (UN) in 1987.
  • India is one among the top 8-countries to implement a long–term programme on exploration and utilization of Polymetallic Nodules.
  • Through Ministry of Earth Sciences, it carries survey and exploration, environmental studies, technology development in mining and extractive metallurgy.

What are Polymetallic Nodules?

  • Polymetallic nodules (PMN) are also known as manganese nodules.
  • They are potato-shaped, largely porous nodules found in abundance carpeting the sea floor in the deep sea of the world oceans.
ias-toppers-Polymetallic-nodules-(PMN)
Manganese nodules occur in all oceans. But only in 4 regions is the density of nodules great enough for industrial exploitation.

Polymetallic Nodules contain:

  • Besides manganese and iron, they contain nickel, copper, cobalt, lead, molybdenum, cadmium, vanadium, titanium.
  • Of these metals nickel, cobalt and copper are considered to be of economic and strategic importance.

About ISA:

The International Seabed Authority (ISA) is an autonomous international organization established under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

international-seabed-authority

  • Its headquarters are in Kingston, Jamaica.
  • ISA governs non-living resources of the seabed lying in international waters.
  • It was established to organize, regulate and control all mineral-related activities in the international seabed area beyond the limits of national jurisdiction, an area underlying most of the world’s oceans.
  • India actively contributes to the work of ISA. It was re-elected as a member of Council of ISA in 2016.
[Ref: PIB]

 

ICMR inks deal to promote vaccine development

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Ministry of Health inked Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the International Vaccine Institute (IVI) to collaborate on vaccine research and development.

ias toppers ICMR IVI

  • The signing of the MoU is a continuation of India’s partnership with IVI to provide safe, effective and affordable vaccines for people around the world.
  • With this partnership, India is committing an annual contribution of US $5,00,000 to IVI.

About IVI:

ias-toppers-international-vaccine-institute

  • International Vaccine Institute (IVI) is an international nonprofit organization devoted to developing and introducing new and improved vaccines to protect the people, especially children, against deadly infectious diseases.
  • It was established in 1997 on the initiatives of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
  • Its work is exclusively on vaccine development and introduction specifically for people in developing countries, with a focus on neglected diseases affecting these regions.
  • Currently, IVI has 40 countries and the World Health Organization (WHO) as signatories to its Establishment Agreement.

India and the IVI:

  • IVI has been partnering with Indian vaccine manufacturers, research institutes, government, and public health agencies on vaccine development, research, and training.
  • One of the most successful collaborations was with Shantha Biotech on the development of Shanchol, the world’s first low-cost oral cholera vaccine.

About Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)

iastoppers Indian Council of Medical Research

  • The ICMR is India’s apex scientific body for the formulation, coordination and promotion of biomedical research.
  • It was established in 1911 as Indian Research Fund Association (IRFA) making it one of the oldest and largest medical research bodies in the world.
  • The ICMR functions under the Department of Health Research, Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Defence & Security Issues

Karnataka Government launches clouding seeding Project Varshadhari

Karnataka Government has launched clouding seeding Project Varshadhari in Bengaluru under which an aircraft will spray chemicals to induce rainfall.

ias toppers clouding seeding Project Varshadhari

Which chemicals will be used?

  • Over the next 60 days, a small plane – BQ-100 Beechcraft will spray sodium chloride, potassium chloride and silver iodide into clouds in an attempt to increase precipitation across the catchment areas of major rivers in the state.

ias toppers Project Varshadhari clouding seeding

What is cloud seeding?

Cloud seeding, also known as weather modification technique, is the process of spreading either dry ice, or more commonly, silver iodide aerosols, into the upper part of clouds to try to stimulate the precipitation process and form rain.

  • In this process, either silver iodide, potassium iodide or dry ice (solid carbon dioxide) are spread onto the clouds causing rainfall. Liquid propane, which expands into a gas, has also been used.
  • Since most rainfall starts through the growth of ice crystals from super-cooled cloud droplets (droplets colder than the freezing point, 32 deg. F or 0 deg. C) in the upper parts of clouds, the silver iodide particles are meant to encourage the growth of new ice particles.
  • Cloud-seeding is a technique which is regularly used in China and the United Arab Emirates. However, the increase of rain is far from guaranteed.

iastopper--cloud-seeding

How it works?

  • Among the problems for successful precipitation in rain-bearing clouds are that water droplets formed in the clouds are much smaller. Droplets formed in the clouds are blown away in the wind even before they have the time to reach earth. Moreover, small droplets do not have the energy to collide and form large droplets that can come down as rain.

By introducing impurities such as Silver Iodide, Potassium Chloride and others, the objective is to ensure that the size of the droplets is large enough to fall down as rain.

Is cloud seeding an effective technique?

  • The most extensive study to date shows that cloud-seeding is not as effective at producing rain as was once thought.
  • Several experiments conducted earlier across India were not very effective and gave mixed results.
  • Moreover, there are environmental consequences of spreading of harmful chemicals in atmosphere.
  • It is also very expensive technique. If it is not controlled properly, it may result in undesirable weather conditions like flooding, hail, storms, etc.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Union Home Minister launches the Digital Police Portal under CCTNS project

The Union Ministry of Home Affairs launched digital police portal under Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems Project (CCTNS).

ias-toppers-CCTNS-project-Digital-police-portal

About the Digital police portal:

The Digital police portal is a smart policing initiative of the Government to provide services to citizens and aid efficient police investigation.

  • The portal is a platform for citizens to file online crime related complaints and also request for antecedent verification.
  • It will also provide 11 searches and 46 reports from the national database for state police and central investigation agencies.
  • Central investigating and research agencies also have been provided logins to the portal to access crime statistics.
  • It will help in realising Government’s dream of ‘Minimum Government Maximum Governance’.

What is CCTNS project?

ias-toppers-CCTNS-Project-2

  • Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS) is a Mission Mode Project (MMP) under the National e-Governance Plan of Govt. of India.
  • CCTNS is a project initiated in June 2009 which aims at creating a comprehensive and integrated system for enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of policing at the Police Station level.
  • This will be done through adoption of principles of e-Governance, and creation of a nationwide networked infrastructure for evolution of IT-enabled state-of-the-art tracking system around “investigation of crime and detection of criminals”.

Functions:

  • The Project will interconnect about 15000 Police Stations and additional 5000 offices of supervisory police officers across the country and digitize data related to FIR registration, investigation and charge sheets in all Police Stations.
  • It will not only automate Police functions at Police station and higher levels but will also create facilities and mechanism to provide public services like registration of online complaints, ascertaining the status of case registered at the police station, verification of persons etc.
  • In 2015, an additional objective of establishing a basic platform for an Inter-operable Criminal Justice System (ICJS) was added to the Project.

Significance:

  • The Full implementation of the Project with all the new components would lead to a Central citizen portal having linkages with State level citizen portals that will provide a number of citizen friendly services like Police Verification for various purposes including passport verification, reporting a crime including cyber-crime and online tracking of the case progress etc.
  • The project will enable National level crime analytics to be published at increased frequency, which will help the policy makers as well as lawmakers in taking appropriate and timely action, it will also enable Pan-India criminal/accused name search in the regional language for improved inter-state tracking of criminal movement.
  • This would lead to development of a national database of crimes and criminals.
[Ref: PIB]

 

Indian Navy inducts landing craft utility ship – ‘LCU L52’

The Indian Navy’s Andaman and Nicobar command has inducted its second amphibious Landing Craft Utility (LCU) MK-IV L52.

ias-toppers-LCU-L52

Key facts:

  • LCU L52 would be based in the Andaman and Nicobar command.
  • The ship has been indigenously designed and built by Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE), Kolkata
  • The primary role of LCU MK-IV ship is to transport and deploy main battle tanks, armoured vehicles, troops and equipment from ship to shore.
  • However, it can also be deployed for multirole activities like beaching operations, search and rescue, disaster relief operations, supply and replenishment and evacuation from distant islands.

Significance of its deployment:

  • Deployment of such naval assets near the Strait of Malacca, one of the world’s busiest shipping routes and a crucial one for China, is being seen as India’s attempt to ensure its dominance in the Indian Ocean region.

Way ahead:

  • The remaining six ships of the same class are in advanced stages of construction and are scheduled to be inducted in the next two years.
[Ref: PIB, The Hindu]

 

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