Government Schemes & Policies
- Centre widens petroleum’s definition to cover more hydrocarbons
Issues related to Health & Education
- 2nd meeting of National Council on India’s Nutrition Challenges under POSHAN Abhiyaan held
- Invest India and Business France sign MoU to promote investment
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Fish losing their sense of smell due to rising levels of carbon dioxide in atmosphere: Study
- Odisha CM launches Green Mahanadi Mission
- 2018 Earth Overshoot Day fall on August 1
- Marking the 100th year of the Montagu-Chelmsford Report
Key Facts for Prelims
- Business optimism in India remains tepid in Q2: Thornton
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Government Schemes & Policies
Centre widens petroleum’s definition to cover more hydrocarbons
The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas has liberalised the definition of petroleum to bring more hydrocarbons such as coal bed methane and shale gas under its fold.
- In this regard, Petroleum and Natural Gas (Amendment) Rules, 2018 have been amended.
What’s the new definition:
- Petroleum will now mean naturally occurring hydrocarbons, whether in the form of natural gas, in a liquid, viscous or solid form, or a mixture of these.
- It, however, does not include coal, lignite and helium occurring in association with petroleum or coal or shale.
Need for this move:
- Prior to this, the definition excluded shale and therefore barred companies from exploiting it from fields that are producing conventional oil and gas or coal-bed methane.
- The amendment of definition of petroleum will open up exploration of all hydrocarbons in existing fields which is line with new Hydrocarbon Exploration Licensing Policy (HELP).
- It will help in enhancing domestic exploration and production of hydrocarbons and increasing India’s energy security and reducing dependency on imports.
Other reforms needed:
- The exclusion of natural gas from the purview of GST remains a deterrent to attracting large-scale investments as neither the producers nor the consumers are able to set off the taxes paid on their input and output.
- While the Goods and Service Tax (GST) was implemented from July 1, 2017, crude oil, natural gas, petrol, diesel, and jet fuel (ATF) were kept out of it for the time being. No date for their inclusion in GST regime has yet been announced.
What is Coal Bed Methane?
- Coal Bed Methane is a form of natural gas extracted from coal beds.
- The term CBD refers to methane adsorbed into the solid matrix of the coal.
- It is an important source of energy in United States, Canada, Australia, and other countries.
- CBD is distinct from typical sandstone or other conventional gas reservoir, as the methane is stored within the coal by a process called adsorption.
- It contains very little heavier hydrocarbons such as propane or butane, and no natural-gas condensate.
- During the initial years of mining, CBM was vented out and wasted into the atmosphere as it was considered as serious safety hazard while conducting coal mining operations. However, later with advancement of technology it was possible to extract CBM, a precious energy resource and an unconventional form of natural gas.
Advantages of CBM as a fuel:
- It is environmentally safe and clean fuel which on combustion emits only carbon dioxide and water.
- It is not only considered as an efficient fuel but also reduces emission of greenhouse gas from coal mining.
- Its extraction prior to coal mining activities makes mining activities safer by degassing the coal seams.
What is Shale Gas?
Shale gas is a natural gas formed from being trapped within shale formations.
- It is unconventional source of methane, like coal-bed gas (in coal seams) and tight gas (trapped in rock formations).
- It is colourless, odourless gas, lighter than air.
- It is cheaper than natural gas, releases 50% less CO2, hence better source for generating electricity.
- It also provides feedstock for petrochemicals industry, which is turned into fertilizer, plastics and other useful stuff.
Shale gas in India:
- In India, potential shale gas sites are Cambay, Gondwana, Krishna-Godawari and Cauvery Basins.
Issues related to Health & Education
2nd meeting of National Council on India’s Nutrition Challenges under POSHAN Abhiyaan held
Union Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) had recently organized 2nd meeting of National Council on India’s Nutrition Challenges under POSHAN Abhiyaan in New Dehli.
Highlights of Meeting:
- National Council approved inclusion of 32 new districts under POSHAN Abhiyaan in the current year. This will help to saturate all districts of Union Territories (UTs) that were left out under Phase-I and Phase-II.
- In-principle approval to guidelines for construction of anganwadi centres in urban areas and slums under aanganwadi services.
- Month of September will be celebrated as the National Nutrition Month every year.
About POSHAN Abhiyaan:
- POSHAN Abhiyaan was launched on International Women’s day (March 8) in 2018 to boost nutrition among pregnant women, mothers and children.
Target under the mission:
- The target of the mission is to bring down stunting among children in the age group 0-6 years from 38.4% to 25% by 2022.
- It aims to reduce level of under-nutrition and other related problems by ensuring convergence of various nutrition related schemes.
- It also targets stunting, under-nutrition, anaemia (among young children, women and adolescent girls) reduce low birth weight by 2%, 2%, 3% and 2% per annum respectively.
Invest India and Business France sign MoU to promote investment
Invest India and Business France have signed an MoU to promote investment facilitation and cooperation between startups of the two countries.
Details of the MoU:
- Invest India and Business France will collaborate to promote business and startup ecosystem cooperation through joint activities and exchange experiences to strengthen institutional knowledge.
- The goal will be to facilitate direct foreign investment by providing practical investment information to enterprises and support the companies pursuing those opportunities, which contribute positively to economic growth of the two countries.
Significance of this MoU:
- The MoU will facilitate direct foreign investment by providing practical investment information to enterprises.
- It will also support companies pursuing those opportunities which contribute positively to economic growth of two countries.
About Invest India:
- It is official Investment Promotion and Facilitation Agency of Central Government.
- It acts as the first point of reference for investors in India.
- Operationalized in early 2010, it is first stop for potential global investors in country.
- It is non-profit venture under Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Ministry of Commerce and Industries.
Invest India is a joint venture:
Invest India is set up as a joint venture company between
- The Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP) (35% equity),
- Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) (51% equity)
- State Governments of India (0.5% each)
Mandate of Invest India:
- The core mandate of Invest India is investment promotion and facilitation.
- It provides sector-specific and state-specific information to a foreign investor, assists in expediting regulatory approvals, and offers hand-holding services.
- Its mandate also includes assisting Indian investors to make informed choices about investment opportunities overseas.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
Fish losing their sense of smell due to rising levels of carbon dioxide in atmosphere: Study
A new study has revealed that as levels of carbonic acid in seawater rise, fish are losing their sense of smell.
How study was made?
- Scientists compared the behaviour of young sea bass at current CO2 levels to the levels expected at the end of the century, i.e. when oceans would contain up to two and a half times the levels of the gas seen today.
- The researchers noticed big changes in the behaviour of the fish inhabiting the most acidic water. The sea bass not only swims less but also could not notice the presence of predators.
Smelling sense of fishes:
- The sense of smell plays an important role in the survival of fish.
- They not only use it to find food but also to find places suitable to reproduce in the ocean.
- It also helps them to recognize each other and sniff the dangers to avoid running into predators.
Why fish are losing their sense of smell?
- CO2 is absorbed by seawater forming carbonic acid. With rising CO2 (carbon dioxide) levels in the ocean or ocean acidification, water is becoming more acidic and thus causing the fish to lose their sense of smell and so making it difficult for them to survive.
As the atmospheric carbon dioxide dissolves in water, it increases ocean acidity, a phenomenon that is already known to:
- Damage nervous systems of fish
- Disrupt the processing of information in their brains
- Erode their hearing ability — making them unable to hear predators
- Dissolve the hard counter coatings of shellfish
- Since the 19th century AD, carbon dioxide levels in the ocean have risen by 43 per cent. By the end of the century we are living in, the CO2 levels are predicted to grow more than double the current levels.
Odisha CM launches Green Mahanadi Mission
Odisha Government has launched ‘Green Mahanadi Mission’.
What is Green Mahanadi Mission?
- It is a plantation drive under which 2 crore saplings will be planted along Mahanadi river and its tributaries
- The main objective of the mission is to stop soil erosion on river banks and recharge the groundwater reserve. It also aims to protect the Mahanadi River and keep it alive.
- Under this mission, more than 5 crore saplings will be planted over an area of 41,000 hectares along the banks of Mahanadi river and its tributaries Ib and Tel rivers.
- Mainly fruit-bearing trees like mango, jackfruit and jamun will be planted within one km radius of the river bank.
- It will be implemented jointly by States Departments of Forest, Horticulture and Watershed Development.
About Mahanadi river:
- Mahanadi is major river in East Central India.
- It originates from highlands of Chhattisgarh through collection of array of streams.
- It flows through Chhattisgarh and Odisha and reaches Bay of Bengal.
- It drains an area of around 141,600 square kilometres and has total course of 858 kilometres.
- Mahanadi valley is known for its fertile soil and flourishing agriculture. Hirakud Dam across the river is longest major earthen dam in India.
- Its left bank tributaries are Shivnath, Mand, Ib, Hasdeo and right bank are Ong, parry river, Jonk, Telen.
2018 Earth Overshoot Day fall on August 1
2018 Earth Overshoot Day will fall on August 1, the earliest date since ecological overshoot began in early 1970s.
- This year the overshoot day falls two days earlier than the last year’s.
What is Earth Overshoot Day?
- It is date when humanity annual demand on nature exceeds what Earth can regenerate over the entire year.
- It is calculated by Global Footprint Network and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
- This day depicts that 1.7 earths will be required by humanity to satisfy its exploitative needs keeping in mind current rate of consumption and waste production.
How is it calculated?
- Earth Overshoot Day is calculated by dividing the world biocapacity (the amount of natural resources generated by Earth that year), by the world ecological footprint (humanity’s consumption of Earth’s natural resources for that year), and multiplying by 365, the number of days in one Gregorian common calendar year.
What are the reasons for earlier Earth Overshoot Day?
Every day after August 1 will now be considered as strain on Earth’s natural resources. In 2018, nature’s budget for entire year has already been used up in just span of 8 months only.
- It means humanity is currently using nature 1.7 times faster than Earth’s ecosystems can regenerate. It shows that mankind and human actions are putting unprecedented pressure on environment and its resources. This has been prime cause of overshoot day constantly moving up calendar from late September in 1997 to its earliest yet in 2018.
- The two greatest contributing factors to humanity’s Ecological Footprint are carbon emissions (60%) and food (26%).
What can we do?
- According to the Global Footprint Network, if we cut our carbon emissions by half, Earth Overshoot Day would come 89 days later in the year.
- If we cut food waste in half worldwide, we could move the date back 11 days. By eating less protein-intensive food, we could move it back 31 days.
According to a data, 0.7 number of the earth would be required to sustain our lifestyles if everyone in the world lived like Indians and five earths would be required if they lived like the people in the US.
Measures to prevent Earth Overshoot Day from coming sooner next year
- Use public transportation and cut down driving by half in the entire world
- Reduce all the food waste by half
- Reduce meat consumption: It takes a longer time and larger amount of land to
- Population control: It is suggested that every other family should have one child less is we want to move back the Overshoot Day
Implications of ecological overspend:
- The costs of ecological overspend include biodiversity loss, soil erosion, deforestation, fresh water scarcity collapsing fisheries, and build-up of carbon dioxide in atmosphere, leading to vicious circle of climate change and more unprecedented climate including severe droughts, hurricanes and wildfires.
About Global Footprint Network:
- It is an international non-profit organization founded in 2003 to enable a sustainable future where all people have opportunity to thrive within the means of one planet.
- It develops and promotes tools for advancing sustainability, including ecological footprint and biocapacity, which measure amount of resources we use and how much we have. These tools aim at bringing ecological limits to center of decision-making.
Marking the 100th year of the Montagu-Chelmsford Report
July 2018 marks the 100th year of the publication of the ‘Report on Indian constitutional reforms’, commonly known as the Montagu-Chelmsford Report (MCR).
About the Montagu–Chelmsford Reforms:
- The Government of India Act of 1919 was thus enacted, which came into force in 1921.
- This Act is also known as Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms (Montagu was the Secretary of State for India and Lord Chelmsford was the Viceroy of India).
Genesis of this act:
- The 1919 reforms did not satisfy political demands in India.
- The British repressed opposition, and restrictions on the press and on movement were re-enacted through the Rowlatt Acts introduced in 1919. The act allowed certain political cases to be tried without juries and permitted internment of suspects without trial.
- These measures were rammed through the Legislative Council with the unanimous opposition of the Indian members. Several members of the council including Jinnah resigned in protest. These measures were widely seen throughout India of the betrayal of strong support given by the population for the British war effort.
Features of the Act
Central and Provincial Subjects
- It relaxed the central control over the provinces by demarcating and separating the central and provincial subjects.
- The central and provincial legislatures were authorised to make laws on their respective list of subjects. However, the structure of government continued to be centralised and unitary.
- It separated, for the first time, provincial budgets from the Central budget and authorised the provincial legislatures to enact their budgets.
Dyarchy: Transferred and Reserved list
- It further divided the provincial subjects into two parts—transferred and reserved.
- The transferred subjects were to be administered by the governor with the aid of ministers responsible to the legislative Council.
- The reserved subjects, on the other hand, were to be administered by the governor and his executive council without being responsible to the legislative Council.
- This dual scheme of governance was known as ‘dyarchy’—a term derived from the Greek word di-arche which means double rule. However, this experiment was largely unsuccessful.
Upper and Lower House and Direct elections
- It introduced, for the first time, bicameralism and direct elections in the country.
- Thus, the Indian Legislative Council was replaced by a bicameral legislature consisting of an Upper House (Council of State) and a Lower House (Legislative Assembly). The majority of members of both the Houses were chosen by direct election.
- It required that the three of the six members of the Viceroy’s executive Council (other than the commander-in-chief) were to be Indian.
- It extended the principle of communal representation by providing separate electorates for Sikhs, Indian Christians, Anglo-Indians and Europeans.
- It granted franchise to a limited number of people on the basis of property, tax or education.
Further Political and Administrative reforms
- It created a new office of the High Commissioner for India in London and transferred to him some of the functions hitherto performed by the Secretary of State for India.
- It provided for the establishment of a public service commission. Hence, a Central Public Service Commission was set up in 1926 for recruiting civil servants.
- It provided for the appointment of a statutory commission to inquire into and report on its working after ten years of its coming into force.
Why this act is known as Magna Carta of Modern India?
- The 1919 Act went on to become the basis for the Government of India Act, 1919 and 1935, and, ultimately, the Constitution. The key principles of responsible government, self-governance and federal structure grew out of these reforms.
- The Act on Indian constitutional reforms along with the Montagu Declaration are, thus, worthy claimants of the title of the Magna Carta of Modern India.
Key Facts for Prelims
Business optimism in India remains tepid in Q2: Thornton
- According to Grant Thornton’s International Business Report (IBR), a quarterly global business survey, business optimism in India remained tepid in the second quarter of this year and the country continues to rank 6th in the Global Optimism Index.
- India has recently been declared as the 6th largest economy by the World Bank, surpassing France. However, higher twin deficits resulting in a falling rupee and rising crude oil prices and inflation continue to be the reasons for the sluggish business optimism in the country.
- Indonesia topped the optimism index, followed by Netherlands, Austria, Philippines and Mainland China.