Current Affairs Analysis

26th June 2020 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

Korean war; Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana; Biomedical waste; Guidelines to handle Biomedical waste; FATF report on the illegal wildlife trade; Neutral Nations Repatriation Committee; Paleoclimatic history of Indus river; What is Palaeoclimatology?; Indus River; KVIC launches Sandalwood and Bamboo plantation; Godhan Nyay Yojana; Product Application & Development Centre, Paradip; eBloodServices mobile App; Navigating the New Normal campaign; Cycles4change Challenge; UCSD MADVent Mark V; Aegis Ashore interception system etc.
By IASToppers
June 26, 2020

Contents

Government Schemes & Policies

  • Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana

Issues related to Health & Education

  • Guidelines to handle Biomedical waste
  • Collaboration to develop Green energy solutions

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • Illegal wildlife trade a global threat: FATF

Bilateral & International Relations

  • India’s lesser-known role in Korean war

Geophysical Phenomena

  • Paleoclimatic history of Indus river

Key Facts for Prelims

  • KVIC launches Sandalwood and Bamboo plantation
  • Godhan Nyay Yojana
  • Product Application & Development Centre, Paradip
  • eBloodServices mobile App
  • Navigating the New Normal campaign
  • Cycles4change Challenge
  • UCSD MADVent Mark V
  • Aegis Ashore interception system

For IASToppers Current Affairs Analysis Archive, Click Here

Government Schemes & Policies

Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana

The Union Cabinet has approved a scheme for interest subvention of 2% for 12 months, to all Shishu loan accounts under Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana.

  • The scheme will be extended to loans which are outstanding as on 31st March 2020; and not in Non-Performing Asset category, as per Reserve Bank of India guidelines and during the period of operation of the Scheme.

About Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana:

  • MUDRA (Micro Units Development and Refinance Agency) scheme was launched on 8th April 2015 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
  • PMMY is a flagship scheme of Government of India which aims to bring the unfunded enterprises i.e. the small micro-units and entrepreneurs into formal financing system and extend affordable credit to them.
  • The scheme enables small borrowers to borrow from Public Sector Banks, Regional Rural Banks, Cooperative Banks, Private Sector Banks, Foreign Banks, Micro-finance Institutions and Non-Banking Finance Companies for loans up to Rs 10 lakhs.

Eligibility to get a loan:

  • Any Indian citizen who plans to undertake any non-farm sector income generating activity such as manufacturing, processing, trading, and service sector and allied agricultural activities like bee-keeping, poultry etc.; and needs credit less than Rs 10 lakhs.

Types of loans issued:

  • Shishu: loans up to Rs 50,000.
  • Kishor: loans above 50,000 and up to Rs 5 lakhs.
  • Tarun: loans above 5 lakhs and up to Rs 10 lakhs.
  • The products Shishu, Kishor and Tarun signify the stages of growth/ development and funding needs of the enterprises and provide a reference point for the next phase of growth.

Needs and significance:

  • The scheme aims to bring financial inclusion with small entrepreneurs into the formal financing system and delivering collateral-free loans.
  • This is done to generate employment sources, reduce jobless economic growth and boost the GDP of the nation.
[Ref: PIB]

Issues related to Health & Education

Guidelines to handle Biomedical waste

The revised guidelines published by the Central Pollution Control Board on June 10, 2020, stresses the concerns over biomedical waste generated by treating COVID-19 patients.

Major highlights:

  • The guidelines add to existing practices under the Biomedical Waste Management Rules, 2016.
  • It addresses the safety of waste handlers and sanitation workers associated with such healthcare facilities.
  • It must be followed by all stakeholders including isolation wards, quarantine centres, sample collection centres, laboratories, Urban Local Bodies and common biomedical waste treatment and disposal facilities.

What are the guidelines?

  • General solid waste like medicine wrappers and cartons, syringes, fruit peels, empty bottles, discarded paper and other items not contaminated by patients’ secretions and body fluids must be collected separately.
  • Foot-operated lids in colour-coded bins must be introduced to avoid contact.
  • Wet and dry solid waste bags must be securely tied and handed over to waste collectors authorised by ULBs daily.
  • Non-disposable items must not be disposed of as much as possible and should, instead, be cleaned and disinfected keeping hospital rules in mind.
  • Left-over food, disposable plates, glasses, used masks, tissues, toiletries, etc used by COVID-19 patients were classified as biomedical waste and should be put in yellow-coloured bags, while used gloves should be put in red bags.
  • Designated nodal officers for biomedical waste management in hospitals must be made responsible for training waste handlers about infection prevention measures.
  • Nodal officers need to be trained by health departments and professional agencies in association with the state pollution control boards or pollution control committees.
  • It is the responsibility of people operating quarantine camps, homes or homecare facilities to hand over general municipal solid waste to waste collectors identified by ULBs.

Bio-medical waste:

  • Biomedical waste comprises human & animal anatomical waste, treatment apparatus like needles, syringes and other materials used in health care facilities in the process of treatment and research.
  • This waste is generated during diagnosis, treatment or immunisation in hospitals, nursing homes, pathological laboratories, blood bank, etc.
  • Scientific disposal of Biomedical Waste through segregation, collection and treatment in an environmentally sound manner minimises the adverse impact on health workers and the environment.

 [Ref: DownToEarth]

Collaboration to develop Green energy solutions

Researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology Madras are collaborating with their counterparts in Germany to develop new materials for green energy solutions.

Aim:

  • To develop alternative technologies to produce green hydrogen in anticipation of the transition to a hydrogen-based economy.

Major Highlights:

  • The project is under SPARC, an initiative of the Ministry of Human Resource Development.
  • The conventional methods of generating hydrogen result in a large quantity of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that imposed serious environmental concerns.
  • Whereas electrochemical splitting of water, called Water Electrolysis, is a clean, facile, and highly efficient technology for large-scale production of high-purity H2.
  • The international collaboration aims to develop novel low-cost electrocatalysts for hydrogen evolution reactions.
  • The team is working to broaden the understanding of advanced electrocatalysts with the potential to transform lab-scale research to deployable reactors/devices.

Scheme for Promotion of Academic and Research Collaboration (SPARC):

  • SPARC is an initiative of the Ministry of Human Resource Development that aims at improving the research ecosystem of India’s Higher Educational Institutions by facilitating academic and research collaborations between Indian Institutions and the best institutions in the world.
  • The Government in August 2018 had sanctioned the scheme at a total cost of Rs. 418 Crores.
  • Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur is the National Coordinating Institute to implement the SPARC programme.

Expected Outcome:

  • Strong research collaboration between Indian Research groups with the top research group in the leading Universities of the world in the cutting edge areas of science or with direct social relevance to mankind, specifically India.
  • A large number of high-quality research publications.
  • Solutions to key national and international problems.
  • Development of niche courses, high-quality textbooks and research monographs.
  • Imbibing of best practices from top international academicians and researchers.
  • Strong bilateral co-operation, and improved world reputation and ranking of Indian Institutions.

 [Ref: The Hindu]

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

Illegal wildlife trade a global threat: FATF

The Financial Action Task Force has released its first global report on the illegal wildlife trade.

Major Highlights:

  • The illegal wildlife trade (IWT) is estimated to generate revenues of up to $23 billion a year.
  • It is a global threat which has links with other organised crimes like modern slavery, drug trafficking and arms trade.
  • The report says the financial probe is key to dismantling the syndicates involved, which can in turn significantly impact the associated criminal activities.
  • The criminals are frequently misusing the legitimate wildlife trade, as well as other import-export type businesses, as a front to move and hide illegal proceeds from wildlife crimes.
  • The study has highlighted the growing role of online marketplaces and mobile and social media-based payments to facilitate the movement of proceeds warranting a coordinated response from government bodies, the private sector and the civil society.
  • The jurisdictions often did not have the required knowledge, legislative basis and resources to assess and combat the threat posed by the funds generated through the illegal trade.

Recommendations:

  • Prioritise combatting the financial flows associated with IWT proportionate to risk.
  • Provide all relevant agencies with the necessary mandate and tools to conduct successful financial investigations into IWT.
  • Improve coordination between authorities responsible for combatting wildlife crimes and those responsible for conducting financial investigations to ensure authorities more regularly exchange information and follow the financial trail.
  • Cooperate with other jurisdictions, relevant international organisations and the private sector to combat IWT.
  • Legislative changes are necessary to increase the applicability of anti-money laundering laws to the illegal wildlife trade-linked offences.
[Ref: FATF; The Hindu]

Geophysical Phenomena

Paleoclimatic history of Indus river

Researchers from Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology have traced the paleoclimatic history of the Indus River in Ladakh Himalaya.

Major Highlights:

  • They studied the discharge during periods in which the river experienced an increase in land elevation, due to the deposition of sediment and incision of the Indus river.
  • They observed that the aggradation in the Himalayan rivers occurred in glacial-interglacial transient warm climatic conditions when the sediment budget in the rivers increased just after the glacial events.
  • It shows that aggradation (deposition) took place in the Indus River when sediment to water ratio was high.
  • Incision (erosion) initiated when sediment to water ratio reduced during post-glacial climatically wet phase (early Holocene).

Indus river:

  • The Indus River is one of the longest rivers in Asia which flows through western Tibet, India (Ladakh) and Pakistan.
  • Originating in the Tibetan Plateau in the vicinity of Lake Manasarovar, the river runs a course through the Ladakh region of India, towards Gilgit-Baltistan and then flows south along the entire length of Pakistan to merge into the Arabian Sea near the port city of Karachi in Sindh.
  • Its estimated annual flow is twice that of the Nile River and three times that of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers combined, making it one of the largest rivers in the world in terms of annual flow.
  • The Zanskar is its left bank tributary in Ladakh. In the plains, its left bank tributary is the Panjnad which itself has five major tributaries: the Chenab, Jhelum, the Ravi, the Beas, and the Sutlej.

What is Palaeoclimatology?

  • Palaeoclimatology is the study of previous climates that have existed during Earth’s different geologic ages.
  • Paleoclimatologists try to identify the causes of climate changes that have happened in the past to better understand our present and future climate.
  • The data is derived from natural sources such as tree rings, ice cores, corals, and ocean and lake sediments, to interpret paleoclimate.
[Ref: PIB]

Bilateral & International Relations

India’s lesser-known role in Korean war

India played a humanitarian role throughout the Korean War, with no specific geopolitical interests in the region.

Korean war (1950-53):

  • After World War II, the Korean peninsula was divided along the 38th Parallel by American administrators.
  • The northern part of the country was occupied by Soviet troops and the southern part was occupied by troops from the United States.
  • During the late 1940’s Northern Korea established a communist government and the 38th Parallel became a political border between the two sides.
  • North Korea wanted to expand its borders and sought assistance from both the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China to mount an assault against South Korea.
  • China committed supporting the leader of North Korea and on June 25, 1950, North Korean troops advanced across the 38th Parallel.
  • The Korean War (1950-1953) began when the North Korean Communist army crossed the 38th Parallel and invaded non-Communist South Korea.
  • As Kim Il-sung’s North Korean army, armed with Soviet tanks, quickly overran South Korea, the United States came to South Korea’s aid.
  • Although Korea was not strategically essential to the United States, the political environment at this stage of the Cold War was such that policymakers did not want to appear soft on Communism.
  • The Korean War halted following the signing of an armistice agreement in July 1953.

Consequences:

  • There were several casualties on both sides, though the exact figure is unknown.
  •  The Korean War created more friction between the United States and the Soviet Union.
  • War made the United States truly aware of the falling domino effect of communism.
  •  South Korea became an important US military base with thousands of American troops stationed there.
  •  North Korea has carried out a controversial nuclear test and several ballistic missile tests, keeping South Korea, Japan, USA (Hawaii) and China in their missile range.

Role of India:

  • After the Armistice agreement in 1953, India sent Custodian Forces to the Korean Peninsula for the protection and repatriation of prisoners of war.
  • The war resulted in large numbers of prisoners of war on either side who needed to be returned to their country of origin.
  • A final operation- Operation Big Switch, occurred between August and September 1953, where North Korean, Chinese and UN Command prisoners of war were returned.
  • The Neutral Nations Repatriation Committee (NNRC) was set up, with India at the helm, to put the prisoners of the Korean War who refused to return to their countries under the protection of the NNRC.
  • India was tasked with sending a Custodian Force comprising military and civilian personnel who would ensure the welfare of all prisoners of war who did not wish to be repatriated.
[Ref: Indian Express; AllaboutKoreanwar]

Key Fact for Prelims

KVIC launches Sandalwood and Bamboo plantation

  • The Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) has begun exploring the untapped but highly profitable venture of sandalwood and bamboo tree plantation for monetization of its assets.
  • Seeking to encourage commercial plantation of sandalwood and bamboo, the KVIC has begun a drive with plantation of 500 saplings each of sandalwood and bamboo at its Nashik training centre.
  • The plantation of the Sandalwood has also been planned with an eye on creating an asset for the KVIC as it is estimated to fetch between Rs 50 crore to Rs 60 crore in the next 10 to 15 years.
  • A special variety of bamboo, Bambusa Tulda, used for making Agarbatti sticks,  brought from Assam has been planted in Maharashtra to support the local Agarbatti industry and to create regular income for the training centre.

Godhan Nyay Yojana

  • The Chhattisgarh government will now buy cow dung from livestock owners and convert it to fertiliser.
  • The initiative is part of the Godhan Nyay Yojana and aimed to prevent open grazing and make cattle-rearing profitable.
  • The scheme had multiple objectives, including income generation and environmental conservation.
  • The government in the state will utilise cowsheds, set up in thousands of villages as a source of vermicompost.

Product Application & Development Centre, Paradip

  • The Chief Minister of Odisha inaugurated a Product Application & Development Centre (PADC) set up by Indian Oil at Paradip.
  • PADC will act as an incubation centre for new entrepreneur development in and around Odisha in the field of Plastics.
  • The centre will assist customers and investors in product and application development for polymer finished products such as moulded furniture, houseware, woven sacks for packaging cement, fertiliser, healthcare applications, personal protective suit, mask etc.
  • PADC will provide quality assurance, complaint handling, customer support, benchmarking studies, new & niche grade development and application development activities.

eBloodServices mobile App

  • The Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare has launched the eBloodServices mobile App developed by The Indian Red Cross Society (IRCS).
  • This application is developed by the E-Raktkosh team of Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC) under the Digital India scheme.
  • Through this App, four units of blood can be requisitioned at a time and the blood bank will wait for as long as 12 hours for the person to collect it.
  • This app makes it easy for those in need to request for Blood units at IRCS.
  • Once the request is placed through the app, the requisite units become visible to IRCS, NHQ blood bank in its E-Raktkosh dashboard and this allows assured delivery within the specified time.

Navigating the New Normal campaign

  • NITI Aayog, in partnership with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Ministries of Health,and others launched a behaviour change campaign called Navigating the New Normal.
  • The website aims to increase public participation and engages NGOs.
  • It will become a repository of strategies and collaterals to practise COVID-safe behaviours in different sectors.
  • With the availability of this information, institutions and civil society organisations can plan to resume their normal activities while practising COVID-safe behaviours.
  • The portal focuses on the easy implementation of four key behaviours in the unlock phase:
    • mask-wearing
    • social distancing
    • hand-hygiene
    • not spitting in public
  • The website will have sector-specific collaterals and guidelines for health, nutrition, and public transport (in metro cities).

Cycles4Change Challenge

  • India Cycles4change Challenge is an initiative of Smart Cities Mission to support Indian cities to quickly implement cycling-friendly initiatives in response to COVID-19.
  • The idea is to begin by creating low-cost interventions like pop-up cycle lanes and non-motorized zones, launch programs such as community-led cycle rental schemes and promote cycling usage through public events.

UCSD MADVent Mark V

  • A team of engineers has developed a low-cost, easy-to-use emergency ventilator called UCSD MADVent Mark V for Covid-19 patients.
  • The device is built around a ventilator bag usually found in ambulances.
  • The team built an automated system around the bag and the whole ventilator can be assembled in just 15 minutes.

Aegis Ashore interception system

  • Japan has scrapped the deployment of the controversial multibillion-dollar US anti-missile system called Aegis Ashore land-based missile interception system.
  • The Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System is a United States program developed to provide missile defence against short to intermediate-range ballistic missiles.
  • The government had originally guaranteed that interceptor missile gear would not land in residential areas near where the system was based.
  • However, the government could not confirm that residential areas would not be affected by missile interceptors.
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