Polity & Governance
- ‘DigiYatra’- A New Digital Experience for Air Travellers
Government Schemes & Policies
- Manipur assembly passes controversial inner line permit bill amid protest from locals
- Delhi CM announces solar energy scheme aimed at raising farmers income by 3-5 times
Issues related to Health & Education
- Health ministry launches National Viral Hepatitis Control programme
- Meghalaya launches milk mission, bull fair
- Domestic Council for Gold to aid exports on the anvil
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Naturalised exotic or alien species
- Arsenic contamination in paddy is rising in Bengal, says study
Defence & Security Issues
- India plans to buy missile shield – NASAMS-II from U.S.
- Blood Moon 2018: Longest Total Lunar Eclipse of Century
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Polity & Governance
‘DigiYatra’- A New Digital Experience for Air Travellers
The Ministry of Civil Aviation is planning to launch DigiYatra service at airports in a few months.
What is DigiYatra?
DigiYatra is an industry-led initiative coordinated by the Ministry of Civil Aviation in line with Digital India programme.
- It aims to transform the flying experience for passengers and position Indian Aviation amongst the most innovative aviation networks in the world.
- The basic objective is to reduce queues at airports and bring efficiency to the boarding process.
- The facility will use digital technology to enhance air passenger experience all the way from ticket booking to airport entry check, security check and aircraft boarding.
How it works?
- For this, a passenger needs to enrol into DigiYatra program through AirSewa app and a DigiYatra verified passenger will get hassle free entry at the airport through E-Gates
- At the entry gate, a single token for the passenger will be created. This will also facilitate walk-through security scanners swiftly owing to advanced biometric security solutions.
Facility is optional:
- This facility will be optional for passengers. If somebody does not want to disclose the identity, there will be a separate provision for them. The ID verification will be done by the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS)-approved Government ID.
Government Schemes & Policies
Manipur assembly passes controversial inner line permit bill amid protest from locals
Manipur People’s Protection Bill, 2018, passed by the state assembly recently, has been welcomed with protests across various districts in the state.
What is in the bill?
- The Manipur People’s Protection Bill, 2018 seeks to regulate the entry and exit of “outsiders” on the lines of the British-era inner-line permit system prevalent in three other north-eastern states — Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland.
- The bill aims to grant the status of “natives” to Meitis, Pangal Muslims, scheduled tribes and others who moved to the state before 1951. The bill sets 1951 as the base year to identify locals and prevent an influx of outsiders.
- The rest, categorised as “Non-Manipuris”, will have to register themselves within one month of the notification of the law. They will be issued a pass extendable up to six months. While those who have trade licences can get a pass extendable up to five years, which will have to be renewed every year. Any outsider visiting Manipur would need a pass.
Rationale behind the passage of the bill:
- The influx of foreign tourists has increased exponentially in Manipur, thus creating a demographic imbalance in the region.
- If this was not enough, illegal immigration from Bangladesh, Nepal and Myanmar has also contributed to the crisis. This has created fear among the locals over employment and availability of resources.
- At a time where there already exists stiff competition between the locals and outsiders over jobs, the outsiders mostly settle for low paid work. Hence, locals feel ILP fails to safeguard the interests of the indigenous people.
Who are protesting?
- The protestors included both Bengali Hindus and Muslims.
- Even, many people from the Kuki-Zomi groups are believed to have migrated from adjoining Myanmar before and after 1951.
Why there is protest over the passage of the bill?
- The bill, if approved by the Governor and made an Act, people who came to Manipur after 1951 would be viewed as ‘foreigners’ and would have no voting or land rights.
- Bengali Muslims and Hindus from southern Assam’s Barak Valley have been migrating to Manipur, particularly Jiribam, for a long time.
What the protesters are demanding?
- The protesters against the bill want the cut-off date to be January 1972, the year when Manipur attained statehood.
What is the Inner Line Permit (ILP)?
The Inner Line Permit (ILP) is an official travel document issued by the Government of India to grant inward travel of an Indian citizen into a protected area for a limited period.
- It is obligatory for Indians residing outside those states to obtain permission prior to entering the protected areas.
- It can be issued for travel purposes solely. Visitors are not allowed to purchase property in these regions. However, there might be a different set of rules for long term visitors, though they are not valid for central government employees and security forces.
- Currently, the Inner Line Permit is operational in Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland.
- The document has been issued under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873 and the conditions and restrictions vary from state to state.
Delhi CM announces solar energy scheme aimed at raising farmers income by 3-5 times
Delhi government has announced the ‘Mukhyanmantri Kisan Aaye Badhotri Solar Yojna’ which aims to increase the income of farmers by three to five times in the national capital.
About the scheme:
- Under the scheme, any farmer can rent out not more than one-third of his land to a private firm to set up solar panels at a rate of Rs one lakh per annum per acre.
- The panels will be set up at a height of 3.5 metres, so that the land can also be used for agriculture.
- The Delhi Government departments will buy solar power from the companies participating in the scheme.
Significance of the scheme:
- The annual income of the beneficiary farmers, which is estimated at present to be between Rs 30,000 and Rs 50,000 per acre per year, will increase to between Rs 1.30 lakh and Rs 1.5 lakh following the implementation of this scheme.
- Besides getting additional income, the farmers will also get 1,000 units of free solar power without any investment.
- The departments currently buy electricity at Rs 9 per unit but with the implementation of the scheme, the expense will come down to Rs 5 per unit, saving the department Rs 400 crore to Rs 500 crore annually.
Issues related to Health & Education
Health ministry launches National Viral Hepatitis Control programme
Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO) has launched National Viral Hepatitis Control Programme to control viral hepatitis C on the occasion of World Hepatitis Day (July 28).
- The programme aims to combat viral hepatitis and reduce mortality and morbidity associated with it.
About National Viral Hepatitis Control Programme:
- The programme aims at both prevention and treatment of hepatitis which is among leading causes of liver cancer, cirrhosis of liver and acute liver failure.
- It aims to treat minimum of 3 lakh hepatitis C cases over a period of three years for eliminating deadly condition by 2030.
- The programme is part of National Health Mission.
- The programme also aims to build capacities at national, state, district levels and sub-district level up to Primary Health Centres (PHC) and health and wellness centres to scale program till lowest level of the healthcare facility in a phased manner.
- Under it, expensive antiviral for hepatitis B and C infections will be made available free of cost at all government hospitals.
- It will set up and upgrade facilities for diagnosis and treatment primarily of hepatitis B and C. These designated treatment centres will provide free anti-viral to hepatitis C patients.
- They will also provide hepatitis B vaccine to babies born to mothers carrying the virus within 24 hours of birth.
Key strategies under the Program:
- Preventive and promotive interventions with focus on awareness generation.
- Safe injection practices and socio-cultural practices, sanitation and hygiene, safe drinking water supply, infection control and immunization
- Increasing access to testing and management of viral hepatitis.
- Promoting diagnosis and providing treatment support for patients of hepatitis B and C through standardized testing and management protocols with focus on treatment of hepatitis B and C.
- Co-ordination and collaboration with different Ministries and departments.
- Building capacities at national, state, district levels and sub-district level up to Primary Health Centres (PHC) and health and wellness centres to scale program till lowest level of the healthcare facility in a phased manner.
Meghalaya launches milk mission, bull fair
Meghalaya state government launched Meghalaya Milk Mission and First Meghalaya Bull Fair to bridge the gap between demand and supply of milk.
- The project is sanctioned by Union Ministry of Agriculture and Family Welfare through National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC).
- The Mission aims to plug the demand and supply gap in the availability of per capita milk, to generate alternate livelihoods for the rural people through the dairy sector and to create and revive dairy co-operatives.
- The Mission is expected to benefit 2,000 farmers in the next four years.
Need for such mission:
- The per capita milk availability in Meghalaya is much lower than Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR’s) recommendation of milk consumption per person.
About National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC):
- NCDC was established by an Act of Parliament in 1963 as a statutory Corporation under the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare.
- It is engaged in the promotion and development of Cooperative in agriculture and rural oriented activities.
- Loans and grants are advanced to State Governments for financing primary and secondary level cooperative societies and direct to the national level and other societies having objects extending beyond one State.
- NCDC assistance is not individual beneficiary oriented but is meant for institutional development of Cooperatives. NCDC supplements the efforts of State Government. The State Governments recommend the proposal of individual society / project to NCDC in the prescribed schematic format.
Sources of Funds
- Internal accruals, market borrowings and allocations from Government of India including International assistance.
Functions of NCDC:
- Planning, promoting and financing programmes for production, processing, marketing, storage, export and import of agricultural produce, food stuffs, certain other notified commodities e.g. fertilisers, insecticides, agricultural machinery, lac, soap, kerosene oil, textile, rubber etc.,
- Supply of consumer goods and collection, processing, marketing, storage and export of minor forest produce through cooperatives, besides income generating stream of activities such as poultry, dairy, fishery, sericulture, handloom etc.
NCDC Act amended:
- NCDC Act has been further amended. Now, the Corporation can also go in for direct funding of projects under its various schemes of assistance on fulfillment of stipulated conditions.
- NCDC will now be able to finance projects in the rural industrial cooperative sectors and for certain notified services in rural areas like water conservation, irrigation and micro irrigation, agri-insurance, agro-credit, rural sanitation, animal health, etc.
Domestic Council for Gold to aid exports on the anvil
To aid exports of jewellery and to create an ecosystem to harness the true potential for jewellery-making in the country, the Centre has decided to set up a Domestic Council for Gold.
About the proposed council:
- The council would work towards industry development, job creation, building of regional clusters and strengthening of value chains.
- This council will represent all the jewellers of India who will be the electoral college. They will form different interest groups and elect those who will sit in the council.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
Naturalised exotic or alien species
What are naturalised exotic or alien species?
- An intentionally or unintentionally introduced species that has adapted to and reproduces successfully in its new environment.
- Naturalised species reproduce naturally in the environments they colonise. Invasive species do this so prolifically that they alter the workings of the natural ecosystems they colonise or invade.
Naturalised plant species in the world:
- More than 13,000 plant species are now naturalised in ecosystems across the world due to human activity; many of these later turn invasive and impact local flora and fauna.
Naturalised plant species in India:
- Last year, a study identified India as one of the ‘hotspots’ of naturalised plant species and among the seven regions in the world that have the highest number of invasive species.
- The ENVIS Centre on Floral Diversity hosted by the BSI lists more than 170 invasive plant species in India.
Why in news?
- An international team — including scientists from India — have collated information on alien plant species from several sources, ranging from online plant lists to old compilations of India’s national and regional flora.
What they found?
- They found that as many as 471 plant species that are alien or exotic — not native to India — are ‘naturalised,’ for they can thrive in the country’s wildernesses by forming stable populations.
- Scientists have developed the first lists of naturalised plants for each State; these lists reveal that 110 alien plants now naturally occur in more than 31 States in India.
- At 332, Tamil Nadu has the highest number of naturalised exotics, followed by Kerala (290), while Lakshadweep has the least (17).
- The distribution across Indian States of over 20 of these naturalised species (in the list of 471) is unknown.
- A majority of these naturalised plants are herbs such as the invasive Siam weed Chromolaena odorata, native to south and central America.
- The new list shows that many exotic species are now part of our natural flora.
Arsenic contamination in paddy is rising in Bengal, says study
According to recent study, arsenic contamination in paddy is rising from ground water in West Bengal.
- The study also reveals that concentration of ‘arsenic accumulation’ depends on the variety of paddy and its stage in the crop cycle.
Highlights of the study:
- The study was carried out on two commonly consumed rice varieties — Minikit and Jaya — and it was found that latter to be more resistant to arsenic. It shows processes and dependencies of arsenic trans-location in rice from contaminated irrigation water.
- It has found that arsenic contamination in paddy was higher than in previous studies.
- It shows that arsenic uptake in paddy plant reduces from root to grain and that its concentration is related to variety of rice cultivated.
- It was observed that highest concentration of arsenic was observed in initial or vegetative state in first 28 days. It reduced during reproductive stage (29-56 days) and again increased in ripening stage.
- The uptake of arsenic is faster in young roots in vegetative state than in older tissues with higher concentrations of iron in root soil in reproductive phase.
- It also raised concerns over disposal of contaminated rice straw which is used as animal fodder or burnt or sometimes left in field itself to serve as fertiliser.
- Arsenic is natural component in the earth’s crust. It is widely distributed throughout the environment in the air, water and land. It is highly toxic in its inorganic form. Arsenic contaminated water used for drinking, irrigation of food crops and food preparation poses the greatest threat to public health from arsenic.
- Long-term exposure to arsenic from drinking-water and food can lead to chronic arsenic poisoning. It can cause cancer, skin lesions, developmental effects, cardiovascular disease, neurotoxicity and diabetes.
Arsenic Contamination in India:
- In India, Arsenic Contamination is a high-profile problem in the Ganges Delta, due to the use of deep tubewells for water supply. The groundwater in these tube wells have high concentrations of arsenic in deeper levels.
- Arsenic pollution is a big problem in West Bengal and neighbouring states. In West Bengal, there are 83 blocks in eight districts where groundwater is arsenic contaminated. Malda, Murshidabad and Nadia districts have higher levels of arsenic concentration.
Technological options to combat arsenic menace, in groundwater, to ensure supply of arsenic free water, in the affected areas can be
- In-situ remediation of arsenic from aquifer system,
- Ex-situ remediation of arsenic from tapped groundwater by arsenic removal technologies,
- Use of surface water source as an alternative to the contaminated groundwater source,
- Tapping alternate safe aquifers for supply of arsenic free groundwater or combination of above techniques.
Defence & Security Issues
India plans to buy missile shield – NASAMS-II from U.S.
India is in talks with United States to procure National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System-II (NASAMS-II).
- It is an advanced air defence system.
- It is highly adaptable mid-range solution for any operational air defence requirement.
- It provides tailorable, state-of-the-art defence system that can maximise the ability to quickly identify, engage and destroy current and evolving enemy aircraft, UAV or emerging cruise missile threats.
- It is part of the air defence network guarding US capital city Washington DC. It is also deployed in several NATO countries.
Significance for India:
- India’s purchase of NASAMS-II will help in preventing 9/11-type on NCT Delhi.
- It will also complement India’s other systems such as the medium and long-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems under procurement.
- With this, India will join league of nations including US, Russia and Israel etc. who have their own missile defence systems to protect their national capital regions.
Blood Moon 2018: Longest Total Lunar Eclipse of Century
On 27-28 July 2018, there occurred Blood Moon 2018 or century’s (2001 AD to 2100 AD) longest total lunar eclipse of 1 hour 43 minutes.
- It was majorly seen in Eastern Hemisphere including Central Asia, Eastern Africa and South East Asia.
- The rare celestial event was visible from all parts of India.
What is a Lunar eclipse?
- A lunar eclipse is a spectacular celestial show, during which the bright, pearly-white disc of the full Moon turns dark, and sometimes takes on the colour of dark copper, or even dried blood.
- A lunar eclipse occurs when the Sun, the Earth and the Moon are so aligned that for a period of time, the full Moon passes through the shadow of Earth in space (called Earth’s Umbra).
- This typically happens up to three times a year.
- Unlike with solar eclipses, there’s no need to wear protective eyewear when witnessing a lunar eclipse. In other words, these events can be viewed safely with the naked eye.
The last lunar eclipse occurred on Jan. 31, an event that was dubbed a “super blue blood moon.”
What happens during a lunar eclipse?
- As the moon passes into Earth’s shadow, it will dim and darken. The moon will turn this copper, blood-red color. It will turn a deep, deep red when it’s at the greatest point in the eclipse.
- This dramatic coloring is actually caused by Earth’s atmosphere, which scatters light from the sun and casts it onto the face of the moon.
What’s the best time to view the lunar eclipse?
- The best time to see the eclipse depends on where you are in the Eastern Hemisphere.
- According to NASA, the best places to view the celestial event from start to finish are in eastern Africa, the Middle East, India and central Asia.
Why is this month’s lunar eclipse so long?
- Unlike solar eclipses, which have short-lived periods of totality, the peaks of lunar eclipses can be quite lengthy. This month’s lunar eclipse is particularly long because of the moon’s position as it slips into Earth’s shadow.
- When the sun, Earth and the moon are aligned, Earth casts a shadow that projects out into the shape of an imaginary cone.
- The longest lunar eclipses occur when the moon moves right down the center of this cone. In shorter eclipses, the moon won’t pass through most of that shadow.
- Coincidentally, the moon will also be at its most distant point from Earth (i.e. apogee) in its monthly orbit in late July, meaning the moon will appear smaller in the night sky and will take longer to completely pass through Earth’s shadow.
Why is it termed Blood Moon or Copper Moon?
- During a total lunar eclipse, though the Moon gets shadowed by the Earth, sunlight passing through the Earth’s atmosphere, break down in its constituent colours and the red part gets scattered by the atmosphere and falls on the Moon’s surface, thereby making it take on a reddish copper hue. For this reason since antiquity, a totally eclipsed Moon is called a “Blood Moon”.
- It has no other special relevance other than the fact that the colour of the Moon looks blackish-red.