Government Schemes & Policies
- On Foundation Day, Odisha receives GI tag for ‘Kandhamal Haldi’
- SEBI mulls SRO for investment advisers
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Forest fires threatening Odisha’s flora and fauna
Bilateral & International Relations
- India gains access to Bolivian lithium reserves
Science & Technology
- ISRO to launch electronic intelligence satellite ‘Emisat’ along with 28 foreign satellites on April 1
Key Facts for Prelims
- In Kerala, a café to demystify science for the public
- First Indian shipyard to deliver 100 warships
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Government Schemes & Policies
On Foundation Day, Odisha receives GI tag for ‘Kandhamal Haldi’
‘Kandhamal Haldi’, a variety of turmeric indigenous to southern Odisha, has earned the Geographical indication (GI) tag from Intellectual Property India.
- The recognition coincided with the state’s Foundation Day (Utkal Divas).
- Kandhamal in Odisha’s southern hinterland is famed for its turmeric, a spice that enjoys its pride of place in an array of cuisines.
- Also known as the golden yellow spice, the Kandhamal Haldi has been cultivated since time immemorial and is known for its medicinal value.
- The agricultural product also stands out for its healing properties and arresting aroma.
- Apart from domestic use, turmeric is also used for cosmetic and medicinal purposes.
- Turmeric is the main cash crop of tribal people in Kandhamal. Nearly half of Kandhamal population are engaged in growing the variety.
- The crop is sustainable in adverse climatic conditions.
About Utkal Divas:
Utkal Divas is Odisha state’s foundation day.
- Odisha, on April 1 1936, was carved out as a separate state in the then British India on a linguistic identity.
About Geographical Tag:
A ‘geographical indication’ (GI) is a place name used to identify the origin and quality, reputation or other characteristics of products.
- The GI tag was primarily developed with the purpose of recognising the unique identity connecting different products and places.
GI registration confers:
- Legal protection to the products.
- Prevents unauthorised use of a GI by others.
- Helps consumers get quality products of desired traits.
- Promotes economic prosperity of producers of goods by enhancing demand in national and international markets.
Why is it important?
- Article 22 of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights agreement says unless a geographical indication is protected in the country of its origin, there is no obligation under the agreement for other countries to extend reciprocal protection.
- Typically, such a name conveys an assurance of quality and distinctiveness, which is essentially attributable to the place of its origin.
- Products sold with the GI tag get premium pricing also.
GIs and international conventions:
GI registration is essential to get protection in other countries.
- Under Articles 1 (2) and 10 of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, geographical indications are covered as an element of IPR
- They are also covered under Articles 22 to 24 of the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement, which was part of the agreements concluded at the Uruguay Round of GATT negotiations.
- India, as member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), enacted the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration & Protection) Act, 1999 that came into force from September 15, 2003.
Some popular registered GIs in India:
- Some of the popular registered GIs in India are Mysore Silk, Mysore Agarbathi, Kancheepuram Silk, Orissa Ikat, Channapatna Toys & Dolls, and Coimbatore Wet Grinder, Mysore Pak (sweet), Tanjavur Veena, Pusa Basmati 1 (a high-yielding variety of scented Basmati rice) etc.
- Earlier, Odisha had lost its battle to neighbouring West Bengal in obtaining GI tag for Rasogolla, one of the coveted sweetmeats in the eastern region.
- Intellectual Property India is an organisation functioning under the auspices of the Union ministry of commerce & industry.
SEBI mulls SRO for investment advisers
The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has proposed a self-regulatory organisation (SRO) for the growing number of investment advisers to address issues related to the quality of advice given to investors by such entities.
About the SEBI proposal:
- SEBI proposed the strengthening of the existing regulatory framework for SROs by introducing features such as a governing board with at least 50% public interest directors along with 25% representation each of shareholder directors and elected representatives.
About the proposed SRO:
- SRO is the first-level regulator that performs the crucial task of regulating intermediaries representing a particular segment of securities market on behalf of the regulator.
- It would be seen as an extension of the regulatory authority of the SEBI and would perform the tasks delegated to it by the SEBI.
- The role of SRO is developmental, regulatory, related to grievance redressal and dispute resolution as well as taking disciplinary actions.
- The governing board can appoint a managing director or chief executive officer to manage the daily affairs of the SRO.
Need for proposing SRO:
- SEBI is in receipt of a large number of complaints alleging charging of exorbitant fees, assurance of returns, misconduct etc. by investment advisers.
- Given the growth in this segment of the market, it is necessary for SEBI to proposed SRO which is needed to deal with above concerns.
- Moreover, according to SEBI, there was a need for an SRO for mutual fund distributors that currently register with Association of Mutual Funds in India (AMFI) as well to bring in consistency in industry practices and also to take disciplinary action against alleged malpractices such as mis-selling of products and churning of portfolio.
About SEBI – The Securities and Exchange Board of India:
- The Securities and Exchange Board of India was established on April 12, 1992 in accordance with the provisions of the Securities and Exchange Board of India Act, 1992.
- SEBI acts as a watchdog for all the capital market participants.
- Its main purpose is to provide such an environment for the financial market enthusiasts that facilitate efficient and smooth working of the securities market.
- To make this happen, it ensures that the three main participants of the financial market are taken care of, i.e. issuers of securities, investor, and financial intermediaries.
Objectives of SEBI:
- To regulate the activities of stock exchange.
- To protect the rights of investors and ensuring safety to their investment.
- To prevent fraudulent and malpractices by having balance between self-regulation of business and its statutory regulations.
- To regulate and develop a code of conduct for intermediaries such as brokers, underwriters, etc.
Functions of SEBI:
Protective Functions – These functions are performed by SEBI to protect the interest of investors and other financial participants which includes:
- Checking price rigging
- Prevent insider trading
- Promote fair practices
- Create awareness among investors
- Prohibit fraudulent and unfair trade practices
Regulatory Functions – These functions are basically performed to keep a check on the functioning of the business in the financial markets which includes:
- Designing guidelines and code of conduct for the proper functioning of financial intermediaries
- Regulation of takeover of companies
- Conducting inquiries and audit of exchanges
- Registration of brokers, sub-brokers, merchant bankers etc.
- Levying of fees
- Performing and exercising powers
- Register and regulate credit rating agency
Development Functions – SEBI performs certain development functions also that include but they are not limited to-
- Imparting training to intermediaries
- Promotion of fair trading and reduction of malpractices
- Carry out research work
- Encouraging self-regulating organizations
- Buy-sell mutual funds directly from AMC through a broker
Organizational Structure of SEBI
The SEBI Board consist of nine members:
- One Chairman appointed by the Government of India
- Two members who are officers from Union Finance Ministry
- One member from Reserve Bank of India
- Five members appointed by the Union Government of India
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
Forest fires threatening Odisha’s flora and fauna
Odisha had registered a sudden jump in forest fires across the State resulting in massive damage to flora and fauna.
Forest fire statistics in Odisha:
- As per statistics generated by SNPP (Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership) satellite, only 385 fire spots were recorded February while in January, only 55 fire incidences were detected.
- Southern Odisha looked red in the map provided by Forest Fire Geo Portal of Forest Survey. In Koraput, the southernmost forest circle in Odisha, 2,809 fire spots had been detected since November. It was followed by Bhawanipatna with 622 fire incidences.
- The month of April started with 11 fires as detected by Moderate resolution imaging spectro-radiometer (MODIS) with a resolution of 1 km.
- As many as 5,332 fire spots had been noticed since November 2017 which was the beginning of forest fire season in the Odisha. The month of March had alone registered 4,495 fire spots.
Fire prevention efforts by government of Odisha:
- The forest department of Odisha have mapped the forest divisions prone to fire and maintained more than 6,000-km long fire line in different forests.
- However, Given the vastness of forest areas, number of fire watchers engaged in fire-fighting are too little.
About Forest Fires
- The most common hazard in forests is forests fire. They pose a threat not only to the forest wealth but also to the entire regime to fauna and flora seriously disturbing the bio-diversity.
- During summer, when there is no rain for months, the forests become littered with dry senescent leaves and twinges, which could burst into flames ignited by the slightest spark.
- The youngest mountain ranges of Himalayas are the most vulnerable stretches of the world susceptible to forest fires.
- The forests of Western are more frequently vulnerable to forest fires as compared to those in Eastern Himalayas. This is because forests of Eastern Himalayas grow in high rain density.
Causes of Forest Fire:
- Burning Debris
- Machinery Accidents
- Unattended Campfires
- Volcanic eruption
Types of Forest Fire
- A forest fire may burn primarily as a surface fire, spreading along the ground as the surface litter (senescent leaves and twigs and dry grasses etc.) on the forest floor and is engulfed by the spreading flames.
- The crown of trees and shrubs burn often sustained by a surface fire. A crown fire is particularly very dangerous in a coniferous forest because resinous material given off burning logs burn furiously.
- On hill slopes, if the fire starts downhill, it spreads up fast as heated air adjacent to a slope tends to flow up the slope spreading flames along with it. If the fire starts uphill, there is less likelihood of it spreading downwards.
- It is sometimes called underground or subsurface fires.
- These fires are fires in the sub surface organic fuels, such as duff layers under forest stands, Arctic tundra or taiga, and organic soils of swamps or bogs.
- These fires move very slowly, but can become difficult to fully put out, or suppress.
Impacts of forest fire:
- Loss of valuable timber resources
- Degradation of catchment areas
- Loss of biodiversity and extinction of plants and animals
- Loss of natural regeneration and reduction in forest cover
- Global warming & Ozone layer depletion
- Loss of carbon sink resource and increase in percentage of CO2 in atmosphere
- Change in the microclimate of the area with unhealthy living conditions
- Soil erosion affecting productivity of soils and production
- Health problems leading to diseases
- Loss of livelihood for tribal people and the rural poor
- During the British period, fire was prevented through removal of forest litter all along the forest boundary. This was called “Forest Fire Line”. This line used to prevent fire breaking into the forest from one compartment to another.
Forest fire management related initiatives of Forest Survey of India:
Near Real Time Forest Fire alerts:
- Forest Survey of India (FSI) has been alerting State Forest Departments of forest fire locations detected by the MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectro-radiometer) sensor on-board Aqua and Terra Satellites of NASA since 2004.
- From the year 2017, FSI has incorporated another sensor SNPP-VIIRS (Suomi-National Polar-orbiting Partnership – Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite). SNPP-VIIRS has spatial resolution. It has a good night time detection capability as compared to MODIS and can also detect small fire and under canopy fire.
Large Forest Fires Monitoring Programme (Beta):
- Forest Survey of India launched the beta-version of the Large Forest Fire Monitoring Programme in January 2019 using near real time SNPP-VIIRS data.
- This programme is a part of the FAST 3.0 (FSI Fire Alerts System). Herein, FSI will track large fire events across the country and disseminate specific Large Fire alerts with the objective to identify, track and report serious forest fire incidents.
Forest Fire Pre warning alerts:
- Forest Survey of India developed an indigenous “Pre Warning Alert System” in 2016. The alerts to State Forest departments are based on parameters like Forest Cover, Forest Type, Climatic Variables (Temperature and Rainfall) and recent fire incidences over the area.
Burnt scar assessment:
- It is important to assess forest area affected by the forest fires to assess damage to forest and bio-diversity as well as to plan restoration measures.
- In the year 2015 and 2016, high temporal data (5 days receptivity) from Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) AWiFS (Advanced Wide Field Sensor) was used to delineate burnt scars.
- Presently, FSI is also working on developing a semi-automated methodology for burnt area assessment and severity class classification using modern technologies
MODIS – Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer:
- MODIS is a payload imaging sensor that was launched into Earth orbit by NASA in 1999 on board the Terra (EOS AM) Satellite, and in 2002 on board the Aqua (EOS PM) satellite.
- Terra MODIS and Aqua MODIS are viewing the entire Earth’s surface every 1 to 2 days.
- MODIS is playing a vital role in the development of global, interactive Earth system models able to predict global change accurately enough to assist policy makers in making sound decisions.
Significance of MODIS:
- Measures the properties of clouds such as the distribution and size of cloud droplets
- Measures the properties of aerosols—tiny liquid or solid particles in the atmosphere
- It is particularly sensitive to fires; they can distinguish flaming from smoldering burns and provide better estimates of the amounts of aerosols and gases fires release into the atmosphere.
- MODIS helps scientists determine the amount of water vapor in a column of the atmosphere which are crucial in understanding Earth’s climate system.
- It sees changes in the Pacific phytoplankton populations that may signal the onset of the El Niño/La Niña well ahead of their arrival.
- For a fire to start, three things must be present; oxygen, heat, and fuel called fire triangle. Fire will spread towards the direction where there is plenty of one of these elements. So, the only way to put out or control it is to significantly limit one of these three elements.
- India State of Forest Report (ISFR) is a biennial publication of Forest Survey of India (FSI) an organization under the Ministry of Environment Forest & Climate Change Government of India.
- In 2018, FSI launched ‘Improved feedback system for forest fire alerts’.
Bilateral & International Relations
India gains access to Bolivian lithium rservese
India has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Bolivia for development and industrial use of lithium—a prime component used in batteries for electric vehicles.
Significance of the agreement:
- Bolivia is estimated to hold over 60% of the world’s reserves for lithium but has not yet started producing it commercially. Salt flats in the highlands of the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia alone contain nine million tonnes of lithium, or about 25 per cent of the world’s known deposits.
- India is the second largest manufacturer of mobile phones in the world and has the ambitious goal of 30 per cent electric vehicles by 2030. But India imports all its lithium-ion batteries since India has no known sources of lithium, and zero lithium-ion battery manufacturing capabilities currently.
- India is heavily dependent on China, Taiwan and Japan for import, especially of batteries required for portable electronics.
- With the MoU, the possibility of Indian companies setting up production capabilities in Bolivia goes up, as well as the import of lithium to India.
- Domestic production is also set to see a boost, from the automotive perspective. The arrival of hybrids and electric vehicles from as early as 2020 onwards, will force manufacturers to look at local production.
- This agreement is supposed to form the backbone for the recently launched FAME India policy (Faster Adoption and Manufacture of (Hybrid and) Electric Vehicles) and will also give a substantial push to India’s ambition to have at least 30 per cent of its vehicles run on electric batteries by 2030.
About Faster Adoption and Manufacture of (Hybrid and) Electric Vehicles:
FAME India (Faster Adoption and Manufacture of (Hybrid and) Electric Vehicles) Scheme is an incentive scheme for the promotion of electric and hybrid vehicles in the country.
- FAME was launched by the Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises in 2015 to incentivize the production and promotion of eco-friendly vehicles including electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles.
- FAME India is a part of the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan.
- Vehicles in most segments – two wheelers, three wheelers, electric and hybrid cars and electric buses obtained the subsidy benefit of the scheme.
Objective of the Scheme:
- Objective of the scheme is to promote electric mobility and the scheme gives financial incentives for enhancing electric vehicle production and creation of electric transportation infrastructure.
Focus areas of FAME:
- The scheme covers Electric and Hybrid technologies like Mild Hybrid, Strong Hybrid, Plug in Hybrid & Battery Electric Vehicles.
- FAME focuses on 4 areas i.e. Technology development, Demand Creation, Pilot Projects and Charging Infrastructure.
- KABIL is a consortium of three public sector companies including National Aluminum Company (NALCO), Hindustan Copper Ltd (HCL) and Mineral Exploration Corp Ltd (MECL).
- It has been formed by the Ministry of Mines, Government of India, to identify, explore, acquire, develop and process strategic minerals overseas.
Science & Technology
ISRO to launch electronic intelligence satellite ‘Emisat’ along with 28 foreign satellites on April 1
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launched an electronic intelligence satellite ‘Emisat’ for the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) along with 28 third party satellites.
About the mission:
- This is a first-of-its-kind mission for ISRO as it tried to put the satellites in three different orbits in one single satellite launch mission.
- Besides the EMISAT, the PSLV-C45 mission will also launch 28 other commercial satellites from the US, Lithuania, Spain and Switzerland for a wide range of uses, including earth observation, internet of things (IoT) satellites and navigation.
- The Satellite was launched by new variant PSLV-C45 rocket which put Emisat into an orbit 749 km from the Earth’s surface, and other satellites in orbit at an altitude of 505 km.
- The fourth and last stage of the rocket will function as a satellite itself for some time, instead of being rendered junk after ejecting its payloads.
- Emisat, intended for electromagnetic spectrum measurement, is an Electronic signals intelligence (ELINT) satellite based on IMS2 Bus (Indian Mini Satellite Bus series) which can have a maximum launch weight of 450Kgs with a payload no more than 200kgs.
- The main objective of EMISAT is to measure the electromagnetic spectrum and to read the location of radar emitters both ground and naval.
- It is modelled after a famous Israeli spy satellite called SARAL (Satellite with ARgos and ALtika). EMISAT also has a special altimeter (a radar altitude measuring device) called ‘AltiKa’ that works in the Ka-band microwave region of the spectrum.
- It has been developed in India jointly by ISRO and Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO- DLRL Hyderabad) under Project KAUTILYA.
- The satellite will be placed in an elliptical orbit so as to optimize the dwell time for a required area under observation.
- It will be placed in an orbit of about 753 km altitude.
- It is a very powerful electronic intelligence/surveillance satellite meant to keep a watch on and provide location inputs on enemy radar sites deep in the enemy territory, a function that was done by using electronic warfare planes until now.
- It is able to scan through ice, rain, coastal zones, land masses, forests and wave heights with ease.
- The main capability of EMISAT is in signal intelligence — intercepting signals broadcasted by communication systems, radars, and other electronic systems.
Significance of this mission:
- Reaching three different orbits gives ISRO a new technological edge.
- It demonstrated its capability to reuse the fourth-stage engines of PSLV- C45 multiple times.
- It also showed that the guidance and navigation systems aboard the launch vehicle could be used for much longer times than in earlier missions.
- It will help ISRO pack its future rockets with multiple satellites even if they require to be placed in very diverse but precise orbits. Currently, this could be done only in multiple missions.
What is Project KAUTILYA?
- The Project Kautilya aims to aims to boost India’s space surveillance capacity. The project is named after the ancient Indian economist Chanakya (Kauṭilya) who emphasized the importance of spying for a king to protect his kingdom.
- It is used for Space Borne ELINT System which involves the development of Electronic Intelligence payload for integration on an indigenous minisatellite.
- The ELINT includes recordings and analysis of intercepted signals and helps create an RF signature of a radar which can, in turn, be used for locating and quickly identify the radar in subsequent encounters.
About fourth stage of rocket working as a satellite:
- The rocket is only a carrier which places its passenger/satellite to its designated orbit in space. It becomes practically useless after it.
- For the last few years, ISRO had been planning to use upper part of the PSLV-C45 rocket also known as PS4 which remains with the satellite till the ejection. PSLV-C45 is the first Launch Vehicle to Use Solar Propulsion.
- This is the first time it has been envisaged to provide a microgravity environment for research organizations and academic institutes to perform experiments.
- The fourth stage is carrying three kinds of equipment – capture messages from ships, amateur radio operators and study the composition of the ionosphere.
- However, the fourth stage will not have the usual life of a satellite. It can remain alive only for a few weeks /months.
- ISRO holds the world record for carrying the highest number of satellites on a single launch vehicle — 104 on PSLV C-37 in February 2017.
Key Facts for Prelims
In Kerala, a café to demystify science for the public
A group of science experts of the Hume Centre for Ecology and Wildlife Biology are gearing up to launch ‘Café Scientifique’ in Kerala’s Wayanad district to promote science among public in an interesting way.
- Café Scientifique, the first such initiative in the State, envisages to bring science back into popular culture by demystifying scientific research for the public and empowering non-scientists to comfortably assess science and technology issues, particularly those that impact social policy making.
About Café Scientifique:
Café Scientifique is a grassroots public science initiative based on the French Café Philosophique model.
- Originating in England, the concept quickly gained popularity and was adopted by other countries.
- The project is also aimed at making science relevant, powerful and important to the public, especially the younger generations.
- Various topics such as universe, climate change, evolution, genetics and human-animal relations will be discussed in every monthly gathering.
First Indian shipyard to deliver 100 warships
- The state-owned company, Garden Reach Ship Builders and Engineers Ltd (GRSE) became the “first Indian shipyard to build and deliver 100 warships.
- In the last 59 years, the company has built around 780 platforms, including 100 warships to the Navy, the Coast Guard, and the Mauritius Coast Guard.