Polity & Governance
- Funds tracking system will trim Centre’s costs
- Chairman of Auroville Foundation
- Centre takes steps to drain excess cash
Environment & Ecology
- SC approves Centre’s graded response system to tackle Delhi-NCR’s air pollution
Art & Culture
- Hornbill Festival
- Pre-historic camping site found in Ladakh
- New Delhi nod for Karmapa’s Arunachal visit
Science & Technology
- New way to produce nuclear fuel using electricity
Key Facts for Prelims
- 2016 International Children’s Peace Prize
Polity & Governance
Funds tracking system will trim Centre’s costs
The Centre is planning to speed up the process of implementation of Public Financial Management System in the country.
What is Public Financial Management System?
PFMS is an electronic fund tracking mechanism compiles, collates and makes available in real-time, information regarding all government schemes.
- It will significantly provide government real-time information on resource availability and utilisation across schemes.
- It allows government expenditure to adopt a Just-in- Time (JIT) approach, with payments made only when they are needed.
Significance of the Public Financial Management System:
- The Public Financial Management System (PFMS) after implemented on full scale will help Union Government to save a significant amount on interest costs.
- It will allow the government to monitor and access the more than Rs.1 lakh crore of idle funds lying with it under various heads.
- Once government access these funds through PFMS, it need does not need to borrow that amount. Government is planning to roll out this platform from next financial year i.e. April 2016 along with Goods and Services Tax (GST). It will be integrated with IT network of the GST.
Chairman of Auroville Foundation
Congress MP Karan Singh has been re-nominated by the HRD ministry as the chairman of the Governing Board of Auroville Foundation for a term of four years.
What is Auroville?
Auroville (City of Dawn) is an experimental township in Viluppuram district mostly in the state of Tamil Nadu, India with some parts in the Union Territory of Puducherry.
- It was founded in 1968 by Mirra Alfassa (known as “the Mother”) and designed by architect Roger Anger.
- Auroville was meant to be a universal town where men and women of all countries are able to live in peace and progressive harmony, above all creeds, all politics and all nationalities. The purpose of Auroville is to realize human unity.
- Auroville is recognized as International living experiment in human unity, endorsed by the UNESCO and supported by the Government of India.
- It is also a centre for applied research in environmentally sustainable living practices, experimenting new system of education, social research and cultural activities.
About Auroville Foundation:
- The Government of India notified the constitution of Auroville Foundation as a Statutory Body on 29th January, 1991 as per the Auroville Foundation Act, 1988.
- The Auroville Foundation, headed by a chairman, is an autonomous body under the Ministry of Human Resource Development.
- The Auroville Foundation consists of three authorities, the Governing Board, the Resident’s Assembly and Auroville International Advisory Council.
- The Auroville Foundation Act vests the Governing Board with the responsibility and the authority for superintendence, direction and management of the Foundation’s affairs.
Centre takes steps to drain excess cash
The Centre has decided to increase the limit of bonds that can be issued under a market stabilisation scheme to mop up excess liquidity from the banking system arising out of its demonetisation move.
- In this regard, the government has decided to revise the ceiling for issue of securities under the Market Stabilisation Scheme (MSS) to Rs. 6,000 billion (6 lakh crore).
- The move is aimed to facilitate liquidity management operations by the central bank and the liquidity in the banking system was expected to rise further for sometime.
- Following demonetisation, the banks received huge inflows of funds as people started depositing old Rs. 500 and Rs.1,000 notes in bank’s and post offices. According to RBI data, till November 27, Rs. 8.45 lakh crore was deposited and exchanged in the banking system.
What is Market Stabilization Scheme?
The MSS scheme was launched in April 2004 to strengthen the RBI’s ability to conduct exchange rate and monetary management.
- The bills/bonds issued under MSS have all the attributes of the existing treasury bills and dated securities.
- These securities will be issued by way of auctions to be conducted by the RBI.
- The timing of issuance, amount and tenure of such securities will be decided by the RBI.
- The securities issued under the MSS scheme are matched by an equivalent cash balance held by the government with the RBI. As a result, their issuance will have a negligible impact on the fiscal deficit of the government.
- MSS (Market Stabilisation Scheme) securities are issued with the objective of providing the RBI with a stock of securities with which it can intervene in the market for managing liquidity. These securities are issued not to meet the government’s expenditure.
Environment & Ecology
SC approves Centre’s graded response system to tackle Delhi-NCR’s air pollution
The Supreme Court has approved Central Government’s Graded Response Action Plan to tackle different levels of pollution in Delhi-NCR.
- The apex court also has asked Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to upgrade its existing infrastructure and set up additional monitoring stations in Delhi-NCR.
The order came after the top court approved the Central Pollution Control Board’s (CPCB) “graded response action plan” that outlines measures based on air quality — moderate to poor, very poor, severe, and severe-plus or emergency. A separate set of action plan has been suggested for each category.
Key features of the Graded Response Action Plan:
- The enforcement of action plan will be under orders of Environment Pollution (Control and Prevention) Authority (EPCA). All other authorities will act in aid of such direction.
- It has enumerated a number of measures which include closing brick kilns, stone crushers, hot mix plants, intensifying public transport services besides increase in frequency of mechanised cleaning of road and sprinkling of water on roads to tackle problem of pollution.
- The action plan proposes common pollution code for Delhi-NCR to provide graded response to health emergencies caused by noxious air due to pollution.
- The code categorises the severity of the pollutants present in the air into four categories- moderate to poor, very poor, severe, very Severe or emergency depending upon the level of pollutants in air.
- Under it, when particulate matter (PM) 2.5 levels are above 250 to 430 micrograms per cubic metre in the ambient air it will be termed as “severe” levels of pollution.
- After air pollution reaches such alarming proportions, immediate steps will be taken. It includes ban on construction activities and implementation of road space rationing schemes.
- China’s capital city Beijing also has a similar pollution code where regular colour-coded alerts are issued based on the levels of toxic particles in the air.
Art & Culture
The Hornbill Festival began in the Naga Heritage village of Kisama.
- The festival coincides with the Statehood Day of Nagaland which is observed on December 1.
- Hornbill Festival is celebrated in Nagaland every year in the first week of December.
- It is one of the biggest indigenous festivals of the country. It is also called as the ‘Festival of Festivals’.
- The festival is a tribute to Hornbill, the most admired and revered bird for the Nagas for its qualities of alertness and grandeur. The majestic bird is closely identified with the social and cultural life of the Nagas as reflected in tribal folklore, dances and songs.
- It is organized by the State Tourism and Art & Culture Departments. It is also supported by the Union Government.
Pre-historic camping site found in Ladakh
The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has found an ancient camping site used by pre-historic man, at an altitude of about 4,200 metres near Saser La in Nubra Valley, Ladakh.
What is camping site?
- The camping site is a place where hunter-gatherers in the ancient times stayed temporarily before they moved on to another place.
- This camping site is located in Saser La which leads to the Karakoram Pass.
- It was used for a seasonal settlement not a permanent settlement.
- Charcoal pieces from the earth activity and remains of bones associated were discovered at the site.
- The carbon dating of these charcoal pieces reveals that, the site dates back to circa 8500 BCE.
Significance of the finding:
- Saser La site is the earliest camping site discovered in Ladakh on the basis of a scientific date. Prior it, Ladakh region was not having any archaeological importance. Thus, it is considered as remarkable discovery.
Earlier, only 6th century CE to 7th century CE remains were reported in Ladakh.[Ref: The Hindu]
New Delhi nod for Karmapa’s Arunachal visit
The government has allowed Urgyen Trinley Dorje, the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, to address a public gathering at Mon in Arunachal Pradesh.
- The move comes six months after the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, allowed the Karmapa to travel abroad.
- The Gyalwang Karmapa is the head of the Karma Kagyu school, one of the four main schools of Tibetan Buddhism. He escaped from Tibet in 2000.
What’s the issue?
- In 2011, police had recovered Rs 1.2 crore of unaccounted foreign currency, including Chinese currency, from the Gyuto Tantric University and Monastery in Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh. The monastery is the temporary home of the Karmapa.
- The police had registered a case against the Karmapa and the then UPA government placed further restrictions on his travel.
- After the NDA government came to power in 2014, the CCS reviewed the Karmapa’s case and he was allowed to travel freely within as well as outside India.
Who is the Karmapa?
- Karmapa means “the one who carries out buddha-activity” or “the embodiment of all the activities of the buddhas”.
- In the Tibetan tradition, great enlightened teachers are said to be able to consciously control their rebirth in order to continue their activity for the benefit of all sentient beings.
- Since the 12th century the Karmapas have been the heads of the Karma Kaygü lineage and responsible for the continuation of this direct transmission lineage.
- The present 17th Gyalwa Karmapa Thaye Dorje was born in 1983 and in 1994 he managed to flee the oppression of Tibet and came to India.
What is Karmapa controversy?
- The recognition of the Seventeenth Karmapa, the head of the Karma Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism, has been the subject of controversy.
- Since the death of the sixteenth Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, in 1981, two candidates have been put forward: Ogyen Trinley Dorje and Trinley Thaye Dorje.
- Both have already been enthroned as 17th Karmapa, and both independently have been performing ceremonial duties in the role of a Karmapa.
About Karma Kagyu school:
- The Karma Kagyu lineage belongs to one of the 4 main schools of Tibetan Buddhism.
- As a lineage of direct oral transmission it places particular emphasis on meditation and the realization of the direct experience of mind gained through the guidance of a teacher.
- The Karma Kagyu lineage has its roots in the teachings of the historical Buddha and developed into a practical way to enlightenment in India and Tibet.
- For over a 1000 years Buddhist Masters (Mahasiddhas) such as Naropa and Maitripa in India as well as the famous Tibetan Yogis Marpa and Milarepa shaped the lineage as a practical everyday practice for lay people.
Science & Technology
New way to produce nuclear fuel using electricity
Scientists from Russia have developed a new unique, low-cost method for producing high-quality nuclear fuel using electricity.
Main type of fuel for nuclear power reactors:
The main type of fuel for nuclear power reactors is the uranium oxide pellet composition. It is produced from a powder by granulation, pressing, and sintering (coalescing into a solid or porous mass by heating) with the subsequent control of the quality and size of the pellets.
About the method:
- It is alternative novel method that forms the basis of powder metallurgy and involves electric pulse sintering under pressure.
- In the new method, the mould is heated by passing electric current with the uranium oxide pellet powder placed in. Under these circumstances, the uranium oxide fuel is simultaneously influenced by the powerful pulse discharge and mechanical pressure.
Advantages of the new technology:
- Products of high quality are obtained in low cost.
- Reduces number of production stages without increasing the cost.
- Fuel pellets can be produced even from uranium dioxide powder, which is not suitable for the conventional technology.
- With its help it is possible to obtain high-quality samples of fuel, including that for fast breeder reactors.
Key Facts for Prelims
2016 International Children’s Peace Prize
- UAE based Indian environmental activist Kehkashan Basu has won 2016 prestigious International Children’s Peace Prize for her fight for climate justice and combating environmental degradation.
- The International Children’s Peace Prize is awarded annually to a child who has made a significant contribution to advocating children’s rights and improving the situation of vulnerable children.
- The prize was launched in 2005 by Marc Dullaert, Chairman and Founder of the Amsterdam-based children’s rights organization, KidsRights.
- In 2006, India’s Om Prakash Gurjar was given this award for setting up network of child friendly villages to give all children a birth certificate to protect them from exploitation.