hera-mission-1 - Copy
Current Affair Analysis

7th February 2019 Current Affairs Analysis -IASToppers

Hera mission;Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes Bill, 2018; Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog; International Financial Services Centres (IFSCs); Income-Tax Ombudsman and Indirect Tax Ombudsman; Agri-Market infrastructure fund (AMIF); NABARD; ‘Darwaza Band-Part Two’; Swachh Bharat mission- Gramin; ‘zero fatality corridor’; Didymoon; Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART); Andaman and Nicobar Islands Integrated Development Corporation Limited (ANIIDCL); ‘Freedom of the City of London’; Légion d’Honneur; India’s first “career portal”; Categorisation of Farmers; etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
February 19, 2019

Contents

Polity & Governance

  • Contempt pleas against Prashant Bhushan: Supreme Court may curb advocates from speaking on cases

Government Schemes & Policies

  • Cabinet approves Proposal for Official Amendments to the Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes Bill, 2018
  • Cabinet approves introduction of National Institutes of Food Technology, Enterpreneurship and Management Bill, 2019

Issues related to Health & Education

  • ‘Darwaza Band-Part Two’ to Sustain Sanitation Gains

Economy

  • Cabinet approves establishment of Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog
  • Govt to set up unified body to regulate IFSC financial services
  • Cabinet approves Abolition of Institution of Income-Tax Ombudsman and Indirect Tax Ombudsman
  • CCEA approves creation of Agri-Market infrastructure fund (AMIF)
  • Delhi government launches ‘zero fatality corridor’
  • Expert panel defers clearance to Andamans resort project

Science & Technology

  • NASA to crash into asteroid, ESA to follow up

Key Facts for Prelims

  • Légion d’Honneur
  • ‘Freedom of the City of London’
  • India’s first “career portal”
  • Categorisation of Farmers

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Polity & Governance 

Contempt pleas against Prashant Bhushan: Supreme Court may curb advocates from speaking on cases

The Supreme Court has agreed to examine the possibility of imposing curbs on advocates airing their views in the media about pending cases and the judges handling them.

Supreme Court may curb advocates from speaking on cases 1 - Copy

Background:

  • The issue came before the court during a hearing on contempt petitions filed by the government and the Attorney General of India against civil rights lawyer Prashant Bhushan.

Allegation on lawyers by Judges:

  • In the defence of judiciary protection, the judges alleged lawyers of being airing attacks on judges whose code of conduct did not allow them to go public.
  • The Judges also observed that some lawyers rushed to the media as soon as their petition was filed.
  • While the petition may contain all manner of allegations and was even likely to be later withdrawn in court, the damage, however, had been done by that time.

Supreme Court may curb advocates from speaking on cases - Copy

Why impose curbs on advocates?

  • It is often alleged that some advocates do it to gain media attention. Some lawyers even used air time to attack judges, whose code of conduct did not allow them to go public.
  • Some lawyers rush to the media as soon as their petition was filed. While the petition may contain all manner of allegations, and was even likely to be later withdrawn in court, the damage, however, had been done by that time.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Government Schemes & Policies

Cabinet approves Proposal for Official Amendments to the Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes Bill, 2018

The Union Cabinet has given its approval to move official amendments to the Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes Bill, 2018.

Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes Bill, 2018

 

  • The Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes Bill, 2018 was introduced in Parliament in July 2018 after refereeing by the Standing Committee on Finance (SCF).
  • SCF submitted its 17th Report on the said Bill to Parliament in January, 2019.

What is the need of amendment?

  • The official amendments will further strengthen the Bill in its objective to effectively tackle the menace of illicit deposit taking activities in the country, and prevent such schemes from duping poor people of their hard earned savings.
  • The worst victims of these schemes are the poor and the financially illiterate, and the operations of such schemes are often spread over many States.

Salient features of bill:

  • Provision of substantive banning clause which bans Deposit Takers from promoting, operating, issuing advertisements or accepting deposits in any Unregulated Deposit Scheme.
  • The principle is that the Bill would ban unregulated deposit taking activities altogether, by making them an offence ex-ante rather than the existing legislative-cum-regulatory framework which only comes into effect ex-post with considerable time lags.
  • The Bill creates three different types of offences:
  1. Running of Unregulated Deposit Schemes
  2. Fraudulent default in Regulated Deposit Schemes
  • Wrongful inducement in relation to Unregulated Deposit Schemes.
  • Provision for severe punishment and heavy pecuniary fines to act as deterrent.
  • It has adequate provisions for repayment of deposits in cases where such schemes nonetheless manage to raise deposits illegally.
  • The Bill provides for attachment of properties by the Competent Authority and subsequent realization of assets for repayment to depositors.
  • Clear-cut time lines have been provided for attachment of property and restitution to depositors.
  • The Bill enables creation of an online central database, for collection and sharing of information on deposit-taking activities in the country.
  • The Bill defines “Deposit Taker” and “Deposit” comprehensively.
  • “Deposit Takers” include all possible entities receiving or soliciting deposits, except specific entities such as those incorporated by legislation.
  • “Deposit” is defined in such a manner that deposit-takers are restricted from camouflaging public deposits as receipts, and at the same time, not to curb acceptance of money by an establishment in the ordinary course of its business.
  • Being a comprehensive Union Law, the Bill adopts best practices from State laws, while entrusting the primary responsibility of implementing the provisions of the legislation to the State Governments.

Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes Bill, 2018

Ways of banning Unregulated Deposits:

  • Deterrent punishment for promoting or operating an unregulated deposit taking scheme.
  • Stringent punishment for fraudulent default in repayment to depositors.
  • Designation of a Competent Authority by the State Government to ensure repayment of deposits in the event of default by a deposit taking establishment.
  • Powers and functions of the competent authority including the power to attach assets of a defaulting establishment.
  • Designation of Courts to oversee repayment of depositors and to try offences under the Act.
  • Listing of Regulated Deposit Schemes in the Bill, with a clause enabling the Central Government to expand or prune the list.

Background:

  • The Finance Minister in the Budget Speech 2016-17 had announced that a comprehensive Central legislation would be brought in to deal with the menace of illicit deposit taking schemes.
  • During the period between July, 2014 and May, 2018, More than 900 cases of unauthorized schemes were discussed in State Level Coordination Committee (SLCC) meetings.
  • A large number of such instances have been reported from the eastern part of the country.
  • Subsequently, the Finance Minister in the Budget Speech 2017-18 had announced that the draft bill to curtail the menace of illicit deposit schemes would be introduced shortly.
[Ref: PIB]

 

 Cabinet approves introduction of National Institutes of Food Technology, Enterpreneurship and Management Bill, 2019

The Union Cabinet has approved the introduction of National Institutes of Food Technology, Entrepreneurship and Management Bill, 2019

National Institutes of Food Technology, Entrepreneurship and Management Bill, 2019 - CopyObjective of this Bill:

The objective of the bill is to confer the status of Institutions of National Importance to:
1. National Institute of Food Technology, Entrepreneurship and Management (NIFTEM) at Kundli, Haryana.

  1. The Indian Institute of Food Processing Technology (IIFPT) at Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu.

About these two institutions:

  • The above two institutes are societies registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860.
  • These institutes are separate autonomous bodies exclusively on food processing sector.

Benefits of this bill:

  • The legislation would provide for functional autonomy to the institutes to design courses, undertake research and leverage enhanced status in their academic pursuits to become world class institutes.
  • The institutes would implement the reservation policy of the Government and would also undertake special outreach activities for the benefits of concerned stakeholders.
  • It would enable the institutes to provide world class teaching and research experience by adopting innovative practices.

National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management:

  • National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management (NIFTEM), Haryana was conceptualized by Government of India on persistent demand of the food industry to have an apex body as a “One Stop Solution Provider“.
  • NIFTEM being an apex institution under Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MoFPI) have developed strong linkages with other industries as well.
  • University Grants Commission (UGC) has granted NIFTEM a deemed to be University status under De-novo Category meant for institutions devoted to innovations in teaching and research.

The Indian Institute of Food Processing Technology (IIFPT):

  • IIFPT located in Tamilnadu aimed to serve as a national institution for research and training in the area of post-harvest processing of crops of wetlands and storm prone regions.
  • The Institute was organized in 1967 as R&D laboratory in the Modern Rice Mill Complex of Thanjavur Co-operative Marketing Federation (TCMF).
  • It also seeks for creating environment friendly methods of utilizing the vast biomass in the India.
  • Storage of grains, insect pest management and safeguarding the quality of food grains and products is part of its mandate.
[Ref: PIB]

 

Issues related to Health & Education

‘Darwaza Band-Part Two’ to Sustain Sanitation Gains

‘Darwaza Band -Part 2’ campaign was launched under the ‘Swachh Bharat Mission Grameen’ which focuses on sustaining the open defecation free status of villages across the country.

Darwaza Band Part 2 Campaign 1

Highlights of Campaign:

  • The campaign was created by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation.
  • The campaign was launched by Amitabh Bachchan.
  • It is the continuum of the scheme ‘Darwaza Band for open defecation’ which promotes toilet use and freedom from open defecation across the Indian villages.
  • The primary focus of this scheme is on behaviour change and promoting sustainable usage of toilets, at both community and village levels.
  • The ‘Darwaza Band- Part 2’ campaign has been supported by the World Bank and is being rolled out countrywide immediately after the launch.
  • As a part of campaign, three ‘Darawaza bandh part 2’ films were launched by Amitabh Bachchan.

Darwaza Band Part 2 Campaign

Background:

  • 50 crore people stopped defecating in the open since the launch of the Swachh Bharat mission (SBM) and with over 5.5 lakh villages having already been declared Open Defecation Free (ODF),
  • The national sanitation coverage is now in excess of 98%, compared to 39% in 2014.
  • According to world Bank, India had achieved in five years what many of the much smaller countries took over 40 years to achieve in terms of sanitation facilities.

Swachh Bharat mission (SBM):

  • The Swachh Bharat Mission is a massive mass movement that seeks to create a Clean India by 2019.
  • To achieve universal sanitation coverage and to put focus on sanitation, the Prime Minister of India launched the Swachh Bharat Mission on in October, 2014.
  • It has two Sub-Missions, the Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) and the Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban).

Swachh Bharat mission- Gramin [SBM (G)]

  • The aim of Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) is to achieve a clean and Open Defecation Free (ODF) India by 2nd October, 2019.
  • Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan (NBA) is restructured into Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin).

Objectives:

  • To bring about an improvement in the general quality of life in the rural areas.
  • To motivate communities to adopt sustainable sanitation practices.
  • To encourage cost effective technologies for ecologically safe and sustainable sanitation.
  • To develop community managed sanitation systems focusing on scientific Solid & Liquid Waste Management systems.

Main Activities:

  • Construction of Individual Household Latrines (IHHL)
  • Construction of Community Sanitary Complexes (CSCs).
  • Solid Liquid Waste Management (SLWM) activities.
  • Information, Education and Communication (IEC) and Human Resource Development (HRD) activities.

Recent initiatives:

  • In order to provide exposure to officers at their entry level itself, a training module has been developed for Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA), Mussoorie.
  • World Bank project of Rs. 9000 crores have been approved for incentivizing the States on the basis of their sustenance of sanitation.

Implementation authority:

  • As per the 73rd Constitution Amendment Act, 1992, sanitation is included in the 11th Schedule and is the responsibility of the panchayat.
  • At the district level, Zila Panchayat implements the project.
  • Similarly, at the block and the Panchayat levels, Panchayat Samiti and respective Gram Panchayats are involved in the implementation of SBM(G).

Key facts:

  • Under SBR(G), Madhya Pradesh had created a world record by organizing hand washing activities among more than 3 lakh children in 2014 on world Hand washing day (15th October).
[Ref: PIB]

 

Economy

Cabinet approves establishment of Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog

The Union Cabinet has approved the proposal for establishment of ‘Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog’ for Conservation protection and development of cows and their progeny.

Rashtriya Gokul Mission 1 - Copy

Functions of the Aayog:

  • The Aayog will work in collaboration with Veterinary, Animal Sciences or Agriculture University of the Central/State Government engaged in the task of research in the field of breeding and rearing of cow, organic manure, biogas etc.
  • It will take up scientific activities for genetic upgradation and increasing productivity of cows.
  • It will provide the policy framework and direction to the cow conservation and development programmes in the country and for ensuring proper implementation of laws with respect to the welfare of cows.

Significance of Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog:

  • The setting up of Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog will lead to conservation, protection and development of cattle population in India including development and conservation of indigenous breeds.
  • It will result in increased growth of livestock sector which is more inclusive, benefitting women, and small and marginal farmers.
  • The creation of Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog will provide the policy framework and direction to the cow conservation programmes.
  • It will ensure proper implementation of laws with respect to the welfare of cows.

Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog - Copy

Key facts:

  • Currently, India has 33 breeds of cows and 16 breeds of buffaloes.
  • The 2012 livestock census had put the total bovine population (cattle, buffalo, Mithun and Yak) in the country at nearly 300 million.
  • Union Minister, in interim budget, announced that Rs 750 crore would be allocated for the Rashtriya Gokul Mission. Under the scheme, a ‘Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog’ would be set up.
[Ref: PIB]

 

Govt to set up unified body to regulate IFSC financial services

The Union Cabinet has approved a Bill to set up a unified authority for regulating all financial services in international financial services centres (IFSCs).

800px-International_Financial_Services_Centre55

 

  • It is established through ‘International Financial Services Centres Authority Bill’, 2019.
  • The Department of Economic Affairs (DEA), Ministry of Finance (MoF) has prepared a draft Bill to set up unified regulator for IFSCs.

Need for Unified Authority to regulate IFSC services:

  • Currently, the banking, capital markets and insurance sectors in IFSC are regulated by multiple regulators, i.e. RBI, SEBI and IRDAI.
  • The dynamic nature of business in the IFSCs necessitates a high degree of inter-regulatory coordination.
  • It also requires regular clarifications and frequent amendments in the existing regulations governing financial activities in IFSCs.
  • The development of financial services and products in IFSCs would require focussed and dedicated regulatory interventions.
  • Hence, a need is felt for having a unified financial regulator for IFSCs in India.

Significance of Unified Authority:

  • World-class regulatory environment to market participants from an ease of doing business perspective
  • Works as stimulus for further development of IFSCs in India and enable bringing back of financial services and transactions that are currently carried out in offshore financial centres to India
  • Generation of significant employment in the IFSCs in particular as well as financial sector in India as a whole

Composition of Authority:

  • The Authority shall consist of a Chairperson, one Member each to be nominated by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI), the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) and the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority(PFRDA).
  • Two members to be dominated by the Central Government and two other whole-time or full-time or part-time members.

Functions of the Authority: 

  • The Authority shall regulate all such financial services, financial products and FIs in an IFSC which has already been permitted by the Financial Sector Regulators for IFSCs.
  • The Authority shall also regulate such other financial products, financial services or FIs as may be notified by the Central Government from time to time.
  • It may also recommend to the Central Government such other financial products, financial services and financial institutions which may be permitted in the IFSCs.

Powers of the Authority:

  • All powers exercisable by the respective financial sector regulatory (viz. RBI, SEBI, IRDAI, and PFRDA etc.) under the respective Acts shall be solely exercised by the Authority in the IFSCs.

Processes and procedures of the Authority:

  • The processes and procedures to be followed by the Authority shall be governed in accordance with the provisions of the respective Acts of Parliament of India applicable to such financial products, services or institutions.

Grants by the Central Government: 

  • The Central Govt. may, after due appropriation made by Parliament by law in this behalf, make to the Authority grants of such sums of money as the Central Government may think fit for being utilized for the purposes of the Authority.

Transactions in foreign currency:

  • The transactions of financial services in the IFSCs shall be done in the foreign currency as specified by the Authority in consultation with the Central Govt.

A unified authority for regulating all financial services in IFSCs 3

What is an IFSC?

  • An IFSC caters to customers outside the jurisdiction of the domestic economy. Such centres deal with flows of finance, financial products and services across borders.
  • It provides Indian corporates easier access to global financial markets.
  • London, New York and Singapore can be counted as global financial centres. Many emerging IFSCs around the world, such as Shanghai and Dubai, are aspiring to play a global role in the years to come.
  • An expert panel headed by former World Bank economist Percy Mistry submitted a report on making Mumbai an international financial centre in 2007.
  • However, the global financial crisis in 2008 made countries including India cautious about rapidly opening up their financial sectors.
  • In 2015, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, had announced that India’s first IFSC’s would be set up in Gujarat International Financial Tech -GIFT City in Gujarat.

What are the services an IFSC can provide?

  • Fund-raising services for individuals, corporations and governments
  • Asset management and global portfolio diversification undertaken by pension funds, insurance companies and mutual funds
  • Wealth management
  • Global tax management and cross-border tax liability optimization, which provides a business opportunity for financial intermediaries, accountants and law firms.
  • Global and regional corporate treasury management operations that involve fund-raising, liquidity investment and management and asset-liability matching
  • Risk management operations such as insurance and reinsurance
  • Merger and acquisition activities among trans-national corporations

Can an IFSC be set up in a special economic zone (SEZ)?

  • The SEZ Act 2005 allows setting up an IFSC in an SEZ or as an SEZ after approval from the central government.

Key facts:

  • India INX is India’s first international exchange at IFSC Gujarat International Financial Tech (GIFT) City, Gandhinagar.
[Ref: PIB, Times of India]

 

Cabinet approves Abolition of Institution of Income-Tax Ombudsman and Indirect Tax Ombudsman

The Union Cabinet decided to exterminate institutions of ‘Ombudsman for income tax and indirect tax’.

income-tax-ombudsman 1 - Copy

What led to abolition?

  • The approval comes in the wake of alternative complaint redressal mechanisms chosen by public such as like CPGRAMS (Centralized Public Grievance Redress and Monitoring System), AaykarSevaKendras etc.
  • The institution of Ombudsman could not prove to be more effective than regular existing parallel channels of grievance redressal, hence both the institutions of Income-Tax Ombudsman as well as Indirect Tax Ombudsman have been abolished.
  • The Institution of Income-Tax Ombudsman was created in the year 2003 to deal with grievances of public related to settlement of complaints relating to Income Tax. However, the Institution of Ombudsman failed to achieve its objectives.
  • It was observed that institution of new complaints has in turn fallen to single digits. Also, tax payers started preferring alternate methods of grievance.
  • Further, it was also decided in 2011 to close vacant offices of Indirect Tax Ombudsman.

Income-Tax Ombudsman 4 - Copy

What is an Ombudsman?

  • An ombudsman is a government official, who investigates complaints (usually lodged by private citizens) against businesses, financial institutions or government departments or other public entities, and attempts to resolve the conflicts raised.
  • An ombudsman’s decision may or may not be legally binding depending on jurisdiction as they have restricted punitive powers.
  • When appointed, the ombudsman is typically paid via levies and case fees.
  • Ombudsman duties may be more wide-ranging nationally such as some countries have ombudsmen in place to deal with issues such as corruption.
  • Furthermore, some countries have ombudsmen whose main function is to protect human rights within those countries.
  • However, an ombudsman is usually publicly appointed, they have a significant degree of independence in fulfilling his or her function as to enable the official to act in a fair way to all parties involved in a complaint.
  • Ombudsmen may be called by different names in some countries, including titles such as public advocate or national defender.
[Ref: PIB, Economic Times]

 

CCEA approves creation of Agri-Market infrastructure fund (AMIF)

The Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs approved creation of a Rs 2,000-crore Agri-Market Infrastructure Fund (AMIF) for development and upgradation of rural agriculture markets.

Agri Market Infrastructure Fund (AMIF)

  • The corpus will be created with ‘National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development’ (NABARD).

Highlights of AMIF:

  • AMIF will provide the State/UT Governments subsidized loan for their proposal for developing marketing infrastructure in Agriculture Produce Market Committees (APMCs) and Grameen Agricultural Markets (GrAMs).
  • The scheme was first announced in 2017-18 budget.
  • States may also access AMIF for ‘Innovative integrated market infrastructure’ projects including Hub and Spoke mode and in Public Private Partnership mode.
  • In these Grameen Agricultural Markets (GrAMs), physical and basic infrastructure will be strengthened using ‘Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Gurantee Act’ (MGNREGA) and other Government Schemes.
  • The interest subsidy will be provided by Department of Agriculture Cooperation & Farmers Welfare (DAC&FW) to NABARD up to 2024-25.

What is NABARD?

  • National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) is an apex development financial institution in India.
  • Reserve Bank of India (RBI) constituted a Committee to Review the Arrangements for Institutional Credit for Agriculture and Rural Development (CRAFICARD) as the institutional credit was boosting rural economy.
  • The Committee, under the Chairmanship of Shri B. Sivaraman in 1979, recommended the formation of National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD).
  • NABARD came into existence in July, 1982 by transferring the agricultural credit functions of RBI and refinance functions of Agricultural Refinance and Development Corporation (ARDC).

NABARD - Copy

Duties of NABARD:

  • Takes measures towards institution building for improving absorptive capacity of the credit delivery system.
  • Co-ordinates the rural financing activities of all institutions engaged in developmental work.
  • NABARD refinances the financial institutions which finances the rural sector.
  • It partakes in development of institutions which help the rural economy.
  • It regulates the institutions which provide financial help to the rural economy.
  • It provides training facilities to the institutions working in the field of rural upliftment.
  • It regulates and supervise the cooperative banks and the Regional Rural Bank (RRB’s), throughout entire India.

What is a Hub and Spoke Structure?

  • A hub and spoke structure is an investment structure in which several investment vehicles (Bonds, Stocks, Options etc.) each remaining individually managed, pool their assets together, contributing to one central investment vehicle.
  • This can also be called a master-feeder structure. All of the funds in the system typically have the same investment objective.
  • The smaller investment vehicles are referred to as the “spokes.” The central investment vehicle is referred to as the “hub” or the master fund.
[Ref: PIB, Times of India, Hindustan Times]

 

Delhi government launches ‘zero fatality corridor’

The Delhi government has kicked off its pilot project of creating Delhi’s first ‘zero fatality corridor’.

Delhi government launches zero fatality corridor 1

  • It has also issued actionable points to all agencies to ensure a 10% reduction in road accidents by the end of the year.
  • Zero fatality corridor is to be run in partnership with SaveLIFE Foundation, a leading road safety non-profit.

Background:

  • Delhi saw 1,691 road crash fatalities in 2018.

About ‘zero fatality corridor’:

  • The ZFC model of the non-profit is known for reducing road crash deaths by 30% on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway.      
  • It reduces deaths through a 360-degree intervention, road engineering, police enforcement, rapid emergency care and road-user engagement.

First stretch of ZFC:

  • As per the government’s plan, a 3km stretch between Burari Chowk and Bhalswa chowk will be taken as a case study for scientific assessment of accidents, road engineering, road-user engagement and for checking police enforcement and rapid emergency care.

Annual Action Plan for 2019:

  • On 30th Road Safety Week, Delhi government also unveiled an Annual Action Plan for 2019 which is a part of the Delhi government’s plan.
  • All concerned agencies including transport, health, education, public works department and Delhi traffic police will work together to ensure that road fatalities in Delhi is reduced.

Aim of the plan:

car-accident-111

 

  • To bring down injuries and deaths due to road crashes in Delhi.
  • To reduce fatalities due to road crashes by 30 per cent by 2020.
  • To reduce fatalities to near zero levels on this particular stretch between Burari Chowk and Bhalswa chowk, Delhi.
[Ref: Economic Times, Hindustan Times]

 

Expert panel defers clearance to Andamans resort project

The Centre has been working on a long-term plan to make several of the A&N islands more conducive to tourism.

Andaman and Nicobar Islands Integrated Development Corporation Limited (ANIIDCL) 1

Background:

  • Last year the Home Ministry revived an Island Development Agency that would coordinate infrastructure projects to aid tourism in the A&N islands as well as Lakshadweep.
  • An expert committee of the Union Environment Ministry gave clearance to proposal by the Andaman and Nicobar Islands Integrated Development Corporation Limited (ANIIDCL) to develop an island resort.

About ANIIDCL:

  • Andaman and Nicobar Islands Integrated Development Corporation Limited (ANIIDCO) was incorporated on 28th June 1988 under the Companies Act 1956 for rapid economic growth of the Islands.
  • The main objective of the Corporation is to develop and commercially exploit the natural resources for the balanced and environment friendly development of the territory.
  • The Chief Secretary, A&N Administration is the chairman of the Corporation.

Activities of ANIIDCL:

  • Trading of iron and steel, petroleum products, liquor and milk.
  • Megapode Resort, Megapode Camping Resort, and air-ticketing agency
  • Financial assistance to industrial concerns.
  • Infrastructure Development: Tourism and fisheries.

Kay Facts:

  • The arrival of domestic tourists in A&N islands rose from over 2.02 lakh in 2011 to over 3.84 lakh in 2016.
  • Inflow of foreign tourists was stagnant at around 15,000, according to the NITI Aayog in a presentation in August 2018.
  • Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park and Rani Jhansi Marine National Park are in Andaman and Nicobar island.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Science & Technology

NASA to crash into asteroid, ESA to follow up

The European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) Hera mission is set for a new record by becoming the first spacecraft to explore a binary asteroid — the Didymos pair.

The moon orbiting Didymos, called ‘Didymoon’ — almost the size of the Giza Pyramid in Egypt, measuring just 160 metres in diametre — will be the smallest asteroid ever explored.

hera-mission-1 - Copy

Hera mission:

  • Hera mission is a planetary defence programme.
  • The European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) Mission set a new record on 06 February 2019 by becoming the first spacecraft to explore a binary asteroid — the Didymos pair.
  • A binary asteroid is a system of two asteroids orbiting their common barycenter.

About NASA’s planetary defence programme:

  • The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in USA with the help of ESA plans to launch the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) between 2020 and 2021.
  • The programme is designed to protect Earth from dangerous comets and asteroids.

 

Aim of the programme:

  • To crash DART into Didymoon in 2022 to alter its orbit around Didymos.

Outline the whole mission:

  • DART will deliberately crash itself into the moonlet at a speed of approximately 6 km/s, using an onboard camera and autonomous navigation software.
  • The collision will change the speed of the moonlet in its orbit around the main body by a fraction of one percent.
  • Following the collision, Hera would explore the asteroid in 2026 and check the impact and deflection created by DART.
  • NASA’s DART spacecraft’s launch window range begins in late December 2020 and runs through May 2021.
  • It will intercept Didymos’ moonlet in early October 2022, when the Didymos system is within 11 million kilometers of Earth.
  • Didymos is a binary asteroid, the primary body has a diameter of around 780 m and a rotation period of 2.26 hours

Hera-mission - Copy

Why Didymoon was chosen?

  • The moon orbiting Didymos, called ‘Didymoon’ is 160 metres in diameter which will be the smallest asteroid ever explored. It is almost the size of the Giza Pyramid in Egypt.
  • Didymoon was chosen because of its close proximity to Earth and its size.
  • The 6-km diameter body was much too large but Didymoon is small enough and in a tight enough 12-hour orbit around its parent, that its orbital period can indeed be shifted.
  • Didymos’ primary body is approximately 800 meters and its secondary body (or “moonlet”) has a 150 meters in size, which is more typical of the size of asteroids that could pose a more common hazard to Earth.
  • Last close approach of the Didymos system to the earth was in November 2003 and next close approach will be in November 2123.

Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART):

  • DART is a planetary defence driven test of one of the technologies for preventing the Earth impact of a hazardous asteroid. It is a kinetic impactor.
  • DART’s primary objective is to demonstrate a kinetic impact on a small asteroid.
  • DART will be the first demonstration of the kinetic impact technique to change the motion of an asteroid in space. The DART mission is now in Phase B.
  • The DART spacecraft will utilize the NASA Evolutionary Xenon Thruster – Commercial (NEXT-C) solar electric propulsion system as its primary in-space propulsion system.
[Ref: DownToEarth]

 

Key Facts for Prelims

Légion d’Honneur

Franois-Laborde

  • A priest from Bengal, Father Franois Laborde was conferred with Légion d’Honneur (Legion of Honour) in recognition of his work for specially-abled and destitute children.
  • Légion d’Honneur (Legion of Honour) officially National Order of the Legion of Honour is the highest civilian award given by the French government for outstanding service and excellence in any field regardless of the nationality of the recipients.
  • It was instituted by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802 as a general military and civil order of merit conferred without regard to birth or religion provided that anyone admitted swears to uphold liberty and equality.
  • The honour has been retained by all later French governments and regimes.

 

‘Freedom of the City of London’

Freedom of the City of London 1 - Copy

  • The State Bank of India’s UK head Sanjiv Chadha has been honoured with the ‘Freedom of the City of London’ award in recognition of his contribution to promoting the bilateral relations.
  • Freedom of the City is an honour bestowed by a City of London Corporation upon a valued member of the community, or upon a visiting celebrity or dignitary.
  • The genesis of the honour is traced to the medieval time of around 1237.
  • The honour enabled recipients to carry out their trade.
  • The previous Indian recipient of the honour is Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India.

 

India’s first “career portal”

India’s first career portal - Copy

  • India’s first “career portal” has been launched in Rajasthan.
  • It was launched with the support of United Nations Children’s Fund.
  • The portal is aimed at addressing the needs of secondary and higher secondary students for information on scholarships and career choices.
  • The portal is expected to help the students take “informed decisions” about their academic and professional pursuits.

 

Categorisation of Farmers

farmers-2019-1

In agriculture Census, the operational holdings are categorised in five size classes as shown below:

  • Marginal: Below 1.00 hectare
  • Small:00-2.00 hectare
  • Semi- Medium:00-4.00 hectare
  • Medium:00-10.00 hectare
  • Large:00 hectare and above

 

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