Polity & Governance
- TRAI integrates its Mobile App DND 2.0 & MyCall with UMANG Platform
- Restricted Area Permit eased for foreigners visiting 29 Andaman Islands
- INTACH bats for heritage buildings
Issues related to Health & Education
- Scrub typhus is key encephalitis cause in eastern U.P.: study
- Revised MoA signed for Funding of Central Share of 99 Prioritized Irrigation Projects
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Earth heading towards irreversible ‘hothouse’ state: Study
Science & Technology
- World’s first-ever thermal battery plant unveiled in Andhra Pradesh
Key Facts for Prelims
- An all-women expedition to Mt. Manirang
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Polity & Governance
TRAI integrates its Mobile App DND 2.0 & MyCall with UMANG Platform
Recognizing the importance of reaching out to the consumers and to safeguard their interests, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has now integrated its Mobile Apps namely DND 2.0 & MyCall with UMANG Platform.
TRAI MyCall App:
- It is an intuitive and user friendly application for Crowdsourced Voice Call Quality Monitoring.
- It helps Mobile phone users to rate their experience about voice call quality in real time and help TRAI gather consumer experience data along with Network data.
How it works?
- A pop up requests the user to rate the call after it ends. Callers simply select their rating in the form of stars and indicate if the calls were made in indoor, outdoor or while travelling. Callerscan also provide additional details such as noise or audio delay or mark a call-drop.
DND 2.0 App:
- DND (Do Not Disturb) Services App enables smart phone users to register their mobile number under DND and report spam messages or calls to avoid Unsolicited Commercial Communication (UCC)/Telemarketing Calls/SMS.
All about UMANG App:
- The UMANG App was launched with an aim to make the government accessible on the mobile phone of the citizens.
- UMANG stands for ‘Unified Mobile Application for New-age Governance’ and is envisaged to make e-governance.
- Umang is an initiative to promote Digital India program.
- The app was developed by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and National e-Governance Division (NeGD).
Key features of UMANG App
- The UMANG App provides a unified approach where you can install one application to avail multiple government services.
- It contains 162 services of 33 departments or applications and 4 States.
- It is a single mobile app that have an access to 1200 services of various government offices from Centre, State and utility services.
- It provides all pan India e-Gov services like Aadhaar and Digilocker on one single platform.
- Whether one needs to pay utility bills, file income tax, book a gas cylinder, know about your Provident fund account or have Aadhaar related query, UMANG provides all these services.
Restricted Area Permit eased for foreigners visiting 29 Andaman Islands
What is Restricted Area Permit (RAP) regime?
- RAP regime has been notified under Foreigners (Restricted Areas) Order, 1963.
- Under it, foreign nationals are not normally allowed to visit protected or restricted area unless Government is satisfied that there are extra-ordinary reasons to justify their visit.
- Every foreigner, except citizen of Bhutan, who desires to enter and stay in protected or restricted area, is required to obtain special permit from competent authority having power to issue such permits to foreigner, seeking it.
- Citizens of Afghanistan, China and Pakistan and foreign nationals of Pakistani origin are exception and are not allowed to enter such areas.
Why in news?
- The Union government has decided to exclude 29 inhabited Andaman & Nicobar Islands from the Restricted Area Permit (RAP) regime, subject to certain conditions, to boost tourism and overall development of Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
List of the islands permitted for foreigners visit include:
- East Island, North Andaman, Smith Island, Curfew Island, Stewart Island, Land Fall Island, Ayes Island, Middle Andaman, Long Island, Strait Island, North Passage, Baratang, South Andaman, Havelock, Neil Island, Flat Bay, Little Andaman, Chowra, Tillang Chong Island, Teressa, Katchal, Nancowry, Kamorta, Pulomilo, Great Nicobar, Little Nicobar, Narcondam Island and Interview Island.
- Foreigners will also be allowed to visit 11 uninhabited Islands, to be notified by Andaman and Nicobar Islands Administration, only for day visits.
- Citizens of Afghanistan, China and Pakistan and foreign nationals having their origin in these countries would continue to require RAP to visit Andaman & Nicobar Islands. In such cases, RAP may be granted only after obtaining prior approval of the ministry of home affairs.
- For visiting Mayabunder and Diglipur, citizens of Myanmar will continue to require RAP which shall be issued only with the prior approval of the MHA.
INTACH bats for heritage buildings
The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) has called for transforming heritage buildings in Rajasthan into “economic assets” for the society.
- Economic benefits could be derived from these properties as an alternative to paying for their upkeep on a regular basis.
About Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH):
- INTACH is an autonomous non-governmental Indian non-profit society that seeks to preserve Indian culture and heritage.
- Founded in 1984, it was registered under the Societies’ Registration Act, 1860.
- Its aim is to create a membership organisation to stimulate and spearhead heritage awareness and conservation in India.
- Since its foundation, INTACH has pioneered the conservation and protection of India’s natural and cultural heritage and is today the largest membership organisation in the country dedicated to conservation.
- In 2007, the United Nations awarded INTACH a special consultative status with United Nations Economic and Social Council.
Issues related to Health & Education
Scrub typhus is key encephalitis cause in eastern U.P.: study
Three years of data has confirmed that the majority of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) patients admitted to the hospital in eastern Uttar Pradesh between August and October each year have scrub typhus.
- This finding is important, given that scrub typhus can be treated easily if detected early.
About Scrub Typhus:
- Scrub Typhus is an acute illness caused by a bacterium Orintia tsutsugamushi, which is transmitted by the bite of an infected mite larva present in the soil having scrub vegetation.
- It is not caused by a virus, but by a parasite called Orientia tsutsugamushi.
- The term scrub is used because of the type of vegetation (terrain between woods and clearings) that harbours the vector; however, the name is not entirely correct because certain endemic areas can also be sandy, semi-arid and mountain deserts.
- Scrub typhus is endemic in an area of Asia-Pacific bounded by Japan, Korea, China, India, and northern Australia.
- In India, Himachal is an endemic region as it has a large scrub vegetation.
How is the disease transmitted?
- It is usually transmitted by mites that are found in the shrubs in hilly areas. It can also be transmitted by lice, ticks and fleas.
- The species which transmits Scrub typhus are found in areas which have heavy scrub vegetation.
- Orientia tsutsugamushi gets transmitted through the bite of trombiculid mites. These mites feed on rural and forest rodents, including voles, rats and field mice.
- A person develops infection after the bite of the mite larva. When a person gets bitten by this mite, it leaves a characteristic black colored eschar which helps with the diagnosis.
Signs and Symptoms:
Symptoms of scrub typhus usually begin within 10 days of being bitten. Signs and symptoms may include:
- Fever and chills
- Body aches and muscle pain
- A dark, scab-like region at the site of the chigger bite (also known as eschar)
- Mental changes, ranging from confusion to coma
- Enlarged lymph nodes
People with severe illness may develop organ failure and bleeding, which can be fatal if left untreated.
- Scrub typhus should be treated with the antibiotic doxycycline. Doxycycline can be used in persons of any age.
Revised MoA signed for Funding of Central Share of 99 Prioritized Irrigation Projects
Union Government, NABARD and National Water Development Agency (NWDA) have signed revised Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) for funding of central share of 99 prioritized irrigation projects under Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) through Long Term Irrigation Fund (LTIF).
- The revised MoA will enable Ministry of Water Resources to release Central Assistance to prioritized projects under PMKSY as per requirements from time to time.
About the Long Term Irrigation Fund (LTIF):
The Long Term Irrigation Fund, with an initial corpus of about Rs 20,000 crore, was announced in the Union Budget 2016-17 by the then Finance Minister.
- The fund will be instituted in NABARD as part of Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY).
- The LTIF will be for the implementation of Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme (AIBP) works of 99 ongoing prioritised irrigation projects along with their command area development (CAD) works under the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY).
- The loans from NABARD will be provided at 6% interest rate for a period of 15 years. The Water Users associations will be formed for participatory management of the projects.
- Corpus would be raised by way of budgetary resources and market borrowings to fund fast tracking of implementation of incomplete major & medium irrigation projects.
About Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY):
Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY), launched in July 2015, is a national mission to improve farm productivity and ensure better utilization of the resources in the country.
- PMKSY has been formulated amalgamating ongoing schemes viz. AIBP, Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP) and On Farm Water Management (OFWM) component of National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA).
- It is implemented by Ministries of Agriculture, Water Resources and Rural Development.
Objectives of PMKSY
- Achieve convergence of investments in irrigation at the field level.
- Expand cultivable area under assured irrigation (har khet ko pani).
- Enhance the adoption of precision-irrigation and other water saving technologies (More crop per drop).
- Improve on-farm water use efficiency to reduce wastage of water.
- Enhance recharge of aquifers.
- Introduce sustainable water conservation practices.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
Earth heading towards irreversible ‘hothouse’ state: Study
A recent study warns that our planet is at the risk of entering an irreversible ‘hothouse’ condition – where the global temperatures will rise by four to five degrees and sea levels may surge by up to 60 metres higher than today – even if targets under the Paris climate deal are met.
Highlights of the study:
- According to the researchers, keeping global warming to within 1.5-2 degrees Celsius may be more difficult than previously assessed.
- The study suggests that human-induced global warming of two degrees Celsius may trigger other Earth system processes, often called “feedbacks,” that can drive further warming – even if countries stop emitting greenhouse gases.
- Currently, global average temperatures are just over 1 degree Celsius above pre-industrial and rising at 0.17 degree Celsius per decade.
- The study considers ten natural feedback processes, some of which are tipping elements that lead to abrupt change if critical threshold is crossed. These feedbacks can turn from being friend that stores carbon to foe that emits it uncontrollably in warmer world.
- These feedbacks tipping elements can potentially act like row of dominoes. Once one is pushed over, it pushes Earth towards another.
Ten natural feedback processes:
- Permafrost thaw,
- Weakening land and ocean carbon sinks,
- Loss of methane hydrates from ocean floor,
- Increasing bacterial respiration in oceans,
- Boreal forest dieback,
- Amazon rainforest dieback,
- Reduction of northern hemisphere snow cover,
- Loss of Arctic summer sea ice
- Reduction of Antarctic sea ice
- Reduction of polar ice sheets
What are climate feedbacks?
- Climate feedbacks are processes that can either amplify or diminish the effects of climate forcings.
- A feedback that increases an initial warming is called a “positive feedback.” A feedback that reduces an initial warming is a “negative feedback.”
- Clouds, precipitation, greening of the forests or afforestation, Ice albedo etc. are some of the examples which provide Climate feedbacks.
Science & Technology
World’s first-ever thermal battery plant unveiled in Andhra Pradesh
India became home to the world’s first-ever thermal battery plant, that was inaugurated in Andhra Pradesh.
- The thermal battery facility will be owned by Bharat Energy Storage Technology Private Limited (BEST).
Significance of this facility:
- This plant aims to create a new energy storage form that is expected to have commercial applications, while also maintaining a low carbon footprint, and being less dependent on external factors like weather.
- It could provide energy solutions for electrical grids, transport and telecom services.
What is thermal battery technology?
- A thermal energy battery is used for storing and releasing thermal energy. It allows for available energy to be temporarily stored and be released for use whenever necessary.
- Thermal battery technology was patented in India by Dr Patrick Glynn in 2016.
How it is different from Conventional battery technology?
- Conventional battery technology work on basis of electrical energy and is based on system of charging and discharging cycles that are driven by electricity. For example, Lithium-ion (Lion) battery, staple of many electronic devices, consists of electric charges being transferred from electrodes. Energy is derived from this battery, when lithium atoms turn into lithium ions (Li+) and get stored when this reaction reverses.
- Thermal batteries, on the other hand, use thermal energy to operate, i.e., the energy created by temperature differences. Therefore, the energy transfer in thermal batteries helps store heat when heat travels from one part of the battery setup to the other.
How it works?
- A thermal battery consists of two parts: a cool zone known as sink, and a hot source called source. Both these sides consist of compounds known as phase-changing materials (PCMs), which can change their state of matter on the basis of a physical/chemical reaction.
- When the sink of a thermal battery receives heat, it transforms physically or chemically, thereby storing energy, while the source cools down. During operation, the sink is cooled down, so it releases the stored energy, while the source heats up. Depending on the nature of the battery, the system can derive heat from any source, which makes a thermal battery very versatile.
Benefits of thermal battery technology:
- Thermal battery is hailed as perfect alternative to non-renewable energy sources. It is considered to be even better than solar energy.
- It will be energy source for power telecommunications services, electrical grids, electric vehicles.
- It has lesser heat sensitivity, and low carbon footprint these are better than Li-ion batteries and outperform solar panels, which have expensive maintanence, and high weather-dependent operation. Solar batteries cannot be charged or utilised to their optimum potential after sunset or even when the skies are densely clouded.
- Though thermal batteries are priced at par with widely used Lithium-ion batteries, but they have low carbon footprint and also last longer.
Applications with power grids:
- The possible integration of thermal batteries with power grids is one of its main applications. This will help boost industrial demand and provide substantial support to public transport and telecom grids.
- Thermal batteries can function as long as heat is available for them to operate, which can be helpful in power transmission to remote areas. India’s rising regional energy requirements can be resolved using this technology.
- The telecom industry will also benefit as thermal batteries will help boost signal strength and network connectivity, which will thereby increase internet and smartphone penetration.
Use in e-vehicles technology
- The thermal batteries can be used in electric vehicles as well. India’s automobile industry has an ambitious target of going completely electric by 2030.
- Car manufacturers can use thermal battery technology to manufacture vehicle with clean energy at minimal maintenance cost and set up charging stations for the same.
Thermal Energy in India:
- Being the largest source of energy in India, Thermal energy has been contributing almost 71% of electricity, 85% of which is coal-based. However, gas and diesel are also among the key sources of thermal energy production.
Key Facts for Prelims
An all-women expedition to Mt. Manirang
An all-women expedition team has begun its journey to Mt. Manirang from Himachal Pradesh.
- The expedition commemorates the silver jubilee of 1993 Women Everest expedition.
About the Mt. Manirang:
- Manirang is one of the highest mountains in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh.
- It lies on the border between Kinnour and Lahaul and Spiti district.
- Mount Manirang (Altitude: 6593 mtr. / 21625.04 ft) is known as the crown of the Spiti valley.
- The whole region is situated in the rain shadow area and more or less lies dry other than winter.
- Among the High altitude passes in the Himalayan region of Spiti valley, Manirang Pass is regarded as the most remote and hard even today.
About the 1993 Women Everest expedition:
- The Indo-Nepalese women’s Everest expedition in 1993 was the first all women expedition, launched by Indian Mountaineering foundation.
- It was funded by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports.
- The 21-member team was led by Ms. Bachendri Pal.
- The historic expedition set up several world records at the time which included the largest number of persons (18) of a single expedition to climb Mount Everest, largest number of women (six) from a single country to climb Mount Everest.
- Santosh Yadav, member of the team, became the first woman in the world to climb Mount Everest, while Miss Dicky Dolma became the youngest women (19) years in the world to climb the highest peak in the world.