Comprehensive News Analysis - 12 March 2017

Table of Contents:

A. GS1 Related:

ART AND CULTURE

1. Chennai team taps AI to read Indus Script

GEOGRAPHY

1. Mission Fingerling with a total expenditure of about Rs. 52000 lakh to achieve Blue Revolution

B. GS2 Related:

POLITY

1. Non-lapsable fund sought for arms buy

2. The lowdown on the Bill to regulate surrogacy

3. On track, but more needed

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. Mosul and the threat of chemical attacks

2. ‘U.S under Trump will be a difficult partner for India to work with’

C. GS3 Related:

ECONOMY

1. IT’s new, improved skills problem

2. Mission Fingerling with a total expenditure of about Rs. 52000 lakh to achieve Blue Revolution

3. Ministers to brainstorm policy for an all-electric vehicle future

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

1. India test-fires Brahmos missile

2. Indian researcher uses novel strategy to increase wheat yield

3. How the world’s largest solar park is shaping up in Karnataka

4. New clone of MRSA identified in Kerala aquatic environment

5. Study on fish reveals key to cure blindness

SECURITY ISSUES

1. Ganja attracts Shivamogga farmers as drought wilts paddy and ginger hopes

DISASTER MANAGEMENT

1. In Fukushima, radioactive boars pose a new danger

D. GS4 Related:
E. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn

1. Contempt of court

2. Bailable warrant

3. Cruise missile

4. Supersonic speed

5. Payload

F. BILLS/ACTS/SCHEMES/ORGS IN NEWS
G. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
H. Archives

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Useful News Articles for UPSC Current Affairs


A. GS1 Related

Category: ART AND CULTURE

1. Chennai team taps AI to read Indus Script 

Technology into culture

  • The algorithm uses ‘deep neural networks’.
  • The Indus script has long challenged epigraphists because of the difficulty in reading and classifying text and symbols on the artifacts.
  • Now, a Chennai-based team of scientists has built a program which eases the process.
  • Scientists have developed a “deep-learning” algorithm that can read the Indus script from images of artifacts such as a seal or pottery that contain Indus writing.

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Steps of the algorithm process

  1. Scanning the image,
  2. The algorithm smartly “recognizes” the region of the image that contains the script,
  3. Breaks it up into individual graphemes (the term in linguistics for the smallest unit of the script)
  4. Finally identifies these using data from a standard corpus. (In linguistics the term corpus is used to describe a large collection of texts which, among other things, are used to carry out statistical analyses of languages.)
  • These ‘deep neural networks’ have been a major part of the game-changing technology behind self-driving cars and Go-playing bots that surpass human performance
  • The deep neural network mimics the working of the mammalian visual cortex, known as convolutional neural network (CNN)
  • This CNN breaks the field into overlapping regions.
  • The features found in each region are hierarchically combined by the network to build a composite understanding of the whole picture.

The process consists of three phases:

  1. In the first phase, the input images are broken into sub-images that contain graphemes only, by trimming out the areas that do not have graphemes.
  2. The grapheme-containing areas are further trimmed into single-grapheme pieces.
  3. Lastly, each of these single graphemes is classified to match one of the 417 symbols discovered so far in the Indus script.

Indus script

  • The Indus valley script is much older than the Prakrit and Tamil-Brahmi scripts.
  • Unlike the latter two, it has not yet been deciphered because a bilingual text has not yet been found.
  • A bilingual text has in many other cases aided archaeologists in understanding ancient scripts, for example, the Rosetta stone.
  • This stone which was found in the eighteenth century carries inscriptions of a decree, issued in 196 BCE, in three parts, the first two in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic and the Demotic scripts, while the bottom is in Ancient Greek. Since the decree was the same, the Rosetta stone provided the key to deciphering Hieroglyphs.
  • For the lack of such a “Rosetta stone,” the Indus script remains undeciphered today.
  • It is a major effort to even build a standard corpus of the language and decode the writing on existing artifacts and map them to this standard corpus.
  • The most widely accepted corpora of Indus scripts was brought together by the efforts of Iravatham Mahadevan, noted Indian epigraphist, from the 3,700 texts and 417 unique signs collected so far.

What is Artificial Intelligence?

  • The theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.


Category: GEOGRAPHY

1. Mission Fingerling with a total expenditure of about Rs. 52000 lakh to achieve Blue Revolution 

Objective

  • Government of India has envisaged a program named ‘’Blue Revolution’’ to unlock the country’s latent potential through an integrated approach in the fisheries sector.
  • The Blue Revolution focuses on creating an enabling environment for an integrated and holistic development and management of fisheries for the socio economic development of the fishers and fish farmers.
  • Another objective of the program is to enhance fisheries production from 10.79 mmt (2014-15) to 15 mmt in 2020-21.

Methods employed

  • Greater emphasis will be on infrastructure with an equally strong focus on management and conservation of the resources through technology transfer to increase the income of the fishers and fish farmers.
  • Employing the best global innovations and integration of various production oriented activities such as: Production of quality fish seeds, Cost effective feed and adoption of technology etc would enhance the productivity of the sector.
  • Fish Fingerling production is the single most important critical input visualized to achieve fish production targets under the Blue Revolution.
  • Need of the hour is to establish more hatchery to produce Fry/PL required for different categories of water bodies.
  • Use of High Yielding Verities of breeders is another significant aspect to be addressed on priority.

Target 

  • The Department has identified 20 States based on their potential and other relevant factors to strengthen the Fish Seed infrastructure in the country.

Investment

  • This program with a total expenditure of about Rs. 52000 lakh will facilitate the establishment of hatcheries and Fingerling rearing pond to ensure the fish production of 426 crores fish fingerling, 25.50 crores Post Larvae of shrimp and crab in the country.

Benefits

  • This will converge in the production of 20 lakh tonnes of fish annually and will benefit about 4 million families.
     
B. GS2 Related

Category: POLITY

1. Non-lapsable fund sought for arms buy

What’s in news?

  • Defence Ministry is forced to return money every year(Lapsable funds- if funds are not utilized ,hand it over back)
  • A major defence purchase often takes years to complete, but the budget allocation lapses at the end of the financial year. As a result, the Ministry of Defence is often forced to return money meant for capital acquisition.
  • To overcome this, the Ministry of Defense has sent a proposal to the Ministry of Finance proposing the setting up of a ‘Non-lapsable Capital Fund Account’.
  • The Finance Ministry is still not in favor of creating a ‘Non-lapsable Defence Capital Fund Account’.

Stand taken by Parliament Standing Committee on Defence:

  • Committee expressed its “disappointment” regarding Finance Ministry stand and pointed to the Non-Lapsable Central Pool of Resources for the North Eastern region, which was constituted with the approval of Parliament in 1998-99.
  • The committee observed that defense procurement and acquisition is a complicated process, involving long gestation periods and funds allocated for capital acquisition in a particular financial year are not necessarily consumed in that year and ultimately have to be surrendered by the Defense Ministry. The committee stated that it “would like the Ministry of Finance to look at the matter afresh” and work out the modalities for creation of the account.

Standing committee

  • Standing committee is a committee consisting of Members of Parliament. It is a permanent and regular committee which is constituted from time to time according to the provisions of an Act of Parliament or Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business. The work done by the Indian Parliament is not only voluminous but also of a complex nature, hence a great deal of its work is carried out in these Parliamentary Committees.
  • Both Houses of Parliament, Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha, have similar Committee structures with a few exceptions.
  • Their appointment, terms of office, functions and procedures of conducting business are broadly similar. These standing committees are elected or appointed every year, or periodically by the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha or the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, or as a result of consultation between them.
  • Examples: The Business Advisory Committee, the Committee on Petitions, the Committee of Privileges and the Rules Committee, etc.

Non-lapsable Central Pool of Resources for the North Eastern region:-

  • The broad objective of the Non-Lapsable Central Pool of Resources (NLCPR) is to ensure speedy development of infrastructure in the North Eastern Region and Sikkim by increasing the flow of budgetary financing for specific viable infrastructure projects/schemes in the region.
  • The Ministry for Development of North-eastern Region allocates funds from the NLCPR to various Northeast states for infrastructure projects. 
2. The lowdown on the Bill to regulate surrogacy

Why in news?

  • The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill was introduced in Parliament in November 2016.
  • Karan Johar announcing recently that he has had twins through a surrogate mother, the spotlight is back on the Surrogacy Bill that is yet to become an Act, allowing for it to be implemented in the country.

What’s in news?

  • The Bill seeks to regulate the surrogacy part of a rather flourishing infertility industry in the country.
  • Defining ‘surrogacy’ as a practice in which a woman undertakes to give birth to a child for another couple and agrees to hand over the child to them after birth, the Bill allows ‘altruistic surrogacy’ — wherein only the medical expenses and insurance coverage is provided by the couple to the surrogate mother during pregnancy. No other monetary consideration will be allowed.
  • India has emerged a hub for infertility treatment, attracting people from the world over with its state-of-the-art technology and competitive prices initially to treat infertility.
  • Soon after, with the prevailing socio-economic inequities, underprivileged women found an option to ‘rent their wombs’ and thereby make money to take care of their expenses — often to facilitate a marriage, enable children to get education, or provide for hospitalisation or surgery for someone in the family.

Negative impacts

  • Middle men propping up everywhere and exploitation of women
  • Women did not receive the promised sum.
  • For instance, in 2008, a Japanese couple began the process with a surrogate mother in Gujarat, but before the child was born they split and there were no takers for the child.

3. On track, but more needed

Why in news?

  • Institutional deliveries are up in India, but breastfeeding within the first hour of birth needs to keep pace
  • Despite institutional delivery being as high as nearly 79% nationally, the number of children in India breastfed within one hour of birth is less than 42% — near 43% in urban areas and 41% in rural India, according to the National Family Health Survey 4 (NFHS-4) data.
  • The Janani Suraksha Yojana — cash incentives to pregnant women to attend antenatal clinics and opt for institutional deliveries — has led to a sharp increase in institutional delivery (from 39% in 2005-06 to 79% in 2015-16) and near doubling of children breastfed within one hour of birth in the last 10 years.
  • Breastfeeding babies soon after birth can prevent a significant number of neonatal deaths — about 20% newborn deaths and 13% under-five deaths.

Improving Stats

  • Kerala has the highest institutional births in the country with 99.9% in both urban and rural areas.
  • Tamil Nadu is a close second with 99.2% institutional births in urban areas and 98.7% in rural areas.
  • Yet, Kerala and Tamil Nadu do not respond greatly to the statistics when it comes to initiating breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
  • At 64%, Kerala is well below Goa’s average of 73%.
  • Similarly, Maharashtra with 90% institutional deliveries has 57.5% for early initiation of breastfeeding compared to Tamil Nadu’s nearly 55%.
  • Bihar has shown the most improvement in initiating breastfeeding within one hour of birth — from 4% in 2005-06 to 35% in 2015-16.
  • Though Uttar Pradesh has improved its performance, it is still about half of the national average — 7.2% in 2005-06 to 25% in 2015-16.
  • Other States that have shown good improvement on this front are Haryana, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Rajasthan.
  • Similarly, all States have registered an improvement in the case of exclusive breastfeeding of children under age six months.
  • While Goa has shown a dramatic increase from 17.7% in 2005-06 to nearly 61% in 2015-16, Chhattisgarh has witnessed a drop from 82% to 77%.

Barriers to breastfeeding

  • Need for dedicated group who can counsel mothers on the need to breastfeed within one hour of delivery.
  • There are socio-cultural barriers
  • To overcome these government launched the MAA — Mother’s Absolute Affection — program.
  • Under the program, there are special efforts to create community awareness and promotion of breastfeeding, capacity building and skilling of healthcare providers at all delivery points in the country.
  • According to Dr. Sutapa B. Negi, Delhi, early initiation of breastfeeding becomes difficult in the case of babies delivered through caesarean section, babies born preterm and low-birth-weight (less than 2.5 kg) babies.
  • Caesarean deliveries account for 10-15% and nearly 20% babies have low birth weight while 15% are born preterm according to the records.
  • According to NFHS-4 data, the national average for babies delivered by caesarean section is 28%, which is more than three times the 2005-06 figures of 8.5%.
  • While percentages may varying from one State to another, there is not much difference in the rate of breastfeeding within one hour of birth among rural and urban population.
  • Few States like Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu, rural areas have slightly higher percentage of babies being breastfed within one born of birth than their urban counterparts.

MAA program to promote breastfeeding

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About the program

  • MAA – the nation-wide breastfeeding promotion program is about intensified efforts to promote, protect and support optimal breastfeeding. It builds upon the existing initiatives and addresses the needs of all children including those living in difficult circumstances.
  • “MAA-Mother’s Absolute Affection’’ is a nationwide program launched in an attempt to bring undiluted focus on promotion of breastfeeding and provision of counseling services for supporting breastfeeding through health systems.
  • The program has been named ‘MAA’ to signify the support a lactating mother requires from family members and at health facilities to breastfeed successfully.
  • The chief components of the MAA Program are:
    1. Community awareness generation,
    2. Strengthening inter personal communication through ASHA
    3. Skilled support for breastfeeding at Delivery points in Public health facilities
    4. Monitoring and
    5. Award/recognition 

Impact on the social indicators before and after

  • Breastfeeding is the most natural, cost effective and significant intervention and should be promoted at all levels.
  • Breastfeeding program will greatly help to reduce the under-five mortality of children
  • National health indicators like Infant Mortality Rate (IMR), Maternal Maternity Rate (MMR), Total Fertility Rate (TFR) and under five mortalities are declining faster in India than the world pace.
  • The life cycle approach of the Health Ministry state that a Continuum of care approach has been adopted by the Ministry (with the articulation of ‘Strategic approach to Reproductive Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent health (RMNCH+A)), bringing focus on all the life stages.
  • Breastfeeding is a child’s first inoculation against death, disease and poverty.
  • According to the latest scientific evidence; breastfeeding is our most enduring investment in physical, cognitive and social capacity development.
  • Awareness is the key among people and work on dispelling myths and misconceptions are the life to improve the social infrastructure.
  • Breastfeeding creates a special bond between mother and baby and the interaction between the mother and child during breastfeeding has positive impact for life, in terms of stimulation, behavior, speech, sense of well-being, security and how the child relates to other people.
  • Breastfeeding is central to improving child survival. Poor breastfeeding practices contribute to about 13% of child deaths.
  • The simple act of breastfeeding can ensure our children have the right nutrients to start their life.
  • There is hardly any difference in rates of breastfeeding among rural and urban population as against the perception that rural area might have higher rates of breastfeeding due to traditional practices.

Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY)

  • Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY) is a safe motherhood intervention under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) being implemented with the objective of reducing maternal and neo-natal mortality by promoting institutional delivery among the poor pregnant women.
  • Being implemented in all states and UTs with special focus on low performing states.
  • JSY integrates cash assistance with delivery and post-delivery care.
  • The success of the scheme is be determined by the increase in institutional delivery among the poor families.
  • The Asha as well as AWW like activists become the effective link between Government and poor women in this program.
  • Role of ASHA or other link health worker associated with JSY would be to:
  1. Identify pregnant woman as a beneficiary of the scheme and report or facilitate registration for ANC,
  2. Assist the pregnant woman to obtain necessary certifications wherever necessary,
  3. Provide and / or help the women in receiving at least three ANC checkups including TT injections, IFA tablets,
  4. Identify a functional Government health centre or an accredited private health institution for referral and delivery,
  5. Counsel for institutional delivery,
  6. Escort the beneficiary women to the pre-determined health center and stay with her till the woman is discharged,
  7. Arrange to immunize the newborn till the age of 14 weeks,
  8. Inform about the birth or death of the child or mother to the ANM/MO,
  9. Post natal visit within 7 days of delivery to track mother’s health after delivery and facilitate in obtaining care,
  10. Counsel for initiation of breastfeeding to the newborn within one-hour of delivery and its continuance till 3-6 months and promote family planning.

Cash Assistance in Low performing states and High Performing states:

  1. The scheme focuses on the poor pregnant woman with special dispensation for states having low institutional delivery rates namely the states of Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Assam, Rajasthan, Orissa and Jammu and Kashmir.
  2. While these states have been named as Low Performing States (LPS), the remaining states have been named as High Performing States (HPS). The women who deliver in Government hospitals, health centers or even in accredited private hospitals are eligible for the cash assistance, if she is above 19 years.

Further, this assistance is as follows:

  1. In LPS states: Cash assistance for all women
  2. In HPS states: Cash assistance for ONLY BPL women
  3. LPS & HPS states: All SC and ST women Cash assistance

Incentive to Asha / other activists is given as follows:

  • Regarding the Asha’s package, the scheme documents say that It must be ensured that the cash incentive to the ASHA should not be less than Rs.200/- per delivery case facilitated by her. This is essential to keep her sustained in the system.
  • The Assistance package to the ASHA or an equivalent worker is available only if she works and assists the pregnant women.


Category: 
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. Mosul and the threat of chemical attacks

What’s in news?

  • Early this month, the International Committee of the Red Cross issued a statement condemning “in the strongest possible terms” the use of chemical weapons in Mosul, the second largest city of Iraq where the Iraqi troops have been fighting the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group for over four months.
  • The needle of suspicion points to the IS.
  • The IS has used chemical weapons, including chlorine and sulfur mustard agents
  • The regime of Saddam Hussein and that of Bashar al-Assad in Syria had possessed the weapons earlier. The Saddam regime is gone, and Syria gave up its chemical weapons as part of an international agreement to avoid American invasion.
  • The use of chemical and biological weapons is a war crime. Efforts to eradicate their use date back to the 19th century and the first universal ban came into effect after First World War.
  • In 1997, the Chemical Weapons Convention treaty prohibited the use and production of chemical weapons. At least 190 states have so far accepted the treaty, while 93% of the world’s declared stockpile of chemical weapons have been destroyed.
  • But these regulations are meant for nation-states, whereas the attack in Mosul suggests that non-state terrorist actors also possess chemical weapons capabilities.
  • Terror groups possessing chemical weapons poses a challenge to the international security architecture.

Fact’s round up

  • The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) is an arms control treaty which outlaws the production, stockpiling, and use of chemical weapons and their precursors.
  • It is administered by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), an intergovernmental organization based in The Hague, Netherlands. The treaty entered into force in 1997.
  • The parties’ main obligation under the convention is to prohibit the use and production of chemical weapons, as well as the destruction of all current chemical weapons.
  • The destruction activities are verified by the OPCW.
  • As of April 2016, 192 states have given their consent to be bound by the CWC.
  • Israel has signed but not ratified the agreement, while three other UN member states (Egypt, North Korea and South Sudan) have neither signed nor acceded to the treaty

2. ‘U.S under Trump will be a difficult partner for India to work with’

 Why in news?

  • The new U.S. trade policy unveiled by Donald Trump administration could turn India’s commercial ties with its second-biggest trading partner more argumentative.
  • The Trump administration’s drive to reduce American trade deficit will bring India into sharp focus.
  • India is the 9th biggest trading partner of the U.S and India had a trade surplus of about $26 billion with the U.S, in goods trade alone last year.
  • The Obama White House once mentioned trade deficit with India as a matter of concern.
  • In fact for India-US bilateral relationship in the recent past the discussions always were about the success in growing trade.
  • In 2016, voters in both major parties called for a fundamental change in direction of U.S. trade policy. Because they did not see clear benefits from international trade agreements.
  • New President’s National Trade Policy Agenda for 2017 reiterates Mr. Trump’s campaign with its four-point agenda —
  • Defending national sovereignty over trade policy,
  • Strict enforcement of U.S. trade laws,
  • Using leverage to open foreign markets and
  • Negotiating new and better trade deals.
  • The emphasis on opening the market for U.S agriculture products and intellectual property are of particular significance for India.
  • The push for agriculture by U S directly affects India.
  • India is in dispute at the WTO with the U.S. on poultry. (Poultry Isuue)
  • India does not allow poultry imports from the U.S and it lost the case at WTO at two stages.
  • Now U.S is seeking punitive measures against India.
  • India can expect that U S would go full speed to force open the Indian market to U.S. poultry, under the Trump administration.
  • There will be a push for dairy products and beef too.

‘U.S. won’t quit WTO’

  • The Trump’s administration document rejected multi-lateralism as the favoured trade route for the U.S.
  • This is more in the context of FTAs such as NAFTA and TPP, which the U.S. has already withdrawn from.
  • With respect to WTO, the Trump administration will use it more aggressively to push its trade agenda.
  • The S. has a very a poor record of enforcing WTO decisions that are against it anyway.
  • Already, developing countries are forced to go all the way to the final arbitration at WTO trade disputes, and even after that, the U.S. does not comply.
  • This new stridency will impact India directly, For instance, India has filed a case against the U.S for subsidizing its solar panel manufacturing in certain U.S. states after we lost the case on solar panels brought by the U.S. India cannot expect a resolution on the solar panel case against the U.S. any time soon.
  • India is also challenging certain provisions of the U.S. H-1B visa program as discriminatory against Indian companies and workers. But expect no solution for years.
  • U S says it will not enforce WTO rulings that are against our domestic law.
  • It will not withdraw, as there are so many negotiations at WTO in which it has a stake, such as e-ecommerce, environmental goods and trade in services.

India target of new U.S trade investigation

  • India is among the target countries in a new investigation launched by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC).
  • The regulatory and policy measures in important markets abroad that may impede digital trade are investigated by the Obama appointed U S trade representatives.
  • Their target investigation with respect to India would be whether Indian policies prevent U.S. companies from servicing clients in India or selling digital products to India.
  • Requirements such as localization of servers, restrictions on data transfer across boundaries. Any big technology company will have a stake in this, it will likely lead to a new WTO complaint against India.
 
C. GS3 Related

Category: ECONOMY

1. IT’s new, improved skills problem

What’s in news?

  • Recently, advisory firm McKinsey, said in a report released last month that almost half the IT industry’s four million-strong workforce of technology and software professionals will be “irrelevant” in the next three to four years. 
  • In fact, the French consulting and solutions company, CapGemini went even further — its India CEO said as much as 65 per cent of the IT workforce will not be relevant to the changed needs of the workplace, and will lose their jobs over the coming few years unless they are able to re-skill themselves.
  • What is worrying is that from an economy point of view, these jobs will be lost in the well-paid middle and senior levels – by people in their late thirties to early forties, people who should, in theory, have decades of productive employment left.
  • These people, the CapGemini head says, will become redundant not only because they lack the skills needed by their digitally transforming customers, but because they are unable or unwilling to acquire the needed new skills. 

Key Facts

  • India’s IT workforce forms the core consuming audience for a number of other industries, particularly in the major metros and mini metros.
  • It is important to note that given their numbers, the high disposable income and lifestyle consumption oriented techies give the critical volumes necessary to sustain businesses such as construction, car manufacturing, etc.
  • This is also why such businesses are concentrated in the cities which are home to the largest concentration of IT and IT-related businesses.

Concluding Remarks

  • This development is seen as a double whammy which our IT industry, our policy makers and the by now largely privatised education and skilling sector have to face.
  • A coherent policy response, coordinating effort and investments between the government, industry and the education sector is the need of the hour.
  • The IT industry, just as much as our banking sector, is simply too big to fail. The time to act is now.

2. Mission Fingerling with a total expenditure of about Rs. 52000 lakh to achieve Blue Revolution

What’s in news?

  • Recognizing the potential and possibilities in the fisheries sector, Government of India has envisaged a program named ‘’Blue Revolution’’ to unlock the country’s latent potential through an integrated approach.
  • The Blue Revolution, in its scope and reach, focuses on creating an enabling environment for an integrated and holistic development and management of fisheries for the socio economic development of the fishers and fish farmers. 
  • Greater emphasis will be on infrastructure with an equally strong focus on management and conservation of the resources through technology transfer to increase in the income of the fishers and fish farmers.
  • Productivity enhancement shall also be achieved through employing the best global innovations and integration of various production oriented activities such as: Production of quality fish seeds, Cost effective feed and adoption of technology etc. 

Fish Fingerling production

  • Fish Fingerling production is the single most important critical input visualised to achieve fish production targets under the Blue Revolution. 
  • 20 States have been identified based on their potential and other relevant factors to strengthen the Fish Seed infrastructure in the country.
  • This program will facilitate the establishment of hatcheries and Fingerling rearing pond to ensure the fish production of 426 crores fish fingerling, 25.50 crores Post Larvae of shrimp and crab in the country.
  • This will converge in the production of 20 lakh tonnes of fish annually and will benefit about 4 million families.
  • The implementation of this program will supplement the requirement of stocking materials in the country up to a large extent, which is a much needed input to achieve the enhanced fish production. 

3. Ministers to brainstorm policy for an all-electric vehicle future

What’s in news?

  • India envisages all passenger and commercial vehicles to powered by electricity by 2030.
  • According to the government’s Automotive Mission Plan 2016-26, India’s passenger vehicles market is expected to more than quadruple to 13.4 million units by 2026 from 3.2 million now if the economy grows at an average rate of 7.5% a year, making it the world’s second largest market after China{don’t focus on numbers just understand the basic’s }.The commercial vehicle industry is expected to grow to 3.9 million units from 700,000 at the end of 2014-15.
  • Any shift to EVs will help reduce pollutants and fuel imports. This assumes significance given India’s energy import bill of around $150 billion, which is expected to reach $300 billion by 2030. India imports around 80% of its oil and 18% of its natural gas requirements. India imported 202 million tonnes of oil in 2015-16.
  • Currently, electric vehicle sales are low in India.
  • The government wants to see 6 million electric and hybrid vehicles on the roads by 2020 under the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP) 2020 and Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles (FAME).

National Electric Mobility Mission Plan

  • Government of India launched the National Electric Mobility Mission Planca (NEMMP) 2020 in 2013.
  • Main Aim:
  • Achieve national fuel security by promoting hybrid and electric vehicles in the country.
  • Target to achieve 6-7 million sales of hybrid and electric vehicles year on year from 2020 onwards.
  • Government aims to provide fiscal and monetary incentives to kick start this nascent technology.
  • Government has launched the scheme namely Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles (FAME India) under NEMMP 2020 in the Union Budget for 2015-16 with an initial outlay of Rs. 75 Cr. The scheme will provide a major push for early adoption and market creation of both hybrid and electric technologies vehicles in the country.

 

Category: SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

1. India test-fires Brahmos missile

What’s in news?

  • India today successfully test-fired the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile
  • The missile is capable of carrying a warhead of 300 kg
  • The two-stage missile, one being solid and the second one ramjet liquid propellant, has already been inducted into the Army and Navy, while the Air Force version is in final stage of trial.
  • The air launch version and the submarine launch version of the missile system are in progress.
  • BrahMos Aerospace, an Indo-Russian joint venture, is also in advance stage of test launching the air version of the sophisticated missile system and work on the project is in progress.

BrahMos Missile

  • The BrahMos is a short-range ramjet supersonic cruise missile that can be launched from submarines, ships, aircraft or land.
  • It is a joint venture between the Russian Federation’s NPO Mashinostroeyenia and India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) who have together formed BrahMos Aerospace.
  • The name BrahMos is a portmanteau (parts of multiple words or their phones (sounds) are combined into a new word) formed from the names of two rivers, the Brahmaputra of India and the Moskva of Russia.
  • It is the world’s fastest anti-ship cruise missile in operation. The missile travels at speeds of Mach 2.8 to 3.0.
  • In 2016, as India became a member of the MTCR (Missile Technology Control Regime), India and Russia are now planning to jointly develop a new generation of Brahmos missiles with 600 km-plus range and an ability to hit protected targets with pinpoint accuracy.

MTCR (Missile Technology Control Regime)

  • The Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) is a multilateral export control regime. It is an informal and voluntary partnership (UN agency or any other agency is not forcing us to be a member) among 35 countries to prevent the proliferation of missile and unmanned aerial vehicle technology capable of carrying above 500 kg payload for more than 300 km.
  • India formally applied for membership to the group in June 2015, with active support from France and the United States, and officially became a member on 27 June 2016 with the consensus of the 34 member nations.

A Multilateral Export Control Regime (MECR) is an international body that states use to organize their national export control systems.

There are currently four such regimes:

  1. The Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies
  2. The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), for the control of nuclear related technology
  3. The Australia Group (AG) for control of chemical and biological technology that could be weaponized
  4. The Missile Technology Control Regime for the control of rockets and other aerial vehicles capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction

Abdul Kalam Island

  • Abdul Kalam Island, formerly known as Wheeler Island, is an island off the coast of Odisha, India, approximately 150 kilometres (93 mi) from the state capital Bhubaneshwar.
  • The Integrated Test Range missile testing facility is located on the island. The island was originally named after English commandant Lieutenant Wheeler.
  • On 4 September 2015, the island was renamed to honour the late Indian president, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam.

About Balasore

  • Balasore is a city in the state of Odisha, about 194 kilometres north of the State capital Bhubaneswar, in eastern India. It is the site of the Indian Ballistic Missile Defense Program’s Integrated Test Range, located 18 km. south of Balasore.  The Defence Research and Development Organisation developed many different missiles such as Nag, Brahmos, Agni Missile among others here.

2. Indian researcher uses novel strategy to increase wheat yield

What’s in news?

  • Indian researcher has been able to increase wheat grain yield by 20% and also improve the resilience of wheat to environmental stress such as drought.
  • By using a precursor that enhances the amount of a key sugar-signalling molecule (trehalose-6-phosphate (T6P)) produced in wheat plant, researchers have been able to increase the amount of starch produced and, therefore, the yield.
  • The molecule (dimethoxy (ortho-nitro) benzyl) was better in battling stress.

Advantages

  • Food security
  • Indian agriculture is 40 percent dependent on irrigation and the rest 60 percent dependent on monsoon, vagaries of monsoon will have profound effect on agricultural productivity , development of new drought resistant variety crop is the need of the hour.

3. How the world’s largest solar park is shaping up in Karnataka

Why in news?

  • Karnataka government to build what it claims is the world’s largest solar park.
  • Karnataka government aims to generate around 2700 MW by 2018-end from the Pavagada solar park.
  • The idea resonates with the centre’s ambitious scheme to generate 100 gigawatts (GW) of solar power by 2020.

Geographic identity of the region 

  • Heat that can give you blisters.
  • Fluoride contaminated water that can leave your bones brittle.
  • Endless stretches of barren land where rains have stayed away for almost half a century.
  • Thorny bushes the only vegetation in sight for miles.
  • The region is part of a large semi-arid tract in eastern Karnataka’s border district of Tumkur, which sits on an elevated plateau with several rocky hills all around.
  • The state government has had to declare the region drought-hit 54 times in the last 60 years. 

Key Points

  • The first phase capacity of 500MW has been bid out and generation is expected to start in the next four months.
  • The park’s development is taken up by the Karnataka Solar Power Development Corp. Ltd (KSPDCL), an entity formed in March 2015 as a joint venture between Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Ltd (KREDL) and Solar Energy Corp. of India (SECI).
  • The “plug and play” model, under which it acquires and develops land as blocks for solar power generation, along with the required government approvals, and gives it out to solar power developers (SPDs) through auctions.
  • So far, plot allocation has been completed for 600 MW capacities
  • The Solar Power Developers have signed power purchase agreements with electricity supply companies or escoms.
  • The agreements are drafted in such a way that the escoms get 90% of the power generated from the park, at a bundled tariff ranging between Rs3.50 and Rs4.50 a unit.
  • KSPDCL has managed to acquire 12,000 acres of the 13,000 acres identified for the project, spread across five villages in Pavagada.
  • Land acquisition is a major challenge for any big project in India; especially for solar as around five acres of land is needed for 1 MW
  • The credit for the smooth acquisition should go to the unique model deployed: the government did not acquire the land from farmers; it just sought to lease it for 25 years.
  • Though farmers were emotionally attached to the land, they were happy to hand it over to a project if they could retain ownership. Farmers look happy with the compensation amount—Rs21,000 per acre as lease, with a 5% appreciation every two years.
  • Farmers have come to realize that it’s better if they don’t cultivate (the land). Anyway most of the time you don’t get enough rains to sustain the crops and invariably there is crop loss 

But what will they do if they cannot farm?

  • However, not everyone is happy. Villagers were upset with the government for not assuring power supply and jobs for them. Apparently, neighbours of what is touted as world’s largest solar power project are powerless.
  • Electricity is available for about three hours a day, though the voltage is too low to pump groundwater, complained many villagers.
  • State energy minister D.K. Shivakumar says that these issues will be looked at. “This taluk witnesses around 8,000-10,000 people leaving their villages to go work in Bengaluru and other places. We are trying to stop this.
  • The government will make investments of over Rs15,000 crore in the region which will help create jobs.

4. New clone of MRSA identified in Kerala aquatic environment

Why in news?

  • A new clone of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which is exclusive to Kochi, has been identified.
  • The new clone, christened ‘t15669 MRSA’, is unique to seafood and the aquatic environment of Kerala. 

Key Points

  • If the concentration of the MSRA bacterium increases, it can reach the seafood chain.
  • MRSA can lead to diseases ranging from milder form of skin infections, boils, furunculosis to life-threatening septicemia and bacteremia from post-surgical contamination.
  • Red alert about the MSRA bacteria is their resistance to wide range of drugs.
  • MSRA causes disease by producing enterotoxin in the food; there is no immediate threat in consumption of seafood contaminated with MRSA.
  • The emergence of MRSA has been identified as a health concern globally since the 1960s.
  • According to Scientists, if the new clone, which is currently low in concentration in the Kochi geographical area, gets established and becomes widely prevalent then it can reach the seafood chain.
  • The presence of MRSA in fish meant for human consumption is a potential health hazard for food handlers.
  • The fingerprinting of MRSA can be useful for tracing local source and spread of MRSA isolates in a defined geographical area.

5. Study on fish reveals key to cure blindness

Discovery

  • Scientists have discovered a chemical in the zebra fish brain that helps reveal how it regrows its retina, a finding that can potentially cure blindness in humans.
  • The findings showed that the levels of GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid), a neurotransmitter, best known for its role of calming nervous activity.
  • GABA drops when the unique self-repair process kicks in.

Insights into the discovery

  • Thus blocking the chemical (GABA) could lead to new treatments for AMD (age-related macular degeneration), the most common cause of blindness and retinitis pigmentosa.
  • The structure of the retinas (the light-sensing tissue at the back of the eye) of fish and mammals are basically the same
  • Reduction in GABA might be the trigger for retinal regeneration.
  • In the study, the scientists injected drugs that kept GABA concentrations in the retinas of newly blinded fish at a high level, they found that doing so suppressed the regeneration process.
  • After injecting an enzyme that lowers GABA levels in normal fish, they found that the Muller glia (retinal cells) began changing and proliferating, the first stage in the regeneration process.
  • The Muller glia (which in fish plays a key role in regeneration) is a special type of adult stem cell.
  • When regeneration is triggered in zebra fish, the Muller glia begins proliferating and then differentiating into replacements for the damaged nerve cells.


Category: 
SECURITY ISSUES 

1. Ganja attracts Shivamogga farmers as drought wilts paddy and ginger hopes

What’s in news?

  • Shivamogga district farmers started cultivating lucrative ganja (cannabis) instead of the low-profit paddy.
  • Reason:-Drought prevailing in the area and the prices of agricultural produce crashing.
  • Many farmers in the region have taken up this proposition — often, at the cost of forests.
  • Agents distribute cash advances and ganja seed packets.
  • All that the farmer needs to do is to plant them amidst their maize or ginger fields or in the neighbouring forest areas.
  • The market and demand for this has been set up in urban centres of Bengaluru, Mangaluru and Mumbai.
  • Cultivating this is illegal and is banned under the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act in 2015.

Impact

  • Social Stigma attached after getting criminalized.
  • Loss of livelihood.
  • Drug addiction among the so called urban youth’s
  • Forest: Forest fringes are often targeted. Officials said farmers looking to avoid the criminalities associated with cultivating cannabis on their lands, were burning portions of forest land to clear a patch for cultivation. In 2012, 500 acres were burnt in the Shettyhalli Wildlife Sanctuary and the next year, excise and police officials found ganja cultivation in those patches. Coincidentally, these cleared portions are seeing a rise in applications for regularisation of unauthorised cultivation of forest/government lands under the Forest Rights Act.

What needs to be done?

  • Scale up research and development to come up with drought resistant variety of crops.
  • Alternate employment opportunities.
  • Proper implementation of MNREGA works.
  • Educate farmers about the negative impacts of cultivating Ganja on youths.
  • Urban centers which are now a day’s becoming famous as drug centers have to be placed under strict scanner.

The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985

  • Prohibits a person to produce/manufacture/cultivate, possess, sell, purchase, transport, store, and/or consume any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance.
  • The Act extends to the whole of India and it applies also to all Indian citizens outside India and to all persons on ships and aircraft registered in India.
  • The Narcotics Control Bureau was set up based on this Act.
  • The Act is designed to fulfill India’s treaty obligations under the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.

Narcotics Control Bureau

  • The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) is the nodal drug law enforcement and intelligence agency of India responsible for fighting drug trafficking and the abuse of illegal substances. The Director General of NCB is an officer of the Indian Police Service (IPS) or the Indian Revenue Service(IRS).
  • NCB is affiliated to Home Ministry, which was made responsible for administering The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985.

The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Amendment) Act, 2014

  • Relaxes restrictions placed by the Act on Essential Narcotic Drugs (Morphine, Fentanyl and Methadone), making them more accessible for use in pain relief and palliative care.
  • The Amendment also contained measures to improve treatment and care for people dependent on drugs, opened up the processing of opium and concentrated poppy straw to the private sector, and strengthened provisions related to the forfeiture of property of persons arraigned on charges of drug trafficking.
  • The Amendment also removed the NDPS Act’s imposition of a mandatory death sentence in case of a repeat conviction for trafficking large quantities of drugs, giving courts the discretion to use the alternative sentence of 30 years’ imprisonment for repeat offences
  • The Amendment increased the punishment for “small quantity” offences from a maximum of 6 months to 1-year imprisonment.


Category: DISASTER MANAGEMENT
 

1. In Fukushima, radioactive boars pose a new danger

What’s in news?

  • Hundreds of toxic wild boars have been roaming across northern Japan, where the meltdown of the Fukushima nuclear plant six years ago forced thousands of residents to desert their homes, pets and livestock.
  • Officials are struggling to clear out the contaminated boars.
  • Wild boar meat is a delicacy in northern Japan, but animals slaughtered since the disaster are too contaminated to eat.
  • According to tests conducted by the Japanese government, some of the boars have shown levels of radioactive element cesium-137 that are 300 times higher than safety standards.
  • In Chernobyl, wildlife continues to thrive despite high radiation levels in the aftermath of the world’s worst nuclear accident in 1986. With the absence of humans, Chernobyl, in Ukraine, has become a refuge for all kinds of animals, including moose, deer, brown bear, lynx and even wolves.

Quote as an example under How, Human greed impacting other living creature on the earth.

Measuring Radioactivity

  • Instrument used: Geiger counter
  • Units of Measure
    • Different units of measure are used depending on what aspect of radiation is being measured. For example, the amount of radiation being given off, or emitted, by a radioactive material is measured using the conventional unit curie (Ci), named for the famed scientist Marie Curie, or the SI unit becquerel (Bq).
    • The radiation dose absorbed by a person (that is, the amount of energy deposited in human tissue by radiation) is measured using the conventional unit rad or the SI unit gray (Gy).
    • The biological risk of exposure to radiation is measured using the conventional unit rem or the SI unit sievert (Sv).

 

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

 

E. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn

1.Dosimetry

  • Dosimetry in its original sense is the measurement of the absorbed dose delivered by ionizing radiation, the term is better known as a scientific sub-specialty in the fields of health physics and medical physics, where it is the calculation and assessment of the radiation dose received by the human body.
2.Ramjet

  • A ramjet, sometimes referred to as a flying stovepipe or an athodyd (an abbreviation of aero thermodynamic duct), is a form of air breathing jet ca engine that uses the engine’s forward motion to compress incoming air without an axial compressor. Because ramjets cannot produce thrust at zero airspeed, they cannot move an aircraft from a standstill. A ramjet-powered vehicle, therefore, requires an assisted take-off like a rocket assist to accelerate it to a speed where it begins to produce thrust.

This type of engine can operate up to speeds of Mach 6. As speed increases, the efficiency of a ramjet starts to drop as the air temperature in the inlet increases due to compression. As the inlet temperature gets closer to the exhaust temperature, less energy can be extracted in the form of thrust. To produce a usable amount of thrust at yet higher speeds, the ramjet must be modified so that the incoming air is not compressed (and therefore heated) nearly as much.

3.Cruise missile

  • A cruise missile is a guided missile used against terrestrial targets that remains in the atmosphere and flies the major portion of its flight path at approximately constant speed. Cruise missiles are designed to deliver a large warhead over long distances with high precision. Modern cruise missiles are capable of travelling at supersonic or high subsonic speeds.
4.Supersonic speed

  • Supersonic travel is a rate of travel of an object that exceeds the speed of sound (Mach 1). Speeds greater than five times the speed of sound (Mach 5) are often referred to as hypersonic.
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F. BILLS/ACTS/SCHEMES/ORGS IN NEWS
 

BILLS/ACTS/SCHEMES/ORGANISATIONS IN NEWS About the Article

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016

  1. Regulation of surrogacy: The Bill prohibits commercial surrogacy, but allows altruistic surrogacy.  Altruistic surrogacy involves no monetary compensation to the surrogate mother other than the medical expenses and insurance coverage during the pregnancy.  Commercial surrogacy includes surrogacy or its related procedures undertaken for a monetary benefit or reward (in cash or kind) exceeding the basic medical expenses and insurance coverage.
  2. Purposes for which surrogacy is permitted: Surrogacy is permitted when it is, (i) for intending couples who suffer from proven infertility; and (ii) altruistic; and (iii) not for commercial purposes; and (iv) not for producing children for sale, prostitution or other forms of exploitation.
  3. Eligibility criteria for intending couple: The intending couple should have a ‘certificate of essentiality’ and a ‘certificate of eligibility’ issued by the appropriate authority.
  4. A certificate of essentiality will be issued upon fulfilment of the following conditions: (i) a certificate of proven infertility of one or both members of the intending couple from a District Medical Board; (ii) an order of parentage and custody of the surrogate child passed by a Magistrate’s court; and (iii) insurance coverage for the surrogate mother.
  5. The certificate of eligibility is issued upon fulfilment of the following conditions by the intending couple: (i) Indian citizens and are married for at least five years; (ii) between 23 to 50 years old female and 26 to 55 years old male; (iii) they do not have any surviving child (biological, adopted or surrogate); this would not include a child who is mentally or physically challenged or suffers from life threatening disorder or fatal illness.
  6. Eligibility criteria for surrogate mother: To obtain a certificate of eligibility from the appropriate authority, the surrogate mother has to: (i) be a close relative of the intending couple; (ii) be an ever married woman having a child of her own; (iii) be 25 to 35 years old; (iv) be a surrogate only once in her lifetime; and (iv) possess a certificate of medical and psychological fitness for surrogacy.
  7. Appropriate authority: The central and state governments shall appoint one or more appropriate authorities within 90 days of the Bill becoming an Act.  The functions of the appropriate authority include; (i) granting, suspending or cancelling registration of surrogacy clinics; (ii) enforcing standards for surrogacy clinics; (iii) investigating and taking action against breach of the provisions of the Bill; (iv) recommending modifications to the rules and regulations.
  8. Registration of surrogacy clinics: Surrogacy clinics cannot undertake surrogacy related procedures unless they are registered by the appropriate authority
  9. National and State Surrogacy Boards: The central and the state governments shall constitute the National Surrogacy Board (NSB) and the State Surrogacy Boards (SSB), respectively.  Functions of the NSB include, (i) advising the central government on policy matters relating to surrogacy; (ii) laying down the code of conduct of surrogacy clinics; and (iii) supervising the functioning of SSBs.
  10. Offences and penalties: The Bill states the following offences: (i) undertaking or advertising commercial surrogacy; (ii) exploiting the surrogate mother; (iii) abandoning, exploiting or disowning a surrogate child; and (iv) selling or importing human embryo or gametes for surrogacy.  These offences will attract a minimum penalty of 10 years and a fine up to 10 lakh rupees.

G. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂

Question 1: Consider the following statement with reference to The Surrogacy 
(Regulation)Bill which was in news recently:
  1. The bill allows altruistic surrogacy.
  2. Surrogate mother need not be a relative
  3. Insurance coverage for the surrogate mother is a must.

Choose the correct statements.

  1. Only 1
  2. 1 and 2
  3. All of the above
  4. None of the above
See
Answer
Question 2: Consider the following statements:
  1. The Narcotic control Bureau is under Department of Drugs, Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers.
  2. Morphine, Fentanyl and Methadone production is completely banned under The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Amendment) Act, 2014

Identify the correct statements.

  1. 1 only
  2. 1 and 2
  3. All are incorrect
  4. None of the above
See
Answer
Question 3: Consider the following statements:
  1. BrahMos is a hypersonic ballistic missile.
  2. BrahMos is a two-stage missile, one being solid and the second one ramjet liquid propellant

Identify the correct statements.

  1. 1 only
  2. 1 and 2
  3. Both are incorrect
  4. None of the above
See
Answer
Question 4: Recently Pinkathon was organized at Kolkata , the main  theme was
  1. Women’s wellness and breast cancer
  2. Women’s rights issue
  3. Women’s wellness and Lung cancer
  4. None of the above
See
Answer
Question 5: At which of the following sites does one observe the evidence of 
practice of burying dogs with their masters?
  1. Burzahom
  2. Chirand
  3. Piklihal
  4. Gufkral
See
Answer
Question 6: What is the style of script in the Indus Valley Civilization?
  1. Boustrophedon
  2. Pictographic
  3. Hieroglyphic
  4. None
See
Answer


For previous practice questions solution, click here

 

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