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06 October Current Affairs

Swachh Survekshan Grameen Awards 2018

In News:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently conferred Swachh Survekshan Grameen Awards 2018 to top ranked states and districts. The rankings were based on the National Swachh Survekshan Grameen 2018 of the Union Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation.

Details:

  • Haryana was ranked as best State.
  • Satara District of Maharashtra was ranked as best district.
  • Uttar Pradesh was rewarded for maximum citizens’ participation.

Zonal Ranking – Top States:

  • Northern: Haryana.
  • Southern: Andhra Pradesh.
  • Eastern: Chhattisgarh.
  • Western: Gujarat.
  • North-East: Sikkim.
  • Union Territories: Dadar & Nagar Haveli.

Zonal Ranking – Top Districts:

  • Northern: Rewari (Haryana).
  • Southern: Peddapalli (Telangana).
  • Eastern: Surajpur (Chhattisgarh).
  • Western: Satara (Maharashtra).
  • North-East: Tawang (Arunachal Pradesh).

About Swachh Survekshan Grameen:

SSG is a rural cleanliness survey to rank all states and districts on basis of qualitative and quantitative evaluation.

The objective of SSG 2018 is to undertake ranking of states and districts on basis of their performance attained on key quantitative and qualitative Swachh Bharat Mission-Grameen (SBM-G) parameters. The rankings will be based on taking into account set of comprehensive cleanliness parameters.

The criteria of SSG-2018 include survey of public places, citizens’ perspective of cleanliness, their recommendations and data from SBM-G. As part of it, more than 6000 villages in 698 districts across India were covered. It covered nearly 30,000 public places namely schools, anganwadis, public health centres, haat/bazaars/religious places in these villages.

Weightage:

The SSG 2018 will assign 65% weightage to findings and outcome and 35% to service level parameters to be obtained from Integrated Management Information System (IMIS) of the MDWS.

The weights to different elements of SSG are direct observation of sanitation in public places (30%), citizen’s feedback on sanitation parameters (35%), service level progress on sanitation progress in the country as per SBMG-MIS (35%).

Survey:

The SSG 2018 was conducted by independent survey agency in all districts from 1st to 31st August 2018. It will also take feedback from over 50 lakh citizens on SBM related issues through direct interaction as well as online feedback.

Source: PIB

Atal Innovation Mission

In News:

To promote innovative cooperation between students of India and Russia, a Memorandum of Understanding was recently exchanged between India’s Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) and the Russian Federation’s SIRIUS Educational Foundation.

The MoU seeks to:

  • Remove cultural and language barriers between students of Russia and India.
  • Share the best practices in the promotion of educational, scientific, innovative achievements.
  • Promote innovative cooperation.
  • Search and develop the talented youth of both countries fostering a knowledge-driven innovation ecosystem in both the countries.

About AIM:

The Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) is the Government of India’s flagship initiative to promote a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in the country.

AIM is mandated to create an umbrella structure to oversee innovation ecosystem of the country and revolutionizing the innovation eco-system – touching upon the entire innovation life cycle through various programs.

The Atal Innovation Mission shall have two core functions:

Entrepreneurship promotion through Self-Employment and Talent Utilization, wherein innovators would be supported and mentored to become successful entrepreneurs.

Innovation promotion: to provide a platform where innovative ideas are generated.

Source: The Hindu

Digi Yatra

In News:

Union Ministry of Civil Aviation has released policy on biometric based digital processing of passengers at airports called Digi Yatra. With this initiative, ticket booking, airport entry and boarding pass security check-in will be made digital.

Digi Yatra:

The initiative seeks to promote paperless and hassle-free air travel. It will be operational by end of February, 2019 at Bengaluru and Hyderabad airports. In later phase, Airports Authority of India (AAI) will roll out this initiative at Kolkata, Varanasi, Pune and Vijayawada airports by April 2019.

Under it, there will be one-time verification at departure airport while travelling for first time using ID. After successful verification, facial recognition biometric will be captured and stored in Digi Yatra ID.

For this system, passengers will be registered through centralized system and will be given Digi Travel ID. This ID will include details such as names of passengers, their e-mail id, mobile number and any other identity card in case of non-basis. Travelers can also use this ID when booking tickets.

Significance:

This initiative will bring benefits to passengers and all stakeholders involved in process including airport operator who will be having travel information in advance for better resource planning and real-time data of passengers within terminal. This will enable the operator to take proactive action to avoid congestion.

Source: The Hindu

Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA)

In News:

India and Russia have concluded the contract for five S-400 ‘Triumf’ missile systems, one of the biggest defence deals in recent times.

However, the U.S. has warned the deal would invoke sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) law.

Details:

CAATSA is a US federal law that imposed sanctions on Iran, North Korea and Russia. It includes sanctions against countries that engage in significant transactions with Russia’s defence and intelligence sectors.

However, any imposition of sanctions on India, which is now a major defence partner, could be disastrous for the bilateral relationship.

What is S-400?

  • It is an air defence missile system that can take down enemies’ aircraft in the sky from the surface itself.
  • The S-400 is known as Russia’s most advanced long-range surface-to-air missile defence system, capable of destroying destroying hostile strategic bombers, jets, missiles and drones at a range of 380-km.
  • The S-400 is an upgraded version of the S-300 systems. The missile system, manufactured by Almaz-Antey, has been in service in Russia since 2007.

Why does India want S-400?

S-400 would be like a “booster shot” in the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) arm. India needs to be well-equipped against neighboring threats. Pakistan has over 20 fighter squadrons, with upgraded F-16s, and inducting J-17 from China in large numbers. China has 1,700 fighters, including 800 4-Gen fighters.

Source: The Hindu

UN Conference on Disarmament

In News:

Pankaj Sharma has been appointed as ambassador and India’s permanent representative to United Nations Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.

About the Conference on Disarmament:

The Conference on Disarmament (CD) is a multilateral disarmament forum established by the international community to negotiate arms control and disarmament agreements based at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. The Conference meets annually in three separate sessions in Geneva.

The Conference was first established in 1979 as the Committee on Disarmament as the single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum of the international community. It was renamed the Conference on Disarmament in 1984.

The Conference succeeded three other disarmament-related bodies: the Ten-Nation Committee on Disarmament (1960), the Eighteen-Nation Committee on Disarmament (1962–68) and the Conference of the Committee on Disarmament (1969–78).

Membership: The conference is currently composed of 65 formal members, representing all areas of the world, as well as all known nuclear-weapon states. Additionally, members are organized into a number of informal regional groups to facilitate their preparation for, and representation in the plenary meetings of the Conference.

Relationship to the United Nations:

The Conference is formally independent from the United Nations. However, while it is not formally a UN organization, it is linked to it in various ways. First and foremost, the Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva serves as the Secretary-General of the Conference. Furthermore, while the Conference adopts its own rules of procedure and agenda, the United Nations General Assembly can pass resolutions recommending specific topics to the Conference. Finally, the Conference submits a report of its activities to the General Assembly yearly, or more frequently, as appropriate.

Source: The Hindu

India International Science Festival (IISF-2018)

In News:

India International Science Festival (IISF-2018) has begun in Lucknow.

Details:

Theme: “Science for Transformation”.

About IISF- 2018:

IISF is conceivably the biggest platform in India that brings together students, researchers, artists and general public to celebrate our nation’s achievements in science and technology.

It is a medium to encourage the young minds towards the field of science and to promote the networking of stakeholders working towards the propagation of science.

Through this festival, the largest of its kind in the country and in this region, it is expected that the message of excitement of Science and scientific temper will be spread to the students and will be inspiring for the youth.

All stakeholders collectively work towards “Vigyan se Vikas”- contributing to the Making of a New India.

Source: PIB

Methanol Cooking Fuel Program of India

In News:

Signifying a paradigm shift towards the use of alternate cooking fuel technology, the Namrup-based Assam Petrochemicals Limited (APL) has rolled out the country’s first methanol-based cooking fuel project-‘Green and Clean Fuel Pilot Project on Methanol Cooking Stove’.

Highlights of the project:

Under the pilot project, stove and methanol canister will be made available in a limited scale. The methanol cooking fuel will be available in canisters of 1.2 kg capacity each, which will be priced at around Rs 32 and around 18 of them would be equivalent to one conventional domestic LPG cylinder.

The technology for the canister and the special burner has been provided by Sweden. In two months, APL will start commercial production of methanol-based cooking fuel. Initially the product will be made available for the northeastern region.

Boost to NITI Aayog’s Programme:

This is India’s first step towards realising the concept of ‘Methanol Economy’, the flagship programme of NITI Aayog. Through the programme, the NITI Aayog has been working on a roadmap to replace 20% of the country’s crude imports through methanol alone.

Methanol as an alternative fuel:

Methanol is a promising fuel as it is clean, cheaper than fossil fuels and a good substitute for heavy fuels. India imports methanol from Saudi Arabia and Iran at present. Across the world, methanol is emerging as a clean, sustainable transportation fuel of the future.

Why Methanol?

Methanol can be used as an energy producing fuel, transportation fuel and cooking fuel, cutting down India’s oil import bill by an estimated 20% over the next few years. Unlike CNG, using methanol as a transportation fuel would require minimal alteration in the vehicles.

Methanol is a clean-burning fuel that produces fewer smog-causing emissions — such as sulphur oxides (SOx), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter — and can improve air quality and related human health issues.

Methanol is most commonly produced on a commercial scale from natural gas. It can also be produced from renewable sources such as biomass and recycled carbon dioxide.

As a high-octane vehicle fuel, methanol offers excellent acceleration and power. It also improves vehicle efficiency.

Methanol as an enduring solution to human energy needs?

Methanol has the potential to be an enduring solution to human energy needs is because the beltched out C02 (greenhouse gas emission) both from using Methanol and while producing Methanol can be tapped back to produce Methanol. Thereby a seamless loop of CO2 sequestration cycle is created to perpetually burn fuels without polluting the environment at all. C02 from steel plants, Thermal Power plants, Cement Plants etc. can be tapped in large quantities to produce Methanol.

Way ahead:

The Concept of “Methanol Economy” is being actively pursued by China, Italy, Sweden, Israel, US, Australia, Japan and many other European countries. 10% of fuel in China in transport Sector is Methanol. Methanol Economy, if adopted by India can be one of the best ways to mitigate the Environmental hazards of a growing economy. NITI Aayog is preparing a road map for a full-scale implementation in the near future.

Source: PIB

GI Tag for Alphonso from Konkan

In News:

Alphonso from Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg, Palghar, Thane and Raigad districts of Maharashtra, is registered as Geographical Indication (GI).

Details:

The king of mangoes, Alphonso, better known as ‘Hapus’ in Maharashtra, is in demand in domestic and international markets not only for its taste but also for pleasant fragrance and vibrant colour. It has long been one of the world’s most popular fruit and is exported to various countries including Japan, Korea and Europe. New markets such as USA and Australia have recently opened up.

About GI tag:

A GI is primarily an agricultural, natural or a manufactured product (handicrafts and industrial goods) originating from a definite geographical territory.

Significance of a GI tag:

Typically, such a name conveys an assurance of quality and distinctiveness, which is essentially attributable to the place of its origin.

Security:

Once the GI protection is granted, no other producer can misuse the name to market similar products. It also provides comfort to customers about the authenticity of that product.

Provisions in this regard:

GI is covered as element of intellectual property rights (IPRs) under Paris Convention for Protection of Industrial Property.

At international level, GI is governed by WTO’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

In India, Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection Act), 1999 governs it.

Source: PIB

Monetary Policy and Monetary Policy Committee (MPC)

To achieve the goals of broad economic policy, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) uses monetary policy to control inflation, interest rates, supply of money and credit availability.

The RBI has a government-constituted Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) which is tasked with framing monetary policy using tools like the repo rate, reverse repo rate, bank rate, cash reserve ratio (CRR).

Composition of MPC:

The committee will have six members. Of the six members, the government will nominate three. No government official will be nominated to the MPC.

The other three members would be from the RBI with the governor being the ex-officio chairperson. Deputy governor of RBI in charge of the monetary policy will be a member, as also an executive director of the central bank.

Decision: Decisions will be taken by majority vote with each member having a vote.

RBI governor’s role: The RBI Governor will chair the committee. The governor, however, will not enjoy a veto power to overrule the other panel members, but will have a casting vote in case of a tie.

Selection: The government nominees to the MPC will be selected by a Search-cum-Selection Committee under Cabinet Secretary with RBI Governor and Economic Affairs Secretary and three experts in the field of economics or banking or finance or monetary policy as its members.

Term: Members of the MPC will be appointed for a period of four years and shall not be eligible for reappointment.

Source: PIB

Atal Innovation Mission

  • Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) is NITI Aayog’s flagship initiative to promote a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in India.
  • AIM has been established to create and promote an ecosystem of innovation and entrepreneurship in a holistic manner through various initiatives at school, university and industry levels.
  • The Atal Innovation Mission has thus two core functions:
  1. Innovation promotion – To provide a platform where innovative ideas are generated.
  2. Entrepreneurship promotion – Wherein innovators would be supported and mentored to become successful entrepreneurs at Incubation Centers.
  • Recently a MoU was exchanged between India’s Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) and the Russian Federation’s SIRIUS, to promote innovative cooperation between students of India and Russia.

Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana

  • Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY) is a village development project, under which each Member of Parliament will take the responsibility of developing physical and institutional infrastructure in three villages by 2019.
  • Far beyond mere infrastructure development, SAGY aims at instilling certain values in the villages and their people so that they get transformed into models for others.
  • The main objectives of SAGY are:
  1. To trigger processes which lead to holistic development of the identified Gram Panchayats.
  2. To substantially improve the standard of living and quality of life of all sections of the population.
  3. To generate models of local level development and effective local governance which can motivate and inspire neighbouring Gram Panchayats to learn and adapt
  4. To nurture the identified Adarsh Grams as schools of local development to train other Gram Panchayats.

Methanol Cooking Fuel Program

  • Northeast and Assam Petro-chemicals, a state-owned company has launched Asia’s first canisters based and India’s first “Methanol Cooking Fuel Program”.
  • 2 liters of gaseous form of Methanol canisters can last for full five hours on twin burners and 8 such Canisters as rack can last for one month for a family of three.
  • The cooking medium can directly substitute LPG, Kerosene, Wood, Charcoal and any other fuel for cooking.
  • The cost of energy equivalent of one cylinder of LPG for Methanol is Rs. 650, compared to Rs. 850 per cylinder resulting in a minimum of 20% Savings.
  • This provides for an excellent alternative as household fuel and commercial, institutional and fuel for restaurants.

 

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