20 Feb Current Affairs
February 20, 2019
22 Feb Current Affairs
February 22, 2019
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21 Feb Current Affairs

Operation Digital Board

In News:

Union Human Resource Development Ministry has launched Operation Digital Board to leverage technology in order to boost quality education in the country.

About Operation Digital Board:

ODB aims at converting a class room into a digital class room and provide e-resources at any time and at any place to students.

The digital board will be introduced all over the country in government and government aided schools from class 9th onwards as well as in higher education institutions.

The Operation Digital Board (ODB) will be implemented in the Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) by the University Grants Commission (UGC).

Significance and benefits:

Operation Digital Board is a revolutionary step which will make the learning as well as the teaching process interactive and popularize flipped learning as a pedagogical approach.

It will also help in provisioning of personalised adaptive learning as well as Intelligent Tutoring by exploiting emerging technologies like Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence & Data Analytics.

Need for such initiatives:

The biggest challenge facing education sector in the country is maintaining acceptable quality standards across the country. Although we have good number of premier institutions, which compete with the best in the world, a large number of higher education institutions and schools needs improvements in quality teaching-learning, as the students coming out of these institutions find themselves unsuitable for the requirements of the society and market. The spread of educational technology and connectivity has given an opportunity to resolve this issue and aim at equity in educational standards.

Sikaria Mega Food Park

In News:

Sikaria Mega Food Park is the1st Mega Food Park of Tripura. It was inaugurated recently.

About Mega Food Parks scheme:

Ministry of Food Processing Industries is implementing Mega Food Park Scheme in the country.

The Scheme of Mega Food Park aims at providing a mechanism to link agricultural production to the market by bringing together farmers, processors and retailers so as to ensure maximizing value addition, minimizing wastages, increasing farmers’ income and creating employment opportunities particularly in rural sector.

These food parks give a major boost to the food processing sector by adding value and reducing food wastage at each stage of the supply chain with particular focus on perishables.

Funding: A maximum grant of Rs 50 crore is given for setting up a MFP, in minimum 50 acres of contiguous land with only 50% contribution to the total project cost.

Mode of operation:

The Scheme has a cluster based approach based on a hub and spokes model. It includes creation of infrastructure for primary processing and storage near the farm in the form of Primary Processing Centres (PPCs) and Collection Centres (CCs) and common facilities and enabling infrastructure at Central Processing Centre (CPC).

The PPCs are meant for functioning as a link between the producers and processors for supply of raw material to the Central Processing Centres.

CPC has need based core processing facilities and basic enabling infrastructure to be used by the food processing units setup at the CPC. The minimum area required for a CPC is 50 acres.

The scheme is demand-driven and would facilitate food processing units to meet environmental, safety and social standards.

States’ ranking on Startup initiatives

In News:

Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) has released second edition of Startup Ranking for 2019.

Startup Ranking framework:

The Startup Ranking framework aims to rank the States/UTs for establishing a robust ecosystem for supporting Startups.

The framework also encourages States and UTs to identify, learn and replicate good practices from each other.

The 2019 edition:

The Ranking Framework 2019 comprises of 7 pillars and 30 action points. The pillars will assess States’/UTs efforts across institutional support, simplifying regulations, easing public procurement, incubation support, seed funding support, venture funding support and awareness and outreach related activities.

The ranking exercise aims to evaluate measures taken by States/UTs during the assessment period from May 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019.

Significance of Startups:

India is home to about 20,000 startups, with about 1,400 beginning operations every year. They are not only driving economic growth but also leading to technological innovations and employment generation in every state. Entrepreneurs are introducing new solutions everyday and also improving existing processes.

To encourage and help statrups the Govt of India has taken the lead in creating policies and a framework. Many States and UTs have a startup focussed environment with ease of doing business for startups.

Way ahead:

The Govt has to align its strategies to tap into the infinite potential of young entrepreneurial minds. Startups need help in the journey from idea to business and business to success. States will also have to take proactive steps to enable startup ecosystems at the local level.

Military Space Force

In News:

President Trump has signed a directive- Space Policy Directive-4 (SPD-4)- to create a Military Space Force.

Details:

Accordingly, the Pentagon will establish the Space Force as the sixth branch of the United States military, to go along with the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard.

However, the challenge ahead is that the Congress must approve the creation of any new military branch.

About US Military Space Force:

The main goal of the Space Force is to secure and extend American dominance of the space domain.

The Space Force would initially reside within the Department of the Air Force, much as the Marine Corps is part of the U.S. Navy.

  1. Space Force will organize, train, and equip military space forces. Eventually, the aim is to push the Space Force out from under the Air Force’s wings and make it a stand-alone organization.

Why it is not a “good idea”?

Another military arm would only compound the organisational challenges facing the U.S. armed services.

It could undercut ongoing missions.

It could very well increase budgetary allocations in the future.

A space corps could undermine American efforts in the domain of joint warfare.

Why it may not feasible to have a space force?

The fundamental difficulty of a space corps is that the physical environment of space is not conducive to the conduct of military operations without incurring serious losses in the form of spacecraft and debris. And despite efforts to make spacecraft more fuel efficient, the energy requirements are enormous.

The technical demands of defending assets in space make the possibility of dominance and space as a domain for war-fighting a sort of chimera.

Challenges ahead:

A new space force is not merely a brand new service; it potentially increases greater organisational uncertainty within the U.S. military. Notwithstanding these concerns, Washington’s headlong rush is the by-product of a strong commitment to preserving American advantages in space.

Why space has become so important?

Space is a “war-fighting domain” and global powers like Russia and China are already treating it as such.

Besides, the stakes are high. Much of our 21st-century economy and lifestyle — from bank transactions to weather forecasting to television service to the GPS directions — depends on satellites functioning round the clock and without interruption. The military depends on them too.

In 2007, China shot down one of its own satellites — mission accomplished in its own right, it also littered orbit with potentially destructive space debris. Many saw the operation as a veiled display of military power.

Facts for Prelims:

As its name suggests, SPD-4 is President Trump’s fourth space policy directive. The first SPD directed NASA to get humans back to the moon as a stepping-stone to Mars. The second streamlined regulations for the commercial space sector, and the third dealt with management of space traffic.

Source: The Hindu

Norms relaxed for Start- ups

In News:

The government has relaxed the norms under the definition of Start-Ups. The relaxations are in line with the government’s vision to promote the culture of entrepreneurship and ease of doing business in India.

Details:

The new norms aim to catalyse entrepreneurship by enabling angel investments by innovators across all sections of society and all sectors of economy.

The changes brought in are:

The investment limit of angel investors to seek exemption under the Income Tax Act, 1961 has been increased to Rs 25 crore from 10 Crore.

An entity shall be considered a start-up up to 10 years from its date of incorporation/registration instead of the previous period of 7 years.

An entity would be considered as a startup up to a turnover of Rs 100 crore as against the earlier limit of Rs 25 crore.

Exemptions Proposed:

A start-up cannot invest in a building or land unless it is for its business or used by it for purposes of renting or held by it as stock-in-trade.

A start-up cannot offer loans or advances, other than those where lending money is part of its business.

A start-up cannot make any capital contribution to any other entity or invest in shares, car, any vehicle or mode of transport that costs more than Rs 10 lakh.

Source: The Hindu

US National Emergency

In News:

US President Trump has officially declared the US-Mexico border a “national emergency,” which will allow him to circumvent Congress’s constitutional powers to control spending and divert federal funds toward his much-ballyhooed border wall.

Details:

The president has argued that the emergency declaration is warranted because the migrants “invading” the United States across the Mexico border have caused epidemics of crime and drug use.

What is a national emergency?

In 1976, Congress passed the National Emergencies Act, which permits the president to pronounce a national emergency when he considers it appropriate. The act offers no specific definition of “emergency” and allows a president to declare one entirely at his or her discretion.

By declaring a national emergency, the president avails himself or herself of dozens of specialized laws. Some of these powers have funds the president otherwise could not access.

Under current law, emergency powers lapse within a year unless the president renews them. A national emergency can be re-declared indefinitely, and, in practice, that is done frequently. There have been 58 pronounced under the National Emergencies Act, of which 31 are still in effect.

What happens once a national emergency is declared?

Even though there aren’t many limits on a president’s ability to declare an emergency, it does not create complete freedom to act. Anyone directly affected by the order can challenge it in court.

Congress can also draft a concurrent resolution to terminate the state of emergency, leading to a somewhat novel act. Ordinarily, congressional resolutions support a president’s declaration of a national emergency.

Source: Indian Express

LOFAR telescope

In News:

A new map of the night sky published recently charts hundreds of thousands of previously unknown galaxies discovered using LOFAR telescope that can detect light sources optical instruments cannot see.

Details:

The discovery literally shed new light on some of the Universe’s deepest secrets, including the physics of black holes and how clusters of galaxies evolve.

About LOFAR Telescope:

The Low-Frequency Array or LOFAR, is a large radio telescope network located mainly in the Netherlands, completed in 2012 by ASTRON, the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy and its international partners.

How it works? LOFAR consists of a vast array of omnidirectional antennas using a new concept in which the signals from the separate antennas are not combined in real time as they are in most array antennas. The electronic signals from the antennas are digitized, transported to a central digital processor, and combined in software to emulate a conventional antenna.

The project is based on an interferometric array of radio telescopes using about 20,000 small antennas concentrated in at least 48 stations.

The mission of LOFAR is to map the Universe at radio frequencies from ~10–240 MHz with greater resolution and greater sensitivity than previous surveys, such as the 7C and 8C surveys, and surveys by the Very Large Array (VLA) and Giant Meterwave Radio Telescope (GMRT).

Source: The Hindu

VIVID- 2019

In News:

VIVID-Vision Insight and Voices as India goes Digital”- the District Informatics Officer (DIO) meet, is being organised by National Informatics Centre (NIC).

Details:

The meet is held as an initiative to interact with the DIO’s and to share their experiences as well as contribution, as digital change-makers at the grass-root level in the States.

VIVID started in 2017, as an annual event, with the objective to empower NIC officials in the field of technology.

The National meet will cover a wide range of relevant topics in various technical sessions including Emerging Technologies (Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning & Big Data Analytics), Cyber Threats & Counter Measures (Changing Digitisation Paradigm & its impact on Security), Enterprise Level Applications, and many other relevant topics.

Agricultural Science Congress

In News:

14th Agricultural Science Congress is being held at New Delhi.

Details:

Organized by: The NAAS in collaboration with the ICAR and Indian Agricultural Research Institute.

Theme: “Innovations for Agricultural Transformation”.

Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS)

In News:

The Union Cabinet approved construction of Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut Corridor of Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS) covering a distance of 82.15 kms.

Details:

The RRTS is a first-of-its-kind, rail-based, high-speed regional transit system to be implemented in India.

Once operational, it will be the fastest, most comfortable and safest mode of commuter transport in the National Capital Region (NCR).

The RRTS aims to streamline the urban transportation system, which is stressed due to intensive developments, and increase in the number of private vehicles.

The project is meant to ensure ‘Universal Access’ by being sensitive to the needs of women, children and vulnerable sections of the society.

About the Island Development Agency (IDA)

In News:

The IDA was set up on June 1 this year following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s review meeting for the development of islands. The meetings of the agency are chaired by the Union Home Minister.

Composition: Members of the IDA include cabinet secretary, home secretary, secretary (environment, forests and climate change), secretary (tourism) and secretary (tribal welfare).

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