(GS-I: Important Geophysical phenomenon)
The earth is likely to hit by a geomagnetic storm on 7th April, according to the Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
What are Geomagnetic Storms?
Geomagnetic storms are caused when events such as solar flares can send higher than normal levels of radiation towards Earth. This radiation interacts with the Earth’s magnetic field causing a geomagnetic storm.
The disturbance that drives the magnetic storm may be a solar coronal mass ejection (CME) or (much less severely) a co-rotating interaction region (CIR), a high-speed stream of solar wind originating from a coronal hole.
Effects of Geomagnetic storms:
Effects from the geomagnetic storm can range from the appearance of auroras or the northern and southern lights to disruptions in communications systems due to high radiation. This would make it difficult to communicate with others on Earth.
Classification of Geomagnetic storms:
Geomagnetic storms are classified according to a scale that measures the effect that storms will have.
At its safest level, a G1 storm affects power grids by causing weak fluctuations, minor impacts on satellite operations, and causes the northern and southern lights to occur.
At its most extreme, G5, there would be voltage control problems with some grid system collapses or blackouts, radio waves wouldn’t be able to travel for one to two days, low-frequency radio would be out for hours, and the auroras would be able to be seen at lower latitudes than usual.
‘Prakriti’ green initiatives for effective plastic waste management
(GS-III: Conservation related issues)
In another step toward eliminating single-use plastic, the Union Environment Ministry has launched “Prakriti”, a mascot to spread greater awareness about small changes that can be sustainably adopted in the lifestyle for a better environment.
During the event, following green initiatives were launched for plastic waste management:
1 – National Dashboard on Elimination of Single Use Plastic and Plastic Waste Management (MoEFCC):
This aims to connect all stakeholders including Central Ministries/ Departments, State/UT Governments, etc. through one platform and track status and progress made for elimination of single use plastic & effective management of plastic waste.
2 – Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Portal for Plastic Packaging (CPCB):
This portal will look after tasks that will help in overall operational functions like improving accountability, traceability, transparency and facilitating ease of reporting compliance to EPR Obligations by Producers, Importers and Brand-owners.
3 – Mobile App for Single Use Plastics Grievance Redressal (CPCB):
This app will allow citizens to check sale/usage/manufacturing of single use plastic in their region and tackle the plastic menace.
4 – Monitoring module for single use plastic (CPCB):
This will be for local bodies, State pollution control board/PCCs and CPCB, etc. to invent details of single use plastic production, its sale & usage, etc. in commercial establishments at district level, and on-ground enforcement of ban on single use plastics.
5 – Industrial production of Graphene from Waste Plastic (G B Pant NIHE & NRDC) will promote more industries to come forward to upcycle plastic waste.
Efforts by Government in this regard:
To tackle the challenge of plastic pollution, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced India’s pledge to phase out Single-Use Plastics (SUPs) by 2022.
India’s plastic waste management rules 2016 were amended banning the import of plastic waste SUVs with effect from July 2022 onward.
What are single use plastics?
Single-use plastics refer to disposable items like grocery bags, food packaging, bottles and straws that are used only once before they are thrown away, or sometimes recycled.
As plastic is cheap, lightweight and easy to produce, it has led to a production boom over the last century, and the trend is expected to continue in the coming decades, according to the United Nations.
But countries are now struggling with managing the amount of plastic waste they have generated.
About 60% of plastic waste in India is collected — that means the remaining 40% or 10,376 tons remain uncollected.
A government committee has identified the single use plastic (SUP) items to be banned based on an index of their utility and environmental impact. It has proposed a three-stage ban:
The first category of SUP items proposed to be phased out are plastic sticks used in balloons, flags, candy, ice-cream and ear buds, and thermocol that is used in decorations.
The second category, proposed to be banned from July 1, 2022, includes items such as plates, cups, glasses and cutlery such as forks, spoons, knives, straws, trays; wrapping and packing films used in sweet boxes; invitation cards; cigarette packets; stirrers and plastic banners that are less than 100 microns in thickness.
A third category of prohibition is for non-woven bags below 240 microns in thickness. This is proposed to start from September next year.
It is not going to be an easy task given that close to 26,000 tons of plastic waste is generated across India every day, of which more than 10,000 tons stays uncollected.
A significant amount of plastic ends up in rivers, oceans and landfills.
What needs to be done?
The government has to do a thorough economic and environmental cost-benefit analysis.
The plan has to take into account social and economic impacts for the ban to be successful.
We need better recycling policies because resources are poor and there needs to be a much broader strategy.
‘Tour of Duty’ recruitment model
(GS-III: Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate)
The Department of Military Affairs has finalised a radical proposal for future recruitment to the armed forces. The Army will be the first to try out the concept –the ‘Tour of Duty’ model, which involves recruiting some soldiers for a fixed period of three years.
The ‘Tour of Duty’ (ToD) concept, first unveiled in 2020.
What is the ‘Tour of Duty’ model?
This model of recruitment would let young individuals voluntarily serve for a temporary period of three years.
It will be a voluntary engagement.
It is for youths who “do not want to make defence services their permanent vocation, but still want to experience the thrill and adventure of military professionalism”.
The proposal is a shift from the concept of permanent service/job in the Armed Forces, towards ‘internship’/temporary experience for three years.
While the original proposal in 2020 would have extended the ToD to officers as well, it’s now being restricted to jawans, as officers already have the Short Service Commission (SSC) route.
Benefits for the government:
There are immense financial benefits to the organisation due to reduction in pay and gratuity payouts.
The cost of a three-year service per officer will be a fraction of the cost incurred on Short Service Commission (SSC) officers.
The cost incurred on an officer, who leaves after 10 or 14 years, is Rs 5 crore-Rs 6.8 crore, which includes the cost of pre-commission training, pay, allowances, gratuity, leave encashment among others. The corresponding cost for a three-year service will be Rs 80 lakh-85 lakh.
SSC officers have the option to join the service permanently, which further increases the cost incurred, including pension bills.
For soldiers, who usually serve for 17 years, the Army has calculated a lifetime savings of Rs 11.5 crore per person, as compared to a three-year service.
Benefits for citizens and the country:
It will help to “channelise the youth energy into positive utilisation of their potential”.
Rigorous military training and habits inculcated will lead to healthy citizenry.
The entire nation will benefit from “trained, disciplined, confident, diligent and committed” young men or women who have done the three-year service.
An “initial survey” has indicated that the corporate sector will prefer to hire such youths rather than fresh graduates.
The Army’s pay and pension bill has been increasing steeply over the years, accounting for 60% of its budget allocation.
According to a report of the Standing Committee of Defence, 2019, the deficiency in officer cadre of the Indian Army stood at approximately 14 per cent.
Advocates of this scheme also cite “resurgence of nationalism and patriotism”, and the fact that “unemployment in our country is a reality”.
Babu Jagjivan Ram
(GS-I: Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues)
The Prime Minister paid tributes to freedom fighter Babu Jagjivan Ram on his 115th birth anniversary (5th April).
About Babu Jagjivan Ram:
Jagjivan Ram, popularly known as Babuji was a national leader, a freedom fighter, a crusader of social justice, a champion of depressed classes, an outstanding Parliamentarian, a true democrat, a distinguished Union Minister, an able administrator and an exceptionally gifted orator.
Jagjivan Ram had organized a number of Ravidas Sammelans and had celebrated Guru Ravidas Jayanti in different areas of Calcutta (Kolkata).
In 1934, he founded the Akhil Bhartiya Ravidas Mahasabha in Calcutta.
He was instrumental in the foundation of the All India Depressed Classes League.
In October 1935, Babuji appeared before the Hammond Commission at Ranchi and demanded, for the first time, voting rights for the Dalits.
Babu Jagjivan Ram played a very active and crucial role in the freedom struggle. Inspired by Gandhiji, Babuji courted arrest on 10 December 1940. After his release, he entrenched himself deeply into the Civil Disobedience Movement and Satyagraha.
Babuji was arrested again on 19 August 1942 for his active participation in the Quit India Movement launched by the Indian National Congress.
He has also served as the deputy prime minister of India.
(GS-II: Issues related to Health)
Scientists at Pune’s Indian Council of Medical Research – National Institute of Virology were able to detect the presence of IgG antibodies against Nipah virus infection (NiV) in 51 bats that were captured from Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.
What is Nipah?
It is a zoonotic virus (it is transmitted from animals to humans).
It first broke out in Malaysia and Singapore in 1998 and 1999.
It first appeared in domestic pigs and has been found among several species of domestic animals including dogs, cats, goats, horses and sheep.
The virus is transmitted to people from animals and can also be passed on through contaminated food or directly from person-to-person.
Fruit bats are considered to be a natural reservoir of the virus.
Symptoms include acute encephalitis and respiratory illnesses.
Currently, there are no vaccines for both humans and animals. Intensive supportive care is given to humans infected by Nipah virus.