Press Information Bureau (PIB) IAS UPSC – 19th to 25th August – 2019
Relics found by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in Maharastra’s Phupgaon
(Topic: Ancient Indian History)
The recent excavation carried out by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) at Maharashtra’s Phupgaon has revealed evidence of an Iron Age settlement in the Vidarbha region.
The excavation at the site was taken up between December, 2018 and March, 2019.
Location: The team of ASI took up an intensive survey in the region between Chandur Bazar to Dariyapur of Purna basin at Phupgaon, Amravati district of Maharashtra. The site is situated in the vast meander of the river Purna, a major tributary of Tapi, which used to be a perennial river, but at present is completely dried-up due to the dam construction in the upper stream. The site is situated about 20 m away from the river bed and its one-third portion has been subjected to frequent erosion during the heavy water current in the earlier times.
- A total of 9 trenches were taken for excavations, which brought to light the house remains and other associated features like hearth, post-holes and artefacts.
- During the course of excavation, 4 complete circular structures were exposed. All were found encircled with post holes. These structures were found to be enclosed with a circular ditch like feature and postholes. Inside of these structure floor activity, storage bin platforms and hearths were noticed.
- The excavation also exposed antiquities like beads of agate-carnelian, jasper, quartz and agate were collected in large quantity. Iron, Copper objects have also been collected from all the trenches. Large quantity of graffiti marks had been observed on the potsherds.
The river Purna, a major tributary of the river Tapi, has witnessed several archaeological sites on its either side of the banks. A number of cultural remains in the form of various antiquities and pottery have unraveled the nature of those settlements ranging from Paleolithic to late medieval period.
The excavation is significant as it indicates the presence of sedentary (permanent) settlement, belonging to the Iron Age of Vidarbha. The settlement comes under the category of a small village with evidence of a small agro-pastoral community with evidences of craftsmanship in the form of beads of agate-carnelian, jasper, quartz and also usage of other artefacts like hopscotch, wheel and barrel shaped beads. The finding from Phupgaon indicates its contemporaneity with other Iron Age settlements of Vidarbha like Naikund, Mahurjhari, Bhagimori and Thakalkat.
Draft National Resource Efficiency Policy Released
(Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation)
By: Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change
Natural resources form the backbone of any economic development. India, as one of the fastest growing economies with GDP at 2.6 trillion USD, has increased its material consumption to six times, from 1.18 billion tonnes (BT) in 1970 to 7 BT in 2015. The material consumption is expected to increase further to provide for an increasing population, rapid urbanization and growing aspirations. Enhancing resource efficiency and promoting the use of secondary raw materials has emerged as a strategy for ensuring that the potential trade-off between growth, resource constraints and environmental well-being can be minimized.
The Draft National Resource Efficiency Policy (NREP) envisions a future with environmentally sustainable and equitable economic growth, resource security, healthy environment (air, water and land), and restored ecosystems with rich ecology and biodiversity. The Draft National Resource Efficiency Policy is guided by the principles of
(i) Reduction in primary resource consumption to ‘sustainable’ levels, in keeping with achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and staying within the planetary boundaries,
(ii) Creation of higher value with less material through resource efficient and circular approaches,
(iii) Waste minimization,
(iv) Material security, and creation of employment opportunities and business models beneficial to the cause of environment protection and restoration.
The Draft National Resource Efficiency Policy provides an overarching collaborative framework for resource efficiency across all sectors in the country, covering both biotic and abiotic resources and life cycle stages and aspires for cross-sectoral stakeholder partnerships for the cause of resource efficiency for sustainable development.
Urgent need to bring in ‘Elimination of Discrimination against Persons Affected by Leprosy (EDPAL) Bill’
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation
- Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population)
Issue: Even though the disease is now fully curable, it is disturbing to learn that there still exist 108 discriminatory laws against persons affected by leprosy including 3 Union and 105 State laws.
National Leprosy Eradication Programme (NLEP) has achieved enormous success in leprosy control, particularly in the last four decades.
In addition to the routine activities, more than a dozen innovations were introduced from 2016 onwards in a phased manner to address the issues being faced by the programme.
- Leprosy Case Detection Campaign (LCDC) (specific for high endemic districts),
- Focussed Leprosy Campaign (for hot spots i.e., rural and urban areas),
- Special plan for case detection in hard to reach areas,
- ASHA based Surveillance for Leprosy Suspects (ABSULS) have contributed to early casedetection
- Sparsh Leprosy Awareness Campaign (SLAC) is implemented to reduce stigma against persons affected by Leprosy in the community.
These innovations have given the much needed impetus to the programme. Moreover, leprosy has become fully curable by Multi–Drug Therapy (MDT). This therapy is available free of cost at all the Government health care facilities in the country.
A leprosy affected person after treatment does not transmit the disease agent. Hence, there exists no justification for the continued stigmatization of the persons affected by leprosy
Indo-French Road map on Cyber security and Digital Technology
(Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests)
France and India intend to make digital technology a transformative factor in their societies, to foster economic growth, sustainable development and secure enhanced internet access which is essential to bridge digital divide.
France and India thus advocate a vision of digital technologies that empowers citizens, reduces inequalities, and promotes sustainable development.
International security and diplomatic effort: France and India affirm their commitment to an open, reliable, secure, stable and peaceful cyberspace. International law, and in particular the Charter of the United Nations, is applicable and is essential to maintaining peace and stability and promoting an open, secure, peaceful and accessible Digital environment.
Governance, sovereignty, and technological regulation: France and India recognise that the rapid development of digital technology and its use must be accompanied by a cooperative, coherent, determined and resolute action by the international community, aimed at guaranteeing the sovereignty of States over the Digital Infrastructure located within the territory of the States as well as the protection of online human rights and freedom of expression.
Cooperation in the field of cybersecurity: Recognizing the need to strengthen the security of Digital processes, products and services, France and India intend to share information on the legal and regulatory framework and best practices, including on the protection of Economic Information Infrastructure impacting National security, and on testing and certification of Digital products. In this context, France and India intend to work together on the risks associated with the deployment of 5G technologies and the technical solutions adopted to deal with them.
Cooperation in the area of fight against cybercrime: France and India recognize that cybercrime is a transnational crimethat requires enhanced international cooperation to effectively bring cyber criminals to justice. As such, they plan to strengthen their cooperation in this area, with a particular view to facilitating sharing of information, evidence collection, the identification of offenders, particularly malware developers, hosters / hosting platform providers or broadcasters.
Regulation of artificial intelligence: France and India recognized the need for developing and implementing AI policies/programs inthe context of citizen centric services, data sovereignty from legal, regulatory and cyber security perspectives. France and India are committed to fostering research and development in AI by sharing expertise and best practices.
France and India affirm their wish to further expand and deepen this cooperation, in three main areas:
- High performance computing applied to artificial intelligence;
- Quantum calculation, in this respect they appreciate the creation of an Indo-French Center of Excellence in Quantum Calculation in Pune;
- Exascale calculation
Launch of SARAL – ‘State Rooftop Solar Attractiveness Index’
(Topic: Environment; Solar energy)
To achieve our rooftop solar targets, it is important to develop an ecosystem that ensures information symmetry, access to financing and clear market signals. Thus, the MNRE has developed the State Rooftop Solar Attractiveness Index–SARAL that evaluates Indian states based on their attractiveness for rooftop development. SARAL is the first of its kind index to provide a comprehensive overview of state-level measures adopted to facilitate rooftop solar deployment.
It would incentivise rooftop solar by creating healthy competition among the States. Such an exercise is likely to create a more conducive environment for solar rooftop installations, encourage investment and lead to accelerated growth of the sector.
SARAL has been designed collaboratively by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation (SSEF), Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) and Ernst & Young (EY).
Captures five key aspects –
- Robustness of policy framework
- Implementation environment
- Investment climate
- Consumer experience
- Business ecosystem
Note: The State of Karnataka has been placed at the first rank in the Index that evaluates Indian states based on their attractiveness for rooftop development. Telangana, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh have got 2nd, 3rd and 4th rank respectively.
Proposal to declare ocean energy as Renewable Energy approved
- Renewable energy – Ocean energy)
Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has clarified to all the stakeholders that energy produced using various forms of ocean energy such as tidal, wave, ocean thermal energy conversion etc. shall be considered as Renewable Energy and shall be eligible for meeting the non-solar Renewable Purchase Obligations (RPO).
Ocean Energy: Oceans cover 70 percent of the earth’s surface and represent an enormous amount of energy in the form of wave, tidal, marine current and thermal gradient. A variety of different technologies are currently under development throughout the world to harness this energy in all its forms. Deployment is currently limited but the sector has the potential to grow, fuelling economic growth, reduction of carbon footprint and creating jobs not only along the coasts but also inland along its supply chains.
As Government of India steps up its effort to reach the objectives to contemplate its Renewable Energy and climate change objectives post 2022, it is opportune to explore all possible avenues to stimulate innovation, create economic growth and new jobs as well as to reduce our carbon footprint. India has a long coastline with the estuaries and gulfs. MNRE looks over the horizon at development of new technology and considers the various options available to support its deployment. Most types of technologies are currently at pre-R&D / demonstration stage or the initial stage of commercialization. Basic R&D is being looked after by the Ministry of Earth Sciences (example: National Institute of Ocean Technology, Chennai). MNRE intends to support demonstration projects of proven technologies and as approved by expert committee constituted by MNRE.
Objective: To accelerate and enhance support for the resource assessment and deployment of ocean energy in the country and to harness it for power generation and to overcome the barriers. The technology programme is open to public and private sectors to carry out projects in India.
- Total identified potential of Tidal Energy is about 12455 MW, with potential locations identified at Khambat & Kutch regions, and large backwaters, where barrage technology could be used.
- The total theoretical potential of wave energy in India along the country’s coast is estimated to be about 40,000 MW – these are preliminary estimates. This energy is however less intensive than what is available in more northern and southern latitudes.
- OTEC has a theoretical potential of 180,000 MW in India subject to suitable technological evolution.
Technology: Although currently under-utilised, Ocean energy is mostly exploited by just a few technologies: Wave, Tidal, Current Energy and Ocean Thermal Energy.
- a) Tidal Energy: The tidal cycle occurs every 12 hours due to the gravitational force of the moon. The difference in water height from low tide and high tide is potential energy. Similar to traditional hydropower generated from dams, tidal water can be captured in a barrage across an estuary during high tide and forced through a hydro-turbine during low tide. The capital cost for tidal energy power plants is very high due to high civil construction and high power purchase tariff. To capture sufficient power from the tidal energy potential, the height of high tide must be at least five meters (16 feet) greater than low tide. The Gulf of Cambay and the Gulf of Kutch in Gujarat on the west coast have the locations in the country where potential exists
- b) Wave Energy: Wave energy is generated by the movement of a device either floating on the surface of the ocean or moored to the ocean floor. Many different techniques for converting wave energy to electric power have been studied. Wave conversion devices that float on the surface have joints hinged together that bend with the waves. This kinetic energy pumps fluid through turbines and creates electric power. Stationary wave energy conversion devices use pressure fluctuations produced in long tubes from the waves swelling up and down. This bobbing motion drives a turbine when critical pressure is reached. Other stationary platforms capture water from waves on their platforms. This water is allowed to runoff through narrow pipes that flow through a typical hydraulic turbine.
- c) Current Energy: Marine current is ocean water moving in one direction. This ocean current is known as the Gulf Stream. Tides also create currents that flow in two directions. Kinetic energy can be captured from the Gulf Stream and other tidal currents with submerged turbines that are very similar in appearance to miniature wind turbines. Similar to wind turbines, the movement of the marine current moves the rotor blades to generate electric power.
- d) Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC): Ocean thermal energy conversion, or OTEC, uses ocean temperature differences from the surface to depths lower than 1,000 meters, to extract energy. A temperature difference of only 20°C can yield usable energy. Research focuses on two types of OTEC technologies to extract thermal energy and convert it to electric power: closed cycle and open cycle. In the closed cycle method, a working fluid, such as ammonia, is pumped through a heat exchanger and vaporized. This vaporized steam runs a turbine. The cold water found at the depths of the ocean condenses the vapor back to a fluid where it returns to the heat exchanger. In the open cycle system, the warm surface water is pressurized in a vacuum chamber and converted to steam to run the turbine. The steam is then condensed using cold ocean water from lower depths.
Prelims oriented news
P V Sindhu won Gold at BWF World Championship
The second moon mission of India, the Chandrayaan-2 has been precisely inserted in defined orbit.
First World Youth Conference on Kindness
- Organised by the UNESCO Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development and Ministry of Human Resource Development on the theme ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam: Gandhi for the Contemporary World: Celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’ at the VigyanBhavan in New Delhi.
- Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, the conference aimed to provide global youth and policymakers an innovative, engaging and inspiring platform to come together and strive to discover ground-breaking pathways to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Review: Ayushman Bharat – Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana
- More than 39 lakh people have availed cashless treatment worth over Rs. 6,100 crore for serious illnesses since the launch of AB-PMJAY. This has resulted in savings of Rs. 12,000 crore to the beneficiary families.
- Government launched the newly designed grievance management portal of AB-PMJAY, an online system to help members of the general public to register their grievances and get assisted support.
Launch of NISHTHA: National Mission to improve Learning Outcomes at the Elementary level- NISHTHA, National Initiative for School Heads and Teachers Holistic Advancement
- To build capacities of 42 Lakh government teachers across the country – to motivate and equip teachers to encourage and foster critical thinking in students
- Teachers will get awareness and develop their skills on various aspects related to Learning Outcomes, Competency Based Learning and Testing, Learner-centered Pedagogy, School Safety and Security, Personal-social qualities, Inclusive Education, ICT in teaching-learning including Artificial Intelligence, Health and well-being including yoga, Initiatives in School Education including library, eco club, youth club, kitchen garden, School Leadership qualities, Environmental Concerns, Pre-school, Pre-vocational Education and School Based Assessment in a joyful learning manner.
- The prominent features of this integrated programme are activity based modules including educational games and quizzes, Social-emotional learning, motivational interactions, team building, preparation for school based assessment, in-built continuous feedback mechanism, online monitoring and support system, training need and impact analysis (Pre and Post training).
- This mega capacity building programme has been integrated with technology to ensure smooth facilitation, availability of digital content and technology enabled teaching methods to support the teachers.
- In order to ensure sustainable impact on classroom transactions, this integrated training programme is embedded with post training interventions including provision of mentoring.
Sabka Vishwas-Legacy Dispute Resolution Scheme, 2019
Target Audience: To be availed by large number of taxpayers for closing their pending disputes relating to legacy Service Tax and Central Excise cases
The two main components of the Scheme are dispute resolution and amnesty.
- The dispute resolution component is aimed at liquidating the legacy cases of Central Excise and Service Taxthat are subsumed in GST and are pending in litigation at various forums.
- The amnesty component of the Scheme offers an opportunity to the taxpayers to pay the outstanding tax and be free of any other consequence under the law.
- The most attractive aspect of the Scheme is that it provides substantial relief in the tax dues for all categories of cases as well as full waiver of interest, fine, penalty, In all these cases, there would be no other liability of interest, fine or penalty.
- There is also a complete amnesty from prosecution.
Competition Commission of India (CCI)
- CCI is a statutory body of the Government of India responsible for enforcing The Competition Act, 2002 throughout India and to prevent activities that have an appreciable adverse effect on competition in India.
- Goal of CCI is to create and sustain fair competition in the economy that will provide a ‘level playing field’ to the producers and make the markets work for the welfare of the consumers.
- Competition Act – The Act prohibits anti-competitive agreements, abuse of dominant position by enterprises and regulates combinations (acquisition, acquiring of control and M&A), which causes or likely to cause an appreciable adverse effect on competition within India.