Press Information Bureau (PIB) IAS UPSC –6th July to 12th July, 2020
First five re-printed volumes of Mongolian Kanjur Manuscripts released
(Topic: Ancient History)
The Ministry of Culture has taken up the project of reprinting of 108 volumes of Mongolian Kanjur under the National Mission for Manuscripts (NMM). The first set of five volumes of Mongolian Kanjur published under the NMM was presented to the President of India Shri Ram Nath Kovind on the occasion of Guru Purnima, also known as Dharma Chakra Day, on 4th July 2020.
National Mission for Manuscripts
- The National Mission for Manuscripts was launched in February 2003 by the Government of India, under the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, with the mandate of documenting, conserving and disseminating the knowledge preserved in the manuscripts.
- One of the objectives of the mission is to publish rare and unpublished manuscripts so that the knowledge enshrined in them is spread to researchers, scholars and general public at large.
- Mongolian Kanjur, the Buddhist canonical text in 108 volumes is considered to be the most important religious text in Mongolia. In the Mongolian language ‘Kanjur’ means ‘Concise Orders’- the words of Lord Buddha in particular.
- It is held in high esteem by the Mongolian Buddhists and they worship the Kanjur at temples and recite the lines of Kanjur in daily life as a sacred ritual.
- The Kanjur are kept almost in every monastery in Mongolia. Mongolian Kanjur has been translated from Tibetan.
- The language of the Kanjur is Classical Mongolian.
- The Mongolian Kanjur is a source of providing a cultural identity to Mongolia.
Mongolian Kanjur in India
- During the socialist period, xylographs were consigned to flames and monasteries were bereft of their sacred scriptures.
- During 1956-58, Professor Raghu Vira obtained a microfilm copy of the rare Kanjur manuscripts and brought them to India.
- And, the Mongolian Kanjur in 108 volumes was published in India in 1970s by Prof. Lokesh Chandra, former Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha).
- Now, the present edition is being published by the National Mission for Manuscripts, Ministry of Culture, Government of India; in which every volume will have a list of contents indicating the original title of the sutra in Mongolian.
India and Mongolia
- Historical interaction between India and Mongolia goes back centuries. Buddhism was carried to Mongolia by Indian cultural and religious ambassadors during the early Christian era.
- As a result, today, Buddhists form the single largest religious denomination in Mongolia. India established formal diplomatic relations with Mongolia in 1955.
- Since then, the overwhelming relationship between both the countries has now reached a new height.
- Now, the publication of Mongolian Kanjur by the Government of India for the Government of Mongolia will act as a symbol of cultural symphony between India and Mongolia and will contribute to furtherance of bilateral relations during the coming years.
Cabinet approves extension of Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan package-Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana
Aim: To ameliorate the hardship faced by the underprivileged or poor on the account of economic disruption caused by the Corona Virus and Lock Down.
- Distribute 9.7 Lakh MT cleaned whole Chana to States/UTs for distribution to all beneficiary households under the National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA) @ 1kg per month free of cost under for next five months -July to November, 2020 at a total estimated cost of Rs.6,849.24 crore.
- About 19.4 crore households would be covered under the Scheme.
Rationale behind the scheme –
- To ensure that the poorest of the poor were not left hungry.
- Under this scheme, for the next five months, 5 kg of free rice or wheat, and 1 kg of chana will be provided free.
- 80 crore individuals would be covered under this scheme.
- It is a Rs 1.7-lakh crore financial package announced by the government to minimise the impact of Covid-19 lockdown on economy and poor.
Do you know?
- The existing National Food Security Act provides 5kg of foodgrain per person monthly at a subsidised rate of Rs 2-3 per kg to the country’s poor.
- Under the PMGKY, the ration quota was enhanced by another 5 kg for free for the next three months in March. (and now extended till November)
National Food Security Act
- Government of India enacted the National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA).
- The Act covers upto 75% of the rural population and upto 50% of the urban population.
- The targeted population shall receive subsidized foodgrains under Targeted Public Distribution System, thus covering about two-thirds of the population.
- Ministry involved: Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution.
Cabinet approves Central Sector Scheme of financing facility under ‘Agriculture Infrastructure Fund’
- The scheme shall provide a medium – long term debt financing facility for investment in viable projects for post-harvest management Infrastructure and community farming assets through interest subvention and financial support.
- Agri Infra fund will be managed and monitored through an online Management Information System (MIS) platform. It will enable all the qualified entities to apply for loan under the fund. The online platform will also provide benefits such as transparency of interest rates offered by multiple banks, scheme details including interest subvention and credit guarantee offered, minimum documentation, faster approval process as also integration with other scheme benefits.
- Under the scheme, Rs. One Lakh Crore will be provided by banks and financial institutions as loans to Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACS), Marketing Cooperative Societies, Farmer Producers Organizations (FPOs), Self Help Group (SHG), Farmers, Joint Liability Groups (JLG), Multipurpose Cooperative Societies, Agri-entrepreneurs, Startups, Aggregation Infrastructure Providers and Central/State agency or Local Body sponsored Public Private Partnership Project.
Controlling Locust Swarms
(Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors)
The outbreaks of the locust attack have been reported from Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.
What are locusts?
- The desert locust (Schistocerca gregaria) is a short-horned grasshopper.
- They differ from ordinary grasshoppers in their ability to change behaviour (gregarize) and form swarms that can migrate over large distances.
- They can rapidly reproduce and increase some 20-fold in three months.
- The normal locust season in India spans June-November and coincides with the kharif season.
When was the last big outbreak?
- There were serious outbreaks in 1812, 1821, 1843-44, 1863-67, 1869-73, 1876-81, 1889-98, 1900-1907, 1912-1920
- A particularly bad season in 1926-1931 prompted the British to set up Locust Warning Organization (LWO) in Karachi (undivided India)
- The last major upsurge in India occurred in 1993
- In 2019, Gujarat and Rajasthan reported a significant surge in locust infestations whereby nearly 3.5 lakh hectares of cumin, rapeseed and mustard were damaged
- This was partly due to an unusually long monsoon but also because pest-control operations were inadequate
What is the climate link to the infestation?
- A pattern of warming in the Indian Ocean may be a trigger.
- A phenomenon called the Indian Ocean Dipole, in which the western and eastern parts of the ocean, warm differentially, tend to have an outsized impact in bringing excessive rains to India and West Asia
- A ‘positive’ dipole is when the western part is hotter by a degree or more than the eastern.
- 2019 saw one of the strongest positive dipoles (difference of more than 2 degrees) in the Indian neighbourhood, that it over-rode concerns of a drought in India and brought torrential rainfall
- As a result, monsoons also lasted nearly a month more than what is normal.
- This extended rainfall continued in several parts of West Asia, Oman, Yemen and in the Horn of Africa — Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya — so much so that that the dry sand became heavily moisture laden, facilitating the formation of several locust swarms.
- Due to favourable winds, it helped swarms to fly and breed in traditional grounds in Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.
- The unusually mild summer in 2020, which saw several bouts of rainfall over north and western India from March to May, also helped the insects breed.
How are locust invasions dealt with?
- A locust attack has to be dealt with by spraying pest control and plant protection chemicals.
What is the concern this time?
- National Emergencies: Somalia announced a national state of emergency due to the outbreak in February 2020, while Pakistan declared a national emergency for the second time this year, in April.
- Early Arrival: In India, so far swarms have been recorded in nearly 50,000 hectares in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. If they continue to thrive as the monsoon arrives, it could cause serious agricultural damage.
- Can impact Central & Eastern India: Existing groups of swarms have continued to move east and towards central India. Much of these movements were associated with the strong westerly winds of Cyclone Amphan.
- Can Last Longer than usual: Several successive waves of invasions are likely until July in Rajasthan, with eastward surges across northern India as far as Bihar and Odisha
- Corona Pandemic: The national lockdown in the wake of COVID-19 has made the availability of pesticide as well as its transportation difficult. This means inadequate pest control capabilities of authorities
- Shortage of labour: With labour also not being available easily due to the lockdown, spraying operations have been effected and, as a result, locusts are increasing
- Increased regularity: Experience shows that a locust plague usually follows a one to two year cycle after which there is a lull for eight to nine years. However, strong Indian Ocean Dipoles are expected to become more frequent due to global warming of oceans which means regular locust attacks
Is adequate action being taken?
- It has been part of the protocol for many years, for entomologists from India and Pakistan to conduct border meetings and divide pest control responsibilities
- Indian officials, last year and this year too, have blamed Pakistan for not spraying adequate pesticide to stem the nascent population
- Experts have warned of huge crop losses if the swarms are not stopped by June when the monsoons will lead to a new season of sowing rice, sugarcane, cotton and other crops.
Going forward, there has to be increased focus on natural disasters such as cyclones as well as locust attacks.
15th Finance commission Meets World Bank, NITI Aayog and High level group (HLG)
(Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors)
For a better understanding of the contours of India’s Health Sector and in view of the Union Government’s need and intention for reprioritization of its health spending, the 15th Finance commission held a detailed meeting with representatives of the World Bank, NITI Aayog and member of the Commission’s High level group (HLG) on the health sector.
Fifteenth Finance Commission, for the first time, will devote an entire chapter on health financing.
A presentation made by World Bank highlighted that:
- There is scope for service delivery reforms by using innovation, leveraging technology, institutional strengthening, coordination and empowering of States.
- The adverse economic impact is likely to be proportionally larger than the direct impact of the coronavirus on morbidity and mortality. For example, as per projections done by IMF, per capita GDP is projected to decline by 6% which is one of the largest contractions the country has ever seen.
- Quality of care has emerged as a key issue in India’s health system. Also, there is huge variability across states and care providers.
- To ensure better quality of spending, there is a need for PFM reforms to improve budget execution, resource allocation formulas from states to districts should better reflect population need (mortality/morbidity/equity) rather than historical norms, reduce fragmentation of health protection schemes and a gradual shift to demand-side financing modalities.
- There is also a need for renewed focus on equity and need. For example NHM should be related to per capita spending on health, similarly, spending per beneficiary must increase in poorer States. Needs-based transfer formulas for health should be carefully designed. Also, a separate health equalization pot is needed. Explicit accountability frameworks including target results need to be explored.
- Greater attention to resource allocation is required within States.
- Service delivery should rely on a robust public/private mix.
- Government of India can be an enabler of ‘open source’ approach to promote service delivery reforms. For example, financing via centrally-sponsored schemes that allows flexibility in implementation and course-correction, setting accountability mechanisms with states linked to central schemes and promoting knowledge transfer platforms may be used.
- Service delivery innovations need to be encouraged like introducing technology solutions, primary health care centers in urban areas may be run by contracted private providers, public-private partnerships may be encouraged in areas of digital technology, data science, bottom of pyramid models; and multi-sector actions and community mobilization.
- Core public health functions need to be strengthened. Production of global public goods like new vaccines, medicines and diagnostics to be enhanced. Use of private sector engagement for TB diagnosis and treatment, performance-based incentives to states and districts through TB Performance Index may be taken up.
- Strengthening of surveillance and district level capacity should be done to identify and respond to future epidemics. The following measures may be taken:
- Roll-out targeted investments to enhance integrated public health laboratory infrastructure and functions in states where capacities are weak.
- Develop and deploy district surveillance teams with core competencies in integrated disease surveillance across different states and at the central level to enhance analytical capacity for early and appropriate response (Epidemic Intelligence Service).
- Develop and roll-out real time surveillance & reporting system for Human and Animal Health Surveillance as most future outbreaks will be Zoonotic.
- Strengthen national and state institutions to effectively prepare for pandemics (NCDC) and develop ICMR as a global center for excellence in medical research.
- Strengthen inter-agency coordination for disease preparedness and response.
- Institutions like ICMR, NCDC and NDMA should be strengthened for disease preparedness, diagnostics, investigation, response and population health. Institutional reforms and innovations should be promoted in vertical disease control programs like TB, HIV, VBD. Local bodies like municipalities should also be strengthened in terms of resources and capacity building so that they can play incremental role in health care delivery.
India’s COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health Systems Preparedness Package (ER&HSP) was approved by Cabinet for Rs 15,000 Crores. This included mainly emergency response components such as development and operations of dedicated COVID facilities with isolation wards, ICUs, etc including the training of the health professionals, augmenting testing capacity, procurements of PPEs, N-95 masks, ventilators testing kits and drugs, conversion of railway coaches as Covid Care Centres, strengthening surveillance units, Untied funds to the Districts for the Emergency response etc.
World Bank provides $400 million to enhance support for rejuvenating the Ganga
(Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors)
The World Bank and the Government of India signed a loan agreement to enhance support for the Namami Gange programme that seeks to rejuvenate the Ganga river.
The Second National Ganga River Basin Project will help stem pollution in the iconic river and strengthen the management of the river basin which is home to more than 500 million people. The World Bank has been supporting the government’s efforts since 2011 through the ongoing National Ganga River Basin Project, which helped set up the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) as the nodal agency to manage the river, and financed sewage treatment infrastructure in several riverside towns and cities.
The $400 million operation comprises a loan of $381 million and a proposed Guarantee of up to $19 million.
- The Project will help expand the coverage of sewage treatment infrastructure to more towns in the Ganga Basin, and focus on making sure that these assets are operated and maintained efficiently in the long term
- Over 80 per cent of the pollution load in the Ganga comes from untreated domestic wastewater from towns and cities along the river and its tributaries. The SNGRBP will finance sewage networks and treatment plants in select urban areas to help control pollution discharges. These infrastructure investments and the jobs they will generate will also help India’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) crisis.
- To ensure that these infrastructure assets function effectively and are well maintained, the Project will build on the innovative Hybrid Annuity Model (HAM) of public private partnership introduced under the ongoing NGRBP, and which has become the solution of choice for sewage treatment investments in the Ganga Basin.
- Under this model, the government pays a private operator 40 percent of the capital cost to build a sewage treatment plant during the construction period; the remaining 60 percent is paid as performance-linked payments over 15 years to ensure that the operator runs and maintains the plant efficiently.
Ongoing National Ganga River Basin Project
- Helped set up the National Mission for Clean Ganga
- Helping build sewage collection and treatment infrastructure in 20 towns along the main stem of the Ganga
- 1,275 MLD sewage treatment capacity created
- 3,632 km of sewage network built
- Helped foster public mobilization for Ganga rejuvenation
What is the issue?
The sprawling Ganga Basin provides over one-third of India’s surface water, includes the country’s largest irrigated area, and is key to India’s water and food security. Over 40 percent of India’s GDP is generated in the densely populated Basin. But the Ganga river is today is facing pressures from human and economic activity that impact its water quality and flows.
National Fish Farmers Day 2020
(Topic: Fisheries Sector)
National Fish Farmers Day is celebrated on 10th July every year in remembrance of scientists Dr. K. H. Alikunhi and Dr. H.L. Chaudhury who successfully demonstrated the technology of induced breeding (Hypophysation) in Indian Major Carps on 10th July, 1957 at the erstwhile ‘Pond Culture Division’ of CIFRI at Cuttack, Odisha (presently Central Institute of Freshwater Aquaculture, CIFA, Bhubaneswar).
The event aims to draw attention to changing the way the country manages fisheries resources to ensure sustainable stocks and healthy ecosystems.
Constituting about 7.73% of the global fish production and export earnings of Rs.46,589 Crores (2018-19), India today has attained the status of the second largest aquaculture and 4th largest fish exporting nation in the world.
- The ‘fisheries and aquaculture sector’ is recognized as the sunshine sector in Indian agriculture.
- Fishery is a State subject.
A. Establishment of “Fish Cryobanks” in different parts of the country
- It will facilitate all time availability of ‘fish sperms’ of desired species to fish farmers.
- This would be the first time in the world when “Fish Cryobank” will be established, which can bring a revolutionary change in the fisheries sector in the country for enhancing fish production and productivity and thereby increasing prosperity among the fish farmers.
- The “Cryomilt” technology developed may be helpful in establishment of “Fish Cryobanks”, which will provide good quality of fish sperms in hatcheries at any time.
B. Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana
In order to consolidate the achievements of Blue Revolution and pave the way from NeeliKranti to ArthKranti, the “Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana” (PMMSY) has been launched with highest ever investment of Rs. 20,050 crore during next five years. This scheme will address the critical gaps in fish production and productivity, quality, technology, post-harvest infrastructure and management, modernisation and strengthening of value chain, traceability, establishing a robust fisheries management framework and fishermen’s welfare.
The Need: It is a scheme to bring Blue Revolution through sustainable and responsible development of fisheries sector in India.
- Fisheries and aquaculture are an important source of food, nutrition, employment and income in India.
- The sector provides livelihood to more than 20 million fishers and fish farmers at the primary level and twice the number along the value chain.
- Fish being an affordable and rich source of animal protein, is one of the healthiest options to reduce hunger and malnutrition.
- Augment fish production and productivity at a sustained average annual growth rate of about 9% to achieve a target of 22 million tonne by FY25 through sustainable and responsible fishing practices
- The government also aims to double the income of fishers, fish farmers and fish workers by 2024 through the scheme – Targets creating additional direct employment of 15 lakh fishers, fish farmers, fish workers, fish vendors in fishing and allied activities and 45 lakh indirect employment
- Increase aquaculture average productivity to 5 tons per hectare from the current national average of 3 tons per hectare.
- Address critical gaps in the value chain, including infrastructure, modernisation, traceability, production, productivity, post-harvest management, and quality control
- Focus areas include Fishing Harbours and Landing Centers, Post-harvest and Cold Chain Infrastructure, Fish Markets and Marketing Infrastructure, Integrated Modern Coastal Fishing Villages and Development of Deep-sea Fishing.
India’s Tiger Census sets a New Guinness Record
(Topic: Environment, Conservation efforts)
India’s 2018 Tiger Census has made it to the Guinness Book of World Records for being the world’s largest camera trapping wildlife survey.
The fourth cycle of the All India Tiger Estimation 2018 estimated 2,967 tigers or 75 per cent of the global tiger population in the nation. This is by far the biggest increase in terms of both numbers and percentage since the four-yearly census using camera traps and the capture-mark-recapture method began in 2006.
Why is a tiger census needed?
The tiger sits at the peak of the food chain, and its conservation is important to ensure the well-being of the forest ecosystem. The tiger estimation exercise includes habitat assessment and prey estimation. The numbers reflect the success or failure of conservation efforts. This is an especially important indicator in a fast-growing economy like India where the pressures of development often run counter to the demands of conservation.
The Global Tiger Forum, an international collaboration of tiger-bearing countries, has set a goal of doubling the count of wild tigers by 2022. More than 80% of the world’s wild tigers are in India, and it’s crucial to keep track of their numbers.
How were the estimates reached?
The census was carried out in four phases. Phases 1 and 2 covered forest beats, generally spread over 15 sq km each, by Forest Departments, to collect signs of tiger presence like scat and pugmarks. Enumerators walked paths called line transects to estimate the abundance of prey. This was followed by sampling of plots along the transects to assess habitat characteristics, human impact, and prey dung density.
In phase 3, the information was plotted on the forest map prepared with remote-sensing and GIS application. Sample areas were divided in 2-sq-km parcels, and trap cameras were laid in these grids.
In the last phase, data were extrapolated to areas where cameras could not be deployed.
Authorities say the census is the world’s most extensive biodiversity mapping exercise. A total 3,81,400 sq km of forests were surveyed; 5,22,996 km on foot. 3,17,958 habitat plots were sampled for vegetation and prey dung. There were 26,838 camera trap locations, which covered 1,21,337 sq km.
A staggering 3,48,58,623 wildlife pictures were captured. Of them, 76,651 were of tigers; 51,777 of leopards. The entire effort consumed 5,93,882 man days.
So, why have the numbers gone up?
The success owes a lot to increased vigilance and conservation efforts by the Forest Department. From 28 in 2006, the number of tiger reserves went up to 50 in 2018, extending protection to larger numbers of tigers over the years.
- Healthy increases in core area populations eventually lead to migrations to areas outside the core; this is why the 2018 census has found tigers in newer areas. Over the years, there has been increased focus on tigers even in the areas under the territorial and commercial forestry arms of Forest Departments. The brightest spot in the non-protected tiger-bearing areas is the Brahmapuri division of Chandrapur district of Maharashtra, which has more than 40 tigers.
- The other important reason is increased vigilance, and the fact that organised poaching rackets have been all but crushed.
- The increased protection has encouraged the tiger to breed. Tigers are fast breeders when conditions are conducive.
- The rehabilitation of villages outside core areas in many parts of the country has led to the availability of more inviolate space for tigers.
- Also, because estimation exercises have become increasingly more accurate over the years, it is possible that many tigers that eluded enumerators in earlier exercises were counted this time. Since state boundaries do not apply to the movement of tigers, conservationists prefer to talk about tiger numbers in terms of landscapes rather than of states. This is how the five tiger landscapes identified by the census have done over the years.
Do you know?
- As of 2019, there are 50 tiger reserves in India, which are governed by Project Tiger which is administrated by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).
- India is home to 80 percent of tigers in the world.
- Tiger Reserves are declared by National Tiger Conservation Authority via Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Act, 2006 under centrally sponsored scheme called Project Tiger.
- To declare an area as Tiger Reserve, the state governments can forward their proposals in this regard to NTCA. Central Government via NTCA may also advise the state governments to forward a proposal for creation of Tiger Reserves.
- The All India Tiger Estimation done quadrennially is steered by the National Tiger Conservation Authority with technical backstopping from the Wildlife Institute of India and implemented by State Forest Departments and partners.
- Bid to turn Shivalik forest into tiger reserve: Uttar Pradesh government is actively considering the proposal to declare the Shivalik forest in the Saharanpur circle a tiger reserve. If accepted, it would be the fourth tiger reserve in Uttar Pradesh after Amangarh in Bijnor, Pilibhit and Dudhwa in Lakhimpur-Kheri. The move would not only reduce the increasing man-animal conflict but also help nurture the rich biodiversity of the region.
- Launched in Jim Corbett National Park of Uttarakhand in 1973, with 9 tiger reserves
- Currently, The Project Tiger coverage has increased to 50 tiger reserves are constituted on a core/buffer strategy.
- Centrally Sponsored Scheme of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change providing central assistance to the tiger States
Inter-state tiger translocation project
- The Rs 19 crore ambitious tiger relocation exercise was conceived by the Union ministry of environment and forests, National Tiger Conservation Authority and Wildlife Institute of India.
- It was started in June 2018 under which six tigers (three pairs) from different reserves of Madhya Pradesh were to be sent to Odisha.
- NTCA had initially okayed the translocation of six tigers from MP to Odisha, but only two were shifted.
- The project which was shared between Centre and state governments has now been suspended following furious protests by Odisha villagers.
National Tiger Conservation Authority
- It was established in December 2005 following a recommendation of the Tiger Task Force which was constituted by the Prime Minister of India for reorganised management of Project Tiger and the many Tiger Reserves in India.
- The Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 was amended in 2006 to provide for its constitution.
- It is responsible for implementation of the Project Tiger to protect endangered tigers.
- It is set up under the Chairmanship of the Minister for Environment and Forests.
- The Inspector General of Forest will be ex-officio Member Secretary
- 8 experts having qualifications and experience in wildlife conservation and welfare of people including tribals
- 3 Members of Parliament (2 from Lok Sabha and 1 from Rajya Sabha)
- Lay down normative standards, guidelines for tiger conservation in the Tiger Reserves, National Parks and Sanctuaries.
- Provide information on protection measures.
- Facilitate and support tiger reserve management in the States through eco-development and people’s participation
What happened at the Climate Action Ministerial?
(Topic: Climate Change)
The fourth edition of the virtual Ministerial on Climate Action witnessed countries exchanging views on how countries are aligning economic recovery plans with the Paris Agreement and the critical enabling conditions to ensure continued climate action.
The meeting was co-chaired by European Union, China and Canada to advance discussions on the full implementation of the Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and to demonstrate continued political commitment to global climate action.
India has taken very significant steps for combating climate change and will continue its efforts in the future also.
- India has achieved reduction of 21% in emission intensity of its GDP between 2005 and 2014, thereby achieving its pre-2020 voluntary target.
- India’s renewable energy installed capacity has increased by 226% in last 5 years and stands more than 87 Gigawatt.
- The share of non-fossil sources in installed capacity of electricity generation increased from 30.5% in March 2015 to 37.7% in May 2020.
- India’s aspirational target is of increasing our renewable energy capacity to 450 GW
- India has provided 80 million LPG connections in rural areas, providing them with clean cooking fuel and healthy environment.
- India’s total forest and tree cover is 8,07,276 sq. km. which is 24.56% of the total geographical area of the country
- More than 360 million LED bulbs have been distributed under UJALA scheme, which has led to energy saving of about 47 billion units of electricity per year and reduction of 38 million tonnes of CO2 per year.
- India has also leapfrogged from Bharat Stage-IV (BS-IV) to Bharat Stage-VI (BS-VI) emission norms by April 1, 2020 which was earlier to be adopted by 2024.
- India has levied a coal cess of INR 400/- as,part of one of the most explicit green initiatives & this is now subsumed under Goods and Services Tax(GST).
- Under Smart Cities Mission, first-of-its-kind initiative – Climate Smart Cities Assessment Framework 2019 has been launched which intends to provide clear roadmap for cities and urban India towards combating climate change through adoption of both mitigation and adaptation measures
India called upon developed country parties, once again, to do their part as envisaged under UNFCCC and its Paris Agreement, for extending financial and technological support to developing countries. The promise of USD 1 trillion by 2020 has not been fulfilled so far.
Science and Technology – New Developments and Findings
A. INST scientists formulate nanoparticle to reduce severity of rheumatoid arthritis
Scientists have formulated nanoparticles with chitosan and loaded these nanoparticles with zinc gluconate for reducing the severity of rheumatoid arthritis.
- Element Zinc is vital for maintaining normal bone homeostasis, and its levels are reported to get reduced in rheumatoid arthritis patients and arthritis-induced animals. It is also known that oral supplementation of zinc in the form of zinc gluconate have very low bioavailability in humans.
- Chitosan, the biocompatible, biodegradable natural polysaccharide that is one of the most abundant biopolymers obtained from the exoskeleton of crustaceans have shown absorption promoting characteristics. The INST team have particularly chosen chitosan as it is biodegradable, biocompatible, non-toxic, and mucoadhesive in nature.
- Nanobiotechnology provides several effective solutions for the problems that traditional pharmaceutical formulations are often not able to address as effectively, such as sustained and targeted release of drugs, bioavailability, and efficacy of drugs and nutraceuticals, etc. The nanoformulation of zinc gluconate-loaded chitosan nanoparticles developed at INST Mohali is a creative example of a superior therapeutics for rheumatoid arthritis
B. Sun like stars in their later life hold key for Li increase in the Universe
Li production is common among low mass Sun-like stars during their He-core burning phase.
Light inflammable, metal lithium (Li) has brought about transformation in modern communication devices and transportation. A great deal of today’s technology is powered by lithium in its various shades. But where does the element come from?
- The origin of much of the Li can be traced to a single event, the Big-Bang that happened about 13.7 Billion years ago, from which the present-day Universe was also born.
- Over the course of time, Li content in the physical Universe has increased by about a factor of four, which is meager compared to the rest of the elements carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, iron, nickel and so on which grew about a million times over the lifetime of the Universe.
- Stars are primary contributors to this significant enhancement of heavier elements through mass ejections and stellar explosions. Li, however, understood to be an exemption!
- As per the current understanding based on today’s best models, lithium in stars like our Sun only gets destroyed over their lifetime.
- As a matter of fact, the composition of all the elements in the Sun and the Earth is similar. But, the measured content of Li in the Sun is a factor of 100 lower than that of the Earth, though both are known to have formed together.
Prelims oriented News:
Union HRD Minister announces revision of syllabi by CBSE for classes IX-XII for the academic session 2020-21
- The revision of syllabi is a measure taken due to the extraordinary situation prevailing in the country and at different parts of the world. Considering the importance of achieving the level of learning, the syllabus has been rationalised to the extent possible up to 30% by retaining the core concepts.
- The changes made in the syllabi have been finalised by the respective Course Committees with the approval of the Curriculum Committee and Governing Body of the Board.
Operation Samudra Setu
- Launched as part of the national effort to repatriate Indian citizens from overseas during the COVID-19 pandemic has culminated after successfully bringing 3,992 Indian citizens back to their homeland by sea.
- The greatest challenge for the Indian Navy was to avoid any incident of outbreak of infection onboard the ships during the evacuation operation. Rigorous measures were planned and medical/ safety protocols unique to the operating environment of ships were implemented.
Cabinet approves developing of Affordable rental housing Complexes for urban migrants / poor
- Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs (MoHUA) has initiated an Affordable Rental Housing Complexes (ARHCs) for urban migrants/poor as a sub-scheme under Pradhan MantriAwasYojana (Urban).
- This scheme seeks to fulfill the vision of ‘AtmaNirbhar Bharat.
- COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in massive reverse migration of workers/ urban poor in the country who come from rural areas or small towns for seeking better employment opportunities in urban areas. Usually, these migrants live in slums, informal/ unauthorized colonies or peri-urban areas to save rental charges. They spend lot of time on roads by walking/ cycling to workplaces, risking their lives to cut on the expenses.
Launch of ATL App Development Module
By: NITI Aayog’s Atal Innovation Mission
- Aims at transforming school students from App users to innovative App Developers
- The ATL App Development modules have been launched in collaboration with Indian homegrown startup Plezmo with an aim to hone the skills of school students and transforming them from App users to App makers in the times to come under AIM’s flagship Atal Tinkering Labs initiative.
- Through 6 project-based learning modules and online mentoring sessions, young innovators can learn to build mobile Apps in various Indian languages and showcase their talent.
For the first time Indian Railways loads Special Parcel Train to Bangladesh
- For the first time the Indian Railways, loaded special Parcel train beyond the country borders to Benapole in Bangladesh with Dry Chillies from Reddipalem in Guntur District of Andhra Pradesh state.
- Guntur and its surrounding areas in the state of Andhra Pradesh are well known for Chillies cultivation. The quality of this farm produce is internationally renewed for its uniqueness in taste and brand.
- Earlier, the farmers and merchants in and around Guntur area have been transporting Dry Chillies by road to Bangladesh in small quantities and that was costing around Rs 7000 per tonne.
- During the lockdown period, they could not move this essential commodity by Road. Hence, the special train to Bangladesh.
Rewa Ultra Mega Solar Power project
- Asia’s largest ‘750 MW Rewa Solar Project’
- In the state of Madhya Pradesh
- Solar energy has been described as ‘Sure, Pure & Secure’. Sure because of the continuous supply of Energy from the Sun, Pure as it is environment friendly and Secure because it is a secure source for our energy needs.
Think: Economy and Ecology are not contradictory but complementary to each other.
Going Online As Leaders (GOAL) Project
By: Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA) in partnership with Facebook India to digitally skill and empower5000 youth from tribal communities to become leaders of tomorrow by leveraging the power of digital technology.
Aimed at identifying and mobilizing 2500 renowned people from industry (policy makers and influencers), teachers, artists, entrepreneurs, social workers etc., known for their achievements in their domain areas, to personally mentor tribal youths across India. The initiative has been designed to allocate two mentees to a mentor.
Launch of AI-based Aatamanirbhar Skilled Employee Employer Mapping (ASEEM) digital platform
By Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship
Aim: To bridge demand-supply gap of skilled workforce across sectors
- Apart from recruiting a skilled workforce that spurs business competitiveness and economic growth, the Artificial Intelligence-based platform has been envisioned to strengthen their career pathways by handholding them through their journeys to attain industry-relevant skills and explore emerging job opportunities especially in the post COVID era. The portal will map details of workers based on regions and local industry demands
- Besides identifying major skills gap in the sectors and providing review of global best practices, ASEEM will provide employers a platform to assess the availability of skilled workforce and formulate their hiring plans. Aatamanirbhar Skilled Employee Employer Mapping (ASEEM) refers to all the data, trends and analytics which describe the workforce market and map demand of skilled workforce to supply. It will provide real-time granular information by identifying relevant skilling requirements and employment prospects
- ASEEM portal aims at supporting decision and policymaking via trends and analytics generated by the system for programmatic purposes. ASEEM shall help in providing real-time data analytics to NSDC and its Sector Skill Councils about the demand and supply patterns including – industry requirements, skill gap analysis, demand per district/ state/cluster, key workforce suppliers, key consumers, migration patterns and multiple potential career prospects for candidates.
Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (PM-KUSUM) Scheme
- By Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE)
- The Scheme provides for installation of solar pumps, solarization of existing grid-connected agricultural pumps and installation of grid connected renewable power plants.
MoU Signed between National Medicinal Plants Board and ICAR-National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources
- The purpose of this MoU to conserve the Medicinal and Aromatic Plants Genetic Resources (MAPGRs) through conservation of germplasm on long-term basis, safely and cost-effectively for present and future generations to ensure the social and economic security
- Medicinal Plants are regarded as rich resources of traditional medicines and are being used for thousands of years in the health care system. India has rich diversity of medicinal Plants (MPs) resources.
- The natural resources are gradually getting depleted due to various developmental activities in its habitat. There is a need to conserve these natural resources and make sustainable utilization of them.
- The conservation of plant genetic resources is an integral part of biodiversity conservation. The purpose of conservation is to make sustainable development by protecting and using natural resources in ways that do not diminish the variety of genes and species or destroy important habitats and ecosystems.
Shipping Ministry issues draft “Aids to Navigation Bill 2020” for public consultation
The draft bill is proposed to replace the almost nine decades old Lighthouse Act, 1927, to incorporate the global best practices, technological developments and India’s International obligations in the field of Aids to Marine Navigation.
- The draft bill provides for empowering Directorate General of Lighthouses and Lightships (DGLL) with additional power and functions such as Vessel Traffic Service, Wreck flagging, training and certification, implementation of other obligations under International Conventions, where India is a signatory. It also provides for identification and development of heritage lighthouses.
- The draft bill comprises a new schedule of offences, along with commensurate penalties for obstructing and damaging the aids to navigation, and non-compliance with directives issued by the Central Government and other bodies under the draft bill.
- With the advent of modern technologically improved aids to maritime navigation, the role of authorities regulating and operating maritime navigation has changed drastically. Therefore the new law encompasses a major shift from lighthouses to modern aids of navigation.