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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 1st January 2021

  • IASbaba
  • January 1, 2021
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Cabinet approves Deepening and Optimization of Inner Harbour Facilities at Paradip Port 

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Infrastructure

In news 

  • Cabinet approved recently Deepening and Optimization of Inner Harbour Facilities. 
  • Development of Western Dock on Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) basis under PPP mode was also approved to handle cape size vessels at Paradip Port. 
  • Approved by: Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by Prime Minister

Key takeaways 

  • On commissioning of the project, it shall cater to the requirement of coal & limestone imports besides export of granulated slag & finished steel products. 
  • The project shall also facilitate (i) de-congestion of the Port, (ii) reduce Sea freight making coal imports cheaper, and (iii) boost the industrial economy in the hinterland of the port leading to creation of job opportunities.

Important value additions 

Paradip port

  • Paradip Port Trust (PPT), a Major Port under Government of India and administered under the Major Port Trusts Act, 1963, was commissioned in 1966 as a mono commodity port for export of iron ore. 
  • Location: Odisha

Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) Contract

  • A build-operate-transfer (BOT) contract is a model used to finance large projects, typically infrastructure projects developed through public-private partnerships.
  • The BOT scheme refers to the initial concession by a public entity such as a local government to a private firm to both build and operate the project in question. 
  • After a set time frame, typically two or three decades, control over the project is returned to the public entity.

Cabinet approves Industrial Corridor nodes at Krishnapatnam and Tumakuru under CBIC

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Infrastructure

In news 

  • Cabinet has approved Industrial Corridor nodes at Krishnapatnam and Tumakuru under Chennai Bengaluru Industrial Corridor (CBIC). 
  • Multi Modal Logistics Hub & Multi Modal Transport Hub (MMTH) at Greater Noida was also approved. 
  • The approved proposals have a total estimated cost of Rs. 7,725 crore and an estimated employment generation of more than 2.8 lakh persons. 
  • These will facilitate manufacturing investments into the country by providing quality, reliable, sustainable and resilient infrastructure to industries
  • These will also position India as a strong player in Global Value Chains with developed land parcels in cities for immediate allotment for attracting investments
  • Approved proposals shall provide an impetus to “Aatmanirbhar Bharat” & “Make in India”. 

Key takeaways 

Multi Modal Logistics Hub

  • Logistics Hub project will be developed as a world-class facility that will provide efficient storage of goods to/from the Dedicated Freight Corridors (DFC). 
  • It will offer a one-stop destination to freight companies and customers. 
  • The facility will provide standard container handling activities. 
  • It will also provide various value-added services to reduce logistics cost with improved efficiency of operations.

Multi Modal Transport Hub (MMTH) project

  • It will be located near the already existing Indian Railways station of Boraki. 
  • It will act as a transport hub with provisioning of Rail, Road and MRTS accessibility for the passengers in a seamless manner. 
  • MMTH will have space for Inter State Bus Terminal (ISBT), Local Bus Terminal (LBT), Metro, commercial, retail & hotel space and green open spaces. 
  • The project will provide world-class passenger movement facilities for the growing population of the catchment zone catering to upcoming developments in U.P. sub-region of the NCR and thus, decongest Delhi. 
  • It will increase employment opportunities as well. 

Industrial Corridor nodes at Krishnapatnam and Tumakuru under CBIC

  • It is envisioned on the backbone of major transportation corridors like Eastern & Western Dedicated Freight Corridors, Expressways and National Highways, proximity to ports, airports, etc., 
  • Objective: Creation of greenfield industrial cities with sustainable, ‘plug n play’, ICT enabled utilities to facilitate the manufacturing investments by providing quality, reliable, sustainable and resilient infrastructure to industries. 
  • The developed land parcels in these cities will be ready for immediate allotment for attracting investments.
  • It strives to attain the objective of creation of an “Atmanirbhar Bharat”
  • These greenfield industrial cities will be self-sustained with world-class infrastructure, road and rail connectivity for freight movement to and from ports and logistic hubs along with reliable power and quality social Infrastructure. 

Cabinet approves modified scheme to enhance ethanol distillation capacity 

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Infrastructure; Environment; Agriculture

In news 

Background 

  • There has been surplus production of sugar in the country since sugar season 2010-11. 
  • Sugar production is likely to remain surplus in India in coming years due to introduction of improved varieties of sugarcane.
  • To deal with surplus stocks of sugar, sugar mills have been exporting sugar, for which Government has been extending financial assistance.
  • India being a developing country can export sugar by extending financial assistance only up to year 2023 as per WTO arrangements.
  • So, diversion of excess sugarcane & sugar to ethanol is a correct way forward to deal with surplus stocks.

Key takeaways 

  • Thus, recently Cabinet has approved modified scheme to enhance ethanol distillation capacity. 
  • Diversion of excess sugar would help in stabilizing the domestic ex-mill sugar prices. 
  • It will also help sugar mills to get relieved from storage problems. 
  • It will improve their cash flows and facilitate them in clearance of cane price dues of farmers. 
  • Government has fixed target of 10% blending of fuel grade ethanol with petrol by 2022, 15% blending by 2026 & 20% blending by 2030. 
  • With a view to support sugar sector and in the interest of sugarcane farmers, the Government has also allowed production of ethanol from B-Heavy Molasses, sugarcane juice, sugar syrup and sugar. 
  • To increase production of fuel grade ethanol, Govt. is also encouraging distilleries to produce ethanol from maize; & rice available with FCI.
  • Government has fixed remunerative price of ethanol from maize & rice.
  • Government is also planning to prepone achievement of 20% blending target by year 2025 and onwards.
  • With increase in blending levels, dependence on imported fossil fuel will decrease and will also reduce the air pollution.

Also, the Government has taken following decisions:

  • To bring a modified scheme for extending interest subvention to augment ethanol production capacity. 
  • Government would bear interest subvention for five years including one year moratorium against the loan availed by project proponents from banks at 6% per annum or 50% of the rate of interest charged by banks whichever is lower.
  • Interest subvention would be available to only those distilleries which will supply at least 75% of ethanol produced to Operations Management & Control System (OMCs) for blending with petrol.

Do you know? 

  • Proposed intervention would enhance production of 1G ethanol from various feed stocks thereby, facilitate in achieving blending targets of ethanol with petrol. 
  • It would promote ethanol as a fuel which is indigenous, non-polluting and virtually inexhaustible. 
  • It would improve the environment and the ecosystem and result in savings on Oil Import Bill.  
  • It will also ensure timely payment of dues to farmers.

Maiden Flight Trial of SAHAYAK-NG, Air Droppable Container

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Defence & Security

In news 

  • Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) along with Indian Navy conducted the successful maiden test trial of ‘SAHAYAK-NG’ off the coast of Goa.
  • It is India’s first indigenously designed and developed Air Dropped Container from IL 38SD aircraft (Indian Navy) 

Key takeaways 

  • The trial was conducted by Indian Navy to enhance its operational logistics capabilities and provide critical engineering stores to ships which are deployed more than 2000 km from the coast. 
  • It reduces the requirement of ships to come close to the coast to collect spares and stores. 
  • SAHAYAK-NG is an advanced version of SAHAYAK Mk I. 
  • The newly developed GPS aided air dropped container is having the capability to carry a payload that weighs upto 50 kg and can be dropped from heavy aircraft. 

Induction of Indigenous Bridging System into the Indian Army

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Defence & Security

In news 

  • In close coordination with the private industry and DRDO, the Indian Army has inducted three sets of 10-metre short span bridges. 

Key takeaways 

  • The equipment will meet the important requirement of providing mobility to own forces by speedy bridging of gaps during operations.                                                
  • This accomplishment is a step towards weaning away our armed forces from foreign manufactured equipment because the Bridge is indigenously designed, developed and delivered.  
  • All stakeholders have put in concerted efforts to overcome challenges and realise the ‘Make in India’ initiative of the Government, which aims to ensure self reliance and self sufficiency in meeting the defence needs of the Indian Army.


North East’s first-ever specialized “Ginger” Processing Plant in Meghalaya being revived

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II –Policies and Interventions

In news 

  • North East’s first-ever specialised “Ginger” Processing Plant at district Ri-Bhoui in Meghalaya is being revived and is likely to become functional in the beginning of 2021.

Key takeaways 

  • The Plant is located at the Export Promotion Industrial Park (EPIP), Raja Bhagan, Byrnihat Hatt. 
  • It will process ginger and help in preparing products like waxed ginger, ginger paste, ginger powder, ginger flakes, ginger oil etc.
  • Significantly ginger has attained a place of prominence in recent months because of its reported properties as an immunity booster against COVID-19 Virus. 
  • The ginger products being prepared from this Plant will be available for domestic consumption and will be able to meet the Global demand as well. 
  • This will also be in keeping with Prime Minister Modi’s calls for “Vocal for Local”. 
  • For the PPP mode, an Operation and Maintenance Operator was selected through the tendering process and the work on setting up and reviving the Plant is under progress. 

Do you know? 

  • North Eastern Region of India produces about 450,000 Metric Ton of high-quality ginger every year but most of it is sold at a lower price due to lack of processing and cold storage facilities.
  • The Plant at Meghalaya will give the much-needed facility to the ginger growers. 
  • They will be able to use their capacities and at the same time optimally utilize the natural resources.
  • There is also a plan to set up 100 new fresh retail points in Northeast and Fruit Kiosks at Guwahati and other major towns of the North Eastern Region.
  • Most of these will be in the PPP mode.

Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomic Consortia (INSACOG) launched

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – Health

In news 

  • Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomic Consortia (INSACOG) was recently launched. 
  • Coordinated by: Department of Biotechnology (DBT) along with MoH&FW, ICMR, and CSIR

Key takeaways 

  • The consortium will ascertain the status of new variant of SARS-CoV-2 in the country. 
  • INSACOG will have a high level Inter-Ministerial Steering Committee. 
  • It will have a Scientific Advisory Group for scientific and technical guidance.
  • Aim: To monitor the genomic variations in the SARS-CoV-2 on a regular basis through a multi-laboratory network.
  • This vital research consortium will also assist in developing potential vaccines in the future. 
  • The consortium will also establish a sentinel surveillance for early detection of genomic variants with public health implication, and determine the genomic variants in the unusual events/trends (super-spreader events, high mortality/morbidity trend areas etc.).

Do you know? 

  • A new variant, which was found in the UK, especially in the London region, is defined by multiple mutations in the Spike region, as well as mutations in other genomic regions. 
  • As per DBT, these mutations are rapidly increasing the number of variants of the virus. 
  • This variant is significantly more transmissible than previously circulating variants, with an estimated potential to increase the reproductive number with an estimated increased transmissibility of up to 70%. 

India commences exports of Moringa powder

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Trade

In news 

  • India commences exports of Moringa powder, keeping in mind the rising global demand, because of its nutritional properties.

Key takeaways 

  • In a bid to promote Moringa (botanical name Moringa oleifera) products exports from India, APEDA has been supporting private entities in creating necessary infrastructure.
  • With more Moringa processing units being created through support of APEDA, the exports would be increasing in the next few years which would bring benefits to the farmers.

Important value additions 

Moringa 

  • Moringa has been used for centuries due to its medicinal properties and health benefits in various forms.
  • Globally, the demand for Moringa products, such as Moringa Leaf Powder and Moringa Oil, has been witnessing healthy growth. 
  • Moreover, international organizations and institutions are exploring the best ways on how to use Moringa as a nutritional supplement and in food fortification. 
  • There are several species of Moringa across the world. 
  • Its usage has been well received among the global consumers for its nutritional, medicinal, culinary uses.

Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority

  • It is an apex body under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India, responsible for the export promotion of agricultural products. 
  • APEDA was established by the Government of India under the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority Act passed by the Parliament in December, 1985.

Some of the functions of APEDA are as following:

  • Promotion of exports of agricultural and processed food products. Promotion of export oriented production and development of the Scheduled products.
  • To make Improvement in numerous areas such as packaging, marketing for the Scheduled products outside India.
  • Setting standards and specifications for the scheduled products for the purpose of exports.
  • Financial assistance, reliefs and subsidy to the relating industries.
  • To provide training in the related areas

MoD signs contract with BEL to supply indigenously developed 10 Lynx U2 Fire Control systems for Indian Navy

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Defence and Security

In news 

  • Ministry of Defence (MoD) has signed a contract with Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) for procurement of 10 Lynx U2 Fire Control systems for frontline warships of Indian Navy. 
  • Designed and developed by: BEL

Key takeaways 

  • The Lynx system would further the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ vision. 
  • The LYNX U2 GFCS is a Naval Gun Fire Control System designed to acquire, track and engage targets amidst sea clutter. 
  • It is capable of accurately tracking air/surface targets, generating required target data for predicting weapon aiming points and engaging target. 
  • The target engagement is carried out with the medium/short range gun mounts like Russian AK176, A190 and AK630 and the SRGM available onboard ships. 
  • The system will be installed on the NOPV, Talwar and Teg class of ships. 
  • The system includes the Tracking Radar, Servo and Weapon Control Modules.
  • The indigenous system will ensure maximum up-time of the system and guarantees excellent Product support throughout its life time.  

BEL signs contract with Indian Navy for Initial supply of indigenously developed Laser Dazzlers

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Defence and Security

In news 

  • Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) has signed a contract with Indian Navy for initial supply of 20 Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation Dazlers (Laser Dazzlers). 
  • Developed by: Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

Key takeaways 

  • The Laser Dazzler is used as a non-lethal method for warning and stopping suspicious vehicles/boats/aircrafts/UAVs/pirates etc. from approaching secured areas during both day and night. 
  • It is capable of dazzle and thereby suppress the person’s/optical sensor’s action with disability glare in case of non-compliance to orders. 
  • It disorient/ confuse/blind a person temporarily. 
  • It also dazzles and distract aircraft/UAVs. 
  • It is a portable, shoulder operated and ruggedized for military use in adverse environmental conditions. 
  • This unique product is indigenously designed and developed for the first time for the Armed Forces. 

(Mains Focus)


GOVERNANCE/ ENVIRONMENT

Topic: General Studies 2,3:

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • Environmental Conservation 

Rethinking waste management: Improving governance in India’s North East

Context: North East India is the land of rising sun and has an abundance of fresh water sources. But that may not remain so in the coming days.

Issues of Waste Management in North East India

  • Lack of Waste Management system in ecological sensitive areas: The world’s largest, fully habituated river island Majuli is situated in the middle of Brahamputra, with the Kaziranga National Park touching Jorhat and Nagaon. Yet, none of these places have any waste management system or a waste water treatment plant
  • River Pollution: At least 85 per cent of the waste in the North East is unceremoniously dumped, without processing and treatment in the Ganga, Yamuna and Brahmaputra. Several dumpsites in India’s north-eastern states are located at wetlands or river banks.
  • Untapped Employment Generation Potential: If the Municipal Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 are implemented in letter and spirit, more than 12,000 jobs can be created in these towns. If extended to all villages, nearly 40,000 jobs related to door-to-door collection, composting and recycling value chain can be created.
  • Inadequate Capabilities: Municipalities in the North East lack the technical know-how. There is also a lack of political commitment from the local elected representatives. Some staff members lack adequate training and exposure. Most trainings are organised for commissioners and engineers but seldom for collection staff or sanitary supervisors.

Way Ahead

  • Strong Commitment: If we look at the top five cleanest cities of India, did they do it not because they received money but because there was strong commitment by people & authorities concerned.
  • Involving Community rather than spending big of technology: The solution for India lies in strengthening the existing system and integrating the informal sector in collection and recycling. The informal sector can remove more than 60 per cent of inorganic waste from dumpsites with little investment and save more energy through recycling.
  • Encouraging Small Companies: None of the cities that figured in the cleanest city of the country employed large companies for waste management. Rather, they relied on good local players, including self-help groups for women, waste picker cooperatives or even local non-profits and small contractor.
  • Enforcement of Waste Segregation Laws: A lack of municipal by-laws or enforcement of penalties regarding littering and non- segregation are the two worst forms of waste governance deficits. If authorities do not enforce it, cities cannot be kept clean for long time.
  • Collecting fees for Services rendered: It is important that people must learn to pay for services. The provision for payment for waste services are there in the laws but are not enforced because of objections by politicians. Surveys suggest that people will pay segregate their waste if there are systems in place
  • Reducing Corruption in administration:  There is a direct link between cleaner cities and corruption-free cities. For Ex: Top 10 cleanest cities of the world: Calgary, Honululu, Helsinki, Kobe, Oslo, Adelaide, Brisbane, Wellington etc. have very low corruption index.

Conclusion

  • North East India needs to reform its municipal governance along with building capacity of the lower staff of the municipal systems. The Swachh Bharat Mission will not succeed as long as we do not see commitment from the administration.

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)

Note: 

  • Correct answers of today’s questions will be provided in next day’s DNA section. Kindly refer to it and update your answers. 
  • Comments Up-voted by IASbaba are also the “correct answers”.

Q.1 Paradip Port is located in which state?

  1. Andhra Pradesh 
  2. Odisha  
  3. Kerala 
  4. Rajasthan

Q.2 consider the following statements regarding Build – Operate – Transfer contract:

  1. It is one of the models of public private partnership. 
  2. Initially the projects are built and operated by a public entity and later on it is transferred to the private entity after typically two or three decades.

Which of the above is or are correct? 

  1. 1 only 
  2. 2 only 
  3. Both 1 and 2 
  4. Neither 1 nor 2 

Q.3 Consider the following statements regarding SAHAYAK – NG:

  1. It is India’s first indigenously designed and developed Air Droppable Container. 
  2. It has the capacity to carry the payload that weighs up 200 kg .
  3. It can be dropped only from a light aircraft. 

Which of the above is or are correct? 

  1. 1 only 
  2. 1 and 2 only 
  3. 1, 2 and 3 
  4. 2 and 3 only

Q.4 Which of the following regarding ethanol is incorrect? 

  1. Ethanol as a fuel is non polluting. 
  2. Ethanol blending can decrease the dependence on fossil fuels. 
  3. Ethanol can be used as an alternative fuel to reduce air pollution. 
  4. Government has fixed target of 20% blending of fuel grade ethanol with petrol by 2022.

ANSWERS FOR 31st December 2020 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 D
2 B
3 B
4 C

Must Read

On reflections on the pandemic and life:

The Hindu

On Special Marriages Act:

The Hindu

About UK regulator’s approval to Oxford vaccine:

Indian Express

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