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PRESS INFORMATION BUREAU (PIB) IAS UPSC – 26th April to 30th April – 2021

  • IASbaba
  • May 4, 2021
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GS-2

The Government of National Capital Territory (GNCTD) Amendment Act, 2021

(Topic: Constitutional Amendments)

The Government of National Capital Territory (GNCTD) Amendment Act, 2021 has come into force after being passed by the Lok Sabha, by the Rajya Sabha, and after the assent of the President of India. The Amendment Act has the effect of amending Sections 21, 24, 33 and 44 of the Act.

Objectives of the Amendment Act:

  • To make it more relevant to the needs of the Capital
  • Further define the responsibilities of the elected Government and the Lt. Governor (LG)
  • Create a harmonious relationship between the Legislature and the Executive.  

The Amendment would ensure better governance in the NCT of Delhi and lead to improved implementation of schemes and programmes meant for the common people of Delhi.

The amendments are consistent with the existing legal and constitutional provisions, and are in line with the judgements of the Hon’ble Supreme Court dated 04.07.2018 and 14.02.2019.

The amendments to the GNCTD Act, 1991, in no way alter the constitutional and legal responsibilities of the elected Government to take necessary action, in respect of the subjects transferred to them in the State and Concurrent Lists of the Constitution of India, including subjects such as health, education, etc.


Project DANTAK completes 60 years in Bhutan

(Topic: India and Neighborhood relations)

Project DANTAK is commemorating its Diamond Jubilee in Bhutan. It was a fitting tribute to the sacrifices made by personnel of DANTAK in strengthening the bonds of friendship between India and Bhutan. It may be recalled that over 1,200 DANTAK personnel laid down their lives while constructing important infrastructure in Bhutan.

Project DANTAK was established on April 24, 1961 as a result of the visionary leadership of His Majesty the Third King and then Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru. Identifying the utmost importance of connectivity in spurring the socio-economic development and growth of Bhutan, DANTAK was tasked to construct the pioneering motorable roads in the Kingdom. DANTAK completed the road connecting Samdrup Jongkhar to Trashigang in 1968. In the same year, Thimphu was connected to Phuentsholing by DANTAK. Many Bhutanese had also volunteered to work with DANTAK.

Some other notable projects executed by the project include the construction of Paro Airport, Yonphula Airfield, Thimphu – Trashigang Highway, Telecommunication & Hydro Power Infrastructure, Sherubtse College, Kanglung and India House Estate.

The medical and education facilities established by DANTAK in far flung areas were often the first in those locations. The food outlets along the road introduced the Bhutanese to Indian delicacies and developed a sweet tooth in them. The famous Takthi Canteen midway between Phuentsholing and Thimphu has been a compulsory stop for travelers.

As DANTAK celebrates six decades in Bhutan, the project reaffirms its commitment to support the march of Bhutan towards realising the dreams of His Majesty Druk Gyalpo, the plans of the Royal Government of Bhutan and aspirations of the people of the kingdom.


Australia-India-Japan Trade Ministers’ Joint Statement on Launch of Supply Chain Resilience initiative

(Topic: India and other countries)

The Trade Ministers of India, Japan and Australia formally launched the Supply Chain Resilience initiative in a Trilateral Ministerial Meeting –

The Ministers acknowledged that the COVID-19 pandemic was having an unprecedented impact in terms of lives lost, livelihoods and economies affected, and that the pandemic had revealed supply chain vulnerabilities globally and in the region. The Ministers also noted that some supply chains have been left vulnerable due to a range of factors.

Based on the high level consultations among Australia, India and Japan since September last year, the Ministers noted the importance of risk management and continuity plans in order to avoid supply chain disruptions and affirmed their commitment to strengthen resilient supply chains. Possible policy measures may include: 

(i) Supporting the enhanced utilization of digital technology; and 

(ii) Supporting trade and investment diversification.

The Ministers hereby launch the Supply Chain Resilience Initiative (SCRI) – The Ministers instructed their officials to implement the following as initial projects of SCRI and further develop the Initiative: 

(i) Sharing of best practices on supply chain resilience; and 

(ii) Holding investment promotion events and buyer-seller matching events to provide opportunities for stakeholders to explore the possibility of diversification of their supply chains.

The Ministers further 

  • Decided to convene at least once a year to provide guidance to the implementation of the SCRI as well as to consult on how to develop the Initiative
  • Noted the important role of business and academia for the Initiative
  • The SCRI aims to create a virtuous cycle of enhancing supply chain resilience with a view to eventually attaining strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth in the region. The Ministers consented that expansion of the SCRI may be considered based on consensus, if needed, in due course.

Cabinet approves Agreement between the Government of India and the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on Customs Cooperation and Mutual Administrative Assistance in Customs Matters

The Agreement will help in 

  • Availability of relevant information for the prevention and investigation of Customs offences
  • Facilitate trade and ensure efficient clearance of goods traded between the countries

Background:

The Agreement would provide a legal framework for sharing of information and intelligence between the Customs authorities of the two countries and help in the proper application of Customs laws, prevention and investigation of Customs offences and the facilitation of legitimate trade. The draft text of the proposed Agreement has been finalized with the concurrence of the two Customs Administrations. The Agreement takes care of Indian Customs’ concerns and requirements, particularly in the area of exchange of information on the correctness of the Customs value, tariff classification and origin of the goods traded between the two countries.


GS-3

Agriculture Infrastructure Fund

(Topic: Agriculture)

Agriculture Infrastructure Fund is bringing together the collective power of all stakeholders in the Agriculture ecosystem. 

Agriculture Infrastructure Fund has crossed the Rs. 8000 crore mark after receiving 8,665 applications worth Rs. 8,216 crores. The largest share of the pie is contributed by Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACS) (58%), agri-entrepreneurs (24%) and individual farmers (13%). These investments are for a wide range of projects which will unlock value for farmers across the country.

These initiatives have led to not only an overall increase in applications but an increase in interest in innovative infra types such as custom hiring centers & farm machinery banks (130 applications worth ~25 crores) and infra for smart & precision agriculture (200 applications worth ~1,300 crores). AIF has brought farmers & agribusinesses together with newer partnership models emerging for the creation of distributed infra near farm-gate in a hub & spoke model. The agribusinesses are increasing awareness about AIF & newer agri-tech amongst FPOs and supporting them in application & adoption.

About Agriculture Infrastructure Fund

  • The Agriculture Infrastructure Fund is 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 credit guarantee.
  • This fund will be used to build post-harvest storage and processing facilities, largely anchored at the Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs), but can also be availed by individual entrepreneurs.
  • The fund will also be used to provide loans, at concessional rates, to FPOs and other entrepreneurs through primary agriculture credit societies (PACs). NABARD will steer this initiative in association with the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare.
  • The duration of the scheme is from FY2020 to FY2029 (10 years). 
  • Under the scheme, Rs. 1 Lakh Crore will be provided by banks and financial institutions as loans with interest subvention of 3% per annum and credit guarantee coverage under CGTMSE for loans up to Rs. 2 Crores. 
  • Eligible beneficiaries include farmers, FPOs, PACS, Marketing Cooperative Societies, SHGs, Joint Liability Groups (JLG), Multipurpose Cooperative Societies, Agri-entrepreneurs, Start-ups, and Central/State agency or Local Body sponsored Public-Private Partnership Projects.

Community service centre to make data from India’s first solar space mission accessible for analysis

(Topic: Space and Technology)

A community service centre has been set up to bring all data on board India’s first dedicated solar space mission to a single web-based interface enabling the users to quickly look at the data and identify the interesting science cases.

  • The service centre called Aditya-L1 Support Cell (AL1SC), a joint effort of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES) an autonomous institute of the Department of Science & Technology, Government of India will be used by the guest observers in analyzing science data and preparing science observing proposals.
  • AL1SC set up at the transit campus of ARIES at Haldwani, Uttarakhand, will jointly work with ISRO to maximize utilization of science data from Aditya-L1 and facilitate India’s first dedicated solar space mission- Aditya-L1.

The centre will 

  • Act as conduit between the users (student and faculty members from research Institutes/ Universities/ Colleges etc.) and payload teams of Aditya-L1 and solar astronomy research community at large. 
  • Slated to develop specific tools to assist guest observers/researchers to prepare observing proposals for Aditya-L1 observations and will assist ISRO with the design and development of the required analysis software for handling scientific data.
  • Provide the co-aligned data from other observatories around the world that can complement the data obtained from Aditya-L1 allowing users to accomplish the science goals beyond the capabilities of the Aditya-L1. Combining data from other observatories will be helpful in building a solar features event knowledgebase which will be the compendium of different solar features seen on the surface of the Sun and in the heliosphere. This knowledge base will be immensely useful for the scientific community in connecting the features in heliosphere to the surface of the Sun.
  • Build capacity by establishing periodic training of the national user community on data analysis and proposal preparation. Short workshops of 2-3 days durations at different locations in India will be held focusing on universities who do not have access for downloading and analyzing the Aditya-L1 data. Further, AL1SC has also planned to schedule frequent E-workshops and tutorials using online platforms.

The centre will expand reach of Aditya-L1 not only within India, but also increase the visibility of the mission at the international level. It will allow every interested individual to be able to perform scientific analysis of the data.


Study by Indian Astronomers provides clues to explosion mechanism of supernovae that are key measure of cosmological distances

(Topic: Space and Technology)

In 2011, the Nobel Prize was awarded to three scientists for discovering that the Universe is expanding at an ever-accelerating rate through observations of distant supernovae. Now a team of Indian astronomers observing such distant supernovae have narrowed down the possible mechanisms of explosion of such supernovae which provide key measures of cosmological distances.

Their detailed study of a supernova called SN 2017hpa, a particular type of supernovae called I a supernova, which exploded in 2017 helped narrow down the explosion mechanism of the supernovae by observations of unburned carbon in the early phase spectra.

The explosive death of a star as a supernova is one of the most spectacular and catastrophic events in the Universe. Type Ia supernovae are the result of explosions of white dwarfs that exceed their mass beyond the Chandrasekhar limit through accretion of matter. Their homogeneous nature makes them extremely good standardizable candles to measure cosmological distances. However, the explosion mechanisms which create these supernovae (SNe), and the exact nature of their progenitor systems (star which is at the origin of a supernova phenomenon) are still not yet clearly understood. While most SNeIa are homogeneous, a good fraction of these events show diversity in both their light curve as well as spectral properties.

The burning front in the white dwarf moves or propagates at speeds less than speed of sound which leaves behind unburned material. The expansion velocity calculated using these unburned features can provide an essential hint towards the velocity structure of the ejected material. It is generally expected that the unburned material will be present in the outermost layers of the ejecta and expand with velocity higher than velocity of the outer most layer of the star called photospheric velocity. In this study, the authors have shown that the unburned layer is moving with photospheric velocity indicating that mixing of the explosion materials is dominant within the ejected material.


Cosmic rays propagating through Milky Way interact with matter producing excess antimatter counterpart of electron

(Topic: Space and Technology)

High energy particles are generally lower in number in the cosmic universe. But the excess number of high energy particles of the antimatter counterpart of the electrons, called positrons have intrigued scientists for long.

Over the years astronomers have observed an excess of antimatter counterpart of the electron or positrons having an energy of more than 10 giga-electronvolts, or 10 GeV. For an estimate, this is the energy of a positively charged electron accelerated across a 10,000,000,000 volt battery! Positrons with energy more than 300 GeV, however, are lower in comparison to what astronomers expect. This behaviour of positrons between 10 and 300 GeV is what astronomers call the ‘positron excess’.

Researchers from the Raman Research Institute (RRI), Bengaluru, have resolved the mystery in a new study published. Their proposal is simple –– cosmic rays while propagating through the Milky Way galaxy interact with matter producing other cosmic rays, primarily electrons and positrons.

The Milky Way consists of giant clouds of molecular hydrogen. They are the seats of the formation of new stars and can be as massive as 10 million times the Sun’s mass. They can extend up to 600 light-years, the distance that would take light 600 years to travel. Cosmic rays, produced in supernovae explosions propagate through these clouds before they reach the Earth. Cosmic rays interact with molecular hydrogen and can give rise to other cosmic rays. As they propagate through these clouds, they decay from their original forms and intermix, lose their energy by energising the clouds, and may also get re-energised. The researchers from RRI studied all these astrophysical processes via a code they set up on the computer, using a publicly available code.

The combined catalogue consists of ten molecular clouds in the immediate neighbourhood of our Sun. These galactic clouds provide the astronomers a crucial input –– the number of giga-electronvolt cosmic rays. These help them determine the excess number of positrons that reach the Earth. The computer code the researchers used, by taking into account the exact number of nearby galactic molecular clouds, was successfully able to reproduce the observed number of positrons at giga-electronvolt energies.


Importance of Integrated Solar Dryer and Pyrolysis plant

(Topic: Environment)

A Solar Dryer and Pyrolysis pilot plant at Chennai will soon offer an innovative approach for smart cities to transform urban organic waste into biochar and energy.

The pilot is part of the Indo-German project ‘Pyrasol’ launched to transform urban organic waste into biochar and energy in smart cities. 

  • The project will ultimately lead to technology development for the joint processing of Fibrous Organic Waste (FOW) and Sewage Sludge (SS) of Indian smart cities into hygienic and highly valuable biochar associated with energy recovery, carbon sequestration and environmental improvement.
  • IGSTC through its flagship program ‘2+2 Projects’, catalyses innovation centric R&D projects by synergising the strength of research and academic institutions and public/private industries from India and Germany.
  • ‘Pyrasol: Smart Cities integrated energy supply, carbon sequestration and urban organic waste treatment through combined solar sludge drying and pyrolysis’: The project focuses on managing and organising collection, treatment, and disposal systems of urban wastes in Indian Smart Cities as well as in other urban centres with an integrated and interactive approach. Through this Pyrasol project, simple and robust processing technologies for urban organic waste will be combined in a synergetic manner and further developed to improve sanitation and welfare, supply regenerative energy, convert waste into products and reduce the carbon footprint of smart cities by an innovative organic waste drying system using the solar natural chimney effect followed by a high efficient single-chamber pyrolysis.

Prelims-oriented News

Demise of Padma Shri Dadudan Gadhvi: Veteran Gujarati poet and folk singer; he was also known as Kavi Dad. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 2021 for his contribution in literature and education. Besides, he had written songs for 15 Gujarati films.

EPFO Launches Aadhaar based e- nomination: In order to facilitate EPF subscribers, EPFO has launched one more e-initiative i.e., Aadhaar based e – nomination. The physical filing of nomination is done through submission of ‘Form 2 (Revised)’, now with the launch of e-nomination facility; members themselves can file their nomination online, using this e-Nomination facility available in member portal.

DRDO conducts maiden trial of Python-5 Air to Air Missile: Tejas, India’s indigenous Light Combat Aircraft, added the 5th generation Python-5 Air-to-Air Missile (AAM) in its air-to-air weapons capability. Trials were also aimed to validate enhanced capability of already integrated Derby Beyond Visual Range (BVR) AAM on Tejas.

Codex Committee on Spices and Culinary Herbs (CCSCH) finalizes quality standards for 4 more spices: The Codex Committee on Spices and Culinary Herbs (CCSCH) has finalised and recommended quality standards for four spices; cloves, oregano, basil, and ginger, during its fifth session held virtually. The committee forwarded these four new standards to the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) for adoption at final step 8, as full -fledged Codex standards.

ABOUT CCSCH & CAC

  • To develop and expand worldwide standards for spices and culinary herbs, and to consult with other international organisations in the standards development process CCSCH was formed in 2013 with support of more than a hundred countries with India as the host country and Spices Board as the Secretariat for organising the sessions of the committee. 
  • Since its inception, the Codex Committee on Spices and Culinary Herbs has been successful in developing harmonised global Codex standards for spices and herbs.
  • Set up in 1963, the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) is an intergovernmental body established jointly by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO), within the framework of the Joint Food Standards Programme to protect the health of consumers and ensure fair practices in the food trade.

DRDO develops Single Crystal Blades for helicopter engine application: Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has developed single crystal blades technology and supplied 60 of these blades to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) as part of their indigenous helicopter development program for helicopter engine application.

  • Helicopters used in strategic and defence applications need compact and powerful aero-engines for their reliable operation at extreme conditions. To achieve this, state-of-the-art Single Crystal Blades having complex shape and geometry, manufactured out of Nickel based superalloys capable of withstanding high temperatures of operation are used. 
  • Very few countries in the world such as USA, UK, France and Russia have the capability to design and manufacture such Single Crystal (SX) components.
  • Special ceramic composition had to be formulated for making strong ceramic moulds which can withstand metallostatic pressure of liquid CMSX-4 alloy at 1500°C and above during casting operation. The challenge of maintaining the required temperature gradient has also been overcome by optimising the casting parameters. A multi-step vacuum solutionising heat treatment schedule for complex CMSX-4 superalloy to achieve the required microstructure and mechanical properties has also been established. Further, a stringent non-destructive evaluation (NDE) methodology for the blades along with the technique for determining their crystallographic orientations has been developed.

New high-yielding and pest-resistant variety of soybean can help boost countrywide production

  • Indian Scientists have developed a high-yielding and pest-resistant variety of soybean. This newly developed variety called MACS 1407 is suitable for cultivation in the states of Assam, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and North-Eastern states and its seeds will be made available to farmers for sowing during the 2022 Kharif season.
  • In 2019, India produced around 90 million tons of soybean, widely cultivated as oil seeds as well as a cheap source of protein for animal feed and many packaged meals and is striving to be among the world’s major producers of soybean
  • High-yielding, disease resistant varieties of the legume can help achieve this target.

Soyabean

  • The soybean or soya bean (Glycine max) is a species of legume native to East Asia, widely grown for its edible bean. 
  • Traditional unfermented food uses of soybeans include soy milk, from which tofu and tofu skin are made. 
  • Soybeans contain significant amounts of phytic acid, dietary minerals, and B vitamins. 
  • Soy vegetable oil, used in the food and industrial applications, is another product of processing the soybean crop. 
  • Soybean is the most important protein source for feed farm animals, which in turn, yields animal protein for human consumption.
  • Cultivation conditions: Climates with hot summers, with optimum growing conditions in mean temperatures of 20 to 30 °C; temperatures of below 20 °C and over 40 °C stunt growth significantly. 
  • They can grow in a wide range of soils, with optimum growth in moist alluvial soils with good organic content.
  • Soybeans, like most legumes, perform nitrogen fixation by establishing a symbiotic relationship with the bacterium Bradyrhizobium japonicum.

Kharif season 

  • The Kharif season varies by crop and region, starting at the earliest in May and ending at the latest in January. 
  • In India, the season is popularly considered to start in June and to end in October.
  • Kharif crops are usually sown with the beginning of the first rains during the advent of the south-west monsoon season, and they are harvested at the end of monsoon season (October-November).

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