Daily Current Affairs

Prelims Prominence - January 1, 2018

Swachh Bharat Mission

Arunachal declared open defecation-free State
Attains the feat much before the national deadline

  • Arunachal Pradesh on Sunday emerged as the second State in the Northeast, after Sikkim, to be declared Open Defecation Free.
  • The three remaining districts - Upper Subansiri, Siang and Changlang -- were declared Open Defecation Free (ODF) officially on Sunday, an official release said.
  • Arunachal has 21 districts and the State attained the feat much before the national deadline of October 2, 2019.
  • The State government had cut short the ODF target by one year and 10 months ahead of the national target and set December 31 this year as the deadline.
  • The project undertaken under Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) SBM (G) saw the light of day only after the State government extended an incentive of Rs 8,000 per toilet.
  • This is in addition to the Centre’s support of Rs 12,000, raising the grant for constructing a toilet to Rs 20,000.
  • The State government also launched Swachh Arunachal Mission on October 2 this year at Tawang which envisaged the Swachh Protocol (Cleanliness Protocol) aimed at ensuring sustainability of assets created under SBM (Gramin).

Government Projects

Pradhant Mantri Urja Ganga
GAIL gets contract for another 400 km pipeline Project

  • Gas (India) Limited (GAIL) has placed orders for another 400-km natural gas pipeline project under ambitious Pradhan Mantri Urja Ganga (PMUG).
  • The orders were placed for 400-km for pipeline from Dobhi (Bihar) to Durgapur (West Bengal).
  • With this, the total pipe supply orders for 2,100 km of Jagdishpur-Haldia & Bokaro-Dhamra Natural Gas Pipeline (JHBDPL) project have been placed. GAIL also has placed 1,700 km of line laying orders.

Enlighten about Pradhan Mantri Urja Ganga

  • The ambitious 2,655 km long JHBDPL project also known as ‘Pradhan Mantri Urja Ganga’ project originates at Jagdishpur (Uttar Pradesh).
  • The main trunk of pipeline ends to Haldia (West Bengal) and Dhamra (Odisha).
  • The pipeline passes through Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Odisha.
  • The total cost of project is Rs. 12,940 crore and is targeted to be completed by 2019.
  • The project is being implemented by state-run gas utility GAIL.
  • It will augment GAIL’s existing network of trunk pipelines covering the length of around 11,000 km by 2540 km.

Enlighten about GAIL

  • GAIL is the largest state-owned natural gas processing and distribution company in India.
  • It is headquartered in New Delhi. It has following business segments: natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas transmission, liquid hydrocarbon, city gas distribution, petrochemical, exploration and production, GAILTEL and electricity generation.
  • It was conferred with the Maharatna status in February 2013 by the Government of India.
  • Only six other Public Sector Enterprises (PSEs) enjoy this coveted status amongst all central CPSEs

Infrastructure

First Photovoltaic road
Successfully tested by China

  • China successfully tested its first photovoltaic (solar) highway based on home-grown technology in country’s eastern Shandong province.
  • With this, China became the second country in the world to construct a photovoltaic highway. France had introduced world’s first photovoltaic road fitted with solar panels in late 2016.

Enlighten about the photovoltaic highway

  • China’s photovoltaic highway is constructed using solar panels which have thin sheet of transparent concrete on top of them, protecting the surface.
  • It has wireless charging systems for electric vehicles (EVs). The photovoltaic panels of the highway are built to transfer energy to electric vehicles passing on top of them.
  • The one-kilometre segment of solar-powered highway covers a surface area of 5875 sq m.
  • The stretch has three layers viz. bottom layer which is insulator to prevent moisture from getting to photovoltaic devices in middle layer, and top layer has transparent concrete.
  • The tested segment of the solar highway can generate 817.2 KW of electricity and is expected to generate 1 million KW hours of electricity each year.
  • The electricity generated will be connected to China’s national power grid.

Appointments

Vinay Sahasrabuddhe President of ICCR

  • President Ram Nath Kovind has appointed BJP leader and Rajya Sabha MP Vinay Sahasrabuddhe as President of the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR).
  • He will succeed scholar and thinker Lokesh Chandra, who was appointed by the NDA government in October 2014 and has completed his three-year-term.
  • He is vice-president of Rambhau Mhalgi Prabodhini which is South Asia’s only training and research academy for elected representatives and voluntary social workers.

Enlighten about Indian Council for Cultural Relations

  • The ICCR is an autonomous organisation under the Ministry of External Affairs.
  • It was founded in 1950 by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, independent India’s first Education Minister.
  • It is involved in India’s external cultural relations, through cultural exchange with other countries and their peoples.
  • Its mandate is to actively participate in formulation and implementation of policies and programmes pertaining to India’s external cultural relations.
  • It also seeks to foster and strengthen cultural relations and mutual understanding between India and other countries.
  • It also aims to promote cultural exchanges with other countries and people; and to develop relations with nations.

Hydropower Projects

Ujh Project

  • The DPR of Ujh Project was recently submitted by Central Water Commission to the Jammu & Kashmir government.
  • The DPR will help India to utilize a part of the flow that presently goes across border unutilized.

Enlighten About the Ujh project

  • The Ujh project is a step towards India’s utilisation of waters of the Indus and its tributaries in keeping with its rights under the treaty.
  • The project, which is to come up in Kathua district, will store around 0.65 million acre feet (MAF) of water from Ujh (a tributary of Ravi) to irrigate 30,000 hectares and produce over 200 MW of power.

Enlighten About the Indus water treaty

  • Signed in 1960 by then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and then Pakistan President Ayub Khan, the treaty allocates 80% of water from the six-river Indus water system to Pakistan.
  • Under the treaty, control over six north Indian rivers were divided between the two countries.
  • India got control over the rivers Beas, Ravi and Sutlej whereas Pakistan got control over Indus, Chenab and Jhelum.

Features of the treaty

  • Involvement of the third party: This is a unique treaty involving a third party. It was brokered by the World Bank.
  • Permanent commission: A Permanent Indus Commission was set up as a bilateral commission to implement and manage the Treaty. The Commission solves disputes arising over water sharing.
  • Arbitration mechanism: The Treaty also provides arbitration mechanism to solve disputes amicably.

Science & Tech

NASA’s Flying telescope

  • NASA’s flying observatory Sofia is preparing for its 2018 campaign, which will include, among others, observations of celestial magnetic fields, star-forming regions, comets and Saturn’s giant moon Titan.
  • This will be the fourth year of full operations for Sofia, short for Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, with observations planned between February 2018 and January 2019.

Significance of the observations

  • Scientists believe that the observatory’s investigations will help them understand how magnetic fields affect the rate at which interstellar clouds condense to form new stars.
  • These observations could also help them learn whether the luminosity of these active black holes is driven by star formation or accretion of material onto the central black hole.
  • Sofia will also conduct observations to better understand how methane levels change with seasons on Mars.
  • Sofia is a Boeing 747SP jetliner modified to carry a 100-inch diameter telescope.
  • It is a joint project of NASA and the German Aerospace Centre, DLR. SOFIA is designed to observe the infrared universe.
  • SOFIA studies many different kinds of astronomical objects and phenomena, but some of the most interesting are:
  • Star birth and death.
  • Formation of new solar systems.
  • Identification of complex molecules in space.
  • Planets, comets and asteroids in our solar system.
  • Nebulae and dust in galaxies (or, Ecosystems of galaxies).
  • Black holes at the center of galaxies.

Flying telescope – what’s the need –

  • Water vapor blocks infrared light energy and 99% of the world’s water vapor exists below 39,000 feet. So, the higher altitude you fly, the drier it gets and the more optimal it is for infrared observation.

Cyber Security

Government in the process of framing a data protection law

  • With the country emerging as a big center of data analysis, the government was in the process of framing a data protection law
  • The government had set up a committee headed by Justice Srikrishna, retired Supreme Court Judge, on the issue

No proposal to make internet a fundamental right

  • The government was committed to providing Internet connectivity to all citizens
  • This does not entail that internet availability will be made a fundamental right

Bills

98 Private member bills introduced in Lok Sabha The number of Private member’s bill increasing

  • As many as 98 private members’ bills were introduced in the Lok Sabha on December 29
  • The bills were based on a wide range of issues from protecting stray cows to declaring work a fundamental right
  • One bill demanded to establish two time zones in the country for more systematic, inclusive and progressive administration in the country

Other bills

  • A bill for probation on distribution, sale, and advertisement of online games showing violence and indecency
  • A bill seeking to constitute a National Commission to identify and deport illegal immigrants
  • A bill for screening and free medical treatment of woman suffering from breast cancer
  • A bill seeking to provide financial assistance to widows and dependent family members of farmers who have committed suicide
  • Bill to set up a new Bundelkhand Regiment in the Army