Daily Current Affairs

Prelims Prominence - November 17, 2017

Infrastructure Development

Regional Connectivity Schemes – Phase – II

  • Moving to step up air connectivity to remote and strategic locations in the North-East and Jammu & Kashmir, the government has identified 24 airports and helipads for the second phase of the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS)
  • Of the 24 airports and helipads identified by the Ministry of Civil Aviation, nine are in Arunachal Pradesh, five each in Assam and Manipur, two in Jammu & Kashmir and one each in Meghalaya, Tripura, and Sikkim‎

Enlighten about the First Phase of RCS

  • In the list of routes awarded in the first phase of the scheme, only six airports in the North-East were connected
  • Also, the first round did not involve routes to Jammu & Kashmir

Role of IAF in operation of Airports

  • Several airports identified under the RCS are currently being used by the Indian Air Force
  • In times of war, the entire airspace of the country and airports are in any case under the control of defense forces

Unserved airports

  • The AAI is also undertaking development and expansion of a number of airports in the North-East such as setting up of the first airport in Sikkim at Pakyong.
  • The airports and helipads in Arunachal Pradesh fall under the category of ‘unserved’ airports, meaning they have no civilian flights landing there.

Environment

BS – VI vehicles

Announcements by Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas

  • The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas had announced the advanced introduction of BS VI fuels by April 2018 in the national capital territory considering the serious pollution levels in Delhi and adjoining areas
  • The ministry also said oil marketing companies have also been asked to examine the possibility of introduction of BS-VI auto fuels in the whole of NCR from April 1, 2019

Views of Automobile Industry regarding advanced introduction of BS VI fuels in Delhi

  • Many from the industry are of the view that no mainline player with multiple models will be able to launch complete portfolio of BS VI compliant vehicles by April 2018
  • Automobile industry was given a roadmap by the ministry of road transport for implementation of BS-VI norms by April 2020 and they are working on the basis of that timeline

Issues involved with advancing the date for introduction of BS VI fuels

  • The potential problem with the launching of BS-VI vehicles only for Delhi is that the fuel will not be available outside the Capital and BS-VI vehicles cannot run on BS-IV fuel
  • Also, if we are only looking at addressing vehicular pollution then old vehicles above 10-15 years depending on the type of fuel used need to be phased out
  • A holistic approach is needed to address the pollution issue

Enlighten about BS-VI Norms

  • The particulate matter emission in BS-V and BS-VI is same for diesel cars though it is 80% less than BS IV
  • The nitrogen oxide (NOx) level is, however, 55% less in BS-VI over BS-V which in itself is 28% lower than BS IV
  • The sulphur content in fuel norms for diesel and petrol under both BS-V and -VI standards does not change at 10 ppm, though it is substantially less than 50 mandated for both the fuels under BS-IV

“Rent a roof” policy

  • The Union government is working on a “rent a roof” policy to support its ambitious plan to generate 40 gigawatts (GW) of power from solar rooftop projects by 2022

Why is this policy important?

  • Of India’s ambitious target of 175GW of clean energy capacity by 2022, 100GW is to come from solar projects
  • Of these, while 60GW is targeted from ground-mounted, grid-connected projects, 40GW is to come from solar rooftop projects. Wind power projects are to contribute 60GW

Concerns related to Solar Power Projects in India

  • According to some experts, there are concerns as India is not expected to achieve even half of the solar rooftop targets by December 2021

Government Strategy for Wind power Projects

  • The central government is also firming up its strategy to expedite bidding out wind power contracts
  • India has an installed wind power capacity of 33GW
  • The country has auctioned 2GW of wind power contracts that saw tariffs fall to a record low of Rs2.64 per unit in the October auction conducted by state-run Solar Energy Corp. of India

Climate Change Performance Index

  • Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) 2018 has been released by environmental organisation Germanwatch.
  • The report was made public on the sidelines of the UN Climate Change negotiations (COP23) in Bonn.

Enlighten about CCPI

  • The Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) is an instrument covering 58 countries and supposed to enhance transparency in international climate politics.
  • Its aim is to encourage political and social pressure on those countries which have, up to now, failed to take ambitious actions on climate protection as well as to highlight countries with best-practice climate policies.
  • On the basis of standardised criteria, the index evaluates and compares the climate protection performance of 58 countries that are, together, responsible for more than 90% of global energy-related CO2 emissions. 80% of the evaluation is based on objective indicators of emissions trend and emissions level.
  • 20% of the index results are built upon national and international climate policy assessments by more than 200 experts from the respective countries.

Performance of various countries:

  • India is ranked 14th, an improvement from its 20th position last year.
  • China, with its high emissions and growing energy use over the past five years, still ranks 41st.
  • The bottom three of the index is formed by Korea (58), Iran (59) and Saudi Arabia (rank 60), all of which are showing hardly any progress or ambition in reducing its emissions and energy use.

Highlights of the report

  • As per the report, fifty-six countries and the EU are together responsible for about 90% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
  • The report notes that global energy transition is taking up speed but no country is doing enough. For this, the countries have to strengthen targets and implementation.
  • The data show encouraging growth in renewable energy, ever cheaper prices for solar and wind energy and successes in saving energy in many countries. This was responsible for stabilising global energy CO2 emissions in the last three years.
  • But progress is achieved much too slow for a fully renewable energy based world economy in a few decades, because growing oil and gas consumption is higher than the welcomed reduction in coal use.

China launches world’s first fully electric cargo ship

  • China launched world’s first fully electric cargo ship in Guangzhou, capital city of Guangdong province.
  • It is the first ship in the world to use lithium ion battery.
  • The ship will be mainly used to run in inland section of Pearl River for carrying coal for generation of electric power.

Enlighten about it –

  • The 2000-metric-ton ship was manufactured by the Guangzhou Shipyard International Company Ltd.
  • It is 70.5 meters long and is powered by 26-tonne lithium battery.
  • It has battery energy of about 2400 kilowatt (kw) hours which is same energy of 40 new energy cars.
  • It can run 80 kilometers after being charged for two hours. Its highest speed is 12.8 kilometers per hour.
  • This all-electric ship will help in reducing shipping costs for electric power operators.
  • The main cost of this ship depends on how much lithium battery it is equipped with.
  • As the ship does not use fossil fuels, it has zero emission, including carbon, sulphur and PM2.5 which will help to protect water quality and marine life.
  • It can be used as passenger liner or a working ship.

Bio-toilets to be installed in all trains by 2018-end: Government

  • The Union Ministry of Railways has advanced target for 100% completion of installing human waste discharge free Bio-toilets in coaches to December 2018.
  • Earlier, the target to install bio-toilets in all its coaches as part of the Swachh Bharat Mission was by September 2019.
  • The new target was announced at event titled “Indian Transport Sector: Marching towards sustainable mobility” at Conference of Parties (COP-23), Indian Pavilion at Bonn, Germany.
  • The announcement comes on backdrop of World Toilet Day (observed on 19 November) with the theme Wastewater.

Enlighten about Bio-toilets

  • Indian Railway had developed environment friendly ‘Bio-toilets in association with Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
  • Bio-toilets evacuate discharge into a biodigester tank, containing anaerobic bacteria, fitted underneath train coach in small space.
  • The bacteria convert human faecal matter into water and small amount of gases (including methane) by process of hydrolysis, acetogenesis, acidogenesis and methanogenesis.

Defence

Sampriti 2017: Indo-Bangladesh Joint Military Exercise held in Mizoram

  • Joint Indo-Bangladesh Training Exercise SAMPRITI 2017 was culminated at Counter Insurgency & Jungle Warfare School, Vairengte in Mizoram.
  • The exercise was aimed to strengthen and broaden the aspects of interoperability and cooperation between the Indian and Bangladesh Armies.
  • It was 7th edition of exercise in SAMPRITI series which is held alternately in India and Bangladesh every year with aim to build and promote positive relations between armies of two neighbors.

Enlighten about Sampriti 2017 –

  • The 13-day exercise also aimed to enhance interoperability between two nations and enrich from each other’s experience while carrying out counter-insurgency or counter-terrorism operations.
  • This edition of exercise had two district components which included Command Post Exercise (CPX) and Field Training Exercise (FTX).
  • The CPX was conducted at Umroi and FTX was conducted at Vairengte.
  • CPX focused on practicing joint planning and conduct of counter-terrorist operations in semi-mountainous terrain with special focus on drills and procedures followed while operating in dense jungles.
  • The FTX emphasised on physical conditioning, training on special heliborne operations, cordon and search operations, neutralisation of improvised explosive devices and company and platoon level tactical drills in counter-terrorist operations scenario.

Futuristic Infantry Combat Vehicle

  • The Futuristic Infantry Combat Vehicle (FICV) and Future Ready Combat Vehicle (FRCV) programmes are going to be the biggest game changers for the Indian Army as well as defense industry

Enlighten about FICV and FRCV

  • The FICV is an ambitious effort to indigenously design and manufacture a futuristic infantry vehicle by the private industry by roping in foreign Original Equipment Manufacturers
  • FRCV is a tender for the procurement of futuristic tanks through the Strategic Partnership model
  • FRCV would replace the Russian T-72 tanks presently in service

Arjun tanks to continue

  • FRCV programme would not “scuttle” the indigenous Arjun tanks as the service had already inducted the Arjun Mk-1 tanks

Economy

RBI Governor Urjit Patel appointed to Financial Stability Institute Advisory Board

  • RBI Governor Urjit Patel was appointed to Financial Stability Institute Advisory Board (FSAB) or Bank of International Settlement (BIS). BIS is international financial organisation owned by 60 member central banks across world.
  • The Financial Stability Institute (FSI) of BIS assists financial sector authorities worldwide in strengthening their financial systems

Enlighten about FSI Advisory Board

  • The FSI was jointly established by BIS and the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision in 1998.
  • Its mandate is to promote cross- sectoral and cross-border supervisory contacts and cooperation.
  • The advisory Board will provide strategic advice to help FSI continue to meet its mandate in way that is responsive to changing needs of its key stakeholders around the world.
  • It will comprise small diverse group of central bank Governors, heads of financial sector supervision and chairs of standard-setting bodies and regional supervisory groups

Bank for International Settlements (BIS)

  • BIS is international financial organisation owned by 60 member central banks, representing countries from around the world including India.
  • It fosters international monetary and financial cooperation and serves as bank for central banks.
  • It carries out its work through its meetings, programmes and through Basel Process – hosting international groups pursuing global financial stability and facilitating their interaction.
  • Its headquarter is in Basel, Switzerland

CII report – Indian firms created more than 1 lakh jobs in U.S

  • Study by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII)
  • Study: “Indian Roots, American Soil”
  • It has found that 100 Indian companies have created 1,13,423 jobs in the U.S with an investment of $17.9 billion, across all States

Enlighten about the study

  • The fifth edition of the biennial study has political significance this year given the Donald Trump administration’s strong views on economic ties that displace American workers (against proctectionism)
  • The Indian companies are spending significant amounts in America as part of their CSR initiatives is testimony to the fact they are deeply invested in this country and society
  • The study found 87% of firms plan to hire more locally in the next five years

Enlighten about Confederation of Indian Industry(CII)

  • The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) is a premier business association in India which works to create an environment conducive to the growth of industry in the country.
  • CII is a non-government, not-for-profit, industry-led and industry-managed organization, playing a proactive role in India’s development process
  • Founded in 1895, India’s premier business association has over 8,300 members, from the private as well as public sectors, including SMEs and MNCs, and an indirect membership of over 200,000 enterprises from around 250 national and regional sectoral industry bodies
  • CII works closely with the Government on policy issues, interfacing with thought leaders, and enhancing efficiency, competitiveness and business opportunities for industry through a range of specialized services and strategic global linkages

Coastal Development

India’s first mega Coastal Economic Zone to come up at JNPT in Maharashtra

  • The Union Government has given go-ahead for setting up India’s first mega coastal economic zone (CEZ) at Jawaharlal Nehru Port (JNPT) in Maharashtra.
  • The first of its kind mega CEZ will stretch along north Konkan region spread across Mumbai, Thane, Pune, Nashik and Raigarh.
  • About 45 companies across auto, telecom and IT sectors will soon bid for 200 hectares of land to set up manufacturing units in zone.

Enlighten about CEZ

  • CEZ will be developed as part of plan for developing 14 such industrial clusters to spur manufacturing and generate jobs.
  • The plan envisages total investment of Rs 15,000 crore in first phase and creation of more than 1.5 lakh jobs.
  • The Union Cabinet in 2016 had approved setting up of 14 mega CEZs under National Perspective Plan of Sagarmala Programme.
  • Its aim was to promote development of industrial clusters around ports, encourage portled development, reduce logistics cost and time for movement of cargo, enhance global competitiveness of country’s manufacturing sector and create hubs of job creation.

Highways Safety

IndiaRAP assessment launched to rate highways on safety features

  • India Road Assessment Programme (IndiaRAP) was unveiled by Global Charity to rate highways’ safety levels and to eliminate the most unsafe roads.
  • It aims to make Indian roads safer and curb fatalities.
  • Since 2010, teams from global organisation have already undertaken star rating assessments on more than 10,000 km of roads across several states in India.

Enlighten about IndiaRAP prog.

  • The IndiaRAP programme is supported by FedEx Express and will be hosted by Asian Institute of Transport Development.
  • It will work with government agencies as well as investors, researchers and NGOs to assess existing highways and promote use of better design to make roads safer.
  • The IndiaRAP ratings will range from five-star roads (safest) to one-star roads (least safe).
  • The ratings are assigned on the basis of level of safety which is ‘built-in’ to a road for vehicle occupants, motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians.

Personalities

Birsa Munda

  • Birth anniversary of Birsa Munda was observed on November 15th.
  • In recognition of his impact on the national movement, the state of Jharkhand was created on his birth anniversary in 2000.

Enlighten about Birsa Munda:

  • Bisra Munda was a folk hero and a tribal freedom fighter hailing from the Munda tribe.
  • He was a spearhead behind the Millenarian movement that arose in the Bihar and Jharkhand belt in the 19th century under the British colonisation.
  • He is also known as ‘Dharti Abba’ or the Earth Father.

Birsait

  • Bisra wanted to reform the tribal society and so, he urged them to let go of beliefs in witchcraft and instead, stressed on the importance of prayer, staying away from alcohol, having faith in God and observing a code of conduct.
  • Based on these, he started the faith of ‘Birsait’.

Achievements

  • Bisra started a movement called ‘Ulgulan’, or ‘The Great Tumult’.
  • His struggle against the exploitation and discrimination against tribals led to a big hit against the British government in the form of the Chotanagpur Tenancy Act being passed in 1908.
  • The act restricted the passing on of land from the tribal people to non-tribals.

State Specific

Rajasthan conversion Bill

  • The Religious Freedom Bill passed by the Rajasthan Assembly in 2008, aimed at banning forcible religious conversions, was returned by the Union government as it deviated from the national policy.
  • According to the Union Home Ministry, the Bill was sent back for “further clarifications.”

Enlighten about the Bill:

  • The Rajasthan Dharma Swatantraya Vidheyak was passed by the Assembly in 2008.
  • The legislation seeks to stop conversions through use of “force or allurement or by fraudulent means”.
  • An offence under the Act is cognizable and non-bailable. The punishment for violation of the provisions of the Act can be a minimum two years simple imprisonment, which may be extended up to five years and a fine of up to Rs.50000.
  • It also contains a clause for cancellation of registration of organisations held guilty of abetting conversions.
  • The Bill defined “conversion” as “renouncing one’s own religion and adopting another” through “fraudulent means” or any other “fraudulent contrivance.”