Daily Current Affairs

Prelims Prominence - November 3, 2017

Cabinet Decisions

CCEA approves revised price of ethanol under EBP for OMCs

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved revision in price of ethanol under Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) Programme for supply to Public Sector Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs).
  • The revised price was fixed at Rs. 40.85 per litre under EBP and will be applicable for forthcoming sugar season 2017-18.
  • GST and transportation charges will be payable additionally.

Enlighten about Ethanol Blending

  • It is process of mixing petrol with ethanol.
  • The mixture is called as Ethanol Fuel/Gasohol which is considered as quasi-renewable energy.
  • Ethanol is biofuel derived from Sugarcane molasses (by-product in the conversion of sugarcane to sugar), corn, sorghum etc.
  • In India, practice of blending ethanol was started in 2001. It was first time mentioned in the Auto fuel policy of 2003.
  • Later, National Policy on Bio-fuels, 2009 made mandatory for oil companies to sell petrol blended with at least 5% of ethanol.

Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) Programme

  • It was launched by Government in 2003 to promote the use of alternative and environment friendly fuels.
  • It has been extended to notified 21 States and 4 UTs.
  • This intervention aims to reduce import dependency for energy requirements and environment friendly measure to reduce vehicular pollution

CCEA approves continuation of Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana till 2019-20

  • The CCEA has approved continuation of Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) as Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana- Remunerative Approaches for Agriculture and Allied sector Rejuvenation (RKVY-RAFTAAR) for three years i.e. 2017-18 to 2019-20.
  • The RKVY-RAFTAAR Scheme’s objective is to make farming remunerative economic activity by strengthening farmer’s effort, risk mitigation and promoting agri¬business entrepreneurship.

Features of RKVY-RAFTAAR

  • The scheme aims to fast-track agriculture development by emphasising on development of agriculture infrastructure, specifically post-harvest infrastructure and assets, promotion of value addition linked agri-business models.
  • The financial allocation of scheme is Rs. 15,722 crore and it will be provided to states as 60:40 grants between Centre and States (90:10 for North Eastern States and Himalayan States).
  • Under it, 50% of annual outlay will be provided for setting up infrastructure and assets, 30% for value-addition linked production projects and 20% of outlay will be flexi-funds for supporting any project as per the local needs.
  • Moreover, about 20% of the annual outlay will be provided for implementing special sub-schemes of national priorities under RKVY-RAFTAAR. Also, 10% of annual outlay will be provided for innovation and agri-entrepreneur development through creating end-to-end solution, skill development and financial support for setting up the agri-enterprise.
  • Besides, funding of special sub-schemes of national priorities will get 20% of annual outlay.
  • The sub-schemes includes national priorities such Bringing Green Revolution to Eastern India (BGREI), Crop Diversification Program (CDP), Reclamation of Problem Soil (RPS), Foot & Mouth Disease – Control Program (FMD-CP), Saffron Mission, Accelerated Fodder Development Programme (AFDP).

Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY)

  • RKVY was launched during 2007-08 to achieve 4% annual growth in agricultural sector by ensuring holistic development.
  • The scheme was under implementation from XI Five Year Plan. It has provided considerable flexibility and autonomy to states in planning and executing programmes for incentivizing investment in agriculture and allied sectors

Defence

Indian Army releases Integrated Quarter Master Package Software Application

  • Indian Army has formally launched Integrated Quarter Master Package (IQMP) software application for automating various logistics related functions of an Army Unit.
  • IQMP is web based software developed by Army Software Development Centre in association with TCS Ltd.
  • It will replace numerous legacy applications such as ‘Vastra’ and ‘Quarter Master Package’.

Enlighten about it

  • The IQMP software package comprises thirteen modules to automate all logistics functions of Indian Army at unit level.
  • It can be dynamically configured to meet specific requirements of various types of Army units.
  • It is capable of sharing information and data with other software applications in domain of logistics management.
  • It will also play an important role in achieving automation of Indian Army and play important role towards ‘Digital Army’ in consonance with Government’s ‘Digital India initiative’

PRABAL DOSTYK 2017: Indo – Kazakhstan Joint Exercise begins

  • The bilateral military exercise “PRABAL DOSTYK – 2017” between India and Kazakhstan began at Bakloh, Himachal Pradesh. ‘Prabal Dostyk’ means ‘Robust Friendship’
  • It is second edition of the joint military training exercise between both countries.
  • The first edition of exercise was held in Karaganda region of Kazakhstan in September 2016.

Enlighten about it –

  • The fourteen day joint training aims to build and promote bilateral army-to-army relations and exchange skills and experiences between Kazakhstan and the Indian Army.
  • It also aims at enhancing military ties between two countries for achieving interoperability between two armies.
  • The exercise will help in strengthening ties between two countries and would serve as platform for exchange of drills and procedures leading to seamless interoperability.
  • The training contingents comprise of platoon strength from the 11th Gorkha Rifles of Indian Army and similar strength of Kazakhstan Army.

Science & Technology

Scientists develop earthquake-proof concrete

  • Researchers from University of British Columbia (UBC) in Canada have developed earthquake-proof fibre-reinforced concrete that can dramatically enhance the earthquake resistance of seismically vulnerable structures.

Enlighten about it

  • The cement material is engineered at molecular scale to be strong, malleable, and ductile similar to steel.
  • It is capable of dramatically enhancing earthquake resistance of seismically vulnerable structure when applied as a thin coating on surfaces.
  • The material is made of eco-friendly ductile cementitious composite (EDCC) which combines cement with polymer-based fibres, flyash and other industrial additives, making it highly sustainable.
  • It was subjected earthquake intensities as high as magnitude 9.09.1 earthquake during simulations.
  • In India, EDCC will be retrofitted in school at Roorkee in Uttarakhand, a highly seismic area for research purpose.

Holy sites ‘may offer clues to antibiotic resistance

  • Anti-Microbial Resistance(AMR) Study Report says Mass-bathing in the Ganga during pilgrimages may be contributing to anti-microbial resistance.
  • Travel can be pointed to as one of the reasons for the rise of antibiotic resistance. How large gatherings of people could become hotspots for the spread of the genes that cause resistance.

Enlighten about it –

  • Antibiotic resistance in bacteria is controlled by naturally occurring genes. These genes are found on plasmids, small rings of DNA that are separate from chromosomes.
  • Plasmids can move easily between bacteria, allowing them to acquire traits, such as antibiotic resistance, very quickly.
  • When the amount of human waste entering the river rises , the resistant organisms in people’s guts can be washed into the river in faeces.
  • The faecal organisms tend not to live very long, but the plasmids that carry antibiotic resistance genes can be quickly transferred to other organisms in the river.

Energy Sector

EESL launches $454 million ‘Creating and Sustaining Markets for Energy Efficiency’ project in partnership with the GEF

  • Currently around two-thirds of total power generation capacity in India is based on fossil fuels. By 2030, India is committed to achieve 40% of the installed capacity based on clean energy sources.

Funding

  • Project will receive a composite funding of $454 million comprised of the GEF grant of $20 million and co-financing of $434 million in the form of loans and equity, including a $200 million loan from the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
  • EESL further proposes Energy Efficiency Revolving Fund (EERF) for sustainable funding mechanism of energy efficiency projects in the country.

Enlighten about the initiatives

  • New technologies of super-efficient ceiling fans, tri-generation technologies & smart grid-applications will be financed for proof testing
  • Energy efficiency programmes like street lighting, domestic lighting, five-star rated ceiling fans and agricultural pumps will be undertaken.
  • EESL has partnered with UN Environment’s District Energy in Cities Initiative, which has already identified $600 million of projects across five cities in India.

Environment

Carnivorous plants use CO2 to lure prey

  • Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Gardens and Research Institute here have come up with evidence that some carnivorous plants use carbon dioxide (CO2) to attract insects and ants to their prey traps.
  • Carnivorous plants have been known to employ a variety of techniques like nectar, smell, colour and ultraviolet florescence to lure and capture prey.
  • The Indian pitcher plant (Nepenthes khasiana) uses the gas, both to attract prey and to aid the digestive process. The open Nepenthes pitchers were found to emit CO2 constantly. CO2 inside the pitchers was produced by the respiration of tissues within the cavity.
  • CO2 is found to trigger the release of antifungal compounds into the pitcher fluid, preventing infections from incoming prey. It might also act as a tranquilliser for the trapped prey
  • Nepenthes pitchers have the potential to be used as natural models mimicking an anticipated elevated CO2 scenario on earth.

Governance

Centre asks states to speed up trial against tainted politicians

  • March 10, 2014 order to complete the trial in all these cases within a year’s time had been complied with or not.

Enlighten about it

  • The Supreme Court asked the government to frame a central scheme for setting up special courts across the country to exclusively try criminal cases involving ‘political persons.’
  • The Centre has written to the chief ministers and chief justices of high courts to fix responsibility on district administrations to expedite probe and trial of MPs and MLAs facing charges for serious crimes.
  • If for some extraordinary circumstances, the court concerned is not able to conclude the trial within one year from the date of framing of charges, such court shall submit a report to the CJs of high courts indicating reasons for not adhering to the time limit.
  • The law ministry has already started an e-court expansion project and very soon all cases related to undertrials shall be available on the click of a mouse that would help the higher authorities take action against any authority which may be responsible for delay in trial.

Social Issues

World Economic Forum’s – Gender Gap Index

Global Gender Gap Report

  • According to the report, the gap between the achievements and well-being of men and women widened in the past year
  • At current rates, it will take 100 years before women achieve equality in the four areas measured by the WEF -

(1) political empowerment
(2) economic participation
(3) health
(4) education

Country-wise ranking

  • The US fell to 49th among the 144 countries ranked, down from 45th last year and 23rd just 11 years ago
  • India, which sank to No. 108 overall, down 10 places from 2006
  • Ranked 100 overall, China was No. 144—dead last—for gender parity when it came to women’s health
  • Women in No. 1 ranked Iceland, for instance, may soon be equal to men in their contribution to the national economy