Daily Current Affairs

Prelims Prominence - October 18, 2017

Social Issues

Universal social security plan

  • In an attempt to improve the life of the extremely poor people of India, the government has drafted a Rs 1.2 lakh crore plan to provide universal social security coverage for the poorest people of the country.

Enlighten about the plan

  • This broader programme envisages three categories — the poorest 20%, who will get a government payout; those who subscribe on their own and formal sector workers who will need to set aside a fixed proportion of income toward the scheme.
  • The scheme will have two tiers.
  • The first of these comprises mandatory pension, insurance (both death and disability) and maternity coverage and the second, optional medical, sickness and unemployment coverage.
  • Funds collected under the universal social security scheme will be divided into sub-schemes and be ringfenced, meaning the benefits and the contribution will be commensurate.

Science & Technology

First direct visual identification of the source of a gravitational wave

  • European Southern Observatory (ESO) has announced the first direct, visual identification of the source of a gravitational wave
  • Detected by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO)on August 17
  • This is the first time that such an event has been seen.
  • Radiations were detected in optical/near-infrared wavelengths as the counterpart of a gravitational wave source

What led to this finding?

  • In August this year LIGO, together with the Virgo observatory in Italy, detected waves from the cataclysmic merger of two neutron stars, designated GW170817
  • Soon after, the Fermi space telescope detected a burst of gamma rays from the same region of space
  • ESO's Vista, VST and La Silla telescopes in Chile, along with the US DECam telescope, located the source of light near the galaxy NEC 4993 in the constellation Hydra
  • The signal was picked up in Hawaii and over the following weeks, about 70 observatories watched the event unfold when they were on the dark side of the earth
  • The Hubble Space Telescope tracked it, too

Fishries

India acts against bottom trawling

  • During the recently held meeting of the Joint Working Group, India informed Sri Lanka that it has taken measures to stop bottom trawling by its fishermen in the waters near the Sri Lankan coastline.

What do the observations tell?

  • The observations place the electromagnetic source at 130 light years away, which matches with the distance to GW170817
  • It confirms that when neutron stars collide into a kilonova — a body 1,000 times brighter than the average Nova — it produces a gamma-ray burst and gravitational waves

Gravitational waves and kilonova

  • A gravitational wave is a ripple distorting the fabric of spacetime — literally, the universe itself – created when heavy bodies accelerate rapidly
  • A kilonova (macronova or r-process supernova) is a type of supernova that occurs when two neutron stars or a neutron star and a black hole merge in a binary system
  • The kilonova was a phenomenon theoretically predicted 30 years ago and was expected to emit short bursts of gamma rays
  • Gravitational waves were predicted by general relativity a century ago, and it was surmised that colliding neutron stars would emit them
  • Both phenomena are now observationally confirmed, and a single event is identified as the source

Social Security

47.5 lakh domestic workers set to get legal status and minimum wages

  • Ministry of labour and employment is considering to formulate a national policy for domestic workers under which part-time, full-time and live-in workers, employers, private placement agencies will be clearly defined.

Enlighten about it –

  • The policy aims to promote right to fair terms of employment relating to minimum wages, protection from abuse/harassment and violence, access to social security benefits such as health insurance, maternity benefits and old age pensions as provided by existing and upcoming schemes of central and state government, which may include contribution from employer/workers.
  • An institutional mechanism will be set up to provide for social security cover, fair terms of employment, grievance redressal and dispute resolution for domestic workers.
  • Besides, the policy will seek to regulate recruitment and placement agencies to avoid any harassment.
  • Placement agencies charge a certain proportion of domestic workers’ salary every month, over and above one-time fees they charge from the employer for providing such help.
  • The new policy, though, is likely to make it mandatory for placement agencies to charge a one-time 15-day salary from domestic workers and in turn provide them with social security cover, including medical and health insurance.

Environment

Graded plan to combat air pollution

  • The Graded Response Action Plan, Delhi-NCR’s answer to combat air pollution that assumes apocalyptic proportions during this time of the year, will come into force for the first time from October 17th.

How it will be implemented?

  • The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) will monitor air quality from various stations located across Delhi-NCR. Daily reports will be sent to the Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA), the implementing authority of the plan, which will take a decision on the future course of action.
  • If data of any station shows a sudden spike in pollution level, a team will rush to the spot and try to analyse the reason. Accordingly, action would be taken and instructions issued.

Schemes

Project CHAMAN, likely to be completed by March 2018: Shri Singh

  • In order to provide strategic development to the horticulture sector, so as to increase farmers income, a pioneer project called CHAMAN, has been launched three years back by the Government.
  • This project is being implemented by Mahalanob is National Crop Forecast Centre (MNCFC) using remote sensing technology and is likely to be completed in March 2018.

Boosting horticulture through remote sensing

  • India is the second-largest producer of fruits and vegetables in the world and the biggest producer of fruits such as banana, mango, papaya and lemon among others.
  • But the country still has some distance to cover in terms of exports as post-harvest wastage of produce in India is high