Daily Current Affairs

Prelims Prominence - October 9, 2018

Defence

Upgraded MiG-29 The fighter plane now has the capability to take off vertically

What

  • The Indian Air Force’s beast — MiG-29 — has gained in strength and ferocity after an upgrade, giving the force, battling a shortage of fighter aircraft, a much-needed boost, according to officials.
  • The Russian-origin aircraft, now capable of effecting mid-air refuelling, is compatible with latest missiles and can launch multi-dimensional attacks
  • With the upgrade, as compared to the previous ‘legacy version’ of the MiG-29 bought under emergency clause in early 1980s, the fighter jets are capable to give a befitting response

Severe shortage of fighter aircrafts

  • On September 12, IAF chief, Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa, had said the force was reeling under a severe shortage of fighter aircraft. He had said the force currently had 31 squadrons of fighter jets against the sanctioned strength of 42 squadrons.
  • The strategically important Adampur Air Force Station, which is around 100 km from Pakistan and 250 km away from China borders, is now equipped with upgraded MiG-29.
  • The IAF has three squadrons of MiG-29 fighter jets in operation, two of them at the Adampur Air Force Station. One squadron comprises 16-18 aircraft.

Connect to the upgraded MiG -29

  • The upgraded MiG-29 aircraft could take off within five minutes of spotting a hostile jet trying to enter the Indian airspace and destroy it
  • With air-to-air refuelling feature, the upgraded MiG-29 can cover larger distance as compared to the previous aircraft and destroy the enemy

Biotechnology

India’s first methanol cooking fuel

What

  • Ritu Bordoloi became the country’s first owner and user of a cooking stove fuelled by methanol.
  • Ms. Bordoloi, 50, was one of 500 people who were given a stove with two 1.2-litre canisters of methanol as part of a pilot project by the Namrup-based Assam Petrochemicals Limited (APL), India’s first public sector producer of methanol and formalin from natural gas as feedstock.
  • APL’s experience in producing methanol for 30 years gave NITI Ayog the confidence to okay the fuel project.
  • There are 5.5 lakh people in Africa and 8 million in China who use methanol as cooking fuel. But India is the first country where the focus is on replacing LPG.
  • NITI Aayog member and former director general of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Vijay Kumar Saraswat, set the ball rolling by inaugurating the 'Green and Clean Fuel Pilot Project on Methanol Cooking Stove', a first-of-its-kind initiative in the country.
  • This is India's first step towards realising the concept of 'Methanol Economy', the flagship programme of NITI Aayog.
  • Through the programme, the NITI Aayog has been working on a roadmap to replace 20% of the country's crude imports through methanol alone
  • The concept of 'Methanol Economy' is being actively pursued by China, Italy, Sweden, Israel, US, Australia, Japan and many other European nations.
  • As much as 10% of fuel in China's transport sector is based on methanol.

Environment

Special Report on Global Warming India faces threat of deadly heat waves, says UN climate report IPCC panel study prescribes ‘large-scale changes’ to keep the rise in global temperature below 1.5°C

What

  • If the average global temperature rises by more than one degree Celsius from the present, India could “annually” expect conditions like the 2015 heat wave that killed at least 2,000, according to the ‘Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C,’ commissioned by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

By whom

  • The report was put together by about 91 authors and review-editors from 40 countries, who had convened in Incheon, South Korea, last week, to assess the feasibility of keeping the average global temperature from rising beyond 1.5 degree Celsius from pre-industrial times.

A far reaching goal

  • Achieving this would require “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society
  • The 2015 agreement in Paris, considered a landmark achievement, had the world agree to keep rise in temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius and “pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.”
  • With the U.S. withdrawing from the accord, the chances of such an ambitious target were significantly weakened.

Connect to the report

  • The report stated that capping the rise in temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius would require “rapid and far-reaching” transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport and cities.
  • The global net human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) would need to fall by about 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching ‘net zero’ around 2050.
  • This means any remaining emissions would need to be balanced by removing CO2 from the air.
  • Many of these techniques, such as carbon capture and storage, were unproven on a global scale and some carried significant risks for sustainable development

1.5 degree C rise in temperatures will be catastrophic for coastal nations and agricultural economies like India

  • Coastal nations and agricultural economies like India would be the worst affected.
  • Decline in crop yields, unprecedented climate extremes and increased susceptibility could push poverty by several million by 2050, said the ‘Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C,’ commissioned by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that saw as many as 91 authors and review-editors from 40 countries, convene in Incheon, South Korea
  • Even at a little over 1.0°C warming, India is being battered by the worst climate extremes – it is clear that the situation at 1.5°C is going to worsen.
  • Officials from the Union Environment Ministry, the Union Ministry of Earth Sciences and the Indian Institute of Human Settlements and the Tata Institute of Social Sciences were part of the Indian delegation at Incheon.

Connect to IPCC

  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a scientific and intergovernmental body under the auspices of the United Nations, set up at the request of member governments, dedicated to the task of providing the world with an objective, scientific view of climate change and its political and economic impacts.
  • It was first established in 1988 by two United Nations organizations, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and later endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly through Resolution 43/53.
  • Membership of the IPCC is open to all members of the WMO and UNEP.
  • The IPCC produces reports that support the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which is the main international treaty on climate change.
  • The ultimate objective of the UNFCCC is to "stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic [i.e., human-induced] interference with the climate system".
  • IPCC reports cover "the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation.

Economy

India to be the 11th wealthiest, says BCG Personal wealth may rise to $5 tn by 2022

What

  • India’s personal financial wealth, currently estimated to be about $3 trillion, is expected to grow to $5 trillion by 2022 making India the 11th wealthiest nation, according to a report from the Boston Consultancy Group (BCG).

Connect to the report

  • According to the report, India is currently the fifth largest Asian market in terms of number of affluent, high net worth and ultra high net worth individuals. The total number of such individuals was pegged at 4.13 lakh in 2017.
  • While wealth in excess of $100 million was categorised as ultra high net worth, that in the range of $1 million and $100 million was put in the category of high net worth.
  • Affluent referred to an individual with wealth between $2,50,000 and $1 million. Interestingly, almost 70% of India’s personal financial wealth was in liquid assets such as equities, currencies and bonds.
  • The global personal financial wealth rose 12% in 2017 to $201.9 trillion in dollar terms, which was roughly 2.5 times the word’s gross domestic product for the year at $81 trillion.
  • According to BCG, it was the highest annual growth rate in the past five years and was largely driven by bull market environment in all major economies and significant strengthening of most major currencies against the dollar.

Labour & Employment

ESIC wins ‘ISSA GOOD Practice Award, Asia & the Pacific 2018’

What

  • The Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) has won the ‘ISSA Good Practice Award’ for Administrative Solution for Coverage Extension at the “Regional Social Security Forum for Asia and the Pacific” held at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia recently.

Connect to the award

  • The award recognizes the measures taken by ESIC for extension of coverage-SPREE (Scheme for Promoting Registration of Employers and Employees), reduced rate of contribution rates for 24 months in newly implemented areas and raising the wage limit for coverage under the ESI Act, etc.

Connect to the forum

  • The Regional Social Security Forum for Asia and the Pacific is a triennial Forum, which is the most important social security event in the Region.
  • For the triennial Regional Forum, ISSA invites submissions for the ISSA Good Practices Award for Asia and the Pacific Regions.
  • The Forum provides unique opportunities to CEOs and Managers of ISSA Member Institutions to discuss key social security challenges and share their experiences.

Connect to ISSA

  • The ISSA (International Social Security Association) is the principal international organization for Social Security Organizations, Govts. and Departments of Social Security.
  • The ISSA, founded in 1927 under the auspices of the International Labour Organization (ILO), Geneva, promotes excellence in social security administration through professional guidelines, expert knowledge, services and support to enable its Members to develop dynamic social security systems.
  • The ESI Corporation hosts ISSA Liaison Office for South Asia at New Delhi.
  • The Liasion Office coordinates with the Member countries and Social Security Institutions in Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Iran on activities of ISSA related to social security.

Ministry of Finance

National Housing Bank (NHB decides to increase the Refinance Limit from Rs. 24,000 crore to Rs.30,000 crore

What

  • National Housing Bank (NHB has decided to increase the Refinance limit to Rs.30,000 crore. Now, eligible Housing Finance Companies & Other entities will have increased availability of funds.
  • National Housing Bank had set an initial limit to sanction Rs. 24,000 crore this year (July 2018-June 2019) towards refinancing eligible institutions.
  • This refinancing is a credit flow to Housing Finance Companies & other Institutions.

Connect to NHB

  • National Housing Bank (NHB) is the Principal Agency to promote Housing Finance Institutions, currently 97 in number, and to provide financial support to eligible institutions. As a regulator, National Housing Bank regularly monitors the liquidity position of Housing Finance Companies.

Nobel memorial prize in Economic Sciences