Daily Current Affairs

Prelims Prominence - September 19, 2018

Science and Technology

ISRO to tap small cities for innovations Agartala gets space technology incubation centre

What

  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launched a space technology incubation centre in Tripura capital Agartala
  • It is the first of six such centres planned nationally to build capacity in new locations.

Enlighten about incubation centres

  • More such space research activities will be splashed in a big way across small cities to tap their talent and include them in the space footprint
  • The incubation centre will be located in the National Institute of Technology, Agartala.
  • The space agency’s new Capacity Building Programme directorate will invest ₹2 crore in incubation facilities in Jalandhar, Bhubaneswar, Tiruchi, Nagpur and Indore.
  • The centres will bring out prototypes and innovations for ISRO in electronics, propulsion and others.

Need to boost domestic space market

  • Domestic industry should increase the production of critical electronics items needed in space and other programmes, as 75% of it is now imported
  • Indian space market offers big opportunity to industry as it is estimated to grow to $1.6 billion by 2023.

Environmental challenges

Odisha schoolchildren hit by fluoride contamination

What

  • The potable water sources in as many as 54 schools and anganwadi premises testing for fluoride presence beyond permissible limits.
  • Prolonged consumption of fluoride-contaminated water leads to dental and skeletal fluorosis. Commonly, mottled teeth and crippled backbone and limbs are manifestation of the disease.

Health hazard

  • Consumption of water having fluoride content above 1.5 mg per litre is considered dangerous to health.
  • Laboratory tests certified by the National Rural Drinking Water Programme under the Union Drinking Water and Sanitation Ministry found 5.25 mg per litre fluoride content in water sourced from a tube well in the school.
  • Adverse impact of fluoride contamination is very high on children.
  • Bones in children are in formation stage while fluoride tends to damage bones

Cyber Security

State to set up cyber varsity It will train 3,000 professionals to fight online space attacks, Internet crimes

What

  • The Maharashtra Government has taken the first step towards setting up a varsity dedicated to mitigating cyber threats.
  • The new Cyber University will train 3,000 professionals to fight online space cyber attacks, internet crimes, and conduct cyber forensics.
  • It will also impart training in 15 other Internet of Things (IoT) areas such as Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
  • A team of senior government officials recently visited the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), which monitors cyber attacks in real time, to acquire technical knowhow.
  • CSAIL’s latest system correctly predicts about 85% of the world’s cyber attacks using machine learning and AI.

Enlighten about the courses

  • The University will provide and prepare internet professionals on the lines of the Microsoft Certified Professional Program.
  • The courses will cost less than ₹5 lakh for courses in data analytics, cloud computing, blockchain, AI, cyber forensics and cyber investigations.
  • The current supply of cyber professionals in the country is about a lakh while the demand hovers around 30 lakh.
  • A cyber attack is taking place every 10 minutes as opposed to 12 minutes previously. The varsity will remedy this
  • The government will provide different levels of training and enable affiliated colleges to impart certification for the 15 courses.
  • Maharashtra is already in the process of setting up its version of the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team to ward off external cyber threats.
  • In 2016, the State had even appointed a consortium of M/s C-DAC (Centre for Development of Advanced Computing) and Railtel Corporation of India for the ₹838-crore project.
  • The consortium in its analysis used the same technology as GARUDA, India’s national grid computing initiative, and the Graphics and Intelligence Based Script Technology

Environment, Forest and Climate Change

World Ozone Day India first country in the world to develop document on Cooling Action Plan "Keep Cool and Carry on” : The Montreal Protocol is the theme of 24th World Ozone Day celebrations

What

  • Dr. Harsh Vardhan released the draft India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP) and a booklet on ‘Montreal Protocol – India’s Success Story’.
  • India is the first country in world to develop such a document (ICAP), which addresses cooling requirement across sectors and lists out actions which can help reduce the cooling demand.
  • This will help in reducing both direct and indirect emissions.

ICAP

  • The thrust of the ICAP is to look for synergies in actions for securing both environmental and socio-economic benefits.
  • The overarching goal of ICAP is to provide sustainable cooling and thermal comfort for all while securing environmental and socio-economic benefits for the society.

The broad objectives of the India Cooling Action Plan include –

(i) Assessment of cooling requirements across sectors in next 20 years and the associated refrigerant demand and energy use,
(ii) Map the technologies available to cater the cooling requirement including passive interventions, refrigerant-based technologies and alternative technologies such as not-in-kind technologies,
(iii) Suggest interventions in each sector to provide for sustainable cooling and thermal comfort for all,
(iv) Focus on skilling of RAC service technicians, and
(v) Develop an R&D innovation ecosystem for indigenous development of alternative technologies.

The Montreal Protocol

  • "Keep Cool and Carry on” : The Montreal Protocol is the theme of 24th World Ozone Day celebrations.
  • The Montreal Protocol is the only environmental treaty which enjoys universal ratification of 197 UN numbers countries.
  • The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer has been recognized as the most successful international environment treaty in history.
  • Its implementation has not only led to the phase-out of around 98% of ozone depleting chemicals, but also averted more than 135 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions.
  • Nearly 2 million cases of skin cancer per year have been averted globally.
  • India has consciously chosen a path for most environment-friendly and energy efficient technologies while phasing out Ozone Depleting Substances, unlike many of the developed countries.
  • India is among the few countries globally and a pioneer in some cases, in the use of technologies, which are non-ozone depleting and have low global warming potential.

Banking System

Dena Bank, Vijaya Bank, BoB to merge Aim is to create mega bank which will be sustainable, whose lending ability will be far higher

What

  • The government proposed the amalgamation of state-owned Bank of Baroda (BoB), Dena Bank and Vijaya Bank to create India’s third-largest bank.
  • The move is part of the reforms initiated in the public sector banking segment.
  • The decision was taken at a meeting of a ministerial panel (called Alternative Mechanism), headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, that oversees merger proposals of state-owned banks.
  • The other members of the panel include Railways Minister Piyush Goyal and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
  • The decision on amalgamating the three government banks follows the merger of the five associate banks of State Bank of India with itself.
  • The government had also moved to offload its majority stake in IDBI Bank to Life Insurance Corporation of India.
  • The Alternative Mechanism took the view that aspirations of the fastest-growing economy have to be supported by stronger and globally competitive banks with increased choices to the stakeholders.

International

Germany rolls out world’s first hydrogen-powered train It uses fuel cells that produce electricity through a combination of hydrogen and oxygen

What

  • Germany rolled out the world’s first hydrogen-powered train built by French TGV-maker Alstom
  • It began running a 100 km (62-mile) route between the towns and cities of Cuxhaven, Bremerhaven, Bremervoerde and Buxtehude in northern Germany -- a stretch normally plied by diesel trains.

Zero emission

  • The world’s first hydrogen train is entering into commercial service and is ready for serial production
  • Alstom plans to deliver another 14 of the zero-emissions trains to Lower Saxony by 2021, with other German States also expressing an interest.
  • Hydrogen trains are equipped with fuel cells that produce electricity through a combination of hydrogen and oxygen, a process that leaves steam and water as the only emissions.

A quiet alternative

  • Excess energy is stored in ion lithium batteries on board the train.
  • The Coradia iLint trains can run for around 1,000 km on a single tank of hydrogen, similar to the range of diesel trains.
  • Alstom is betting on the technology as a greener and quieter alternative to diesel on non-electrified railway lines — an attractive prospect to many German cities scrambling to combat air pollution.

Agreements

India signs Financing Loan Agreement with the World Bank for US$ 74 Million for Uttarakhand Workforce Development Project (UKWDP)

What

  • A Loan Agreement for IBRD Credit of US$74 million equivalent for the Uttrakhand Workforce Development Project (UKWDP) was signed with the World Bank

Enlighten about the project

  • The Project objective is to improve the quality and relevance of training at priority Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) and to increase the number of labor-market-relevant workers through short term training in Uttrakhand.
  • The Project has three components: (1) Improving the quality and relevance of ITI Training; (2) Increasing the number of skilled workers certified under National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQE) - Compliant Short Term Training; and (3) Policy and Institutional Development and Project Management.

International Organisations

ITU South Asia Area Office and Technology Innovation Centre to be established in New Delhi

What

  • The ITU South Asia Area Office and Technology Innovation Centre will be established in New Delhi.
  • ITU is a United Nations specialized agency for Information and Communication Technologies, with membership of 193 countries and nearly 800 private sector entities and academic institutions.
  • The establishment of this ITU local area office will be an important milestone for India, as it signifies global recognition of the progress India has made in the field of ICT.
  • It also places on us the responsibility to work with our neighbouring countries to take the benefits of the rapid developments in this technology-driven industry to our people in the South Asia region.’
  • As a member of the ITU since 1869, India has traditionally played a harmonising role in the deliberations and exchanges of the body, always respecting the core principles of equality and consensus-building.
  • The country has also been a regular member of the ITU Council since 1952.

Enlighten about ITU’s South Asia office

  • The ITU South Asia Office will serve nine countries – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Iran, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, in addition to the host country – which together account for nearly 24% of the global population.
  • This local area office will play a key role in organising capacity and capability building programmes for the region, and in accelerating the structured implementation of ITU’s development programs with focus on Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Land-Locked Developed Countries (LLDCs), Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and other similarly placed nations in the region.
  • The ITU Local Area Office will also impart a significant boost to technological reach and benefits for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) which act as catalysts in the inclusive growth of a region’s economy and employment.

Centre – State Relations

Union Home Minister chairs Southern Zonal Council Meeting in Bengaluru

What

  • The 28th meeting of the Southern Zonal Council was held under the Chairmanship the Union Home Minister Shri Rajnath Singh
  • The meeting was attended by the Chief Ministers of Karnataka and Puducherry; Deputy Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu; Finance Ministers of Andhra Pradesh and Kerala Minister Karnataka Minister , Puducherry Minister and Lt. Governor of Andaman & Nicobar Islands

Enlighten about the Zonal Councils

  • The five Zonal Councils (Western, Eastern, Northern, Southern and Center Zonal Councils) were set up under the States Re-organisation Act, 1956 to foster Inter-State cooperation and coordination among the States.
  • The Zonal Councils are mandated to discuss and make recommendations on any matter of common interest in the field of economic and social planning, border disputes, linguistic minorities or inter-State transport etc.
  • They are regional fora of cooperative endeavour for States linked with each other economically, politically and culturally.
  • Being compact high level bodies, specially meant for looking after the interests of respective Zones, they are capable of focusing attention on specific issues taking into account regional factors, while keeping the national perspective in view.

Social Justice

All India Pension Adalat Anubhav Awards 2018 presented to six pensioners

What

  • Inauguration of the ‘Pension Adalat’, organised by the Department of Pension & Pensioners’ Welfare, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Government of India.
  • Pension Adalats will help in on-the-spot redressal of pensioners’ grievances.
  • This has given the right of “Ease of Living” to the pensioners
  • The Grievance Portal for the Central Government pensioners called CPENGRAMS, through which the government has saved huge resources and precious time of the people by using the technology.

Enlighten about the reforms that have been undertaken by the Government to facilitate the pensioners.

  • Fix the minimum pension at Rs 1,000.
  • Initiatives such as Bhavishya, Sankalp, Jeevan Praman-digital life certificates, doing away with the obsolete laws and self-attestation
  • A mechanism has been put in place where pensioner will get PPO on the day of his retirement.

Enlighten about the benefits of Pension Adalats

  • The Pension Adalats are being convened with the objective of bringing on a common table the aggrieved pensioner, the concerned department, the bank or CGHS representative, wherever relevant, so that such cases can be settled across the table within the framework of extant rules.

Third Anubhav Awards-2018

  • Given to six Central Government employees to recognise their contribution to the Anubhav portal which is designed to create an institutional memory for successive generations of Central Government employees.
  • The Anubhav scheme was instituted at the call of the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi in the year 2015.

Science & Technology

Two unique projects including Local Treatment of Urban Sewage Streams for Healthy Reuse project inaugurated

What

  • Union Science & Technology minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan today inaugurated a novel holistic Local Treatment of Urban Sewage Streams for Healthy Reuse (LOTUSHR) project

Why

  • It produces clean water which is reused for various purposes, while simultaneously recovering nutrients and energy from the urban waste water, thus converting the Barapullah drain into profitable mines.
  • This plant, can convert 10 lakh litre of sewage into clean water and generate 3 tonnes of biofuel ,will be scaled up and will become a model for example for the whole world.

Enlighten about The Local Treatment of Urban Sewage Streams for Healthy Reuse (LOTUSHR)

  • LOTUS project is a joint initiative of Indian and Dutch scientists.
  • Around a year back DBT in consultation with DDA identified the Barapullah drain, Sarai Kale Khan, in the state of Delhi for setting up on-site experimental testing lab and for the establishment of a pilot plant.
  • DDA leased to DBT, a land measuring 200 Sq meters for a period of 5 years.
  • The project at the site today demonstrates how science and technology can be leveraged to effectively turn urban waste into profitable mines.

Sources - PIB ,The Hindu , livemint