Daily Current Affairs

Prelims Prominence - September 23, 2017

NITI Aayog

NITI Aayog’s – SATH (launched in ASSAM)

What

  • National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog’s SATH (Sustainable Action for Transforming Human capital)

Launched in -

  • in Guwahati, Assam.

Objective -

  • The SATH program aims to provide structured support to Assam in identifying key health priorities and implement the solutions towards transforming the health and improving the well-being of people of state.

Enlighten about SATH program

  • The vision of SATH program is to initiate transformation in education and health sectors.
  • It embodies the philosophy of co-operative federalism to addresses the need expressed by many states for technical support from NITI Aayog.
  • The program will be implemented by NITI along with McKinsey & Company and IPE Global consortium, who were selected through a competitive bidding process.
  • SATH Program aims to build three selected states viz. Assam, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka as future ‘role model’ states for health systems.

Government Schemes

Deendayal Hastkala Sankul

Inaugurated by

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi

What it is –

  • A trade facilitation centre and Crafts Museum for handicrafts at Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh.

Origin –

  • The centre and Crafts Museum was proposed by Union Finance Minister in his 2014-15 Budget speech to develop and promote handlooms, handicrafts and silk product

Enlighten about Deendayal Hastkala Sankul

  • The centre will facilitate weavers/artisans/exporters in promotion of handlooms and handicrafts in both domestic and international markets.
  • Crafts Museum at the centre will preserve traditional handloom/handicrafts products of Varanasi and showcase handloom & handicraft products.
  • The centre will help to promote rich traditional craft of ancient Varanasi. It will provide enabling platform and environment to showcase Indian handloom and handicrafts.
  • It will provide supply chain linkages to domestic and foreign buyers.
  • It will give thrust to domestic and international tourism.
  • It will also give boost to trade and economic development of Varanasi as well as eastern parts of country

Health Reforms

Dentists (Amendment) Bill, 2017

  • The Union Cabinet has approved introduction of Dentists (Amendment) Bill, 2017 in Parliament.
  • The Bill seeks to amend the Dentists Act, 1948 to include certain modifications in order to reduce the redundancy.
  • The amendment in Act include modifications in provisions of Membership of Dental Council of India under clause (f) of section 3 of parent Act Membership of State and Joint State Dental Councils under clause (b) of section 21 and clause (b) of section 23 of parent Act

Background of the issue -

  • According to provision in Dentists Act, 1948, it was mandatory to have representation of dentists registered in Part B as Central Government nominees in Dental Council of India.
  • Moreover, it also required election of four to two members from Part B to State/Joint State Dental Councils.
  • However, in recent time this provision has lost its relevance.
  • In order to reduce redundancy of provisions of their representation, Central Government has decided to delete these provisions so that their representation does not remain mandatory any more

Bilateral Relations

Nuclear Plant in Bangaladesh

  • India is collaborating with Russia to build Rooppur nuclear power plant in Bangladesh.
  • It will be first initiative under an India-Russia nuclear deal to undertake atomic energy projects in third countries.
  • It will also be India’s first atomic energy venture abroad.
  • Rooppur Nuclear project (capacity of 2*1200 MWs)
  • It is Bangladesh’s first atomic energy project. It is being built with Russia’s help near Dhaka.
  • After commissioning of two units, each with capacity of 1200 MWs, Bangladesh will be third South Asian country after India and Pakistan to harness atomic energy for energy purpose.

Background

  • In December 2014, India and Russia had signed ‘Strategic Vision for Strengthening Cooperation in Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy’ to explore opportunities for sourcing materials, equipment and services from Indian industry for construction of Russian-designed nuclear power plants in third countries.
  • Moreover, India had signed a civil nuclear cooperation deal, along with two more agreements, with Bangladesh in April 2017 under which two sides can supply and manufacture equipment, material for atomic power plant.

Some more facts -

  • The nuclear deal with Bangladesh allows Indian nuclear establishment to grow, internationally as for years it was not been able to grow due to sanctions imposed on New Delhi post 1974 Pokhran tests.
  • However, it is not clear what kind of nuclear collaboration India is having with Bangladesh since both countries are not members of Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), an elite grouping of 48 members that prevent nuclear proliferation by controlling export of materials, equipment and technology that can be used to manufacture nuclear weapons.

Banking

Peer-to-peer lending (P2P) platforms will be treated as non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) – RBI

  • The Union Government has issued gazette notification, notifying that Peer-to-peer lending (P2P) platforms will be treated as non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) and thus regulated by Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
  • The notification will help P2P lenders to gain official recognition and opens new avenues for fund-raising and business expansion
  • It also ends the regulatory vacuum in which P2P lending firms were operating.

Background

  • The RBI had formulated a consultation paper in April 2016 on developing regulatory norms for P2P lending.
  • It had proposed 6 key areas to frame regulatory framework encompassing permitted activity, regulations on capital, governance, business continuity plan and customer interface and regulatory reporting of P2P lending.

Peer-To-Peer Lending (P2P)

  • P2P lending is a form of crowd-funding used to raise loans which are paid back with interest.
  • It enables individuals to borrow and lend money – without use of an social financial institution as an intermediary.
  • It can use an online platform that matches lenders with borrowers in order to provide unsecured loans.
  • P2P lending gives access to credit to borrowers who are unable to get it through traditional

International Pacts

50 nations ink UN nuclear ban treaty opposed by big powers

  • Fifty countries recently signed a treaty to ban nuclear weapons, a pact that the world’s nuclear powers spurned but supporters hailed as a historic agreement nonetheless.

Enlighten about it -

  • In July 2017, the United Nations adopted the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which bans and makes it illegal to possess, use, produce, transfer, acquire, stockpile or deploy nuclear weapons.
  • This was the culmination of 10 years of preparation by many national and international organizations.
  • It was signed and approved by 122 of the 123 participant nations, representing two-thirds of the nations in the UN.
  • Interestingly, none of the nuclear weapons nations participated.

Enlighten about the treaty

  • The treaty prohibits a full range of nuclear-weapon related activities, such as undertaking to develop, test, produce, manufacture, acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices
  • Under its terms, non-nuclear nations agreed not to pursue nukes in exchange for a commitment by the five original nuclear powers the U.S., Russia, Britain, France and China to move toward nuclear disarmament and to guarantee other states’ access to peaceful nuclear technology for producing energy.
  • This is the most significant multilateral development on nuclear arms control since the adoption of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1968. It has to be ratified by 50 countries to come into force.

Reason of being opposed

  • Nuclear powers argue their arsenals serve as a deterrent against a nuclear attack and say they remain committed to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
  • They said a purported ban on nuclear weapons that does not address the security concerns which continue to make nuclear deterrence necessary cannot result in the elimination of a single nuclear weapon and will not enhance any country’s security, nor international peace and security.

In favour of this treaty –

  • Supporters of the treaty argue that new treaty will close a “legal gap” that exists regarding nuclear weapons, which are not expressly outlawed by the NPT even though their use would be contrary to the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict.
  • They argue that the CPNW initiative reinforces the NPT and the requirement in Article VI for nuclear disarmament and that it can reduce the salience nuclear weapons and help prompt more urgent action to reduce nuclear risk and promote disarmament.

Environment

B4’ – the ‘Brahmaputra Biodiversity and Biology Boat’

  • The Centre plans to safeguard the fast-eroding Majuli island — Asia’s largest riverine island — using research carried out on floating ‘B4’ boat labs along the Brahmaputra river.

Implementing body –

  • Department of Biotechnology

Enlighten about it –

  • ‘B4’ – the ‘Brahmaputra Biodiversity and Biology Boat’, work on which will commence by December, will initially cover the region from Pasighat, Dibrigargh, Neemati, Tejpur and Guwahati in the state of Assam, said officials at the Department of Biotechnology.
  • The department has set aside Rs. 50 crore as an initial investment on the project.
  • The large barge (or boat) which will be set up on the river will be a “well-equipped laboratory” with cold storage facilities for holding samples, along with multiple satellite boats or rafts that will venture into shallower and narrower parts of the river to lift samples.
  • The large boat with the permanent lab will be spread over two floors and will go up and down the river. One floor will be dedicated to scientists, while the other floor will be accessible to residents of the area to learn about the eco-system. The idea is to study the changes caused by dams, climate change, human interventions and the eventual effects it has on the river eco-system.
  • The project will “constantly monitor” the impact of various environmental and anthropological factors that affect the river and conduct research to mitigate the effects.
  • The interdisciplinary focus, the work plan for which is developed with IIT Guwahati as the nodal agency, will also aim at a thorough study of freshwater resources of North East India. The integrated approach is aimed to combine data, science and judgement that can impact policy.

Enlighten about Majulis –

  • Majuli, the first island district of the country, was once 1200 square kilometres but due to excessive erosion has since shrunk to under 500 square kilometres.
  • It is also known for being the seat of Assam’s Vaishnava monasteries.
  • Despite supporting considerable biodiversity, the Brahmaputra has not been studied as extensively as the Amazon.

Science & Tech

India joins quantum computing race

  • The Department of Science and Technology (DST) is planning to fund a project to develop quantum computers. India joins quantum computing race

Quantum computing

  • First proposed in the 1970s, quantum computing relies on quantum physics by taking advantage of certain quantum physics properties of atoms or nuclei that allow them to work together as quantum bits, or qubits, to be the computer’s processor and memory.
  • By interacting with each other while being isolated from the external environment, qubits can perform certain calculations exponentially faster than conventional computers.

How it works

  • A quantum computer, still largely a theoretical entity, employs the principles of quantum mechanics to store information in ‘qubits’ instead of the typical ‘bits’ of 1 and 0.
  • Qubits work faster because of the way such circuits are designed, and their promise is that they can do intensive number-crunching tasks much more efficiently than the fastest comparable computers.

What next -

  • Commercial production of quantum computers that would process information faster than today’s supercomputers is still some time away.
  • The industry first has to solve hardware issues in quantum technology, according to an expert.
  • Quantum theory represents the smallest scales and shapes of matter, describing the behaviour of subatomic particles like electrons, protons, neutrons and photons.