02, January 2018

Bharatmala Pariyojana

  • India’s largest ever highways development programme that promises to optimize the efficiency of road traffic movement across the country by bridging critical infrastructure gaps. In the area of road safety too, we witnessed a slight decrease in the number of road accidents.
  • This is a new umbrella program for the highways sector that aims to optimize the efficiency of road traffic movement across the country by bridging critical infrastructure gaps. Special attention has been paid to fulfilling the connectivity needs of areas of economic activity, places of religious and tourist interest, border areas, backward and tribal areas, coastal areas and trade routes with neighbouring countries under the programme. Multi-modal integration is one of the key focuses of this programme.

INAM-Pro+:

  • Ministry of Road Transport and Highways developed a web portal INAM-Pro as the Platform for Infrastructure and Materials Providers. The Portal was formally launched on 10.03.2015.
  • Initially, INAM-Pro included only the cement sellers and buyers. 36 Cement Companies with 151 plants located all over India got registered on the portal. This made the comparison of prices, availability of materials etc. quite convenient for the prospective buyers i.e. Government Contractors. It reduced the time & effort in preparation of proposals and bid submissions etc. INAM-Pro has since increased efficiency in the procurement of construction materials as one can place orders, obtain price quotes and track them in a swift manner. The publicly visible prices have promoted transparency and enhanced ease of doing business.

 

1.Central Pension Accounting Office (CPAO) celebrated its 29th Foundation Day

Source: PIB

The Central Pension Accounting Office (CPAO) celebrated here today its 29th Foundation Day in the service of the Central (Civil) Pensioners.

Key facts:

  • CPAO (website www.cpao.nic.in) was established on 1st January, 1990; primarily to cater to the needs of central civil pensioners and other stakeholders in the Ministries/ Departments and Banks.
  • The Central (Civil) pensions are authorized through Central Pension Accounting Office (CPAO) functioning under the Controller General of Accounts (CGA).
  • CPAO is administering the ‘Scheme for Payment of Pensions to Central Government Civil Pensioners by Authorized Banks (both Public Sector and some Private sector Banks).

Functions:

  • Its functions include, issue of Special Seal Authorisations (SSAs) for pension payments to Authorised Banks, preparation of budget for the Pension Grant and accounting thereof, reconciliation with and performance review of banks with respect to pension payments and disbursements & maintenance of the database of the Central Civil Pensioners etc.

Objectives:

  • CPAO was created with the primary objective of simplifying procedure and reducing the number of agencies for pension payment and to expedite the process of authorization, revision and transfer of pension through Authorized Banks.
  • The working of CPAO is fully computerized and it maintains a database of over 12 lakh Central (Civil) pensioners through Pension Authorisation, Retrieval and Accounting System (PARAS).
  • These pensioners are being provided pension related services by the CPAO through more than 70,788 paying bank branches all over the country.
  • CPAO has Pension Tracking System to check the latest status of the pension processing and SMS facility is also being provided to the pensioners at each stage.
  • CPAO has taken many steps under Digital India Mission like e-Scroll, e-SSA, e-PPO project etc. to reduce the paper movement and creation of digital record of the Special Seal Authorities (SSAs), PPO (Pension Payment Order) etc.
  • CPAO is also handling the grievances of the Central (Civil) Pensioners through its Grievance Redressal Mechanism which includes Web Responsive Pensioners Service (WRPS) facilitating information to pensioners on pension payments, facility to view and download latest orders and special seal authorities (SSAs) issued by CPAO among others.

More details: http://doe.gov.in/page_cpao

2.World Class Research Facilities

Source: PIB

Government is focused on improving quality of education and research in Higher Education Institutions.

  • Joint Research Programmes are being taken with countries like USA, UK, Israel, Norway and New Zealand, Special Scheme for Faculty Development to provide an opportunity to teachers to pursue academic/research activities, establishment of Inter University Centers (IUCs) that provide state-of-the art equipments and facilities.

Government of India has introduced various schemes like:

  1. Uchhatar Avishkar Yojana (UAY): The objectives of UAY scheme are
  • To promote innovation in IITs addressing issues of manufacturing industries;
  • To spur innovative mindset;
  • To co-ordinate action between academia & industry and
  • To strengthen labs & research facilities.
  1. Impacting Research, Innovation and Technology (IMPRINT): The objectives of this initiative is
  • To identify areas of immediate relevance to society requiring innovation,
  • Direct scientific research into identified areas,
  • Ensure higher funding support for research into these areas and measure outcomes of the research effort with reference to impact on the standard of living in the rural/urban areas.
  • Under the scheme the proposals are to be funded 50% by MHRD and 50% by other Ministries/ Departments/ Industries/ alumni/ other non-MHRD sources.
  1. Setting up of Research Parks in IITs: Five new Research Parks at IIT Delhi, IIT Guwahati, IIT Kanpur, IIT Hyderabad, and IISc Bangalore at a total cost of Rs.75.00 crore each have been approved by the Government.
  2. Quality Improvement Programme (QIP): To upgrade the expertise and capabilities of the faculty members of the degree and diploma level institutions in the country.
  3. Margdarshan: Institutions of repute as a mentor within an existing facility to serve as the hub to guide and disperse knowledge to and between technical institutions to encourage best practices.
  4. SWAYAM, an indigenous On-line Education platform has been launched on 9th July 2017.
  • Through this platform courses in teachers training and other subjects both at the graduate and post-graduate level are offered.
  • The platform is successfully achieving the objective.
  1. GIAN: Govt. of India approved a new program titled Global Initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN) in Higher Education aimed at tapping the talent pool of scientists and entrepreneurs, internationally to encourage their engagement with the institutes of Higher Education in India so as to augment the country’s existing academic resources, accelerate the pace of quality reform, and elevate India’s scientific and technological capacity to global excellence.

3. e challan and m parivahan- Ministry of Road Transport & Highways

Features of E-Challan App

  • It is an integrated enforcement solution to manage traffic violations through an Android-based mobile app and back-end web application, for use by the Transport Enforcement Wing and Traffic Police. 
  • It will help in improving transparency by connecting all stakeholders through a common system.
  • It will also help in easing operations and efficient monitoring through digitization of records.
  • It will enhance the visibility of offenders, leading to better traffic management.

Features of m-parivahan

  • It is a citizen-centric app that will facillitate access to various transport-related services. 
  • It will provide a virtual driving licence and registration certificates through back-end connection to the transport national register.
  • In m-parivahan, if a vehicle number is entered into the app, it will give full details of the car and the owner, including his driving licence and registration certificate.
  • It will help to check the genuineness of a vehicle’s ownership and driver and help in passenger safety when hiring a driver or when buying a second-hand vehicle.
  • It aims at improving not only the law and order in India but also making transport transactions more clear and transparent.
  • The app will also encourage “good Samaritans” through Digital technology. They can report accidents by clicking pictures and reporting to traffic authorities in states and to road transport organizations, with the option of hiding their identity.

Expected Benefits of e-challan and m-parivahan

  • Usually, travellers come across happenings which need to be reported. It could be accidents where help is required. Here, m-parivahan app can aid people in reporting the law breakers and ensuring that they are punished.
  • The users can click a picture of the accident and upload it to the Minitry account through the m-parivahan app.
  • m-parivahan app will be updated to have a complete registry of each and every vehicle with its details. Using this, purcahsers of second hand vehicles can easily check whether the information provided to them was accurate or not.
  • Purchaser can check the age of the vehicle, driver details of the vehicle. It will help users to be safe from frauds.
  • Using e-challan and m-payments apps, traffic police can issue digital challans to the law breakers and keep a track of all the vilolations.
  • Every officer will have access to all the violaters.
  • Online license will make it easy to check the details of the vehicle and there will be no need for the driver to keep physical documents with him/her.

Year End Review: http://pib.nic.in/PressReleaseIframePage.aspx?PRID=1514868

4.‘NARI’ for women empowerment – e-Samvad portal for NGOs and Civil Societies

Source: PIB

Empowerment and welfare of women and children is top priority of the government, NARI and e-Samvad portals are initiatives in this direction

The Government – both Central and State – has implemented a number of schemes & legislations for women to provide them equal rights, economic opportunities, social support, legal aid, housing etc. However, there is often a lack of awareness of these provisions and difficulties in accessing their benefits.

  • For example, many are unaware that One Stop Centres are available in 168 districts for women in difficult circumstances, PM Awas Yojana gives priority to registraton of homes in the name of women and many State Governments offer financial support for the education of girl children. However, information related to women centric schemes/legislations are all scattered on different websites/portals.

Key facts:

NARI

NARI will provide information to women on issues affecting their lives.

  • There are tips on good nutrition, suggestions for health check ups, information on major diseases, tips for job search and interview, investment and savings advice, information on crimes and against women and reporting procedures, contacts of legal aid cells, simplified adoption procedures and much more.
  • It will endow women with the power of information to build their life skills and facilitates them in taking full advantage of the services provided by the Government for them.

e-Samvad portal

  • e-Samvad portal, NGOs and civil society can provide their feedback, suggestions, put up grievances, share best practices etc. Senior Officers within MWCD will be able to view the inputs/suggestions received for their concerned subject areas and appropriately respond to NGOs.
  • This will help in formulation of effective policies and measures for welfare of women and children.

5.Nagaland declared as ‘disturbed area’ for 6 more months

Source: The Hindu

The entire Nagaland has been declared as “disturbed area” for six more months, till June- end, under the controversial AFSPA, which empowers security forces to conduct operations anywhere and arrest anyone without any prior notice.

  • In a gazette notification, the Union Home Ministry said it is of the opinion that the area comprising the whole of Nagaland is in such a “disturbed and dangerous condition” that use of armed forces in aid of the civil power is necessary.

Key facts:

  • Now, therefore, in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 3 of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (No. 28 of 1958), the central government hereby declares that whole of the said State to be a ‘disturbed area’ for a period of six months with effect from December 30, 2017 for the purpose of that Act
  • The decision to continue the declaration of Nagaland as “disturbed area” has been taken as killings, loot and extortion have been going in various parts of the state which necessitated the action for the convenience of the security forces operating there.

Background:

  • The framework agreement came after over 80 rounds of negotiations spanning 18 years with the first breakthrough in 1997 when the ceasefire agreement was sealed after decades of insurgency in Nagaland.
  • There have been demands from various organisations in the Northeast as well as in Jammu and Kashmir for repealing the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), which, they say, gives “sweeping powers” to security forces.

6.ISRO to launch 31 satellites in one go aboard PSLV

Source: The Hindu

IRNSS-1H was India’s first satellite actively built by private firms. IRNSS-1H failure is only the first one involving a PSLV in 24 years (First PSLV mission after failure of IRNSS-1H)

  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) it would launch 31 satellites, including India’s Cartosat-2 series earth observation space craft, in a single mission on January 10.
  • The mission will be the first ‘Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle’ (PSLV) mission after the unsuccessful launch of the navigation satellite IRNSS-1H in August this year.

Key facts:

  • The mission’s main payload would be India’s Cartosat-2 series earth observation satellite. The high-profile Mission Readiness Review committee and Launch Authorisation Board is scheduled to meet soon to take the final call.
  • PSLV-C40 will be used for the launch from the spaceport in Andhra Pradesh’s Sriharikota, about 100 kilometres from Chennai.
  • The mission would be a combination of 28 nano satellites from abroad, including Finland and the U.S., one micro and one nano satellite from India along with one Cartosat satellite, the official said.
  • On August 31, India’s mission to launch its backup navigation satellite IRNSS-1H on board PSLV-C39 was unsuccessful after a technical snag on the final leg.

In February this year, PSLV-C37 launched the first Cartosat-2 series satellite along with 103 co-passenger satellites in a single flight

CARTOSAT-2 Series Satellite

  • The Cartosat-2 series satellite is the primary satellite carried by PSLV-C34. This satellite is similar to the earlier Cartosat-2, 2A and 2B. After its injection into a 505 km polar Sun Synchronous Orbit by PSLV-C34, the satellite was brought to operational configuration following which it will begin providing regular remote sensing services using Panchromatic and Multi-spectral cameras.
  • The imagery of Cartosat-2 series satellite will be useful cartographic applications, urban and rural applications, coastal land use and regulation, utility management like road network monitoring, water distribution, creation of land use maps, precision study, change detection to bring out geographical and manmade features and various other Land Information System (LIS) and Geographical Information System (GIS) applications.

7.Endo-atmospheric interceptor missile successfully tested

Source: The Hindu

India successfully test-fired an Advanced Air Defence (AAD) interceptor missile, capable of destroying enemy ballistic missiles at low altitude, from a test range in Odisha.

  • The missile is being developed as part the Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) system and it was the third successful test this year.

Low altitude

  • The endo-atmospheric interceptor made a direct hit with the incoming missile at an altitude of 15 km, completely destroying it.
  • The missile is at the terminal stage of its flight and is at maximum velocity. The endo-atmospheric missile is capable of intercepting missiles at altitudes of 15-30 km.
  • The BMD consists of two interceptor missiles, the Prithvi Defence Vehicle (PDV) for exo-atmospheric ranges and the Advanced Area Defence (AAD) missile for endo-atmosphere or lower altitudes

What is a Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) system?

  • A Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) is a system that is designed to intercept and destroy an incoming ballistic missile on its trajectory much before it approaches the target.
  • Theoretically, a hostile missile can be intercepted at the launch point, mid-course (flight through space), or terminal phase (during atmospheric descent).

Indian Ballistic Missile Defence Programme

  • India has a two-tier homegrown interceptor missiles system to block hostile aerial attacks.
  • The double-tiered system consists of Prithvi Defence Vehicle (PDV), capable of destroying incoming targets at high altitude, while the Advanced Air Defence (AAD) Missile for lower altitude interception.
  • The system is designed so that incoming missiles can be tracked and destroyed both inside (endo) and outside (exo) the earth’s atmosphere.
  • Prior to PDV, the Prithvi Air Defence (PAD) missile was tested in November 2006, followed by the AAD in December 2007. While the PDV is designed to take out the target missile at altitudes above 150 km, the AAD is an endo-atmospheric interceptor that can engage hostile missiles at an altitude of 30 km.
  • The DRDO has two phases of the BMD systems. Phase-I of BMD system is geared towards tackling enemy missiles with a 2,000-km range. Phase-II will enable interception of missiles in 5,000-km range. Phase 1 of India’s BMD is said to be ready for deployment in major cities. Phase -2 will be ready in a couple of years.

Components of India’s BMD:

  • Prithvi Defence Vehicle Prithvi Air Defence or PAD interceptor is a two-stage missile with interception altitude ranging between 50-80 km.
  • Advanced Air Defence Advanced Air Defence or AAD interceptor is a single-stage, solid-fuelled missile capable of intercepting an incoming missile at around 30 km.

8.New endemic ants from the Andamans

Source: The Hindu

  • There’s more to the Andamans than magical beaches and colourful corals. Scientists have discovered two new ant species of the genus Tetramorium in the evergreen forests of the archipelago.
  • Scientists of the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), Bengaluru and the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University, Japan have discovered the new species Tetramorium krishnani and Tetramorium jarawa during a detailed island-wide survey of Havelock Island, a part of the Andaman archipelago.
  • The species are named in honour of late scientist K.S. Krishnan of the NCBS, and after the Jarawas, an indigenous people of the islands, who are thought to have inhabited the islands for at least several thousand years.

Havelock Island:

  • Havelock is a picturesque natural paradise with beautiful white sandy beaches, rich coral reefs and lush green forest. It is one of the populated islands in the Andaman group with an area of 113 sq. km. and is located 39 km of north-east of Port Blair.
  • This island, with beautiful sandy beaches fringed with green canopy of the rain-fed forests beckons

9.IUCN Red list categories

Source: The Hindu

According to the updated IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) red list, here are the species that were marked as “EXTINCT”.

  1. Christmas Island Pipistrelle: This small bat found exclusively on Christmas Island, Australia was listed as critically endangered last year. Predation, loss of habitat, and diseases were pointed out as causes for its extinction.
  2. Christmas Island Whiptail-skink: Another species endemic to Christmas Island, this lizard went extinct this year. Non-native predators and insecticide poisoning drove it over the edge.
  3. Christmas Island chained gekho: The species is listed as extinct in the wild, which means it is now found only in a captive breeding programme.
  4. Gunthers Dwarf Burrowing skink: Though no record of the skink has been made for more than 125 years, this native of South Africa was officially confirmed to be extinct only this year.

Here are the species that are under a high risk of extinction in the near future. According to the updated list, they are placed under the “critically endangeredcategory.

  1. Western Ringtail Possum: The number for this species has declined by almost 80 per cent in the past 10 years. Australia’s increasingly dry and hot climate has led to its dramatic decline.
  2. Yellow-breasted Bunting: Loss of roosting site and use of pesticides are major causes of their its decline.
  3. Plains Wanderer : Exposure to pesticides, habitat loss, predation by foxes have all affected the survival of this small quail-like bird
  4. Green Poison Frog, Perret’s Toad, and Rose’s Mountain Toad are also listed as critically endangered.

From endangered to “vulnerable”

  1. Snow Leopard: Setting up of protected areas, anti-poaching measures, vaccination have helped save the mountain species of Asia.
  2. North Brown Kiwi & Okarito Kiwi: Conservation efforts by the Australian Government and captive breeding has aided the change in their status.
  3. Aberdare cisticola : Their status of this Kenyan warbler bird was changed after re-assessment in its habitat
  4. Ouvea Parakeet: Native to Ouvea Island of France, conservation efforts by local population has helped increase its population.

Happy Tortoise Story:

  • The duncanensis which was termed ‘extinct in the wild’ last year has recovered fully-thanks to conservationists. A native to the Pinzon Island in Equador, it faced constant trouble from non-native rats who feed on its eggs. In order to save these endemic species of the island, conservationists started captive breeding programme and a rat eradication programme which proved a huge success and now the tortoise is down listed as vulnerable.

10. What are bosons and how did they get their name?

Source: The Hindu

Festivities began today to commemorate the 125th birthday of the famous physicist Satyendra Nath Bose, who was born this day in 1894.

  • Bose’s name was very much in the news when CERN discovered the Higgs boson a few years back. Many reports pointed out and celebrated the fact that that the word “boson” in “Higgs boson” had been coined from Bose’s surname.
  • The Higgs boson is not the only particle, however, to enjoy this honour, and there is in fact a whole class of elementary particles that share a group name – boson.

Key facts:

  • Think of the many particles you have heard of, such as electron, proton, neutron, neutrino, and photon. All the particles in this list, except the photon, are so-called matter particles. The photon, on the other hand, is a quantum, or tiny bundle, of the electromagnetic field.
  • The relation between matter particles and field quanta is simple — Matter particles interact with each other by exchanging the appropriate field quanta.
  • One fundamental difference between matter particles and field quanta is that while you can squeeze in as many field quanta into a small volume, you cannot do so with matter. To see this, just try sitting close to another person – there is a limit to how close you can get. This is because the electrons, protons etc in our bodies resist being stacked on top of each other. The same is not the case with field quanta, which can be as closely packed as needed.
  • This essential difference has to be tackled when we look at systems of identical particles, for instance, collections of electrons or photons. The difference manifests in the statistical properties of the many particle system. Matter particles such as electrons, protons etc obey what is known as the Fermi-Dirac statistics and hence are known as ‘Fermions’. Field quanta, for instance, obey what is called Bose-Einstein Statistics and are collectively called ‘Bosons’.

Why call them bosons?

  • Now, why are these particles known as bosons? It was Bose who actually figured out (in the specific case of photons) how a group of identical photons would behave. He was interested in reproducing, mathematically, Planck’s law of radiation using only quantum mechanical ideas. He employed a technique in this calculation that laid the foundation of quantum statistics. He then sent his paper to Albert Einstein who recognized the value of his calculation and had the paper translated into German and published in the journal Zeitschrift fur Physik. This paper turned out to a seminal one and the technique used by Bose goes under the name of Bose-Einstein Statistics and the particles such as photons that obey these statistics are called bosons.
  • While Bose himself did not realise the enormous breakthrough he had made, Einstein did, and he took Bose’s work much further. Physicist Paul Dirac was the first to use the term “boson” to describe the particles that obeyed Bose-Einstein statistics, in order to celebrate Bose’s contribution to developing this theory.

 



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