03, March 2018

1.Global Status Report 2017

Source: The Hindu

The ‘Global Status Report 2017: Towards a zero-emission, efficient, and resilient buildings and construction sector,’ published by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), has listed the Energy Management Centre (EMC), an autonomous institution under the Kerala government campus, as one of the recent achievements in the deployment of key technologies for energy-efficiency in buildings.

Key facts:

  • The EMC campus uses daylighting controls, CFC-free heating, ventilation and cooling systems, along with a halogen-free fire-fighting system. Solar reflectance index coating, combined with high-albedo painting and turbo-vents for passive cooling, has been used, and tropical rainforest trees help create cool surroundings.
  • Only certified green construction materials, recycled wood boards, low-emitting paints and adhesives, and green-plus certified carpets have been used. Built with assistance from the Global Environment Fund, the EMC campus is the only LEED Gold certified building in the government sector in Kerala.
  • EMC is the only one from India to figure in the list, along with five other projects worldwide. The other five projects recognised by the UNEP include the Sierra Crest development in Fontana, California, the Association of Nubian Vaults in Sub-Saharan Africa, a construction and demolition waste recycling project in Paris, the Palm Tree eco-development project in Hanoi, Vietnam, and the Higashi-Matsushima Smart ecotown in northern Japan.
  • Building-related carbon emissions have been rising by around 1% per year since 2010, and more than four million deaths are attributable to illness from household air pollution.

2.Social security scheme

Source: The Hindu

The labour ministry has proposed a comprehensive social security system to provide retirement, health, oldage, disability, unemployment and maternity benefits to 50 crore workers in the country.

The scheme:

  • The scheme will be implemented in three phases over 10 years, after which the government hopes to make it universal. The scheme will be implemented in four tiers with the government wholly financing the cost for people below the poverty line.
  • The first phase of the scheme will cost Rs 18,500 crore. The first phase will see all workers getting the bare minimum, which includes health security and retirement benefits. The second phase will see unemployment benefits being added to it while in the third phase, other welfare measures can be added.

Funding:

  • The scheme will be largely funded from the Building and Construction Worker Cess and funds allocated to other scattered schemes through the National Stabilisation Fund set up for the purpose.
  • Its implementation would be regulated and monitored by an overarching regulatory body called the National Social Security Council to be chaired by the prime minister with finance minister, health minister and chief ministers of all states along with workers and employers as its members.

 Classification of workers:

  • The 50 crore beneficiaries will be classified into four tiers.
  • The first tier will comprise destitute and people below poverty line who cannot contribute for their security and hence the cost will be entirely borne by the government under tax-based schemes.
  • Workers in the unorganised sector who have some contributory power but are not self-sufficient may be covered under the subsidised schemes in the second tier.
  • The third tier of beneficiaries will include those who either by themselves or jointly with their employers can make adequate contribution to the schemes, so as to be self-sufficient.
  • The fourth tier will comprise comparatively affluent people who can make their own provisions for meeting the contingencies or risks as they rise.

Social security scheme:

  • India’s total workforce stands at around 500 million. A little over 10% of this is in the organised sector, where workers enjoy social security of some sort under EPFO and ESIC. But a major portion of the total workforce is still in the unorganised sector, where workers do not often get even the minimum wage and lack any kind of social security cover.

3.‘Bomb Cyclone’

Source: The Hindu

A winter storm – also known as a “bomb cyclone” –has slammed into the northeast United States. The storm has roughly 80 million people along its path, with 22 million of those affected by a coastal flood warning.

Bomb cyclone

  • The term is used by meteorologists to indicate a mid-latitude cyclone that intensifies rapidly. A bomb cyclone happens when atmospheric pressure in the middle of the storm drops at least 24 millibars over 24 hours, quickly increasing in intensity. The lower the pressure, the stronger the storm.
  • Deep drops in barometric pressure occur when a region of warm air meets one of cold air. The air starts to move and the rotation of the earth creates a cyclonic effect. The direction is counterclockwise in the Northern hemisphere leading to winds that come out of the northeast.

The difference between hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons

  • Hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons are all tropical storms. They are all the same thing but are given different names depending on where they appear. When they reach populated areas they usually bring very strong wind and rain which can cause a lot of damage.
  • Hurricanes are tropical storms that form over the North Atlantic Ocean and Northeast Pacific. Cyclones are formed over the South Pacific and Indian Ocean. Typhoons are formed over the Northwest Pacific Ocean.

4.Kuthiyottam ritual

Source: The Hindu

The Kuthiyottam ritual is usually performed every year during the Pongala festival at the Attukal Bhagavathy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.

  • The Attukal Pongala festival is the largest congregation of women for a festival in the world. Pongala, which means ‘to boil over’, is a ritual in which women prepare a pudding made from rice, jaggery, coconut and plantains cooked together, and offer it to the goddess. The ritual can only be performed by women.

Issues:

  • Nearly 1,000 young boys undertake a seven-day penance before Pongala day. These boys are said to represent the wounded soldiers of the goddess.
  • The boys have to observe strict discipline and stay inside the temple for seven days. The rigours include sleeping on the floor, strict diet restrictions, and bathing three times a day. They also have to prostrate 1,008 times before the deity.
  • The ritual also reportedly involves piercing the child’s side with a small hook and knotting a thread through it to symbolise their bond with the Goddess.



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