04, July 2017

1.Sub-Mission on Agricultural Mechanisation (SMAM)

Source: PIB

Union Agriculture and Farmers Welfare: Agricultural mechanisation is one of the important factors for sustainable development of the agricultural sector which helps in increasing production through agricultural works, reducing the deficit, reducing the cost of various agricultural works through the better management of costly inputs, increasing the productivity of natural resources and help reduce the difficulties related to various agricultural activities.

Mission Objectives:

The Mission objectives are as follows:

  • Increasing the reach of farm mechanization to small and marginal farmers and to the regions where availability of farm power is low;
  • Promoting ‘Custom Hiring Centres’ to offset the adverse economies of scale arising due to small landholding and high cost of individual ownership;
  • Creating hubs for hi-tech& high value farm equipments;
  • Creating awareness among stakeholders through demonstration and capacity building activities;
  • Ensuring performance testing and certification at designated testing centers located all over the country.

Central Sector Components

  • Promotion and Strengthening of Agricultural Mechanisation through Training, Testing and Demonstration; and
  • Demonstration, Training and distribution of Post Harvest Technology and Management (PHTM)

Training Beneficiaries:

District nodal agencies will identify and sponsor beneficiaries such as Farmers, Members of SHGs and other entities, rural youth on receipt of training calendar. If required, the training institutions will also invite applications for specific courses from the targeted district under the State AAP. Trainers, Officials of State Governments, Technicians, Entrepreneurs and Manufacturers etc. will apply to the respective institutions for appropriate courses.

SMAM:

  • Union Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister said that the degree of farm mechanisation is expressed as a ratio of mechanical power to cultivable unit area, which in India during last 43 has increased at a very slow pace from 0.48 kW/ha in 1975-76 to 1.84 kW/ha in 2013-14. However, from the year 2014-15 to 2016-17, it has been increased to 2.02 kW/ha which is mainly due to concentrated efforts for promotion of agricultural mechanisation through various schemes of the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation & Farmers Welfare.
  • There has been a record production of food grain this year. However, the demand for food grain is increasing and it has been estimated that by 2025 we have to produce more than 300 million tonnes. According to the 2011 census, 263 million people (54.6%) are engaged in the agriculture sector, which is likely to declined to 190 million (33%) by 2020.
  • The SMAM not only includes the traditional component of training, testing, demonstration of agricultural machinery and procurement subsidy but also includes-Farm Machinery Banks for Custom Hiring, Hi-Tech High Productive Equipments Centres on custom hiring model, and Farm Mechanisation in selected villages for enhancing productivity and creating ownership of appropriate farm equipments among small & marginal farmers.
  • Establishment of Farm Machinery Banks and High-Tech Hub for custom hiring services are supported with financial assistance @40% of the project cost under RKVY and SMAM.

2.Successful Flight Test of QRSAM

Source: PIB

Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) developed Quick Reaction Surface to Air Missile (QRSAM) was successfully flight tested from ITR Chandipur, off the Odisha Coast.

  • All the technologies and subsystems incorporated in the missile have performed well, meeting all the mission requirements. All the Radars, Electro Optical Systems, Telemetry Systems and other stations have tracked the Missile and monitored all the Parameters. The Missile test met all the objectives.

Quick Reaction Surface to Air Missile (QR-SAM)- The second test of the QRSAM

  • The QR-SAM is an all-weather weapon system capable of tracking and firing and has a strike range of 20 to 30 kms.
  • QRSAM is also a vital component in India’s “Cold Start” Doctrine which will ensure the safety of forward Army formations in Enemy territories.
  • QRSAM and Man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS) are only surface-to-air missile systems that are capable and also is highly mobile to move with strike corps deep into Pakistani territory to destroy selected targets.
  • QRSAM Air Defence System has a Surveillance and target tracking systems, Command and Control Systems, Missile launchers which can provide Air Defence coverage while on the move.
  • Missiles have a reaction time of fewer than 6 Seconds once launch command of the missile is issued to the missile launcher. The missile system can engage multiple targets within a range from 3 km to 30 km in azimuth and 30 m to 6 km in altitude.
  • The missile can engage aircraft at 500m/s at 20 km and 300m/s at 30 km, along with helicopters and UAVs. The missile also has terminal guidance using an RF seeker. The system has AESA radar with X-band Quad Transmit Reciever Modules (QTMs), Two Way Data Link (TWDL) and IFF. the Battery Surveillance Radar (BSR) has a range up to 120 km and the Multi-Function Fire Control Radar (BMFR) has a tracking range of up to 80 km.
  • Truck based QRSAM Air Defence System can move at speed of 50kmph and has the ability to operate nearly 8 hours at a stretch without the need for refuelling.
  • High Mobility Vehicle (HMV) used are capable of being operated in plains, deserts,semi-deserts, terrains found in India and can also be transported through broad gauge rakes of Indian railways.
  • HMV also has NBC (nuclear, biological, chemical) system installed which ensures reliable protection of the crew and internal equipment against mass destruction weapons. HMV also have a Navigation system and Night vision devices to help Driver and Commander to move in the dark and also in unfamiliar terrains.

3.Judges use interactive digital devices as part of efforts to go paperless

Source: Indian Express

PM Modi had launched the paperless project to implement the Integrated Case Management System Information System (ICMIS).

Key facts:

  • This digital filing system will mark Supreme Court’s first towards becoming a paperless, digital court.
  • ICMIS is hailed as the Biggest and highest leap in judicial system. Subsequently, all High Courts, District Courts, Sub-Division Courts will be integrated with the new system. Later on, all the jails in the country will be Integrated by ICMIS software.

Significance

  • ICMIS will help litigants access data and obtain information about the filing, delays etc.
  • It would pave way for the integration of all courts in the country.
  • The appellants hereafter is not required to file the records as the records will be picked up electronically from trial courts and high courts.
  • The digital filing system will also help in ushering transparency as nothing can be manipulated with this paperless system. Also, the litigants will be able to know the progress of the case on real time basis.

4.Supreme Court allows abortion of 26-week-old foetus, cites medical report

Source: Indian Express

The medical board, constituted on the court’s directions, had recommended MTP as a “special case” and warned of “mental injury” to the woman in case it was not carried out.

  • THE SUPREME Court allowed a woman who is in her 26th week of pregnancy to undergo medical termination of pregnancy (MTP) after a medical board concluded that the foetus was suffering from severe cardiac ailments and could pose a risk to the mother’s life.

Report:

  • The medical board, constituted on the court’s directions, had recommended MTP as a “special case” and warned of “mental injury” to the woman in case it was not carried out.
  • The doctors had said that the infant, if born, would have to undergo “complex” medical procedures and the chances of survival were low. What makes the court’s order significant is that the law does not allow MTP beyond 20 weeks.
  • In her petition to the court, the woman had submitted a medical report which said the foetus suffered from a condition called pulmonary atresia, a birth defect of the pulmonary valve which controls blood flow from the right ventricle to the pulmonary artery.
  • Perusing the report, the court said, “it is clear as crystal that the medical board is of the view that there is a case for termination of pregnancy as a special case” The petitioners had also challenged the constitutional validity of Section 3(2)(b) of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act which prohibits abortion of a foetus after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act 1971

The Act made the abortions legal up to 20 weeks of pregnancy.

The provisions of the Act are as follows:

  1. The termination of pregnancy requires the opinion of two doctors.
  2. The abortion can happen if the physical or mental health of the mother is in danger due to pregnancy. If there is a risk of the birth of a handicapped or malformed baby.
  3. Pregnancy of unmarried girls under 18 years of age, with the consent of the guardian. Pregnancy resulting due to rape. Pregnancy resulting due to the failure of sterilization.

Background:

Abortion and family planning in India During British Rule

  • The India Penal Code, 1860 stated induced abortions as illegal. Induced abortion means purposely causing miscarriage.
  • The only exemption was if it is done to save the life of the mother.

Before 1971

  • India was the first country to introduce family planning programme in 1952. The idea behind this programme was to popularise the concept of contraceptives so that the pregnancy can be avoided or delayed. But, the efforts were not enough to control the population.
  • Sterilisation remained the only way for contraception after the family deciding to stop after having the desired number of children.

After 1971

Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act was enacted in the light of rising population and also preventing maternal deaths from illegal abortions without proper equipment and training. The MTP Act supports the pro-choice agenda and abortion provisions are determined by this Act.

The Act can be misused in the following ways:

  • The abort unwanted pregnancy the women can cite the reason of contraceptive failure.
  • The issue became so severe that the sex-selective abortions started taking place.
  • With the use of Imaging technology like ultrasound with the intention to see the well-being of the foetus and to identify any danger to the lives of mother and child.
  • But the increase in the number of ultrasound clinics and lack of proper regulations the sex-selective abortions (female) increased to such an extent that the sex-ratio declined.
  • According to census 2011, the abortions happening in a hospital ranges from 32% in Chhattisgarh to 72% in Assam. To address this issue the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostics Techniques (PCPNDT) Act was introduced to stop illegal use of ultrasound machine to determine sex and close illegal clinics.

5.Why Bhutan is special to India

Source: The Hindu

The recent standoff between India and China over Doklam issue has highlighted India’s special relationship with Bhutan, which includes military responsibilities towards it.

Background:

China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) recently attempted to construct a road in the disputed Doklam region unilaterally. However, Bhutan had strongly opposed this.

Relationship between India and Bhutan:

  • India- Bhutan friendship treaty 2007 has been guiding the bilateral relations between the two countries. Under the 2007 India-Bhutan Friendship Treaty, the two sides have agreed to “cooperate closely with each other on issues relating to their national interests. Neither Government shall allow the use of its territory for activities harmful to the national security and interest of the other.”
  • Under the previous treaty, India was to “guide” Bhutan on foreign and defence policies. The language of the 2007 treaty is meant to respect the sensitivities of Bhutan regarding its sovereignty. But the reality is that the Indian military is virtually responsible for protecting Bhutan from the kind of external threat that the Chinese military poses.
  • The Eastern Army Command and the Eastern Air Command both have integrated protection of Bhutan into their role. The Indian Military Training Team (IMTRAT), headed by a Major General, plays a critical role in training Bhutanese security personnel.

6.Israel to work on food security in India

Source: The Hindu

Narendra Modi to become first Indian PM to visit Israel

The Israeli Foreign Ministry unveiled the final agenda for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s historic visit to the West Asian nation, where he will be escorted throughout by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as they visit a floriculture farm, a memorial for Indian soldiers in Haifa, a water desalination programme on a beach, lunch with business CEO’s from India and Israel together, as well as an address a gathering of about 5,000 Israeli citizens of Indian origin in Tel Aviv.

India and Israel sign:

  • India and Israel will sign a unique Strategic Partnership on non-security issues including Agriculture, Water, Science, technology and Space.
  • Strategic partnership means a lot of things… including first and foremost food security. India needs to feed and provide sustenance in the form of water to its 1.3 billion people and this visit will be predicated on the relationship on issues we can cooperate on which will bring maximum benefits to people of both sides.

Background:

Recounting the increase in high level visits from India in the run up to this visit, which was first announced in 2014, but has been actualized this year, as a part of the 25th anniversary of Israel-India setting up full diplomatic ties.

7.Two commodity exchanges merge

Source: The Hindu

National Multi Commodity Exchange (NMCE), India’s first demutualised online national multi-commodities exchange will merge with Indian Commodity Exchange (ICEX).

  • The merged entity will create India’s third biggest commodity exchange. The largest commodity exchange by volume is the Multi Commodity Exchange (MCX) followed by National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange (NCDEX).

Key facts

  • This is the first merger deal in the commodity exchange space in India.
  • It has been approved by the boards of both exchanges and is expected to be completed by December 2017, subject to regulatory approvals.
  • In the merged entity, the ICEX will hold a 62.8% stake, while NMCE shareholders will own the rest.
  • The new exchange will offer a wide range of contracts, including bullion, oil, rubber, and other agri-commodities.
  • It will also offer the world’s first diamond futures contract, which has already received in-principle approval from the marker regulator SEBI.
  • The merger will help ICEX to further strengthen its position in the country’s fast-growing commodity derivatives market. It will result in greater financial strength, the consolidation of clients and members, an enhanced product basket, and higher operational synergies.

Commodity trading in India

  • Commodity trading is an exchange where various commodities and derivatives products are traded. Most commodity markets trade in agricultural products and other raw materials and contracts based on them.
  • These contracts can include spot prices, futures, forwards and options on futures.
  • In fact, commodity trading had started in India much before it started in many other countries. However, years of foreign rule and Government policies had caused the commodity trading in India to diminish. It was restarted recently.
  • At present, India has six national commodity exchanges namely, Multi Commodity Exchange (MCX), National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange (NCDEX), National Multi-Commodity Exchange (NMCE) and Indian Commodity Exchange (ICEX), ACE Derivatives exchange (ACE) and Universal commodity exchange (UCX) apart from numerous regional exchanges. Government had established regulatory body is Forward Markets Commission (FMC) in 1953. It was merged with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) in September 2015.

8.NASA developing first asteroid deflection mission

Source: The Hindu

NASA is developing the first-ever mission that will deflect a near-Earth asteroid, and help test the systems that will allow mankind to protect the planet from potential cosmic body impacts in the future.

DART:

  • The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) — which is being designed and would be built and managed by the John Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory — is moving from concept development to preliminary design phase.
  • DART would be NASA’s first mission to demonstrate what’s known as the kinetic impactor technique — striking the asteroid to shift its orbit — to defend against a potential future asteroid impact.

Protecting our planet

  • The target for DART is an asteroid that will have a distant approach to Earth in October 2022, and then again in 2024.
  • The asteroid is called Didymos — Greek for “twin” — because it is an asteroid binary system that consists of two bodies: Didymos A, about 780 metres in size, and a smaller asteroid orbiting it called Didymos B, about 160 metres in size.
  • DART would impact only the smaller of the two bodies, Didymos B.
  • The Didymos system has been closely studied since 2003.
  • After launch, DART would fly to Didymos and use an APL- developed onboard autonomous targeting system to aim itself at Didymos B.

Kinetic impact

  • Earth-based observatories would be able to see the impact and the resulting change in the orbit of Didymos B around Didymos A, allowing scientists to better determine the capabilities of kinetic impact as an asteroid mitigation strategy.
  • The kinetic impact technique works by changing the speed of a threatening asteroid by a small fraction of its total velocity, but by doing it well before the predicted impact so that this small nudge will add up over time to a big shift of the asteroid’s path away from Earth.

9.Aerosols ‘shrinking’ India’s monsoon

Source: The Hindu

Greenhouse gases cause concern, but scientists are more worried about particulates

While greenhouse gases, or GHGs, are causing concern about the long-term fate of the Indian monsoon, researchers now think aerosols from vehicular exhaust, half-burnt crop residue, dust and chemical effluents may be weakening the life-giving rainy season even more than GHGs.

Weakening Monsoon:

  • An Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune, team led by climatologist R. Krishnan studying the likely monsoon impact of GHGs over the next century has come to this conclusion.
  • In 2015, Mr. Krishnan reported in the journal Climate Dynamics that a mix of GHGs, aerosols and changes in forest and agricultural cover was affecting the strength of the monsoon, which was known to be weakening over the last 50 years.
  • This result was based on mathematical modelling and computer simulation. The relative contribution of the individual factors, however, was not clear then. “New simulations suggest that aerosols may be a far more important factor than GHGs.

Upgraded forecasting model used by IMD:

  • The scientist and his team used an upgraded forecasting model that was used this year by the India Meteorological Department for forecasts. The model will help prepare India’s first home-grown forecast of climate change from global warming, and be part of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports.
  • Dust clouds shield the earth from the sun’s rays, depressing land and sea temperatures. The monsoon, which is produced by the difference in temperature between the two, is thus weakened.



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