06, June 2017

1.First Developmental Flight of India’s GSLV Mk III Successfully launches GSAT-19 Satellite

Source: PIB

The first developmental flight (GSLV MkIII-D1) of India’s heavy lift launch vehicle GSLV Mk-III was successfully conducted today (June 05, 2017) evening from Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota with the launch of GSAT-19 satellite.

Key facts:

GSLV-Mk III is capable launching 4 ton class of satellites to Geosynchronous Transfer orbit (GTO). It is a three-stage vehicle with two solid motor strap-ons (S200), a liquid propellant core stage (L110) and a cryogenic stage (C25).

  • This was the first orbital mission of GSLV MkIII which was mainly intended to evaluate the vehicle performance including that of its fully indigenous cryogenic upper stage during the flight.
  • Weighing 3136 kg at lift-off, GSAT-19 is the heaviest satellite launched from the Indian soil.
  • The upper stage of GSLV MkIII vehicle is a new cryogenic stage (C25) indigenously configured, designed and realised by ISRO.
  • The cryogenic stage used liquid Hydrogen and liquid Oxygen as propellants with a total loading of 28 tons. The stage is powered by a 20 ton thrust cryogenic engine (CE20) operating on ‘gas generator cycle’.
  • The performance of the engine and stage during the mission was as predicted. About sixteen minutes after lift-off, GSAT-19 satellite was successfully placed in orbit.

2.Handbook, Module & Guidelines on Safe Childhood Programme for Gram Panchayats Released

Source: PIB

A Handbook along with Module & Guidelines on protection of Child Rights at Gram Panchayat level was released jointly by National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), Ministry of Panchayati Raj and UNICEF at New Delhi.

  • The Handbook, Module & Guidelines will be useful for the functionaries of the Panchayati Raj Institutions in protecting the rights of children at the village level.
  • The Handbook, Module & Guidelines have been prepared in collaboration with UNICEF.

Highlights:

  • Highlighting that children migrate towards cities because they feel cities have luxuries and better opportunities, NCPCR Member Smt. Rupa Kapoor said the idea of community participation is to retain children in villages.
  • Child-friendly Panchayats or Bal Panchayats, recreational activities for children at the Panchayat level and vocational training for children to make a livelihood for themselves are some of the additions proposed to be made to the already-existing Panchayat systems in the country.
  • Stating that no new resources will be required for the initiative and mentioned that the Programme will be launched in 14 States initially (Andhra Pradesh, Andaman & Nicobar, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Uttharakhand, Uttar Pradesh) where State Commissions for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCRs) have a proven track-record of initiatives pertaining to children and are strong and active in the field of Child Rights. The Programme will cover the entire country later.

Way ahead:

  • Safe Childhood Programme will contribute in improving the current scenario related to health, development, education and protection of children.
  • Children are vulnerable and subject to abuse and exploitation in day to day life. To counter it, this Handbook will help Panchayat Members and other stakeholders to understand their role and actions in protection of children at the village level resulting in better convergence of programmes and increased allocation of resources to address Child Right issues.

National Commission for Protection of Child Rights

  • The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) was set up in March 2007 under the Commissions for Protection of Child Rights (CPCR) Act, 2005, an Act of Parliament (December 2005).
  • NCPCR is a statutory body under the CPCR Act,2005 under the administrative control of the Ministry of Women & Child Development, Government of India.
  • The Commission’s Mandate is to ensure that all Laws, Policies, Programmes, and Administrative Mechanisms are in consonance with the Child Rights perspective as enshrined in the Constitution of India and also the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Child is defined as a person in the 0 to 18 years age group.
  • The Commission visualises a rights-based perspective flowing into National Policies and Programmes, along with nuanced responses at the State, District and Block levels, taking care of specificities and strengths of each region.
  • The Commission sees an indispensable role for the State, sound institution-building processes, respect for decentralization at the  local  bodies  and  community level and larger societal concern for children and their well-being.

3.Government to implement India’s first Rural LED Street Lighting Project in Andhra Pradesh

Source: PIB

Government of India, through the Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) under the Ministry of Power, would be retrofitting 10 lakh conventional street lights with LED lights in Gram Panchayats of 7 districts in Andhra Pradesh.

  • This is the first project for rural LED street lighting in the country under the Government of India’s Street Lighting National Project (SLNP).
  • In the first phase, the replacement will be undertaken in gram panchayats of the districts of Guntur, Prakasham, Nellore, Kurnool, Kadapa, Ananthapur and Chittoor.

Key facts:

  • This replacement drive in rural areas will help the gram panchayats to cumulatively save approximately 147 million units of electricity annually and lead to reduction of 12 crore tonnes of CO2.
  • The entire upfront capital cost of this project is being funded by French Development Agency Agence Française de Développement (AFD). As part of the project, EESL would be carrying out the entire annual maintenance and warranty replacement in these gram panchayats for a period of 10 years.

SLNP Scheme: NATIONAL UJALA

  • SLNP scheme- Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi launched 100 cities National Programme on 5th January to convert conventional street and domestic lights with energy efficient LED lights.
  • Under Street Light National Programme (SLNP), replacement of 3.5 crore conventional street light will result in saving of 9,000 million units annually.
  • Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) has been designated as the implementing agency.
  • The initiative is part of the Government’s efforts to spread the message of energy efficiency in the country.

Objective of SLNP Programme

  • The Electricity Distribution Company and Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) a public sector body of Government of India are implementing the programme.
  • The main objective is to promote efficient lighting, enhance awareness on using efficient equipment which reduce electricity bills and help preserve environment.

EESL Service Model

  • EESL replaces the conventional street lights with LEDs at its own costs and consequent reduction in energy and maintenance cost of the municipality is used to repay EESL over a period of time.
  • The contracts that EESL enters into with Municipalities are typically of 7 years duration where it not only guarantees a minimum energy saving but also provides free replacements and maintenance of lights at no additional costs to the municipalities.
  • The service model enables the municipalities to go in for the state of the art street light with no upfront capital cost and repayments to EESL are within the present level of expenditure.
  • Thus there is no additional revenue expenditure required to be incurred by the municipality for change over to smart and energy efficient LED street lights.

4.World Environment Day 2017 – UNEP

Theme 2017: Connect with nature’ on World Environment Day 2017

  • Connecting People to Nature’, the theme for World Environment Day 2017, implores us to get outdoors and into nature, to appreciate its beauty and its importance, and to take forward the call to protect the Earth that we share.
  • World Environment Day is the biggest annual event for positive environmental action and takes place every 5 June. This year’s host country Canada got to choose the theme and will be at the centre of celebrations around the planet.
  • World Environment Day is a day for everyone, everywhere. Since it began in 1972, global citizens have organized many thousands of events, from neighbourhood clean-ups, to action against wildlife crime, to replanting forests.

On World Environment Day, listed are some facts and what we can do to support this day:

  • This day was established by the UN General Assembly in 1972
  • The United Nation organisation calls the holiday its “principal vehicle for encouraging worldwide awareness and action for the environment”
  • The anniversary of the Stockholm Conference is celebrated as World Environment Day every year. The conference was held by UN on the Human Environment
  • Each year, the emphasis on World Environment Day is placed on a certain topic of earth crisis.
  • This year’s theme has encouraged people to admire nature and challenges us to find fun and exciting ways to experience and cherish this vital relationship
  • As per UNEP, the growing ‘illegal trade in wildlife products is eroding Earth’s precious biodiversity and robbing us of our natural heritage’
  • All the illegal trade has been pushing species into extinction

5.India’s biodiversity riches grow by 499 species

Source: The Hindu

The Himalayas, northeast, Western Ghats. Andamans yield the most discoveries of flora and fauna

  • On World Environment Day, India has 499 reasons to cheer: 313 species of animal and 186 of plants have been discovered from various areas of the country last year.

Key facts:

  • Of the new animal species, 258 are invertebrates and 55 vertebrates. As many as 97 species of insects, 27 of fish, 12 species of amphibians, 10 of Platyhelminthes, nine of Crustacea and six of reptiles have been discovered and described by the scientists. There are 61 species of moths and butterflies (order Lepidoptera) and 38 of beetles (Coloeptera).
  • Most of the new species were from the four biological hotspots of the country — the Himalayas, the northeast, the Western Ghats and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
  • The geographical distribution of the new plant species reveals that most discoveries were made in the Western Ghats (17%), followed by the Eastern Himalayas (15%), the Western Himalayas (13%), the Eastern Ghats (12%) and the west coast (8%).
  • Among the interesting discoveries of the year are eight new species of wild balsams, five species of wild ginger and one species of wild amla [Indian gooseberry]. Also, 39 varieties of mushrooms have been discovered. These new species will have use in horticulture and have medicinal value too.

Animal Discoveries 2016 says that for the first time, the number of animal species in the country, including protozoa, has crossed one lakh — 1,00,693 is the exact count.

Till last year, India was home to 97,514 species of animals.

6.Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and UAE cut diplomatic ties with Qatar as Gulf rift deepens

Source: The Hindu

Four Arab nations cut diplomatic ties with Qatar, further deepening a rift between these nations and that country for its support to Islamist groups.

Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates all announced that they would withdraw their diplomatic staff from Qatar, a gas-rich nation that will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Saudi Arabia said Qatari troops would be pulled from its ongoing war in Yemen.

Why they have cut in ties?

  • Yemen’s internationally recognised government also cut ties with Qatar, accusing it of working with its enemies in the Iran-aligned Houthi movement, state news agency Saba reported.
  • Qatar’s practices of dealing with the (Houthi) coup militias and supporting extremist groups became clear,” the government said in a statement.
  • It added that Yemen supported a decision by a Saudi-led coalition fighting for more than two years to oust the Houthis from the capital Sanaa to remove Qatar.

Background:

  • Saudi Arabia and Qatar are both members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, the regional bloc of all Arab Gulf countries except Iraq, that was formed in 1981.
  • They share several common geopolitical interests as well.
  • In Syria, both the Saudis and Qataris support their respective proxies who work towards a common goal — overthrowing the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
  • In Yemen, Qatar is part of the Saudi-led coalition that has been bombing the country for over two years.
  • Qatar is also a member of the Islamic Military Alliance, also known as the Arab NATO, a counter-terror military alliance of Sunni countries. Even as bilateral economic and strategic ties remain so strong.

Rise of the Muslim Brotherhood

  • Qatar has in recent years nurtured a strong ambition of following an independent foreign policy. Unlike the UAE or Bahrain, Qatar has refused to act like just another satellite in the Saudi geopolitical orbit.
  • The fault-lines came out in the open when Qatar welcomed the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt after the fall of the Hosni Mubarak regime in 2011.
  • The Saudis were furious at the turn of events in Egypt. For them, stability in the region is most important. Saudi Arabia and its allies see the Brotherhood as a revolutionary movement that threatens the regional stability whereas Qatar continued to deepen its engagement with the members of the Muslim Brotherhood.
  • When the Brotherhood government of Mohamed Morsi in Egypt was toppled in 2013 through a coup by Abdel Fatteh al-Sisi, the Saudis welcomed the development.
  • But Qatar and the royal family-funded television station al-Jazeera went against the Sisi regime. A diplomatic crisis broke out in 2014 when Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE temporarily suspended diplomatic ties with Qatar.

Qatar ties with Iran:

  • Another flashpoint is Qatar’s ties with Iran.
  • Historically, Doha has played off both sides of the Iran-Saudi rivalry.
  • True, its policies were tilted towards the Saudis, but Qatar was keen not to undermine its ties with Iran completely. For example, when Saudi Arabia and some of its allies cut diplomatic ties with Iran following the crisis erupted after the Kingdom executed Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr in January 2016, Qatar recalled its ambassador, but refused to cut ties.
  • The Saudis were upset with Qatar’s Tehran ties, at a time when they were trying to rally Sunni countries behind themselves to counter Tehran’s influence. The Saudis say Qatar is pursuing its own interests, either through supporting the Brotherhood or its ties with Iran, at the expense of the GCC.

How It Affects India?

Indians are the largest expatriate community in Qatar, the same way they are in Saudi Arabia and the UAE — the two key countries who are in the opposite camp. And, the immediate worry is the trouble Indians would face as measures to isolate Qatar would hit them there in terms of their travel.

  • India also has robust defence and energy ties with Qatar. India is the third largest export destination for Qatar (behind Japan and South Korea) and ranks at 10th position for Qatar’s imports.
  • The Gulf Arab state is the largest supplier of LNG to India, accounting for over 65% of India’s global import and 15% of Qatar’s export of LNG with an annual import of 7.5 million metric tons (MMT) of liquefied natural gas (LNG) under a long-term contract between Petronet LNG of India and RasGas Co Ltd of Qatar, and some spot purchases by Indian companies from time to time.
  • India also imports ethylene, propylene, ammonia, urea and polyethene from Qatar. Therefore, the balance of trade continues to be heavily in Qatar’s favour.

Qatar

Source: The Hindu



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