16, August 2017

Website for Gallantry Awardees since Independence Launched

  • An online portal dedicated to the gallantry award winners, bestowed since Independence, has been launched. The domain name of the portal is http://gallantryawards.gov.in.
  • The website gives details of the Chakra Series awardees i.e., Param Vir Chakra, Maha Vir Chakra, Vir Chakra, Ashok Chakra, Kirti Chakra and Shaurya Chakra.
  • The portal contains information such as name, unit, year, citations and photographs of awardees till date. The Ministry of Defence would welcome any feedback or suggestion for further improvement.
  • Gallantry awards along with some other Defence Distinguished Service awards are conferred to the awardees/Next-of-Kins (NoKs) by the President at the Defence Investiture Ceremony held every year at the Rashtrapati Bhawan. However, the Param Vir Chakra and the Ashoka Chakra are conferred by the President to the awardees/NoKs on the occasion of the Republic Day Parade at the Rajpath.

1.India moves to revive TAPI gas pipeline

Source: The Hindu

India will host the next steering committee meeting of the proposed 1,814 kilometre-long Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline, senior officials on both sides confirmed.

  • The decision was came during the sixth joint Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC) meeting on trade, economic, scientific and technological cooperation.

Background:

  • India’s commitment to TAPI — first proposed in 1995 — “remains strong”, and Prime Minister had made the proposal to hold the TAPI steering committee meet in Delhi when he met the Turkmenistan President in Ashgkabad last year, which he has now accepted.
  • The last steering committee meeting, scheduled to be held annually, which is supposed to be held took place in April 2016.

Key facts:

  • The pipeline, that had its ground-breaking ceremony in December 2015, has seen flagging interest since then for a number of reasons. India’s effort is to tap Turkmenistan’s Galkynysh gasfields, which are the fourth largest in the world.

Significance of this move:

  • The move is also an effort by the government to stave off any Chinese interest in the project, given that Turkmenistan is a close partner of China in its Belt and Road initiative across Central Asia, and Beijing is the largest buyer of its gas. Even the Galkynysh gas basin is being developed under a loan from the Chinese Development Bank (CDB).

Security concerns

  • Responding to Indian sovereignty concerns about the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, Turkmenistan was “open to all economic cooperation, which is how all such projects should be seen. India is and will be one of the most important countries for Turkmenistan.”

TAPI Gas Pipeline

  • The Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline is under construction pipeline to transport natural gas from Turkmenistan to Pakistan and India through Afghanistan.
  • The construction of TAPI gas pipeline began on 13 December 2015, and is expected to be completed by December 2018 with an estimated cost of $10 billion.
  • Turkmenistan has world’s fourth largest reserves of natural gas resources and needs market to export its gas. While, thickly populated Pakistan & India need energy for the development of their economy. Thus, the gas pipeline looks promising to the entire region and is an excellent addition to the energy requirement of the developing countries.
  • The under construction TAPI pipeline would be 1,814 km long and will originate from Galkynysh gas field in the Mary Province of Turkmenistan.
  • It will cross into Afghanistan via Herat and then it will passing through Kandahar-Chaman border into Pakistan. Where it would lead towards Quetta, Multan, and then it will enter into India via Fazilka border crossing, its final destination

2.Restore dignity to widows: SC

Source: The Hindu

Sets up panel to prepare common working plan to rehabilitate them by November 30

  • Widows choose to come to holy places like Vrindavan to escape social ostracisation, but only to fall into a mire of indignity and beggary, the Supreme Court said.
  • It condemned the modern-day stigma against widows, while setting up a committee of experts to study reports collected by the court during the past decade and come up with a plan to rehabilitate the hapless widows of Vrindavan and other ashrams by November 30, 2017.

Plan to use software

  • One of the suggestions is to kick into motion an Aadhaar-enabled software to identify widows when they enter as inmates of Swadhar homes.
  • The court highlighted reports which recommended widow remarriage. “This is a subject of hope that might enable our society to give up the stereotype view of widows.

What does it Concerns?

  • The court said it was part of its constitutional duty and for reasons of social justice to issue appropriate directions “intended to bring back some sunshine in the lives of the widows in Vrindavan and in ashrams elsewhere in the country.”
  • It is a pity that these widows have been so unfortunately dealt with, as if they have ceased to be entitled to live a life of dignity and as if they are not entitled to the protection of Article 21 [right to a dignified life] of the Constitution,” the court observed.

Legal aid

  • They will consider recommendations such as legal aid for widows, medical insurance, opening employment avenues in the care and hospitality sector, setting up old age homes and linking widow pension schemes to provide medical facilities for them.

3.Centre’s eBiz initiative stutters

Source: The Hindu

The ambitious eBiz portal project unveiled by the Centre in 2013 to serve as an online, single-window entry point for investors looking to set up a business anywhere in the country, is still struggling to become fully operational.

Key facts:

  • Even services that were available on the portal, such as registrations with the Corporate Affairs Ministry and the Employees’ Provident Fund, have been ‘impacted’ due to technical issues.
  • While State governments have not come on board for critical components of the eBiz project, technical glitches have arisen in the plan to integrate all clearances onto a single system owing to government departments opting for different technology platforms.

What are the Changes made by DIPP?

  • It may be noted that the partner ministries and departments offering their services through eBiz portal have migrated their existing applications to new technology platforms (Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation migrated to Oracle and Ministry of Corporate Affairs migrated to SAP V2).
  • This has impacted the availability of their services on the eBiz portal,” the department of industrial policy and promotion (DIPP) in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry informed Parliament in an action taken report tabled earlier this month.
  • Such changes, the DIPP has pointed out, require additional efforts to resolve technology migration issues and the ‘limited availability of technical resources’ at individual departments causes delays in integration with the National eGovernance Service Delivery Gateway (NSDG, the middleware to integrate services between departments and the portal).
  • Testing the integration of individual services with the eBiz portal also added to delays, the DIPP told the parliamentary standing committee on commerce, citing ‘dependency on multiple stakeholders’ such as NSDG, banks and state treasuries. The DIPP said it had ‘taken up the matter at appropriate levels in partner departments to take necessary measures in speeding up integration with the portal.’

ebiz Portal:

  • eBiz is one of the integrated services projects and part of the 27 Mission Mode Projects (MMPs) under the National E-Governance Plan (NEGP) of the Government of India.
  • eBiz is being implemented by Infosys Technologies Limited (Infosys) under the guidance and aegis of Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India. The focus of eBiz is to improve the business environment in the country by enabling fast and efficient access to Government-to-Business (G2B) services through an online portal.
  • This will help in reducing unnecessary delays in various regulatory processes required to start and run businesses.

DIPP

  • The Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP) was established in 1995 and has been reconstituted in the year 2000 with the merger of the Department of Industrial Development. Earlier separate Ministries for Small Scale Industries & Agro and Rural Industries (SSI&A&RI) and Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises (HI&PE) were created in October, 1999.
  • With progressive liberalization of the Indian economy, initiated in July 1991, there has been a consistent shift in the role and functions of this Department. From regulation and administration of the industrial sector, the role of the Department has been transformed into facilitating investment and technology flows and monitoring industrial development in the liberalized environment.

4.Aeroplanes may be affecting ozone layer

Source: The Hindu

Aeroplanes may be ejecting significant amounts of black carbon (BC) — a pollutant known to aggravate breathing disorders, upset the monsoon and quicken glacier melt — and may be depleting the ozone layer, according to a study by climate researchers from multiple institutions in the country.

Key facts:

  • Though airborne, BC is known to dissipate and settle down in a few months under the influence of rain and wind and is unlikely to travel upward of 4 km. However, a group of scientists — including from the Indian Institute of Science and ISRO’s Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre — say they now have evidence of such particles existing up to 18 km into the stratosphere and there are about 10,000 of them in every cubic centimetre.
  • Given the shape and location of these particles, they argue, it could only derive from emissions from aviation fuel and they pose a problem because these black carbon particles can linger long enough to provide a fertile ground for other chemical reactions that can deplete the ozone layer.
  • This is the first time that any group in the world has shown that black carbon from aircraft can go to the stratosphere and affect the ozone layer.

Black Carbon Rising:

  • The stratosphere is a stable region of the atmosphere and because BC particles absorb heat, they warm the surrounding air, become lighter and rise to greater heights by a process called ‘self lift’ and persist in the air.
  • The sheer volume of air travel means that the black carbon count only continues to increase.
  • Because BC particles strongly absorb solar and terrestrial radiation and heats up the atmosphere it can upset the monsoon system. If deposited on snow, it could accelerate the heating of snow and quicken the melting of glaciers.

What Is Black Carbon?

  • Black Carbon (BC) has recently emerged as a major contributor to global climate change, possibly second only to CO2 as the main driver of change.
  • BC particles strongly absorb sunlight and give soot its black color. BC is produced both naturally and by human activities as a result of the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, biofuels, and biomass.
  • Primary sources include emissions from diesel engines, cook stoves, wood burning and forest fires.
  • Reducing CO2 emissions is essential to avert the worst impacts of future climate change, but CO2 has such a long atmospheric lifetime that it will take several decades for CO2 concentrations to begin to stabilize after emissions reductions begin.
  • In contrast, BC remains in the atmosphere for only a few weeks, so cutting its emissions would immediately reduce the rate of warming, particularly in the rapidly changing Arctic. Moreover, reduced exposure to BC provides public health co-benefits, especially in developing countries. Technologies that can reduce global BC emissions are available today.

Black Carbon and Climate Change

  • BC warms the climate in two ways. When suspended in air, BC absorbs sunlight and generates heat in the atmosphere, which warms the air and can affect regional cloud formation and precipitation patterns.
  • When deposited on snow and ice, it absorbs sunlight, again generating heat, which warms both the air above and the snow and ice below, thus accelerating melting.
  • Because BC remains in the atmosphere for only one to four weeks, its climate effects are strongly regional.
  • Its short lifetime also means that its climate effects would dissipate quickly if black carbon emissions were reduced, thus benefiting most directly the countries or communities that invest in policies to reduce BC emissions.
  • BC may be responsible for more than 30 percent of recent warming in the Arctic, contributing to the acceleration of Arctic sea ice melting. Loss of Arctic sea ice would lead to more rapid warming and possibly irreversible climate change. BC is also driving increased melting of Himalayan glaciers, which are a major source of freshwater for millions of people in the region. BC may also be driving some of the observed reduction of the snowpack in the Pacific Northwest of the United States.

5.Assam, Manipur can now decide on AFSPA

Source: The Hindu

The Union Home Ministry is set to give up its power to impose the ‘disturbed areas’ tag on Assam and Manipur. The move effectively means it will be the States’ decision to either continue the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) or revoke it.

It would be the first time since 1990 — when the AFSPA was first invoked in Assam — that the Centre would give up its power to continue or discontinue it.

AFSPA

  • AFSPA, enacted in 1958, gives powers to the army and state and central police forces to shoot to kill, search houses and destroy any property that is “likely” to be used by insurgents in areas declared as “disturbed” by the home ministry.
  • The Act provides army personnel with safeguards against malicious, vindictive and frivolous prosecution.
  • Security forces can “arrest without warrant” a person, who has committed or even “about to commit a cognizable offence” even on “reasonable suspicion”.

‘Disturbed’ areas

  • The state or central government considers those areas as ‘disturbed’ “by reason of differences or disputes between members of different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities.
  • Section (3) of the Afspa empowers the governor of the state or Union territory to issue an official notification in The Gazette of India, following which the Centre has the authority to send in armed forces for civilian aid. Once declared ‘disturbed’, the region has to maintain status quo for a minimum of three months, according to The Disturbed Areas (Special Courts) Act, 1976.”



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