28, March 2017

1.Ratification of Kyoto Protocol

Source: PIB

The Government of India has decided to ratify the Second Commitment Period (2013- 2020) of the Kyoto Protocol.

  • Developing countries like India have no mandatory mitigation obligations or targets under the Kyoto Protocol.
  • The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) under the Kyoto Protocol enables developed countries to invest in “Clean” projects in developing countries to gain emissions credits (Certified Emission Reduction-CER).
  • Indian Industry has benefited from trading in CERs in the international market. Of late, due to lack of demand internationally, prices of CERs have been very low leading to low activities under this mechanism.

2.More than 2 dozen companies want collaboration with India Post Payments Bank

Source: PIB

Government has said that there are many companies who have approached the Department of Posts for collaboration with India Post Payments Bank

The Payments Banks are different from regular Banks in the following fundamental   ways as per RBI guidelines for Licensing of Payments Banks:

  • Payment Banks are not allowed to undertake lending activities directly. It can accept demand deposits only that is savings and current accounts and will initially be restricted to holding a maximum balance of Rs. 100,000(Rupees one lakh only) per individual customer.
  • Payment Banks cannot accept Non Resident Indian (NRI) deposits.
  • The Payment Banks cannot set up subsidiaries to undertake non-banking financial services activities.

3.Emission of Greenhouse Gases

Source: PIB

As per the Biennial Update Report submitted by India, the quantum of India’s total green house gas (GHG) emissions (excluding LULUCF) in 2010 was 2.136 billion tonnes Carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2eq).

  • In 2010, the year for which comparable figures are available, India’s emissions are lower than GHG emissions of China (11.183 billion tonnes CO2eq), USA (6.713 billion tonnes CO2eq), European Union (4.834 billion tonnes CO2eq) and Brazil (2.902 billion tonnes CO2eq).
  • The Ministry has notified the revised standards for thermal power plants (TPPs) vide S. O. 3305 (E) dated 07/12/2015 for parameters such as Particulate Matter(PM), SOX, NOX, mercury, etc. and no amendment of the notified norms has been made.

4.Rise in Electronic Waste

Source: PIB

The country’s economic growth, rise in per capita income, and technological innovations coupled with high obsolescence rate of electronic and electrical equipment to increase in the rate of generation of e-waste.

Key facts:

Toxic constituents such as Lead, Mercury, Cadmium, Hexavalent Chromium, Polybrominated biphenyls and Polybrominated diphenyl ethers are used in the manufacturing of electronic devices.

  • Disposal of e-waste from such electronic devices, without processing it in an environmentally sound manner, may affect the human health and environment including soil and ground water.
  • No comprehensive inventorization of e-waste generation in the country has been done. However, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), had projected 8.0 lakh tons of e-waste generation in the year 2010.

E-waste 2016:

  • The Government has comprehensively revised E-waste (Management & Handling) Rules, 2011, and notified E-Waste (Management) Rules in March, 2016.
  • The provisions of these Rules include expanded producers’ responsibility, setting up of producer responsibility organizations and e-waste exchange to facilitate collection and recycling, assigning specific responsibility to bulk consumers of electronic products for safe disposal, providing for economic incentives for collection of electronic waste, and other measures which include responsibility of producers of electronic and electrical products for collection and channelizing of electronic waste.
  • The Rules provide for simplified permission process for setting up of dismantling and recycling facilities through single authorization based on Standard Operating Procedures (SoP) prescribed by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
  • State Governments have been entrusted with the responsibility for earmarking industrial space for e-waste dismantling and recycling facilities, and to undertake industrial skill development and establish measures for safety and health of workers engaged in dismantling and recycling facilities of e-waste.

5.Easing of Rules for Clearance of Non-Polluting Industrial Projects

Source: PIB

 

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in consultation with Central Pollution Control Board has reclassified the industries into “Red”, “Orange”, “Green” and “White” category, as part of policies and objective of government to promote ‘Ease of Doing Responsible Business.

Projects under the new category of “white”, which is practically non-polluting, will not require either Environmental Clearance under Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 or Consent under Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 and Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.

List of White Category Industries

 s.no Industry Sector  s.no Industry Sector
1. Air coolers /conditioners 19. Glass putty and sealant
2. Bicycles, baby carriages 20. Ground nut decorticating
3. Bailing of waste papers 21. Handloom/ carpet weaving
4. Bio fertilizer /bio-pesticides 22. Leather cutting and stitching
5. Biscuits trays 23. Coir items from coconut husks
6. Blending / packing of tea 24. Metal caps containers etc
7. Block making of printing 25. Shoe brush and wire brush
8. Chalk making 26. Medical oxygen
9. Compressed oxygen gas 27. Organic and inorganic nutrients
10. Cotton and woolen hosiers 28. Organic manure
11. Diesel pump repairing 29. Packing of powdered milk
12. Electric lamp ( bulb) and CFL 30. Paper pins and u clips
13. Electrical and electronic item 31. Repairing of electric motors /generators
14. Engineering and fabrication units 32. Rope (plastic and cotton)
15. Flavoured betel nuts 33. Scientific and mathematical instrument
16. Fly ash bricks/ block 34. Solar module non-conventional energy apparatus
17. Fountain pen 35. Solar power generation through solar photovoltaic cell, wind power and mini hydel power (less than 25 MW)
18. Glass ampules 36. Surgical and medical products assembling

6.Titu Mir returns to roil Bengal, 190 years after his fall in war

Source: The Hindu

Row over Titu Mir has been sparked again by the introduction of a chapter in the textbook in West Bengal.

What’s the issue?

The West Bengal Board of Secondary Education has approved the introduction of a chapter in its 10th history book that claims Titu Mir “killed” many Hindus and destroyed several temples.

Some historians have challenged this assertion, while the Opposition described it as a “distortion of history.

About titu mir:

  • Titu Mir (1782-1831) a peasant leader who resisted the oppression of the local zamindars and European indigo planters on the peasantry with ultimate object of liberating the country from British domination.
  • He was a leader of the tariqah-i-muhammadiya in Bengal, and his movement initially aimed at socio-religious reforms, elimination of the practice of shirk (pantheism) and bidat (innovation) in the Muslim society and at inspiring the Muslims to follow Islamic principles in their day to day life.
  • Syed Mir Nisar Ali, or Titu Mir led the Narkelberia Uprising in 1831 — often considered the first armed peasant uprising against the British.
  • He built a bamboo fort in Narkelberia village.
  • Celebrated in folklore as a peasant leader, Titu Mir remains a controversial political figure in Bengal for his religious identity as an Islamic preacher after he converted to Wahabism.

7.Massive brown dwarf 750 light years away

Source: The Hindu

Scientists have identified a record-breaking brown dwarf, which possesses the ‘purest’ composition that is about 90 times as massive as the planet Jupiter, located 750 light years away in the outermost reaches of our galaxy.

What are brown dwarfs?

  • Brown dwarfs are intermediate between planets and fully-fledged stars.
  • The mass of brown dwarfs is too small for full nuclear fusion of hydrogen to helium (with a consequent release of energy) to take place, but they are usually significantly more massive than planets.

Key facts:

  • The new object, known as SDSS J0104+1535, is located 750 light years away in the constellation of Pisces. It is made of gas that is around 250 times purer than the Sun, hence consists of more than 99% hydrogen and helium.
  • Estimated to have formed about 10 billion years ago, measurements also suggest that it has a mass equivalent to 90 times that of Jupiter, making it the most massive brown dwarf found to date.
  • It was previously not known if brown dwarfs could form from such primordial gas, and the discovery points the way to a larger undiscovered population of extremely pure brown dwarfs from our Galaxy’s ancient past
  • The researchers have classified SDSS J0104+1535 as an L-type ultra-subdwarf using its optical and near-infrared spectrum, which has been measured using the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT).

8.India Signs Financing Agreement with World Bank

Source: PIB

A financing agreement for IDA credit of US$ 100 for the “Uttarakhand Health Systems Development Project” was recently signed with the World Bank

The objective of the project is to improve access to quality health services, particularly in the hilly districts of the State, and to expand health financial risk protection for residents of the State.

 The project has two main components:

  1. Innovations of engaging the private sector.
  2. Stewardship and system improvement.

Key facts:

  • Out of the total project size of USD 125 million, USD 25 million will be the counterpart contribution of the State Government.
  • The planned design of the Project consists of multiple self-contained clusters of clinical services managed by operators on a PPP basis, providing services for free or at nominal charges, backed up by a robust oversight and monitoring mechanism fully integrated with the expanded health insurance program in the State.

 IDA:

  • The International Development Association (IDA) is the part of the World Bank that helps the world’s poorest countries.
  • Aim: Overseen by 173 shareholder nations, IDA aims to reduce poverty by providing loans (called “credits”) and grants for programs that boost economic growth, reduce inequalities, and improve people’s living conditions.

How is it different from IBRD?

  • IDA complements the World Bank’s original lending arm—the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD).
  • IBRD and IDA share the same staff and headquarters and evaluate projects with the same rigorous standards.

Lending:

  • IDA lends money on concessional terms. This means that IDA credits have a zero or very low interest charge and repayments are stretched over 25 to 40 years, including a 5- to 10-year grace period. IDA also provides grants to countries at risk of debt distress.
  • In addition to concessional loans and grants, IDA provides significant levels of debt relief through the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative and the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI).

9.National Conference on Down Syndrome

Source: PIB

National Conference on Down Syndrome was recently inaugurated in New Delhi.

  • The Conference was organized by The National Trust for the welfare of persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities under M/o SJ&E in collaboration with Muskaan, a registered organisation of the National Trust.
  • The conference called upon the people to provide all types of support and help to Persons with Down Syndrome.

Down Syndrome:

Down syndrome is a set of physical and mental traits caused by a gene problem that happens before birth.

Down syndrome is a lifelong condition. But with care and support, children who have Down syndrome can grow up to have healthy, happy, productive lives.-

  • Down Syndrome is a chromosomal condition associated with intellectual and learning disabilities.
  • Causes: Persons with Down Syndrome have 47 chromosomes as compared to 46 in majority of people.
  • Impacts: This one Extra chromosome causes its own impact and slows down learning process. It impacts neurological functioning causing impairment of intellectual functions e.g. analytical thinking, complex abstractions and judgement etc.
  • Treatment: Good schooling, loving family, learning and work opportunities make them grow up to be responsible, loving and cheerful persons. Their emotions and needs are like any other person of the same age. Accepting and respecting family/community is a big support to their growth and development.

What are the symptoms?

Most children with Down syndrome have:

  • Distinctive facial features, such as a flat face, small ears, slanting eyes, and a small mouth.
  • A short neck and short arms and legs.
  • Low muscle tone and loose joints. Muscle tone usually improves by late childhood.
  • Below-average intelligence.

10.A leaner military is on the cards

Source: The Hindu

The government has approved a host of reforms in the military, with proposals to cut flab and improve financial management.

Background:

These reforms were proposed by a committee of experts, headed by Lt. Gen. D.B. Shekatkar (Retd), constituted by the Defence Ministry.

The committee, set up in 2015 to recommend measures to enhance combat capability and rebalance defence expenditure of the armed forces, submitted its final report in December 2016.

Key facts:

  • A roll-on defence budget to have enough capital expenditure available for modernisation as against the present practice of surrendering unspent capital budget at the end of each financial year.
  • A performance audit of the role of non-combat organisations under the Defence Ministry. The organisations include those dealing with defence estates and accounts, the Director- General of Quality Assurance, the Ordnance Factory Board, the Defence Research and Development Organisation and the NCC.
  • Downsizing or rationalisation of manpower in the organisations, which can lead to significant savings.
  • Setting up of a joint services war college for training middle-level officers.

The committee has said that if its recommendations are implemented over the next five years, the government can save up to ₹25,000 crore from the current expenditure.



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