31, January 2017

1.Beti Bachao Beti Padhao scheme

Source: PIB

  • Ministry of Women & Child Development, Government of India that certain unauthorised sites/organisations/NGOs/individuals are distributing forms in the name of cash incentive under Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Scheme. The scheme has no provision for individual CASH TRANSFER COMPONENT by Government of India.
  • Beti Bachao Beti Padhao scheme focuses on challenging mindsets and deep rooted patriarchy in the societal system, strict enforcement of PC&PNDT Act(Pre-Conception & Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, 1994), advancing education of the girl child: focus is on issues of women empowerment on a life cycle continuum. It is not a DBT (Direct Benefit Transfer) scheme.

PC&PNDT Act 1994

An  Act  to  provide   for  the  prohibition  of  sex  selection,  before  or  after  conception,  and  for  regulation  of  pre- natal  diagnostic  techniques  for  the  purposes  of  detecting  genetic  abnormalities  or  metabolic  disorders  or chromosomal  abnormalities  or  certain  congenital  malformations  or  sex-linked  disorders  and  for  the  preven-tion  of  their  misuse  for  sex  determination  leading  to  female  foeticide  and,  for  matters  connected  therewith  orincidental  thereto.

  • It shall extend to the whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • It shall come into force on such date as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, appoint.

It enacted by Parliament in the Forty-fifth Year of the Republic of India.

2.Consultative Committee for Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas on “Conservation & Fuel Efficiency held

Source:  PIB

Conservation & Fuel Efficiency:

Enhancing Conservation capabilities of people and help understand need, issues & solutions for conservation and effective utilization of petroleum products and also to give message that collective participation is the key to Conservation.

Chairing the meeting, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for M/o Petroleum & Natural Gas Shri Dharmendra Pradhan welcomed all Members of the Consultative Committee to the first such meeting of 2017.

Key facts:

  • India is a fast growing economy and macro-economic drivers indicate significant upside in consumption of petroleum products.
  • That the Government have been giving high priority to conservation and efficiency measures in order to reduce the increasing gap between demand and indigenous supply of crude oil.
  • Fuel conservation has two pronged benefits in the Indian context ie it is necessary for energy security and also for its importance in health and environment protection.
  • The Ministry has taken up a goal of reducing import of petroleum products by 10 % by the year 2022.
  • Development of Fuel Economy Norms for heavy duty vehicles, leapfrogging from BS IV to VI fuel norms, positioning of cleaner fuels like PNG and CNG, ethanol blending of Petrol etc are some of the decisions of Government in the direction of petroleum efficiency and conservation.
  • Significant steps taken by PCRA on conservation activities being undertaken by them like training programmes for drivers of various STUs, heavy commercial vehicles, Energy Efficiency Studies of small, medium and large industries , awareness programmes for promoting conservation of LPG and PNG for housewives and cooks amongst others.
  • PCRA is conducting month long mass awareness programmes across the country on fuel conservation called Saksham – 2017

SAKSHAM -2017: Petroleum Conservation Research Association (PCRA) and Oil & Gas Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) under the aegis of Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas (MoPNG) are organising a Campaign to sensitize the masses about the conservation and efficient use of petroleum products towards achieving twin objectives of better health & environment and securing availability of Oil & Gas for future generations.

The campaign is named as SAKSHAM 2017 (Sanrakshan Kshamta Mahotsav) in which a number of activities are being carried out based on the theme of the event.

3.Madhya Pradesh cabinet to meet at water tourism spot Hanuwantiya

Source: Indian Express

Jal-Mahotsav at Hanuwantiya which ended on January 15. This was the second water tourism fest after the development of facilities at this spot.

Madhya Pradesh Cabinet would meet at Hanuwantiya, a newly developed water tourism destination in thebackwaters of Indira Sagar dam.

Hanuwantiya Island

  • Hanumantiya island is a newly introducted water tourism destination in Madhya Pradesh tourism. It is close to Khandwa town in Western Madhya Pradesh. It is developed & promoted by Madhya Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation.
  • The name “Hanumantiya” is derived from local village name with same name which lies in Malhagarh Tehsil of Mandsaur district in Madhya Pradesh.
  • Madhya Pradesh Cabinet would meet at Hanuwantiya, a newly developed water tourism destination in the backwaters of Indira Sagar dam.
  • More than 100 islands have come up in the backwaters of this dam, which is one of the biggest reservoirs in Asia. The island formation starts from Hanuwantiya, which is surrounded by backwaters from three sides.

INDIRA SAGAR DAM

  • Indira Sagar Dam is a multipurpose dam project at Madhya Pradesh in Central India. It was built on Narmada river which flows from Central India to Western India.
  • This dam was constructed on river Narmada. The minister said that this informal meeting is being organised in view of ongoing ‘Namami Devi Narmade – Sewa Yatra’, an awareness campaign for conservation of river Narmada.
  • Surrounding area of dam is also good for nature tourism which includes birdwatching, mammals sighting.
  • While visiting the Indore Tourist Circuit, one can include this water tourism destination also. It is just 140kms from Maheshwar and 95kms from Omkareshwar which shows how feasible to include it in tour plans.

NARMADA Tributaries:Tributaries of Narmada River

  • Since the river flows through a narrow valley confined by precipitous (dangerously high or steep) hills, it does not have many tributaries.
  • The absence of tributaries is especially noted on the right bank of the river where the Hiran is the only exception.
  • The other right bank tributaries are the Orsang, the Barna and the Kolar.
  • It is one of only three major rivers in peninsular India that run from east to west (longest west flowing river), along with the Tapti River and the Mahi River. It is one of the rivers in India that flows in a rift valley, flowing west between the Satpura and Vindhya ranges.
  • The major Hydro Power Project in the basin are Indira Sagar, Sardar Sarovar, Omkareshwar, Bargi & Maheshwar.

Tributaries

 – left     Burhner River, Banjar River, Sher River, Shakkar River, Dudhi River, Tawa River, Ganjal River, Chhota Tawa River, Kundi River, Goi River, Karjan River

 – right   Hiran River, Tendoni River, choral river, Kolar River, Man River, Uri River, Hatni River, Orsang River.

Narmada-river-basin-West-Flowing-Rivers-

4.H1-B work visa reforms explained: The what, who and how

Source: Indian Express

A Bill aimed at overhauling the work visa program was introduced in the US House of Representatives.

  • The latest work visa reforms, if passed by majority vote in both houses of Congress, will make it harder for those applying for H1-B visas as the minimum wage has been more than doubled, from $60,000 to $130,000.
  • As a new executive order aimed at overhauling work visa programmes like the H-1B and L1, a move that will adversely hit the lifeline of Indian tech firms and professionals in the US.

What is the High Skilled Integrity and Fairness Act?

The Act will make it mandatory for employers sponsoring H1-B visas for immigrant workers to pay a minimum wage of $130,000, 200 per cent higher than the previous minimum wage of $60,000.

Who will be affected?

  • The reforms are being introduced to protect the interests of Americans against the influx of foreign workers in the US job market.
  • US issues 85,000 H1-B visas every year, a sizeable chunk of the applicants are Indians.
  • Indian students migrating to the states for pursuing a higher degree and tech companies that send their workers on off-site projects will be among the most affected by the changes to the visa policy.

How will this impact India?

  • The effects of the Act have already been felt in the Indian markets, with share prices of major tech companies plummeting.
  • Infosys, TCS, Wipro, Tech Mahindra and HCL were among those badly hit. The Act could also lead to a decrease in interest in students flocking to American universities, thereby minimising the brain drain.

Will my US visa be rejected?

  • As far as genuine students are concerned, no.
  • The Act also intends to build a “bridge” from F-1 student status to Lawful Permanent Residence.
  • So visas will not be denied solely on the basis that the applicant intends to immigrate to the US. This applies for those holding O-1 (Extraordinary ability), P ( Athletes, Artists and Entertainers) and free trade visa holders.

Does President Donald Trump have anything to do with it?

Though Trump had advocated for applying curbs on the number of H1-B visas issued annually, he did not sign an executive order, similar to the one on banning immigration from seven majority-Muslim countries.  The Bill, however, is likely to be passed as the Republicans control both houses of the Congress — the Senate and House of representatives.

5.How Indus Valley Civilisation coped with climate change

Source: The Hindu

The Indus Valley Civilisation underwent a period of climate change about 4,000 years ago, say scientists who suggest that the ancient population in India used a variety of subsistence practices to cope with diverse environments.

  • They studied the dynamics of adaptation and resilience in the face of a diverse and varied environmental context, using the case study of the Indus Civilisation (3000 BC—1300 BC).
  • They looked at how Indus populations in north-west India interacted with their environment, and considered how that environment changed during periods of climate change.

Water is of the essence

For most ancient complex societies, water was a critical factor, and the availability of water and the way that it was managed and used provide critical insight into human adaptation and the resilience of subsistence practices.

  • Researchers showed that this region was subject to climate change during the period when the Indus Civilisation was at its height (2500 BC—1900 BC).
  • The civilisation provides a unique opportunity to study how an ancient society coped with diverse and varied ecologies and change in environmental parameters.
  • The Indus Civilisation was situated close to a deep lake Kotla Dahar, which would have been primarily monsoonal. The lake showed evidence for two dramatic decreases in monsoon rainfall and a progressive lowering of the lake level.Kotla Dahar is a closed basin, filled only by rain and runoff and without outlets. Haryana
  • The second of these shows Kotla Dahar becoming ephemeral during 2200-2000 BC as a result of an abrupt weakening of the monsoon, which is visible in speleothem records in Oman and northeast India.

Climate and deurbanisation

  • The proximity of the Kotla Dahar record to the area occupied by Indus populations shows that climate must be formally considered as a contributing parameter in the process of Indus deurbanisation, at least in the context of the plains of northwest India.
  • It has long been hypothesised that there was variation in the subsistence practices used by Indus populations and this fits with the theme of coping with diverse environments.
  • We argue that rather than being forced to intensify or diversify subsistence practices in response to climatic change, we have evidence for the use of millet, rice, and tropical pulses in the pre-urban and urban phases of the Indus Civilisation.

This evidence suggests that local Indus populations were already well adapted to living in varied and variable environmental conditions before the development of urban centres.

6.Panel headed by Vinod Rai to oversee BCCI’s affairs

Source: The Hindu

The Supreme Court on appointed a four-member Committee of Administrators (CoA) headed by former Comptroller and Auditor General of India Vinod Rai to oversee the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

  • The four will function as the interim bosses of the BCCI and run the day-to-day administration of the cricket body till the Lodha reforms are fully implemented and elections held.
  • The court has asked the BCCI CEO to submit a report to the committee detailing the level of compliance achieved by the BCCI and its members in adopting the Lodha recommendations upheld by the court.
  • The BCCI CEO has to submit the report to the new committee within a week. After this, the committee has been given four weeks to scrutinise the compliance achieved and report to the Supreme Court.

Background:

  • That the BCCI was a private body, and what the Lodha Committee had done was intervene in the “internal affairs of a private society”
  • The BCCI remains a private society even though its functions resemble that of a national character. Where is your jurisdiction? Take the case of Delhi District Cricket Association. It is a ‘company’ under Section 25 of the Companies Act. How can you decide the eligibility of the president, secretary and other office-bearers of a private company.

Lodha Committee’s key recommendations include:

  • One state, one vote.
  • An age limit of 70 years for administrators.
  • Nine-member Apex council instead of working committee.
  • Nine-year tenure for administrators with cooling period after every three-year term.
  • Three-member selection committee to pick the Indian team.

LODHA COMMITTEE

  • The Lodha committee was formed in 2015 to to pronounce the quantum of punishment for those found guilty in the Indian Premier League (IPL) betting and spot-fixing case by the Mudgal report.
  • In addition to pronouncing the punitive measures for perpetrators, the apex court empowered the panel to recommend changes in the administration of the BCCI. With the board failing to implement the majority of the Lodha recommendations, Anurag Thakur and Ajay Shirke were removed as the president and the secretary respectively.

7.‘Vampire’ star caught in the act

Source: The Hindu

India’s first dedicated space observatory, ASTROSAT, has captured the rare phenomenon of a small six-billion-year-old “vampire” star “preying” on a bigger celestial body.

  • Scientists say the smaller star, also called a “blue straggler,” feeds off its companion star by sucking out its mass and energy, causing its eventual death.
  • The most popular explanation is that these are binary systems in which the smaller star sucks material out of the bigger companion star to become a blue straggler, and hence is called a vampire star.
  • The small star becomes bigger, hotter and bluer, which gives it the appearance of being young, while the ageing companion burns out and collapses to a stellar remnant.

ASTROSAT:

ASTROSAT is India’s first dedicated multi wavelength space observatory. This scientific satellite mission endeavours for a more detailed understanding of our universe.

  • ASTROSAT is designed to observe the universe in the Visible, Ultraviolet, low and high energy X-ray regions of the electromagnetic spectrum simultaneously with the help of its five payloads.
  • Astrosat aims at understanding the high energy processes in binary star systems containing neutron stars and black holes, to estimate magnetic fields of neutron stars, to study star birth regions and high energy processes in star systems lying beyond the Milky Way galaxy.
  • This mission has put ISRO in a very exclusive club of nations that have space-based observatories. Only the United States, European Space Agency, Japan and Russia have such observatories in space.

8.Centre to hold talks to end Manipur crisis

Source: The Hindu

The Centre has decided to hold tripartite talks with the United Naga Council (UNC) and the Manipur government to end the ongoing blockade of two national highways in Manipur, which has disrupted normal life and led to a shortage of essential commodities in the State.

Issue:

  • The economic blockade imposed by the UNC, an umbrella body of Naga groups under the patronage of National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah), against the Manipur government’s decision to carve out seven new districts, has continued for over four months now.
  • The UNC sees the move as an attempt to truncate the concept of a greater Nagalim.
  • The Centre has been accused of turning a blind eye to the activities of the UNC, with which the Union government had signed a framework agreement in 2015 to resolve the decades-old Naga issue.

State subject: As per the 7th schedule Constitution of India under Article – 246:

  • The Union government even sought Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi’s opinion to end the economic blockade. After consultation, it was concluded that no law permitted the Centre to interfere in the matter, as law and order was a State subject.
  • if the State government failed in discharging its constitutional duties, the Centre “may have to explore other measures under the provisions of the Constitution of India to ensure that the difficulties of the people of Manipur are alleviated.

Background:

  • Manipur will now have 16 districts and the decision for formation of 7 new districts was taken for administrative convenience and to enable the state government take up development works effectively even in the remote and underdeveloped parts of the state.
  • Manipur earlier had 9 districts – Imphal West, Imphal East, Bishnupur, Thoubal, Ukhrul, Senapati, Tamenglong, Churachandpur and Chandel.
  • The move came in the backdrop of the United Naga Council (UNC) launching economic blockade in Manipur for more than one month since November one last in protest against the formation of Sadar Hills (Kangpokpi) and Jiribam districts.

9.India to launch standby navigation satellite this year

Source: Indian Express

India will launch one of its backup navigation satellites this year as a replacement to IRNSS-1A satellite, whose three atomic clocks have failed, an official of the Indian space agency.

The official denied the existence of similar problems with the rubidium atomic clocks in another navigation satellite.

IRNSS- 1A

  • The Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) is similar to the GPS (Global Positioning System) of the US, Glonass of Russia and Galileo of Europe as well as China’s Beidou.
  • According to Indian space agency, the applications of IRNSS are terrestrial, aerial and marine navigation, vehicle tracking and fleet management, terrestrial navigation for hikers and travellers, disaster management, integration with mobile phones, mapping and geodetic data capture and visual and voice navigation for drivers.
  • In other words, IRNSS could be said to be the “Indian GPS”

Satellite Navigation:

  • ISRO is working jointly with Airport Authority of India (AAI) in establishing the GPS Aided Geo Augmented Navigation (GAGAN) system.
  • To meet the user requirements of the positioning, navigation and timing services based on the indigenous system, ISRO is establishing a regional satellite navigation system called Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS).

GPS Aided GEO Augmented Navigation (GAGAN):

This is a Satellite Based Augmentation System (SBAS) implemented jointly with Airport Authority of India (AAI).

  • The main objectives of GAGAN are to provide Satellite-based Navigation services with accuracy and integrity required for civil aviation applications and to provide better Air Traffic Management over Indian Airspace.
  • The system will be interoperable with other international SBAS systems and provide seamless navigation across regional boundaries. The GAGAN Signal-In-Space (SIS) is available through GSAT-8 and GSAT-10.

Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) : NavIC

This is an independent Indian Satellite based positioning system for critical National applications. The main objective is to provide Reliable Position, Navigation and Timing services over India and its neighbourhood, to provide fairly good accuracy to the user. The IRNSS will provide basically two types of services

  1. Standard Positioning Service (SPS)
  2. Restricted Service (RS)
  • “NavIC” (Navigation Indian Constellation): Space Segment consists of seven satellites, three satellites in GEO stationary orbit (GEO) and four satellites in Geo Synchronous Orbit (GSO) orbit with inclination of 29° to the equatorial plane.
  • To the Nation on the occasion of successful launch of IRNSS-1G, the seventh and last satellite of NavIC. All the satellites will be visible at all times in the Indian region.
  • All the seven Satellites of NavIC, namely, IRNSS-1A, 1B, 1C, ID,1E, 1F and 1G were successfully launched on July 02, 2013, Apr 04, 2014, Oct 16, 2014, Mar 28, 2015, Jan 20, 2016, Mar 10, 2016 and Apr 28, 2016 respectively and all are functioning satisfactorily from their designated orbital positions.

However, India will launch one of its backup navigation satellites this year as a replacement to IRNSS-1A satellite, whose three atomic clocks have failed, an official of the Indian space agency.



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