Daily Current Affairs: 16th September: The Hindu+PIB
Context: Indian Railways is going to undertake one more drive of “MASSIVE SHRAMDAN“ with a focus on “COLLECTION OF PLASTIC WASTE” on 17th September, 2019.
Main focus of the Massive Shramdan drive
- To promote enhanced cleanliness, through collection of plastic waste from all railway premises with special attention to be given to approaches to stations.
- To create awareness for a greater impact against single use plastic.
- To display Replacements/ Substitutes for such plastic items.
- To distribute Cloth bags in huge numbers as per the advice of Environment and Housekeeping Management Division of Railways through its letter.
- To educate all in Railways, including vendors to be prepared for ban of single use plastic with effect from 02.10.2019. In effect, the single use plastic would mean usage of any plastic below 50 microns, in any manner.
What is Single Use Plastic? Single-use plastics, also known as disposable plastics, are those which are used only once before they are thrown away or recycled. These includes plastic bags, straws, coffee stirrers, soda and water bottles and most food packaging. On an estimate, we produce roughly 300 million tons of plastic every year with half of it being disposable. On a global scale, only 10-13% of plastic items undergoes the process of recycling. It became very difficult to recycle them because of the nature of these petroleum based disposable plastic and hence new virgin materials and chemicals are needed to be added for the process of recycling. We must keep in mind that the petroleum based plastic is not biodegradable and usually used up into a landfill where it is buried or it gets into the water and finds it’s way into the ocean. While the plastic will not biodegrade, but it will degrade (break down) into tiny particles after a couple of years. In this process, it releases toxic and harmful chemicals which find their way into our food and water supply.
The Vulture Culture
Context: Estimation of the vulture population in the wild is said to have stabilised which was once very gruesome following a decline of about 99% in their population. Background The population of the vultures in the country had begun to decline sharply to an extent that the number declined from 40 million in the 1980s to a few thousand by 2009.
To study the cause of deaths of vultures, a Vulture Care Centre (VCC) was set up at Pinjore, Haryana. It was here that the White-backed vulture which was rescued from Keoladeo National Park in Rajasthan was brought. With time, a few more vultures from Haryana, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh were also brought in. By the time these vulture conservation breeding centers came up in 2004, the vulture population had already crashed significantly, almost by 99 %. As vultures are slow-breeding birds, immediate intervention was the need of the hour in order to prevent them from extinction. What caused such a decline in the population of vultures? The one and the only major reason behind such a massive decline in the vulture population that caused them to nearly wipe out was the drug Diclofenac, which found in the carcass of cattle on which these vultures fed. The drug, whose veterinary use was banned in 2008, was commonly administered to cattle to treat inflammation. What is the present scenario? Presently, there are 9 Vulture Conservation and Breeding Centres (VCBC) in India, of which 3 are under the direct administration of Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS). It is to be kept in mind that the major objective of these VCBCs was not only to look after the vultures and help them breed in captivity, but also their induction into the wild. An estimation of the vulture population in the wild is said to have stabilised. According to the 2015 surveys, it was revealed that there are about 6,000 White-backed vultures, 12,000 Long-billed vultures and 1,000 Slender-billed vultures in the wild. There is now a huge emphasis on creating awareness and on creating safe zones for vultures in places where there is an existing vulture population. So far, 9 states have been undertaken programmes in order to create safe habitats for vultures.
MAPPING OF COUNTRY
Context: For the first time in history, India’s oldest scientific department, the Survey of India (SoI), which is historically tasked with mapping the country, will rely on drones to map the country.
Key Points to remember At present, one of the best Survey of India (SoI) maps have a resolution of 1:250000, i.e., a 1 cm on the map represents 2500 cm on the ground. The maps which are now being prepared will be of 1:500 resolution, i.e., 1 cm will represent 500 cm. The major aim of SoI is to map 75% of India’s geography i.e, about 2.4 million sq km of the 3.2 million sq km, within the next 2 years. Further, the organisation also plans to procure about 300 drones (of which only 30 have been sourced so far) for the enormous exercise. From this mapping exercise, forests, hills and deserts are likely to be excluded. Survey of India (SoI) has signed agreements with six districts in Haryana, two in Karnataka and two in Maharashtra in order to undertake such drone-based mapping exercises. Every km sq. that will be mapped by the drones will be enclosed in 2500 pictures and thus be a repository of valuable digital data. Further, the making the foundational map for the exercise will be a Rs 400-500 crore endeavour. A major advantage of this drone-based exercise will be the efficient mapping of settled habitations in villages. Residents of these villages will finally be able to get property cards as well as proper legal titles to their lands, based on the availability of accurate maps. About Survey of India It is India’s central engineering agency which is in charge of mapping and surveying. It was originally set up in 1767 to aid in consolidating the territories of the British East India Company, and is one of the oldest Engineering Departments of the GoI. It select its members from Survey of India Service cadre of Civil Services of India and Army Officers from the Indian Army Corps of Engineers. It is headed by the Surveyor General of India. Presently, Survey of India is headed by Lt Gen Girish Kumar, VSM. Some of the key national survey organisations of India includes: SI (cartography); ASI (archaeology); BSI (botany); FSI (forests); FiSI (fisheries); GSI (geology); IIEE (ecology); NIO (oceanography); RGCCI (Census of India); and ZSI (zoology).
India, Australia to elevate strategic ties
Context: A visit to Australia is expected by Defence Minister in November when both countries are likely to conclude the long-pending mutual logistics support agreement and a broader maritime cooperation agreement that will elevate the strategic partnership.
Background of India-Australia ties In the recent past, there have been a number of high-profile visits which are aimed at elevating the partnership, with more visits being scheduled. Following the series of events, Navy chief Admiral Karambir Singh went to Australia and New Zealand early this month. Further, the two countries have expanded cooperation in maritime domain awareness in a controlled manner. Australia has been keen on a mutual logistics support agreement and in 2016 when India signed the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (Logistics agreements are administrative arrangements facilitating access to military facilities for exchange of fuel and provisions on mutual agreement simplifying logistical support and increasing operational turnaround) with the U.S., it also submitted a draft for the same. AUSINDEX, the bilateral naval exercise which was held in early 2019 saw the participation of the largest Australian naval contingent ever sent to India, with over 1,000 men. The Indian Navy and the Royal Australian Navy are partners in the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS), which is a maritime cooperation construct conceptualised by the Indian Navy in 2008. The defence cooperation between the two nations is underpinned on the Memorandum on Defence Cooperation 2006, the Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation 2009 and the bilateral Framework for Security Cooperation 2014. Apart from defence and strategic ties, major imports from Australia to India include coal, gold, vegetables and copper ores. Also, the major exports from India to Australia are agricultural products, gems, pearls, and jewellery, engineering goods and manufacture, leather, leather goods, footwear, and travel goods, textile, clothing, and make up, chemicals and its by products.
Context: Doordarshan celebrates its 60th foundational anniversary recently.
Background Doordarshan often abbreviated as DD, came up as an experiment on September 15, 1959, and later became a service in 1965. By 1972, the services were further extended to Mumbai and Amritsar and then to 7 other cities by 1975. During the course of this time, it was part of All India Radio. It was on April 1, 1976, it became a separate department in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. Over time, Doordarshan has emerged into a network operating 34 satellite channels. At present, it is an autonomous public service broadcaster of Government of India, which is owned by the Broadcasting Ministry of India and is one of the two divisions of Prasar Bharati. Recent additions to the DD network Doordarshan operates 21 channels which includes 2 all-India channels (DD National and DD News), 17 regional satellite channels, 11 state networks, an international channel (DD India), a sports channel (DD Sports), DD Bharati, DD Urdu and DD Kisan. DD Arunprabha, a new regional channel, which provides a 24/7 satellite television channel focusing on the North Eastern region, was launched on 9 February 2019. Prasar Bharati brought 11 more State DD Channels on the Satellite footprint of India through DD Free Dish on 9 March 2019. This includes 5 channels for NE states. These channels are – DD Chhattisgarh, DD Goa, DD Haryana, DD Himachal Pradesh, DD Jharkhand, DD Manipur, DD Meghalaya, DD Mizoram, DD Nagaland, DD Tripura and DD Uttarakhand. Why it was under criticism in the past? Doordarshan had been used, specifically during the Emergency, in order to spread the government propaganda through out the country. It was during Operation Blue Star in 1984, that only the government sources were used to report the story. Doordarshan was involved with other in unlawful activities involving the production of a video claiming acts of violence which, when investigated by independent journalists, were found to be false. Further, in 2004 it censored a controversial documentary on Jayaprakash Narayan, who was an opposition leader during the Emergency Period.
BOOST TO EXPORT AND HOUSING SECTORS
Context: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has announced a fresh set of measures worth around 70,000 crore in order to boost exports and housing sectors.
Key measures taken
- The government will provide a Rs. 10,000 crore special window with a motive to help in completing the ongoing affordable and middle-income housing projects.
- Further, the housing projects considered for the special window have been limited to non-NPA (non-performing assets) and non-NCLT (National Capital Law Tribunal) projects.
- There has been an initiative to extend the scheme of reimbursement of taxes and duties for export promotion, fully automated electronic refund for the Input Tax Credits (ITC) in GST.
- An inter-ministerial group will be set up under the D/o Commerce which will monitor the export finance credit on a weekly basis.
- The scheme for the Remission of Duties or Taxes on Export Products (RoDTEP) will replace Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS) for textile.
- India will now have its own version of an annual shopping festival on the lines of the one hosted by Dubai. In this annual shopping festival, which is likely to begin from March 2020, will be held in four Indian cities and the focus areas would include gems and jewellery, textile and leather.
- There is also a provision announced for higher insurance cover on exports by the MSMEs.
- An FTA Utilisation Mission will also be set-up by the government which will be headed by the senior officer in the Department of Commerce to maximise benefits that are available under the Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
- Further, there was also an announcement for the priority sector tag for the export credit.
MANDATORY AADHAR AUTHENTICATION A plan has been rolled out by the GST Network to make the Aadhar Authentication mandatory for new dealers from January 2020 in order to check malpractices in GST. Such an authentication was optional earlier. Under the new set of rules, those who do not prefer to undergo Aadhar Authentication, can opt for physical verification, which will be carried out in a span of 3 days. The decision to make this mandatory was taken after a huge amount of fly by ghost operators who make fake invoices, being noticed within 2 years. At present, Aadhar authentication is optional and there is no physical verification needed. B.B. King’s 94th birth anniversary celebrated by Google Doodle The doodle shows the “King of the Blues” B.B. King performing on his guitar. This animated doodle was created by guest artist Steve Spencer and guest animator Nayeli Lavanderos, thus depicting the life and times of America’s iconic singer, guitarist and songwriter.
Google is also celebrating today the 70th birth anniversary of pop singer from Indonesia and songwriter Chrismansyah Rahadi, known by his stage name of Chrisye. This doodle will be visible in Indonesia. Another doodle celebrating Japan’s Respect for the Aged Day, locally known as Keiro no Hi will be visible in Japan. HINDI DIVAS It is an annual day which is celebrated on 14th September as it was on this day in 1949, when Hindi was first adopted by Constituent Assembly of India as the official language of India. The event is mostly sponsored by the Government in the Central Government offices, firms, schools and other institutions which aims to promote Hindi Language.
On this day, Rajbhasha Gaurav Puraskar (For Citizens of India for writing original books in Hindi on knowledge; For Central Govt employees including retired ones for writing original books in Hindi as well as for writing excellent articles in Hindi) and the Rajbhasha Kirti Puraskar (for outstanding work in promoting the use of official language to Ministries, Departments, PSUs, banks and in-house Hindi Magazines) were also awarded by the Union Home Ministry.