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09 November, 2019

23 Min Read

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Paper Topics Subject
GS-II Steel scrap recycling policy
SPG, NSG and other security forces
Kerala Fiber Optic Network Project
Kalapani Territory International Relations
Quad group International Relations
GS-III NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft
GS-II :
Steel scrap recycling policy

Syllabus subtopic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

News:  In a bid to ensure quality scrap for the steel industry, the government has come out with a Steel Scrap Recycling Policy that aims to reduce imports, conserve resources and save energy.

Prelims focus: Key features of the Scrapping policy and National Steel Policy.

Mains focus: Need for and significance of the policy

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  • The policy resulted from the Indian government’s National Steel Policy of 2017, in which the country is expected to have 300 million mt/year of steel production capacity by 2030. 

 

Key features of the policy:

  1. The policy aims to promote circular economy in the steel sector”, besides promoting “a formal and scientific collection, dismantling and processing activities for end of life products.
  2. It envisages a framework to facilitate and promote establishment of metal scrapping centres in India, which will ensure scientific processing and recycling of ferrous scrap generated from various sources and a variety of products.
  3. It also aims to decongest the Indian cities from reuse of ferrous scrap, besides creating a mechanism for treating waste streams and residues produced from dismantling and shredding facilities in compliance to Hazardous & Other Wastes (Management & Trans boundary Movement) Rules, 2016 issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forests. 
  4. The policy is based on “6Rs principles of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Recover, Redesign and Remanufacture through scientific handling, processing and disposal of all types of recyclable scraps including non-ferrous scraps, through authorized centers / facility”.

 

Need for the policy:

  • The country’s steel scrap imports were valued at Rs 24,500 crore in 2017-18, while the deficit was to the tune of 7 MT.
  • The scrap policy will ensure processing and recycling of products in an organised, safe and environment friendly manner, besides evolving a responsive ecosystem and producing high quality ferrous scrap for quality steel production minimising the dependency on imports.
  • And the gap between demand and supply of scrap can be reduced in the future and the country may be self-sufficient by 2030.
  • The scrapping policy shall ensure that quality scrap is available for the steel industry.

 

Benefits of using scrap:

  1. Scrap is an important input for the electric furnaces. If quality scrap is provided as the charge to the electric furnaces, then the furnaces can produce high grade steel. High grade steel scrap shall not have the impurities if processing is done with the scrap processing centres and by shredders etc.
  2. There is a worldwide trend to increase steel production using scrap as the main raw material as recycling of scrap helps in conservation of vital natural resources besides other numerous benefits.
  3. The use of every tonne of scrap shall save 1.1 tonne of iron ore, 630 kg of coking coal and 55 kg of limestone. There shall be considerable saving in specific energy consumption also.

 

Concerns:

The policy has raised several market concerns ranging from a surge of mixed metal (unprocessed) scrap flowing into the country to challenges of setting up recycling centres.

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GS-II :
SPG, NSG and other security forces

Syllabus subtopic: Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate.

 

News: The Union government is expected to take away the security cover by Special Protection Group (SPG) being provided at present to Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi. They will, however, continue to get a Z+ security cover, where they will be provided commandos belonging to the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).

Prelims focus: Roles and features of various security forces.

Mains focus: Need for and significance of these security forces.

 

How are security levels decided?

  • The Union Home Ministry takes this call after evaluating the inputs from all the intelligence agencies such as the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).
  • However, since none of the intelligence agencies is accountable to any external statutory body, barring internal oversight by ministries of Home and Foreign Affairs, the issue of security cover is open to manipulation.

 

Origins of SPG:

  1. In March 1985, following the recommendations of a committee set up by the Home Ministry, a special unit was created for this purpose under the Cabinet Secretariat. This unit, initially called the Special Protection Unit, was renamed as Special Protection Group in April 1985.
  2. Subsequently, the Parliament passed The Special Protection Group (SPG) Act, which was notified in June 1988 “to provide for the constitution and regulation of an armed force of the Union for providing proximate security to the Prime Minister of India and for matters connected therewith”.
  3. The SPG Act defined “proximate security” as “protection provided from close quarters, during journey by road, rail, aircraft, watercraft or on foot or any other means of transport” and to “include the places of functions, engagements, residence or halt”.
  4. Coverage: SPG protection was extended, apart from the Prime Minister, to “former Prime Ministers of India and members of their immediate families” through an amendment in the Act in the aftermath of the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in May 1991.

 

Various categories of security:

Besides the SPG, VIPs in India are protected by other security forces as well. The levels of security cover are determined by the threat perception around the individual.

  1. The highest level of security cover is the Z-plus category, followed by Z, Y, and X categories.
  2. The higher the level of cover, the larger the number of personnel protecting the individual.
  3. Roughly 24-36 personnel with automatic weapons are deployed for Z-plus category protectees and 16-20 personnel guard Z-category protectees.
  4. The elite ‘Black Cat’ commandos of the NSG are deployed to protect VIPs for whom the threat perception is the highest.
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GS-II :
Kerala Fiber Optic Network Project

Syllabus subtopic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

 

News: Kerala Cabinet has approved a Rs 1,548-crore fiber-optic network project. To be completed by December 2020, the project seeks to fulfil the government’s aim of making internet access a ‘citizen’s right’.

 

Prelims focus: About the project.

Mains focus: Significance and the need for the project, challenges present and ways to address them.

  

About the fiber- optic network project:

  • Objective: To provide free high-speed internet connection to around 2 million families in the state.
  • Aims to provide free high-speed internet to over 20 lakh below poverty line (BPL) households.
  • It is a collaborative initiative of the state’s power utility Kerala State Electricity Board and Kerala State IT Infrastructure Ltd.
  • Internet service providers and cable television operators can also join the optic-fibre network project to provide their services. 
  • As many as 30,000 government offices and schools would be linked through the high-speed network, said the state government.

 

Significance:

The project is expected to help the country’s IT industry and open major opportunities in the fields of artificial intelligence, blockchain, and startups. It is also expected to help in better management of the transport sector.

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GS-II : International Relations
Kalapani Territory

Syllabus subtopic: India and its neighbourhood- relations.

News:  Nepal government has strongly objected to the inclusion of ‘Kalapani’ under the Indian Territory as per the newly released political map of India.

 

Prelims focus: Location of Kalapani.

Mains focus: About the dispute, India’s concerns and solutions.

 

Issue

  • In the latest map, India included Kalapani into the Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand.
  • Nepal government says that Kalapani is an integral part of the country and that talks are still on between New Delhi and Kathmandu over this “unresolved” area.
  • Foreign secretaries of both countries have been assigned the responsibility to resolve the remaining border-related issues between India and Nepal.

 

Where is it located?

  • Kalapani is located at an altitude of 3600m on the Kailash Manasarovar route.
  • It borders Uttarakhand in India and Sudurpashchim Pradesh in Nepal.
  • Since the Indo-China war of 1962, Kalapani is controlled by India’s Indo-Tibetan Border Police.

Nepal claims that the river located towards the west of the territory is the main Kali river and thus it falls in its territory, India claims a ridgeline towards the east of the Kalapani territory and hence, includes it in the Indian Union.

                                          

Genesis of the dispute:

  • Under the treaty of Sugauli signed between Nepal and the British East India Company in 1816, the Kali River was located as Nepal’s western boundary with India. It, however, made no mention of a ridgeline and subsequent maps of the areas drawn by British surveyors showed the source of the Kali river at different places.
  • This discrepancy has led to the boundary disputes between India and Nepal, with each country producing maps including the territory in their own area to support their claims. The exact size of the Kalapani territory also varies in different sources.

 

Way ahead:

While the two countries have made a lot of headway in ties, sensitive issues such as border need to be handled carefully and New Delhi has to be mindful of Nepal’s concerns.

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GS-II : International Relations
Quad group


Syllabus subtopic: India and its neighbourhood- relations.

 

News: Quad countries recently reviewed situation in Indo- Pacific region. The participants also supported an ASEAN-led mechanism for the regional architecture for the region.

 

Prelims focus: Members of the Quad grouping, countries in the Indian ocean region, Chinese military bases.

Mains focus: The Quad grouping- features, significance, concerns and potential.

 

Background:

The 10- nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is considered one of the most influential groupings in the region and India and several other countries including the US, China, Japan and Australia are its dialogue partners.

 

About Quad

  • The quadrilateral formation includes Japan, India, United States and Australia.

 

  • All four nations find a common ground of being the democratic nations and common interests of unhindered maritime trade and security.

 

 

  • The idea was first mooted by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2007. However, the idea couldn’t move ahead with Australia pulling out of it.

 

  • It was revived in 2017 and is being viewed as response to increased Chinese economic and military power.

 

Significance of Quad:

Quad is an opportunity for like-minded countries to share notes and collaborate on projects of mutual interest.

Members share a vision of an open and free Indo-Pacific.

It is one of the many avenues for interaction among India, Australia, Japan and the US and should not be seen in an exclusive context.

 

Way ahead:

  • Quad is an opportunity for like-minded countries to share notes and collaborate on projects of mutual interest.
  • All four countries share a vision of an open and free Indo-Pacific. Each is involved in development and economic projects as well as in promoting maritime domain awareness and maritime security.
  • The Quad grouping is one of the many avenues for interaction among India, Australia, Japan and the US and should not be seen in an exclusive context. Quad should not be seen in any comparative or in an exclusive context.

 

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GS-III :
NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft

Syllabus subtopic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

  

News: NASA’s Voyager 2  has exited heliosphere and has entered interstellar space. It is now at 11 billion miles from the earth.

Prelims and Mains focus: Key features, objectives and achievements of Voyager 1 & 2 

Achievements:

  • Voyager 2 is the only probe ever to study Neptune and Uranus during planetary flybys.

 

  • It is the second man-made object to leave our planet.

 

  • Voyager 2 is the only spacecraft to have visited all four gas giant planets — Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune — and discovered 16 moons, as well as phenomena like Neptune’s mysteriously transient Great Dark Spot, the cracks in Europa’s ice shell, and ring features at every planet.

 

About  Interstellar space?

Scientists use the heliopause to mark where interstellar space begins, although depending on how you define our solar system it can stretch all the way to the Oort Cloud, which begins 1,000 times farther away from the sun than Earth’s orbit.

 

About Heliosphere:

The heliosphere is a bubble around the sun created by the outward flow of the solar wind from the sun and the opposing inward flow of the interstellar wind. That heliosphere is the region influenced by the dynamic properties of the sun that are carried in the solar wind–such as magnetic fields, energetic particles and solar wind plasma. The heliopause marks the end of the heliosphere and the beginning of interstellar space.

 

About Voyager mission:

  1. Launched in the 1970’s, and the probes sent by NASA were only meant to explore the outer planets – but they just kept on going.
  2. Voyager 1 departed Earth on 5 September 1977, a few days after Voyager 2 and left our solar system in 2013.
  3. The mission objective of the Voyager Interstellar Mission (VIM) is to extend the NASA exploration of the solar system beyond the neighborhood of the outer planets to the outer limits of the Sun’s sphere of influence, and possibly beyond.

The Voyager spacecraft are the third and fourth human spacecraft to fly beyond all the planets in our solar system. Pioneers 10 and 11 preceded Voyager in outstripping the gravitational attraction of the Sun but on February 17, 1998, Voyager 1 passed Pioneer 10 to become the most distant human-made object in space.

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