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12 December, 2019

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GS-I : Miscellaneous
Shore temple facing severe sea erosion

Syllabus subtopic: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

 

Prelims and mains focus: about the Shore Temple at Mahabalipuram, Pallava architecture, effects of climate change on ancient monuments in India

 

News: The shoreline on the northern side of the Shore Temple in Mamallapuram, Tamil Nadu is facing severe sea erosion. The Public Works Department is awaiting funds to construct groynes for coastal protection at a cost of ?95.95 crore. According to PWD, every year, nearly 4­5 m of the shoreline near the temple is declining.

 

About the Shore temple

Location:    Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu

Built in:    7th century

Dedicated to:   Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu

Attraction:    One of the earliest structural temples in South India

Significance:    Listed as World Heritage Site

 

Built in the 7th century, Shore Temple depicts the royal taste of Pallava dynasty. During the reign of Rajasimha, the temple saw its construction when Pallava art was at its apex. Ravaged by wind and sea, the temple has witnessed the historical events of India. This work of genius was recognized and listed amongst the World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.

Shore Temple comprises three shrines, where the prominent ones are dedicated to Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. In the garbhagriha (sanctum sanctorum), an image of Shivalinga embraces the site. At the rear end, one can find two shrines facing each other. Here, one shrine is dedicated to Ksatriyasimnesvara and other to Lord Vishnu. In the shrine, Lord Vishnu is imaged reclining on the 'Seshanag', which is a symbol of consciousness in Hinduism. 

The exterior wall of the shrine to Lord Vishnu and the internal side of the boundary wall are elaborately carved and sculptured. The images on the sculpted panels depict scenes from everyday life. However, the sculptures are incredibly real and artistic. The exterior walls of the temple are segregated by plasters into bays, where the lower part has been impressed into a series of nurturing lions. The archeological department has excavated certain other figures from the site. 

Shore Temple is no more a living temple. The structure of the temple makes one to contemplate and perhaps, it was erected basically as a work of art. The Pallavas were known to be the great patrons of art and were keen to create their own style of temple architecture. In the present day, Shore Temple makes the background of Mahabalipuram Dance Festival that is held in Jan /Feb every year. The festival is organized to promote the traditional dance as well as tourism in Mahabalipuram. 

 

Architecture

Shore Temple is also acknowledged for being the first stone structure made by Pallavas. Before this, the monuments used to be carved out of the rocks or stones. Unlike other monuments of the region, Shore Temple is a five-storied rock-cut structural temple more willingly than monolithical. In southern India, this is one amongst the earliest and most important structural temples. The spire is extensively decorated with carvings and sculptures. In the recent years, a stone wall has been constructed to protect the shrine from further sea-erosion. 

Perched on a 50 feet square plinth, the pyramidal structure raises to the extent of 60 feet. Presenting a typical specimen of Dravidian temple architecture, Shore Temple generates an exclusive combination of history and natural splendor. The temple was designed to grasp the first rays of the rising sun and to spotlight the waters after sunset. In the words of Percy Brown, Shore Temple served as "a landmark by day and a beacon by night"

Source: The Hindu

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GS-II :
Justice System Lets Women Down

Syllabus subtopic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.

Prelims and Mains focus: About the factors causing delays in justice delivery mechanism in crimes against women and their consequences

News: Seven years after the crime, the infamous Delhi gangrape case labours on in the Supreme Court with the filing of a fresh review petition. In the Unnao case, the rape victim was killed before the final verdict.

 

Justice delayed is justice denied

In India, justice, even in high-profile cases of rape, can take time. The delays hurt victims and affect the society by eroding trust in institutions and increasing the clamour for extrajudicial justice.

Cases of rape in India fell in 2017 to 52 incidents per million women from 63 in 2016, according to the latest available data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). However, this figure is likely to be an underestimate. An earlier analysis had estimated that 99% of cases of sexual violence in India go unreported .

Even when rapes are reported, their resolution is delayed. Like with any crime, rape-related crimes are first dealt with by police and then by courts. Both processes can be slow. According to NCRB data, 29% of all cases of rape in India at the end of 2017 were unresolved by police. The court backlog was worse.

Nearly 88% of all rape cases in courts were pending resolution in 2017. These figures, however, were an improvement over 2016, but significantly worse than the 2001 figures.

This pendency persists even after concerted efforts to expedite rape cases. For instance, the Delhi gangrape in 2012 triggered several initiatives to prioritize resolving rape cases. They may have had an immediate effect with pendency rate for rape cases falling between 2012 and 2013. However, the pendency rate on rape cases is no better than the pendency for other crimes.

Even the fast-track courts established to expedite cases have a pendency problem. Though the government proposed establishing 1,800 fast-track courts, only 700 are operational with the total number of pending cases in these courts standing at around 700,000.

 

Delay in other crimes against women

Police and courts take time to process all crimes against women, not just rape cases. As law enforcement is a state subject, the time taken to process the crimes, which include acid attacks and dowry deaths, can vary significantly across India. For instance, police forces in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat seem to be the most efficient at disposing of both crimes against women and general crimes. In contrast, the police in Jharkhand, Delhi and Punjab are among the worst at processing crimes against women, compared to other crimes. The differences, though, could reflect levels of reporting in states. Gujarat, for instance, has a minor pendency issue, but also the lowest levels of gender crimes reported among Indian states.

In courts, pendency is a big issue in every state, but courts in eastern India, such as West Bengal and Odisha, suffer from bigger backlogs for both crimes against women and other crimes. These courts are also among the most under-staffed in the country.

 

 Factors causing delay in justice delivery

  • Understaffing is a major driver of pendency in both courts and police forces. However, for crimes against women, there could be other factors.

 

  • The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act in 2013 expanded the definition of sexual violence crimes against women, which could have increased the caseload for both the police and courts.

 

  • There may also be differences in how gender crimes are treated. A 2019 survey of police personnel across India by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), shows that around 20% of all personnel believe that gender-based violence complaints are false and motivated.  Little wonder then that women trust the police less than men.

 

 

Trust deficit

  • In a 2018 survey on police perceptions, CSDS found that 66% of women said they trusted the police compared to 71% of men.

 

  • Delays in the system could also be encouraging support for extrajudicial justice. A significant proportion of India’s police force believes that extrajudicial killings and violence towards criminals are justified. The 2019 CSDS survey found that 19% of police personnel believe that killing dangerous criminals was better than a legal trial, while 75% feel that violence towards criminals was justified. (See chart 5): as reactions to the Hyderabad encounter demonstrated, this is a view shared by even those outside the police.

 

  • The 2018 CSDS survey suggested that 50% of all Indians believe there is nothing wrong with violence towards criminals. As police and courts strain under a backlog, and women continue to suffer, the clamour for extrajudicial justice could get stronger.

 

 

National Crime Records Bureau

  • The NCRB is an Indian government agency responsible for collecting and analysing crime data as defined by the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Special and Local Laws (SLL).

 

  • NCRB is headquartered in New Delhi and is part of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

 

  • NCRB was set-up in 1986 to function as a repository of information on crime and criminals so as to assist the investigators in linking crime to the perpetrators.

 

  • It was set up based on the recommendation of the Task force,1985 and National Police Commission,1977.

Source: mint

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GS-II :
Code on Social Security Bill introduced in Lok Sabha

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

 

Prelims and Mains focus: About the key features of the Bill and its significance on welfare of the unorganized sector workforce in India

 

News: The Code on Social Security, 2019 was introduced in Lok Sabha on Wednesday.

 

Context: The unorganised sector, which accounts for a little over 80 per cent of India’s total workforce, has largely been out of social security schemes as well as the ambit of labour regulations at present.

 

Key features of the Bill

  • It proposes universalisation of social security benefits for the country’s around 5 crore workforce, along with offerings such as medical, pension, death and disability benefits to them.

 

  • The Code also provides an enabling provision for constituting special purpose vehicles for the implementation of schemes for unorganised sector workers.

 

  • It also seeks to expand the sources of the fund for various schemes under the Code to include funds from corporate social responsibility(CSR).

 

  • The Code empowers the Centre with an enabling provision to change the mandatory monthly contribution towards employees provident fund (EPF) for a certain class of employees for a certain period.

 

  • Employers will, however, have to contribute to the retirement fund at the existing rate. This will help increase the take-home pay of workers with relatively lower salaries.

 

  • The Bill also empowers the government to frame schemes for providing social security to gig workers and platform workers who do not fall under the traditional employer-employee relation.

 

  • It also provides for payment of gratuity in case of fixed-term employment on pro-rata basis, even if the period for fixed term contract is less than five years. Under the current Act, an employee is entitled for gratuity only after completing five years of continuous service.

 

  • The Bill also provides for maternity benefit to the woman employees and compensation to the employees in case of the accidents while commuting from residence to place of work and vice-versa.

 

  • The Code will make Aadhaar  mandatory for seeding at the time of registration of member or beneficiary or any other person to register or for receiving benefits.

 

 

Difference between Organised and Unorganised sector

Source: Indian Express

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GS-II : Miscellaneous
Bougainville votes for independence from Papua New Guinea

Syllabus subtopic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India's interests, Indian diaspora.

Prelims and Mains focus: About the referendum in the archipelago and related geographical regions on world atlas

News:  The South Pacific islands of Bougainville have overwhelmingly voted to be independent from Papua New Guinea, the referendum commission said on Wednesday, in a historic poll that will embolden separatists as they start negotiating the terms of their sovereignty.

Background

Bougainville's quest for independence is one of dozens of separatist movements in play around the world. There is a strong movement in Scotland seeking independence from the United Kingdom, while Catalan separatists in Spain remain active.

Thousands of protesting Papuans also recently called for an independence vote, seeking to separate from Indonesia.

The islands are still recovering from the conflict, which killed 20,000 people in a fight over land royalties and pollution in rivers near the now-shuttered Panguna gold and copper project.

It was the deadliest conflict in the area since the Second World War.

Once the economic engine of PNG, Bougainville has fallen to the bottom of almost every financial indicator, despite boasting mineral riches, fertile volcanic soil and stunning geography.

 

 

About the referendum

Almost 98% of the 181,067 votes cast backed independence in the non-binding poll that is part of a peace pact struck in the aftermath of a decade-long war between Bougainville's rebel fighters and PNG forces, which ended in 1998.

The referendum gave voters in the island cluster a choice between independence and greater autonomy.

There was a mood of celebration throughout the two-week referendum, which ended on Dec. 7, with many voters carrying Bougainville's predominantly blue flag to polling stations.

Ballots from different areas were mixed before officials tallied the results to eliminate the risk of reprisals.

 

 

Way forward

The comprehensive vote in Bougainville will be used to strengthen the hand of negotiators as they start discussions on the terms of independence with the PNG government.

Any agreement struck in the negotiations would still need to pass through PNG's parliament.

Just 3,043 voters backed the other option on the ballot - greater autonomy - while a small number of informal votes were recorded.

Bougainville Vice President Raymond Masono has told Reuters a transition could take 10 years, as the region would need to rebuild its institutions.

Discussion over how Bougainville would sustain its independence is likely to dominate negotiations after the referendum, two PNG ministers told Reuters earlier.

Source: Indian Express

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GS-II :
Bill in LS on welfare of elders, parents

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

 

Prelims focus: About the key features of the Bill

Mains focus: significance of the bill, govt. efforts towards welfare of senior citizens

 

News:  A Bill that seeks to impose six months’ imprisonment or a fine of ?10,000 or both on those who abuse parents, in­laws or senior citizens under their care was introduced in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday by Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Thawarchand Gahlot.

 

About the key features of the Bill

The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens (Amendment) Bill, 2019, has provisions for the elderly to claim maintenance and for mandatory registration of senior citizens care homes and other such institutions which will have to comply with prescribed minimum standards.

The Bill defines “abuse” as physical, verbal, emotional and economic abuse, neglect and abandonment, causing assault, injury, physical or mental suffering.

"Children" in relation to a parent or a senior citizen means son or daughter, whether biological, adoptive or step-child and includes son-in-law, daughter-in-law, grandson, grand-daughter and legal guardians of minor children.

 

The bill provides for the establishment of a tribunal for senior citizens to file claims for maintenance and assistance and such applications from those above 80 years of age should be disposed of within 60 days. Only in exceptional circumstances and for reasons to be recorded in writing, the tribunal may extend the period only once for a maximum of 30 days. For other senior citizens or parents, their applications will have to be settled by the tribunal within 90 days.

 

According to the legislation, there will be a nodal officer at each police station, not below the rank of an assistant sub-inspector, to deal with the issues relating to parents and senior citizens. Similarly, each district will have a special police unit for senior citizens' welfare and such a unit will have to be headed by a police officer, not below the rank of DSP.

 

The state government has to appoint the maintenance officer to ensure implementation of the order of maintenance and such officer shall be a point of contact for the parent or senior citizen to liaison and coordinate with them.

 

According to the statement of objects and reasons appended to the Bill, "with the gradual breakdown of joint family system, number of cases of neglect, crime, exploitation and abandonment of parents and senior citizens are in the rise".

 

Various high courts had also issued orders directing the government to review provisions of the original Act, 2007.

 

After examining the various provisions of the Act the group of secretaries have made recommendations to extend all benefits to senior citizens of uniform age, to enhance maintenance amount for senior citizens and standardisation of home care services.

 

Besides, representations were received to bring son-in-law and daughter-in-law within the ambit of "children" and provide punishment for abuse of parents and senior citizens.

 

As per the new legislation, registration with the authorities concerned will be mandatory for senior citizens care homes, multi service day care centres for senior citizens and institutions providing home care services for senior citizens. Minimum standards have also been prescribed for such homes.

 

The Bill says "parent" means father or mother, whether biological, adoptive or step-parent and includes father-in-law, mother-in-law and grandparents, whether or not senior citizen.

 

The children have to maintain their parents in such a way they "lead a life of dignity". Similar is the obligation of a relative to maintain a childless senior citizen provided such relative has sufficient means to do so and is either in possession of, or shall inherit, the property of such senior citizen after his death.

 

The tribunal, if necessary, can refer the issue of maintenance of a senior citizen/parent to a conciliation officer and the latter has to give his findings within 15 days from the date of his nomination.

 

While determining the maintenance the tribunal may take into consideration the standard of living of the parent or senior citizen and earnings of such parent or senior citizen and of the children or relative.

 

The tribunal has powers to levy fine on those who fail to maintain their parents/senior citizens and if they violate paying fine they could be imprisoned up to one month or till the maintenance payment is made whichever is earlier.

 

The Bill enables the government to ensure that all government and private hospitals have beds specially earmarked for senior citizens and separate OP queues for senior citizens in hospitals.

 

A dedicated help line number would be available for senior citizens in every state to convey their problems.

 

The definition 'maintenance' has been expanded to include safety and security of the parents besides taking care of their food, clothing, housing and health care obligations.

Source: The Hindu

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GS-III : Economic Issues Banking
The link between NPAs and frauds at govt-run banks

Syllabus subtopic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: Why rising incidence of bank frauds is a cause of concern for RBI, the Centre and people with savings and deposits in these banks.

 

News: The finance minister informed Parliament last month that state-run banks reported frauds of over ?95,760 crore in April-September.

 

 

Are frauds rising at state-owned banks?

Public sector banks (PSBs) reported frauds of over ?95,760 crore from April to September this year. According to the Reserve Bank of India’s latest annual report, all banks, including PSBs, reported frauds involving losses of ?71,542.93 crore over the 12- month period of FY19. RBI data shows that the bulk of the frauds relate to loans and take place at PSBs. The incidence and cost of frauds is increasing year after year, posing threats to the financial stability and eroding the credibility of PSBs, auditors, credit rating agencies and the regulator RBI, as well as the trust of savers and depositors.

 

Why is the incidence of fraud increasing?

Studies have shown that fraudsters, big and small, are able to take undue advantage of a number of well-documented weaknesses in the system. The central bank has an early warning signals system but, as had happened in the Nirav Modi case, PSBs do not always take advantage of it. Former RBI governor Urjit Patel made a presentation at Stanford University in June that showed most of the frauds are related to loans and occur due to poor operational risk management and ineffective internal audits at state-owned banks. These banks apply little risk analysis or due diligence.

 

Are frauds related to non-performing assets (NPAs)?

A 2016 study by the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, found a correlation between rising frauds and NPAs, which indicates lack of requisite standards of corporate governance, leading to more instances of loan defaults involving over ?1 crore. The study said this is suggestive of collusion between corporate entities and top PSB officials.

 

 

Why do frauds take place more at PSBs?

The study found that big loan advance frauds happen as bank officials collude with borrowers and sometimes even with officials of third parties such as advocates and chartered accountants. Post loan sanction, the monitoring is weaker than at private banks due to lack of expertise and modern tech resources. Officers retire before they can be booked for fraud. Weak selection process and lower pay than at private banks are among key reasons. PSB staff are not offered appropriate incentives to prevent or detect frauds early.

 

What should be done to prevent frauds?

There is little deterrence for fraudsters as conviction rates are low due to the lack of specialized financial sleuths. PSBs should set up an internal rating agency for stringent evaluation of big-ticket projects before sanctioning loans. Banks must evaluate projects on the basis of the business model and not get influenced by the brand name or creditworthiness of the parent firm. Strict punitive steps for bank staff and others who collude with fraudsters can help.

Source: mint

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GS-III : Economic Issues Others
GST rate rationalisation should lead to gain in revenue, not inconvenience people: States

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

 

Prelims focus: about GST, GST Council

Mains Focus: About various challenges in implementing GSt, Concerns raised by the states and govt’s efforts to address them.

 

News: As talks of a hike in goods and services tax (GST) rates gain momentum, there is a sense of disquiet among states regarding any major tinkering of the slabs, especially the lower tax slab and exempted items. The Council meeting of December 18, coming in the backdrop of the Centre’s struggles on the revenue side sets the stage to reverse the direction of rate cuts.

 

About the issue

The emerging view is that revenue gain from any such rate hike has to be substantial and not cause inconvenience to the common man, though they are of the view that ways need to be found to narrow the widening revenue gap.

Concerns raised and Suggestions by the States

  • Knee-jerk reactions such as a cut in GST rates before elections and a hike in rates in times of revenue slowdown are not needed and GST needs to be looked afresh and a “holistic overview” needs to be taken.

 

  • The scope to increase rates is very “limited”, especially of exempted items and 5 per cent slab. Making changes in the lower slab of 5 per cent is not going to yield much revenue. This is a sensitive issue and all states need to be on board. It is to be seen what will help in raising revenues without hurting the sentiment of the common man. Every state would want that revenues should also go up, tax compliance improves and cess pool also improves.

 

  • Raising tax rates in times of slowdown has a repercussion and maybe the states could consider bringing in more items under the ambit of cess or increase cess rates for existing items. Not much scope to raise cess on automobiles, but maybe it can be increased for aerated drinks, tobacco.

 

  • The revenue gap has to be filled; it’s not related to one state, every state wants compensation at 14 per cent. How to do it, what can be done, this is a difficult exercise.

 

  • Any such rate change exercise needs to be done slowly, with due inputs from officers and ministers of all states and after a thorough perusal by the fitment committee.

 

  • States are of the view that hardly any luxurious or high-end items are there in the list of exempted items at present, so taking out items from that list may not be feasible.

 

  • Also, a merger of 12 per cent and 18 per cent slabs may not result in revenue gain on a net basis.

 

  • Kerala FM Thomas Isaac has spoken against tweaking rates for lower slabs and suggested tinkering with items in the higher slabs of 18 per cent and 28 per cent. “In the last GST Council meeting Union FC (Finance Commission) Chairman suggested states should revisit the compensation package in the context of decline in tax collection. All state ministers irrespective of politics rejected it. Now Centre is bringing it back to the agenda by forcing a dispute,” he tweeted.

 

Present scenario

  • Over 50 per cent of the total items are under the 18 per cent slab under GST, around 20 per cent are in the 12 per cent slab and about 23 per cent of the items are in the lower slab of 5 per cent. 25 per cent of the items are in the peak 28 per cent slab, while 13 per cent of the items are in the zero category.

 

  • So far, the GST Council, since the GST rollout from July 1, 2017, has held 19 meetings in which it has undertaken around 10 rounds of rate cuts. Any rate hike decision would be the first such move under the indirect tax regime.

 

About GST Council

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) is governed by the GST CouncilArticle 279 (1) of the amended Indian Constitution states that the GST Council has to be constituted by the President within 60 days of the commencement of the Article 279A.

 

According to the article, GST Council will be a joint forum for the Centre and the States. It consists of the following members:

  1. The Union Finance Minister will be the Chairperson
  2. As a member, the Union Minister of State will be in charge of Revenue of Finance
  3. The Minister in charge of finance or taxation or any other Minister nominated by each State government, as members.

 

Note: For an in-depth analysis about GST and other issues related to it, click on the link below:

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/policy/gst-the-challenges-before-indias-largest-indirect-tax-reform/articleshow/71353710.cms

Source: Indian Express

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GS-III :
50th PSLV launch carries radar satellite

Syllabus subtopic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

Prelims and Mains focus: About the recent launch by PSLV, its achievements so far and their significance in making India a prominent player in satellite launching industry

News: India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) marked its ‘Golden Jubilee’ launch on Wednesday by injecting India’s advanced radar imaging satellite RISAT­2BR1 and nine other customer satellites from Japan, Italy, Israel and the U.S. into their intended orbits.

 

Objective of RISAT­2BR1 satellite

It will be used for agriculture, forestry, disaster management support and national security. ISRO will launch the next version of RISAT within the next two months.

 

 

Other achievements of PSLV

The PSLV, which has a history of successful launches of payloads that include Chandrayaan­1, Mars Orbiter Mission and the space recovery mission, soared into clear blue skies at 3.25 p.m. from the refurbished first launchpad, marking the 50th launch for the vehicle.

Initially, the PSLV had a carrying capacity of 850 kg, and over the years it has been enhanced to 1.9 tonnes. The PSLV is very versatile, having various mission options.

The PSLV had helped take payloads into almost all the orbits in space, including the the Geo­Stationary Transfer Orbit (GTO), the moon and mars, and would soon be launching a mission to the Sun.

In the last 26 years, the PSLV had lifted more than 52 tonnes into space, of which about 17% were for commercial customers.

The PSLV has failed only twice — the maiden flight of the PSLV D1 in September 1993 and the PSLV C­39 in August 2017. While it had taken ISRO 26 years to achieve 50 launches, the next 50 would likely be done in the coming five years.

 

What is the difference between GSLV and PSLV

Both PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle) and GSLV (Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle) are the satellite-launch vehicles (rockets) developed by ISRO. PSLV is designed mainly to deliver the “earth-observation” or “remote-sensing” satellites with lift-off mass of up to about 1750 Kg to Sun-Synchronous circular polar orbits of 600-900 Km altitude.

The remote sensing satellites orbit the earth from pole-to-pole (at about 98 deg orbital-plane inclination). An orbit is called sun-synchronous when the angle between the line joining the centre of the Earth and the satellite and the Sun is constant throughout the orbit.

Due to their sun-synchronism nature, these orbits are also referred to as “Low Earth Orbit (LEO)” which enables the on-board camera to take images of the earth under the same sun-illumination conditions during each of the repeated visits, the satellite makes over the same area on ground thus making the satellite useful for earth resources monitoring.

Apart from launching the remote sensing satellites to Sun-synchronous polar orbits, the PSLV is also used to launch the satellites of lower lift-off mass of up to about 1400 Kg to the elliptical Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO).

PSLV is a four-staged launch vehicle with first and third stage using solid rocket motors and second and fourth stages using liquid rocket engines. It also uses strap-on motors to augment the thrust provided by the first stage, and depending on the number of these strap-on boosters, the PSLV is classified into its various versions like core-alone version (PSLV-CA), PSLV-G or PSLV-XL variants.

The GSLV is designed mainly to deliver the communication-satellites to the highly elliptical (typically 250 x 36000 Km) Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO). The satellite in GTO is further raised to its final destination, viz., Geo-synchronous Earth orbit (GEO) of about 36000 Km altitude (and zero deg inclination on equatorial plane) by firing its in-built on-board engines.

Due to their geo-synchronous nature, the satellites in these orbits appear to remain permanently fixed in the same position in the sky, as viewed from a particular location on Earth, thus avoiding the need of a tracking ground antenna and hence are useful for the communication applications.

Source: The Hindu

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GS-III :
Heavy metals contaminating India’s rivers

Syllabus subtopic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

Prelims focus: about heavy metals, Central water commission, Bureau of Indian Standards

Mains focus: impact of water pollution on human health, govt. efforts to check pollution

News: Samples taken from two-thirds of the water quality stations spanning India’s major rivers showed contamination by one or more heavy metals, exceeding safe limits set by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS).

 

About the findings of the report

The findings are part of a report, which is the third edition of an exercise conducted by the Central Water Commission (CWC) from May 2014 to April 2018.

Samples from only one-third of water quality stations were safe. The rest, or 287 (65%) of the 442 sampled, were polluted by heavy metals. Samples from 101 stations had contamination by two metals, six stations saw contamination by three metals.

Iron emerged as the most common contaminant with 156 of the sampled sites registering levels of the metal above safe limits. None of the sites registered arsenic levels above the safe limit.

“Arsenic and zinc are the two toxic metals whose concentration was always obtained within the limits throughout the study period,” the report noted.

Not all the rivers are equally sampled. Several rivers have only been sampled at a single site whereas others such as the Ganga, the Yamuna and the Godavari are sampled at multiple sites. Marked variation was found in contamination levels depending on the season.

Samples were collected in three different seasons: pre-monsoon, monsoon and post­monsoon.


 

 

Sources and impact of heavy metals contaminated water

The main sources of heavy metal pollution are mining, milling, plating and surface finishing industries that discharge a variety of toxic metals into the environment.

 

The presence of metals in drinking water is to some extent unavoidable and certain metals, in trace amounts, required for good health. However, when present above safe limits, they are associated with a range of disorders.

Long­term exposure to the above­mentioned heavy metals may result in slowly progressing physical, muscular, and neurological degenerative processes that mimic Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, muscular dystrophy and multiple sclerosis.

 

Other heavy metals found

The other major contaminants found in the samples were lead, nickel, chromium, cadmium and copper. The study spanned 67 rivers in 20 river basins. Lead, cadmium, nickel, chromium and copper contamination were more common in non-monsoon periods while iron, lead, chromium and copper exceeded ‘tolerance limits’ in monsoon periods most of the time.

Not all the rivers are equally sampled. Several rivers have only been sampled at a single site whereas others such as the Ganga, the Yamuna and the Godavari are sampled at multiple sites. Marked variation was found in contamination levels depending on the season.

The main sources of heavy metal pollution are mining, milling, plating and surface finishing industries that discharge a variety of toxic metals into the environment.

 

About Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS)

  1. The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) is the national Standards Body of India working under the aegis of Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution.
  2. It is established by the Bureau of Indian Standards Act, 1986.
  3. The Minister in charge of the Ministry or Department having administrative control of the BIS is the ex-officio President of the BIS.
  4. Composition: As a corporate body, it has 25 members drawn from Central or State Governments, industry, scientific and research institutions, and consumer organisations.
  5. It also works as WTO-TBT (Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement) enquiry point for India.

 

About Central Water Commission (CWC)

  • CWC is apex Technical Organization of India in the field of Water Resources.

 

  • It is presently functioning as an attached office of Union Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation.

 

  • It is charged with the general responsibilities of initiating and coordinating schemes of control, utilization and conservation of water resources throughout the country.

 

  • These schemes are meant for purpose of Flood Control, Irrigation, Navigation, Drinking Water Supply and Water Power Development.

 

  • It also undertakes the investigations, construction and execution of any such schemes as required.

 

  • The work of the Commission is divided among 3 wings namely :
    1. River Management Wing (RM),
    2. Designs and Research Wing (D&R) and
    3. Water Planning and Projects Wing (WP&P).

 

Heavy metals

 

Source: The Hindu

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GS-III : Economic Issues Banking
Nod to ring-fence successful IBC suitors

Syllabus subtopic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

Prelims focus: About IBC 2016, key changes proposed by the amendment Bill

Mains focus: key steps taken by the govt. to check NPA crisis , challenges and achievements so far

 

News: The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the proposal to make amendments in the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code 2016, through the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Second Amendment) Bill, 2019. This also includes a provision to ring­fence successful resolution applicants from criminal proceedings with regard to offences committed by previous promoters of a company.

 

Aim of the amendment

The amendments aim to remove certain difficulties being faced during insolvency resolution process to realise the objects of the code and to further ease doing of business.

The amendments aim to remove bottlenecks, streamline the corporate insolvency resolution process, and protect the last mile funding in order to boost investment in financially distressed sectors.

The amended Act would also ensure that the substratum of the business of a corporate debtor is not lost. It can continue as a going concern by clarifying that the licences, permits, concessions, clearances etc. cannot be terminated or suspended or not renewed during the moratorium period, the release said.

In a separate decision, the Union Cabinet also approved the Aircraft (Amendment) Bill to enhance the safety and security of aircraft operations. The Bill enhances the maximum limit of fine from the existing ?10 lakh to ? 1 crore.

 

The Cabinet also approved the ‘Partial Credit Guarantee Scheme’ for the purchase of high­rated pooled assets from financially sound non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) and housing finance companies (HFCs) by public sector banks.

  • The amount of overall guarantee will be limited to the first loss of up to 10% of fair value of assets being purchased by the banks under the Scheme, or ?10,000 crore, whichever is lower.
  • The window for one­time partial credit guarantee offered by the government will remain open till June 30, 2020 or till such date by which ? 1,00,000 crore assets get purchased by the banks, whichever is earlier.
  • The scheme would cover NBFCs/HFCs that may have slipped into SMA­0 category during the one year period prior to August 1, 2018, and asset pools rated “BBB+” or higher.

SMA­0 accounts are the special mention accounts (SMA) against which the principal or interest or any other amount wholly or partially is overdue between 1­30 days.

 

Equity support for IIFCL

The Union Cabinet also approved the proposal for providing additional equity support to India Infrastructure Finance Company Limited to the tune of ?5,300 crore in financial year 2019­20 and ?10,000 crore in financial year 2020­21.

This will be done through regular budgetary support and/or through issue of recapitalisation bonds.

 

 

Source: The Hindu

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