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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

26 Jun, 2020

86 Min Read

Korean Crisis - Analysis

GS-II : International Relations International issues

Korean war

Context

On the occasion of the 70th Anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950, Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi paid rich tribute to the bravehearts who sacrificed their lives in the pursuit of peace on the Korean Peninsula.

Korean crisis

  • Since its current leader, Kim Jong-Un, took power in 2011, North Korea has ramped up its efforts to build a long-range nuclear missile capable of hitting targets around the globe.
  • In a show of force aimed at discouraging the North from launching another test, the United States recently ordered an aircraft carrier and other warships to the Korean Peninsula.

How the Partition of Korea happened?

  • Japan annexed the Korean peninsula in 1910, and the country spent the next 35 years under Japanese military rule.
  • With Japan’s defeat in World War II, U.S. troops landed in the southern part of the peninsula, while Soviet forces secured the area northern part of 38 N latitude (or the 38th parallel).
  • As communism took firm hold in the north, Kim Il-Sung (Kim Jong-Un’s grandfather) emerged as the first premier of the newly established Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) in 1948.
  • Meanwhile, the UN General Assembly sanctioned elections held in the south, adoption of a constitution and the inauguration of the Republic of Korea, with Seoul as its capital.

What happened during Korean War?

  • Tensions between the two governments and their powerful allies erupted into war in 1950, when Soviet-backed North Korean troops invaded the South.
  • Fighting in the Korean War ended in July 1953, with the peninsula still divided into two hostile states.
  • A 2.5-mile-wide demilitarized zone separates North Korea from South Korea, roughly following the 38th parallel for 150 miles across the peninsula.
  • Established according to the terms of the 1953 armistice, this once-devastated battleground is now essentially a nature preserve, covered by forests, estuaries and wetlands housing hundreds of bird, fish and mammal species.

What is the history of dictatorship in North Korea?

  • Installed by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin in 1948, Kim Il-Sung remained in office until his death in 1994.
  • During his nearly 50-year reign, a powerful cult of personality emerged around the man North Koreans referred to, variously, as Great Leader, Heavenly Leader and even the “Sun.”
  • A new calendar was introduced, which used 1912—the year of Kim Il-Sung’s birth—as year one.
  • Every elementary school in the country was equipped with a special training room where young children were indoctrinated in the regime’s teachings.
  • In 1998, North Korea’s constitution was amended to proclaim Kim Il-Sung the Eternal President of the Republic, and the anniversaries of both his birth and death are considered national holidays.
  • His son, Kim Jong-Il, was the centre of a similar cult, with some North Koreans convinced he was powerful enough to control the weather.
  • Hundreds of memorial statues dedicated to the Kim’s dot the countryside, and despite a series of devastating famines and systemic poverty, a massive mausoleum was built on the outskirts of Pyongyang to house the embalmed bodies of Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il, now permanently on display like many autocratic leaders before them.

Why North Korea is considered a ‘hermit kingdom’?

  • North Korea has remained isolated from the international community, with its governmental, economic and other operations veiled in secrecy.
  • Restrictions on travel into or out of the country and a tightly controlled press helped maintain this isolation.
  • North Korea’s foreign policy has been marked by two significant alliances, with China and the Soviet Union, and by enduring hostility to South Korea and the United States.
  • The USSR’s collapse in the early 1990s left China as the country’s most important ally, but the pattern of defiant statements and aggressive actions by the young, erratic Kim Jong-Un over the course of his reign has steadily weakened this alliance.
  • More recently, North Korea and Russia have developed increasingly close diplomatic (and economic) ties.
  • In 2017, Russia topped the list of countries friendly towards North Korea for the third straight year.

What about North Korea’s pursuit with nuclear weapons?

  • The DPRK has an active nuclear weapons program and tested nuclear explosive devices in 2006, 2009, 2013, and twice in 2016.
  • It is also capable of enriching uranium and producing weapons-grade plutonium.
  • North Korea deploys short- and medium-range ballistic missiles and successfully launched long-range rockets in 2012 and 2016.
  • Pyongyang unilaterally withdrew from the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in January 2003 and is not a party to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) or a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).
  • The DPRK is not a party to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), and is believed to possess a large chemical weapons program.
  • North Korea is a party to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) and Geneva Protocol, but is suspected of maintaining an offensive weapons program in defiance of the BTWC.
  • North Korea's interest in a nuclear weapons program dates to the end of World War II.
  • Since then, Pyongyang developed a nuclear fuel cycle capability and has both plutonium and enriched uranium programs capable of producing fissile material.
  • North Korea declared it had roughly 38.5 kg of weapons-grade plutonium extracted from spent fuel rods in May 2008, however external estimates have varied.
  • The Six-Party Talks between North Korea, South Korea, Japan, China, Russia, and the United States began in 2003 with the goal of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula. However, these talks have been suspended since April 2009.
  • Initial uncertainties about North Korea's nuclear program after the death of Kim Jong II were tempered when Pyongyang agreed to suspend nuclear tests, uranium enrichment, and long-range missile tests in exchange for food aid from the U.S. on February 29, 2012.
  • However, after a dispute with the United States over the launch of a rocket in April 2012, North Korea declared the agreement void, and conducted a nuclear test in February 2013.
  • In April 2013, North Korean state media announced that Pyongyang would restart all nuclear facilities at Yongbyon, including its 5MW graphite-moderated reactor, and uranium enrichment plant.
  • By August 2013, satellite imagery confirmed steam venting from the 5MW reactor's turbine and generator building.
  • The reactor is capable of producing 6 kg of plutonium a year, however, it is not clear how the modified cooling system, and repeated shutdowns will affect production.
  • In September 2015, however, state media announced that all nuclear facilities were in normal operation with ongoing missions to improve the “quality and quantity” of the country’s nuclear stockpile.
  • Kim Jong Un also claimed to have thermonuclear capabilities during his December 2015 visit to the Pyongchon Revolutionary Site.
  • On January 6, 2016 North Korea conducted a fourth nuclear test. Despite the test, and subsequent claim it was a hydrogen bomb, experts continue to doubt North Korea’s thermonuclear capabilities.
  • The test prompted widespread international condemnation. Even China, a traditional ally of the regime, endorsed a UN resolution to apply further sanctions against North Korea.
  • On September 9, 2016, the anniversary of the founding of North Korea, the U.S. Geological Survey detected a 5.3 magnitude earthquake at North Korea's nuclear testing site.
  • North Korea quickly confirmed it had carried out a 5th nuclear test in a defiant statement. The test drew sharp international condemnation.
  • China, again, joined in condemning the test and urged the regime to refrain from provocative actions.
  • North Korea on March, 2017 launched four ballistic missiles from a region near North Korea's border with China.

Start of the current standoff?

  • On 12th April 2017, reports began circulating that North Korea was poised to carry out an underground nuclear weapon test.
  • On 15th April, North Korea held a huge military parade to celebrate the “Day of the Sun.”
  • The spectacle featured among other things, large canisters that analysts said could be carrying new types of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) that could one day be capable of hitting the United States.
  • Kim said, "If the United States wages reckless provocation against us, our revolutionary power will instantly counter with annihilating strike, and we will respond to full-out war with full-out war and to nuclear war with our style of nuclear strike warfare."
  • The chest-pounding threat was somewhat undercut a few hours later when the North Korean military attempted a missile launch — only to see it blow up "almost immediately," according to US military officials.
  • What was intended to be a strong, defiant show of force quickly became an international embarrassment.
  • Similarly, the US military announced in early March that it had officially begun the deployment of the THAAD anti-ballistic missile defence system in South Korea.
  • THAAD, which stands for Terminal High Altitude Area Defence, is a system that’s already deployed in Guam on an “expeditionary” basis, and is now being deployed in South Korea to protect against any incoming missiles from the North.
  • And despite it being a highly controversial move that has angered China and even some in South Korea, Trump clearly agreed with his predecessor that deploying THAAD was an important part of the strategy to protect the close US ally from any threat by North Korea.
  • Trump seemed to be following the same basic policies that the Obama administration did, albeit slightly more aggressively.
  • On April 9, just days after the last North Korean missile test, the Trump administration announced it was sending the 97,000-ton USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier, along with a guided-missile cruiser and two destroyers, to the waters off the Korean Peninsula.
  • That kind of military move on the part of the US lends some serious heft to the Trump administration’s forceful public statements.
  • An aircraft carrier heading your way sends a stern message to North Korea.
  • All of this means that the long standing North Korea situation may now be entering a new level of crisis.
  • Trump’s recent actions in Syria and Afghanistan seem to be signalling, he’s not afraid to use force to get his message across, irrespective. How the unruly North Korean outlaw will ultimately respond remains to be seen.

Source: PIB

US Visa Ban Extension 

GS-II : International Relations

US Visa Ban Extension

GS-PAPER-2 IR India and USA

The US administration extended the 60-day ban on immigration and non-immigrant worker visas till the end of 2020.

Why: The US President Donald Trump said that the move was to protect domestic workers. They are said to have been impacted due to a contraction in the economy in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Popular work visas including the much-coveted H-1B and H-2B, and certain categories of H-4, J, and L visas shall also remain suspended.

Different categories of visas issued?

  • Immigrant visas are issued to foreign nationals who intend to live permanently in the US.
  • Non-immigrant visas are for foreign nationals willing to enter the US on a temporary basis. These may be for tourism, medical treatment, business, temporary work, study, or other similar reasons.
  • The US issues a certain number of visas each year to fill a vacuum of highly-skilled low-cost employees in IT and other related domains. This allows companies from outside the US to send employees to work on client sites.
  • Of these work visas, the H-1B remains the most popular among Indian IT companies. H-1B is issued for people to work in a specialty occupation. It requires a higher education degree of its equivalent. The US government has a cap of 85,000 total H-1B visas for each year. Of this, 65,000 H-1B visas are issued to highly skilled foreign workers. The rest 20,000 can be additionally allotted to highly skilled foreign workers who have a higher education or masters degree from an American university.
  • Apart from the H-1B visas, the US government also issues L1 visas. This allows companies to transfer highly skilled workers to US for a period of up to 7 years.
  • H-2B visas allow food and agricultural workers to seek employment in the US. (PT EXAM)

Why US suspend non-immigrant worker visas?

Since it was started in 1952, the H-1 visa scheme has undergone many changes and revisions. These were done to allow or disallow certain categories of skilled workers into the US. The changes were made depending on the economic situation of the country.

The eventual technology boom saw the arrival of the internet and low-cost computers in developing nations such as India and China. This led to a large number of graduates with a will to work at relatively low costs in the US. This turned out to be a win-win situation for both the employer and the employee.

However, there raised a concern of having low cost workers in the US at the expense of domestic workers. In 2017, after taking over as the US President, Trump had hinted that the low-cost workers were hampering the economy and undercutting jobs of citizens. The US had then hinted at reforming the “broken” H-1B visa system. Now, Trump seized the opportunity provided by the economic contraction due to Covid-19. He first banned the entry of non-immigrant workers till 23 June 2020. It is now extended till 31 December 2020.

What are the likely implications?

  • Since the ban is effective immediately, the processing of all new H-1B, H-2B, J, and L visa categories stand suspended. So, those who do not have a valid non-immigrant visa as of 23 June 2020 and are outside of the US, will not be allowed to enter the country until 31 December 2020.
  • H-1B, H-2B, J and L visa holders, and their spouse or children already present in the US shall not be impacted by the new worker visa ban.
  • Also, workers in essential services in the food sector have been given some reprieve. Their entry shall be decided by the consular officer of immigration services.

How does it affect the Indian IT companies?

  • Indian IT companies are amongst the biggest beneficiaries of the US H-1B visa regime. Since 1990s, Indian IT companies have utilised a huge share of the total number of visas issued each year.
  • As of April 1, 2020, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) had received about 2.5 lakh H-1B work visa applications.
  • Indians had applied for as many as 1.84 lakh or 67% of the total H-1B work visas for the current financial year ending March 2021.
  • Apart from the suspension, the executive order has also made sweeping changes to the H-1B work visa norms. So, the visa issuance will no longer be decided by the currently prevalent lottery system. The new norms will favour highly-skilled workers who are paid the highest wages by their respective companies.
  • This could result in a significant impact on margins and worker wages of Indian IT companies that send thousands of low-cost employees to work on client sites in the US. The large Indian IT companies have cut down their dependency on H-1B and other worker visas by hiring as much as 50% of staff locally.
  • However, they still rely on these visas to keep costs in check. Indian IT companies also offer subcontracts to Indian nationals already present in the US with valid H-1B visas. E.g. Bangalore-based Wipro spends as much as 20% of its revenue to subcontract Indian workers with valid H-1B visas. In all, the changes are largely disadvantageous to the Indian IT companies.

Source: TH

Civil Servants as Joint Secretaries

GS-II : Governance Civil services reforms

Civil Servants as Joint Secretaries

GS: Paper-2 Civil service reforms

A Union government circular set new conditions for empanelling civil servants for appointment as joint secretaries in central ministries.

What Gov says?

Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) stipulated that the qualifying service period for empanelment of Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers as joint secretaries at the Centre would be 16 years. Even earlier, an IAS officer would usually become eligible for empanelment as a joint secretary at the Centre after 16 years of service. However, in reality, many of them would get empanelled only after 18 years of service. The reiteration of empanelment as joint secretary after 16 years is, therefore, reassuring to the IAS officers.

Issue with the circular?

The circular stated that not less than 2 years of experience at the deputy secretary or director level under the Central Staffing Scheme (CSS) would be mandatory for empanelment as joint secretaries at the Centre. This would be applicable to IAS officers from the 2007 batch onwards. The circular will have significant implications for many IAS officers across the country.

Previous steps?

In 2019, the government decided to hire private-sector professionals as joint secretaries at the Centre. It was a bold step to get non-IAS experts to work in the government. In 2019, nine private-sector professionals were hired as joint secretaries in different ministries. Almost a year later, another decision has been taken that would make the journey of an IAS official to the post of a joint secretary at the Centre a little more difficult.

What does the joint secretary post mean for the IAS offcers?

For an IAS officer, the post of a joint secretary is almost like a gateway for securing a longish tenure in important positions in central ministries in New Delhi. A five-year stint as joint secretary is usually followed up with a promotion as additional secretary. After that, the officer will be promoted as either special secretary or secretary till retirement. Therefore, many IAS officers who joined the service after 2006 are not amused by the decision to introduce the new condition.

Most IAS officers prefer to spend the first decade and a half of their tenure in the states. This is because of the relatively better designations, more power and perquisites like housing that are more generous than those they can enjoy at the Centre as a deputy secretary or even as a director.

What did the government do to make the post attractive?

A deputy secretary at the Centre is a joint secretary in the state secretariat or a district magistrate and a director at the Centre is often a special secretary in the state secretariat. Even while at the Centre, a deputy secretary or a director would not be entitled to an official transport for a pick-up from residence till a few years ago.

In 2016, these rules were modified to allow hiring of cars to pick them up from their residence. In February 2020, this facility was extended by another three years in a bid to make the position a bit more attractive. This facility was also extended to address the shortage of deputy secretaries and directors coming in from states under the CSS.

What is the monopoly?

The IAS is only one of the 37 All India Services or Group-A Services, which take part in the CSS. It was created to meet the Centre’s need for fresh talent at the middle or senior levels in its ministries. The officers would help the ministries to formulate policy and implement or monitor various programmes with assistance from domain experts.

The idea was to make use of officers from specialised services like the Indian Police Service, Indian Economic Service, Indian Audit and Account Service, Central Engineering Service and Indian Statistical Service. But in practice, it is the IAS which has virtually monopolised the process of empanelling officers as joint secretary at the Centre.

Conclusion

The 2-year minimum stint as deputy secretary or director at the Centre for all IAS officers before being empanelled as joint secretary may help the government meet its shortage of deputy secretaries and directors. But it is debatable if the move will help the Centre recruit more non-IAS officers as joint secretary under the CSS.

Source: IE

Sickle Cell Disease

GS-III :

Sickle Cell Disease

  • It is a blood disorder that arises when both parents have the problem gene and pass it on to their child.
  • If only one parent has the problem gene, then the child will not have symptoms but will have the gene called the ‘sickle cell trait’.

  • With sickle cell disease, the red blood cells have an abnormal crescent shape, taking the shape of a sickle, hence, its name.
  • The sickle shape results in the red blood cells becoming rigid and sticky, getting stuck in the smaller blood vessels as they circulate in the body.
  • This disrupts the supply of oxygen to parts of the body and results in symptoms such as anemia, episodes of pain due to bone and joint damage, swelling in the extremities, increased risk of infections, hampering of normal growth, and problems with the vision.
  • In India, it is more common in south Gujarat, north Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and western Odisha with a smaller concentration in the southern regions in India.
  • In 2008, the UN General Assembly recognized it as a public health problem and “one of the world’s foremost genetic diseases”.
  • World Sickle Cell Day is observed on 19th June each year to raise awareness of sickle cell at a national and international level.

Source: IE

Micius Satellite

GS-III :

Micius Satellite

Micius is the world’s first quantum communications satellite, launched by China in 2016. The satellite serves as the source of pairs of entangled photons. Recently, it has sent light particles to the Earth to establish the world’s most secure communication link. It has successfully brought entanglement-based quantum cryptography to its original ground stations 1,200 km apart by sending simultaneous streams of entangled photons to the ground stations to establish a direct link between the two of them.

The satellite provided entangled photons as a convenient resource for the quantum cryptography and the two ground stations then used them according to their agreed protocol. Until now, this had never been done via satellite or at such great distances. It has not been specified how the messages were transmitted in this instance but in theory it could be done by optical fibre, another communications satellite, radio or any other agreed method.

Scientists have started using quantum encryption for securing long-range communication and Micius has been at the forefront of quantum encryption for several years.

Entangled Photons

  • Entangled photons are twinned light particles whose properties remain intertwined no matter how far apart they are.
  • If one of the photons is manipulated, the other will be similarly affected at the very same moment.
  • It is this property that lies in the heart of the most secure forms of quantum cryptography (the study of concepts like encryption and decryption).
  • If one of the entangled particles is used to create a key for encoding messages, only the person with the other particle can decode them.

For QUANTUM TECH: https://www.aspireias.com/daily-news-analysis-current-affairs/Quantum-Supremacy

Source: IE

Government e-Marketplace (GeM) Country of Origin Flag

GS-III : Economic Issues GeM

Government e-Marketplace (GeM) Country of Origin Flag

The government made it mandatory for sellers on the GeM portal to clarify the country of origin of their goods when registering new products.

What?

Government e-Marketplace (GeM) is the Commerce Ministry’s online marketplace. It procures goods and services by various Ministries and government bodies. Products sold on the portal range from stationery used by government officials to medical products that are used on patients.

In News

  • The GeM portal will now have the ‘country of origin’ flag for their products. The portal already has a ‘Make in India’ filter.
  • Therefore, the government offices can ascertain which products have a higher content of indigenously produced raw materials. This would help them choose products that meet the ‘minimum 50% local content’ criterion when selecting bidders for their tenders.
  • The portal now allows buyers to reserve a bid for Class I local suppliers, or suppliers of those goods with more than 50% local content. For bids below Rs 200 crore, only Class I and Class II (those with more than 20% local content) are eligible.

Why this decision?

  • The decision comes in the backdrop of the government’s push for Aatmanirbhar Bharat. [Aatmanirbhar Bharat intends to promote self-reliance by boosting the use of locally produced goods.]
  • The decision also follows the clashes between the troops of India and China in Galwan Valley. This prompted several government departments to launch an offensive against imports from China.
  • The Confederation of All India Traders is pushing for a country of origin tag in the private e-commerce firms.

What would be the impact?

  • Over the time, the use of imported goods in government offices and facilities may be filtered out, as the following are combined,
    1. Announcement of the ‘country of origin’ of the products sold on the GeM portal,
    2. Make in India campaign &
    3. A push for Aatmanirbhar Bharat.
  • This might provide an opportunity to Indian manufacturers across industries to push their products in government facilities.

Source: IE

Atma Nirbhar Uttar Pradesh Rojgar Abhiyan

GS-III : Economic Issues Labour

Atma Nirbhar Uttar Pradesh Rojgar Abhiyan

  • COVID-19 pandemic has had an adverse impact on workforce in general and migrant workers in particular.
  • A large number of migrant workers returned to several states. The challenge of containing Covid-19 was compounded by the need to provide basic amenities and means of livelihood to migrants and rural workers.
  • In order to generate employment with thrust towards creating infrastructure in backward regions of the country Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyan was launched on 20th June 2020.
  • In Uttar Pradesh, nearly 30 lakh migrant workers returned. 31 districts of Uttar Pradesh have more than 25,000 returnee migrant workers. These include 5 aspirational districts.
  • The Government of Uttar Pradesh envisaged a unique initiative “Atma Nirbhar Uttar Pradesh Rojgar Abhiyan” which dovetails programs of Government of India and the State government while creating partnerships with Industry and other organizations.
  • This Abhiyan is intensely focused towards providing employment, promote local entrepreneurship and create partnership with Industrial associations and other organizations to provide employment opportunities.
  • Prime Minister will launch this Abhiyan on 26 th June, 2020.

Source: PIB

eBloodServices mobile App

GS-III :

eBloodServices mobile App

  • Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare launched the ‘eBloodServices’ mobile App developed by The Indian Red Cross Society (ICRS), here today, through a video conferencing.
  • The Union Health Minister is also the Chairman of Indian Red Cross Society.
  • This application is developed by the E-Raktkosh team of Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC) under the Digital India scheme launched by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi in 2015.
  • This Blood Donation App is a prime example of how the Digital India Scheme is serving the need for accessing blood services.
  • Through this App, four units of blood can be requisitioned at a time and the blood bank will wait for as long as 12 hours for the person to collect it.
  • Once the request is placed through the app, the requisite units become visible to IRCS, NHQ blood bank in its E-Raktkosh dashboard and this allows assured delivery within the specified time.
  • This feature will make it easy for a blood seeker to obtain blood & shall bring the added advantage of complete transparency & single window access to the service.
  • Voluntary blood donation can be done by any person under the age of 65 years as many as four times in a year.
  • Regular blood donation can prevent obesity, cardiac problems and many other ailments.

Source: PIB

KVIC launches Sandalwood and Bamboo plantation

GS-III : Economic Issues Agriculture

KVIC launches Sandalwood and Bamboo plantation, a new initiative to spur monetization of its assets

  • The Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC), in a first of its kind initiative has begun exploring the untapped but highly profitable venture of sandalwood and bamboo tree plantation for monetization of its assets.
  • Seeking to encourage commercial plantation of sandalwood and bamboo, the KVIC has begun a drive with plantation of 500 saplings each of sandalwood and bamboo at its Nashik training center spread over 262 acres of land.
  • KVIC has procured sandalwood saplings from Fragrance and Flavour Development Centre (FFDC) Kannauj, a unit of the Ministry of MSME, in Uttar Pradesh and Bamboo saplings from Assam.

Sandalwood plantation

  • The plantation of the Sandalwood has also been planned with an eye on creating an asset for the KVIC as it is estimated to fetch between Rs 50 crore to Rs 60 crore in the next 10 to 15 years.
  • A sandalwood tree matures in 10 to 15 years and as per the current rate, sells at Rs 10 lakh to Rs 12 lakh each.
  • Plantation of sandalwood trees has high potential in the export market as well. Sandalwood and its oil have high demand in countries like China, Japan, Taiwan, Australia and the USA.
  • However, there is a short-supply of sandalwood and hence a great opportunity for India to increase sandalwood plantation and occupy the position of a global leader in sandalwood production.

Bamboo plantation

  • Likewise, a special variety of bamboo, Bambusa Tulda, used for making Agarbatti sticks, brought from Assam has been planted in Maharashtra with an aim to support the local Agarbatti industry and to create regular income for the training center.
  • One bamboo plant gets ready for harvesting in the third year.
  • Each matured log of bamboo, weighing approximately 25 kg, sells at an average of Rs 5 per kg.
  • At this rate, one matured log of bamboo fetches nearly Rs 125. The bamboo plant has a unique quality.
  • Each bamboo plant, after the third year, produces minimum 5 logs and thereafter, the production of bamboo logs doubles every year.
  • This means, the 500 bamboo saplings will provide at least 2500 bamboo logs in the third year and will generate an additional income of nearly Rs 3.25 lakh to the institution which will grow every year by nearly two-times.
  • Further, in terms of quantity, 2500 bamboo logs will weigh approximately 65 MT of bamboo that will be used for making Agarbatti sticks and thus create large-scale local employment.
  • In the last few months, KVIC has planted nearly 2500 trees of Bambusa Tulda in different parts of India. 500 saplings of Bambusa Tulda have been planted in each of the cities like Delhi, Varanasi and Kannauj apart from the latest plantation in Nashik to ensure local availability of raw material for Agarbatti manufacturers at a reasonable cost.

Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan

  • “Plantation of sandalwood and bamboo trees on vacant land aims at monetization of the property. At the same time, it will serve the dual purpose of meeting the huge global demand of Sandalwood while Bamboo plantation will support the local Agarbatti manufacturers in the light of recent decision taken by the Central government to make India ‘Aatmanirbhar’ in Agarbatti making,” KVIC Chairman, Shri Vinai Kumar Saxena said.

Source: PIB

Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan

GS-II : Governance Poverty and Developmental issues

Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan

Through this scheme, Union Government plans to provide employment to migrant workers and create rural infrastructure. The scheme will be launched through video-conferencing from village Telihar in Khagaria district of Bihar.

Aim: The scheme will empower and provide livelihood opportunities to the returnee migrant workers and rural citizens who have returned to their home states due to the Covid-19 induced lockdown. This campaign will work in mission mode for 125 days with an outlay of Rs. 50,000 crore.

Objective: A total of 116 districts across six states, namely Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Odisha (where maximum migrant workers have returned) have been chosen for the campaign. Those districts where 25,000 migrants have returned have been chosen for this programme.

It will involve intensified and focused implementation of 25 different types of works which includes

  • Construction of wells,
  • Plantation and Horticulture,
  • Angwadi centres,
  • Rural housing,
  • Rural connectivity and border road works,
  • Railway works,
  • Shyama Prasad Mukherjee RURBAN mission,
  • PM KUSUM works,
  • Laying of fiber optic cable under Bharat Net,
  • Works under Jal Jeevan mission.

Apart from these the workers will help build gram panchayat bhawans and anganwadi centres, national highway works, railway works and water conservation projects, among others across six states.

12 different Ministries/Departments, namely, Rural Development, Panchayati Raj, Road Transport and Highways, Mines, Drinking Water and Sanitation, Environment, Railways, etc. will be coordinating for the implementation of the scheme.

  • The villages will join this programme through the Common Service Centres (CSCs) and Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) maintaining the norms of social distancing in the wake of the pandemic.

Common Service Centres

  • Common Services Centres are a strategic cornerstone of the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP).
  • It was approved in May 2006 to introduce e-governance on a massive scale under the National Common Minimum Programme.
  • It aims to provide high quality and cost-effective video, voice and data content and services, in the areas of e-governance, education, health, telemedicine, entertainment as well as other private services.
  • A highlight of the CSCs is that it offers web-enabled e-governance services in rural areas, including application forms, certificates and utility payments such as electricity, telephone and water bills.

Krishi Vigyan Kendras

  • It is an integral part of the National Agricultural Research System (NARS).
  • It consists of scientists, technical staff, administration support staff and auxiliary staff.
  • The first KVK was established in 1974 at Puducherry.
  • KVKs also produce quality technological products (seed, planting material, bio-agents, and livestock) and make it available to farmers.
  • The KVK scheme is 100% financed by the Government of India.

Source: PIB

Cairn Circles

GS-I : Art and Culture Historical sites

Cairn Circles

A megalith is a large prehistoric stone that has been used to construct a structure or monument, either alone or together with other stones. Cairn-circles are the prehistoric stone row which is a linear arrangement of parallel megalithic standing stones.

Recently, the State Department of Archaeology, Chennai has identified 250 cairn-circles from the Kodumanal excavation site in Tamil Nadu. This is for the first time that 10 pots and bowls were discovered from the site, instead of the usual 3 or 4 pots, placed outside three-chambered burial cists and inside the cairn-circle.

More numbers and bigger size of boulders suggests that the grave could be of a village head or the head of the community. Findings from the site also include an animal skull, beads, and copper smelting units, the mud walls of a workshop, potteries, and Tamil Brahmi script.

Other types of megaliths are

  1. Dolmenoid cists - Box-shaped stone burial chambers,
  2. Capstones - Distinctive mushroom-shaped burial chambers (found mainly in Kerala)

Kodumanal

  • Kodumanal is a village located in the Erode district in Tamil Nadu. The place is an important archaeological site.
  • It is located on the northern banks of Noyyal River, a tributary of the Cauvery. The earlier excavations of Kodumanal revealed that multi-ethnic groups lived in the village.
  • It also revealed that the site served as a trade-cum-industrial centre from 5th century BCE to 1st century BCE.

Source: Web

PM SVANidhi

GS-III : Economic Issues Government policies and interventions

PM SVANidhi

PM SVANidhi was launched by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, on June 01, 2020. Its objective is to provide affordable Working Capital loan to street vendors to resume their livelihoods that have been adversely affected due to Covid-19 lockdown.

Under the Scheme, the vendors can avail a working capital loan of up to Rs. 10,000, which is repayable in monthly instalments in the tenure of one year. On timely/ early repayment of the loan, an interest subsidy @ 7% per annum will be credited to the bank accounts of beneficiaries through Direct Benefit Transfer on quarterly basis.

There will be no penalty on early repayment of loan. SIDBI will implement the PM SVANidhi Scheme under the guidance of Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs (MoHUA). It will also manage the credit guarantee to the lending institutions through Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises (CGTMSE).

Source: PIB

Gee’s Golden Langur

GS-III :

Gee’s Golden Langur

Golden langurs can be most easily recognized by the colour of their fur, after which they are named. It has been noted that their fur changes colours according to the seasons as well as geography. The colour of the young also differs from adults in that they are almost pure white.

They are highly dependent on trees, living in the upper canopy of forests, they are also known as leaf monkeys. It is endemic to western Assam, India, and southern Bhutan.

Their habitat is restricted to the region surrounded by four geographical landmarks, such as

  1. Foothills of Bhutan (North),
  2. Manas river (East),
  3. Sankosh river (West),
  4. Brahmaputra river (South).

The Central Zoo Authority, New Delhi entrusted the state zoo with the project for the conservation breeding of golden langur in Assam in 2011. IUCN Status– Endangered. Listed in Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) - Appendix I and Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 - Schedule I.

Source: TH

Horse Shoe Crab

GS-III :

Horse Shoe Crab

Horse Shoe Crab is a marine chelicerate arthropod living in shallow coastal waters on soft sandy or muddy bottom and spawns (release or deposit eggs) mostly on intertidal beaches at summer spring high tides. They have existed since the time of the dinosaurs and are important ecosystem engineers and predators of small organisms.

Their ecological function is to lay millions of eggs on beaches to feed shorebirds, fish and other wildlife. Their large hard shell serves as a microhabitat for many other species such as sponges, mud crabs, mussels and snails. It is regarded as a marine ‘living fossil’.

It is in the Schedule IV of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, under which the catching and killing of a horseshoe crab is an offence.

Recently, IUCN has decided to observe the first-ever International Horseshoe Crab Day on 20th June 2020.

There are four extant horseshoe crab species:

  1. The American horseshoe crab (Limulus polyphemus) along the eastern coast of the USA and in the Gulf of Mexico. (IUCN - Vulnerable)
  2. The tri-spine horseshoe crab (IUCN - Endangered)
  3. The coastal horseshoe crab ( IUCN – Not Listed)
  4. The mangrove horseshoe crab (IUCN – Not Listed)

The last three are Indo-pacific species found in the coastal waters of India, Southeast Asia, China and Japan. Odisha is their largest habitat in India.

Source: IE

Product Application & Development Centre (PADC)

GS-III :

Product Application & Development Centre (PADC)

  • Product Application & Development Centre (PADC) is setup by Indian Oil at Paradip, Odisha.
  • PADC has been setup by IndianOil at Paradip with a capex of Rs 43 crores, adjacent to its Refinery and Petrochemicals complex.
  • There are 4 laboratories in PADC namely Polymer Processing Lab, Analytical Testing Lab, Chemical Analysis Lab and Characterisation Lab.
  • The Technical centre is equipped with 50 latest sophisticated polymer testing and processing equipment to cater to the needs of customers and new investors.
  • PADC, Paradip is recognized as a research centre by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR), Ministry of Science & Technology, Govt of India.
  • PADC will act as incubation centre for new entrepreneur development in and around Odisha in the field of Plastics.
  • PADC will ensure availability of raw material, facilitate entrepreneurs in petrochemicals sector and provide training to the prospective and budding investors.
  • PADC will provide quality assurance, complaint handling, customer support, benchmarking studies, new & niche grade development and application development activities.

Applications of Polymers

  • The centre will render assistance to customers and investors in product and application development for polymer finished products such as molded furniture, houseware, wovensacks for packaging cement, fertiliser, healthcare applications like baby diaper, personal protective suit, mask etc.

Source: PIB

Kumbhar Sashaktikaran Yojana  

GS-III : Economic Issues KVIC

Kumbhar Sashaktikaran Yojana

It is an initiative of the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) for empowerment of potter community in the remotest of locations in the country. The program reaches out to the potters in - U.P., M.P., Maharashtra, J&K, Haryana, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Assam, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Telangana and Bihar.

It provides the following support -

  • Training for advanced pottery products.
  • Latest, new technology pottery equipment like the electric Chaak.
  • Market linkages and visibility through KVIC exhibitions.

KVIC

It is a statutory body established by an Act of Parliament (Khadi and Village Industries Commission Act of 1956). In April 1957, it took over the work of former All India Khadi and Village Industries Board.

It is an apex organization under the Ministry of MSME, with regard to khadi and village industries within India. It seeks to plan, promote, facilitate, organise and assist in the establishment and development of khadi and village industries in the rural areas in coordination with other agencies engaged in rural development wherever necessary.

Source: PIB

Rule of Law Index

GS-II : Governance Judiciary

Rule of Law Index

It is released by the World Justice Project, an independent organisation.It is a quantitative assessment tool designed to offer a detailed and comprehensive picture of the extent to which countries adhere to the rule of law in practice. The World Justice Project defines the rule of law system as one in which the following four universal principles are upheld:

  • The government and its officials and agents are accountable under the law.
  • The laws are clear, publicized, stable and fair, and protect fundamental rights, including the security of persons and property.
  • The process by which the laws are enacted, administered, and enforced is accessible, efficient, and fair.
  • Justice is delivered by competent, ethical, and independent representatives and neutrals who are of sufficient number, have adequate resources and reflect the makeup of the communities they serve.

India has secured 69th rank of 128 countries.

It measures countries’ rule of law performance across eight factors:

  1. Constraints on Government Powers,
  2. Absence of Corruption,
  3. Open Government,
  4. Fundamental Rights,
  5. Order and Security,
  6. Regulatory Enforcement,
  7. Civil Justice,
  8. Criminal Justice.

Source: TH

Global Education Monitoring Report

GS-II :

Global Education Monitoring Report

It is an editorially independent, authoritative and evidence-based annual report published by UNESCO. Formerly known as the Education for All Global Monitoring Report. Its mandate is to monitor progress towards the education targets in the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) framework.

It has also developed the World Inequality Database on Education (WIDE) to draw attention to the extremely high levels of education inequality across countries and between groups within countries.

According recent GEM report about 40% of low- and lower-middle-income countries have not supported learners at risk of exclusion during this crisis, such as the poor, linguistic minorities and learners with disabilities. GEM 2020 had noted that efforts to maintain learning continuity during the pandemic may have actually worsened exclusion trends.

During the height of school closures in April 2020, almost 91% of students around the world were out of school. Imperfect substitutes - Education systems responded with distance learning solutions, all of which offered less or more imperfect substitutes for classroom instruction.

UNESCO

  • United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was formed in 1945. It is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) based in Paris.
  • It has 195 member states and ten associate members. India was a founder member of the Organization.
  • Its declared purpose is to contribute to peace and security by promoting international collaboration through educational, scientific, and cultural reforms in order to increase universal respect for justice, the rule of law, and human rights along with fundamental freedom proclaimed in the United Nations Charter.

Source: IE

Rajya Sabha Polls

GS-II : Indian Polity Rajya sabha

Rajya Sabha Polls

Rajya Sabha is a permanent House and is not subject to dissolution. However, one-third Members of Rajya Sabha retire after every second year (biennial). A member who is elected for a full term serves for a period of six years.

The election held to fill a vacancy arising otherwise than by retirement of a member on the expiration of his term of office is called ‘Bye-election’. A member elected in a bye-election remains a member for the remainder of the term of the member who has resigned or died or disqualified to be member of the House under the Tenth Schedule. (PT)

Methods of Voting in RS Polls

  • Single Transferable vote - In this method, a voter instead of voting for a single candidate, ranks all candidates according to his preference. Voting only takes place when there are more candidates than the vacant seats. The method would lead to the election of candidates opposed to the majority party in a state.
  • Cross voting - During late nineties, MLAs were regularly convinced to vote against their party’s candidate (cross-vote). The Supreme Court in 2006 held that the practice of cross-voting would not attract the penalty under the anti-defection law, which further promoted the practice of cross-voting.
  • Open Ballot - To stem the Cross voting rot, a Rajya Sabha committee headed by S B Chavan(1999) mooted the idea of voting by open ballots in the elections to the upper house. Parliament passed a law in 2003 requiring MLAs to show their votes to their party before voting in a Rajya Sabha election. But neither did the law stop the MLAs from cross-voting, nor could it prevent the influence of big money. The open ballot provides legal and technical grounds for invalidating votes.
  • Postal Ballot - In rare circumstances RS polling can be done by postal ballots subject to the condition that a notification under Rule 68 of 1961 rules (Conduct of Election Rules 1961) is made before the last date of withdrawal of nominations.

Source: Laxmikant

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