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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

27 Jul, 2020

50 Min Read

Social Security Number for Migrants

GS-I : Human Geography Urbanisation

Social Security Number for Migrants

GS-Paper-3 Economic development (Mains)

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour has recommended that the government introduce a social security number for migrant workers, especially those working in the unorganised sectors which are beyond the purview of the labour laws.

Background: The Ministry of Labour and Employment was unable to give any concrete figures on the number of migrant workers. However, the officials quoted data from the Railway Ministry. About 1.08 crore migrant workers had travelled on Special Shramik express trains initiated by the government to ferry migrant workers.

It was pointed out that students and family members of the workers too used these trains and thus this figure doesn’t accurately record the number of migrant workers.

Social Security Number: Instead of making Aadhar the basis for providing government benefits to migrants, they should be given a social security number which is a more effective way of covering them for insurance, health and other welfare programmes.

A social security number is essential to avert situations like the one during the extended lockdown when several lakh workers had to walk back to their homes as they were shut out of employment overnight. The number will not only help in mapping the number of migrant workers but also their migration patterns.

Suggestions:

Both the State of origin and State where the worker has migrated to should have a record. The migrant workers may or may not have access to the Internet, therefore the smallest arm of administration — the gram sabhas — should be roped in. The same work can be done by municipality workers in the urban areas.

Concerns

It flagged issues related to the social security fund stated under the Social Security Code Bill 2019. There are no specific details in the legislation as to who will contribute to the fund and how it will be utilised.

It also discussed changes in labour laws by some states in the wake of pandemic and impact on workers.

Most of the beneficiaries under the PM Garib Kalyan Yojana were local workers and not migrants.

Social Security Code Bill, 2019

  • The central government has been working to concise 44 central labour laws into four broad codes on wages, industrial relations, social security and occupational health & safety.
  • The Social Security Code Bill seeks to amend and consolidate nine laws related to social security, including the Employees’ Provident Fund Act, 1952, the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, and the Unorganised Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008. Social security refers to measures to ensure access to health care and provision of income security to workers.
  • It proposes setting up a social security fund. This fund will provide welfare benefits such as pension, medical cover, and death and disablement benefits to all workers, including gig workers. ***Gig workers refer to workers outside of the traditional employer-employee relationship (e.g., freelancers).
  • The Code provides for the establishment of several bodies to administer the social security schemes notified by the government.
  • It provides that every woman shall be entitled to, and her employer shall be liable for, the payment of maternity benefit at the rate of the average daily wage for the period of her actual absence, i.e. the period immediately preceding the day of her delivery, and any period immediately following that day.
  • The Code specifies penalties for various offences, such as falsification of reports, punishable with imprisonment of up to six months.

Source: PIB

Cold War between U.S.A and China

GS-II : International Relations China-USA

Cold War between U.S.A and China

GS-Paper-2 US-CHINA (Mains)

Recently, the U.S.A blocked China's access to chip making tools and designated Chinese telecom giants Huawei, ZTE as national security threats. However, with the 5G rollout approaching, the move will impact several countries including India. Recently, the United Kingdom also reversed its earlier decision and blocked Huawei from its 5G network rollout.

U.S.A-China Tech Relation: China has traditionally resisted against American big-data companies such as Facebook and Google to operate within its jurisdiction. However, both the Countries still have significant dealings on the technology side.

Last year, Apple recorded USD 100 million of daily sales in China, while Huawei Technologies reported record revenues primarily from its exposure in western markets, including the U.S.A.

The latest steps by U.S.A against Huawei mark the first real prohibitory action by a western government in the nearly two decades. This has been done on the ground that China’s equipment is designed to aid snooping. There have been apprehensions that American telecoms players are too much dependent on subsidised Chinese technology.

Impact of Ban on Chip Making Tools: Huawei could face shortages in its supply of specialist chips for which it relies on the U.S.A. Technological cold war could extend beyond the U.S.A and China, and compel other countries, including India, to effectively choose between one of the camps. Some of the countries perceive the same threat as that of the U.S.A, and others are wary of trade sanctions by the U.S.A.

This could have a bearing on the growing competition to dominate next-generation technologies such as 5G networks and artificial intelligence. Impact the plans of most countries preparing to transition to a 5G regime, including India.

India’s Position

In 2009, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had advised Indian mobile companies to suspend deals with Chinese equipment makers after fears that Chinese equipment were being used for hacking and spying.

However, India did not took strong actions on any of DoT’s recommendations. Indeed, much of India’s telecom growth story has been supported by Chinese companies in both hardware and software.

The approach changed after the standoff in Ladakh, wherein India has asked state-owned telecom service providers to exclude Chinese companies from the scope of their network upgrade contracts.

India also justified the ban on 59 mobile apps with Chinese links on grounds of a threat to national security.

This was part of the wider decision to signal curbs on Chinese investments and tech companies in the country.

The border clashes and the U.S.A action could now force India into the anti-China camp.

Conclusion

With the Chinese being increasingly blocked by governments in 5G networks, other global players could be at a competitive advantage. The other leaders in the telecoms network equipment market are the European players such as Ericsson and Nokia, and South Korea’s Samsung.

India’s Reliance Jio has also designed and developed a complete 5G solution from scratch. This could also have a bearing on the global 5G rollout, especially in the countries outside of North America and Europe.

Source: TH

Military Equipments and why RUSSIA??

GS-II : International Relations

Military Equipments and why RUSSIA??

Russia's Military Equipment:

  • The Navy's only active aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya and it's only nuclear attack submarine in service, Chakra II, are from Russia.
  • So are the Army’s T-90 and T-72 main battle tanks and IAF’s Su30 MKI fighter.
  • The country’s only nuclear-capable supersonic cruise missile, BrahMos, is produced by a joint venture with Russia.
  • As India has been spreading its supplier base with Israel, USA and France, Russia still remains a major supplier. This is indicated by following latest developments:
    India has approved proposals to acquire 21 Mig29 and 12 Su30 MKI fighter aircraft from Russia for 2.4 billion USD.
  • India and Russia had agreed to a joint programme to develop a variant of Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft Programme (FGFA) in 2007.
  • As India has not committed to the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft Programme (FGFA) programme with Russia. It is negotiating on the price of AK103 rifles for Make in India.

USA’s Military Equipment

  • Apache and Chinook helicopters,
  • M777 howitzer guns for the Army.
  • Boeing C-17 and C-130J for IAF and P8I submarine hunter aircraft for Navy.

Reasons

There are many reasons for India's dependency on Russia for the supply of military equipments:

  • Legacy Issue: India and Russia have a longstanding defence relationship and there is familiarity with each other’s processes and systems.
  • Specialised Equipment: The kind of specialised equipment that Russia provides to India makes a difference from other countries, e.g. the S-400 Air Defence Missile Systems, nuclear submarines and aircraft carrier.
  • Combat Capability: Each of the systems supplied by Russia has its advantages and uses as they have been used effectively to develop maximum combat capability especially when focusing on India’s higher-end strike platforms.

Significance:
Border Clash with China: Notwithstanding India’s growing mutual convergence with the USA against China following the recent tensions on the Ladakh border, its armed forces remain heavily dependent on equipment, weapons and military platforms of Russian origin which form the bulk of its inventory.

USA’s CAATSA: Recently, the USA has asked all its allies and partners, including India, to stop transactions with Russia. The USA can risk triggering sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

Source: PIB

DDT to South Africa

GS-II : International Relations African Countries

DDT to South Africa

GS-Paper-2 I.R India and Africa (PT-MAINS)

Recently, HIL (India) Limited has supplied 20.60 Metric tonne of Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), a fertilizer to South Africa for their malaria control program. The Company is further in the process of supplying DDT to Zimbabwe and Zambia in the current Financial Year 2020-21.

HIL (India) Limited

It is a PSU under the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers. It was incorporated in 1954 to manufacture and supply DDT to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for malaria control programmes. It is the sole manufacturer of DDT globally.

DDT:
It is a colorless, tasteless, and almost odorless crystalline chemical compound. It was first synthesized in 1874 by the Austrian chemist Othmar Zeidler. Its insecticidal action was discovered by the Swiss chemist Paul Hermann Muller in 1939.

He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1948 "for his discovery of the high efficiency of DDT as a contact poison against several arthropods.
Arthropods are invertebrate species which include insects (Mosquitos), arachnids (Spiders), and crustaceans (Crabs) etc. Originally developed as an insecticide, it became infamous for its environmental impacts.

A worldwide ban on agricultural use was formalized under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. However, its limited use in disease vector control continues, because of its effectiveness in reducing malarial infections.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends DDT as one of the efficient Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS) chemicals to curb mosquito menace and it is widely used by Southern African countries like South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia, Mozambique and India. IRS is a core vector control intervention that involves the application of a residual insecticide to internal walls and ceilings of housing structures where malaria vectors may come into contact with the insecticide.

Supply to South Africa: South Africa will be utilising DDT in three provinces bordering Mozambique. The region is highly affected with Malaria and it has reported maximum morbidity and mortality.

Supply to Other Countries: HIL (India) Limited has recently exported Malathion Technical 95% to Iran under Government-to-Government initiative for the Locust Control Programme and also exported Agrochemical-fungicide to Latin American region.

Malaria

Malaria is caused by Plasmodium parasites. The parasites are spread to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes, called "malaria vectors".

Impact: Malaria continues to be one of the major public health problems globally. In 2018, an estimated 228 million cases of malaria occurred worldwide.

Most of the cases and deaths (93%) were reported from African Region. In the South East Asia Region, India accounts for the majority of cases and death.

According to World Malaria Report 2019, India reported 2.6 million fewer cases in 2018 compared to 2017. Thus the overall incidence of malaria in the country has reduced.

However, 7 states (Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Gujarat, Odisha and Madhya Pradesh) account for about 90% of the burden of malaria cases in India.

Source: PIB

New FDI rules, 2020

GS-III : Economic Issues

New FDI rules, 2020

  • The Government of India has made its approval for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) by neighbouring countries mandatory.
  • This revised FDI policy aims to curb opportunistic takeovers/acquisitions of Indian companies due to the current Covid-19 pandemic.

Important points:

  • FDI is allowed under two modes - either through the automatic route, for which companies don't need government approval, or through the government route, for which companies need a go-ahead from the centre.

New FDI policy:

  • An entity of a country, which shares a land border with India or where the beneficial owner of an investment into India is situated in or is a citizen of any such country, can invest only under the Government route.
  • A transfer of ownership in an FDI deal that benefits any country that shares a border with India will also need government approval.
  • India shares land borders with Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar.
  • Investors from countries not covered by the new policy only have to inform the RBI after a transaction rather than asking for prior permission from the relevant government department.

Impacts:

  • The earlier FDI policy was limited to allowing only Bangladesh and Pakistan via the government route in all sectors. The revised rule has now brought companies from China under the government route filter.
  • China's footprint in the Indian business space has been expanding rapidly, especially since 2014.

Chinese investment in India:

  • The net Chinese investment in India, which was $1.6 billion in 2014, shot up five-folds to at least $8 billion (Rs 60,800 crore) in the next three years — with a noticeable shift from state-driven to market-driven investment from the Chinese private sector.
  • Official figures underestimate the amount of investment: They neither account for all Chinese companies’ acquisitions of stakes in the technology sector nor investments from China routed through third-party countries, such as Singapore.
  • For instance, a $ 504-million investment from the Singapore arm of the mobile firm Xiaomi would not figure in official statistics because of how investments are measured.
  • It has been seen that the Chinese firms have escaped the kind of scrutiny in India that their investments have attracted in the West despite several high-profile investments and acquisitions.
  • Another concern is that there is no clear separation between the Chinese state and private business. They work closely in pursuing many goals.

Foreign Direct Investment definition:

  • FDI is an investment from a party in one country into a business or corporation in another country with the intention of establishing a lasting interest.
  • Lasting interest differentiates FDI from foreign portfolio investments, where investors passively hold securities from a foreign country.
  • Foreign direct investment can be made by expanding one’s business into a foreign country or by becoming the owner of a company in another country.

Source: TH

Kakrapar Atomic Power Plant-NUCLEAR ENERGY

GS-III :

Kakrapar Atomic Power Plant-NUCLEAR ENERGY

GS-Paper-3 Nuclear energy (S&T) (PT-MAINS)

Kakrapar Atomic Power Plant is the country’s first 700 MWe (megawatt electric) unit, located in Gujarat. It is the biggest indigenously developed variant of the Pressurized Heavy Water Reactor (PHWR). The operationalization of India’s first 700MWe reactor marks a significant scale-up in technology. It has recently achieved its criticality, which is a landmark event in India’s domestic civilian nuclear programme.

It is significant in terms of optimization of its PHWR design. It addresses the issue of excess thermal margins and an improvement in the economies of scale, without significant changes to the design of the 540 MWe reactor.

'Thermal margin' refers to the extent to which the operating temperature of the reactor is below its maximum operating temperature. The 700MWe capacity would constitute the biggest component of the expansion plan of India to ramp up its existing nuclear power capacity of 6,780 MWe to 22,480 MWe by 2031.

Criticality means: The normal operating condition of a reactor, in which nuclear fuel sustains a fission chain reaction. A reactor achieves criticality when each fission event releases a sufficient number of neutrons to sustain an ongoing series of reactions.

What is Nuclear Energy?

Nuclear Energy is the energy in the nucleus or core of an atom. Tiny units that make up all matter in the universe are called atoms.

How is Nuclear Energy produced?

Nuclear energy is released by splitting the atom, using the process called Nuclear fission.

How is electricity produced using Nuclear Energy?

A nuclear reactor is a power plant that can control nuclear fission to produce electricity. In the nuclear reactor, uranium is used as fuel. Atoms of uranium are split, which creates fission products which cause other uranium atoms to split, thus creating a chain reaction. The energy from this chain reaction is released in the form of heat. This heat is used to warm the nuclear reactors cooling agent, which results in the formation of steam. This steam turns the turbines, which drive the engines or generators to produce electricity.

Where was the first nuclear reactor located, that produced electricity?

Argonne National Laboratory was the first nuclear reactor to produce electricity was located in Idaho, USA. It was in the year 1951.

Where was the first nuclear power plant designed to provide electricity to a community?

It was set up in Obninsk, Russia in 1954.

What are the advantages of electricity produced using Nuclear Energy?

  • It is a source of clean energy.
  • It helps in the development of a country’s economy without adversely contributing to climate change.
  • It does not emit any greenhouse gases.
  • It can be built in urban or rural areas.
  • Nuclear Energy – Electricity production across the Globe
  • Approximately 10% of the world’s electricity is produced using nuclear energy.
  • Worldwide, nuclear power plants are operational in around 30 countries.
  • In France, approximately 75% of the electricity is produced by Nuclear energy.
  • A total of around 450 nuclear reactors are operating worldwide for generating electricity.

Uses

  • Provides electricity to a nation without polluting its environment unlike electricity produced from thermal sources like coal.
  • Source of huge employment for a nation.
  • It helps in boosting the economy of a nation and helps in achieving Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Nuclear power is used for space explorations.
  • Used for providing potable water through desalination
  • Used in cancer treatment
  • Used for sterilizing medical equipment.
  • A country’s security needs are addressed by using nuclear-powered submarines and nuclear powered
  • Nuclear radiation is used in the treatment of food by killing bacteria, insects and parasites that cause illness.
  • Nuclear energy could play a major role in transportation by acting as a substitute for fossil fuels.

Nuclear Energy Facts – India

  • Till 2009, India was excluded from global nuclear trade as it was non-signatory of the Nuclear Non-proliferation treaty due to its nuclear weapons program. This was a hindrance in the development of India’s Civil Nuclear energy program.
  • Approximately 2.5% of India’s energy requirements are met through nuclear energy.

Locations of Nuclear Power Plants – Planned in India

  • Gorakhpur
  • Chutka – Madhya Pradesh
  • Mahi Banswara – Rajasthan

Locations of Nuclear Power Plants – Proposed

  • Haripur – West Bengal
  • Rajouli, Nawada – Bihar
  • Bhimpur – Madhya Pradesh
  • Jaitapur (Ratnagiri District) – Maharashtra
  • Kovvada (Srikakulam District) – Andhra Pradesh
  • Nizampatnam (Guntur District) – Andhra Pradesh
  • Pulivendula (Kadapa District) – Andhra Pradesh
  • Chhaya – Mithi (Bhavnagar District) – Gujarat

Locations of Uranium Resources

  • Tummalapalle (Kadapa District) – Andhra Pradesh
  • Nalgonda District – Telangana
  • East Singhbhum District – Jharkhand
  • West Khasi Hills District – Meghalaya
  • Udaipur District – Rajasthan
  • Yadgir District – Karnataka
  • Rajnandgaon (District) – Chhattisgarh
  • Sonbhadra District – Uttar Pradesh
  • Rudraprayag District – Uttarakhand
  • Una District – Himachal Pradesh
  • Gondia District – Maharashtra

The Indian nuclear programme was conceived based on, unique sequential three-stages and associated technologies essentially to aim at optimum utilization of the indigenous nuclear resource profile of modest Uranium and abundant Thorium resources. This sequential three-stage program is based on a closed fuel cycle, where the spent fuel of one stage is reprocessed to produce fuel for the next stage.

The commercial nuclear power program of the first stage (comprising of PHWRs and imported LWRs) is being implemented by Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL), and the second stage (comprising of Fast Breeder Reactors) by Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Limited (BHAVINI), both companies owned fully by the union government in accordance with the provisions of the act.

STAGE 1: Pressurized Heavy Water Reactor using

  • Natural UO2 as fuel matrix.
  • Heavy water as moderator and coolant.

STAGE 2: Fast Breeder Reactor

  • India's second stage of nuclear power generation envisages the use of Pu-239 obtained from the first stage reactor operation, as the fuel core in fast breeder reactors (FBR).

STAGE 3: Breeder Reactor

The third phase of India's Nuclear Power Generation programme is, breeder reactors using U-233 fuel. India's vast thorium deposits permit design and operation of U-233 fuelled breeder reactors.

Research Reactors:

  • DHRUVA Reactor at BARC was designed, constructed and commissioned by Indian Engineers and scientists. Natural U is the fuel used and heavy water as moderator and coolant, Dhruva enabled India to attain self sufficiency in the production of radioisotopes
  • Kamini, a 30 kWt reactor at the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research at Kalpakkam, achieved criticality in October 1996 for providing neutron radiography facilities and is a small but significant step towards utilization of our vast thorium reserves. It is the only operating reactor in the world using U-233 fuel.

Institutions involved in Nuclear energy Development

India's Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) was established in August 1948 within the Department of Scientific Research, which was set up in June 1948. The Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) came into existence in August 1954 through a Presidential Order. Thereafter, a Government Resolution in 1958 transferred the DAE within the AEC. The Secretary to the Government of India in the DAE is the ex-officio Chairman of the AEC. The other Members of the AEC are appointed on the recommendation of the Chairman of the AEC

DAE's own Research & Development wings include:

1) Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Trombay: A series of 'research' reactors and critical facilities was built here. Reprocessing of used fuel was first undertaken at Trombay in 1964. BARC is also responsible for the transition to thorium-based systems. BARC is responsible for India's uranium enrichment projects, the pilot Rare Materials Plant (RMP) at Ratnahalli near Mysore

2) Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR): IGCAR at Kalpakkam was set up in 1971. Two civil research reactors here are preparing for stage two of the thorium cycle. BHAVINI is located here and draws upon the centre's expertise and that of NPCIL in establishing the fast reactor program, including the Fast Reactor Fuel Cycle Facility.

3) The Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology (RRCAT): Multi-purpose research reactor (MPRR) for radioisotope production, testing nuclear fuel and reactor materials, and basic research.

4) Atomic Minerals Directorate: The DAE's Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research (AMD) is focused on mineral exploration for uranium and thorium. It was set up in 1949, and is based in Hyderabad, with over 2700 staff.

5) Variable Energy Cyclotron Centre: Variable Energy Cyclotron Centre is a premier R & D unit of the Department of Atomic Energy. This Centre is dedicated to carry out frontier research and development in the fields of Accelerator Science & Technology, Nuclear Science (Theoretical and Experimental), Material Science, Computer Science & Technology and in other relevant areas.

6) Global Centre for Nuclear Energy Partnership: It will be the DAE's sixth R & D facility. It is being built near Bahadurgarh in Haryana state and designed to strengthen India's collaboration internationally. It will house five schools to conduct research into advanced nuclear energy systems, nuclear security, radiological safety, as well as applications for radioisotopes and radiation technologies. Russia is to help set up four of the GCNEP schools.

Besides carrying out research at its own research centres, the DAE provides full support to seven aided institutions

1) Tata Institute of Fundamental Research(TIFR): The Tata Institute of Fundamental Research is a National Centre of the Government of India, under the umbrella of the Department of Atomic Energy, as well as a deemed University awarding degrees for master's and doctoral programs. TIFR, carry out basic research in physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, computer science and science education. Main campus is located in Mumbai, but additional campuses are in Pune, Bangalore and Hyderabad.

2) Tata Memorial Centre: The Tata Memorial Centre commissioned state of the art new operation theatres. For delivering hi-tech patient care, sophisticated facilities such as stereotactic radiosurgery and steriotactic and intensity modulated radiotherapy, were added.

3) Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics: The Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics is an institution of basic research and training in physical and biophysical sciences located in Bidhannagar, Kolkata, India. The institute is named after the famous Indian physicist Meghnad Saha.

4) Institute of Physics: Institute of Physics, Bhubaneswar is an autonomous research institution of the (DAE), Government of India.

5) Institute for Plasma Research: Research and development in fusion technology continued at the Institute for Plasma Research.

6) Harish Chandra Research Institute: The Harish-Chandra Research Institute is an institution dedicated to research in Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, located in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh in India.

7) Institute of Mathematical Sciences: The Institute of Mathematical Sciences (IMSc), founded in 1962 and based in the verdant surroundings of the CIT campus in Chennai, is a national institution which promotes fundamental research in frontier disciplines of the mathematical and physical sciences.

AERB: The AERB reviews the safety and security of the country's Operating Nuclear Power Plants, Nuclear Power Projects, Fuel Cycle Facilities, and Other Nuclear/Radiation Facilities and Radiation Facilities. The regulatory authority of AERB is derived from the rules and notifications promulgated under the Atomic Energy Act, 1962 and the Environmental (Protection) Act, 1986. The headquarters is in Mumbai. The mission of the Board is to ensure that the use of Ionising Radiation and Nuclear Power in India does not cause undue risk to health and the Environment. Currently, the Board consists of a full-time Chairman, an ex officio Member, three part-time Members and a Secretary.

NPCIL: Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) is a Public Sector Enterprise under the administrative control of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE),Government of India. The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) is responsible for design, construction, commissioning and operation of thermal nuclear power plants.

NPCIL is presently (June-2016) operating 21 nuclear power reactors with an installed capacity of 5780 MW. The reactor fleet comprises two Boiling Water Reactors (BWRs) and 18 Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs) including one 100 MW PHWR at Rajasthan which is owned by DAE, Government of India.

The AERB is a regulatory body, which derives administrative and financial support from the Department of Atomic Energy. It reports to the secreatry, DAE.

The DAE is also involved in the promotion of nuclear energy, and is also responsible for the functioning of the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited, which operates most nuclear power plants in the country.

The DAE is thus responsible both for nuclear safety (through the AERB), as well as the operation of nuclear power plants (through NPCIL). This could be seen as a conflict of interest.

Source: PIB

Yercaud lake affected by Water hyacinth

GS-III :

Yercaud lake affected by Water hyacinth

  • Yercaud lake is located in Salem, Tamil Nadu.
  • It is recently affected by the problem of water hyacinth.

About Water hyacinth:

  • Water hyacinth is a free-floating and flowering invasive aquatic plant originated from Amazon Basin, South America.
  • It has spread mainly to the tropics and subtropics since the 1800s. Water hyacinth has been considered as an invasive aquatic plant in the United States since 1984, in Africa since early 1900s, in Asia since 1902, and in Europe since 1930s.
  • The reproduction systems of water hyacinth are both sexual and asexual reproduction.
  • The invasive plant doubles itself within 5–15 days.

Negative impacts of water hyacinth:

  • It significantly affects the lake hydrology by increasing the evapotranspiration of lake water.
  • It creates a favourable environment for the production of snails and mosquito that cause diseases like Bilharzia and malaria.
  • The mat of water hyacinth affects recreation and tourism facilities in large water bodies, impacts fishing and transportation, irrigation, and hydropower infrastructures in water bodies infested by the nuisance weed, water hyacinth.
  • Water quality can be affected by the invasion of water hyacinth.

Methods to control:

  • To eradicate or control water hyacinth, physical, chemical, and biological methods are widely applied throughout the world.
  • The physical method is employed by directly harvesting, cutting, and removing the plant using machines or manual removing by hands and hand tools.
  • Chemical (herbicides and pesticides), which either conventional or nonconventional can be applied directly or indirectly on the infested areas to eradicate or reduce the growth of the weed.
  • Biological methods involve applying arthropods and pathogens on the infested areas.
  • Arthropods feed the leaves of water hyacinth but pathogens make the plant infected by diseased and finally decompose by bacterial actions.
  • The most common and effective arthropods are weevils, pathogens, bacteria, fungus, and viruses.
  • Although the most advisable are preventive control methods, application of integrated control methods is advised.

Source: TH

Sero-surveillance

GS-III :

Sero-surveillance

Recently, the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) conducted a sero-surveillance study for Covid-19 in New Delhi. NCDC is under administrative control of the Directorate General of Health Services in the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Sero-surveillance:

Detects Specific Antibodies: It seeks to assess the prevalence of disease in a population by detecting the presence of specific antibodies against the virus.

Immunity Check: It can also be conducted to check if a person has developed immunity to certain diseases.

Past Infections: It indicates past infections (and which triggered an immune response), and is not used to detect active infections.

Tested Immunoglobulin G Using ELISA: The Sera (a part of blood) of samples were tested for IgG antibodies and Covid-19 infection using Covid Kavach ELISA kits approved by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

      • IgG (Immunoglobulin G) is a type of antibody which develops in most Covid-19 patients (infections) at around two weeks after infection and remains in the blood even after recovery.
      • ELISA (Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay) is a test that detects and measures antibodies in blood.

Source: PIB

'Manodarpan' 

GS-III :

'Manodarpan'

Recently, the Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD) has launched the 'Manodarpan' initiative under Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan. It is aimed to provide psychosocial support to students, family members and teachers for their mental health and well-being during the times of Covid-19.

Description: The platform includes a national toll free helpline for students of schools, universities and colleges, which will be manned by a pool of experienced counsellors, psychologists and mental health professionals.

It also has a website, a national database of counsellors which will host an interactive online chat platform, advisories and tips through webinars and other resources.

Significance: It would act as an element of strengthening human capital and increasing productivity for the education sector in the wake of covid-19. Covid 19 lockdown had led to forced close down of schools and colleges. Therefore, it would help children as well as their parents in facing tense situations and its effects on academics.

Source: PIB

Global Fund

GS-III :

Global Fund

Recently, ‘key populations affected by HIV/AIDS (or KPs)’ have protested for being ignored by governments and multilateral agencies (including United Nations) in Covid-19 related emergency relief efforts.

They have petitioned the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (or simply the Global Fund), demanding allocation to meet their basic survival needs of food, shelter, and emergency medical care. KPs include sex workers, transpeople, gay and bisexual men, drug users, and people living with HIV/AIDS.

  • The Global Fund is an international financing and partnership organization.
  • It was created in 2000 and its secretariat is located in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • The Global Fund aims to attract, leverage and invest additional resources to end the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria to support attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • It is designed to promote innovative solutions to global health challenges. It works in partnership with governments, civil society, technical agencies, and people affected by the diseases.
  • India joined the Global Fund as a donor in 2006, and has contributed a total USD 46.5 million to date.
  • In 2019, the Government of India pledged USD 22 million to the Global Fund's Sixth Replenishment for 2020-22, demonstrating shared commitment toward ending the epidemics of HIV, TB and malaria.

Source: TH

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Australia rejects China’s sea claims Context: Australia’s formal declaration to the UN on the South China Sea dispute. In a formal declaration to the UN, Australia has rejected China’s territorial and maritime claims in the South China Sea. Australia has held that there

Cabinet decision binding on Governor

Cabinet decision binding on Governor Context: Political turmoil in the state of Rajasthan. There has been a deadlock between Rajasthan Governor and Rajasthan Chief Minister over the summoning of an Assembly session for a floor test. While the Chief Minister has been demanding the summon

Is SARS-CoV-2 a latent virus which can recur?

Is SARS-CoV-2 a latent virus which can recur? Context: There are doubts over second infection of COVID-19. There have been repeated instances of ‘reinfection’ from COVID-19 since early January 2020. Reinfection means people who had tested negative for COVID-19 test positive

India-South Korea Relations

India-South Korea Relations India-South Korea relations have made rapid strides in recent years. With the convergence of India’s Act East Policy (AEP) and South Korea’s New Southern Policy (NSP), there has been an acceleration of economic and strategic relations between the two cou

25 July,2020
Tribunal, Appellate Tribunal, and other Authorities (Qualifications, Experience and other Conditions of Service of Members) Rules, 2020

Recently, the Union Ministry of Finance framed a new set of rules called the Tribunal, Appellate Tribunal, and other Authorities (Qualifications, Experience and other Conditions of Service of Members) Rules, 2020 that prescribe uniform norms for the appointment and service conditions of members t

Presidential Form of Government

Presidential Form of Government Context India's system of democracy is based on the Parliamentary form of government, whereby the Head of state is different from the Head of the government. However, from time to time it has been suggested by many experts that India should adopt the Pr

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