National Current Affairs – UPSC/KAS Exams- 2nd January 2019

INF Treaty

1

Topic: International Relations

In News: The U.S is suspending its obligations under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty effective February 2 and will withdraw from the treaty in six months.

More on the Topic:

  • The treaty, signed during the Cold War in 1987, bans ground-launched missiles with a range of 500 km-5,500 km.
  • It was key to ending the arms race between the (then) two superpowers and helped protect the U.S.’s NATO allies in Europe from Soviet missile attack
  • The U.S. will formally give Russia and the other treaty parties a formal notice that it is withdrawing under Article XV of the Treaty.
  • Article XV mandates a six-month notice period before withdrawal.

Diplomatic implications of withdrawal:

  • Withdrawal is likely to be controversial with U.S. allies in NATO, further splitting the alliance at a difficult time for transatlantic relations.
  • Many Western European NATO states favor retaining the INF, in conjunction with previous U.S. policy designed to push Moscow back into compliance. This raises concerns that divisions within NATO may worsen when the United States officially withdraws from the INF.
  • Trump’s move is also likely to undermine the 2010 New START treaty governing U.S. and Russian long-range nuclear system The INF Treaty’s demise will undercut New START by reopening questions on the relationship between intermediate and strategic systems that have been resolved for 30 years by the elimination of ground-based, intermediate-range missiles.

Source:The Hindu

 Vision 2030

2

Topic: Economy

In News: The government’s commitment for a ‘Clean & Green’ India through proposals in the interim budget such as measures to reduce the use of fossil fuel in a phased manner by 2030 is expected to ensure faster adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) and environment friendly mass transportation in the country.

More on the Topic:

  • The emphasis laid on electric mobility in the ‘2030 Vision’ is aimed at increasing energy security, reducing oil import dependence and reducing vehicular pollution.
  • The government’s focus on the use of clean energy in the transportation sector will help India tackle the issue of climate change.
  • FAME II scheme, to be announced before March 31, would lay the roadmap for EVs.
  • The vehicle emission based tax regime would boost the EV vision towards achieving a cleaner and greener environment.

FAME India Scheme

FAME India scheme by Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises Aims to provide fiscal and monetary incentives for adoption and market creation of both hybrid and electric technologies vehicles in the country.

  • FAME stands for Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles
  • The scheme has 4 focus areas,Technology development,Demand Creation,Pilot Projects and Charging Infrastructure.
  • The FAME India Scheme is aimed at incentivizing all vehicle segmentse. 2 Wheeler, 3 Wheeler Auto, Passenger 4 Wheeler Vehicle, Light Commercial Vehicles and Buses.

Source: The Hindu

National Programme on Artificial Intelligence

3

Topic: Government Policies

In News: Union Finance Minister Piyush Goyal’s announcement of a ‘National Programme on Artificial Intelligence’ ties into an existing programme led by the Union Science Ministry called the National Mission on Interdisciplinary Cyber-Physical Systems (NM-ICPS). The latter was cleared by the Union Cabinet last December at a total outlay of Rs. 3,660 crore for five years.

More on the Topic:

  • Cyber physical systems deal with training youth for new kinds of jobs that would be created due to the destruction of conventional jobs and the mechanisation of jobs.
  • The mission aims to establish of 15 Technology Innovation Hubs (TIH), six Application Innovation Hubs (AIH), four Technology Translation Research Parks (TTRP).
  • The hubs and TTRPs would connect to academics, industry, Central Ministries and State government in developing solutions at reputed academic, R&D and other organisations across the country in a hub and spoke model.
  • About 40,000 jobs would be created in the short term and about 2,00,000 in long term, the note adds.
  • CPS and its associated technologies, include Artificial Intelligence (Al), Internet of Things (loT), Machine Learning (ML), Deep Learning (DP), Big Data Analytics, robotics, quantum computing, quantum communication, quantum encryption (quantum key distribution), Data Science and Predictive Analytics.

About National Programme on AI:

  • India has become the second largest hub of start-ups. In order to take benefits of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and related technologies to the people, a national programme on artificial intelligence has been envisaged by our government.
  • This should be catalysed by the establishment of the National Centre of AI as a hub along with centres of excellence.
  • AI technology helps in analysing data in various technologies to improve the efficiency of the system like power management in cars, mobile devices, weather predictions, video and image analysis etc.

Source: The Hindu

Rashtriya Gokul Mission

4

Topic: Government Policies

In News: Union Finance Minister Piyush Goyal has allotted Rs. 750 crore to the Rashtriya Gokul Mission (RGM) under revised estimates for the financial year 2018-19.

More on the Topic:

  • The RGM was launched in December 2014 on an outlay of Rs. 500 crore (2014-15 to 2016-2017) for developing and conserving indigenous breeds through selective breeding and genetically upgrading ‘nondescript’ bovine population.
  • Officially, the RGM aims to develop ‘Gokul Gram’ cattle care centres for indigenous breeds of high “genetic merit” as well as breeds that aren’t as gifted.
  • The objective is to get native breeds to produce more milk, be more fecund, and to raise the quality of Indian cows and bulls to eventually outpace Jerseys and Holsteins.

Concerns:

  • The RGM doesn’t address the issue of cattle past their reproductive or useful age. The government, in 2017, banned cattle slaughter, making it difficult for farmers to send away aged cattle. This raised stray cattle numbers. Although the ban was lifted later, the threat of vigilante violence has hit farmers.

Source:The Hindu

 Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi

5

Topic: Government Policies

In News: The Centre has announced an annual income support of Rs. 6,000 to small landowning farmers, with an initial sum of Rs. 2,000 to be paid by the end of March.

More on the Topic:

  • The new scheme, called the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN), will benefit more than 12 crore farming families which own cultivable land up to 2 hectares. The annual support of Rs. 6,000 will be paid directly into beneficiary bank accounts over the course of the year in three instalments of Rs. 2,000 each.
  • Other measures announced in the Budget include a 2-5% interest subvention for loans taken by farmers hit by natural disasters or for livestock farming and fisheries.
  • However, several agricultural economists and farm activists said the scheme had been announced with an eye on the polls and will not be enough to alleviate distress of the farmers.
  • The Central scheme’s payout is lower than what is being given by two States which already implement similar schemes: Telengana’s Rythu Bandhu scheme which gives farmers Rs. 10,000 an acre a year, and Odisha’s KALIA scheme, which is giving Rs. 10,000 a household a year to small landholders as well as landless tenant farmers.

Model mains Question: Analyse the reasons for farmers distress in the country and the way out.

Source:The Hindu

Future of the Rail Report

6

Topic: Important Reports

In News: A report published by the International Energy Agency (IEA) has stated that Indian railways will account for nearly 40% of total global rail activity by 2050.

More on the Topic:

  • The IEA prepared the report titled The Future of Rail in conjunction with the International Union of Railways (UIC).
  • Investments in Indian urban rail infrastructure is estimated to reach nearly $190bn by 2050. Along with the development of high-speed rail, fuel expenditures are estimated to reduce by nearly $450bn.
  • As a result, India can save up to $64bn on fuel expenses by that time.
  • The IEA report provides a specific focus on India, where rail passenger traffic increased by nearly 200% since 2000. The future prospects of rail services in the country continue to remain bright, it added.
  • Furthermore, the report stated that the rail sector carries 8% of passengers across the world and 7% of global freight movement. However, it utilises 2% of the total transport energy demand in the world, signifying its efficiency.
  • By diversifying energy sources and providing more efficient mobility, rail can lower transport energy use and reduce carbon dioxide and local pollutant emissions.
  • Global activity in 2050 will be 7 times higher than current levels.

About International Energy Agency:

  • The International Energy Agency is a Paris-based autonomous intergovernmental organization established in the framework of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 1974 in the wake of the 1973 oil crisis.
  • The IEA was initially dedicated to responding to physical disruptions in the supply of oil, as well as serving as an information source on statistics about the international oil market and other energy sectors.
  • The IEA acts as a policy adviser to its member states, but also works with non-member countries, especially China, India, and Russia.
  • The Agency’s mandate has broadened to focus on the “3Es” of effectual energy policy: energy security, economic development, and environmental protection.
  • The latter has focused on mitigating climate change. The IEA has a broad role in promoting alternate energy sources (including renewable energy), rational energy policies, and multinational energy technology co-operation.

Source: The Hindu

Startup India-WhatsApp Grand Challenge

7

Topic: Economy

In News: To fuel the growth of India’s entrepreneurial and small business community, the Facebook-owned WhatsApp in partnership with Invest India launched the “Startup India-WhatsApp Grand Challenge”

More on the Topic:

  • The challenge will give away a total of $250,000 (Rs 1.8 crore) to the top 5 winners.
  • WhatsApp has listed healthcare, rural economy, financial and digital inclusion, education and citizen safety as the themes for the startup challenge.
  • Entrepreneurs with highly innovative ideas, business models that solve for a local India problem, making a large scale socio-economic impact, are invited to apply by the challenge.
  • Registrations will be open till March 10, 2019. The applications will first be evaluated by an independent evaluation committee post which the best 30 ideas will be shortlisted for the subsequent round and to 10 in the following round.
  • The selected 10 ideas will be invited to participate at the live pitch day during the grand finale. The five winning ideas will each receive a grant of $50,000 on May 24.

About Start up India

  • Startup India is a flagship initiative of the Government of India, intended to build a strong ecosystem that is conducive for the growth of startup businesses, to drive sustainable economic growth and generate large scale employment opportunities.
  • The Government through this initiative aims to empower startups to grow through innovation and design.
  • These programs have catalyzed the startup culture, with startups getting recognized through the Startup India initiative and many entrepreneurs availing the benefits of starting their own business in India.
  • The 19-Point Startup India Action Plan envisages several incubation centres, easier patent filing, tax exemptions, ease of setting-up of business, a INR 10,000 Crore corpus fund, and a faster exit mechanism, among others.

Model Mains Question: Elucidate Government intervention in establishing start-up friendly atmosphere in India.

Source: The Hindu

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