National Current Affairs – UPSC/KAS Exams- 6th March 2019

Assam gets ‘smart’ fence along border

Topic: Internal Security

In News: A digital ‘barrier’ has finally filled a 61 km gap on the 4,096.7 km India-Bangladesh border fence three decades after the project kick started.

More on the Topic:

  • Assam shares a 263 km border with Bangladesh. Much of the border was fenced, but a 61 km stretch in Dhubri district remained open owing to the terrain dictated by the Brahmaputra.
  • Smart fence is expected to diminish challenges faced by the Border Security Force in manning this stretch against cross-border crimes.
  • The smart fence Comprising microwave communication, optical fibre cables, cameras, and an intrusion detection device, this system is called BOLD-QIT (Border Electronically Dominated QRT Interception Technique) and was established under the Comprehensive Integrated Border Management System.

Source:Hindu

Fifteen of the 20 most polluted cities in the world are in India

2

Topic: Environment and Ecology

In News: Fifteen of the top 20 most polluted cities in the world are located in India, according to an analysis of air quality in several cities around the world.

More on the Topic

  • Gurugram, in Haryana, topped the list with an average annual particulate matter (PM 2.5) quality of 135 micrograms/cubic metre, in 2018.
  • Delhi,a frequent fixture on global pollution hotspots was only the 11th most noxious city behind Lahore, Pakistan (10th) and Hotan, China (8th). The other cities in India that made the list of 20 were Ghaziabad, Faridabad, Bhiwadi, Noida, Patna, Lucknow, Jodhpur, Muzaffarpur, Varanasi, Moradabad, Agra, Gaya and Jind.
  • When ranked by country, Bangladesh emerged as the most polluted followed by Pakistan and India respectively.
  • Of the cities analysed, 64% exceeded the WHO’s annual exposure guideline (10 micrograms/cubic metre) for fine particulate matter, also known as PM2.5. India’s annual guidelines range from 40-60 g/m3, depending on whether they are residential or industrial areas.
  • Every single one of measured cities with data in the Middle East and Africa exceeded the WHO guideline, while 99% of cities in South Asia, 95% of cities in Southeast Asia and 89% of cities in East Asia breached this level.
  • The ranking — a one of its kind study that relies on ground-based sensors located in 3,000 cities from 73 countries — was compiled by IQAir Group, a manufacturer of air-monitoring sensors as well as purifiers and environmentalist group Greenpeace.

Pollution hubs:

  • Jakarta and Hanoi emerged as Southeast Asia’s two most polluted cities and average concentrations in the cities in China fell by 12% from 2017 to 2018. Beijing ranks now as the 122nd most polluted city in the world in 2018 and China, the 12th most polluted country in the world. Of the countries analysed, Iceland emerged as the one with the cleanest air.

Model Mains Question: Fifteen of the top 20 most polluted cities in the world are located in India, according to an analysis of air quality in several cities around the world. Examine the factors behind the pollution and suggest measures to mitigate the same.

Source: The Hindu

Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Mandhan (PM-SYM) Yojana.

Topic: Government policies

In News: Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Mandhan (PM-SYM) Yojana.

More on the topic:

  • The national pension scheme for workers and labourers of the unorganised sector was announced in the interim Budget in February this year. It provides for a monthly pension of Rs. 3,000 to the employees of the unorganised sector after 60 years of age.
  • The scheme is for informal sector or unorganised sector workers.
  • The subscribers have to pay a monthly amount of Rs. 100 if the subscriber joins at age 29 and Rs. 55 if the subscriber joins the scheme at 18.
  • The same amount will be matched by the government.The scheme is eligible for persons aged between 18 and 40 and are earning Rs. 15000 or less per month
  • The scheme is estimated to benefit 10 Crore workers from informal sector.The government has allocated an initial fund of Rs. 500 crore for the scheme.

Source: The Hindu

National Legal Services Authority

4

Topic: Polity

In News: The President of India Ram Nath Kovind has nominated Justice SA Bobde of the Supreme Court as Executive Chairman of National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) .

More On the Topic:

  • National Legal Services Authority of India (NALSA) was formed on 9th November 1995 under the authority of the Legal Services Authorities Act 1987.
  • The Chief Justice of India is patron-in-chief of NALSA while second seniormost judge of Supreme Court of India is the Executive-Chairman.
  • There is a provision for similar mechanism at state and district level also headed by Chief Justice of High Courts and Chief Judges of District courts respectively.The prime objective of NALSA is speedy disposal of cases and reducing the burden of judiciary.

Objectives of NALSA are:

  • To legally empower the marginalized and excluded groups of the society by providing effective legal representation, legal literacy and awareness and bridging the gap between the legally available benefits and the entitled beneficiaries.​
  • To strengthen the system of Lok Adalats and other Alternate Dispute Resolution mechanisms in order to provide for informal, quick, inexpensive and effective resolution of disputes and minimize the load of adjudication on the overburdened judiciary.

Source:The Hindu

Young Scientist’ Programme

5

Topic: Science and Technology

In News: State-run Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)  announced the launch of its Young Scientist programme to train class 9 students in space technology and its applications.

More on the Topic:

  • ISRO has launched the special programme for school children ‘Yuva Vigyani Karyakram’ (Young Scientist programme) to impart basic knowledge on space technology, space science and applications to the young ones to arouse their interest in space activities
  • The two-week residential training programme will be held each year during summer holidays for students from across the country who have completed class 8 and are studying in class 9.
  • “Three students will be selected from each state/union territory to participate in the programme each year covering CBSE, ICSE and state syllabus.
  • The selection is based on the academic performance and extracurricular activities. Students belonging to rural areas have been given special weightage in the selection criteria.

Source: Hindu

Generalized System of Preferences (GSP)

Topic: International Relations

In News: USA has decided to withdraw India’s name from Generalized System of Preferences or GSP list.

More on the Topic:

  • It is a U.S. trade program designed to promote economic growth in the developing world.
  • It provides preferential duty-free entry for up to 4,800 products from 129 designated beneficiary countries and territories.
  • India exported an estimated $5.6 billion worth of goods to the US under this program in 2017.
  • The reason behind this move is that India has not assured the United States that it will provide equitable and reasonable access to its markets.

Background:

  • India-U.S. trade tensions escalated last year when the U.S. took two consecutive decisions to increase import tariffs on steel and aluminium, and place India’s eligibility for GSP benefits under review.
  • Shortly after, India said it would impose retaliatory tariffs on imports from the U.S. and even notified the list of items on which these would apply.
  • Meanwhile, the S. stood fast on not exempting India from its tariff hikes, with Mr. Trump complaining about India’s high import tariffs several times. The GSP review, however, stretched on, with the two countries holding frequent talks to address the concerns
  • Washington’s decision to review India’s GSP status stemmed from complaints from American medical and dairy industries, both of which said India was not providing “equitable and reasonable access to its market”.
  • India has said it had tried hard to cater to most of the U.S. demands and reach an understanding, but key points of difference, especially regarding India’s cultural concerns to do with dairy products, could not be accommodated.

Way Forward:

  • Indian officials have stressed that talks on the issue would still continue during the 60-day period after which the GSP decision would come into effect.
  • The other option the government can exercise is to impose retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods. The government’s efforts to downplay the impact of the withdrawal of GSP status and express readiness for more talks, however, suggest it is not keen to take a decisively strong stance.
  • It bears emphasis that while the actual amounts at stake are relatively small, with even India’s proposed tariffs on the U.S. amounting to just $900 million, the impact on small industries in the country could nevertheless be significant.
  • Export bodies have already said that such industries would lose their market share in the U.S. without fiscal support to help them maintain their edge. In its absence, orders meant for India could go to other GSP countries, signs of which are already evident.

Model Mains Question: What is GSP? Analyse  India-US trade in light of presentt changes in the GSP.

Source: The Hindu

Centre for Disability Sports

7

Topic: Social Justice

In News: A ‘Centre for Disability Sports’ will be set up at Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh. The proposal regarding setting up of it has been approved by the Government.

More on the Topic:

  • It will be registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860, which is to function under the name of Centre for Disability Sports, Gwalior.
  • Significance: Improved sports infrastructure created by this Centre will ensure effective participation of Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) in sports activities and also enable them to compete at national and international levels.
  • Setting up of the Centre will develop a sense of belonging in Divyangjan to facilitate their integration in society.

Source: The Hindu

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