National Current Affairs – UPSC/KAS Exams- 7th December 2018

Manifesto of tribal rights

Topic: Issues related to vulnerable sections of the society

IN NEWS: A manifesto for rights of the tribal population, residing mainly in southern Rajasthan, has demanded that they be recognised as “custodians of ecosystem, nature and traditions” and paid an honorarium for their contribution to preservation of natural resources. Their environment-friendly practices were also highlighted in the charter of demands.

More on the Topic:

  • The document was released by the Tribal Development Forum, Vaagdhara, and other institutions working for tribal rights and food security.
  • Tribal groups in Rajasthan have demanded that the next elected government in the State reveal the status of each of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with reference to tribal communities and declare their status targets.
  • The activists who works for the well being of the tribes alleges that no political party had depicted its commitment to work for sustainable development of tribal people.

Key Demands of the Document:

  • A sustainable integrated farming system needs to be developed for benefiting small and marginal tribal farmers. Besides, agricultural subsidies should be broadened to promote traditional farming.
  • A monitoring mechanism should be dedicated to the SDG index in the tribal village panchayats, blocks and districts.
  • The next government should take serious steps for stopping the migration cycle triggered by lack of education and skills and large family size, which contributed to tribal people’s poverty, forcing them to leave forests and villages.

Source:The Hindu

The Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana – Urban (PMAY-U)

Topic: Government Policies

IN NEWS: Crisil research data shpws that The Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana – Urban (PMAY-U), being implemented by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs under the Housing for All by 2022 mission since June 2015, needs a concerted push to succeed.

Highlights of the Report:

  • The government will need another ₹1 lakh crore in three years to build one crore houses, as disbursements under PMAY-U show a huge lag. A ramp-up in fund-raising and utilisation is crucial.
  • As on November 26, 2018, only 12 lakh had been constructed, though 63 lakh houses had been sanctioned, while 23 lakh were under construction.Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu together accounted for 55% of the sanctions.
  • The Ministry aims to sanction 75 lakh houses and construct 30 lakh by the close of this fiscal. The Central Government needs to contribute a whopping ₹1.5 lakh crore in seven fiscals through 2022, at an average of ₹1.5 lakh per house.
  • However, only 22% of this, or ₹32,500 crore, has been disbursed so far. Of the total Central assistance, ₹19,000 crore has been factored in the budgetary allocation till fiscal 2019.
  • The scheme also faces headwinds such as unavailability of land in prime areas.

How government is going to tackle this issue:

  • For extra budgetary resources, the ministry has already initiated fund-raising through entities such as the Housing and Urban Development Corporation As these are typically bonds with 10 years of maturity with interest and the principal repayment has to be managed through future budgetary announcements, provisions in future budgets would be a key monitorable.

About Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana:

  • The Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) Programme launched by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (MoHUPA), in Mission mode envisions provision of Housing for All by 2022, when the Nation completes 75 years of its Independence. The Mission seeks to address the housing requirement of urban poor including slum dwellers.
  • Beneficiaries include Economically weaker section (EWS), low-income groups (LIGs) and Middle Income Groups (MIGs).
  • The annual income cap is up to Rs 3 lakh for EWS, Rs 3-6 lakh for LIG and Rs 6 + -18 lakhs for MIG. EWS category of beneficiaries is eligible for assistance in all four verticals of the Missions whereas LIG and MIG categories are eligible under only Credit linked subsidy scheme (CLSS) component of the Mission.
  • “Housing for All” Mission for urban area is being implemented during 2015-2022 and this Mission will provide central assistance to implementing agencies through States and UTs for providing houses to all eligible families/beneficiaries by 2022.
  • Mission will be implemented as Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) except for the component of credit linked subsidy which will be implemented as a Central Sector Scheme.

Source:The Hindu

Virus used to speed up modern computers

Topic: Science and Technology

In news: Scientists have successfully used a virus to engineer a better type of memory in computers, which could boost their speed and efficiency.

More on the Topic:

  • The research, published in the journal Applied Nano Materials, found that a key way to develop faster computers is to reduce the millisecond time delays using the virus M13 bacteriophage, that infects the bacterium Escherichia coli.
  • These delays usually come from the transfer and storage of information between a traditional random access memory (RAM) chip and hard drive.
  • The new memory technology uses a material that can reversibly switch between amorphous and crystalline states.
  • A binary-type material, for example, gallium antimonide, could be used to make a better version of phase-change memory.
  • However, the use of this material can increase power consumption and it can undergo material separation at around 347 degrees Celsius.
  • Hence, it is difficult to incorporate a binary-type material into current integrated circuits, because it can separate at typical manufacturing temperatures at about 397 degrees Celsius.
  • The research team has found a way to overcome this major roadblock using tiny wire technology“.
  • For the first time, the researchers showed that by using the M13 bacteriophage — a low-temperature construction of tiny germanium-tin-oxide wires and memory can be achieved.
  • “This possibility leads the way to the elimination of the millisecond storage and transfer delays needed to progress modern computing”.

Source: The Hindu

Air pollution cause of 1 in 8 deaths


Topic: Environment and Ecology

In news: India, with 18% of the world’s population, has a disproportionately high 26% of the global premature deaths and disease burden due to air pollution. Moreover, one in eight deaths in India was attributable to air pollution in India in 2017, making it a leading risk factor for death.

More on the Topic:

  • This is according to the first comprehensive estimates of reduction in life expectancy associated with air pollution in each State, published by the India State-Level Disease Burden Initiative, a venture of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, along with experts and stakeholders associated with over 100 Indian institutions.

Key findings:

  • The key findings from the paper include the fact that 12.4 lakh deaths in India in 2017 were due to air pollution, which included 6.7 lakh deaths due to outdoor particulate matter air pollution and 4.8 lakh deaths due to household air pollution.
  • Over half of the deaths due to air pollution were in persons less than 70 years of age. In 2017, 77% population of India was exposed to ambient particulate matter PM2.5 above the recommended limit by the National Ambient Air Quality Standards.
  • The report states that the highest PM2.5 exposure level was in Delhi, followed by the other north Indian States of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Haryana.
  • The study states that the disability-adjusted life years (DALYs), attributable to air pollution in India in 2017 for major non-communicable diseases were at least as high as those attributable to tobacco use.
  • The average life expectancy in India would have been 1.7 years higher if the air pollution level were less than the minimal level causing health loss, with the highest increases in the northern States of Rajasthan (2.5 years), Uttar Pradesh (2.2 years) and Haryana (2.1 years).

Source: The Hindu

Tourists bring a wave of trash to beaches


Topic: Environment and Ecology

In news: According to a study by the National Centre of Coastal Research (NCCR) beach pollution is high in India and tourism and fishing are the biggest culprits, contributing most of the plastic litter on beaches.

More on the Topic:

  • The NCCR conducted a qualitative analysis of the litter on six different beaches on the eastern and western coasts. It found that plastic litter from tourism alone accounted for 40%-96% of all beach litter.
  • At Chennai’s Elliot’s Beach, for instance, plastics left by tourists accounted for 40% of all the litter, while at Gopalpur in Odisha, it was as high as 96%. As for the other four beaches, plastics formed 66% of the overall litter on Fort Kochi Beach, 60% at Karnataka’s Karwar beach, 87% at Visakhapatnam’s R.K. Beach, and 81% at Andaman Island’s Rangachang beach.
  • After tourism, fishing was the next biggest source of litter. While fishing nets were a major contributor, the processing of fish on the beach also produced a lot of litter.
  • At Fort Kochi, fishing litter accounted for 22% of the total, followed by Elliot’s Beach at 15%, and Karwar beach at 10%.
  • Also, the proportion of biomedical litter was high in urban areas, such as Elliot’s Beach and Fort Kochi Beach.
  • Other than the plastic litter dropped by tourists, similar waste from creeks and inlets made its way into the sea in the monsoon.
  • Most of the litter consisted of plastic bottles, cutlery, and thermocol.

Way Forward:

  • Experts suggest installation of debris booms and fin deflectors upstream as measures to reduce the quantity of floating solid waste entering coastal waters.
  • India needed to start blue-flagging its beaches. The ‘blue flag’ is a globally recognised eco-label awarded to beaches and marinas that adhere to strict environmental and safety norms.

Source: The Hindu

Soil Health Cards (SHC)


Topic: Government Policies

In news: Soil Health Card Scheme has been taken up for the first time in a comprehensive manner across the country. It is provided to all the farmers.

 More on the Topic:

  • Objective of the scheme is to enable the farmers to apply appropriate recommended dosages of nutrients for crop production and improving soil health and its fertility.


  • Collecting soil samples at a grid of 2.5 ha in irrigated area and 10 ha in un-irrigated areas.
  • Uniform approach in soil testing adopted for 12 parameters primary nutrients (NPK), secondary nutrient (S); micronutrients (B, Zn, Mn. Fe & Cu); and other (pH, EC & OC) for comprehensiveness.
  • GPS enabled soil sampling to create a systematic database and allow monitoring of changes in the soil health over the years.
  • Soil Health Management (SHM) is one of the most significant interventions under NMSA.
  • National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA) will be implemented during 12th Plan to make agriculture more productive, sustainable and climate resilient; to conserve natural resources; to adopt comprehensive soil health management practices; to optimize utilization of water resources; etc.


  • To promote Integrated Nutrient Management (INM) through judicious use of chemical fertilizers including secondary and micro nutrients in conjunction with organic manures and bio-fertilisers for improving soil health and its productivity;
  • To strengthen soil and fertilizer testing facilities to give soil test based recommendations to farmers for improving soil fertility;
  • To ensure quality control requirements of fertilizers, bio-fertilizers under Fertiliser Control Order, 1985;
  • To upgrade skill and knowledge of soil testing laboratory staff, extension staff and farmers through training and demonstrations;
  • To promote organic farming practices, etc.

Source: The Hindu


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