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HYPERLOOP MARCH 2018


Consolidated Current Affairs of January, February and March 2018
for Engineering Services General Studies

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CURRENT AFFAIRS March 2018

NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL ISSUES ................................................................................................ 8


1. ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ........................................................................................ 8
1.1 World Bank sees India’s FY19 growth at 7.3% .......................................................................... 8
1.2 Establishment of National Financial Reporting Authority ........................................................ 8
1.3 Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, 2018 ..................................................................................... 9
1.4 Core sector grows at 6.7% in January ...................................................................................... 10
1.5 RBI to inject extra liquidity ...................................................................................................... 10
1.6 India to join multilateral lender EBRD ..................................................................................... 11
1.7 Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership .......................... 11
1.8 The RBI launched 'Ombudsman Scheme' for NBFC ................................................................ 12
1.9 Continuation of ongoing Urea Subsidy Scheme from 2017 till 2020 ...................................... 12
1.10 Infrastructure fund NIIF takes off .......................................................................................... 13
1.11 Linking of SWIFT to the Core Banking System ....................................................................... 14
1.12 Sick PSUs’ revival .................................................................................................................... 14
1.13 Banks told to be vigilant on Aadhaar .................................................................................... 15
1.14 Privatization of PSBs .............................................................................................................. 15
1.15 New India-2022 ...................................................................................................................... 16
1.16 SEBI tightens rules on corporate governance ....................................................................... 16
1.17 NPCI plans international remittance on UPI platform .......................................................... 16
1.18 The first sale of electoral bonds............................................................................................. 17
2. INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT .....................................................................................18
2.1 Action Plan for Champion Sectors in Services ......................................................................... 18
2.2 First Mega Food Park in Maharashtra ..................................................................................... 18
2.3 Pradhan Mantri Kisan SAMPADA Yojana: ............................................................................... 18
2.4 Udyam Sakhi Portal for Women Entrepreneurs...................................................................... 19
2.5 ISRO set to transfer tech on low-cost e-vehicle batteries to industry: .................................. 19
2.6 E-waybill to be rolled out on April 1 ........................................................................................ 20
2.7 Centre to declare 2018 as ‘national year of millets’ ............................................................... 20
2.8 International Centre for Entrepreneurship and Technology (iCreate) ................................... 20
2.9 Bharatmala Project................................................................................................................... 20
2.10 Redefine ‘R&D’ as 'Research for Development' of nation .................................................... 21

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2.11 Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP)................................................................................................ 21


2.12 ‘Move out, move up’ approach could ease India’s farm crisis ............................................. 22
2.13 Integrated Scheme for Development of Silk Industry........................................................... 22
2.14 Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana ......................................................................................... 23
2.15 New Consumer Protection Bill 2018 ...................................................................................... 23
2.16 Rajasthan’s first mega food park ........................................................................................... 23
2.17 Global Manufacturing Index .................................................................................................. 24
3. SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT .............................................................................................26
3.1 Odisha govt. launches ‘Ama Gaon, Ama Bikas’ rural programme.......................................... 26
3.2 National Policy for Domestic Workers .................................................................................... 26
3.3 Ayushman Bharat for a new India -2022 ................................................................................. 26
3.4 SUVIDHA 100% Oxo-biodegradable Sanitary Napkin ............................................................. 27
3.5 #YesIBleed Campaign ............................................................................................................... 27
3.6 Stree Swabhiman Project ......................................................................................................... 27
3.7 National Nutrition Mission, and pan India expansion of Beti Bachao Beti Padhao .............. 27
3.8 POSHAN (PM’s Overarching Scheme for Holistic Nourishment) Abhiyaan............................ 29
3.9 Rajasthan passes Bill to give death penalty for child rape ..................................................... 29
3.10 India’s first coastal policing academy .................................................................................... 29
3.11 Steps to Curb Road Accidents ................................................................................................ 29
3.12 “END TB” Summit ................................................................................................................... 30
3.13 “Innovation Cell” to be set up in HRD Ministry..................................................................... 30
3.14 LaQshya program ................................................................................................................... 31
3.15 Swadhar Greh Scheme ........................................................................................................... 31
3.16 DISHA programme .................................................................................................................. 32
3.17 GIAN launched to enable foreign faculty .............................................................................. 32
3.18 Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA) ...................................................................... 32
3.19 Digital empowerment for Atal Pension Yojana subscribers ................................................. 33
3.20 DAY-NRLM .............................................................................................................................. 33
3.21 Saubhagya Scheme................................................................................................................. 34
3.22 PMSMA: The Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan .................................................. 35
3.23 Online Portal NARI ................................................................................................................. 35

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3.24 INSV Tarini .............................................................................................................................. 35


3.25 Pradhan Mantri Rojgar Protsahan Yojana ............................................................................. 35
3.26 New Integrated Scheme for School Education ...................................................................... 36
3.27 Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana (PMVVY) .................................................................. 36
3.28 National Skill Development Fund (NSDF) and National Skill Development Corporation
(NSDC) ............................................................................................................................................. 37
3.29 Transformation of Aspirational Districts’ programme.......................................................... 37
3.30 Star Rating of Garbage-Free Cities ......................................................................................... 37
3.31 Inclusive Development Index................................................................................................. 38
3.32 N Gopalaswami committee ................................................................................................... 39
ENVIRONMENT AND ENERGY ................................................................................................................ 41
4. ENVIRONMENT ............................................................................................................41
4.1 Climate change threatens King penguins ................................................................................ 41
4.2 Ranganathittu to be pitched as a potential Ramsar wetland site .......................................... 41
4.3 Import of exotic fish ................................................................................................................. 42
4.4 Reducing the carbon footprint................................................................................................. 42
4.5 Tiger conservation areas at risk ............................................................................................... 43
4.6 Death traps for Gir lions ........................................................................................................... 43
4.7 The ecologically subsidised city ............................................................................................... 44
4.8 WHO steps up fight against tobacco ....................................................................................... 44
4.9 Low viscosity fuel oil from plastic waste ................................................................................. 45
4.10 Coral sediments in oceans could dissolve by next century................................................... 45
4.11 Neutrino project gets environmental nod............................................................................. 46
4.12 Atal Bhujal Yojana .................................................................................................................. 47
4.13 State government has banned trekking across T.N .............................................................. 48
4.14 Warming could threaten half of species in 33 key areas ...................................................... 49
4.15 Microplastics in Drinking Water ............................................................................................ 49
4.16 New forest policy ................................................................................................................... 50
4.17 Government launches Sand Mining Framework ................................................................... 50
4.18 143 species spotted in bird survey ........................................................................................ 51
4.19 New lease of life for Kozhikode Rivers .................................................................................. 51

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4.20 Olive Ridley turtles and magnetic power .............................................................................. 52


4.21 Earth Hour 2018...................................................................................................................... 52
4.22 Bio-Medical Waste Management (Amendment) Rules, 2018 .............................................. 53
4.23 Assam’s rare captive-bred vultures face a drug problem ..................................................... 54
4.24 Electronic Waste Management.............................................................................................. 54
4.25 Save the northern white rhino from extinction .................................................................... 55
4.26 The hole in ozone layer has shrunk ....................................................................................... 55
4.27 Microbeads Pollution ............................................................................................................. 55
4.28 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) ............................................................................... 56
4.29 Dust mitigation plan ............................................................................................................... 56
4.30 Ratification of the Minamata Convention............................................................................. 57
5. ENERGY........................................................................................................................59
5.1 India’s energy demand growth ................................................................................................ 59
5.2 Global energy demand rose fastest in five years in 2017 ....................................................... 59
5.3 Bill on 'right to electricity' ........................................................................................................ 59
5.4 World’s largest solar park ........................................................................................................ 60
5.5 Kerala’s energy-positive campus ............................................................................................. 60
5.6 India starts importing LNG from US ......................................................................................... 61
5.7 Synergy needed to enable industrialization of Biofuels ......................................................... 61
5.8 Diu becomes country's first solar energy efficient Union territory ........................................ 62
5.9 India, France and the International solar alliance .................................................................. 62
5.10 Electricity from soil bacteria and reading lights from plants ................................................ 63
5.11 India ranks 78th on WEF Energy Transition Index ................................................................ 64
5.12 KUSUM Scheme-solar power for rural India ......................................................................... 64
5.13 Lithium-Ion batteries have reduced diesel generators ......................................................... 65
5.14 Arctic Circle to have World's first energy positive hotel....................................................... 66
5.15 India’s first home-delivery of Diesel ...................................................................................... 66
5.16 Trina Solar launches TrinaPro smart PV solution .................................................................. 66
5.17 Surat first district to have 100% solar powered health centres .......................................... 67
ICT AND APPLICATIONS .......................................................................................................................... 69
7. INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY ...........................................69

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7.1 CMFRI to launch e-com portal, mobile app for fishermen ..................................................... 69
7.2 NASA launches advanced weather satellite for western U.S. ................................................ 69
7.3 Harmonizing spectrum for 5G .................................................................................................. 70
7.4 Technology innovation under single umbrella ........................................................................ 71
7.5 The “Cops Eye’’ App ................................................................................................................. 71
7.6 Go digital ‘hype’ pushing firms to become efficient, responsive ........................................... 71
7.7 Saposhi- new malware looms over cyberspace ...................................................................... 72
7.8 AI-based floating head to assist ISS astronauts ...................................................................... 72
7.9 Google steps up partnership programme ............................................................................... 73
7.10 Cryptojacking and how can it infect computer ..................................................................... 73
7.11 Prysm technology: Starship enterprise ................................................................................. 73
7.12 MapmyIndia, IBM arm to offer hyper local weather information ....................................... 74
7.13 Telangana launches integrated app for all government services ......................................... 75
7.14 Artificial Intelligence and Internet of Things will impact education in future ..................... 75
7.15 Indian Railway goes Digital .................................................................................................... 76
7.16 NASA invites citizen scientists to observe clouds ................................................................. 76
7.17 Hi-tech conservationists fight wildlife crime ......................................................................... 77
7.18 A knowledge hub for medicinal plants .................................................................................. 77
7.19 NCAA becomes the World’s First Trusted Digital Repository ............................................... 78
7.20 India joins Europe’s satellite data sharing pool .................................................................... 79
7.21 IBM launches AI-powered 'Watson Assistant' ...................................................................... 79
7.22 New robot fish from MIT to study ocean life ........................................................................ 80
7.23 Radar speed signs to slow down drivers ............................................................................... 80
7.24 E- Tribes India ......................................................................................................................... 81
7.25 Smart India Hackathon 2018 .................................................................................................. 81
7.26 Atal Innovation Mission ......................................................................................................... 82
7.27 GSAT-6A Satellite.................................................................................................................... 82
7.28 100 Accessible websites ......................................................................................................... 83
7.29 BharatNet Project ................................................................................................................... 84
7.30 e-Sansad and e-Vidhan........................................................................................................... 84
7.31 Smart Freight Operation Optimisation & Real Time Information (SFOORTI) ...................... 84

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7.32 National Knowledge Network................................................................................................ 85


7.33 Pratyush and Mihir High Performance Computers ............................................................... 85
7.34 Two-tier security process for Aadhaar .................................................................................. 86
7.35 Public cloud policy .................................................................................................................. 87
7.36 Cyber Surakshit Bharat initiative ........................................................................................... 87
7.37 Village Resource Centres (VRCs) ............................................................................................ 88
7.38 LiFi (Light Fidelity) .................................................................................................................. 88
8. MATERIAL SCIENCE ....................................................................................................91
8.1 Graphene .................................................................................................................................. 91
8.2 IIT Guwahati develops superhydrophobic coating ................................................................. 91
8.3 IIT Hyderabad’s novel composite keeps tomatoes fresh for 30 days ..................................... 92

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CURRENT AFFAIRS March 2018

NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL ISSUES

1. ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

1.1 World Bank sees India‟s FY19 growth at 7.3%


● Growth is driven by a number of factors such as exports, consumption, and
investment
● Economy grew 7.2 percent in the last quarter, regained its status as the
world's fastest growing major economy.
● Moody has raised India's investment grade rating one notch
Challenges highlighted by WB
● The poor state of private sector
● Reviving bank credit to support growth
● Implementation of the new Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code
World Bank
 The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans
to countries of the world for capital projects.
 Capital projects are those investment in things like infrastructures and
human development that will of some benefit in the future
 It comprises two institutions - the International Bank for Reconstruction
and Development (IBRD), and the International Development Association
(IDA).
 The World Bank's stated goal is the reduction of poverty

1.2 Establishment of National Financial Reporting Authority


The Union Cabinet has approved the proposal for establishment of National
Financial Reporting Authority (NFRA) and creation of one post of Chairperson,
three posts of full-time Members and one post of Secretary for NFRA.
Impact
The decision is expected to result in improved foreign/domestic investments,
enhancement of economic growth, supporting the globalization of business by
meeting international practices, and assist in further development of audit
profession.

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Jurisdiction
● The jurisdiction of NFRA for investigation of Chartered Accountants and
their firms would extend to listed companies and large unlisted public
companies.
● The Central Government can also refer such other entities for investigation.
● The Quality Review Board (QRB) will also continue quality audit in respect
of private limited companies, public unlisted companies below prescribed
threshold and also with respect to audit of those companies that may be
delegated to QRB by NFRA.

1.3 Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, 2018


The Bill would help in laying down measures to deter economic offenders from
evading the process of Indian law by remaining outside the jurisdiction of Indian
courts.
● The cases where the total value involved in such offences is Rs.100 cr. or
more will come under the purview of this Bill.
● Fugitive economic offenders would be forced to return to India to face trial.
● A scheduled offence refers to a list of economic offences contained in the
Schedule to this Bill
Fugitive Economic offender
A Fugitive Economic Offender is a person against whom an arrest warrant has
been issued in respect of a scheduled offence and who has left India so as to
avoid criminal prosecution, or being abroad, refuses to return to India to face
criminal prosecution.
Background
● Lalit modi was found guilty of committing acts of misconduct and
indiscipline resulting in his removal and subsequent lifetime ban by the
BCCI.
● Vijay Mallya has defaulted on loans of around Rs.9,000 cr. from Indian
banks.
● Nirav Modi has defaulted on loans of around Rs.11,000 cr. from Punjab
National Bank and other banks.

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1.4 Core sector grows at 6.7% in January


Core industries can be defined as main industry of the economy. These industries
form the backbone of all other industries. In India 8 industries are identified as
the core industries.
 Eight infrastructure sectors output grew a faster pace of 6.7 per cent in
January against 3.4 per cent in the year-ago
 Petroleum refinery and cement output zoomed while steel power and coal
production improved.
 The growth in key sectors will have implications for the Index of Industrial
Production (IIP) as these eight segments account for about 41 per cent of
the total factory output.
Core sectors
● The eight core sectors - coal, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products,
fertilizers, steel, cement and electricity

1.5 RBI to inject extra liquidity


The Reserve Bank on Monday said it would inject additional liquidity of ₹1 lakh cr.
in banks through longer tenor instruments
● This will be in addition to normal Liquidity Adjustment Facility (LAF)
Liquidity Adjustment Facility
 LAF refers to the difference between the two key rates viz. repo rate and
reverse repo rate.
 It is the primary instrument of Reserve Bank of India for modulating
liquidity, i.e. availability of cash in the economy.
 It strongly influences the lending and deposit rates in the
 Informally, Liquidity Adjustment Facility is also known as Liquidity Corridor.
Repo Rates
Repo rate, or repurchase rate, is the rate at which RBI lends to banks for short
periods. This is done by RBI buying government bonds from banks with an
agreement to sell them back at a fixed rate. Reverse repo rate is the rate at which
RBI borrows from the commercial banks within the country.

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1.6 India to join multilateral lender EBRD


India has got the go-ahead to join the European Bank of Reconstruction and
Development (EBRD)
● India becoming 69th member of EBRD
● It enabling Indian companies to undertake joint investments in regions in
which the EBRD operates.
About EBRD
● Set up in 1991, the bank’s initial focus was helping central and Eastern
European nations reconstruct their economies in the post-Cold War era.
● It remains committed to furthering the development of market-oriented
economies and the promotion of private and entrepreneurial initiative.
● The EBRD’s largest shareholder is currently the U.S., while other G7 nations
also hold significant stakes.
Advantages for India
 India can expand its presence on the global developmental landscape
 It supports the role that India wishes to play in the renewables space
 India's investment opportunities would get a boost
 It would help India leverage the technical assistance and sectoral
knowledge of the bank for the benefit of development of private sector

1.7 Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership


Trade ministers from 11 countries gathered in Santiago, the capital of Chile, to
sign the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership,
or CPTPP. The CPTPP, also dubbed the TPP-11, was negotiated by Australia,
Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and
Vietnam.
Highlights:
● Without the US, it’s a hugely
significant deal and could become a
blueprint for future regional free trade
agreements.
● Other nations have the chance

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CURRENT AFFAIRS March 2018

to enter at a later time.


● It shows that despite the protectionism coming out of the US, there is still
momentum to increasing shared prosperity through freer trade.

1.8 The RBI launched 'Ombudsman Scheme' for NBFC


The RBI launched 'Ombudsman Scheme' for non-banking financial companies
(NBFC) for redressal of complaints against them.
Highlights
● The scheme will provide a cost-free and expeditious complaint redressal
mechanism relating to deficiency in the services by NBFCs
● The offices of the NBFC ombudsman will function at four metro centres -
Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai and New Delhi.
● The Scheme will cover all deposit-taking NBFCs
● The RBI would extend the scheme to cover NBFCs having asset size of Rs
100 crore and above with customer interface
● The Scheme provides for an Appellate mechanism.
About Ombudsman
An ombudsman, ombud, or public advocate is an official who is charged with
representing the interests of the public by investigating and addressing
complaints of maladministration or a violation of rights. The ombudsman is
usually appointed by the government or by parliament, but with a significant
degree of independence.

1.9 Continuation of ongoing Urea Subsidy Scheme from 2017 till 2020
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved the proposal of
Department of Fertilizers to continue Urea Subsidy Scheme from 2017 upto 2019-
20.
Highlights
● Urea Subsidy is a part of Central Sector Scheme of Department of Fertilizers
and is wholly financed by the Government of India through Budgetary
Support.
● Urea subsidy also includes Imported Urea subsidy. It also includes freight
subsidy for movement of urea across the country.

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● Neem Coating also had an additional positive impact – plugging the


diversion of the subsidized Urea towards non-agricultural purposes
Fertilizer Subsidies in India
 New Pricing Scheme or NPS
o There are two types of pricing
o First, the difference between the cost of production and the selling
price is paid as subsidy to manufacturers. Urea is the only fertilizer
under this controlled pricing.
o The Phosphatic and Potassic fertilizes are under a decontrolled
regime and are sold at indicative maximum retail prices (MRPs).
 Nutrient Based Subsidy (NBS) policy
o Implemented w.e.f. 1st April 2010 for fertilizers other than Urea.
o These fertilizers are provided to the farmers at the subsidized rates
based on the nutrients (N, P, K & S) contained in these fertilizers.
o Additional subsidy is also provided on the fertilizers fortified with
secondary and micronutrients such as Boron and Zinc.
o This is to balance the nutrient distortion caused by the urea subsidy,
as farmers tended to use more urea, as it is cheaper than NPK
fertilizers

1.10 Infrastructure fund NIIF takes off


India’s first sovereign wealth fund NIIF has bought 90% stake in logistics firm
Continental Warehousing in partnership with Dubai’s DP World, which is the first
investment of the platform
Sovereign wealth fund (SWF)
It consists of pools of money derived from a country's reserves, set aside for
investment purposes to benefit the country's economy and citizens.
About NIIF
● In December 2015 government had approved the creation of NIIF with an
aim to maximize economic impact through infrastructure development in
commercially viable projects, both greenfield and brownfield, including
stalled projects.

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● The government is also considering investments in third-party managed


funds focused on clean energy, affordable housing and medium-sized
infrastructure companies

1.11 Linking of SWIFT to the Core Banking System


● RBI has mandated banks to implement the prescribed measures for
strengthening the SWIFT operating environment in banks within the
stipulated deadlines.
About SWIFT
● SWIFT, or the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial
Telecommunication, is the world’s largest electronic payment messaging
system.
● SWIFT is basically just a bank-to-bank messaging system.
● It supplies a standardized language that institutions use to communicate
payment instructions and other info to each other.
● SWIFT messages are programmed in a language known as FIN.

1.12 Sick PSUs‟ revival


A Parliamentary panel has recommended the earmarking of a defined portion of
proceeds from the disinvestment of State-owned enterprises for funding revival,
restructuring and modernization proposals of sick public-sector undertakings
(PSUs) that have the potential to turn around.
Highlights
● The government had set a target of raising Rs. 80,000 crores in 2018-19 by
selling stakes in the State-owned firms, with strategic divestment of 24
CPSEs (central public-sector undertakings) on the cards and privatization of
Air India on track.
● NITI Aayog is preparing another list of sick PSUs that can be privatised
● Timely approval of revival/restructuring/modernisation plans of CPSEs with
accurate cost estimates, availability of funds with the government and the
timely disposal of such funds are crucial factors.

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1.13 Banks told to be vigilant on Aadhaar


The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has asked banks to provide
Aadhaar-based one-time password (OTP) for opening of bank accounts only in the
presence of the customer, in a banking outlet.
Highlights
● The direction is a huge blow to the banks that are heavily dependent on
Aadhaar-based OTP authentication process for account opening (where the
customers do not have to visit branches) or use tab banking to open
accounts by visiting the customer’s residence.
● According to RBI norms, there are limits for accounts that are opened
through Aadhaar-based OTP authentication process, like deposits cannot
exceed Rs. 1 lakh and full KYC requirements, which are submission of
documents and giving biometric details, were needed to be made in 1 year.

1.14 Privatization of PSBs


● Mainly, predominance of scandals and NPAs in PSBs highlight the need for
privatization of PSBs.
● Efficiency and productivity too demand that the government relinquish its
control despite the fact that they hold the bulk of the deposits.
● There is a continuous pressure on the government finances on account of
the weak performance of the banks.
What is meant by Privatization?
The transfer of ownership, property or business from the government to the
private sector is termed privatization. The government ceases to be the owner of
the entity or business.
Private Banks
Banking regulation act was amended in 1993 and permitted the entry of new
private-sector. There are certain criteria such as
 The bank should have a minimum net worth of Rs. 200 crores.
 The promoters holding should be a minimum of 25% of the paid-up capital.
 Within 3 years of the starting of the operations, the bank should offer
shares to public and their net worth must increase to 300 crores

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 Under the new policy, IDFC & Bandhan were given a go ahead to start
banking services for 2015.

1.15 New India-2022


Is a strategy for the functioning and role of CPSEs to realise the vision of a 'new
India'. The PSU chiefs will make presentations before the prime minister on HR,
innovation, finance, corporate governance, among others, and how these can be
leveraged to improve the efficiency of state-owned enterprises to increase their
contribution to nation building.

1.16 SEBI tightens rules on corporate governance


The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has tightened the corporate
governance norms for listed companies by accepting most of the
recommendations of the Kotak Committee while also strengthening the
regulations for derivatives and algorithmic trading.
Highlights
● To reduce the maximum number of directorships to seven from 10 in a
phased manner while expanding the eligibility criteria for directors.
● It enhanced the roles of the audit committee along with those of the
nomination and remuneration committee and the risk management
committee at companies.
● To strengthen the guidelines for algorithmic trading, including stock
exchanges providing tick-by-tick data feed free-of-cost to trading members,
tweaking the penalty framework to minimise orders that are way off the
mark and enhancing certain disclosure requirements for stock exchanges.
● To freeze the shareholding of the promoter and promoter group for non-
compliance

1.17 NPCI plans international remittance on UPI platform


National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) is planning to open up UPI as a
mode of transaction for international inward very soon.
Highlights

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● The settlements that were happening with the beneficiary bank account
through IMPS or NEFT can now also happen through UPI.
● The Virtual Payments Address (VPA) of the consumer is connected to an
underlying bank account, therefore inward international remittance
transfers can now also be settled through UPI
● The biggest benefit for UPI is that it needs only a payment address, thereby
removing the need for the full account number and the IFS code
● NPCI is still awaiting the final RBI approval for the new version of UPI.

1.18 The first sale of electoral bonds


The first sale of electoral bonds is from March 1 for a period of 10 days at four
main branches of State Bank of India
● An electoral bond is designed to be a bearer instrument like a Promissory
Note
● It can be purchased by any citizen of India or a body incorporated in India
with a KYC-compliant account.
● The electoral bonds will not bear the name of the donor.
● The bonds will be issued in multiples of ₹1,000, ₹10,000, ₹1 lakh, ₹10 lakh
and ₹1 crore
● Donors can donate the bonds to their party of choice which can then be
cashed in via the party’s verified account within 15 days.
● Every party that is registered under section 29A of the Representation of
the Peoples Act, 1951 (43 of 1951) and has secured at least one percent of
the votes polled in the most recent Lok Sabha or State election will be
allotted a verified account by the Election Commission of India. Electoral
bond transactions can be made only via this account.

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2. INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT

2.1 Action Plan for Champion Sectors in Services


To give focused attention to 12 identified Champion Services Sectors for
promoting their development and realizing their potential.
Highlights
● A dedicated fund of Rs. 5000 crores have been proposed to be established
to support initiatives for sectoral Action Plans of the Champion Sectors
● Initiative will enhance the competitiveness of India's service sectors
through the implementation of focused and monitored Action Plans
● Promoting GDP growth, creating more jobs and promoting exports to global
markets.

2.2 First Mega Food Park in Maharashtra


The first Mega Food Park in the state of Maharashtra at Satara Inaugurated
Highlights
● Focusing on boosting the food processing industry so that agriculture sector
grows exponentially
● A major contributor to doubling the farmer’s income
● A major contributor to ‘Make in India’ initiative of the government.
● To give a major fillip to the food processing sector by adding value and
reducing food wastage at each stage of the supply chain
● Mega Food Parks create modern infrastructure facilities for food processing
along the value chain from farm to market with strong forward and
backward linkages through a cluster based approach.

2.3 Pradhan Mantri Kisan SAMPADA Yojana:


PMKSY is an umbrella scheme which incorporates all ongoing schemes of the
Union Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MoFPI).
● It includes schemes such as Mega Food Parks, Food Safety and Quality
Assurance Infrastructure, Integrated Cold Chain and Value Addition
Infrastructure, etc.

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● It also includes new schemes like Creation of Backward and Forward


Linkages, Infrastructure for Agro-processing Clusters, Creation/Expansion of
Food Processing & Processing & Preservation Capacities.

2.4 Udyam Sakhi Portal for Women Entrepreneurs


The Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises(MSME) launched a portal
for women entrepreneurs of India: www.udyamsakhi.org.
Highlights
● For nurturing entrepreneurship and creating business models for low cost
products and services.
● The portal provides learning tools, incubation facility,training programs for
fundraising, providing mentors, one-on-one investor meet, provide market
survey facility and technical assistance.

2.5 ISRO set to transfer tech on low-cost e-vehicle batteries to industry:


Giving thrust to the Centre’s ambitious e-vehicle project with the objective of
reducing air pollution and crude oil import, Indian Space Research Organisation is
in the process of transferring the technology of the cheaper version of space
batteries developed by it to the automobile industry for commercial use in e-
vehicles
Highlights
● Isro has given Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL), a PSU, the contract to
manufacture space cells.
● Isro has developed four types of cells for space applications—1.5Ah, 5Ah,
50Ah and 100Ah.
● Isro had earlier allowed Automotive Research Association of India (an
industrial automobile research association) to use 50Ah and 100Ah cells for
developing prototypes of an e-scooter and an e-car, respectively.
● Isro’s move comes as a huge relief for the industry as Li-ion batteries are
currently not manufactured commercially in the country but are imported
from Japan or China.

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2.6 E-waybill to be rolled out on April 1


The GST Council has recommended the introduction of e-way bill for inter-State
movement of goods across the country from 01st April 2018
Features of e-way Bill
● E-way bill is required to be generated only where the value of the
consignment exceeds Rs. 50000/-.
● Value of exempted goods has been excluded from value of the
consignment.
● Public conveyance has also been included as a mode of transport.
● Railways has been exempted from generation and carrying of e-way bill
with the condition that without the production of e-way bill, railways will
not deliver the goods to the recipient.

2.7 Centre to declare 2018 as „national year of millets‟


● Millet is a common term to categorize small-seeded grasses that are often
termed nutri-cereals or dryland-cereals.
● It includes sorghum, pearl millet, ragi,small millet, foxtail millet, proso
millet,barnyard millet, kodo millet and other millets.
● Karnataka is the country’s leader in the millet sector.

2.8 International Centre for Entrepreneurship and Technology (iCreate)


It is a joint venture between Gujarat Mineral Development Corporation Limited
(GMDC) and Gujarat Entrepreneurship and Venture Promotion Foundation
(GEVPF).
Highlights
● To promote and nurture entrepreneurs by providing the finance, mentors
and technology.
● iCreate is an independent centre to promote ‘Start-up India’ scheme.

2.9 Bharatmala Project


Bharatmala is an umbrella programme for the highways sector that focuses on
optimizing efficiency of road traffic movement across the country by bridging
critical infrastructure gaps

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● Bharatmala Pariyojana Phase-I is based on detailed O-D(Origin-Destination)


study.
● Special emphasis will be given on providing connectivity to far-flung border
and rural areas including the tribal and backward areas
● The project is under Ministry of Road Transport and Highways

2.10 Redefine „R&D‟ as 'Research for Development' of nation


The Prime Minister was speaking at the inauguration of the 105th Session of
Indian Science Congress in Manipur University, Imphal.
Highlights of PM's Speech
1. The government was committed to increasing share of non-fossil fuel based
capacity in electricity mix above 40% by 2030.
2. Technology will allow far greater penetration of services such as education,
health care and banking to citizens.
3. Government is developing city-based R&D clusters to bring together
science and technology.
4. India faces major socio-economic challenges. We need science to make
India clean and green. The country requires crores of new houses. 3D
printing technology could meet this demand. We need a multi-pronged
approach, clean cooking, conversion of fuels, smart grids, micro grids and
bio-fuels.
5. Research should also be conducted in yoga, sports and traditional
knowledge.
6. 3rd LIGO detector in the country will expand our knowledge in basic
sciences in the areas of lasers, light waves & computing.

2.11 Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP)


The ‘Jal Marg Vikas’ (National
Waterway-1) project envisages to
develop a fairway with 3 meters depth
between Allahabad to Haldia covering
a distance of 1620 km

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Highlights
● Technical assistance and investment support is being provided by the
World Bank
● Phase-I of the project covers the Haldia-Varanasi stretch which includes
development of fairway, Multi-Modal Terminals, strengthening of river
navigation system, conservancy works, modern River Information System
(RIS), Digital Global Positioning System (DGPS), night navigation facilities,
modern methods of channel marking etc.

2.12 „Move out, move up‟ approach could ease India‟s farm crisis
Indian must adopt policies that facilitate sections of farmers to ‘move out’ of rural
areas to urban areas and the remaining ones to ‘move up’ in the farming sector to
tackle the current agrarian crisis.
Highlights
● The first response is to increase productivity and production.
● Those who stay behind will be able to increase the holding and move to
producing high value food that will create new opportunities.
● Non-farm opportunities in rural areas must also increase if farmers have to
come out of poverty.
● The ownership of future agriculture technologies will have implications for
the future of farmers.

2.13 Integrated Scheme for Development of Silk Industry


Central Sector Scheme for the next three years from 2017-18 to 2019-20.
Highlights
● Research & Development (R&D), Training, Transfer of Technology and IT
Initiatives
● Seed Organizations and farmers extension centres
● Coordination and Market Development for seed, yarn and silk products
● Quality Certification System (QCS) by creating amongst others a chain of
Silk Testing facilities, Farm based & post-cocoon Technology Up-gradation,
and Export Brand Promotion.

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2.14 Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana


This yojana aims to ensure a successful “Organic Farming Revolution” in India.
Highlights
● Under which 2 lakh hectares has been made suitable for organic farming
thereby benefiting 5 lakh farmers.
● Government institutions like APEDA and Ministry of Commerce, while
playing a leading role in improvement and control of certification system,
are promoting the export of organic products.
● The government has initiated the Organic Value Chain Development for
North Eastern region.
● The aim of the Ministry is to promote organic farming in hilly and tribal
areas as the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides in these areas is very
low.

2.15 New Consumer Protection Bill 2018


● Establishment of an executive agency to be known as the Central Consumer
Protection Authority (CCPA) to promote, protect and enforce the rights of
the consumers and will be empowered to investigate, recall, refund and
impose penalties;
● Provision for product liability action in cases of personal injury, death, or
property damage caused by or resulting from any product
● Provision for mediation as an Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) making
the process of dispute adjudication simpler and quicker

2.16 Rajasthan‟s first mega food park


The mega food park is at Roopangarh Village in Ajmer
● The facilities being created at central processing centre (CPC) of this mega
food park include cold storage, deep freeze dry warehouse for raw
materials and for finished goods etc.
● The park will also provide direct and indirect employment to 5,000 persons
and benefit about 25,000 farmers in the CPC catchment areas.

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2.17 Global Manufacturing Index


The World Economic Forum (WEF) has released its Global Manufacturing Index.
The report has been developed in collaboration with A T Kearney.The report has
categorised 100 countries in four major groups for its ranking:
● Leading (strong current base, high level of readiness for future).
● High Potential (limited current base, high potential for future).
● Legacy (strong current base, at risk for future).
● Nascent (limited current base, low level of readiness for future).
Performance of various countries
● Japan has topped the list
● Among BRICS nations, Russia is ranked 35th, Brazil 41st and South Africa at
45th place
● India is at the 30th position and has been placed in the “Legacy” group.

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3. SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT

3.1 Odisha govt. launches „Ama Gaon, Ama Bikas‟ rural programme
Aims to reach out to people in rural areas and involve them in the development
process. The chief minister will hold interactions twice a week to discuss with the
people at the panchayat level about development of villages and pass orders as
necessary.

3.2 National Policy for Domestic Workers


● Inclusion of Domestic Workers in the existing legislations
● Registration of Domestic workers.
● Right to form their own associations ,trade unions
● Right to have minimum wages, access to social security, protection from
abuse, harassment, violence
● Right to enhance their professional skills
● Domestic Workers to have access to courts, tribunals, etc.
● Establishment of a mechanism for regulation of concerned placement
agencies.

3.3 Ayushman Bharat for a new India -2022


For interventions to address health holistically, in primary, secondary and tertiary
care systems, covering both prevention and health promotion.
Health and Wellness Centre
These centres will provide comprehensive health care, including for non-
communicable diseases and maternal and child health services. These centres
will also provide free essential drugs and diagnostic services.
National Health Protection Scheme
● The second flagship programme under Ayushman Bharat, which will cover
over 10 crore poor and vulnerable families, providing coverage upto 5 lakh
rupees per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization
for cashless treatment from any public/private empanelled hospitals.
● This will be the world’s largest government funded health care programme
● Benefits of the scheme are portable across the country

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● To control costs, the payments for treatment will be done on package rate
(to be defined by the Government in advance) basis

3.4 SUVIDHA 100% Oxo-biodegradable Sanitary Napkin


It is the 100% Oxo-biodegradable Sanitary Napkin, under the Pradhan Mantri
Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP).
Highlights
● The affordable sanitary napkin will be available for Rs. 2.50 per pad at over
3200 Janaushadhi Kendras across India
● Unhygienic aids cause infections and also make women vulnerable to
infertility.
● Moreover, the disposal of non-
biodegradable sanitary napkins
available today creates a huge
environmental problem.

3.5 #YesIBleed Campaign


The government has launched the
#YesIBleed menstrual hygiene campaign.

3.6 Stree Swabhiman Project


Aims to create a sustainable model for
providing adolescent girls and women an access to affordable sanitary products
● Under the project, sanitary napkin micro manufacturing units are being set
up at Common Services Centers across India, particularly those operated by
women entrepreneurs.

3.7 National Nutrition Mission, and pan India expansion of Beti Bachao Beti
Padhao
On the occasion of International Women’s Day, the Prime Minister launched the
National Nutrition Mission and Pan India Expansion of Beti Bachao Beti Padhao
(BBBP) covering all 640 districts of the Country
Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP)

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● The scheme was launched in January 2015 as comprehensive programme


to address declining Child Sex Ratio (CSR) and related issues of
empowerment of women.
● The scheme is being implemented as a tri-ministerial, convergent effort of
Union Ministries of Women and Child Development (WCD), Health & Family
Welfare (MoHFW) and Human Resource Development (HRD).
● The Union Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) is nodal
ministry for programme at the central level
● The focus of BBBP is on awareness and advocacy campaign, multi-sectoral
action enabling girls’ education and effective enforcement of Pre-
Conception & Pre Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PC&PNDT) Act.
● The specific objectives of the scheme are preventing gender biased sex
selective elimination, ensuring survival and protection of the girl child and
ensuring education and participation of the girl child.
National Nutrition Mission
● The National Nutrition Mission (NNM) commenced from from 2017-18
● Mapping of various Schemes contributing towards addressing malnutrition
● ICT based Real Time Monitoring system
● Incentivizing States/UTs for meeting the targets
● Incentivizing Anganwadi Workers (AWWs) for using IT based tools.
● Has a target to reduce under-nutrition and low birth-weight by 2 percent
each year.
● It will strive to achieve reduction in stunting from 38.4 percent to 25 per
cent by 2022.
● It also aims to bring down anaemia among young children, women and
adolescent girls by three per cent per year.
● Under NNM, the ministries of women and child development, health and
family welfare, and water and sanitation will work together.
● The mission will form an apex body that would fix targets and monitor,
supervise and guide nutrition-related interventions across the ministries.

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3.8 POSHAN (PM‟s Overarching Scheme for Holistic Nourishment) Abhiyaan


POSHAN Abhiyan which was launched by the Prime Minister in Jhunjhunu on 8th
March 2018 would be converted to Jan Andolan across the country. All States and
Union Territories will be targeted in a phased manner.
Highlights
● India Nutrition Report shall be released every year by the Government after
a detailed survey
● All the Gram Panchayats will be advised to weigh the children and display
the weights in the Anganwadi centres
● Best practices of states across the country which are successful in reducing
Stunting, Anaemia and Malnutrition are to be studied and successful
models to be adopted at National level.
● For special focus on the deprived sections of the Society, District Collectors
will hold a detailed survey of the people who are outside the Anganwadi
System.

3.9 Rajasthan passes Bill to give death penalty for child rape
Rajasthan has passed a Bill providing for death penalty to those convicted of
raping girls of 12 years and below.
Highlights of the bill
● The Bill is aimed at protecting the girl child by laying down a deterrent
punishment, including death sentence, to the offenders.
● The Bill will become a law after it gets the Presidential assent.

3.10 India‟s first coastal policing academy


The country’s first national academy to train police forces in effectively
safeguarding the Indian shoreline will start functioning in Devbhumi Dwarka
district of Gujarat.
● To be run by a team of paramilitary and defence forces

3.11 Steps to Curb Road Accidents


Strategy is to address the issue of road safety based on 4 ‘E’s viz. Education,
Engineering (both of roads and vehicles), Enforcement and Emergency Care.The

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Ministry introduced Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill 2017 covering entire gamut
of road safety.
National Road Safety Policy
● promoting awareness
● establishing road safety information database
● encouraging safer road infrastructure including application of intelligent
transport
● Enforcement of safety laws etc.
National Road Safety Council
● The apex body to take policy decisions in matters of road safety.

3.12 “END TB” Summit


● End TB Summit would be a landmark event towards the complete
elimination of TB.
● India has set a target for complete elimination of TB by 2025, as against the
global target date of 2030.

3.13 “Innovation Cell” to be set up in HRD Ministry


An Innovation Cell in the Ministry of Human Resource Development will be
created to further strengthen the innovation efforts. It will be headed by a
Scientist and comprises of a senior Ministry official and young professionals.
Highlights
● India has moved 6 ranks up in the Global Innovation Index Ranking from 66
in 2016 to 60 in 2017, out of 127 countries.
● The strongest points for the country - a large number of science and
engineering graduates and the increased investment by Global R&D
companies in India.
● Six new Research Parks have been sanctioned in various premier
institutions.
● There are more than 120 Technology Business Incubators covering all the
institutions in the country

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3.14 LaQshya program


Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has recently announced the launch of
program ‘LaQshya’, aimed at improving quality of care in labour room and
maternity Operation Theatre (OT).
Highlights
● It will reduce maternal
and newborn morbidity and
mortality, improve quality of
care during delivery and
immediate postpartum period
● It provide Respectful
Maternity Care (RMC) to all
pregnant women attending
public health facilities.
● A multi-pronged strategy has been adopted such as improving
infrastructure upgradation, ensuring availability of essential equipment,
providing adequate human resources, capacity building of health care
workers and improving quality processes in the labour room.
● The LaQshya program is being implemented at all Medical College
Hospitals, District Hospitals and First Referral Unit (FRU), and Community
Health Center (CHCs)
India’s status on Maternal Mortality
India has come a long way in improving maternal survival as Maternal Mortality
Ratio (MMR) has reduced from 301 maternal deaths in 2001-03 to 167 in year
2011-13, an impressive decline of 45% in a decade.

3.15 Swadhar Greh Scheme


The Ministry of Women and Child Development is implementing the Swadhar
Greh Scheme which targets the women victims of difficult circumstances who are
in need of institutional support for rehabilitation so that they could lead their life
with dignity.
Highlights

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● The Scheme envisages providing shelter, food, clothing and health as well
as economic and social security for these women
● To provide them with legal aid and guidance to enable them to take steps
for their readjustment in family/society.
● To rehabilitate them economically and emotionally

3.16 DISHA programme


Department of Science & Technology’s DISHA programme is for research in
various fields of science and technology, comprising of Women Scientist Schemes
for Basic/Applied Sciences. It will monitor the implementation of 28 schemes and
programmes of Union Ministry of Rural Development and other Ministries to
promote synergy and convergence for convergence for greater impact.

3.17 GIAN launched to enable foreign faculty


● The Global Initiative for Academic Networks
(GIAN) is to help foreign faculty to teach
some courses in the higher educational
institutions.
● The Government has decided to allow faculty
working under the Central Government or
Central Autonomous Bodies, to join the newly set up Central Educational
Institutions on long-term deputation, for a period of 10 years.

3.18 Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA)


The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has given its approval for
continuation of Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha
Abhiyan (RUSA) National Higher Education Mission
Highlights
● RUSA seeks to increase the Gross Enrolment Ratio of the country to 30% by
2020 in higher education.
● It seeks to increase the spending on higher education by the State
Governments

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● Improving access, equity and accessibility of higher education in Slates


through reforms such as academic reforms, governance reforms, affiliation
reforms etc.
● To identity and fill up the existing gaps in higher education, by augmenting
and supporting the State Governments' efforts
● Promote a spirit of healthy competition amongst states and institutions to
excel in quality higher education, research and innovation.

3.19 Digital empowerment for Atal Pension Yojana subscribers


● PFRDA has offered several online features to facilitate subscribers for
access of APY features without visiting the Bank/Post Branch.
Atal Pension Yojana
● Atal Pension Yojana (APY), a pension scheme for unorganized sector
workers such as personal maids, drivers, gardeners etc., was launched in
June 2015.
● This social security scheme was introduced as a replacement to previous
government's Swavalamban Yojana NPS Lite.
● The scheme also promises a co-contribution by Central Government of 50%
of the total prescribed contribution by a worker, up to Rs. 1000 per annum,
but only to those who joined APY before 31.12.2015

3.20 DAY-NRLM
Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana – National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM) is
one of the flagship programmes of the Ministry of Rural Development,
Government of India to alleviate rural poverty.
Highlights
● To skill rural poor youth for self-employment and wage employment.
● The programme aims to organize the rural poor women into their own
institutions like Self Help Groups and their federations, Producers’
Collectives etc.
● DAY-NRLM also provides support for establishing Rural Self Employment
Training Institutes (RSETIs) in each district of the country in collaboration
with the Banks

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● State Governments to provide training to the rural youth from the poor
households to take-up economic activities
Mahila Kisan Sahshaktikaran Pariyojana
Ministry of Rural Development is implementing Mahila Kisan Sahshaktikaran
Pariyojana (MKSP), as a sub scheme under DAY-NRLM.
● Aim of promoting agriculture based livelihoods of rural women by
strengthening community institutions to promote sustainable agriculture.
● It provides services like Non Pesticide Management (NPM), Zero Budget
Natural Farming (ZBNF), Pashu-Sakhi model for doorstep animal care
services, Sustainable regeneration and harvesting of Non-Timber Forest
Produce
Start Up Village Entrepreneurship Programme (SVEP)
Is a sub-scheme under DAY-NRLM. SVEP aims to support entrepreneurs in rural
areas to set up local enterprises.
The SARAS AajeevikaMela 2018
The SARAS Aajeevika Mela 2018 in New Delhi is an endeavor of DAY-NRLM to
provide to the rural women producers a national platform and an opportunity to
showcase their products, and seek buyers, either individuals or bulk buyers for
sale nationally / internationally.

3.21 Saubhagya Scheme


Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojna (SAUBHAGYA) scheme aims to achieve
universal household electrification in all parts of the country. Ministry of Skill
Development & Entrepreneurship has partnered with Ministry of Power to
support the scheme.
Highlights
● A vocational training program has been launched
● The training infrastructures available with ITI’s at district level as well as the
infrastructures available with the State Power Distribution Utilities will be
utilized for skill training.

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3.22 PMSMA: The Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan


It has been launched by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW). The
program aims to provide assured, comprehensive and quality antenatal care, free
of cost, universally to all pregnant women on the 9 th of every month. PMSMA
guarantees a minimum package of antenatal care services to women in their
2nd/3rd trimesters of pregnancy at designated government health facilities.

3.23 Online Portal NARI


It is developed by the Ministry of Women and Child Development which will
provide information to women on issues affecting their lives.
● easy access to information on government schemes and initiatives for
women being run by both Central as well as the States Governments
● Provides links to the Ministries, Departments and autonomous bodies
offering these schemes as well as easy access to online applications and
grievance redressal.

3.24 INSV Tarini


An all-woman Indian Navy team on Indian Naval Sailing Vessel (INSV) Tarini has
successfully crossed the notoriously rough Drake Passage, the body of water
between South America’s Cape Horn and the South Shetland Islands of Antarctica,
sometimes called the Mount Everest of sailing.
INSV Tarini
● INSV Tarini is a 56 foot sailing vessel built in India. It has Raymarine
navigation suite and an array of satellite communication systems. It
showcases the ‘Make in India’ initiative on the International forum.
● It also aims to showcase ‘Nari Shakti’ on the world platform and help
revolutionise societal attitudes and mindset towards women in India.

3.25 Pradhan Mantri Rojgar Protsahan Yojana


The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister has
given its approval for enhancing the scope of Pradhan Mantri Rojgar Protsahan
Yojana (PMRPY).PMRPY has been in operation since August, 2016. In this scheme,
Government is paying the 8.33% contribution of Employers to the Employees'

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Pension Scheme (EPS) in respect of new employees with salary up to Rs. 15,000/-
per month.
Highlights
● The Government of India will now contribute the Employer's full admissible
contribution for the first three years from the date of registration of the
new employee for all the sectors
● The informal sector workers would get social safety net.

3.26 New Integrated Scheme for School Education


The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, has approved the proposal of
Department of School Education and Literacy to formulate a Integrated Scheme
on School Education by subsuming Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), Rashtriya
Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) and Teacher Education (TE)
Highlights
The vision of the Scheme is to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education
from nursery to senior secondary stage in accordance with the Sustainable
Development Goal for Education.
● The main emphasis is on improving quality of school education by focussing
on the two T's - Teacher and Technology.
● The Scheme gives flexibility to the States and UTs to plan and prioritize
their interventions.

3.27 Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana (PMVVY)


● To provide social security during old age and to protect elderly persons
aged 60 years and above against a future fall in their interest income due to
uncertain market conditions.
● Through provision of assured pension/return linked to the subscription
amount based on government guarantee to Life Insurance Corporation of
India (LIC).

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3.28 National Skill Development Fund (NSDF) and National Skill Development
Corporation (NSDC)
The Union Cabinet has given its approval for restructuring of National Skill
Development Fund (NSDF) and National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) to
strengthen governance, implementation and monitoring framework.
About NSDC
National Skill Development Corporation India (NSDC), established in 2009, is a
not- for- profit company set up by the Ministry of Finance.
● NSDC aims to promote skill development by catalyzing creation of large,
quality and for-profit vocational institutions.
● Its mandate is also to enable support system which focuses on quality
assurance, information systems and train the trainer academies either
directly or through partnerships.
About National Skill Development Fund
The National Skill Development Fund was set up in 2009 for raising funds both
from Government and Non-Government sectors for skill development in the
country.

3.29 Transformation of Aspirational Districts‟ programme


The NITI Aayog has launched the baseline ranking for the Aspirational Districts
based on published data of 49 indicators.
Highlights
● As per the baseline ranking, Vizianagaram in Andhra Pradesh is ranked
highest with score of 48.13% while Mewat in Haryana tails at the end with
26.02%.
● Under the programme, identified districts are prodded and encouraged to
first catch-up with the best district within their state, and subsequently
aspire to become one of the best in the country, by competing with, and
learning from others.

3.30 Star Rating of Garbage-Free Cities


The star-rating initiative, developed by the Swachh Bharat Mission – Urban will be
rating cities on a 7- star rating system based on multiple cleanliness indicators for

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solid waste management. Cities achieve “Garbage Free” status wherein at any
point of time in the day, no garbage or litter is found in any public, commercial or
residential locations (including storm drains and water bodies) in the city (except
in litter bins or transfer stations) and 100% of waste generated is scientifically
managed.
Indicators
● Door to Door Collection, bulk generator compliance, source segregation,
sweeping,
● scientific processing of waste, scientific landfilling
● plastic waste management, construction and demolition management,
● citizen grievance redressal system
● City should be ODF (Open Defecation Free) before it could be given rating
of 3 stars or above.

3.31 Inclusive Development Index


The report is released by the World Economic Forum.
● This Inclusive Development Index is a new metric of national economic
performance as an alternative to GDP. The Gross Domestic Product
measures current production of goods and services rather than the extent
to which it contributes to broad socio-economic progress.
● The index takes into account the living standards, environmental
sustainability and protection of future generations from further
indebtedness.
The 2018 index
● which measures progress of 103 economies on three individual pillars —
growth and development; inclusion; and intergenerational equity
● The index has also classified the countries into five subcategories in terms
of the five-year trend of their overall Inclusive Development Growth score
— receding, slowly receding, stable, slowly advancing and advancing.
● India is placed at the 62nd place among emerging economies.
● India is among the ten emerging economies with ‘advancing’ trend.

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● The neighbouring countries ranked above India include Sri Lanka (40),
Bangladesh (34) and Nepal (22).
● Norway remains the world’s most inclusive advanced economy.

3.32 N Gopalaswami committee


To select 20 institutes of higher education in India that will be developed into
“world-class” institutes.
World-class universities
● 10 each (from public and private category) institutions will be accorded the
status
● These institutes will be provided with greater autonomy to admit up to 30%
foreign students, to recruit up to 25% foreign faculty, to offer online
courses up to 20% of its programmes and to enter into academic
collaboration with top 500 in the world ranking institutions without UGC
permission.
● India lacks world-class universities according to international rankings, and
Indian academics, compared internationally, are rather poorly paid.
● Students also suffer an immense shortage of places in top academic
institutions and throughout the higher education system.

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ENVIRONMENT AND ENERGY

4. ENVIRONMENT

4.1 Climate change threatens King penguins


Climate change is likely to have a devastating impact on King penguins if global
warming continues at its present rate.
● The main issue is that there is only a
handful of islands in the Southern Ocean and
not all of them are suitable to sustain large
breeding colonies.
● Starvation deaths due to unavailability
of food
● Southern Ocean is now subject to
industrial fishing

4.2 Ranganathittu to be pitched as a potential Ramsar wetland site


The renowned islets of Ranganathittu on the banks of the river Cauvery in
Srirangapatna will be pitched to be recognised as a Ramsar wetland site of
international importance.
About Ranganathittu
● The sanctuary supports more than 1% of the world population of spot-
billed pelicans
● There are more than 1,000 of
painted storks at sanctuary
● The sanctuary supports mugger
crocodiles and a host of other
species of birds
Ramsar Convention
● India is a signatory to the
Convention on Wetlands, called the Ramsar Convention, which was
adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971.

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● The convention provides a framework for conservation of wetlands and


their resources.
● There are currently 26 sites in India recognised as Ramsar wetland sites of
international importance.
● A water body should meet any one of the seven criteria spelt out by it to be
declared a wetland of international importance.

4.3 Import of exotic fish


The National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) has urged the government to come up
with quarantine facilities at major seaports and airports.
Concerns
● The huge market for Invasive Alien Species (IAS) is turning out to be major
threat to India’s aquatic biodiversity.
● An ornamental species known as a ‘tank cleaner’ of aquariums has spread
to almost all freshwater ecosystems and outnumbers other native fish by
feeding on their larvae and competing with them for food resources.
● The government of India has only approved the import of 92 species of
ornamental fish but the number of ornamental fish species being imported
and in trade is somewhere between 200-300
Exotic Species
Animals and plant species introduced from other countries and which are not
otherwise found locally are termed exotic. These introduced or exotic species can
adversely affect the ecosystem.

4.4 Reducing the carbon footprint


This can be done by establishing an emissions trading scheme (ETS).
ETS
● An ETS is a market-based mechanism where a cap is set on the amount of
carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases that can be emitted by covered
entities.
● The emitters can either reduce their emissions to adhere to the cap or buy
additional allowances from other entities to compensate for their
deficiency.

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About Carbon footprint


The amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere as a result of the
activities of a particular individual, organization, or community.

4.5 Tiger conservation areas at risk


At least a third of the 112-tiger conservation area across 11 countries are severely
at risk of losing their tigers due to poor management, according to a survey by
Conservation Assured | Tiger Standards (CA|TS) secretariat, a body recognized by
all tiger range countries.
Highlights of study
● At least one-third of these areas survived are severely at risk of losing their
tigers and most of these sites are in southeast Asia.
● Only 13% of the total sites are able to meet global standards.
● The basic needs such as enforcement against poaching, engaging local
communities and managing conflict between people and wildlife, remain
weak for all areas surveyed
Conservation Assured | Tiger Standards (CA|TS)
Conversation Assured Tiger Standards (CA|TS) is a partnership between
governments, NGOs and tiger conservation areas to define and implement these
conservation standards .CA|TS vision is to ensure wild tigers have spaces to live
and breed safe from threat resulting in increased populations and recovery of
range

4.6 Death traps for Gir lions


As many as 32 lions died due
to “unnatural causes” like
falling into wells or being run
over by trains in 2016 and
2017 in Gir Wildlife Sanctuary
in Gujarat.
Safety measures

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● Building parapet walls would be built around these wells


● Construction of fences along the railway tracks passing through Amreli
district
● Building speed breakers on roads passing through the sanctuary area.
About Gir Wildlife Sanctuary
Gir Forest National Park is a wildlife sanctuary in Gujarat, western India. It was
established to protect Asiatic lions

4.7 The ecologically subsidised city


Kolkata is fortunate to be home to the world’s largest organic ‘sewage treatment
plant’, the wetlands. Algae and the bacteria in the sewage perform this function.
Highlights
● Kolkata’s wastewater is introduced into and detained in shallow water
bodies (bheris in Bengali) which serve as oxidation ponds because of the
presence of algae.The treated water is used by villagers in the area to grow
vegetables and paddy.
● These villagers have been following such sane ecological practices for many
decades for paddy and fish cultivation.
● The wetlands were recognised internationally in 2002 as a ‘Ramsar site’, or
a wetland of international significance
● These wetlands are also home to a wide variety of aquatic life, vegetation,
and hundreds of species of birds.
● In effect, the wastewater works as a costless fertilizer.

4.8 WHO steps up fight against tobacco


The World Health Organization has launched new guidelines on the role that
tobacco product regulations can play in reducing tobacco demand.
Highlights
● The new tools provide useful resource to countries to either introduce or
improve existing tobacco product regulation provisions.
● The new guidelines provide practical, stepwise approaches to implementing
tobacco testing.
● The guidance is relevant to a wide range of countries in various settings

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4.9 Low viscosity fuel oil from plastic waste


Researchers from IIT Guwahati have successfully converted packaging plastic
waste to plastic-derived oil (PDO), which has characteristics similar to diesel.
Highlights:
● The researchers collected
the waste (biscuit wrappers,
shopping bags, food containers,
shampoo bottles) from houses,
cleaned and segregated them
according to the resin
identification code.
● These codes on plastics
indicate the type of plastic resin
it is made of.
● Using a semi-batch reactor, the different wastes were heated for six to
seven hours at 300-400 degree Celsius.
● Heating at very high temperatures in inert conditions caused the plastic to
convert into wax, so we chose this particular temperature range in which
the plastic turned to plastic-derived oil and stayed in its oil state
● The new oil had calorific value greater than 45 MJ per kilogram. Calorific
value of petrol and diesel is 46-48 and 44-46 MJ per kilogram, respectively.

4.10 Coral sediments in oceans could dissolve by next century


As oceans get more acidic, sediments that constitute coral reefs could begin
dissolving by the end of this century, as per an article in the journal Science.
Highlights
● Scientists found that the link between
sediment dissolution and acidification is
stronger than that between acidification
and coral formation.
● This could add to the problem of coral
decline

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● Repeated bleaching, frequent storms due to climate change and ocean


acidification causes sediment dissolution
Ocean acidification
Lowering of sea water’s pH when it absorbs the excess, human-caused carbon
dioxide from the atmosphere – prevents polyps from building their stony
skeletons.
Coral bleaching
Coral bleaching occurs when coral polyps expel algae that live inside their tissues.
As the algae provide the coral with up to 90% of its energy, after expelling the
algae the coral begins to starve. Above-average sea water temperatures caused
by global warming have been identified as a leading cause for coral bleaching
worldwide. In bleached coral reefs that host less food resources, butterfly fish are
found changing their diets and eating patterns to adapt.
Coral reefs
Coral reefs are formed by not just the calcium carbonate skeletons that tiny
animals called coral ‘polyps’ create, but also carbonate sediments which
accumulate on them over thousands of years. Coral systems support a diversity of
fish species and also provide protection from storms and prevent coastal erosion
Indian reefs
Coral reefs span 3,062 sq. km in India. Many coral species are afforded protection
at par with tigers: they are included in Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act
(1972).

4.11 Neutrino project gets environmental nod


The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) took it up as a special case and
granted it environmental clearance.
Concerns cleared
● There is no scope for radioactivity and leaching of water.
● There would be no impact of blasting on any habitation in the vicinity.

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About INO
● India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO) is a particle physics research
project under construction to primarily study atmospheric neutrinos in a
1,300 meters (4,300 ft) deep cave under Ino Peak near Theni, Tamil Nadu,
India.
● It is anticipated to provide a precise measurement of neutrino mixing
parameters.
● The project is a multi-institute collaboration and one of the biggest
experimental particle physics projects undertaken in India.

4.12 Atal Bhujal Yojana


The Government has proposed Atal Bhujal Yojana (ABHY) aimed at sustainable
groundwater management with community participation in select over-exploited
and ground water stressed areas in seven States (Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka,
Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh)
Highlights
● ABHY is designed as a Central Sector Scheme to be implemented with
World Bank assistance.

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● Water being a State subject, steps for augmentation, conservation and


efficient management of water resources to ensure sustainability and
availability are primarily undertaken by the respective State Governments

4.13 State government has banned trekking across T.N


In the aftermath of the forest fire tragedy in
Kurangani Hills that has claimed 16 lives, the
State government has temporarily banned
trekking in reserve forests and protected
areas.
Mistakes
● The Forest Department should have been pro-active and banned trekking in
Bodi Hills before March itself since the area is prone to fires. Or, it could
strictly monitored the movement of visitors
● A proper method of raising alarms in the event of a forest fire, as well as
communicating those alarms down the chain of command may need to be
worked out
Facts
● The ‘Spatial and temporal analysis of decadal forest fire data (2006-2015)’
published by the Forest Department last March reveals that forest fires in
Tamil Nadu start during January itself, increase during February and peak
during March
● For trekking in reserve forests, DFO permission is mandatory as per rules.
● The locals, part of the eco-development committees formed by the
department, should be there as field guides
Fighting forest fires
● When a fire anywhere in the world is detected by NASA’s MODIS
(Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) and VIIRS (Visible
Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite) satellites, the Forest Survey of India
(FSI) analyses the data to pinpoint the location.
Four approaches
There are four approaches to fighting forest fires

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● Technological, where helicopters or ground-based personnel spray fire


retardant chemicals, or pump water to fight the blaze
● To contain the fire in compartments bordered by natural barriers such as
streams, roads, ridges, and fire lines along hillsides or across plains
● When a fire is unapproachable for humans, a line is cleared of combustibles
and manned

4.14 Warming could threaten half of species in 33 key areas


Global warming could place 25 to 50% of species in the Amazon, Madagascar and
other biodiverse areas at risk of localised extinction within decades as per the
conservation group WWF, which commissioned the analysis published in science
journal Climatic Change.
Highlights
● The report focused on 33 so-called "Priority Places" which host some of the
world's richest and most unusual terrestrial species, including iconic,
endangered, or endemic plants and animals.
● They include southern Chile, the eastern Himalayas, South Africa's unique
Fynbos ecoregion, Borneo, Sumatra, the Namibian desert, West Africa,
southwest Australia, coastal east Africa, and southern Africa's Miombo
Woodlands
Global Warming
● The lower projection is based on a mercury rise of two degrees Celsius over
pre-Industrial Revolution levels — the warming ceiling the world's nations
agreed on in 2015..
● Extinction is not simply about the disappearance of species but about
profound changes to ecosystems that provide vital services to hundreds of
millions of people

4.15 Microplastics in Drinking Water


Tests conducted at the State University of New York revealed a global average of
10.4 plastic particles per litre of packaged drinking water. These particles were
confirmed as plastic using an industry standard infra-red microscope.
● Micro plastic particles are in the 100 micron, or 0.10 millimetre size range

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● Includes polypropylene, nylon, and polyethylene terephthalate (PET)


Micro-plastic pollution
Scientists and governments are increasingly concerned about micro-plastic
pollution.
● Recent studies have found micro-plastic — particles smaller than 5
millimetres — in the oceans, soil, air, lakes, and rivers.
● But plastic’s final frontier may be the human body.
● Some plastic under 150 microns (0.15 millimetres) could enter the gut's
lymphatic system, or pass from the bloodstream to the kidneys or liver,
according the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

4.16 New forest policy


The Union Environment Ministry has come up with a new forest policy that
focuses on climate change mitigation and reducing threats like wildfires,
encroachment and man-animal conflict.
Highlights
● The draft National Forest Policy 2018 — which aims to replace a 30-year-
old forest policy
● Tends to address issues that have emerged over a period of time, including
increasing public-private partnerships
● The new policy is required to address the low quality of natural forests,
climate change, human-wildlife conflict, water crisis and air and water
pollution.
● The draft calls for mapping vulnerable areas and develop early warning
systems and methods to control fire through remote-sensing technology
and community participation

4.17 Government launches Sand Mining Framework


To help states deal with the issue of sand mining, including demand-supply deficit
and illegal extraction, the government launched a framework.
Highlights
● Sand is an important component for housing, infrastructure projects and
construction activities.

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● The natural endowment of sand across many states is unable to meet the
demand, coupled with issues of environmental degradation, pricing and
illegalities in mining have risen.
● The framework addresses the issues of demand-supply assessment,
measures to sand availability, allocation model, transportation and
monitoring mechanisms
● The framework also lays emphasis on the possible alternatives of sand,
including its import.

4.18 143 species spotted in bird survey


A recent bird survey organised by the
Forest Department and the Hume
Centre for Ecology and Wildlife Biology
in the South Wayanad Forest Division
has recorded 143 species.
● Six species of raptors, belonging
to Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection
Act, were discovered on the mountain
ranges of the region.
● Banasura Chilappan (Montecincla jerdoni), one of the most endangered
forest birds of the country, was spotted in the Shola forests above an
altitude of 1,800 m.

4.19 New lease of life for Kozhikode Rivers


The rivers in Kozhikode are likely to get a fresh lease of life with the Haritha
Keralam Mission taking the
initiative to bring together various
stakeholders for a year-long drive
for the upkeep of the water bodies.
Highlights
● To coordinate the efforts
local bodies through which
the river passes and to

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ensure the participation of local agencies such as residents’ associations,


environmentalists and other organizations in the cleaning process.
● They will remove all forms of waste from the river to ensure its smooth
flow.
● The non-biodegradable waste thus collected would be sent for recycling
while the biodegradable waste would be composted on the spot.
● A re-survey will be held along the banks of the river to check
encroachments.
● There are also plans to set up high nets on bridges and other places, from
where waste is dumped into rivers. The local bodies will fund the initiative.
About Haritha Keralam Mission
Haritha Keralam is an Umbrella Mission integrating the components of Waste
Management, Organic Farming, and Water Resources Management. It has an
ambitious outlook to address the issues of piling waste, impending drought and
health hazards due to the consumption of pesticide treated vegetables and in
general, the agricultural dependency of Kerala State.

4.20 Olive Ridley turtles and magnetic power


One of the magnificent sights to behold in India is the arrival and nesting of tens
of thousands of Olive Ridley turtles on the Gahirmatha seashore of Odisha every
year as clockwork.
Built in GPS
● These animals have tiny magnets in their bodies. This magnet arises due to
the presence of a material called magnetite (an iron-based mineral
containing Fe3O4).
● The key molecule here is a protein called cryptochrome.
● When blue light falls on these proteins, a pair of free radicals are
generated, which generates a tiny magnetic piece
● And it is this tiny molecular compass that aligns and interacts with the
earth’s magnetic field, leading to the movement of the animal.

4.21 Earth Hour 2018


Earth Hour is the world’s largest movement for climate action.

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Highlights:
● People around the globe commit
to turning off the lights for one
hour
● Organized by the World Wide
Fund for Nature (WWF).
● It was started as a lights-off event
in Sydney, Australia, in 2007
‘Give Up’ initiative
● WWF’s Living Planet Report 2016
revealed a 58% decline in global populations of fish, birds, mammals,
amphibians and reptiles between 1970 and 2012
● To address this issue, WWF-India launched the #GIVEUPTOGIVEBACK
initiative, starting with this year’s Earth Hour.
● The campaign aims to inspire organisations, institutions and individuals to
make the choice to curb some habits, practices and lifestyles, burdening
both lives and the environment and inspire them to choose alternatives to
connect to earth.

4.22 Bio-Medical Waste Management (Amendment) Rules, 2018


Bio-Medical Waste Management Rules, 2016 Rules have been amended to
improve compliance and strengthen the implementation of environmentally
sound management of biomedical waste in India.
Salient features of Bio-Medical Waste Management (Amendment) Rules, 2018
● Bio-medical waste generators will have to phase out chlorinated plastic
bags (excluding blood bags) and gloves by March 27, 2019.
● All healthcare facilities shall make available the annual report.
● Operators of common bio-medical waste treatment and disposal facilities
shall establish bar coding and global positioning system for handling of bio-
medical waste.

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● Every occupier generating biomedical waste shall pre-treat the waste


through disinfection or sterilization on-site in the manner as prescribed by
the World Health Organization

4.23 Assam‟s rare captive-bred vultures face a drug problem


The last of the nature’s scavengers in Assam, are battling toxic chemicals in
livestock carcasses.
Highlights
● The Vulture Conservation Breeding Centre (VCBC) at Rani is one of four in
India that the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) set up more than a
decade ago in association with State Forest Departments.
● They are vulnerable to chemicals such as diclofenac, present in the
carcasses of cattle that were injected with the painkiller.
Vulture species in India
● India hosts nine vulture species, five of them the highly endangered Gyps
species. Assam is home to six, including winter visitors from the Himalayas
— the Himalayan and Eurasian griffons.
● Vultures take time to mature, pair for life, breed once a year, and live up to
70 years – making captive breeding efforts a challenge.
About Diclofenac
Diclofenac is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) taken or applied to
reduce inflammation and as an analgesic reducing pain in certain conditions.
Diclofenac for veterinary use was banned in 2005 however quacks use the 30 ml
vials for veterinary use, with fatal consequences for vultures.

4.24 Electronic Waste Management


The Central Pollution Control Board will this year begin random checks on mobile
phones, laptops and other electronic goods to check whether their constituent
metals exceed safety norms.
Highlights
● Check whether the levels of lead, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, mercury
and polybrominated diphenyl ethers exceed prescribed norms.

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● If a company falls foul of the rules, it will have to withdraw its line of
products or pay fines
● The EWR, first specified in 2016, required companies to ensure that at least
30% of their e-waste was collected by 2017, these targets have now been
relaxed.

4.25 Save the northern white rhino from extinction


The last male northern white rhinoceros, Sudan, died on March 19, aged 45, at Ol
Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya.
Highlights
● Where traditional conservation methods failed to save this subspecies,
science is stepping in
● Researchers planning a two-pronged approach – in vitro fertilisation and
stem cell technology to resurrect the subspecies.

4.26 The hole in ozone layer has shrunk


NASA has confirmed that the ozone hole has shrunk, after finding that chlorine
levels are rapidly declining in the Earth’s stratosphere.
● Last year, satellite images showed the hole had begun to close
● Now long-term satellite observations by NASA have shown a 20% decrease
in levels of chlorine in the Earth’s atmosphere since 2005, proving for the
first time that the worldwide action is having a dramatic impact on the
planet, result of the Montreal Protocol, which was signed by all countries of
the world in 1985 to phase out chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)
● Depletion of ozone is due to many factors, the most dominant of which is
the release of chlorine from CFCs (Chlorofluorocarbons) which destroys the
ozone.

4.27 Microbeads Pollution


UK has banned the manufacture of products containing microbeads.
Manufacturers can no longer add tiny pieces of plastic to wash-off cosmetic and
personal care products

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 Microbeads are manufactured solid plastic


particles of less than one millimeter in their
largest dimension.
● They are most frequently made of
polyethylene but can be of other
petrochemical plastics such as polypropylene and polystyrene.
● They are added in exfoliating face scrubs, toothpastes etc.
● Trillions of tiny pieces of plastic are accumulating in the world’s oceans,
lakes and estuaries, harming marine life and entering the food chain.

4.28 Environmental Performance Index (EPI)


The biennial index is prepared by Yale and Columbia Universities along with the
World Economic Forum (WEF).
● The 10th EPI report ranks 180 countries on 24 performance indicators
across 10 categories covering environmental health and ecosystem vitality.
● India is among the bottom five countries on the Index, 177 among 180
countries, plummeting 36 points from 141 in 2016.
● The report found that, globally, air quality is the leading environmental
threat to public health.

4.29 Dust mitigation plan


The Environment Ministry has made it mandatory for companies seeking
environment clearance to ensure that they put in place a dust mitigation plan.
● The standards were developed by the Central Pollution Control Board as
part of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) and will now
empower the organization to fine companies and agencies for not
complying with norms.
● Road dust, burning of biomass and municipal solid waste, constituted the
lion’s share of the city’s air pollution.
● Road dust contributed 56% of all PM10 pollution, while it was 38% for
PM2.5

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4.30 Ratification of the Minamata Convention


The Union cabinet has approved a proposal for ratification of the Minamata
Convention, a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from
adverse effects of mercury.
Benefits
● It will be easier for India to get technological or financial assistance to
address issues related to mercury.
Minamata convention
● Addresses specific human activities which are contributing to widespread
mercury pollution.
● Include a ban on new mercury mines, the phase-out of existing ones
● Phase out and phase down of mercury use in a number of products and
processes
● Control measures on emissions to air and on releases to land and water
● Regulation of the informal sector of gold mining.
● Addresses interim storage of mercury and its disposal and sites
contaminated by mercury
● Addresses health issues
● The Minamata Convention is named after the Japanese city of Minamata,
which experienced a severe incidence of mercury poisoning after industrial
wastewater from a chemical factory was discharged into Minamata Bay.
● The wastewater contained methylmercury, which bioaccumulated in fish
and shellfish

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5. ENERGY

5.1 India‟s energy demand growth


● India's demand growth is projected as 165 percent
● India outpaces each of the BRIC countries
● India’s energy mix is estimated to evolve slowly with fossil fuels meeting 82
per cent of demand in 2040 down from 93 per cent in 2016.
● Natural gas production is estimated to increase 96 per cent to 49 Mtoe in
2040
● Coal production is estimated to increase by 154 per cent, with coal
remaining the dominant fuel produced in India
● Renewable energy production will overtake gas and subsequently oil by
2020 as the second largest source of energy production

5.2 Global energy demand rose fastest in five years in 2017


Global energy demand increased by 2.1 per cent in 2017, growing at twice the
rate recorded in the previous five years. The growth in energy demand led to
global CO2 emissions reaching a historic high of 32.5 Gigatonnes (Gt) last year.
Highlights
● A decrease in global energy efficiency was another driver of the increase in
carbon emissions.
● Energy efficiency slowed down dramatically in 2017
● The overall share of fossil fuels in global energy demand remained at 81
percent, despite strong growth in renewable energy

5.3 Bill on 'right to electricity'


The bill proposes to make right to electricity a reality and hold the distributors
accountable for failing to provide round-the-clock power under normal
circumstances from April 2019.
Highlights
● The bill will seek to penalise the distributors for failing to provide power to
consumers under normal circumstances when there is no breakdown or
any technical glitch.

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5.4 World‟s largest solar park


Pavagada solar park in Tumkur dist.
Highlights
● The part is set to become the world’s largest when it attains its full
potential of 2,000 MW.
● The first phase of the park has 600 MW while another 1,400 MW will be
added by December 2018

5.5 Kerala‟s energy-positive campus


‘Towards a zero-emission, efficient, and resilient buildings and construction
sector,’ published by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), has
listed the EMC campus as one of the recent achievements in the deployment of
key technologies for energy-efficiency in buildings.
The Energy Management Centre (EMC)
● Is the only one from India to figure in the list, along with five other projects
worldwide
● It was designed to allow natural cross-flow ventilation from building forms
and openings.
● The campus is equipped with a 30-kilowatt grid-connected solar capacity
● Campus uses daylighting controls, CFC-free heating, ventilation and cooling
systems, along with a halogen-free fire-fighting system.
● Solar reflectance index coating, combined with high-albedo painting and
turbo-vents for passive cooling, has been used, and tropical rainforest trees
help create cool surroundings.
● Only certified green construction materials, recycled wood boards, low-
emitting paints and adhesives, and green-plus certified carpets have been
used.
Solar reflectance index coating
Solar reflectivity or reflectance is the ability of a material to reflect solar energy
from its surface back into the atmosphere. The SR value is a number from 0 to
1.0. A value of 0 indicates that the material absorbs all solar energy and a value of
1.0 indicates total reflectance.

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Albedo painting
It is an eco-friendly paint which upon application to cementitious, asbestos or MS
roofing, increases the emissivity of that surface, which results in reflection of heat
energy.

5.6 India starts importing LNG from US


After crude oil, India today began importing natural gas from the US. State-owned
gas utility GAIL India has contracted 3.5 million tonnes per annum of liquefied
natural gas (LNG) from Cheniere Energy's Sabine Pass liquefaction
About GAIL
GAIL is India's biggest natural gas transportation and marketing company. GAIL
commands 75 per cent market share in gas transmission and has a gas trading
share of over 50 per cent in India.

5.7 Synergy needed to enable industrialization of Biofuels


Benefits of Biofuels
● Cost-effective
● pollution-free import substitute to polluting fossil fuels
● Easy to Source
● Renewable source of energy
● Reduce Greenhouse Gases
● Reduce Dependence on Foreign Oil
Biofuels
● First generation biofuels are made from sugars via molasses and vegetable
oils
● Second generation is produced from non-food crops such as wood, organic
waste, food crop waste and specific biomass crops
● Third generation is produced from specially engineered energy crops such
as algae
● India is committed to reaching the target of 10 percent blending of ethanol
in petrol by the year 2022.
● 12 bio-refineries are being set up in the country by the Oil PSUs to enhance
the ethanol production capacity.

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5.8 Diu becomes country's first solar energy efficient Union territory
● Diu has become the first Union territory where more than 100% of the
electricity need is being met by solar power.
● Around 3MW is generated by rooftop solar plants and 10MW by its other
solar power plants

5.9 India, France and the International solar alliance


French President together with the Indian Prime Minister officially launched the
International Solar Alliance (ISA). The idea was presented alongside the historical
Paris Agreement.
● ISA aims to deploy 1,000 GW of solar installations globally by 2030.
● Looks to provide open access to research, technology, best practices and
standards on solar energy.
● The 121 ISA member countries (countries lying between the Tropic of
Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn) vary significantly in terms of energy access
rates, regulatory frameworks and economic development
● The ISA works through country appointed National Focal Points (NFP)
India commits $1.4 billion for solar energy worldwide
India announced one of the world’s largest investment plans in solar energy at the
Founding Conference of the International Solar Alliance (ISA).
ISA and India sign the Host Country Agreement
The International Solar Alliance (ISA) and the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA),
have signed the Host Country Agreement.
● The Agreement will give ISA a juridical personality and gives it power to
contract, to acquire and dispose off movable and immovable properties, to
institute and defend legal proceedings.
● Under this agreement, ISA shall enjoy such privileges, applicable tax
concessions and immunities as are necessary for ISA’s Headquarter to
independently discharge its function and programmes
ADB and ISA sign pact to promote solar energy

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The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the International Solar Alliance (ISA)
signed a cooperation arrangement to promote solar energy deployment in Asia
and the Pacific.
● The cooperation envisages solar power generation, solar based mini-grids,
and transmission systems for integrating solar energy into grids, among
others.
● The ISA and the ADB would also cooperate on knowledge sharing and
developing technology roadmaps for the promotion of solar energy
About ADB
ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific
through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and
regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members 48 from the
region.
NDB and ISA tie up to promote solar energy
New Development Bank (NDB) and International Solar Alliance (ISA) have joined
hands to promote solar energy across the globe
● The NDB and the ISA agreed to consider a roadmap for the mobilisation of
financing to promote solar energy in countries of common interest and to
explore mechanisms for supporting solar energy development.
● The parties will mutually support the implementation of the NDB's and
ISA's plans for solar energy development and deployment
About New Development Bank
The New Development Bank (NDB), formerly referred to as the BRICS
Development Bank, is a multilateral development bank established by the BRICS
states (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).The bank is headquartered in
Shanghai, China.The first regional office of the NDB is in Johannesburg, South
Africa

5.10 Electricity from soil bacteria and reading lights from plants
● While the plant above the ground does photochemistry, the bacteria
beneath do electrochemistry, generating positive and negative ions

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● To place positive and negative electrodes in appropriate positions and


obtain an electric current, just as we do with batteries. This method of
producing electricity is through what is termed as plant microbial fuel cells
(PMFC).

5.11 India ranks 78th on WEF Energy Transition Index


India has been ranked at 78th, lower than its emerging market peers like Brazil
and China, among 114 countries on the World Economic Forum's Energy
Transition Index that was topped by Sweden.
Highlights
● The report titled "Fostering Effective Energy Transition", ranks countries on
how well they are able to balance energy security and access with
environmental sustainability and affordability.
● According to the report India has taken "bold measures" to improve energy
access, energy efficiency, and to improve the deployment of renewable
sources of energy.
● However, energy transition in the country will require "large investments,
and an enabling environment and robust regulatory frameworks to support
the transition"
● A considerable share of India's population still lacks access to electricity and
clean cooking fuel, it noted.
About World Economic Forum
The World Economic Forum (WEF) is a Swiss nonprofit foundation, based in
Cologny, Geneva, Switzerland. Its mission is cited as "committed to improving the
state of the world by engaging business, political, academic, and other leaders of
society to shape global, regional, and industry agendas"

5.12 KUSUM Scheme-solar power for rural India


The Government of India is in the process of formulating a Scheme ‘Kisan Urja
Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (KUSUM)

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5.13 Lithium-Ion batteries have reduced diesel generators


Lithium-ion batteries have made it possible to completely remove Diesel
Generators or minimize their need to an extent where DG sets only work as
emergency backup
Features of Lithium-Ion batteries
● Are 90 per cent-plus efficient.
● Use a lithium compound as one electrode material.
● Lithium-ion batteries are common in home electronics.
● It can be charged in one-and-a-half hour.
● Has a high energy density and low self-discharge.
● Is a low maintenance battery
● It pose unique safety hazards since they contain a flammableelectrolyte

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5.14 Arctic Circle to have World's first energy positive hotel


● It's in this unspoiled environment where the world's first energy-positive
hotel, Svart, will open in 2021.
● The first tactic was deciding to build the property from naturally occurring
local materials, such as stone and weather-resistant wood. These require
minimal energy to create and transport, unlike fossil fuel-derived cement or
steel.
● Rationalizing building systems
including ventilation, cooling and
heating will also keep energy
expenditure down.
● Solar power is what will take the
hotel from energy efficient to
power positive.

5.15 India‟s first home-delivery of Diesel


In a first of its kind move in the country, Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), the nation’s
largest fuel retailer, has started home-delivery of diesel in the city of Pune and
intends to start pan-India soon.

5.16 Trina Solar launches TrinaPro smart PV solution


The world's largest solar photovoltaic (PV) maker, China's Trina Solar, launched its
smart PV solution TrinaPro that combines its solar modules with a solar tracker
system and inverter.
Highlights
● TrinaPro will help improve system stability with higher power generation
and lower costs by reducing system losses.
● The hi-tech product provides hardware and software integration that
consists of smart modules, solar tracker and inverter.
● By interconnecting 'Edge Computing' and a smart operations and
maintenance (O&M) system on a cloud platform, TrinaPro can analyse and
process data from the cloud to optimise the system's operation model and
ensure that it runs smoothly and efficiently.

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5.17 Surat first district to have 100% solar powered health centres
Surat has become the first district in the country to have 100% solar powered
Primary Health Centers (PHC).
Highlights
● There are a total of 52 PHCs in the district and all of them are now powered
by solar system.

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ICT AND APPLICATIONS

7. INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY

7.1 CMFRI to launch e-com portal, mobile app for fishermen


The Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) has come up with a
solution that will help fishermen fetch better price for their catch without
depending on middlemen.
Highlights
● A multi-vendor e-commerce website and mobile app to help fish farmers
and fishermen sell their catch directly to customers online.
● The initiative was one of the ways to tackle the situation prevailing in the
coastal belt owing to dwindling catches
● Fishermen self-help groups can register as vendors (fishers and farmers)
based on their products to sale, and update their stock availability time to
time which will be displayed in the website and the app.

7.2 NASA launches advanced weather satellite for western U.S.


● The second in a series of four next-generation weather satellites
● The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-S (GOES-S) launched
on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.
Highlights
● Astonishingly fast, crisp images of
hurricanes, wildfires, floods, mudslides and
other natural calamities.
● The first spacecraft in the series, GOES-
16, has been monitoring the Atlantic and East
Coast for the past year for the National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration
● The next satellites of the series (GOES-16, -17, -T, and -U) will extend the
availability of the GOES (Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite
system) for weather forecast and meteorology research.

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7.3 Harmonizing spectrum for 5G


The government has started tuning spectrum for 5G services as part of its road
map to become early adopter of the next generation services, which is expected
to provide download speed over 1,000 megabit per second on mobile devices.
Highlights
● Harmonizing spectrum in 3,500 megahertz band and 26 Gigahertz band
along with E and V band
● With increase in frequency band count, the signal coverage area reduces,
but, speed of transmitting data increases.
E and V bands
● The V band ("vee-band") is a standard designation by the Institute of
Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) for a band of frequencies in the
microwave portion of the electromagnetic spectrum ranging from 40 to 75
gigahertz(GHz)
● E band is the range of radio frequencies from 60 GHz to 90 GHz
Why Higher Frequency bands for 5G?
Traditional microwave spectrum is nearing exhaustion. To meet the large
transmission capacity of future networks, the industry has proposed many new
solutions that use higher frequency bands (60 GHz and above). High-frequency
bands have a more extensive spectrum and wider bandwidth. Such frequency
bands have the following features:
 Narrow beam: In a point-to-point microwave transmission system,
antennas operating at higher frequencies emit a narrower beam and more
concentrated energy.
 Short transmission distance: With very short wavelengths, high-frequency
microwaves are highly influenced by free space loss and rain attenuation,
and the transmission distance is short in most cases.
 Low latency: Latency is the amount of time a message takes to traverse a
system. High-frequency microwave equipment offers larger capacity,
greater bandwidth, and thus greatly reduces latency in transmission
 Low TCO (transmission cost): Due to the large capacity supported by high
frequencies, the average transmission cost per bit is gradually reduced.

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7.4 Technology innovation under single umbrella


With ‘Innovate Karnataka’, an initiative to bring innovation centres on block
chain, robotics and start-ups, under a single umbrella
Highlights
● To spur digitization of healthcare, agriculture and other domains
● An Electronics System Design and Manufacturing (ESDM) cluster for Mysuru
● A Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI) incubator in Hubli was announced
● Two portals for the youth, Yuva Yuga portal, which will act as a one-stop-
shop for all the information related to the State’s skill development
programme.
● The e-Margadarshi, which will help youth find employment.

7.5 The “Cops Eye‟‟ App


The police have come up with a
new app “Cops Eye.”
Highlights
● Based on face
recognition feature, it would
help them detect people with
criminal backgrounds by
clicking photographs.
● It detects the criminal
with 93% accuracy.
● This system will also avoid inconvenience caused to innocent people who
are otherwise made to wait at the police station till doubts are cleared

7.6 Go digital „hype‟ pushing firms to become efficient, responsive


Companies are facing a pressure to be more open, responsive and efficient with
more emphasis being placed on becoming digital, according to a report on
digitalization by India’s second largest software exporter, Infosys.
Highlights
● Industries are increasingly being disrupted by new entrants with digital
technology at the heart of their business.

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● Digital technologies becoming more commonplace in organizations


● There is an ever-increasing pressure on organizations to be more
responsive, more open, and more efficient.

7.7 Saposhi- new malware looms over cyberspace


● After Mirai and Reaper, cybersecurity agencies have detected a new
malware called Saposhi.
● Saposhi is capable of taking over electronic devices and turning them into
‘bots’, which can be then used for any purpose, including a Distributed
Denial of Service attack.
How a ‘botnet’ works
● A malware is released into cyberspace, with specific instructions
programmed into it. The instructions direct the malware to take over as
many devices connected to the internet as possible.
● Depending on its programming, the malware turns internet-connected
devices into ‘bots’, and starts building a botnet.
● Malwares like Reaper and Saposhi are capable of identifying weaknesses in
devices and exploiting them to turn the devices into bots.
● Once a large enough botnet is created, simultaneous pings are sent to a
single server, causing a server failure, which is called a Distributed Denial of
Service attack.
● Depending on the size of the botnet, malwares can execute multiple DDOS
attacks at the same time, or over a period of time.

7.8 AI-based floating head to assist ISS astronauts


A 3D-printed artificial intelligence system described by its creators as a “flying
brain” will soon join the crew aboard the International Space Station (ISS) to assist
astronauts.
Highlights
● Airbus, an aeronautics company, is developing CIMON (Crew Interactive
MObile CompanioN).
● CIMON will be the first AI-based mission and flight assistance system

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● With a face, voice and artificial intelligence, it can become a genuine


‘colleague’ on board

7.9 Google steps up partnership programme


Google has stepped up its partnership programme to get more enterprises on its
cloud platform as it takes on global rivals such as Amazon, Microsoft and Alibaba
in India, a country that has more early adopters on the cloud than other markets
It also helps in reaching out to customers in mid-tier cities who are more open to
hosting applications on the cloud than investing in IT infrastructure locally due to
lack of available talent.

7.10 Cryptojacking and how can it infect computer


The transition to a digital economy has rendered financial services more
dependent on technology. It has spawned a new breed of hackers -cryptojackers.
Cryptojacking
● Cryptojacking is defined as the secret use of your computing device to mine
cryptocurrency.
● Cryptojacking used to be confined to the victim unknowingly installing a
program that secretly mines cryptocurrency.
● These computers, called nodes, can be operated by anyone who downloads
the bitcoin software available for free online. .
Concerns
● The lack of a central regulatory authority has made it possible for trade in
illegal goods to happen through the virtual currencies.
● However, exchanges that trade bitcoin have witnessed massive fluctuation
in prices owing to speculation.
● The trade in bitcoin remains lucrative.

7.11 Prysm technology: Starship enterprise


There are occasions when a project demands the active collaboration of external
subject experts, who are not employees.

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Highlights
● One of the leading
providers of collaborative
workplace solutions is
Prysm
● On the ‘Prysm
screen’, any type of content
can be projected at the
same time: Word, PDF, PPT,
worksheet, video, and
more.
● They can all be mirrored on different devices, moved around on the screen,
edited by people at different places simultaneously in real time, making it a
digital visual workplace that is a platform of platforms.
● The key component of this technology is Laser Phosphor Display. Light
from ultraviolet lasers is directed onto a screen that is coated with colour
phosphor stripes. Phosphors are activated by the energy of the lasers,
thereby producing an image.
● The screen is made up of tiles, so it can be easily customised
● Images are clearly visible when viewed from any angle
● The system consumes very low amounts of power.

7.12 MapmyIndia, IBM arm to offer hyper local weather information


The Weather Company (TWC), owned by IBM and the country’s largest mapping
firm MapmyIndia said that they would jointly offer users across sectors such as
agriculture, automotive and logistics with hyper-local weather information.
Highlights
● TWC provides weather forecasts, data and insights to its users
● Mapmy India’s expertise will help the company give localised weather
information, forecasts and trends with digital identification of hyper-local
points or activity on “highly accurate maps”

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● Weather data available on the digital maps could also help government
bodies deal with natural disasters better.

7.13 Telangana launches integrated app for all government services


The Telangana government on Wednesday launched an m-Governance mobile
application called ‘T App Folio’ to help citizens with one point access to
government services like MeeSeva services, RTA services, fee payments and bill
payment services etc.
● In phase-I of T App Folio has
on-boarded (over) 150 services on
T App Folio.
● In addition, a host of
informational services, location
services like MeeSeva centers,
Ration shops, Hy-Fi hotspots have
also been made available
● In the subsequent phases, T App Folio aims to involve developer
community in bringing innovation in government service delivery by
providing them access to application programming interface of G2C
services.

7.14 Artificial Intelligence and Internet of Things will impact education in future
The recent revolution in digital technology has touched every sphere and facet of
lives, and education sector has not been spared. Unlike any other sector, the link
between digital technology and education is unique and complementary.
Highlights
● Mobile technology is making education affordable, convenient and more
effective
● Two biggest trends to impact education in the near future will be artificial
intelligence and Internet of Things
● Virtual reality and augmented reality videos and simulations will make
education content more interactive and interesting

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● Cloud technology is going to make life easier both for students and teachers
as documents and files will be stored and accessed easily.
● This will help managements in a big way, cutting down on infrastructure
costs.
● Big Data will make assignments, evaluations, tests and projects more
results-driven
● Student performance can be improved through Big Data
Virtual reality
Virtual reality (VR) is a computer-generated scenario that simulates a realistic
experience.
Augmented Reality
Augmented reality (AR) is a direct or indirect live view of a physical, real-world
environment whose elements are "augmented" by computer-generated
perceptual information, ideally across multiple sensory modalities, including
visual, auditory, haptic, somatosensory, and olfactory.

7.15 Indian Railway goes Digital


Indian Railways has developed an Online Portal called “Rail Good Work Portal” to
enable the employees to freely share the good work being done by them and
encourage easy and fast replication of these good work by other units.
● This has motivated the employees from various zones, production units and
divisions of Indian Railways to freely share the good work done by them

7.16 NASA invites citizen scientists to observe clouds


NASA has announced a global cloud observation challenge — inviting citizen
scientists to observe and track clouds using their smartphones.
● From March 15 through April 15, citizen scientists of all ages can make up
to 10 cloud observations per day using the GLOBE Observer app.
Scientists at Langley work with a suite of six instruments known as the Clouds and
the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES). Even though CERES’ instruments use
advanced technology, it is not always easy for researchers to positively identify all
types of clouds in their images.

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7.17 Hi-tech conservationists fight wildlife crime


In Indonesia, illicit trade of flora and fauna is pushing some species to extinction.
From cutting-edge DNA barcoding to smartphone apps that can identify illegal
wildlife sales, conservationists are turning to hi-tech tools in their battle against
Indonesia's animal traffickers.
Technologies
● The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), which works with Indonesian
authorities to halt wildlife crime, uses computer software to map criminal
networks and extract data from seized electronic devices.
● Conservation group International Animal Rescue Indonesia (IAR) is
examining crime scene evidence with the help of DNA barcoding — a
taxonomic method that relies on short genetic sequences to identify
species.
● Tissue samples from confiscated animals can be cross-referenced with a
database of stored genetic codes, helping to unambiguously differentiate
between species and sub-species — not all of which may be endangered.

7.18 A knowledge hub for medicinal plants


A seven-member team led by the Institute of Mathematical Sciences (IMSc),
Chennai, has developed the online database named IMPPAT (Indian Medicinal
Plants, Phytochemistry and Therapeutics)
Features
● It brings together not just
the medicinal plants and their
associated phytochemicals, but
also the latter’s 2D and 3D
chemical structures, the
therapeutic use of the plants and
the medicinal formulations.
● Plants secrete various special
chemicals to ward off predators,
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difficult situations. Some of these so-called phytochemicals have been used


to prepare traditional medicines and also poisons.

7.19 NCAA becomes the World‟s First Trusted Digital Repository


National Cultural Audiovisual Archives (NCAA) is project of the Ministry of Culture,
Government of India, implemented by Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts
(IGNCA) has been certified as the world’s first Trusted Digital Repository.

Highlights
● The primary objective of the NCAA is to identify and preserve the cultural
heritage of India available in audiovisual form through a process of
digitization and making it accessible to the people
● The digitization and metadata standards followed by the Project are in
parity with international standards within the overall framework of the
OAIS model.
● The digitization standards are in concordance with those prescribed by the
International Association of Sound & Audiovisual Archives (IASA)
About IGNCA

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Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts has been set up by the Government of
India, as a premier research institute dedicated to holistic understanding and
expression of Indian arts in their inter and multidisciplinary nature. One of the
principal aims of the centre is to serve as a major national resource centre for the
arts.

7.20 India joins Europe‟s satellite data sharing pool


India has joined Europe’s mega global arrangement of sharing data from Earth
observation satellites, called Copernicus.
Highlights
● Data from a band of Indian remote sensing satellites will be available to the
European Copernicus programme while designated Indian institutional
users will in return get to access free data from Europe’s six Sentinel
satellites and those of other space agencies that are part of the programme
● The space-based information will be used for forecasting disasters,
providing emergency response and rescue of people during disasters; to
glean land, ocean data; and for issues of security, agriculture, climate
change and atmosphere
● The multi-billion-euro Copernicus is Europe's system for monitoring the
Earth using satellite data. It is coordinated and managed by the EC
● ISRO’s land, ocean and atmospheric series of civilian satellites (Oceansat-2,
Megha-Tropiques, Scatsat-1, SARAL, INSAT-3D, INSAT-3DR) with the
exception of commercial high-resolution satellites data
● The arrangement includes technical assistance for setting up high
bandwidth connections with ISRO sites, mirror servers, data storage and
archival facilities.

7.21 IBM launches AI-powered 'Watson Assistant'


Tech giant IBM announced the formal launch of Watson
Assistant, a smart enterprise assistant powered with
artificial intelligence (AI), cloud and the Internet of Things
(IoT) and it can be accessed via voice or text interaction.
Highlights

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It has different applications like


● Business assistant - A SaaS (software as a service) application that enables
business users and developers to collaborate on building conversational AI
solutions for businesses large and small.
● Customer Relations - AI technology can effectively up skill business agents,
streamline how business engages with customers, partners and employees.
● For Automotive - A digital assistant designed to enhance vehicle
experiences, helping the automotive industry better understand and
interact with drivers and passengers.

7.22 New robot fish from MIT to study ocean life


Scientists have created a remote-controlled robot named SoFi that swims quietly
through coral reefs and schools of fish and uses a fisheye lens to capture high-
resolution photos and video with a camera built into its nose.
● SoFi can swim forward, move up and down, turn and change speeds
● SoFi's “soft artificial muscle” tail is made
of silicone elastomer, a type of rubber.
● SoFi is operated using a waterproofed
Super Nintendo controller by a diver.
● The robot can be used as a marine
biology instrument and also to measure
pollution in coastal waters, to create maps, to
do inspection, to monitor and track

7.23 Radar speed signs to slow down drivers


The police are now planning to use technology that will appeal to drivers to slow.
Highlights
● LED display boards will be installed
on the medians of key roads.
These will display a vehicle’s speed
in real time against the permitted
limit.

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● These are called driver feedback systems that work on radar or Doppler
technology.
● They register the speed of an approaching vehicle 50 metres away. This will
be flashed to the driver on the display board

7.24 E- Tribes India


The government has launched “E- Tribes”, TRIFED’s websites. It includes
www.tribesindia.com, www.trifed.in and Retail Inventory Software and M-
commerce app.
Advantages
● Going Digital will lead to expansion of
tribal commerce and the availability of tribal
products over large area, reaping greater
benefits for tribal artisans.
● Retail Trade of tribal products would
expand all over the country and the world.
About TRIFED
TRIFED is an apex organization at National
Level and functioning under the
administrative control of Ministry of Tribal
Affairs.

7.25 Smart India Hackathon 2018


All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) under the aegis of Ministry of
Human Resource Development (MHRD) is organizing Smart India Hackathon 2018.
Highlights
● Smart India Hackathon 2018 is a non-stop digital product development
competition, where problems are posed to technology students for
innovative solutions.
● It crowd sources solutions for improving governance and quality of life.

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● It also provides opportunity


to citizens to provide
innovative solutions to India’s
daunting problems
● Smart India Hackathon 2018
would be the second massive
scale hackathon initiative in India following Smart India Hackathon 2017.

7.26 Atal Innovation Mission


NITI Aayog’s Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) has announced the signing of a
Statement of Intent (SOI) with SAP Global to promote a culture of innovation and
entrepreneurship.
Highlights
● As part of the SOI, SAP in 2018 will adopt 100 Atal Tinkering Laboratories
(ATL) for five years to nurture the science, technology, engineering and
mathematics (STEM) learning among secondary school children across
India.
● Aims to enable students to learn advanced technology topics relevant to
digital transformation and the Internet of Things
Tinkering labs
● ATLs are innovation play workspaces for students between Class 6 to 12,
stimulating innovations combining science and technology.
● These open-ended innovation workspaces are equipped with state-of-the
art technologies like 3D printers, robotics, sensor technology kits, Internet
of Things, miniaturised electronics etc, to enable students to learn and
solve local community problems using emerging technologies.
● The aim of Atal Labs is to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in
schools, universities and industry.

7.27 GSAT-6A Satellite


India's Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-F08) successfully launched
GSAT-6A Satellite into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO). But after launch, the
satellite lost connection with the ground facility.

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● This was the fifth consecutive success


achieved by GSLV carrying indigenously
developed Cryogenic Upper Stage.
● Two improvements - induction of high
thrust Vikas engine and
electromechanical actuation system -
have been made in the rocket's second
stage this time around.
GSAT-6A
● GSAT-6A is a communication satellite to provide mobile communication
services through multi beam coverage
● It is equipped with S and C band transponders.
● It provide a platform for developing technologies such as demonstration of
6 m S-Band Unfurlable Antenna, handheld ground terminals and network
management techniques that could be useful in satellite based mobile
communication application
● It will complement GSAT-6.
● It is designated for the use of the Armed Forces and will not add any
transponder capacity for general uses

7.28 100 Accessible websites


100 Accessible websites of various State Governments/UTs under Accessible India
Campaign have been launched.
Accessible websites
● Accessible Websites are those websites into which Persons with Disabilities
can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the Web, and that
they can contribute to the Web.
● The Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan)
initiated a “Website Accessibility Project” for State Government/Union
Territories under Accessible India Campaign through ERNET India, an
autonomous scientific society under the Ministry of Electronics &
Information Technology (MeitY), to make total 917 websites accessible

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7.29 BharatNet Project


Government has achieved a significant milestone under the BharatNet by
completing Phase-1 of the project by connecting over one lakh Gram Panchayats
(GP) across the country with high speed optical fibre network as per the declared
deadline of 31 Dec 2017.
About the Project
● Bharat Net sought to connect all of India’s households, particularly in rural
areas, through broadband, forming the backbone of the government’s
ambitious Digital India programme.
● It proposes broadband connectivity to households under village panchayats
and even to government institutions at district level.
● The project is being funded through the Universal Service Obligation Fund
(USOF).

7.30 e-Sansad and e-Vidhan


Government has rolled out e-Sansad and e-Vidhan in Parliament and State
Legislatures to digitize and make their functioning paperless.
● e-Sansad and e-Vidhan are mission mode projects of Government of India
under Digital India
● These projects would make the functioning of Parliament and State
Legislatures participative, responsive, transparent, productive and more
accountable to the public and make the entire Legislative process more
efficient.
● Further, this environment friendly initiative is in line with the ‘Go Green’
initiative of the Government.

7.31 Smart Freight Operation Optimisation & Real Time Information (SFOORTI)
To help plan the traffic flows and optimize freight operations, Ministry of Railways
have launched Smart Freight Operation Optimisation & Real Time Information
(SFOORTI) App for Freight Managers which provides features for monitoring and
managing freight business using Geographic Information System (GIS) Views and
Dashboard.

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● Both passenger and freight trains can be tracked over Zones/Divisions/


Sections in single GIS View.
● Analysis of new traffic captured and traffic lost.
● Expected Traffic at Interchange points
● Evaluate daily performance.

7.32 National Knowledge Network


NKN is a multi-gigabit pan-India network which facilitates the development of
India’s communications infrastructure, stimulates research and creates next
generation applications and services. Government is taking initiative to connect
NKN to research and
education networks in
six South Asian
Association of Regional
Cooperation member
states — Afghanistan,
Bangladesh, Bhutan,
Maldives, Nepal and Sri
Lanka.
● NKN aims to
connect all universities, research institutions, libraries, laboratories,
healthcare and agricultural institutions across the country
● It enables collaboration among researchers from different educational
networks such as TEIN4, GARUDA, CERN and Internet2.
● It also enables sharing of scientific databases and remote access to
advanced research facilities.
● The leading mission oriented agencies in the fields of nuclear, space and
defence research are also part of NKN.

7.33 Pratyush and Mihir High Performance Computers


India has unveiled Pratyush and Mihir, an array of computers that can deliver a
peak power of 6.8 petaflops. Computing capacity of a system is measured as

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floating point operations per second. One petaflop is a million billion floating
point operations per second
● The machines will be installed at two government institutes - IITM, Pune
called Pratyush and at the National Centre for Medium Range Weather
Forecast, called ‘Mihir’ (meaning ‘Sun’).
● With this, India will now occupy the fourth position, next only to United
Kingdom, Japan and USA in terms of dedicated capacity for HPC resources
for weather and climate proposes.
● This ill improve weather forecasts and extended range forecasts.
● It will also predict cyclones and tsunami accurately, with more lead time.
● It will also help those dependent on agriculture, hydrology and power
sectors.
● Improves the air quality forecasts for various cities

7.34 Two-tier security process for Aadhaar


The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has rolled out a new two-tier
security process - virtual ID which an Aadhaar holder can use in lieu of his/her
Aadhaar number at the time of authentication and ‘limited KYC’
Virtual ID (VID)
● Is a temporary 16-digit random number mapped with the Aadhaar number.
● There can only be one active and valid VID for an Aadhaar number at any
given time and it will not be possible to derive the Aadhaar number from
VID.
● The VID authentication will be similar to using Aadhaar numbers.
● Since a VID is temporary, agencies will not be able to use it for de-
duplication.
● Only the Aadhaar holder will be able to generate a VID
Limited KYC
To address the issue of storage of Aadhaar number within various databases, the
UIDAI has brought in the concept of limited KYC.
● It has categorised its AUAs into Global AUAs and Local AUAs wherein the
latter will get access to only need based or limited KYC details.

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● AUAs, which by law are required to use Aadhaar number in their KYCs, will
be categorised as Global AUAs and have access to Full e-KYC and the ability
to store Aadhaar numbers within their system.

7.35 Public cloud policy


Maharashtra has unveiled a public cloud policy, virtually mandating its
departments to shift their data storage onto the cloud
● The policy, a first by any State,
● It is mandatory for the data to be stored within the country. T
● The objective is to use public cloud in cases wherever the Right to
Information Act is applicable, and then go in for enhanced security features
for private and sensitive data, which will also be stored on the cloud.
● Once the policy is implemented and the data stored on the cloud, the
access to the public cloud services will either be free or on a pay-per-usage
model.
● The State policy is compliant with the Union government’s National Data
Sharing and Accessibility Policy, 2012, which mandates facilitation of access
to government-owned shareable data in human readable and machine
readable forms.
● The government produces 1.25 lakh documents every day. Most of them
are being stored at 75 centralised data centres, resulting in a high
maintenance cost. With the public cloud, investment on these centres is
not required.
● This will also accelerate e-governance

7.36 Cyber Surakshit Bharat initiative


Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has announced the
Cyber Surakshit Bharat initiative in association with National e-Governance
Division (NeGD) and industry partners.
● To spread awareness about cybercrime and building capacity for safety
measures for Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) and frontline IT
staff across all government departments
● Three principles of Awareness, Education and Enablement.

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● The primary objective is to keep data safe and protected


● Is the first public-private partnership of its kind and will leverage the
expertise of the IT industry in cybersecurity.

7.37 Village Resource Centres (VRCs)


ISRO has established Village Resource Centres (VRCs) on a pilot scale.
● The project is running in association with selected NGOs, Trusts and State
Government Departments.
Village Resource Centres program
● To provide the space based services directly to the rural areas such as tele-
healthcare, tele-education, natural resources information, advisories
related to agriculture, career guidance to rural students, skill development
and vocational training etc.

7.38 LiFi (Light Fidelity)


In a recent pilot project, the ministry of electronics and IT successfully tested a
technology called LiFi (Light Fidelity), which uses LED bulbs and light spectrum to
transmit data at speeds as high as 10 GB per second over a 1-km radius.
● The idea is to connect difficult terrains of the country that can’t be reached
by fiber but have access to electricity.

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● The technology can be used to connect hospitals where regular internet


signals interfere with certain equipment as well as to provide underwater
connectivity.
Li-Fi
● Is a Visible Light Communications (VLC) system
● Signal is transmitted by the rapid dimming of LED bulbs
● Li-Fi offers great promise to overcome the existing limitations of Wi-Fi by
providing for data-heavy communication in short ranges.
● Li-Fi systems consume less power.
● Li-Fi is likely to face interference from external light sources, such as
sunlight and bulbs, and obstructions in the path of transmission, and hence
may cause interruptions in communication.

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OTHER TOPICS

8. MATERIAL SCIENCE

8.1 Graphene
The 21st century seems set to become the age of graphene, a recently discovered
material
About graphene
● Is made from honeycomb sheets of carbon just one atom thick.
● It is a two-dimensional form (allotrope) of carbon that consists of a single
layer of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal lattice.
● Graphene has been described as wondrous stuff — of being the strongest
material ever tested, almost 300 times stronger than steel.
● It is also the best heat- and electricity-conducting material to be
discovered.
● It could also become a valuable aid in filtering water

8.2 IIT Guwahati develops superhydrophobic coating


A polymeric coating that is extremely water-repelling (superhydrophobic) and will
allow water to roll off from the surface like in the case of a lotus leaf or stick to
the surface as in the case of rose petals has been synthesised.
● It can be spray-coated on various surfaces (glass, plastic, metal, wood and
concrete) of diverse chemical composition, texture (smooth or rough
surface), geometry (plain sheet or complex shape such as shoes), and size.
● There is a fundamental difference in the way the trapped air is present at
the interface between the surface and water droplets and this makes the
coated surface either adhesive or non-adhesive superhydrophobic
● The superhydrophobic coating was prepared by mixing a polymer
(branched polyethyleneimine) and a reactive small molecule
(dipentaerythritol pentaacrylate) in different alcoholic solvents — ethanol
to pentanol.
Applications

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● The non-adhesive one can be used for oil-water separation and making the
surface self-cleaning.
● The adhesive coating can be used in open microfluidic devices for
diagnostic purposes

8.3 IIT Hyderabad‟s novel composite keeps tomatoes fresh for 30 days
Researchers at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Hyderabad have been
successful in keeping tomatoes fresh and without any microbial spoilage for as
long as 30 days. This was possible thanks to the food packaging material. The food
packaging material is made of bacterial cellulose impregnated with silver
nanoparticles.

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