Insights Daily Current Events, 07 September 2015
Paper 2 Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability.
Three model ration shops on anvil in Tiruchi district
To enhance the customer satisfaction, the Co-operative Department of Tamil Nadu state government has planned to set up three model ration shops in rural areas of Tiruchi district.
- Besides changing the overall look of the ration shops, these three model ration shops will focus on providing customer-friendly facilities.
- These ration shops will have provision of furniture, waiting arrangements for customers, drinking water facilities, and establish “first come first serve” set up.
- The selection of ration shops by the department would be done within a few days.
- These shops also ensure that the parameters of hygiene stipulated by the Food Safety and Standards Act 2006 are maintained.
Sources: The Hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Development processes and the development industry the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders.
Telangana IAF officer’s strategy to curb suicides
A serving Indian Air Force officer has come out with a sustainable suicide prevention model, which is likely to be replicated by the Telangana State Government. The Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao has shown interest in the model.
- The model was proposed by Group Captain Gurrapu Jagadishwar Rao, a high-ranking IAF official and native of Kazipet in Warangal district.
About the Model:
It is effective and economically sustainable model based on tried and tested ones in vogue.
- The strategy involves comprehensive and multi-sectoral approach by integrating various agencies, including health, education, revenue, legal, government and volunteers.
- It lays emphasis on restricting the access to the means of committing suicide such as pesticides, acids, certain medicines and fire arms. No pesticides should be stored in the homes. Pesticides could be stored in a central location in lockers manned by Government employees and volunteers.
Various suggestions made by the Model:
- Mass awareness campaign through the 24×7 counselling services should be taken up and sensitisation programme throughout the State should be carried out.
- Collect accurate data of suicides and attempted suicides as it would help the individual in seeking professional help to overcome the suicidal tendencies.
- A Suicide Prevention Counselling Centre in Hyderabad with 24×7 counselling services to be operated by highly qualified, trained and experienced counsellors.
- The present toll free services of Arogyasri can be utilised without incurring any additional expenditure to provide access through the call centre and one-on-one consultation.
- Similar centres at the district level in the Government hospitals and medical colleges can be opened.
Sources: The Hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes.
Mission Indradhanush gaining ground in Kerala
Mission Indradhanush, an initiative launched by the Union Health Ministry in December 2014, as a special drive to vaccinate all unimmunised and partially immunised children and pregnant women by 2020, under the Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP) in the country, seems to have gained much ground in Kerala.
- Malappuram and Kasaragod in Kerala, where immunisation programmes have been suffering because of the ignorance of people and the anti-immunisation campaigns of some vested interests, got included in the high priority districts.
- The percentage of fully immunised children in Kerala currently stands at 83% and Indradhanush may have helped the State push it to 84%.
- The Union government has also identified seven medium focus districts where there are gaps in immunisation cover. And these districts would be covered in the second phase of Indradhanush.
- Kerala’s contribution to the total population of unimmunised/partially immunised children in the country is pegged at one per cent, out of which an estimated 63% children are scattered across these seven medium focus districts.
What does Full Immunisation mean?
A fully immunised child should have received birth dose of BCG and oral polio vaccine (OPV), three doses each of Pentavalent vaccine (DPT, HIB, Hep B) and OPV and one dose of measles vaccine by first birthday.
Mission Indradhanush was launched by the Health & Family Welfare Ministry. The Mission was launched on Good Governance Day to mark the birth anniversary of Bharat Ratna Madan Mohan Malaviya and birthday of Bharat Ratna Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
The Mission Indradhanush, depicting seven colours of the rainbow, aims to cover all those children by 2020 who are either unvaccinated, or are partially vaccinated against seven vaccine preventable diseases which include diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, polio, tuberculosis, measles and hepatitis B.
- The Mission will be implemented in 201 high focus districts in the country in the first phase which have nearly 50% of all unvaccinated or partially vaccinated children (Of the 201 districts, 82 districts are in just four states of UP, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan and nearly 25% of the unvaccinated or partially vaccinated children of India are in these 82 districts of 4 states).
- These districts will be targeted by intensive efforts to improve the routine immunization coverage.
- The campaign is part of the Universal Immunisation Programme by 2020 and is being implemented under the National Health Mission across the country.
- Between 2009-2013 immunization coverage has increased from 61% to 65%, indicating only 1% increase in coverage every year. To accelerate the process of immunization by covering 5% and more children every year, the Mission Mode has been adopted to achieve target of full coverage by 2020.
- The focused and systematic immunization drive will be through a “catch-up” campaign mode where the aim is to cover all the children who have been left out or missed out for immunization.
- The learnings from the successful implementation of the polio programme will be applied in planning and implementation of the mission.
- The Ministry will be technically supported by WHO, UNICEF, Rotary International and other donor partners. Mass media, interpersonal communication, and sturdy mechanisms of monitoring and evaluating the scheme are crucial components of Mission Indradhanush.
Sources: The Hindu, PIB.
Paper 3 Topic: Disaster and disaster management.
Import of ammonium nitrate in loose form banned
In a major relief to domestic manufacturers and security agencies, the Ministry of Home Affairs has asked the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP) not to allow bulk import of ammonium nitrate (AN) in loose form because it poses a threat to the national security.
- As per the directive, the chemical has to be imported ‘in bagged form only,’ irrespective of the quantity in each bag, and the consignment has to be packed at the point of origin.
- With this, the August notification of the Ministry of Shipping that allowed a south Indian port to facilitate bulk import in any form has become null and void.
- The green signal for bulk import in any form, issued in August 2015, was interpreted by many as import in a loose form.
- A possible indiscriminate import raised security concerns as ammonium nitrate is an extremely dangerous explosive substance.
- Domestic manufacturers had raised objections as cheaper imports would have severely affected their business. Besides, they had invested in bar-coding of ammonium nitrate bags, IT infrastructure and tracking devices to comply with the guidelines for ensuring that even a small quantity does not fall into the wrong hands.
About Ammonium Nitrate (AN): Factsheet
- Ammonium nitrate is widely used as a fertilizer in the agricultural industry. In many countries, its purchase and use are restricted to buyers who have obtained the proper license. This restriction is primarily because it is an attractive and simple component used in the production of bombs.
- AN is highly hygroscopic, readily absorbing water from air. It is dangerous when stored in humid environments, as any absorbed water interferes with its explosive function. AN is also water soluble. When used in wet mining conditions, considerable effort must be taken to dewater boreholes.
- Unmixed ammonium nitrate can decompose explosively and has been responsible for several industrial disasters, including the 1947 Texas City disaster in Texas City, Texas, the 2004 Ryongchon disaster in North Korea, and the 2013 West Fertilizer Company explosion in West, Texas.
- Environmental hazards include eutrophication in confined waters and nitrate/gas oil contamination of ground or surface water.
- Ammonium nitrate is one of the most powerful improvised types of AN-based explosives and is very dangerous.
- The Home Ministry, in its latest order, has made it mandatory for vehicles transporting it to have two armed guards with the GPS system.
Uses of Ammonium Nitrate in India:
- India consumes 700,000 MT of ammonium nitrate, a raw material for making civil explosives for mining and infrastructure.
- Since imports are 15-20% cheaper, explosive manufacturers who supply to mining and infrastructure companies have been lobbying for bulk import, especially in loose form.
- Today about 15% of ammonium nitrate consumed in India is imported. This has come down from 60% in 2010 as domestic capacity has increased.
Sources: The Hindu, PIB.
Paper 3 Topic: Awareness in the fields of Space.
GSAT-6 positioned in orbit
Communication satellite GSAT-6 has been successfully positioned in its orbital slot. It has been positioned in its orbital slot of 83 Deg E and collocated with INSAT 4A, GSAT 12, GSAT 10 and IRNSS1C.
- The ISRO had successfully launched GSAT-6, having an indigenous cryogenic engine onboard GSLV-D6 rocket, from Sriharikota on August 27.
GSAT – 6:
- The 2,117-kg GSAT-6 communication satellite is aimed primarily at benefiting the country’s strategic users and other authorised users.
- The satellite, with a mission life of nine years, also includes a first-of-its-kind S-Band unfurlable antenna with a diameter of six metre. This is the largest antenna the ISRO has ever made for a satellite.
- GSAT-6 will provide S-band communication services in the country.
- This system also includes a first-of-its-kind S-Band unfurlable antenna with a diameter of six metre. This is the largest antenna ISRO has ever made for a satellite.
- The S band is part of the microwave band of the electromagnetic spectrum. It is defined by an IEEE standard for radio waves with frequencies that range from 2 to 4 GHz, crossing the conventional boundary between UHF and SHF at 3.0 GHz.
- The S band is used by weather radar, surface ship radar, and some communications satellites.
Sources: The Hindu, PIB, ISRO.
Paper 3 Topic: indigenization of technology and developing new technology.
Floating test range for missile defence system
India is building a unique floating testing range — a huge ship — to overcome the limitations imposed by the land mass for carrying out missile tests of varying ranges for the two-tier ballistic missile defence (BMD) system to protect important cities.
- Floating testing range is a huge ship with a designated displacement equivalent to 10,000 tonnes.
- The state-of-the-art range would have many facilities such as a launch-pad, a launch control centre and a mission control centre.
- It will pave the way for conducting trials for different trajectories, varying altitudes and also for higher ranges.
- This system seeks to engage and destroy incoming enemy missiles at different altitudes in the endo- and exo-atmospheres.
- The first phase of the programme envisages development of interceptors to annihilate incoming missiles with a range of 2,000 km, while the second phase aims to build such weapons to destroy missiles with a longer range.
India has so far conducted 10 interceptor missile tests, eight of them successful. Most of the trials were conducted in the endo-atmosphere, and a few in the exo-atmosphere.
Why such a testing range is necessary?
- Currently the missile testing range on Wheeler Island posed certain limitations as people needed to be evacuated from the villages every time a trial took place. The range of the missile had to be confined to less than 300 km. Different trajectories can not be tested.
- With FTR live tests for longer ranges can also be carried out.
Sources: The Hindu, PIB.
Paper 3 Topic: Economic issues.
e-commerce impact: Mall rentals down 30 per cent, says study
According to a recent study conducted by Assocham-PricewaterhouseCoopers, the shopping malls in India are witnessing lesser footfalls leading to increase in vacancy rate at 25%, along with a 30% drop in rentals during the last year. This is mainly due to the growing popularity of online marketing in India.
What else the study says?
- E-commerce industry seems to be unaffected by the demand slowdown and is likely to clock compounded annual growth rate of 35%, crossing the $100-billion mark over the next five years, from about $17 billion at present.
- The trend in Indian malls is in line with the declining number of footfalls in retail space in over 200 shopping malls across the U.S., the U.K. and other countries. While in the U.S., vacancy rates for malls is 46%, in the U.K. it stands at 32%.
- In India, sales in shopping malls dipped by 25-30%, while footfalls fell by 15-20% over the last year.
- The challenges of suburban sprawl, worsening automotive traffic, rising fuel prices and the increased difficulty of time management in modern families have made going to the mall a planned activity.
It is estimated the number of consumers buying online in India will increase to 65 million in 2015, from 40 million , on the back of improvement in infrastructure such as logistics and broadband and Internet-ready devices.
Sources: The Hindu.