Insights Daily Current Events, 03 March 2016
Paper 1 Topic: Art and culture.
Kondane cave art depicts myth and daily life
Archaeologists have discovered around 40 rock paintings in Kondane caves in Raigarh district in Maharashtra.
- These paintings include a hunter standing with a bow and arrow, a Barasingh, footprints, palm impressions and some trees.
- The images were found in both natural caverns and man-made caves.
- The man-made caves also feature Buddhist architecture such as a ‘chaitya’ (prayer hall) and a monastery.
- A striking image found was that of a mythical figure, perhaps a demon. Other paintings reflected everyday life and occupations such as hunting deer.
- The Buddhist rock-cut architecture found in these caves belongs to the Hinayana phase of Buddhism.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: infrastructure.
Government nod for UDAY bonds
The Finance Ministry has approved the issuance of Ujjwal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY) bonds by four states. They are Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Chattisgarh.
- Manipur and Tripura recently agreed to join UDAY. This takes the total number of states that have agreed to join UDAY to 16. So far, six states have signed the UDAY contract.
How these bonds will help?
State governments can take over 75% cent of discom debt and pay back lenders by issuing bonds. The scheme provides for the remaining 25 per cent of the debt to be paid back through discom-issued bonds. Total discom debt in the country amounts to Rs.4.3 lakh crore.
ABOUT UDAY SCHEME:
UDAY is an effort to make these DISCOMs financially and operationally healthy, to be able to supply adequate power at affordable rates, and enable the Governments to make efforts towards 100% Village electrification and 24X7 Power For All.
- It envisages to reduce interest burden, cost of power and AT&C losses. Consequently, DISCOM would become sustainable to supply adequate and reliable power enabling 24×7 power supply.
- The scheme provides that States would take over 75% debt of Discoms, as on 30th September, 2015 in two years.
- UDAY has inbuilt incentives encouraging State Governments to voluntarily restructure their debts. These incentives include taking over of DISCOM debt by the States outside the fiscal deficit limits; reduction in the cost of power through various measures such as coal linkage rationalization, liberal coal swaps and priority/additional funding through schemes of MoP & MNRE.
- UDAY is different from earlier restructuring schemes in several ways including flexibility of keeping debt taken over outside fiscal deficit limit, reduction in cost of power and a series of time bound interventions for improving operational efficiency.
- UDAY also provides for measures that will reduce the cost of power generation, which would ultimately benefit consumers.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
Huge budget cut for ICDS
India is home to about 442 million children — that constitute 39% of the country’s population — but receive less than 3.26% of the budget.
- However, the budget allocation has steadily declined from 4.45% in 2008-2009 to 3.26% in 2015-2016, despite activists demanding higher allocations for child protection, healthcare and education.
- Analysis by HAQ — Centre for Child Rights shows that there were significant cuts in budgets of the ministries of women and child development, health and education. While the budget for WCD ministry was slashed by half, budgets for HRD were down by 17%, while that of health and family welfare has declined by 13%.
Budget cut has hit ICDS very badly. The Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) has seen a 7% reduction in fund. The scheme, implemented by the Women and Child Development (WCD) Ministry, is the country’s flagship intervention to improve child nutrition in the country.
Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme:
ICDS was launched in 1975 in accordance to the National Policy for Children in India. The scheme aims at holistic development of under-six children and providing nutritional and health support to pregnant and lactating mothers.
Scheme provides for a package of six services:
- Supplementary nutrition.
- Referral services.
- Health check-up.
- Pre-school non formal education.
- Health and nutrition education.
- Three of the six services namely Immunization, Health Check-up and Referral Services are delivered through Public Health system.
- These services are provided from Anganwadi centres established mainly in rural areas and staffed with frontline workers.
- In addition to fighting malnutrition and ill health, the programme is also intended to combat gender inequality by providing girls the same resources as boys.
- The scheme is implemented through the States/UTs on a cost sharing basis in the ratio of 50:50 for supplementary nutrition (SNP) and 90:10 for other components except in the case of North Eastern States where the share of Central and State Government is in the ratio of 90:10 for all the components including SNP.
The predefined objectives of ICDS are:
- To raise the health and nutritional level of poor Indian children below 6 years of age.
- To create a base for proper mental, physical and social development of children in India.
- To reduce instances of mortality, malnutrition and school dropouts among Indian children.
- To coordinate activities of policy formulation and implementation among all departments of various ministries involved in the different government programmes and schemes aimed at child development across India.
- To provide health and nutritional information and education to mothers of young children to enhance child rearing capabilities of mothers in the country of India.
- To provide nutritional food to the mothers of young children & also at the time of pregnancy period.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: Infrastructure-airways.
Carriage by Air Amendment Bill gets Rajya Sabha nod
The ‘Carriage by Air (Amendment) Bill, 2015‘, has been passed by the Upper House with changes. It was cleared by the Lok Sabha in December 2015.
- This bill would enhance compensation for air travellers in case of death, injury, lost baggage or even inordinate delay in flights.
- Once the legislation is implemented, Indian airlines would be required to pay compensation amount that is equivalent to the rates paid by their global counterparts.
- The legislation would allow the government to revise the liability limits of airlines in line with the Montreal Convention, which was acceded to by India in May 2009.
The Bill amends the Carriage by Air Act, 1972. The Act regulates carriage by air and gives effect to the Warsaw Convention, 1929, the Warsaw Convention as amended by the Hague Protocol, 1955, and the Montreal Convention, 1999.
- The Act also provides for application of the international rules to domestic travel, subject to exceptions and adaptations.
The Montreal Convention establishes airline liability in the case of death, injury or delay to passengers or in cases of delay, damage or loss of baggage and cargo.
- The Convention also provides for reviewing the limits of liability of the air carriers every five years.
- India acceded to the Montreal Convention in May 2009.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: infrastructure-energy.
India at 90th rank in terms of energy security, access: WEF
India has been ranked at the 90th place in a list of 126 countries compiled by WEF on the basis of their ability to deliver secure, affordable and sustainable energy.
- The latest Global Energy Architecture Performance Index Report, explored the energy architecture of 126 countries based on their ability to provide energy access across three dimensions of the “energy triangle” — affordability, environmental sustainability, security and access.
- The list was topped by Switzerland followed by Norway and Sweden in the second and third place, respectively.
- Others in the top 10 include France (4th), Denmark (5th), Austria (6th), Spain (7th), Colombia (8th), New Zealand (9th) and Uruguay (10th).
- Among the BRIC nations, Brazil was the top performer as it was ranked at the 25th place, followed by Russia (52nd), India (90th), China (94).
- Meanwhile, major global economies continued to perform “less well” on the index with the exception of France which was placed at the 4th place.
- Among other major economies Germany was ranked at the 24th place, while the United States was at the 48th rank and Japan was at the 50th rank.
Important observations made by the report:
- Regarding India, the report notes that India is facing a vast array of challenges in the power sector in order to meet its growth targets. Nevertheless, electrification appears to have progressed.
- The proportion of the population covered having grown over the past six years by 4 percentage points to 79 per cent. The need to become more energy-efficient, more diverse and less carbon—intensive is especially acute for major emerging economies, making it critical to progress with government responses to these pressures through energy reform.
- The report also says that large emerging economies are pressed both by the need to support economic growth and build resilient and sustainable energy architecture.
- World energy production and imports rose by 3,200 million tonnes of oil equivalent over the last decade, driven by the boom in the Asian economies and led by China and India.
- As per IEA’s World Energy Outlook 2015, by 2040, China’s net oil imports will be nearly five times those of the United States, while India’s will easily exceed those of the EU.
Sources: the hindu.
Facts for Prelims:
Two more AWACS from Israel
The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) has cleared the purchase of additional surveillance aircraft from Israel.
- The CCS chaired by PM Modi cleared the proposal to acquire two more Phalcon Airborne Early Warning and Control Systems (AWACS) at a cost of Rs. 7,500 crore under a tripartite agreement with Israel and Russia.
The AWACS are advanced radars mounted on an aircraft to give 360 degree coverage to detect incoming aircraft and missiles at long ranges.
- The AWACS platform plays significant role in Indian Air Force’s Network-Centric Operations. These aircraft have electronic intelligence (ELINT) and communications intelligence (COMINT)-gathering capabilities that help intercept signals from enemy areas, in monitoring troop build-up and to detect aerial threats.
- It can also detect drones and cruise missiles from a range of 400km.
- India had procured three Phalcon AWACS, Israeli radars mounted on Russian IL-76 transport aircraft, in 2003 at cost of $1 billion.
The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) is the highest executive body that takes a call on defence matters.
- It decides on India’s defence expenditure, matters of National Security, and makes significant appointments.
- CCS is chaired by the Prime Minister of India and comprises the Minister of Defence, the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Home Affairs, and the Minister of External Affairs.
Sources: the hindu.
New frog species found in Biligiri
Scientists have found a new species of bush frog in the Biligiri Rangaswamy Tiger reserve
- The frog is named Honnametti bush frog (scientific name: Raorchestes honnametti ).
- The species discovered is a cryptic bush frog — that is, it resembles another species of Seshachar’s bush frog ( Raorchestes charius ).
- The discovery makes it the first such cryptic species to be found in the Western Ghats. This discovery can lead scientists to understanding the evolutionary history of such species.
Sources: the hindu.