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Insights Daily Current Events, 07 April 2016

Insights Daily Current Events, 07 April 2016

Paper 2 Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.

Messaging becomes ‘snoop-proof’

The world’s largest messaging app, WhatsApp which is owned by Facebook, has beefed up its security feature for users around the world across all platforms.

Details:

  • All private communications now would be protected by enabling end-to-end encryption.
  • The new feature will allow users to access messages while barring everybody else, including government agencies, from snooping.

Using Textsecure, WhatsApp launched encryption of messages in 2014, but this was limited to Android devices. Indian security agencies had difficulty tracking these messages on these devices. The latest announcement is part of the company’s plan to use encryption on platforms such as iOS and Windows.

User base: The company currently has around one billion registered users, nearly 100 million of them in India.

Background:

This comes at a time when the U.S. government had asked Apple to provide a backdoor entry into encrypted iPhone, which was denied by the company. With the new security feature, the debate on use of encryption is likely to get louder.

Last September, the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY) had come out with a draft National Encryption Policy that proposed to make it mandatory for every citizen to save all digital communications, including e-mails and chats, for a period of 90 days. But the proposal was withdrawn in the wake of protests.

Concerns:

  • Security agencies fear that strong encryption will allow criminals and terrorists to communicate safely.

But technology companies and many free speech advocates believe that encryption allows more privacy in the new digital age.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

CSIR Features in the Thomson Reuters Top 50 Indian Innovator Companies and Research Organizations for the Year 2015

The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) features in the Thomson Reuters top 50 Indian Innovator companies and research organizations for the year 2015.

  • The Top 50 Indian Innovators lead the country in innovation output. They are a group of businesses and research institutions that develop, recognize and protect great ideas and use it to their full potential.
  • CSIR was also the recipient of the Thomson Reuters India Innovation Awards 2013 in the category of Hi-Tech Academic & Government.

About CSIR:

CSIR, constituted in 1942 by a resolution of the then Central Legislative assembly, is an autonomous body registered under the Registration of Societies Act XXI of 1860.

  • Known for its cutting-edge R&D knowledgebase in diverse S&T areas, CSIR is a contemporary R&D organization, having pan-India presence, with a dynamic network of 38 national laboratories, 39 outreach centers, 3 Innovation Complexes and 5 units.
  • CSIR covers a wide spectrum of science and technology – from radio and space physics, oceanography, geophysics, chemicals, drugs, genomics, biotechnology and nanotechnology to mining, aeronautics, instrumentation, environmental engineering and information technology.
  • It provides significant technological intervention in many areas with regard to societal efforts, which include environment, health, drinking water, food, housing, energy, farm and non-farm sectors. Further, CSIR’s role in S&T human resource development is noteworthy.

Sources: pib.


 

Paper 3 Topic: conservation.

National Hydrology Project

The union cabinet has cleared the Rs.3,679-crore National Hydrology Project (NHP) that aims to collect hydro-metrological data across India and use it for efficient water management in the country.

Key features:

The project intends to set up a system for timely and reliable water resource data acquisition, storage, collation and management.

  • The NHP will cover the entire country, unlike earlier hydrology projects that covered only 13 states.
  • It also seeks to build capacity of state and central organisations in water resource management through the use of information systems and adoption of state-of-the-art technologies like remote sensing.
  • The project is expected to assist in promoting “efficient and equitable” use of water, especially groundwater, down to the village level and provide information on quality of water as well.
  • The NHP will also help in gathering hydro-meteorological data which will be stored and analysed on a real-time basis and can be seamlessly accessed by any user at the state, district or village-level.

Benefits:

  • The scheme will help address the water crisis in the country. The project will inform the public about how much water is available and assist farmers in planning their crops and other farm-related activities.
  • It will increase lead time in flood forecast from one day to at least three days.
  • It will also facilitate mapping of flood inundation areas for use by disaster management authorities.
  • It will also help improve Reservoir operations through seasonal yield forecast and drought management.
  • The NHP will lead to better assessment of surface and ground water resources in a river basin for better planning and allocation of resources, improve reservoir operations through seasonal yield forecast and improve drought management.

Funding:

Half of the total NHP project outlay would come from a World Bank loan and would be repaid by the central government, while the remaining 50% would be in the form of budgetary support from the centre. The central funds would be passed on as grants to states and central organizations undertaking it.

Sources: pib.


 

Paper 3 Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

Cabinet approves recommendations of 14th Finance Commission

The Cabinet has approved the 14th Finance Commission’s recommendations on fiscal deficit targets and additional targets for states during 2015-20.

Details:

  • The government approved a fiscal deficit target of 3% for states, as recommended by the FC for the 2015-20 period.
  • Besides, the Commission has also provided for year-to-year flexibility for additional deficit. It has provided additional headroom to a maximum of 0.5% over and above the normal limit of 3% in any given year to states that have had a favourable debt-GSDP ratio and interest payments-revenue receipts ratio in the previous two years.
  • However, the flexibility in availing the additional fiscal deficit will be available to a state if there is no revenue deficit in the year in which borrowing limits are to be fixed and immediately preceding year.
  • Since the year 2015-16 is already over, the States will not get any benefit of additional borrowings for 2015-16. However, the implications for the remaining period of FFC award of 2016-17 to 2019-20, would depend upon respective States’ eligibility based on the criteria prescribed by FFC.
  • If a State is not able to fully utilise its sanctioned fiscal deficit of 3% of GSDP in any particular year during the 2016-17 to 2018-19 of FFC award period, it will have the option of availing this un-utilised fiscal deficit amount (calculated in rupees) only in the following year but within FFC award period.

Financial implications:

There is no financial implication for Government of India as the borrowings are made by the respective State Governments within the fiscal deficit limits laid down by Finance Commission and incorporated in FRBMA of the States. However, the State will get additional space to raise borrowings which may result in much needed Government Expenditure for capital projects and infrastructure.

Sources: pib.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States.

OROP gets retrospective Cabinet nod

The One Rank-One Pension scheme, brought in last November to benefit more than 2.5 million ex- servicemen and war widows, has received ex-post facto approval from the Union Cabinet.

  • Under the scheme, pension would be revised on the basis of the pension of retirees of calendar year 2013 and the benefit will be effective from July 1, 2014. In future, the pension would be revised every five years.
  • Financial implications on account of grant of OROP, including pre-matured retiree cases, would be Rs 10,925.11 crore for payment of arrears and annual financial implication would be Rs 7,488.7 crore.

One-rank one-pension scheme:

This is a scheme which will ensure that soldiers of the same rank and the same length of service receive the same pension, irrespective of their retirement date. In simple words, it demands equal pensions for those who have retired in one particular year, as those who retire in another year at the same position, and for the same duration of services rendered. The difference in the pension of present and past pensioners in the same rank occurs on account of the number of increments earned by the defence personnel in that rank.

Sources: pib.


 

Paper 3 Topic: conservation.

Teak absorbs max CO2 from air, helps check global warming

Teak has the highest capacity for carbon sequestration among trees in India. This is the finding of a study conducted by the Gujarat Ecological Education and Research (GEER) to prepare a hierarchy of local trees in India that can reduce the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere.

Key findings:

  • In its lifetime, a teak tree with a girth of 10-30 cm can absorb 3.70 lakh tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
  • Teak’s common name in India is sagwaan while its botanical name is Tectona Grandis.
  • It is followed by Neelgiri tree which absorbs 2.46 lakh tonnes of carbon dioxide and the Neem tree with a carbon sequestration capacity of 1.45 lakh tonnes in its lifetime.

Significance of these findings:

GEER has sent a list of trees with high capacity for carbon sequestration to different state forest departments that can choose them for plantation in areas where CO2 emission is high. In any tree plantation pro any tree plantation programme, the choice of species is crucial to the total amount of carbon dioxide absorbed from the atmosphere.

The study will help researchers and different state forest departments to calculate the carbon sequestration potential of the trees they have. It will also help different forest departments go in for plantation of trees with high capacity for absorbing carbon dioxide from the air where CO2 emission is high.

Why CO2?

Carbon dioxide traps heat and is the main villain insofar as global warming is concerned.

What is carbon sequestration?

Carbon sequestration is the process by which carbon dioxide is captured from the atmosphere by trees for long-term storage.

Sources: toi.


 

Facts for Prelims from “The Hindu”:

  1. The number of adults living with diabetes has nearly quadrupled to 422 million over 35 years, the WHO has warned, adding that the condition now affects nearly one in 11 people.
  2. In a bid to revive tiger population in the country, the Cambodian government has approved a plan to reintroduce tigers into the protected forests. Tigers will be brought from other countries. The plan will see a chunk of suitable habitat marked in Cambodia’s selected forests and protected against poachers by strong law enforcement. Action would also be taken to protect the tigers’ prey. This would be the world’s first transnational tiger re-introduction and will be based on best practices developed from successful tiger re-introductions within India.
  3. Britain’s Royal Mail has issued a set of special postage stamps to mark the 400th death anniversary of playwright William Shakespeare.
  4. The Union Cabinet has given its ex-post facto approval to Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed on 15th February, 2016 between India and Sweden on Technical Cooperation in the Railway Sector. The MoU provides a platform for Indian Railways to interact and share the latest developments and knowledge in the railway sector. It also facilitates exchange of technical experts, reports and technical documents, training and seminars/workshops focusing on specific technology areas and other interactions for knowledge sharing.