Insights Daily Current Affairs, 06 November 2018
Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Regional connectivity scheme (RCS)
What to study?
- For Prelims: Key features of RCS.
- For Mains: Significance, challenges and potential of RCS.
Context: Opening the third round of the Regional connectivity scheme (RCS), the Ministry of Civil Aviation has invited proposals for air routes that include tourist destinations. The deadline for submitting applications is November 20.
- Under this scheme, the government has allowed seaplanes to operate commercial passenger flights. Included among the 10 destinations that the government proposes to connect through seaplanes are the recently unveiled Statue of Unity at Sardar Sarovar Dam, Sabarmati Riverfront in Ahmedabad, Tehri Dam in Uttarakhand and Nagarjuna Sagar in Telangana.
About UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik) scheme:
UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik) is the Government’s initiative to make air travel to India’s tier II and tier III cities affordable to the aam aadmi. The idea is to put smaller cities and remote regions on the aviation map, by getting domestic airlines to ply more regional routes.
- Under the scheme, the Government offers incentives to airlines to flag off new flights to neglected smaller cities and towns by providing Viability Gap Funding to make these operations profitable.
- Airlines are required to bid for exclusive rights to fly on the regional routes opened up under the scheme. They must sell a specific number of seats on each flight at a fixed fare of ₹2,500 for one hour of flying. In the case of helicopter operations, allowed for the first time now, fares are capped at ₹2,500 for a 30-minute flight.
Objectives of the scheme:
- The primary objective of RCS is to facilitate / stimulate regional air connectivity by making it cheap and affordable.
- Promoting affordability of regional air connectivity is envisioned under RCS by supporting airline operators through: Concessions and Financial (viability gap funding or VGF) support.
The scheme gives India’s aviation sector a boost by giving a chance to small and first-time operators to be a part of the rapid growth in passenger traffic.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
India’s nuclear triad is complete
What to study?
- For Prelims: Key facts on India’s nuclear triad.
- For Mains: NFU- need, concerns and why have it?
Context: India has declared that its nuclear triad, stated in its nuclear doctrine, is operational after indigenous ballistic missile nuclear submarine INS Arihant recently achieved a milestone by conducting its first deterrence patrol.
- The submarine recently returned from its first deterrence patrol, completing the establishment of the country’s survivable nuclear triad. INS Arihant is now capable of prowling the deep seas carrying ballistic missiles equipped with nuclear warheads.
- This places India in the league of the few countries that can design, construct and operate ship submersible ballistic nuclear (SSBN).
- Given India’s stated position of ‘No-First-Use’ (NFU) in launching nuclear weapons, the ship submersible ballistic nuclear (SSBN) is the most dependable platform for a second-strike. Because they are powered by nuclear reactors, these submarines can stay underwater indefinitely without the adversary detecting it. The other two platforms — land-based and air-launched are far easier to detect.
About INS Arihant:
Arihant was commissioned into service in August 2016. It has a displacement of 6000 tonnes and is powered by an 83 MW pressurised light-water reactor with enriched uranium.
In 1998, India conducted nuclear tests under Pokhran-II and in 2003, it declared its nuclear doctrine based on credible minimum deterrence and a NFU policy while reserving the right of massive retaliation if struck with nuclear weapons first.
What is no first use nuclear doctrine?
No first use (NFU) refers to a pledge or a policy by a nuclear power not to use nuclear weapons as a means of warfare unless first attacked by an adversary using nuclear weapons. Earlier, the concept had also been applied to chemical and biological warfare.
- India first adopted a “No first use” policy after its second nuclear tests, Pokhran-II, in 1998. In August 1999, the Indian government released a draft of the doctrine which asserts that nuclear weapons are solely for deterrence and that India will pursue a policy of “retaliation only”.
- The document also maintains that India “will not be the first to initiate a nuclear first strike, but will respond with punitive retaliation should deterrence fail” and that decisions to authorise the use of nuclear weapons would be made by the Prime Minister or his ‘designated successor(s)’.
Why India should retain this policy?
Adopting a no-first use policy enables New Delhi to keep the nuclear threshold high, especially as Pakistan tries to lower the threshold by developing tactical nuclear weapons, the Hatf-9 with 60km range.
- It must also be noted that New Delhi is not bordered by just one nuclear weapon state. China adopts a no-first use policy and, in spite of calls for Beijing to revise its no-first use doctrine, it is unlikely to do so. Hence, if New Delhi gave up its no-first use doctrine, it could give Beijing a chance to adopt a first strike policy and shift blame on India.
- In fact, India’s adoption of a first strike policy would be an easy excuse for Beijing to give up its no-first use doctrine against the United States and Russia as well.
- Moreover, India has always promoted herself as a responsible nuclear weapon state. Hence, a first strike policy would severely damage India’s reputation as a responsible nuclear weapon state. This means that while India would not be resilient to any nuclear attack by its adversaries, at the same time, it will not act as a villain who tries to bully its adversaries by threatening to strike first.
- Also, it is India’s no first use doctrine that has enabled both Pakistan and India to keep their nuclear arsenal in a de-mated posture rather than a ready deterrent posture. This means nuclear warheads are not mated with the delivery systems. This reduces the chances of nuclear terrorism in Pakistan and also reduces the likelihood of an accidental launch of a nuclear weapon. A first strike policy by India may not have allowed Pakistan to keep their nuclear arsenal in a de-mated posture.
- There is also the issue of ballistic missile defense being developed by India which is highly destabilizing in nature and hence, New Delhi would continue to resort to using its no-first use doctrine in order to prevent instability in the South Asian region. A first-strike policy, coupled with a ballistic missile defense system, could provoke Pakistan to launch a nuclear pre-emptive strike against India.
- By adopting a no-first use doctrine, New Delhi has also made it evident that nuclear weapons are indeed the weapons of last resort. Abandoning this doctrine would make it evident that India considers the option of using nuclear weapons in the initial phases of the conflict. In fact, India’s nuclear strategy is dependent on punitive retaliation. This strategy itself acts as deterrence against Pakistan.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution System objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security; Technology missions; economics of animal-rearing.
What to study?
For Prelims: Operation Greens, Operation Flood- meaning, features and significance.
Context: Ministry of Food Processing Industries(MoFPI) has approved the operationalisation strategy for Operation Greens.
The Strategy will comprise of a series of measures as decided by the Ministry:
Short term Price Stabilisation Measures:
- NAFED will be the Nodal Agency to implement price stabilisation measures.
- MoFPI will provide 50 percent of the subsidy on transportation of Tomato Onion Potato (TOP) Crops from production to storage; and hiring of appropriate storage facilities for TOP Crops.
Long Term Integrated value chain development projects:
- Capacity Building of FPOs & their consortium.
- Quality production.
- Post-harvest processing facilities.
- Marketing / Consumption Points.
- Creation and Management of e-platform for demand and supply management of TOP Crops.
About Operation Greens:
Operation Greens was announced in the Budget speech of 2018-19 with an outlay of Rs 500 crores to stabilize the supply of Tomato, Onion and Potato(TOP) crops and to ensure availability of TOP crops throughout the country round the year without price volatility.
Major objectives of “Operation Greens” are as under:
- Enhancing value realisation of TOP farmers by targeted interventions to strengthen TOP production clusters and their FPOs, and linking/connecting them with the market.
- Price stabilisation for producers and consumers by proper production planning in the TOP clusters and introduction of dual use varieties.
- Reduction in post-harvest losses by creation of farm gate infrastructure, development of suitable agro-logistics, creation of appropriate storage capacity linking consumption centres.
- Increase in food processing capacities and value addition in TOP value chain with firm linkages with production clusters.
- Setting up of a market intelligence network to collect and collate real time data on demand and supply and price of TOP crops.
Significance of Operation greens:
Operation Green (OG) wants to replicate the success story of Operation Flood, in fruits and vegetables, starting with three basic vegetables—tomatoes, onions and potatoes (TOP). The main objective of OG is to reduce price volatility in these commodities, and thereby helping farmers augment incomes on a sustainable basis, as also provide these basic vegetables to consumers at affordable prices.
Topic: indigenization of technology and developing new technology.
Shakti- India’s first indigenous microprocessor
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: Shakti- key features and significance.
Context: Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) researchers have designed India’s first indigenous microprocessor called ‘Shakti’.
- It is aimed at developing industrial-grade microprocessors and other components of the microprocessor ecosystem.
- It was designed, developed and booted by IIT Madras with microchip fabricated in ISRO’s Semi-Conductor Laboratory at Chandigarh.
- It has been developed under project partly funded by Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), as part of two-decade-old efforts to develop indigenous microprocessors.
The microprocessor will reduce dependency on imported microchips especially in communication and defence sectors and thus eliminate risk of cyber-attacks. It can be used in mobile computing, wireless and networking systems. It may also provide power to mobile phones, smart meters and surveillance cameras.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Conservation related issues.
National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG)
What to study?
- For Prelims: All about NMCG, National river and its significance.
- For Mains: Measures in place for the abatement of river pollution and key challenges ahead.
Context: National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) in partnership with HCL Foundation and German development agency GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit) had organized “Bal Ganga Mela” at HCL’s Noida campus on November 4, 2018.
- The Mela was organized with the objective to create awareness among school children on the importance of water in general and rivers in particular, so that they understand the importance of unpolluted, clean water and water security. Also, to foster respect for the natural environment and motivate children to become ambassadors of change, who influence and motivate others towards river rejuvenation and water conservation.
Facts for Prelims:
November 4 is symbolic as it marks the declaration of Ganga as the National River of India in 2008 and is dedicated to raising awareness about rejuvenating the holy river and teaching children to become environmentally aware and responsible citizens.
The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) is the implementation wing of National Ganga Council which was set up in October 2016 under the River Ganga (Rejuvenation, Protection and Management) Authorities order 2016. The order dissolved National Ganga River Basin Authority.
NMCG has a two tier management structure and comprises of Governing Council and Executive Committee. Both of them are headed by Director General, NMCG. Executive Committee has been authorized to accord approval for all projects up to Rs.1000 crore.
The order envisages five tier structure at national, state and district level to take measures for prevention, control and abatement of environmental pollution in river Ganga and to ensure continuous adequate flow of water so as to rejuvenate the river Ganga as below:
- National Ganga Council under chairmanship of Hon’ble Prime Minister of India.
- Empowered Task Force (ETF) on river Ganga under chairmanship of Hon’ble Union Minister of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation.
- National Mission for Clean Ganga(NMCG).
- State Ganga Committees.
- District Ganga Committees in every specified district abutting river Ganga and its tributaries in the states.
Topic: Pollution and conservation related issues.
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: About Ozone hole, how it is formed, ozone layer, CFCs and measures to prevent.
Context: A recent study by NASA has confirmed the recovery of the ozone layer due to the absence of chlorine from Chlorofluorocarbon(CFC) in the atmosphere.
Highlights of the study:
The study has confirmed the phenomenon by mapping the chemical composition of the atmosphere. The study revealed that chlorine levels declined by 0.8% each year between 2005 and 2016 and speculates that it could be the effect of the worldwide ban on the use of CFC. Previous research had hinted at the decrease in the depletion of ozone layer. Scientists believe that the ozone layer would fully recover by 2080.
What is ozone layer?
A layer of ozone envelops the Earth and keeps damaging ultraviolet, or UV, radiation from reaching living things on the planet’s surface. The ozone layer exists mainly in the stratosphere, a layer of the atmosphere that reaches from 10 to 50 kilometers (about 6 to 30 miles) above the Earth’s surface.
What is ozone hole?
The ozone hole is a region of depleted layers of ozone above the Antarctic region, whose creation is linked to increased cases of skin cancer.
Factors responsible for the depletion of ozone:
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. CFCs are released by products such as hairsprays, old refrigerators etc.
What are CFCs?
Chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, are compounds made up of combinations of the elements chlorine, fluorine and carbon; aerosols, refrigerants and foams contain CFCs. When these CFCs enter the air, they rise up into the atmosphere to meet up with and destroy ozone molecules. First used in 1928, CFCs have since become more common as various other CFC compounds were created. Some of the better-known CFCs are the Freon compounds, which were used as cooling ingredients in refrigerators and air conditioners. CFCs have lifetimes from 50 to 100 years.
How CFCs destroy the ozone?
- Once in the atmosphere, CFCs drift slowly upward to the stratosphere, where they are broken up by ultraviolet radiation, releasing the chlorine that catalytically destroys ozone. The process is as follows:
- UV radiation breaks off a chlorine atom from a CFC molecule.
- The chlorine atom attacks an ozone molecule (O3), breaking it apart and destroying the ozone.
- The result is an ordinary oxygen molecule (O2) and a chlorine monoxide molecule (ClO).
- The chlorine monoxide molecule (ClO) is attacked by a free oxygen atom releasing the chlorine atom and forming an ordinary oxygen molecule (O2).
- The chlorine atom is now free to attack and destroy another ozone molecule (O3). One chlorine atom can repeat this destructive cycle thousands of times.
Applications of CFCs:
CFCs have some interesting properties which can be fully exploited; therefore there are plenty of uses for these molecules. CFCs are not flammable; therefore they were used as propellants that would push other molecules out of the aerosol sprays. For the same reason CFCs were used to form foamed plastics. Also low flammability enabled people to use these molecules to dry clean hot electronic components of devices such as air conditioning.
Sources: the hindu.
Facts for Prelims:
What is it? It is a new Offshore patrol vessel (OPV) launched by the Indian Coast Guard (ICG). It is fourth in the series of 98 M OPVs designed and built indigenously by Larsen & Toubro (L&T).
- It is fitted with advanced technology navigation and communication equipment, sensor and machinery. Its weaponry includes one 30 mm and two 12.7 mm guns with fire control system. It has been designed to attain maximum speed of 26 knots and has endurance of 5,000 nautical miles.
- It also equipped with an Integrated Bridge System (IBS), Automated Power Management System (APMS), Integrated Platform Management System (IPMS), and High Power External Fire Fighting (EFF) system.