Daily Current Affairs

27TH DECEMBER,2020 : MOST POWERFUL DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS CONCEPTS

UPSC PRELIMS+MAINS 

A) Schemes, Policies, Initiatives, Awards and Social Issues

1. National Common Mobility Card (NCMC) (PIB)

  • Context: Prime Minister of India will inaugurate India’s first-ever driverless train operations on Delhi Metro’s Magenta Line along with the fully operational National Common Mobility Card service on the Airport Express Line.
  • The National Common Mobility Card, which will be fully operationalised on the Airport Express Line, will enable anyone carrying a RuPay-Debit Card issued from any part of the country to travel on the Airport Express Line using that card. This facility will become available on the entire Delhi Metro network by 2022.

Analysis

  • National Common Mobility Card (NCMC) – One Nation, One Card for transport mobility is an initiative of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, has recently been launched.
  • The Indigenous Automatic Fare Collection System based on One Nation One Card Model is the first of its kind in India.
  • The NCMC card has 2 instruments on it – a regular debit card which can be used at an ATM, and a local wallet (stored value account), which can be used for contactless payments, without the need to go back to the server or additional authentication.

  • The One Nation One Card is the first National Common Mobility Card (NCMC) that will enable people to pay multiple kinds of transport charges, including bus travel, parking charges, metro services and toll tax, across the country and withdraw money from the same card.
  • The RuPay Contactless Cards with NCMC are issued from banks on debit/credit/pre-paid card product platform.
  • The card is supported by Automatic Fare Collection Gate ‘Swagat’ and an Open Loop Automatic Fare Collection System ‘Sweekar’, launched under the ‘Make in India’ initiative.
  • AFC System (gates, readers/validators, backend infrastructure etc.) is the core of any transit operator to automate the fare collection process.
  • Till now, AFC systems deployed at various Metros are from foreign players.
Key Functionalities/Particulars NCMC Proposition
Payment Model These are bank issued cards on Debit/Credit/Prepaid Card based payment model
Transaction Type Supports online (contact & contactless) & off-line (contactless) transactions
Stored Value Provision to store balance on card for offline payments
Provision for multiple service areas Multiple service areas to support acquirer/operator specific programs e.g. Passes /Season Tickets/Smart City Specific application/Loyalty points etc.
Card usage Same card to be used at ATMs, Merchant establishments & online (e-commerce) payments in addition to other areas of contactless payments viz., transit, toll, parking& other small value merchant payments besides retail shopping and purchases.
Card issuance ·       Can be issued by any member authorized by RBI on the platform of Debit/Prepaid/Credit Cards
Topping up the stored value Online using card, Internet Banking, IVR, ATM, Cash at customer service point, auto top-up etc. at the option of the issuing entity
Offline Transaction Risk Since the offline transaction is permitted against stored value on card, there is minimal risk of any loss to the bank or merchants
Security Underlying technology i.e. EMV is best available globally.
Cost of providing contactless card to the customer RBI has mandated that effective Feb 01, 2016, all cards issued by banks in India would be EMV. Therefore, cost of providing contactless card to the customer will be only marginal as against steep increase in territories where magnetic-stripe ecosystem exists.

 

2. Prime Ministers Awards for Excellence in Public Administration 2020 (PIB)

  • Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions has instituted a scheme in 2006 namely, “The Prime Minister’s Awards for Excellence in Public Administration” – to acknowledge, recognize and reward the extraordinary and innovative work done by Districts/ Organizations of the Central and State Governments.
  • The Scheme was restructured in 2014 for recognizing the performance of District Collectors in Priority Programs, Innovations and Aspirational Districts.
  • The Scheme has been restructured again in 2020, to recognize the performance of District Collectors towards economic development of the District.
  • For the year 2020, the scheme for Prime Minister’s Awards for Excellence in Public Administration has been comprehensively restructured to recognize the contribution of civil servants/ District Collectors in strengthening of:
  • Inclusive Development through Credit Flow to the Priority Sector
  • Promoting people’s movements – “Jan Bhagidari” through Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban and Gramin) in the District
  • Improving Service Delivery and Redressal of Public Grievances
  • The scope of the awards has been expanded to identify areas of overall outcome-oriented performance in the districts across sectors.
  • Further the Prime Minister’s Awards for Excellence in Public Administration seek to recognize the efforts of District level officials in Namami Gange Program.

3. KisanMitr: Meeting demand side of agri-technologies through S&T enablers (PIB)

  • The Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser (PSA) to the Government of India has launched an initiative called KisanMitr.
  • The initiative aims to transform agricultural extension in rural India using the latest available digital platforms, technologies and research methods.
  • The group of experts and partners shall build, scale, and improve mobile phone-based agricultural extension with the goal of increasing productivity and income of smallholder farmers and their families pan India.
  • KisanMitr is a seven-phase project aimed at supporting farmers to become Atmanirbhar (self-reliant).
  • The first three phases focus on creating a repository of agricultural technologies (PHASE I), livestock technologies (PHASE II), and scientific research (PHASE III) to catalyze modernization of farming and solve information asymmetry.
  • The engagement stage of the platform independently helps young start-ups to showcase their agricultural technologies and easily engage with market demand. Market demand includes Industry, Incubators and Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs).
  • The fourth phase (PHASE IV) focuses on creating a last-mile network for niche (nutritional, medicinal, aromatic, organic, GI-tagged) agricultural products from the fringes.
  • Autonomous drones are being considered for development through a hub-and-spoke model of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs – land & Sky), especially in mountain states where the road networks might not have full coverage.
  • Demand to be generated through charitable trusts for undernourished children as well as retail aggregators in metro cities.
  • The fifth phase (PHASE V) focuses on equipping farmers with actionable agricultural insights and early weather alerts.
  • Data related to soil health, moisture, weather, and ecology is being aggregated and analyzed to generate personalized insights related to crop selection, fertilizers requirements, and water needs for each farmer at farm-holding level.
  • This would be provided by Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Meity)-UMANG through an Atmanirbhar App.
  • The sixth and seventh phases look at micro-financing needs of the farmers (PHASE VI) and supplementing their incomes through off-farm products such as handlooms and textiles (PHASE VII).

Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser

  • India has had a Principal Scientific Adviser (PSA) since 1999.
  • Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam was the first PSA from 1999—2001.
  • Dr. R. Chidambaram succeeded Dr. Kalam and was the PSA from 2001-2018.
  • Professor K. Vijay Raghavan succeeded Dr. Chidambaram on April 3, 2018 and is the current PSA.
  • To harness innovation and effective technology commercialization, the PSA’s office has launched a special initiative called Accelerating Growth of New India’s innovations’ (AGNIi).
  • This is aimed at technology upscaling and deployment for deriving economic value, societal benefit and/or strategic purposes from knowledge generated through investments in R&D.
  • In the recent past, the Union Cabinet has also approved the setting up of an empowered technology group to help address issues such as “sub-optimal industrial development”.
  • Among the key issues the 12-member panel headed by the Principal Scientific Adviser (PSA) will address is “dual-use technologies not being optimally commercialized.”
  • Dual-use technologies have civilian and military applications.
  • PSA K. Vijay Raghavan also chairs the Prime Minister’s Science, Technology and Innovation Advisory Council (PM-STIAC), which includes industrialists, scientists and technocrats and is tasked with recommending policy action on science and technology as well as coordinating between different Ministries.

4. 6thMinor Irrigation Census and first Census of Water bodies (PIB)

  • Minor Irrigation Census conducted quinquennially (recurring every five years) by the Deptt. of Water Resources, RD & GR, Government of India, Ministry of Jal Shakti in order to create a sound and reliable database on groundwater and surface water minor irrigation schemes in the country.
  • The Minor Irrigation Census is conducted under the centrally sponsored scheme “Irrigation Census” with 100% central funding – under the Umbrella Scheme. Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana & Other schemes – through which State Statistical Cells constituted under different States/UTs are also supported.
  • The sixth Minor Irrigation Census with reference year 2017-18 is currently under implementation where in the Ministry has also launched the first Census of Water bodies covering all water bodies in the country, both rural and urban.
  • The First Census of Minor Irrigation schemes was conducted with reference year 1986-87.
  • Irrigation schemes using either ground water or surface water and having a Culturable Command Area up to 2000 hectare individually are categorized as Minor Irrigation Schemes.
  • The schemes have been categorized broadly into six major types;
  • (1) Dugwell
  • (2) Shallow tubewell
  • (3) Medium Tubewell
  • (4) Deep tubewell
  • (5) Surface flow schemes and
  • (6) Surface lift schemes.

5. North Koel Reservoir Project (PIB)

  • The project is situated on North Koel river which is a tributary of Sone river finally joining the river Ganga.
  • The North Koel Reservoir is located in the most backward tribal areas in Palamau and Garhwa districts of Jharkhand State.
  • The construction was originally started in the year 1972 and continued till 1993 when it was stopped by the Forest Department, Govt. of Bihar.
  • One of the major components of project is a concrete dam called Mandal dam.
  • The storage of water in dam restricted at lower level than envisaged earlier to reduce the submergence and to protect Betla National Park and Palamau Tiger Reserve.
  • The project aims to provide irrigation to 111,521 hectares of land annually in the most backward and drought prone areas of Palamu & Garhwa districts in Jharkhand and Aurangabad & Gaya districts in Bihar. 

6. National Water Mission (NWM) (PIB)

  • Context: National Water Mission (NWM) of Ministry of Jal Shakti has initiated “Catch the Rain” campaign.

Analysis

National Water Mission (NWM)

  • It is being implemented by the Ministry of Jal Shakti.

Goals of NWM

  • Comprehensive water data base in public domain and assessment of impact of climate change on water resources;
  • Promotion of citizen and State action for water conservation, augmentation and preservation;
  • Focused attention to vulnerable areas including overexploited areas;
  • Increasing water use efficiency by 20%;
  • Promotion of basin level integrated water resources management.

“Catch the Rain” campaign

  • It has been initiated under National Water Mission (NWM).
  • It will help in improving soil moisture and rasing ground water table.
  • In urban areas it will reduce water gushing onto roads, damaging them and will prevent urban flooding.

Campaign objectives are as under

  • To promote creation of Rain Water Harvesting Structures (RWHS) suitable to the climatic conditions and sub-soil strata to store rain water.
  • It drives to make water harvesting pits, rooftop RWHS and check dams; removal of encroachments and de-silting of tanks to increase their storage capacity; removal of obstructions in the channels which bring water to them from the catchment areas;
  • It includes repairs to traditional water harvesting structures like step-wells and using defunct bore-wells and old wells to put the water back to aquifers etc.
  • Some of the activities suggested are to be taken up with peoples’ active participation under this campaign.
  • To facilitate these activities, states have been requested to open Rain Centersin each district– in Collectorates/Municipalities or GP offices.
  • Under the “Catch The Rain” initiative, all water bodies in the districts are to be enumerated, (checked with revenue records) and encroachments to be removed.

National Water Mission Awards, 2019

  • One of the strategies of NWM under Goal IV is to incentivize the organization/ companies through awards for water conservation and efficient use of water.
  • Hence, the NWM has initiated the ‘National Water Mission Awards’ to recognize excellence in water conservation, efficient water use and sustainable water management practices. SahiFasal Campaign
  • In India, 85-89% of water usage is for agricultural purposes and about 5%usage is for drinking and domestic purposes. Hence, even a small percentage saving of water in agricultural usage will have a significant impact in water availability for drinking and domestic purposes.

SahiFasalcampaign

  • SahiFasal’ campaign was launched by National Water Mission to nudge farmers in the water stressed areas to grow crops which are not water intensive, but use water very efficiently; and are economically remunerative; are healthy and nutritious; suited to the agro-climatic-hydro characteristics of the area; and are environmentally friendly.

B) Art, Culture and History

7. Monpa Handmade Paper (PIB)

  • The 1000-year old heritage art – the Monpa Handmade Paper of Arunachal Pradesh – which was driven to the extinction, has come to life once again, with the committed efforts of Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC).
  • The art of making Monpa handmade paper originated over 1000 years ago. Gradually the art became an integral part of local custom and culture in Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Once produced in every household in Tawang, this handmade paper was a major source of livelihood for the locals. However, the handmade paper industry almost disappeared in the last 100 years; prompting KVIC to plan revival of this ancient art.
  • The fine-textured handmade paper, which is called Mon Shugu in the local dialect, is integral to the vibrant culture of the local tribes in Tawang.
  • The paper has great historic and religious significance as it is the paper used for writing Buddhist scriptures and hymns in monasteries.
  • The Monpa handmade paper, will be made from the bark of a local tree called Shugu Sheng, which has medicinal values too.

8. Udham Singh (PIB)

  • Context: Today (December 26) is the birth anniversary of freedom fighter Udham Singh, known for avenging the Jallianwala Bagh massacre of 1919.

Analysis

  • In 1940, Singh shot and killed Michael O’Dwyer in London, the colonial official considered responsible for Jallianwala Bagh, where over 1,000 men, women and children lost their lives, and more than were 1,200 wounded.
  • As per the book “A Patient Assassin” written by Anita Anand, when Michael Francis O’Dwyer ordered Brigadier Reginald Dyer to Amritsar before the massacre, he was worried that there might be a second Indian mutiny, given the Hindu-Muslim unity and the demonstrations and strikes.
  • Instead of Dyer, who instructed his men to open fire at the crowd gathered in Jallianwala Bagh, O’Dwyer is considered to be the actual perpetrator, since Dyer could not have executed it without his permission.
  • In London, Singh worked variously as a peddler and a carpenter, and fell in with different socialist groups.
  • It was in London that he began appearing as an extra in Alexander Korda’s movies.
  • “Inquilab Zindabad!” – a slogan popularised by Bhagat Singh, though coined by the Muslim communist, Maulana Hasrat Mohani.

C) Miscellaneous

9. Meri Saheli initiative (PIB)

  • An initiative of Railway Protection Force taken for focused action on security of women travelling in trains.
  • The Strategy entails interaction with lady passengers especially those travelling alone by a team of young lady RPF personnel at the originating station.

10. Vital Statistics of Indian Agriculture (PIB)

  • In 1950, the Indian agriculture sector contributed around 52 per cent to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP), while employing nearly 70 per cent of our entire population.
  • As of 2019, the sector still employed nearly 42 per cent of our total population but contributed only 16 per cent to the GDP, while experiencing a year-on-year growth rate of just 2 per cent.
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