- National and International Issues on
- Economic Development
- Social Development
- Industrial Development
- Energy and Environment
- Information and Communication Technology
Topic 1: Economic Development and Industrial Development
Core Sector Growth
The year-on-year growth of the core sector has slowed to 0.4% in June from 3.6% in May and 6.92% in June 2016
What is core sector?
- Consists of the eight core industries – Electricity , Steel, Refinery products, Crude oil, Coal, Cement, Natural gas and Fertilisers
- Comprise 40.27% of the weight of items included in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP)
What is IIP?
- It is compiled and published monthly by the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO)
- Measures growth of various sectors in an economy
- Shows the status of production in the industrial sector for a given period of time as compared to a reference period of time.
- The items included in IIP fall into three sectors – mining, manufacturing and electricity sectors.
- Maximum weightage is of Manufacturing items followed by Mining and Electricity
Read more at: http://www.thehindu.com/business/Economy/core-sector-growth-falls-to-04-in-june/article19396751.ece
Topic 1: Social Development
India is proposing to put in place an extensive rating criterion as part of the skilling initiative
- It would enable to benchmark skilled personnel that includes plumbers, masons, drivers and domestic helps, among others
- To be graded on a scale of 1-10 for employability.
- The skills development ministry is finalising the National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF) for adoption by 2019.
The National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF)
- NSQF is a quality assurance framework notified in 2013, that organises all qualifications according to levels of knowledge, skills and aptitude, regardless of whether they are obtained through formal, non-formal or informal learning.
- The skills development ministry has laid down a five-year timeline to ensure all skills training, government or private, is NSQF-compliant
- The recruitment rules of the government of India and PSUs of the central government shall be amended in 2018 to define eligibility criteria for all positions in terms of NSQF levels
- The NSQF will provide for alignment of degrees which will enable mobility between vocational and general education, and allow transition from non-formal to organised job market.
Please Note: Indian Skill Development Services (ISDS) is a new post awaiting for you people which will be recruited from the Indian Engineering Service Examination conducted by UPSC
Topic 2: Energy
Methanol – a clean fuel
A high-level stakeholders meeting chaired by Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari was conducted to deliberate upon a strategy to use methanol as an alternative fuel in automobiles.
Advantages of Methanol
- It is clean, cheaper than fossil fuels and a good substitute for heavy fuels.
- Will help India use its vast reserves of coal.
- Can reduce the petroleum imports.
- Research in converting carbon dioxide to methanol is promising
- A pilot project to make ethanol out of coal is underway in Talcher in Odisha
- Methanol can be produced from municipal waste as well
- It can be made from natural gas (in most countries it is being made from natural gas, for India it makes much more economic sense to use coal)
How Methonol is produced ?
Methanol can be produced from natural gas, coal and renewable sources such as municipal waste, biomass and recycled carbon dioxide.
Role of NITI Aayog
- NITI Aayog to study the automobile standards developed in China to use methanol as fuel
- Stress on the use of local or indigenous materials for production of fuel like making ethanol from agricultural produce or waste and from coal
- NITI Aayog is working on a roadmap for conversion from coal to methanol.
||very poisonous and fatal when ingested
||feel intoxicated when ingested
||used in solvents and fuels, it is primarily used to make other chemicals.
||for alcohol, cleaning, solvents, and fuels
Read more at: http://www.thehindu.com/business/Industry/methanol-a-clean-cheaper-fuel/article19397706.ece
Topic 2: Environment
Climate Change – Geo engineering
The concept of geo engineering has got a renewed interest after the recent study by researchers from India, China and the U.S. which is published in Geophysical Research Letters
What is geo engineering?
Geoengineering is the deliberate large-scale intervention in the Earth’s natural systems to counteract climate change. The main advantage of geo engineering, when compared to, say, carbon sequestration, is that it costs less.
What does the study says?
- Offer a combination of two dominant methods — stratospheric sulphate aerosol increase and cirrus cloud thinning for countering climate change effects.
- A cocktail of these two approaches would change both temperature and precipitation at the same rate at which they are being increased by carbon dioxide; hence could simultaneously restore both temperature and rainfall to pre-industrial levels
- An accelerated warming in the future could result in planetary emergencies such as successive crop failures
Injection of aerosols in stratosphere – Image from wikipedia
What is Stratospheric sulphate aerosol increase method?
- To spray minute sulphate aerosol into the stratosphere.
- Achieved using sulfide gases such as dimethyl sulfide, sulfur dioxide (SO2), carbonyl sulfide, or hydrogen sulfide (H2S)
- When gaseous SO2 combines with water to form aqueous sulfuric acid, homogeneous aerosols are formed
- These aerosols reflect the incoming solar radiation, thus cooling the earth
- It can reduce the rate of precipitation but at a much higher rate than the required rate
- Possible side effects are
- Ozone depletion: is a potential side effect of sulfur aerosols
- Tropopause warming: and the humidification of the stratosphere.
- Stratospheric temperature change: Aerosols can also absorb some radiation from the Sun, the Earth and the surrounding atmosphere. This changes the surrounding air temperature and could potentially impact on the stratospheric circulation
What is Cirrus cloud thinning?
- Cirrus clouds trap the heat, so thinning them could cool down the Earth system.
- Done by seeding of high altitude ice clouds in order to deplete them.
- Seeding is done using aerosols, and ice crystals could grow rapidly around the aerosols and deplete water vapour in the clouds.
- However, this reduces the rate of precipitation to less than the required amount.
There must be a strict governance framework set up while exploring these options, as they involve ethical and moral questions.
Read more at: http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/beating-back-climate-change/article19397841.ece
Calving of the iceberg at the Larsen C Ice Shelf
- NASA has released images which show the movement of one of the largest ever recorded the iceberg that recently broke off from Antarctica.
- British researchers monitoring the Antarctic Peninsula’s Larsen C ice shelf as a part of Project MIDAS, have noted the iceberg split in July this year
- Iceberg is approximately 5800 sq km in area
- Larsen A has collapsed in 1995 and Larsen B in 2002
- Ice bergs will not raise the sea level, but the Land ice that have been blocked by the breaking iceberg, will drop into the ocean and eventually would raise the sea level.
What is an Ice shelf?
It is a floating extension of land-based glaciers which flow into the ocean.
Read more at: http://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/nasa-unveils-stunning-images-of-massive-antarctic-iceberg/article19390185.ece
Supreme Court bans four toxic chemicals from crackers
- The chemicals banned are – antimony, lithium, mercury, arsenic and lead in any form
- These are labelled as toxic by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB)
- CPCB fixes the standards and regulations in the use of chemicals in firecrackers
- CPCB has also branded strontium as toxic, but court has asked for more clarity on it
- As part of M.C. Mehta case,1985 court is intervening to curb air pollution since then
- There is a court ban on sale of firecrackers in the Delhi and NCR regions
- Continuous monitoring and random checks of firecrackers is the mandate of Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO) and Controller of Explosives.
Read more at: http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/5-chemicals-banned-from-crackers/article19397473.ece
Topic 3: ICT
The Reserve Bank of India is planning to conduct a cyber-audit of all banks in the country instead of just a few bigger banks as it did in the past. In 2015-16, as per the RBI data, nearly 16,468 cases related to cyber fraud were reported, including debit card, credit card and net banking breaches. As per the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), India witnessed more than 27,000 cyber-security threat incidents in the first half of 2017.
- RBI have created a cyber-cell under the department of banking supervision
- Cyber-security and IT audit are conducted on banks
- RBI is also expected to do a gap analysis on the basis of the reports
- The cyber-security frame work requires banks to report any breach within two-three hours even if there is a suspicious breach
- At national level there is CERT-in to handle the cyber attacks
- Now there will also be a Fin-CERT, which will deal with financial sector breaches
- The initial pilot of Fin-CERT will happen from RBI
Topic 3: ICT Applications
The smart hygiene monitor (SHM)
- Is developed by Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur
- Records levels of ammonia, sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, volatile organic compounds and particulate matter through sensors and sends online alerts to stakeholders
- It can be installed at any place where cleanliness needs to be monitored at regular intervals.
- The device has been developed using an embedded platform incorporated with sensors that are connected via the Internet of Things (IoT).
- The threshold level for each sensor has been set as per the levels stipulated in the air quality index given by SAFAR-India (System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research).
- It helps in reducing wastage of water and other cleaning resources, and overuse of cleaning chemicals