March 18,2019

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Current Affairs for Engineering Service Exam

Video lectures for ESE prelims 2020

 Topics list:

  1. National and International Issues on
    1. Economic Development
    2. Social Development
    3. Industrial Development
  2. Energy and Environment
    1. Energy
    2. Environment
  3. Information and Communication Technology
    1. Technology
    2. Application
  1. General Knowledge

Topic 2 : Environment

India pilots resolutions on Single-use Plastics and Sustainable Nitrogen management

India piloted resolutions on two important global environment issues relating to Single-use Plastics and Sustainable Nitrogen management at the fourth session of United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) which was held in Nairobi.

Highlights:

  • UNEA adopted both the resolutions with consensus.
  • The global nitrogen use efficiency is low, resulting in pollution by reactive nitrogen which threatens human health, eco system services, contributes to climate change and stratospheric ozone depletion.
  • A small proportion of the plastics produced globally are recycled with most of it damaging the environment and aquatic bio-diversity.
  • It was highlighted that climate finance is an important lever for climate action related to both mitigation and adaption in the developing countries.
  • The contributions to climate finance need to be in consonance with the basic principles of common but differentiated responsibility and respective capabilities (CBDR-RC).
  • India has been initiating domestic climate actions, both related to climate change mitigation and adaptation, primarily through its own financial resources.

Read more at: PIB

Topic 2 : Energy

KUSUM Scheme

The Government is formulating a Scheme ‘Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (KUSUM)’.

Components of the scheme:

  • It aims to to promote use of solar energy among the farmers.
  • Setting up of grid-connected renewable power plants each of 500 KW to 2 MW in the rural area.
  • Installation of standalone off-grid solar water pumps to fulfil irrigation needs of farmers not connected to grid.
  • Solarization of existing grid-connected agriculture pumps to make farmers independent of grid supply and also sell surplus solar power generated to Discom and get extra income.
  • The 60% subsidy on the solar pumps provided to farmers will be shared between the Centre and the States while 30% would be provided through bank loans. The balance cost has to be borne by the farmers.

Significance of the scheme:

  • Promotion of decentralised solar power production
  • Reduction of transmission losses as well as providing support to the financial health of DISCOMs by reducing the subsidy burden to the agriculture sector
  • Promote energy efficiency
  • Water conservation and
  • Provide water security to farmers.

Read more at: PIB

New hydro policy

The government’s decision to re-classify large hydroelectric projects as renewable energy will certainly help the sector, the move will also go a long way in meeting the targets set by it for the sector.

The policy:

  • Large Hydropower Projects to be declared as Renewable Energy source (as per existing practice, only hydropower projects less than 25 MW are categorized as Renewable Energy).
  • Hydropower Projects (HPO) as a separate entity within non-solar Renewable Purchase Obligation to cover LHPs commissioned after notification of these measures.
  • The trajectory of annual HPO targets will be notified by Ministry of Power based on the projected capacity addition plans in hydropower sector.
  • Necessary amendments will be introduced in the Tariff Policy and Tariff Regulations to operationalize HPO.
  • Tariff rationalization measures including providing flexibility to the developers to determine tariff by back loading of tariff after increasing project life to 40 years, increasing debt repayment period to 18 years and introducing escalating tariff of 2%;
  • Budgetary support for funding flood moderation component of hydropower projects on case to case basis.
  • Budgetary support for funding cost of enabling infrastructure i.e. roads and bridges on case to case basis as per actual, limited to Rs. 1.5 crore per MW for upto 200 MW projects and Rs. 1.0 crore per MW for above 200 MW projects.

The classification of Hydro Projects based on Installed Capacity:

  1. Micro Hydro Projects: upto 100 KW.
  2. Mini Hydro Projects: 101KW to 2 MW.
  3. Small  Hydro Projects: 2 MW to 25 MW.
  4. Mega  Hydro Projects: Hydro projects with installed capacity >= 500 MW.
  5. Thermal Projects with installed capacity >=1500 MW.

Renewable Energy Sector

  • India’s renewable energy sector had an installed capacity of 75,055.92 MW as of February 2019, according to data with the Central Electricity Authority.
  • This made up about 21.4% of the overall energy mix, with the rest coming from thermal, nuclear and large hydro sources.
  • Renewable energy capacity would now be 1,20,455.14 MW or 34.4% of the overall energy mix.
  • Change in the renewable energy mix:
  1. Before February 2019, the wind energy contributed nearly 50% of all renewable energy capacity, it will now make up only 29.3%.
  2. Solar energy’s share will fall from 34.68% to 21.61%.
  3. The hydro sector, however, will see its share grow from just over 6% to over 41%.

Impact of the policy:

  • Hydroelectric energy provides grid stability which a renewable source like wind and solar do not. The key reasoning seems to be providing grid stability and a better energy mix.
  • There has been a huge imbalance in the thermal-hydro mix for the last few years because of a sharp growth in thermal and complete stagnation in hydro.
  • This reclassification will immediately help India achieve its target of 175 GW by 2022.
  • Positive impact on the stock prices of State-run hydroelectric companies such as Sutlej Jal Vikas Nigam (SJVN)
  • It will help large hydel projects avail cheaper credit and increase demand from distribution companies for cleaner energy.
  • The projects will not only get the budgetary support for infrastructure, but will also be able to access “green finance”.

Read more at: The Hindu

Topic 3 : ICT

National Supercomputing Mission

The new supercomputing system would be used for specific challenge domains like cryptography, chemistry, molecular dynamics, drug discovery, artificial intelligence and data sciences where the new system would be utilized.

Key Facts:

  • The mission will enable India to leapfrog to the league of world-class computing power nations
  • The government approved launch of National Supercomputing Mission to connect national academic and R&D institutions with a grid of over 70 high-performance computing facilities at an estimated cost of Rs 4,500 crore.
  • The mission would be implemented by the Department of Science and Technology and Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY) through Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) and Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore.
  • The mission has been conceptualised and evolved keeping in view the ever increasing computing demand of the scientific and academic community in the country, international technology trends and roadmaps, strategic importance and emergence of supercomputing as a benchmark for scientific and technological advancements, it said.
  • The Mission supports the government’s vision of ‘Digital India’ and ‘Make in India’ initiatives.
  • These supercomputers will also be networked on the National Supercomputing grid over the National Knowledge Network (NKN).
  • The NKN is another programme of the government which connects academic institutions and R&D labs over a high speed network.
  • Academic and R&D institutions as well as key user departments/ministries would participate by using these facilities and develop applications of national relevance.
  • The Mission also includes development of highly professional High Performance Computing (HPC) aware human resource for meeting challenges of development of these applications.

Read more at: CADC

Topic 4: General Knowledge

India’s first Lokpal

Former Supreme Court judge and current member of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Pinaki Chandra Ghose, is likely to be India’s first anti-corruption ombudsman, or Lokpal.

Highlights:

  • The Lokpal Act, which was passed in 2013.
  • It provides for setting up of Lokpal at the centre and Lokayuktas in the States.
  • The act envisages for probing corruption complaints against top functionaries and public servants, including the Prime Minister and the Chief Ministers.

Read more at: The Hindu

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