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Daily News

Malabar Exercise

Context:

India seeks to increase cooperation with other countries in the maritime security domain, and in the light of increased defense cooperation with Australia, Malabar 2020 will see the participation of the Australian Navy.

Background:

  • In 2017, Australia had requested observer status in the Malabar Exercise.
  • China has repeatedly expressed strong opposition to any expansion of the Malabar Exercise, which it sees as a multilateral naval construct designed to “counter and contain” it.
    • However, the recent India-China tensions over the situation at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) may have brought more flexibility to India's decision-making process.
  • Japan and the U.S.A also have been pressing India for Australia’s inclusion in Malabar Exercise.

Malabar Exercise:

  • The Malabar series of naval exercises started in 1992 as a bilateral Indian Navy-US Navy exercise.
  • Japan joined the naval exercise in 2015.
  • The participants of Exercise Malabar 2020 are engaged to enhance safety and security in the maritime domain.
  • The exercise has been planned on a ‘non-contact - at sea’ format and the exercise will strengthen the coordination between the Navies of the participating countries.

2020 Malabar Exercise:

  • Objective: To enhance safety and security in the maritime domain.
  • The 2020 Exercise is expected to be held in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea. In 2019, the exercise was conducted off the coast of Japan.
  • Due to the Covid-19 pandemic the exercise had been planned in a ‘non-contact - at sea’ format.

Source: The Hindu

Asafoetida Cultivation

Context:

The Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology (IHBT) took up the Asafoetida Cultivation in India to utilize vast expanses of wasteland in the cold desert conditions of the region.

Asafoetida:

  • Ferula asafoetida is a herbaceous plant of the Umbelliferae family.
  • It is a perennial plant whose oleo gum resin is extracted from its thick roots and rhizome.
  • Asafoetida is one of the top condiments and is a high-value spice crop in India.
  • India imports about 1200 tonnes of raw asafoetida annually from Afghanistan, Iran and Uzbekistan.
  • The raw asafoetida is extracted from the fleshy roots of Ferula assa-foetida as an oleo-gum resin.
  • There are about 130 species of Ferula found in the world, but only Ferula assa-foetidais the economically important species used for the production of asafoetida.
  • India does not have Ferula assa-foetida, but other species Ferula jaeschkeana is reported from the western Himalaya (Chamba, HP), and Ferula narthex from Kashmir and Ladakh, which are not the species that yield asafoetida.

Favourable conditions:

  • The first asafoetida sapling, grown at IHBT’s Centre for High Altitude Biology, was planted by in Kwaring village of Lahaul valley.
  • The agriculture ministry has identified four locations in the valley and has distributed heeng seeds to seven farmers in the region.
  • Asafoetida best grows in dry and cold conditions.
  • The plant can withstand a maximum temperature between 35 and 40 degrees, whereas, during winters, it can survive in temperatures up to minus 4 degrees.
  • The regions with sandy soil, very little moisture and an annual rainfall of not more than 200mm are considered conducive for heeng cultivation in India.

Benefits of Asafoetida:

  • The medicinal properties of heeng are a relief for digestive, spasmodic and stomach disorders, asthma and bronchitis.
  • The herb is commonly used to help with painful or excessive bleeding during menstruation and pre-mature labour.

Source: Indian Express

Ayushman Sahakar Scheme

Context:

Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers' Welfare has launched AYUSHMAN SAHAKAR.

  • Objective: To assist cooperatives to play an important role in the creation of healthcare infrastructure in the country.
  • The scheme is formulated by the National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC).
  • The scheme covers establishment, modernization, expansion, repairs, renovation of hospital and healthcare and education infrastructure.

Features of the scheme:

  • NCDC would extend term loans to prospective cooperatives to the tune of Rs.10,000 crore in the coming years.
  • Any Cooperative Society with a suitable provision in its bylaws to undertake healthcare-related activities would be able to access the NCDC fund.
  • NCDC assistance will flow either through the State Governments/ UT Administrations or directly to the eligible cooperatives.
  • The scheme also provides working capital and margin money to meet operational requirements.
  • The scheme also provides interest subvention of 1% to women majority cooperatives.

Significance:

  • The scheme mainly focuses on the National Health Policy, 2017, covering the health systems in all their dimensions- investments in health, organization of healthcare services, access to technologies, development of human resources etc.
  • It is in line with the National Digital Health Mission and would bring transformation in rural areas.
  • It has comprehensive approach-hospitals, healthcare, medical education, nursing education, paramedical education, health insurance, and holistic health systems such as AYUSH.
  • There are about 52 hospitals across the country run by cooperatives. They have a cumulative bed strength of more than 5,000. The scheme would give a boost to the provision of healthcare services by cooperatives.
  • Cooperatives have a strong presence in rural areas, thus, cooperatives utilizing the scheme would revolutionize the way healthcare delivery takes place in rural areas.

National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC):

  • It was set up in 1963 under an Act of Parliament for the promotion and development of cooperatives.
  • It functions under the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare.
  • Sahakar Cooptube NCDC Channel (Youth-focused), Sahakar Mitra (Internship Programme) are the other initiatives of NCDC.

Cooperatives:

  • International Labour Organisation (ILO) defines cooperative as an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise.
  • Provisions of Indian Constitution:
    • 97th Amendment of Indian constitution added Part IXB right after Part IXA (Municipals) regarding the cooperatives working in India.
    • The word “cooperatives” was added after “unions and associations” in Article 19(1)(c) under Part III of the Constitution.

Source: PIB

Framework for Regulatory Sandbox

Context:

The International Financial Services Centres Authority (IFSCA) introduces Framework for Regulatory Sandbox to tap into innovative FinTech solutions.

Framework for Regulatory Sandbox:

  • Facilities and flexibilities: The entities operating in the capital market, banking, insurance, and financial services space shall be granted certain facilities and flexibilities to experiment with innovative Fintech solutions.
  • Participation: All entities (regulated as well as unregulated) operating in the capital market, banking, insurance, and pension sectors as well as individuals and startups from India and FATF compliant jurisdictions, shall be eligible for participation in the Regulatory Sandbox.
    • The entities desirous of participating in the sandbox to showcase their innovative Fintech solutions, concepts, and business models shall apply to IFSCA.
  • Regulatory relaxations: The IFSCA shall assess the applications and extend suitable regulatory relaxations to commence limited purpose testing in the Sandbox.
  • Innovation Sandbox: The IFSCA has proposed the creation of an “Innovation Sandbox”, which will be a testing environment where Fintech firms can test their solutions in isolation from the live market.
    • The Innovation Sandbox will be managed and facilitated by the Market Infrastructure Institutions (MIIs) operating within the IFSC.

Regulatory Sandbox:

  • A regulatory sandbox is a framework set up by a financial sector regulator to allow small scale and live testing of innovations by private firms in a controlled environment.
  • Objective: To promote competition and efficiencies in financial services markets through innovation.
  • It introduces the potential to change the nature of the relationship between regulators and financial services providers toward a more open and active dialogue.

Features:

  • The sandbox entities are subject to restrictions such as the maximum number of customers served.
  • The regulatory sandboxes allow financial regulators to mitigate future risks by working with fintech innovators by having a ring-side view of the potential problems.
  • According to SEBI’s guidelines, all entities registered under the SEBI Act 1992 are eligible for testing in their sandbox even if they use the services of a fintech firm.
  • The IRDAI’s sandbox exclusively looks at products and services in the insurance sector and has set up a panel to review applications.

Source: PIB

Municipal Solid Waste Processing Facility

Context:

The CSIR-Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute developed the Municipal Solid Waste Processing Facility.

Features of Municipal Solid Waste Processing Facility:

  • Bio-methanation Plant: CSIR-CMERI have started an innovative technology of producing the Biogas from grass and weeds and Vermi-composting of Slurry of the plant process. 
    • The Bio-Digestion process adopted has a minimum pollution factor. 
    • The MSW facility has special disinfection capabilities to help Break the COVID Chain through UV-C Lights and Hot-Air Convection methods. 
    • The Smokeless Stove has also been developed to utilize these briquettes. 
    • Such stoves have the benefits of Reduction in the import of LPG and reduction in pollution.
  • Targeting a Zero landfill:  The latest technology being used by Institute is the Pyrolysis process wherein the conversion of plastics into gas and fuel is done. 
    • Heavy oil, gas being used in pyrolysis helps in obtaining self-sustainability.  
    • Through Plasma Gasification Process also eco-friendly disposal of solid wastes is processed without the formation and reformation of toxic dioxins and furans.
    • Solid Waste Disposal using Plasma Arc converts wastes into a plasma state for proper disposal. 
  • Wealth out of waste: The residues generated having good carbon content are used in agriculture as fertilizer and non-usable are utilized to make bricks for construction purposes. 
    • Solar energy technology, which can also feed the surplus Energy Supply onto a Mini-Grid.
    • It can result in a drastic reduction of expenditure related to Transportation Logistics and can help reductions in CO2 emissions, by reducing fossil fuel usage. 

Significance:

  • The processing facility has not only helped to achieve the Decentralised Decimation of Solid Wastes but has also helped create value-added end-products from waste.
  • The changing ecological scenarios require special attention to address the issue of ‘Sustainable Processing of Municipal Solid Waste’.
  • This CSIR-CMERI MSW Technology envisions a Zero-Landfill and a Zero Waste City in addition to developing Job-Creation opportunities. 

Pyrolysis:

  • The word pyrolysis is coined from the Greek words "pyro" which means fire and "lysis" which means separating.
  • It is a process of chemically decomposing organic materials at elevated temperatures in the absence of oxygen.
  • The process occurs at temperatures above 430 °C and under pressure.
  • It simultaneously involves the change of physical phase and chemical composition and is an irreversible process.

Source: PIB