PIB Weekly Analysis

Compilation of PIB News Articles

GS PAPER 2

Jal Jeevan Mission: A reservoir of clean water & employment opportunities

Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Introduction:

  • Water crisis is a serious issue that needs immediate attention. 

  • The rapid urbanization and over-exploitation of ground water has made the situation worse. 

  • Priority needs to be accorded by the State for potable water supply to rural households in the water-quality affected areas especially Arsenic and Fluoride affected ones and the drought prone areas of the State.

About the mission:

  • The mission is a flagship programme of the Government, which aims to improve the lives of people by providing safe drinking water to every rural household through functional household tap connections (FHTCs) by 2024. 

  • The mission incorporates the true spirit of cooperative federalism. 

  • This life changing Mission focuses on the key principles of ‘equity and inclusiveness’, i.e. every family in the village gets tap water connection in their households. 

  • JJM stresses on service delivery, rather than infrastructure creation.

Type of funding:

  • Additional funds too can be provided based on progress of implementation in form of performance incentive.  

  • There is need for convergence planning to be done by the State under various programmes like MGNREGS, JJM, SBM (G), 15th Finance Commission Grants to PRIs, District Mineral Development Fund, CAMPA, CSR Fund, Local Area Development Fund, etc. at village level and Village Action Plan (VAP) of every village is to be prepared by dovetailing all such funds for carrying out water conservation activities to strengthen water source leading to drinking water security.

What needs to be done?

  • As the Government of India is working in tandem with States to achieve the goals of JJM within the time frame, focus is on retrofitting, augmentation of existing water supply systems to provide tap connections to remaining households. 

  • Priority is to be given to saturation of villages in quality-affected habitations, aspirational districts, SC/ ST majority villages/ habitations and villages covered under Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana.

  • Under Jal Jeevan Mission, women are empowered and are trained to work as frontline functionaries in carrying out water quality surveillance.  

  • At Gram Panchayat level 5 persons preferably women will be trained for water quality testing. 

  • The State has also planned to open up water quality testing laboratories for General public.

Conclusion (Benefits and Necessity):

  • Safe access to potable water in household premises is absolute necessity and this facility will not only improve the health of rural people in terms of control of water-borne diseases, it will also provide opportunity for economic activities for rural women by saving their precious time, which otherwise is lost in fetching water from a distance. 

  • Most importantly, the provision of household tap connection in rural areas will help in removing ‘drudgery’ of women, especially girls as fetching water is their responsibility.

  • Jal Jeevan Mission is a not just a mere Government program.  It’s a people’s movement and to implement it a good information and communication plan is needed to mobilize the community.  

  • In all villages, IEC campaign has to be designed well for grass root penetration. State has to engage women Self Help Groups and voluntary organizations working in social sector to mobilize the rural community for creation of in-village water supply infrastructure as well as for their operation and maintenance.

  • The State needs to look beyond the mission’s core objective to provide tap connection to each rural household in every habitation/ village on long-term basis. 

  • This program is an opportunities for skilled & semi-skilled manpower in areas like masonry, plumbing, fitting, electricity, etc., that will be needed for creation of water supply schemes and their operation & maintenance and such manpower will be required in each village/ habitation. 

  • State has to create a pool of skilled Human Resources in rural areas to make villages a self-reliant unit without depending on others for regular upkeep and maintenance of water supply systems. To sum it up, the mission can uplift the rural economy of the State.

20th Summit of SCO Council of Heads of State

Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

In News:

20th Summit of SCO Council of Heads of State was held in November 2020 (in Video Conference Format). The Meeting was chaired by the President of the Russian Federation Mr. Vladimir Putin. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi led the Indian delegation. 

About the meet:

  • This was the first SCO Summit held in Virtual Format and third meeting that India participated after becoming a full member in 2017. 

  • Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi in his address to the SCO leaders congratulated President Vladimir Putin for organizing the meeting despite challenges and constraints arising due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Highlights about the meeting:

  • Prime Minister highlighted the imperative of a reformed multilateralism to meet the expectation of a world suffering from the social and financial after-effects of the pandemic. 

  • India, as a non-permanent member of the UNSC, beginning from 1 January 2021, will focus on the theme of ‘reformed multilateralism’ to bring about desirable changes in global governance.

  • Prime Minister reiterated India’s firm belief in regional peace, security and prosperity and raising voice against terrorism, smuggling of illegal weapons, drugs and money-laundering. 

  • He mentioned that India’s brave soldiers participated in about 50 UN peacekeeping missions and India's Pharma industry supplying essential medicines to more than 150 countries during the pandemic.

  • He underlined India’s strong cultural and historical connect with the SCO region and reiterated India’s firm commitment towards strengthening connectivity in the region with initiatives like International North-South Transport Corridor, Chabahar Port and Ashgabat Agreement. 

  • He also extended full support to observing the 20th anniversary of SCO in 2021 as the "SCO Year of Culture” and spoke of India’s own initiatives to hold the first SCO exhibition on Shared Buddhist Heritage to be organized by National Museum of India, SCO Food Festival in India next year and the translation of Ten regional language literary works into Russian and Chinese.

  • He expressed India’s readiness to host the next regular Meeting of SCO Council of Heads of Government on November 30, 2020 in virtual format. 

  • India has also proposed to set up a Special Working Group on Innovation and Startups and a Sub Group on Traditional Medicine within SCO. 

  • He elaborated on India's vision of a "Aatma Nirbhar Bharat" (Self-reliant India) in the post-pandemic world that could prove to be a force multiplier for the global economy and the economic progress of the SCO region.

About SCO:

  • The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is a permanent intergovernmental international organisation, the creation of which was announced on 15 June 2001 in Shanghai (China) by the Republic of Kazakhstan, the People's Republic of China, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Tajikistan, and the Republic of Uzbekistan. 

  • It was preceded by the Shanghai Five mechanism.

  • The SCO's main goals are as follows: strengthening mutual trust and neighbourliness among the member states; promoting their effective cooperation in politics, trade, the economy, research, technology and culture, as well as in education, energy, transport, tourism, environmental protection, and other areas

  • The Heads of State Council (HSC) is the supreme decision-making body in the SCO. 

  • It meets once a year and adopts decisions and guidelines on all important matters of the organisation. 

  • The SCO Heads of Government Council (HGC) meets once a year to discuss the organisation's multilateral cooperation strategy and priority areas, to resolve current important economic and other cooperation issues, and also to approve the organisation's annual budget. 

  • In July 2015 in Ufa, Russia, the SCO decided to admit India and Pakistan as full members. Both signed the memorandum of obligations in June 2016 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, thereby starting the formal process of joining the SCO as full members. 

  • In June 2017, at a summit in Astana, India and Pakistan officially joined SCO as full members.

Points to be noted down for prelims 

13th Urban Mobility India Conference

  • Future mobility is about striving towards environment-friendly, integrated, automated and personalized travel on-demand. 

  • New advancements like intelligent transportation systems, and traffic management applications are in the pipeline for enhanced mobility in major cities.

  • The annual Urban Mobility India (UMI) Conference and Expo is a flagship event held under the aegis of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Government of India. 

  • The event is inaugurated by Hon’ble Union Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs. 

  • The genesis of UMI is from the National Urban Transport Policy of the Government of India, 2006 (NUTP), which lays a very strong emphasis on building capabilities at the State and city level to address the problems associated with urban transport and undertake the task of developing sustainable urban transport systems. 

The event essentially has four components as below:

  • Conference

  • Exhibition

  • Research Symposium

  • Awards for Excellence in Urban Transport

  • The 13th Urban Mobility India Conference (2020) on the theme of “Emerging Trends in Urban Mobility”.

  • India is witnessing the arrival of a new generation of mobility discourses, which are nuanced enough to provide sustainable urban mobility. 

  • The Ministry has issued a detailed advisory, as to how the nation needs to move ahead in these testing times. It rests on three key pillars, namely, promotion of public transport system, leveraging technological advancements and penetration of NMT systems in the urban transport paradigm.  

  • Various studies show that about 16-57% of urban commuters are pedestrian and about 30-40% of commuters use bicycles in the country depending on the size of the city. 

Fourth edition of India Mobile Congress 2020

  • This prestigious event, jointly organized by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and Cellular Operators Association of India (COAT).

 

  • This year IMC's theme is going to be - "Inclusive Innovation - Smart I Secure I Sustainable". 

  • IMC 2020 would aim to align to the Hon'ble Prime Minister's Vision to promote Atmanirbhar Bharat (Make In India - local manufacturing and to push for 'Make for World') , foster international regional cooperation, inspire Satat Bharat — Sanatan Bharat, promote Samagra Bharat - Saksham Bharat, drive foreign and local investments, encourage R&D in the Telecom and Emerging Technology sectors and to facilitate supportive regulatory & policy frameworks.

  • Considered the largest Digital Technology Forum in Asia, IMC has established itself as a leading platform for bringing together the industry, Government, academia, and other ecosystem players to discuss, deliberate and display the latest industry technology trends around major themes such as SG, Artificial Intelligence (Al), Internet of things (loT), Data Analytics, Cloud and Edge Computing, Open source tech, data privacy and cyber security, Smart Cities and automation.

  • India Mobile Congress is one such platform, where the efforts of the Indian Government and the Telecom Industry are given an apt showcase to not just our nation, but to the world at large.

About COAI:

  • COAI was constituted in 1995 as a registered, non-governmental society. 

  • COAI's vision is to establish India as the global leader of mobile communications infrastructure, products and services and achieving a national tele density of 100 per cent, including broadband. 

  • The association is also dedicated to the advancement of modern communication and towards delivering the benefits of innovative and affordable mobile communication services to the people of India.

Thirty Meter Telescope Project

  • The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) is a proposed extremely large telescope (ELT) that has become controversial due to its planned location on Mauna Kea, on the island of Hawaii, the most sacred mountain in Native Hawaiian culture. 

  • The TMT would become the largest visible-light telescope on Mauna Kea.

  • In 2000, astronomers considered the possibility of a telescope with a light-gathering mirror larger than 20 meters in diameter. 

  • The technology to build a mirror larger than 8.4 meters does not exist; instead scientists considered using either small segments that create one large mirror, or a grouping of larger 8-meter mirrors working as one unit. 

  • Prof. Ghez’s remarkable contribution in the discovery of a super massive compact object at the center of our Galaxy along with Prof. Roger Penrose and Prof. Reinhard Genzel for which they shared the Nobel prize in physics, Prof. Ghez was deeply involved in the development of the related instrumentation and possible science prospects for the TMT, the next-generation observatory. 

  • The Thirty-meter telescope (TMT) project is an international partnership between CalTech, Universities of California, Canada, Japan, China, and India; through the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and Department of Atomic Energy (DAE). 

  • Some of the Indian astronomers like Dr. Annapurni Subramanium, Director of the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) and Dr. Shashi Bhushan Pandey, a scientist at Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES) along with many others collaborated with Prof. Ghez in the ongoing research and developmental activities of the TMT project.

  • The latest end-to-end data simulator on Solar System bodies, the Galactic center, energetic transient objects, active galactic nuclei, and distant gravitationally-lensed galaxies were used. 

  • It showed the capabilities of IRIS/TMT to continue front-line scientific research in the near future to understand the nature of the supermassive compact object at the centre of our Galaxy and many more new aspects to discover "unknown-unknowns". 

  • The scientists highlighted the necessity of an advanced data management system and data reduction pipeline.

  • Another such collaborative publication in the journal Research in Astronomy and Astrophysics in 2015 has underlined versatile usage for future multi-messenger astronomy for various Galactic and extra-galactic objects using TMT includes many other Indian astronomers as a part of larger team along with Prof. Ghez.

  • The Thirty Meter Telescope, which seeks to advance scientific knowledge while fostering connection among the partner countries and their citizens, and in which Indian astronomers worked closely with Prof. Andrez Ghez, is expected to provide facilities with even greater capabilities to gather the observations needed to answer new and emerging questions in astronomy and physics in general.

Project-75 - ‘Vagir’ 

  • The fifth Scorpene submarine of Project-75 named ‘Vagir’ has been launched  at Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) in Mumbai. 

  • Vagir, ex-Russia, named after the Sand Fish, a deadly deep sea predator of the Indian Ocean, was commissioned into the Indian Navy on December 3, 1973, and was decommissioned on June 7, 2001, after almost three decades of yeoman service to the nation. 

  • In true nautical tradition, she finds a new incarnation, by the same name - Vagir, infused with new life, by Mazagon Dock, once again a very powerful predator of the deep, guarding the vast maritime interests of our nation. 

  • The state-of-the-art technology utilized in the rebuilt Scorpene has ensured superior stealth features (such as advanced acoustic absorption techniques, low radiated noise levels, hydro-dynamically optimised shape etc.) and the ability to launch an attack on the enemy using precision guided weapons. 

  • The attack can be launched with both torpedoes and tube launched anti-ship missiles, whilst underwater or on surface. 

  • The stealth of this potent platform is enhanced by the special attention provided to her characteristic underwater signatures. These stealth features give it an  invulnerability, unmatched by most submarines. 

  • Notably, Scorpene submarines can undertake multifarious types of missions i.e Anti-Surface warfare, Anti-Submarine warfare, Intelligence gathering, Mine Laying, Area Surveillance etc. 

  • The Submarine is designed to operate in all theatres of operation, showcasing interoperability with other components of a Naval Task Force. 

  • It is a potent platform, marking a transformational shift in submarine operations.

  • With the launch of Vagir, India further cements its position as a Submarine Building Nation and MDL has more than lived up to its reputation as 'Warship and Submarine Builders to the Nation' This is totally in sync with the current impetus of the Government towards 'Make in India' and 'Aatma Nirbhar Bharat'.

  • Two submarines of the ongoing Project-75 Scorpene programme at MDL, Kalvari and Khanderi, have been commissioned into the Indian Navy. 

  • The third submarine, Karanj, is in the last phase of rigorous sea trials. 

  • The fourth Scorpene, Vela, has commenced her sea trials, whilst the sixth and last submarine, Vagsheer, is being readied for boot together. 

  • The Scorpene project is given support by the Department of Defence Production (MoD) and Indian Navy throughout its various phases of construction.

Indian scientists develop energy efficient smart screens from discarded groundnut shells

  • Indian scientists have developed an eco-friendly smart screen from groundnut shells that could help not only in preserving privacy but also in energy conservation by controlling light and heat passing through it and reducing air conditioning load.

  • A group of researchers led by Prof. S. Krishna Prasad, along with Dr Shankar Rao of the Centre for Nano and Soft Matter Sciences (CeNS), Bangalore, an autonomous institute of the Department of Science & Technology, Government of India has made major headway in developing such a cellulose-based smart screen from discarded ground nutshells.

  • In the smart screen application, liquid crystal molecules were confined in a polymer matrix. 

  • The matrix was built using cellulose nanocrystals (CNC) which were prepared from discarded groundnut shells by Prof. Yuvraj Singh Negi’s team at IIT Roorkee

  • The refractive index of the liquid crystal molecules along a particular direction were altered by the application of an electric field. 

  • In the absence of the electric field, there was a mismatch between refractive indices between those of the polymer and the liquid crystal, leading to the scattering of light. 

  • Upon application of a few volts of an electric field, the liquid crystal molecules underwent a direction change resulting in the matching of refractive indices, and the device became transparent almost instantaneously.  

  • When the field was turned off, the system quickly recovered the scattering state. 

  • This reversible change between the two states available at the flip of a switch occurred over thousands of cycles, with essentially no change in contrast or switching speed.

  • The device they developed, described in a recent issue of Applied Physics Letters, employed the same principle that causes fog on winter mornings. This happens only when the water droplets are of right size, and it can co-exist along with air. The incoming light sees these two as materials of different refractive indices and thus gets scattered, giving a foggy appearance. Similarly, the polymer and the liquid crystal should co-exist in the right size to create the required optical properties for the smart screen.

  • The scientists said that while, in principal, the device could be developed from any cellulose or agricultural waste, due to certain properties of groundnut waste, the smart screen developed from groundnut waste has been found to be most efficient.

  • Apart from the original intention of targeted privacy creation, the device can be employed for a whole range of possible applications, especially in energy conservation by controlling the amount and window of infrared light that is permitted to pass. For example, while a window having this technology would remain transparent to the entire visible region, undesirable levels of heat radiation could be significantly reduced, keeping the enclosure cool.

QRSAM Missile System 

  • Quick Reaction Surface to Air Missile (QRSAM) System has achieved a major milestone by a direct hit on to a Banshee Pilotless target aircraft at medium range & medium altitude.

  • The missile launch took place from ITR Chandipur in Nov 2020 off the Odisha Coast. 

  • The missile is propelled by a single stage solid propellant rocket motor and uses all indigenous subsystems. 

  • The Missile is canisterised for transportation and launch using a mobile launcher capable of carrying 6 canisterised missiles.

  • The system is capable of detecting and tracking targets on the move and engaging target with short halts. 

  • The system is designed to give air defence coverage against strike columns of Indian Army.

  • The radar tracked the Banshee target from farthest range and missile was launched when target was within kill zone and achieved the direct hit with terminal active homing by RF Seeker guidance. 

  • The missile system is fully indigenous with active RF Seekers, Electro Mechanical Actuation (EMA) systems sourced from various industries. 

  • The Radar is four walled Active Phased Array Radar.