Current Affairs - PIB News
- The Himalayan geothermal springs which cover about 10,000 square km in the Garhwal region of Himalaya, show a significant discharge of Carbon dioxide (CO2) rich water. This was found by Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, an autonomous institute under the Department of Science & Technology, Govt. of India, which investigated and characterised the gas emissions from these springs. The estimated carbon dioxide degassing (removal of dissolved gases from liquids, especially water or aqueous solutions) flux is nearly 7.2 ×106 mol/year to the atmosphere.
- The study suggested that CO2 in these thermal springs are sourced from metamorphic decarbonation of carbonate rocks present deep in the Himalayan core along with magmatism and oxidation of graphite. Most of the geothermal water is dominated by evaporation followed by weathering of silicate rocks. Isotopic analyses further point towards a meteoric source for geothermal water.
Why the Study is Important?
- Carbon outflux from Earth’s interior to the exosphere through volcanic eruptions, fault zones, and geothermal systems contribute to the global carbon cycle that effects short and long term climate of the Earth. Himalaya hosts about 600 geothermal springs having varied temperature and chemical conditions. Their role in regional and global climate, as well as the process of tectonic driven gas emission, needs to be considered while estimating emissions to the carbon cycle and thereby to global warming.
Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi in his address to the Nation on May 12, 2020 had given a clarion call for a self-reliant India based on the five pillars, i.e., Economy, Infrastructure, System, Demography & Demand and announced a special economic package for Self-Reliant India named ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’.
- Taking cue from that evocation, the Department of Military Affairs (DMA), Ministry of Defence (MoD) has prepared a list of 101 items for which there would be an embargo on the import beyond the timeline indicated against them.
- This is a big step towards self-reliance in defence. It also offers a great opportunity to the Indian defence industry to rise to the occasion to manufacture the items in the negative list by using their own design and development capabilities or adopting the technologies designed and developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to meet the requirements of the Armed Forces in the coming years.
- The list is prepared by MoD after several rounds of consultations with all stakeholders, including Army, Air Force, Navy, DRDO, Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs), Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) and private industry to assess current and future capabilities of the Indian industry for manufacturing various ammunition/weapons/platforms/equipment within India.
- Almost 260 schemes of such items were contracted by the Tri-Services at an approximate cost of Rs 3.5 lakh crore between April 2015 and August 2020. With latest embargo on import of 101 items, it is estimated that contracts worth almost Rs four lakh crore will be placed upon the domestic industry within the next five to seven years. Of these, items worth almost Rs 1,30,000 crore each are anticipated for the Army and the Air Force while items worth almost Rs 1,40,000 crore are anticipated by the Navy over the same period.
The List Includes
- The list of 101 embargoed items comprises of not just simple parts but also some high technology weapon systems like artillery guns, assault rifles, corvettes, sonar systems, transport aircrafts, light combat helicopters (LCHs), radars and many other items to fulfil the needs of our Defence Services. The list also includes, wheeled armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs) with indicative import embargo date of December 2021, of which the Army is expected to contract almost 200 at an approximate cost of over Rs 5,000 crore. Similarly, the Navy is likely to place demands for submarines with indicative import embargo date of December 2021, of which it expects to contract about six at an approximate cost of almost Rs 42,000 crore. For the Air Force, it is decided to enlist the light combat aircraft LCA MK 1A with an indicative embargo date of December 2020. Of these, 123 are anticipated at an approximate cost of over Rs 85,000 crore. Hence, there are highly complex platforms that are included in the list of 101 items.
- The embargo on imports is planned to be progressively implemented during 2020 to 2024.
- The aim behind promulgation of the list is to apprise the Indian defence industry about the anticipated requirements of the Armed Forces so that they are better prepared to realise the goal of indigenisation. The MoD has adopted many progressive measures to encourage and facilitate ‘Ease of Doing Business’ by the defence Production entities. All necessary steps would be taken to ensure that timelines for production of equipment as per the Negative Import List are met, which will include a co-ordinated mechanism for hand holding of the industry by the Defence Services.
- More such equipment for import embargo would be identified progressively by the DMA in consultation with all stakeholders.
- A due note of this will also be made in the Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP) to ensure that no item in the negative list is processed for import in the future.
- In another relevant step, the MoD has bifurcated the capital procurement budget for 2020-21 between domestic and foreign capital procurement routes. A separate budget head has been created with an outlay of nearly Rs 52,000 crore for domestic capital procurement in the current financial year.
On 6th August 2020, the Reserve Bank of India has announced a set of additional developmental and regulatory policy measures to improve flow of money and provide further support to the financial system, in the wake of rising COVID-19 infections in India and the world.
The Governor Shri Shaktikanta Das stated that the measures will ease the financial stress caused by disruptions due to “the worst peacetime health and economic crisis of the last 100 years”.
Summary of the Announcements
- You can now borrow more against Gold and Jewellery: To mitigate impact of COVID-19 on ordinary citizens, RBI has decided to allow loans for non-agricultural purposes, against gold and jewellery, to be granted up to 90 per cent of the pledged value of gold ornaments and jewellery. This relaxation of the limit, up from current limit of 75%, shall be available till March 31, 2021.
- Sharper Focus on Inclusive Development, through greater Priority Sector Lending: Banks will now be incentivized to address regional disparities in flow of priority sector lending. The weightage given for fresh credit given to priority sectors will be adjusted based on current credit flow of districts. Start-ups too will now get this type of credit support; green energy sectors will now get higher lending under the framework.
- Additional credit support for housing and rural sectors: A special liquidity facility of ₹ 5,000 crore is being provided to National Housing Bank, to improve fund flow to the housing sector. A ₹ 5,000 crore fund has been earmarked for NABARD too, to improve fund availability for Non-Banking Finance Companies and Micro Finance Institutions.
- Relieving stress of borrowers: To address the heightened debt burdens being faced by borrowing firms, RBI has decided to enable lenders to implement a debt resolution plan for eligible corporate debts as well as personal loans. This shall be done without any change in ownership, while classifying such exposures as standard assets, subject to specified conditions. An Expert Committee chaired by K. V. Kamath is being constituted to make recommendations on the parameters for such debt resolution plans.
- Further support for MSME sector:In addition to the debt restructuring framework in place for MSMEs, RBI has announced that stressed MSME borrowers will be made eligible for restructuring their debt under existing framework, provided their accounts with the concerned lender were classified as standard as on March 1, 2020. This restructuring will have to be implemented by March 31, 2021.
- Reduced Capital Charge for Market Risk: The capital charge on banks for holding Mutual Fund /Exchange Traded Fund will be brought in harmony with the charge for directly holding a debt instrument. The Governor has said that this will result in substantial capital savings for banks and boost the corporate bond market.
- Banks get more flexibility in managing liquidity and cash reserves: RBI is introducing an automated mechanism in e-Kuber system, its core banking solution, to provide banks more flexibility/discretion in managing their liquidity and maintenance of cash reserve requirements.
- Safeguards to bring in better credit discipline:RBI is bringing in safeguards for opening of current accounts and cash credit (CC)/overdraft (OD) accounts, for borrowers availing credit facilities from multiple banks. This has been done in view of the concerns emanating from use of multiple operating accounts by borrowers.
- Powering Responsible Financial Innovation: RBI will set up an Innovation Hub in India, to further promote and facilitate an environment that can accelerate innovation across the financial sector.
- Cheque Payments to be Safer: To improve safety of cheque payments, a mechanism of Positive Pay is going to be introduced, for all cheques of value ₹ 50,000 and above. This will cover approximately 20 per cent of total cheques, and 80 per cent of total cheques by value.
- Soon, make Retail Payments using Your Card or Mobile Phone: A system will soon be introduced enabling retail payments to be made in offline mode using cards and mobile devices. Citizens will also be able to resolve disputes arising from digital payments, through an online dispute resolution mechanism.
- Key Rates Untouched: The RBI Governor announced that the policy repo rate stands unchanged at 4.0%. Other key rates such as Marginal Standing Facility, reverse repo rate and bank rate too have been kept untouched. The supportive stance of monetary policy will continue as long as necessary to revive growth and mitigate impact, while keeping inflation within target.
o Most research on seismic and landslide hazards in the Himalaya focus on geophysical and geomorphological characteristics. However, in many instances, the inherent cause of these natural disasters may lie deep in the subsurface and have geological implications like rock types, rheology (the study of deformation and flow of matter), strain localization, and so on. Therefore, understanding the geodynamic scenario of a given section of Himalaya is as important as its seismic and geomorphic characteristics in following natural disasters.
o A study by the Scientists from Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, Dehradun suggests that, unlike other parts of the western Himalaya, in Kumaun, partial melting of the crust is caused by activation of a tabular to sheet like, planar or curvi-planar zone composed of rocks that are more strained than rocks adjacent to the zone (major shear zones), instead of continuous zone of mid-crustal partial melts. The study also suggests that brittle deformation of these shear zones/ thrust planes may still control exhumation and seismicity in this region of the Himalaya.
- Inverted Metamorphism: The research shows inverted metamorphism (condition in which higher-grade metamorphic rocks lie on top of lower-grade rocks), leading to partial melting of the Himalayan crust in two short spans of 27 to 32 and 22 to 26 million years.
- One Uniform Mechanism can’t explain evolution of the Himalayan metamorphic core: The study agrees with recent studies which suggest that one uniform mechanism cannot explain the evolution of the Himalayan metamorphic core. Activation of major thrusts and different mechanisms may operate at different cross-sections of this orogeny with channel flow (long-lasting flow of a weak, viscous crustal layer between relatively rigid yet deformable bounding crustal slabs) being dominant in the hinterland, and at ductile regime.On the other hand, the critical taper, or wedge-like extrusion and forward propagation of thrust sheets, is more pronounced on the foreland and in the brittle regime. It has also been shown that the effect of channel flow is completely absent in various sections of the Himalaya. Therefore, different transects may have different mechanisms of exhumations (exposure of land surface that was formerly buried), thrust activity, and hence, different seismic and erosional characteristics.
- The Kali River Valley of Kumaun marks the international border between India and Nepal. This region experiences intense seismic and landslide events. The scientists carried out an integrated field, metamorphic modelling and geochronological investigation in the remote higher parts of the Kali River Valley and found the absence of any ‘channel flow’ or a regional scale mid-crustal zone of partial melt. The most important prerequisite for channel flow mechanism is protracted period of partial melting (20 to 30 million years at least).
- Short and Distinct Pulses of Magmatism:However, this study has shown short and distinct pulses of magmatism, which indicate events of strain localization and deformation along discreet shear zones. These shear zones, later in brittle regime, controlled exhumation along with the formation of new shear zones or thrusts that helped propagate and exhume the Himalayan core. Identification of these thrust zones on the basis of geological proxies help denote zones of seismicity and even landslides, as highly strained and crushed rocks present in thrust or fault zones are more susceptible to slope failure.
- NashaMukt Bharat: Annual Action Plan (2020-21) for 272 ‘Most Affected Districts’ was e-launched by Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment on the occasion of “International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking” (26th June).
- The Plan would focus on 272 most affected districts and launch a three-pronged attack combining efforts of Narcotics Bureau, Outreach/Awareness by Social Justice and Treatment through the Health Dept.
- The Components of the Action Plan are: Awareness generation programmes;Focus on HigherEducational institutions, University Campuses and Schools; Community outreach and identification of dependent population; Focus on Treatment facilities in Hospital settings; andCapacity Building Programmes for Service Provider.
- Government think tank Niti Aayog, under the leadership of its CEO, Amitabh Kant has formed a panel including top officials of tech companies to develop a job platform for migrant labours.
- The goal is to develop a platform that can help blue-collar workers find job opportunities in their own language and location.
- The platform will connect job seekers, employers, government agencies, skill centres and external partners using new-age technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning.
- As per estimates, there are over 40 crore workers in the unorganized sector accounting for around 30 per cent of India’s GDP and nearly 60 per cent of these migrant workers are either semi-skilled or unskilled who struggle every day to find the right job opportunity.
- The Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) has launched its flagship “KumharSashaktikaran Yojana” in Pokhran in Jaisalmer district of Rajasthan.
- The KVIC distributed 80 electric potter wheels to 80 potter families in Pokhran which has a rich heritage in terracotta products.
- Pokhran is one of the aspirational districts identified by the Niti Aayog.
- The government has launched a new initiative SWADES (Skilled Workers Arrival Database for Employment Support) to conduct a skill mapping exercise and provide employment opportunities to the returning citizens under the Vande Bharat Mission.
- This is a joint initiative of the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Ministry of External Affairs.
- The collected information will be shared with the companies for suitable placement opportunities in the country.
- Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) in partnership with IBM has unveiled Free Digital Learning Platform ‘Skills Build Reignite’ to reach more job seekers and provide new resources to business owners in India.
- Directorate General of Trainingunder the aegis of MSDE has also announced a 10-week duration Skills Build Innovation Camp for studentsin association with IBM, providing hands on project experience, enhanced learning and increased employability.
- The Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) has launched a project at Dahanu in Palghar district of Maharashtra, a state with more than 50 lakh palm trees to produce Neera and Palmgur which has huge potential to create employment in the country.
- The project aims at promoting Neera as a substitute to soft drinks while also creating self-employment for Adivasis and traditional trappers.
- Neera, extracted from the palm trees before sunrise, is a nutrient-rich health drink consumed in many Indian states.
- KVIC also plans to explore other palm derived products.