December 22 : IAS Current Affairs : IAS DAILY

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NASA selects missions to comet, Titan for further development

CAESAR MISSION (Comet Astrobiology Exploration SAmple Return) : To acquire a sample from the nucleus of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, that was successfully explored by the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft, to determine its origin and history.

IMPORTANCE : The CAESAR sample will reveal how these materials contributed to the early Earth, including the origins of the Earth’s oceans, and of life.

DRAGONFLY PROJECT : Dragonfly is a drone-like rotorcraft .

IMPORTANCE : It would explore the prebiotic chemistry and habitability of dozens of sites on Saturn’s moon Titan, an ocean world in our solar system.

WHY> Titan is an ocean world, and the only moon in our Solar System with a dense atmosphere, which supports an Earth-like hydrological cycle of methane clouds, rain, and liquid flowing across the surface to fill lakes and seas.

IMF and WB release the Financial System Stability Assessment (FSSA) and Financial Sector Assessment (FSA) respectively on their websites

The Financial Sector Assessment Program (FSAP) - a joint program of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB involved in developing countries and region only), undertakes a comprehensive and in-depth analysis of a country’s financial sector.

REPORT OF FSAP :

  • The IMF said since the 2011 FSAP, India has recorded strong growth in both economic activity and financial assets, yet, the financial sector is facing considerable challenges, and economic growth has recently slowed down.

  • The report said that India’s key banks appear resilient, but the system is subject to considerable vulnerabilities.

  • Stress tests show that the while largest banks are sufficiently capitalised and profitable to withstand a deterioration in economic conditions, a group of public sector banks (PSBs) are highly vulnerable to further declines in asset quality and higher provisioning needs.

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DARPAN - “Digital Advancement of Rural Post Office for A New India”

MINISTRY : Ministry of Communications.

FOR WHAT> To improve the quality of service, add value to services and achieve “financial inclusion” of un-banked rural population.

HOW> As part of IT modernization project, to provide a low power technology solution to each Branch Postmaster (BPM) which will enable each of approximately 1.29 Lakhs Branch Post Offices (BOs) to improve the level of services being offered to rural customers across all the states.

BACKGROUND : What is IT Modernization Project> In order to provide the best-in-class customer service, deliver new services and improve operational efficiencies,the Department of Posts has undertaken an end to end IT modernization project to equip itself with requisite modern tools and technologies.

4-Goals : I. Wider reach to the Indian populace through more customer interaction channels ; II. Better customer service ; III. Growth through new lines of business ; IV. IT enablement of business processes and support functions

New Consumer Protection Bill likely to be introduced in the present session of parliament

NEWS : New Consumer Protection Bill has been approved by the cabinet and is likely to be introduced in the present session of parliament.

IMPORTANCE : The new law will replace the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, and is in line with the revised UN guidelines on consumer protection.

WHY NEW LAW : 1. To keep pace with the changes in markets, such as e-commerce, to ensure fair, equitable and consistent outcomes for consumers. 2. To enable swift executive intervention in the nature of the class action to prevent consumer detriment. 3. Goal is not only to protect consumers but also to empower them. 4. There is need to educate consumers to be vigilant while making purchases in the digital market or making digital payments. 5. The next step is to provide an adequate mechanism for grievance redressal. Further, alternate dispute redressal through National Consumer Helpline and mediation are being encouraged.

ABOUT NEW BILL : 1. The amended Act will provide for the setting up of a Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) to promote, protect and enforce consumer rights. It will also take up class-action cases, raised by a group of consumers with the same set of complaints. 2. The new law will also provide for proper definition and scope for e-commerce, and the rules regulating the sector. 3. The new bill has provisions for post-litigation-stage mediation as an alternative dispute resolution mechanism. 4. It also provides for a ban on celebrities for misleading advertisements.

Research and development in battery for electric vehicles

NEWS : Government has formulated a Mission Plan for electric vehicles (including hybrid vehicles) viz. National Electric Mobility Mission Plan 2020 (NEMMP 2020).

MINISTRY : Ministry of Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises.

FOR WHAT> For facilitating the manufacture and use of electric and hybrid vehicles.

TARGET : To achieve 6-7 million sales of hybrid and electric vehicles by 2020.

FAME : [Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles in India] - is part of NEMMP 2020 Mission. It is implemented with effect from 1st April 2015. It is intended to support the hybrid/electric vehicles market development and its manufacturing eco-system to achieve self-sustenance at the end of stipulated period.

SRISTI SCHEME

SRISTI : Sustainable Rooftop Implementation for Solar Transfiguration of India (SRISTI);

MINISTRY : Ministry of New and Renewable Energy

FOR WHAT>

  • To incentivise the installation of roof top solar projects in India.

  • To achieve a national solar rooftop target of 40 GW till 2021-2022.

  • Central Financial Assistance will be provided only for installation of roof top solar plants in residential sectors. The residential users may install the plant of capacity as per their requirement and the respective State Electricity Regulatory Commission regulation.

Subsidy support : will be limited up to 5 kWp capacity of plant.

A total of 1,04,976 cases registered under the PoCSO Act, 2012 in last three years

NEWS : 2014 - 34,449 ; 2015- 34,505; 2016 -36,022

POSCO ACT : The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, which came into force on 14th November, 2012, contains effective provisions to curb the menace of child abuse.

The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 deals with sexual offences against persons below 18 years of age, who are deemed as children.

  • The Act is a comprehensive law to provide for the protection of children from the offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography, while safeguarding the interests of the child at every stage of the judicial process by incorporating child-friendly mechanisms for reporting, recording of evidence, investigation and speedy trial of offences through appointment of Special Public Prosecutors and designated Special Courts.

  • The Act for the first time, defines “penetrative sexual assault”, “sexual assault” and “sexual harassment”.

  • The offence is considered graver if it is committed by a police officer, public servant, any member of the staff at a remand home, protection or observation home, jail, hospital or educational institution, or by a member of the armed or security forces.

  • The Act incorporates child friendly procedures for reporting, recording, investigation and trial offences.

  • The Act provides for stringent punishments which have been graded as per the gravity of offence.

SHe-Box Portal

FOR WHAT > For registering complaints of sexual harassment of women employees at workplace, of both Government and Private sector.

MINISTRY : Ministry of Women & Child Development.

WHY> To ensure the effective implementation of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.

NEWS : More than 350 complaints relating to inappropriate behaviour have been received in the Ministry which includes complaint received through portal 'SHe-box'.

NFHS shows decline in Child Marriages from 47.4% in 2005-06 to 26.8% in 2014-15

NEWS : As per National Family Health Survey, the percentage of women (in the age group 20-24 years), who were married before legal age, has reduced from 47.4% in 2005-06 to 26.8% in 2014-15.

IMPORTANCE : Marriage at a young age is detrimental to both girls and boys. For girls, child marriage has particular health effects as it leads to an increased fertility span resulting in early pregnancy, birth complications, delivery of low birth-weight babies, increased maternal and infant mortality rate.

BACKGROUND : The Government of India has enacted the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 in order to prohibit child marriages rather than only restraining them.

The practice of Child Marriages is largely due to the prevailing social customs, tradition, illiteracy, poverty, low status of women in society and lack of awareness.

STATES : As per census 2011, Rajasthan, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, West Bengal and Jharkhand are among the top states reporting the highest percentage of child marriage among both boys and girls.

SOLUTION : These issues cannot be tackled by legislative interventions alone. This is a continuous process and Government undertakes media campaigns and outreach programmes to address this.

Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana

Ministry : Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment

Rashtrya Vayoshri Yojana (RVY) is a Central Sector Scheme.

FOR WHAT> Under this Scheme, aids and assistive living devices are provided to senior citizens belonging to BPL category who suffer from age related disabilities such as low vision, hearing impairment, loss of teeth and loco-moto disabilities.

Roll on - Roll off Waterway Projects

  • Ministry : Ministry of Shipping

  • The Prime Minister of India launched Phase-I of RO Pax Ferry service between Ghogha and Dahej in Gulf of Cambay in Gujarat on 22nd October 2017. This project is implemented by Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB).

  • The above project is the first of its kind in India as it was executed in the area of world’s second highest tidal range. The ferry service significantly reduced the travel time (8 hrs to 1.5 hrs) and distance between Ghogha & Dahej compared to the road journey.

  • On National Waterway – 2 (river Brahmaputra), a regular Roll On and Roll Off (Ro – Ro) ferry service started between Dhubri and Hatsingmari in July, 2017. This Ro Ro service provides a direct link between Assam and Meghalaya avoiding circuitous route of 220 km. through Jogighopa to reach Hatsingmari.

NHAI Creates National Highways Investment Promotion Cell (NHIPC)

NEWS : The National Highways Authority of India has created a National Highways Investment Promotion Cell (NHIPC).

MINISTRY : Ministry of Road Transport & Highways

FOR WHAT > The primary focus of NHIPC will be to promote foreign and domestic investment in road infrastructure.

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