Himalai Celebrating its 20th year celebration, on this eve Himalai extending helping hands to the UPSC-IAS Aspirants of June 2018.

Most important exam oriented Current Affairs Concepts:

1. “Mentor India”

NITI Aayog will launch the Mentor India Campaign, a strategic nation building initiative to engage leaders who can guide and mentor students at more than 900 Atal Tinkering Labs, established across the country as a part of the Atal Innovation Mission.

Mentor India is aimed at maximizing the impact of Atal Tinkering Labs, possibly the biggest disruption in formal education globally. The idea is to engage leaders who will nurture and guide students in the Atal Tinkering Labs. These labs are non-prescriptive by nature, and mentors are expected to be enablers rather than instructors.

NITI Aayog is looking for leaders who can spend anywhere between one to two hours every week in one or more such labs to enable students experience, learn and practice future skills such as design and computational thinking.

Atal Tinkering Labs are dedicated works spaces where students from Class 6th to Class 12th learn innovation skills and develop ideas that will go on to transform India. The labs are powered to acquaint students with state-of-the-art equipment such as 3D printers, robotics & electronics development tools, Internet of things & sensors etc.

NITI Aayog’s Atal Innovation Mission is among one of the flagship programs of the Government of India to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in the country to set up the Atal Tinkering Labs across the country. The Mission has / is in the process of setting up 900+ such labs across India.

2. Sub-Categorization within OBCs

The Union Cabinet approved a proposal for setting up of a Commission under article 340 of the Constitution to examine the issue of sub-categorization of the Other Backward Classes (OBCs).

The Commission shall be known as the Commission to examine the sub-categorization of Other Backward Classes.

The proposed terms of references of the Commission are as follows:
i) To examine the extent of inequitable distribution of benefits of reservation among the castes/ communities included in the broad category of OBCs, with reference to the OBCs included in the Central list.
ii) To work out the mechanism, criteria, norms and parameters, in a scientific approach, for sub-categorization within such OBCs, and,
iii) To take up the exercise of identifying the respective castes/communities/ sub-castes/ synonyms in the Central List of OBCs and classifying them into their respective sub-categories.

The Supreme Court in its order dated 16.11.1992 in WP(C) No. 930/1990 (Indra Sawhney and others vs. Union of India) observed that there is no Constitutional or legal bar to a State categorizing backward classes as backward or more backward and had further observed that if a State chooses to do it (sub-categorization), it is not impermissible in law.

Nine States of the country viz., Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Puducherry, Karnataka, Haryana, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Bihar, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu have already carried out sub-categorization of Other Backward Classes

3. New Bridge over Mechi River at Indo-Nepal border

The estimated cost of construction of the bridge is Rs. 158.65 crore, which would be funded by Government of India through ADB loan. The new bridge is part of up-gradation of the Kakarvitta (Nepal) to Panitanki Bypass (India) on NH 327B covering a length of 1500 meters including a 6 lane approach road of 825 meters. Mechi Bridge is the ending point of Asian Highway 02 in India leading to Nepal and provides critical connectivity to Nepal.

The construction of the bridge will improve regional connectivity and has potential to strengthen cross border trade between both the countries and cementing ties by strengthening industrial, social and cultural exchanges.

National Highway and Infrastructure Development Corporation (NHIDCL) under Ministry of Road Transport & Highways has been designated as the implementing agency for this project. DPR for this project has been prepared and alignment of bridge has been finalized in consultation with Government of Nepal.

4. Pradhan MantriKisan SAMPADA Yojana

PRADHAN MANTRI KISAN SAMPADA YOJANA (PMKSY)with an allocation of Rs. 6,000 crores for the period 2016-20 coterminous with the 14th Finance Commission Cycle. The scheme is expected to benefit 20 lakh farmers and generate 5,30,500 direct/ indirect employments by the year 2019-20.

Under PRADHAN MANTRI KISAN SAMPADA YOJANA the Ministry of Food Processing Industries is implementing various Central Sector Schemes in the food processing sector. The PMKSY has the following schemes:
i) Mega Food Parks (on going)
ii) Integrated Cold Chain and Value Addition Infrastructure (on going)
iii) Creation / Expansion of Food Processing & Preservation Capacities (new)
iv) Infrastructure for Agro-processing Clusters (new)
v) Creation of Backward and Forward Linkages (new)
vi) Food Safety and Quality Assurance Infrastructure (on going)
vii) Human Resources and Institutions (on going)

5. Right to Privacy

The nine-judge Bench Supreme Court judgement has today pronounced in the “Privacy Case” by upholding the Right to Privacy as one protected by Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

So when Article 21 says, “no person shall be deprived of his Right to Life and Liberty without procedure established by law”. Then let us assume that privacy is a part of liberty and no person shall be deprived of his privacy without procedure as established by law. The underlying point is that privacy is not an absolute right. It is a right even in our Constitution. If it is a Fundamental Right under Article 21, which is subject to restriction that it can be restricted by a procedure established by law, that procedure established by law obviously has to be fair, just and reasonable procedure. The case before the Supreme court is you have no law, you have not legislated, you have not laid down any guidelines and you have by an executive fiat created authority where all personal data and biometric information will go. What will that be used for? Is this a fair, just and reasonable procedure?”

The judgement reads that personal liberty is not an absolute right but liable to the restrictions provided in the Constitution which will be examined on a case to case basis. The Government is of the clear opinion that its legislations are compliant with the tests laid down in the judgement. The Supreme court has stated that ”…requires a careful and sensitive balance between individual interests and legitimate concerns of the State. The legitimate aims of the State would include for instance protecting national security, preventing and investigating crime, encouraging innovation and the spread of knowledge, and preventing the dissipation of social welfare benefits.” The Government is committed to this object.

6. UDAN

The Centre would be able to expand the regional air connectivity and market. The state governments would reap the benefit of development of remote areas, enhance trade and commerce and more tourism expansion. For incumbent airlines there was the promise of new routes and more passengers while for and start-up airlines there is the opportunity of new, scalable business. Airport operators will also see their business expanding as would original equipment manufacturers .
The scheme UDAN envisages providing connectivity to un-served and under-served airports of the country through revival of existing air-strips and airports. The scheme would be in operation for a period of 10 years.

UDAN has a unique market-based model to develop regional connectivity. Interested airline and helicopter operators can start operations on hitherto un-connected routes by submitting proposals to the Implementing Agency. The operators could seek a Viability Gap Funding (VGF) apart from getting various concessions. All such route proposals would then be offered for competitive bidding through a reverse bidding mechanism and the route would be awarded to the participant quoting the lowest VGF per Seat. The operator submitting the original proposal would have the Right of First Refusal on matching the lowest bid in case his original bid is within 10% of the lowest bid. The successful bidder would then have exclusive rights to operate the route for a period of three years. Such support would be withdrawn after a three year period, as by that time, the route is expected to become self-sustainable.
The selected airline operator would have to provide a minimum of 9 and a maximum of 40 UDAN Seats (subsidized rates) on the UDAN Flights for operations through fixed wing aircraft and a minimum of 5 and a maximum of 13 Seats on the Flights for operations through helicopters. On each such route, the minimum frequency would be three and maximum of seven departures per week. Route networks would also be encouraged under the scheme to achieve economies of scale and optimal usage of aircraft.

The fare for a one hour journey of appx. 500 km on a fixed wing aircraft or for a 30 minute journey on a helicopter would now be capped at Rs. 2,500, with proportionate pricing for routes of different stage lengths / flight duration.

This would be achieved through (1) a financial stimulus in the form of concessions from Central and State governments and airport operators and (2) a Viability Gap Funding to the interested airlines to kick-off operations from such airports so that the passenger fares are kept affordable.

 Central Government would provide concessions in the form of reduced excise duty, service tax, permission to trade ASKMs for Non-RCS (UDAN) Seats and flexibility of code sharing at the RCS (UDAN) airports.
 State governments will have to lower the VAT on ATF to 1% or less, besides providing security and fire services free of cost and electricity, water and other utilities at substantially concessional rates.
 Airport operators shall not impose Landing and Parking charge and Terminal Navigation Landing Charges in addition to discounts on Route Navigation Facility Charges.

A Regional Connectivity Fund would be created to meet the viability gap funding requirements under the scheme. The RCF levy per departure will be applied to certain domestic flights.

The partner State Governments (other than North Eastern States and Union Territories where contribution will be 10 %) would contribute a 20% share to this fund. For balanced regional growth, the allocations under the scheme would be equitably spread across the five geographical regions of the country viz. North, West, South, East and North-east.

The States have a key role under the scheme. The selection of airports where UDAN operations would start would be done in consultation with State Government and after confirmation of their concessions. It may be recalled that revival of dysfunctional airports and starting operations on un-served airports has been a long standing demand of most States and this will be addressed through UDAN to a large extent.

The UDAN is likely to a give a major fillip to tourism and employment generation in the hinterland. Through introduction of helicopters and small aircraft, it is also likely to significantly reduce travel timings in remote and hilly regions, as well as islands and other areas of the country.

7. Task Force on Artificial Intelligence for Economic Transformation

The dawn of the 21st century saw electronics becoming pervasive in almost every manufactured object in the world, from toy cars to aeroplanes and from rockets to nuclear reactors. The next transformation is turning electronics hardware and software intelligent, radically changing their relationships with human “wetware”. While there is a strong consensus that Artificial Intelligence will be a game-changer and a key factor in economic development, there is a concurrent need to arrive at frameworks that will promote its deployment taking all social factors into account. The Ministry of Commerce and Industry has set up this Task force on Artificial Intelligence to kick-start the use of AI for India’s economic transformation in below given sector.

Manufacturing, Fintech, Healthcare, Agriculture/Food Processing, Education
Retail / Customer Engagement, Human and Robot interaction / intelligent automation, Aid for Differently Abled / Accessibility Technology, AADHAAR / Big Data,Environment, National Security, Enablers for AI Technology development
 Enablers for AI entrepreneurship,Enablers for AI product commercialization
 General/other issues related to AI,Public Utility Services

8. Formulation of a new Industrial Policy

Since the last Industrial Policy announced in 1991, India has transformed into one of the fastest growing economies in the world. With strong macro-economic fundamentals and several path breaking reforms in the last three years, India is equipped to deploy a different set of ideas and strategies to build a globally competitive Indian industry. The new Industrial Policy will subsume the National Manufacturing Policy.

A consultative approach has been taken for industrial policy formulation wherein six thematic focus groups and an online survey on DIPP website have been used to obtain inputs. Focus groups, with members from government departments, industry associations, academia, and think tanks have been setup to delve deep into challenges faced by the industry in specific areas. The six thematic areas include Manufacturing and MSME; Technology and Innovation; Ease of Doing Business; Infrastructure, Investment, Trade and Fiscal policy; and Skills and employability for the future. A Task Force on Artificial Intelligence for India’s Economic Transformation has also been constituted which will provide inputs for the policy.

It is proposed that the new Industrial Policy will aim at making India a manufacturing hub by promoting ‘Make in India’. It will also suitably incorporate the use of modern smart technologies such as IOT, artificial intelligence and robotics for advanced manufacturing.

9. Bharat Bill Payment System

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) proposes to set up anytime anywhere bill payment system under Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS). RBI has issued guidelines for implementation of BBPS on November 28, 2014. The BBPS is designed to function as a tiered structure for operating the bill payment system in the country with a single brand image providing convenience of ‘anytime anywhere’ bill payment to customers. The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has been designated as the authorized Bharat Bill Payment Central Unit (BBPCU) to set the standards for BBPS processes which need to be adhered to by all authorized operating units under the system. The applications for authorization can be submitted to the Reserve Bank of India from the first quarter of 2015

10. Medium-Range Surface-to-Air Missile (MRSAM)

The MRSAM missile is equipped with an advanced active radar radio frequency (RF) seeker, advanced rotating phased array radar and a bidirectional data link. The RF seeker, located in the front section of the missile, is used to detect moving targets in all weather conditions.

The phased array radar provides a high-quality air situation picture, while the bidirectional data link is used for relaying midcourse guidance and target information to the missile.

The missile’s explosive warhead, featuring a self-destruct fuse, provides high-probability of kill against enemy targets with minimal collateral damage.

Performance of MRSAM weapon
The MRSAM surface-to-air missile is powered by a dual-pulse solid propulsion system developed by DRDO.

The propulsion system, coupled with a thrust vector control system, allows the missile to move at a maximum speed of Mach 2. The weapon has the ability to engage multiple targets simultaneously at ranges of 70km.

Variants of DRDO’s surface-to-air missile
The MRSAM is a land-based configuration of the long-range surface-to-air missile (LRSAM) or Barak-8 naval air defence system, which is designed to operate from naval vessels.

The Indian Ministry of Defence is procuring an undisclosed number of MRSAM air defence systems to replace the Indian Army’s ageing air defence systems.

Contractors involved
Under a contract with DRDO, Tata Advanced Systems designed and manufactured combat management systems for the MRSAM programme at its research and development (R&D) facility in New Delhi, India.

Bharat Dynamics (BDL) was the lead integrator for the MRSAM missile systems. BDL established a new production facility in Hyderabad with an investment of $100m to manufacture both MRSAM and LRSAM missiles. When operational, the facility will have the capacity to produce 100 missiles a year.

Other contractors involved in the development of the MRSAM include Bharath Electronics (BEL), L&T, Elta, Rafael, and other private industries.

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