1. Cabinet approves Umbrella scheme “Ocean Services, Technology, Observations, Resources Modelling and Science (O-SMART)” of Ministry of Earth Sciences
- The Cabinet today approved a scheme aimed at stepping up ocean research and setting up early warning weather systems.
‘Ocean Services, Technology, Observations, Resources Modelling and Science (O-SMART)’ scheme
- O-SMART scheme encompasses 16 sub-projects related to ocean development activities and science for implementation during 2017-18 and 2019-20.
- The important deliverables envisaged in the next two years include strengthening of ocean observations, modelling, ocean services for fishermen, setting up marine coastal observatories for tracking marine pollution in 2018, setting up Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion Plant (OTEC) in Kavaratti in Lakshadweep.
- The services rendered will provide economic benefits to a number of user communities in the coastal and ocean sectors, namely, fisheries, offshore industry, coastal states, Defence, Shipping, Ports etc.
- The scheme also includes the acquisition of two coastal research vessels, the continuation of ocean survey and exploration of minerals and living resources, technology development for deep ocean mining- and setting up six desalination Plants in Lakshadweep
- It will help in reducing the search time for fishermen resulting in savings in the fuel cost.
- This scheme also provides necessary scientific and technological background required for implementation of various aspects of Blue Economy.
- The State of Art Early Warning Systems established under the O-SMART Scheme will help in effectively dealing with ocean disasters like Tsunami, storm surges.
- The technologies being developed under this Scheme will help in harnessing the vast ocean resources of both living and non-living resources from the seas around India.
2. Trade Ministers of 16-member Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) bloc to meet today in Singapore
Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)
- RCEP is a mega trade pact, which proposes free trade agreement between 10 ASEAN and 6 FTA partners.
- It aims to cover goods, services, investments, economic and technical cooperation, competition and intellectual property rights.
- RCEP is the world’s largest economic bloc, covering nearly half of the global economy.
- RCEP negotiations were formally launched in November 2012 at the ASEAN Summit in Cambodia.
- The bloc comprises 10 ASEAN members, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Laos and Vietnam and their six FTA partners India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
The first RCEP summit was held on 14th November 2017 in Manila, Philippines.
3. Assam govt extends Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act for another 6 months
The AFSPA was clamped in Assam in 1990.
What does the AFSPA mean?
- In simple terms, AFSPA gives armed forces the power to maintain public order in “disturbed areas”.
- They have the authority to prohibit a gathering of five or more persons in an area, can use force or even open fire after giving due warning if they feel a person is in contravention of the law.
- If reasonable suspicion exists, the army can also arrest a person without a warrant; enter or search a premise without a warrant; and ban the possession of firearms.
What is a “disturbed area” and who has the power to declare it?
- An area can be disturbed due to differences or disputes between members of different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities.
- The Central Government or the Governor of the State or administrator of the Union Territory can declare the whole or part of the State or Union Territory as a disturbed area.
- The Ministry of Home Affairs would usually enforce this Act where necessary, but there have been exceptions where the Centre decided to forego its power and leave the decision to the State governments.
What’s the origin of AFSPA?
- The Act came into force in the context of increasing violence in the Northeastern States decades ago, which the State governments found difficult to control.
- The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Bill was passed and it became known as the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958.
Which States are, or had come under this Act?
- It is effective in the whole of Nagaland, Assam, Manipur (excluding seven assembly constituencies of Imphal) and parts of Arunachal Pradesh.
- At present, May 2018, AFSPA is confined to the following 4 states:
1. Jammu & Kashmir.
4. Manipur (except Imphal Municipal Area)
- The Centre revoked it in:
ii. In a 20 km area along the Assam-Meghalaya border.
iii. Arunachal Pradesh, in Tirap, Longding and Changlang districts bordering Assam.
4. ISRO to outsource production of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle and Small Satellite Launch Vehicles to private Industries.
- With ISRO’s hands full as it wants to have 22 launches in a year and is also working on Chandrayaan 2 apart from carrying out the onerous task of sending Indian astronaut to space by 2022.
Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV)
- Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) is the third generation launch vehicle of India.
- It is the first Indian launch vehicle to be equipped with liquid stages.
- It is an expendable launch system developed and operated by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
- It is a Medium-lift launch vehicle.
- PSLV can also launch small size satellites into geostationary transfer orbit (GTO).
- Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle was developed to launch Low Earth Orbit satellites into Polar and Sun Synchronous Orbits.
- After its first successful launch in October 1994, PSLV emerged as the reliable and versatile workhorse launch vehicle of India.
- The vehicle successfully launched two spacecraft – Chandrayaan-1 in 2008 and Mars Orbiter Spacecraft in 2013 – that later travelled to Moon and Mars respectively.
5. Union HRD Minister launches the 3rd edition of World’s Biggest Open Innovation Model – ‘Smart India Hackathon- 2019’.
- The third edition of World’s Biggest Open Innovation Model – Smart India Hackathon 2019 was launched in New Delhi.
- Ministry of Human Resources and Development, All India Council for Technical Education( AICTE), Persistent Systems and i4c have joined hands to make a hat trick with their highly popular and innovative Smart India Hackathon initiative (SIH).
- For the 1st time, Private industry/organisations and NGOs can also send their problem statements to students under SIH-2019.
- Smart Hackathon is a national competition for students to develop digital solutions for real-life problems.
- Smart India Hackathon, a unique initiative to identify new and disruptive digital technology innovations for solving the challenges faced by our country.
- The Smart India Hackathon was Launched on October 16, 2017, in Pune.
6. Health Ministry asks States to ban e-cigarettes.
- The Health Ministry has instructed all the States that e-cigarettes and other Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) should not be sold under their jurisdiction.
- Punjab, Karnataka, Kerala, Mizoram, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have already prohibited the use of e-cigarettes, heat-not-burn devices, E-Shisha and e-nicotine-flavoured hookahs, and have prohibited the manufacture, import, sale and distribution of ENDS.
- Thirty countries including Australia, Singapore and Sri Lanka have already brought in such bans.
- ENDS are noncombustible tobacco products.
- These products use a liquid “e-liquid” that may contain nicotine, as well as varying compositions of flavourings, propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, and other ingredients.
- The liquid is heated into an aerosol that the user inhales.
- ENDS may be manufactured to look like conventional cigarettes, cigars, or pipes.
- Some resemble pens or other everyday items.
- Larger devices, such as tank systems or mods, bear little or no resemblance to cigarettes.
- Vapes, vaporizers, vape pens, hookah pens, electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes or e-cigs), and e-pipes are some of the many terms used to describe electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS).
Source- The Hindu
7. New committee formed to advise PM on science, tech-related policy issues.
- Named as PM-STIAC (Science, Technology, Innovation Advisory Committee), is a 21-member committee.
- It will be chaired by K Vijay Raghavan, Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government.
- The committee will advise the Prime Minister on all matters related to S&T, innovation and monitor the implementation of PM’s vision on the same.
- It will facilitate:
- Formulation and implementation of policies and decisions
- Provide action-oriented and future preparedness
- Advise and assist in directing S&T to solve the socio-economic problems in the country.
- Focus on driving innovation in education, research, industry etc.
- PM-STIAC will effectively supersede the Scientific Advisory Committee to the Cabinet (SAC-C) and Science Advisory Council to the Prime Minister (SAC-PM), which will now stand dissolved.
Source- The Hindu
8. NASA’s Spitzer telescope completes 15 years in space.
- The Spitzer Space Telescope (SST), formerly the Space Infrared Telescope Facility (SIRTF), is an infrared space telescope.
- Launched into a solar orbit in 2003, and still operating as of 2018.
- It is the fourth and final of the NASA Great Observatories program.
- The planned mission period was to be 2.5 years with a pre-launch expectation that the mission could extend to five or slightly more years until the onboard liquid helium supply was exhausted
- Spitzer has illuminated some of the oldest galaxies in the universe, revealed a new ring around Saturn, and peered through shrouds of dust to study newborn stars and black holes.
- It assisted in the discovery of planets beyond our solar system, including the detection of seven Earth-size planets orbiting the star TRAPPIST-1, among other accomplishments.
- Spitzer has logged over 106,000 hours of observation time in the past 15 years.
Source- The Hindu