PIB Analysis : 7th & 8th July 2020

PIB Analysis for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. MoU between National Medicinal Plants Board and ICAR-National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources
  2. Lithium
  3. Agriculture Infrastructure Fund
  4. Samudra Setu
  5. Private Trains
  6. Pulse Oximeter

1 . MoU between National Medicinal Plants Board and ICAR-National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources


Context : MoU Signed between National Medicinal Plants Board and ICAR-National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources

Details of the MoU

  • National Medicinal Plants Board (NMPB) under Ministry of AYUSH and ICAR-National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR) under Department of Agricultural Research and Education have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)
  • The purpose of this MoU to conserve the Medicinal and Aromatic Plants Genetic Resources (MAPGRs) at designated space of ICAR-NBPGR in long-term storage module (as per availability) in the National Gene bank and or at Regional Station for medium term storage module and acquire hands-on training on plant germplasm conservation techniques to the working group of NMPB.

Medicinal Plants

  • Medicinal Plants are regarded as rich resources of traditional medicines and are being used for thousands of years in the health care system. India has rich diversity of medicinal Plants (MPs) resources.
  • The natural resources are gradually getting depleted due to various developmental activities in its habitat. There is a need to conserve these natural resources and make sustainable utilization of them. The conservation of plant genetic resources is an integral part of biodiversity conservation.
  • The purpose of conservation is to make sustainable development by protecting and using natural resources in ways that do not diminish the variety of genes and species or destroy important habitats and ecosystems.

2 . Lithium


Context : In a study recently published in Nature Astronomy (On 6th July 2020)scientists from Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) an autonomous institute of the Department of Science & Technology, Government of India along with their international collaborators have provided a robust observational evidence for the first time that Li production is common among low mass Sun-like stars during their He-core burning phase. 

Background

  • Light inflammable, metal lithium (Li) has brought about transformation in modern communication devices and transportation. A great deal of today’s technology is powered by lithium in its various shades. But where does the element come from?
  • The origin of much of the Li can be traced to a single event, the Big-Bang that happened about 13.7 Billion years ago, from which the present-day Universe was also born. 
  • Over the course of time, Li content in the physical Universe has increased by about a factor of four, which is meager compared to the rest of the elements carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, iron, nickel and so on which grew about a million times over the lifetime of the Universe. Stars are primary contributors to this significant enhancement of heavier elements through mass ejections and stellar explosions. Li, however, understood to be an exemption!
  • As per the current understanding based on today’s best models, lithium in stars like our Sun only gets destroyed over their lifetime. 
  • As a matter of fact, the composition of all the elements in the Sun and the Earth is similar. But, the measured content of Li in the Sun is a factor of 100 lower than that of the Earth, though both are known to have formed together. 

Details of the Research

  • Researchers have provided a robust observational evidence for the first time that Li production is common among low mass Sun-like stars during their He-core burning phase. 
  • Discovery challenges the long-held idea that stars only destroy lithium during their lifetime implying the Sun itself will manufacture lithium in the future, which is not predicted by models, indicating that there is some physical process missing in stellar theory.
  • Authors used spectra of hundreds of thousands of stars collected from large surveys of GALAH (Galactic Archaeology project, Anglo-Australian Telescope, Australia) and distances from European Space mission (Gaia).
  • Further, the authors identified “He flash” (on-set of He-ignition at the star’s core via violent eruption), at the end of the star’s core hydrogen-burning phase, as the source of Li production.  Our Sun will reach this phase in about 6-7 billion years.
  • The study also suggests new limits (A(Li) > -0.9~dex)  for classifying stars as Li-rich, which is  250 times below the threshold   (A(Li) > 1.5~dex) used till now. 

3 . Agriculture Infrastructure Fund


Context : Cabinet approves Central Sector Scheme  of financing   facility under   ‘Agriculture Infrastructure Fund

About the Scheme

  • The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi today has given its approval to a new pan India Central Sector Scheme-Agriculture Infrastructure Fund.
  • The scheme shall provide a medium – long term debt financing facility for investment in viable projects for post-harvest management Infrastructure and community farming assets through interest subvention and financial support.

Key Features of the scheme

  • Under the scheme, Rs. One Lakh Crore will be provided by banks and financial institutions as loans to Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACS), Marketing Cooperative Societies, Farmer Producers Organizations (FPOs), Self Help Group (SHG), Farmers, Joint Liability Groups (JLG), Multipurpose Cooperative Societies, Agri-entrepreneurs, Startups, Aggregation Infrastructure Providers and Central/State agency or Local Body sponsored Public Private Partnership Project
  • Loans will be disbursed in four years starting with sanction of Rs. 10,000 crore in the current year and Rs. 30,000 crore each in next three financial years.
  • All loans under this financing facility will have interest subvention of 3% per annum up to a limit of Rs. 2 crore. This subvention will be available for a maximum period of seven years. Further, credit guarantee coverage will be available for eligible borrowers from this financing facility under Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises (CGTMSE) scheme for a loan up to Rs. 2 crore. The fee for this coverage will be paid by the Government.
  • In case of FPOs the credit guarantee may be availed from the facility created under FPO promotion scheme of Department of Agriculture, Cooperation & Farmers Welfare (DACFW).
  • Moratorium for repayment under this financing facility may vary subject to minimum of 6 months and maximum of 2 years.
  • The duration of the Scheme shall be from FY2020 to FY2029 (10 years).
  • The Project by way of facilitating formal credit to farm and farm processing-based activities is expected to create numerous job opportunities in rural areas.

Online Platform

  • Agri Infra fund will be managed and monitored through an online Management Information System (MIS) platform. It will enable all the qualified entities to apply for loan under the fund.
  • The online platform will also provide benefits such as transparency of interest rates offered by multiple banks, scheme details including interest subvention and credit guarantee offered, minimum documentation, faster approval process as also integration with other scheme benefits.
  • The National, State and District level Monitoring Committees will be set up to ensure real-time monitoring and effective feed-back.

4 . Samudra Setu


Context : Indian Navy Completes “Operation Samudra Setu

About Operation Samudra Setu

  • Operation Samudra Setu, which was launched on 05 May 2020 as part of the national effort to repatriate Indian citizens from overseas during the COVID-19 pandemic has culminated after successfully bringing 3,992 Indian citizens back to their homeland by sea.
  • Indian Naval Ships Jalashwa (Landing Platform Dock), and Airavat, Shardul and Magar (Landing Ship Tanks) participated in this operation which lasted over 55 days and involved traversing more then 23,000 kilometers by sea. 
  • Indian Navy has previously undertaken similar evacuation operations as part of Operation Sukoon in 2006 (Beirut) and Operation Rahat in 2015 (Yemen).
  • Indian Navy utilised its amphibious sea-lift ships for Op Samudra Setu, which has reinforced the flexibility and reach of these multi-faceted platforms. Whilst Jalashwa, Magar, Airavat and Shardul were undertaking Op Samudra Setu, another Landing Ship (Tank) Kesari undertook ‘Mission SAGAR’, carrying 580 tonnes of food aid and medical stores including ayurvedic medicines to Maldives, Mauritius, Madagascar, Comoros Islands and Seychelles, covering over 14,000 km in 49 days. One medical team each was also deployed at Mauritius and Comoros Island as part of the mission.

5 . Private Trains


Context : Ministry of Railways has recently invited Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for private participation for operation of passenger train services over 109 Origin Destination(OD) pairs of routes through introduction of 151 modern Trains (Rakes).

Details about Private Trains

  • 151 Trains to be run by Private operators once the selection  process is over, would be over and above the already existing trains .
  • These trains are going to run on the routes where there the demand for trains are already higher than the existing capacity
  • The driver and guard of the trains will Railway officials . The safety clearance of trains will be done by Railways only .
  • The 109 OD Pairs have been formed into 12 Clusters across the Indian Railway network. Each Train shall have a minimum of 16 coaches.
  • The project would entail private sector investment of about Rs 30,000 crore. This is the first initiative of private investment for running Passenger Trains over Indian Railways network.
  • Majority of Trains to be manufactured in India (Make in India). The private entity shall be responsible for financing, procuring, operation and maintenance of the trains.
  • Trains shall be designed for a maximum speed of 160 kmph. There would be a substantial reduction in journey time.The running time taken by a train shall be comparable to or faster than the fastest train of Indian Railways operating in the respective route.

Objective

  • The objective of this initiative is to introduce modern technology rolling stock with reduced maintenance, reduced transit time, boost job creation, provide enhanced safety, provide world class travel experience to passengers, and also reduce demand supply deficit in the passenger transportation sector.

Expenses

  • The Private Entity shall pay to Indian Railways fixed haulage charges, energy charges as per actual consumption and a share in Gross Revenue determined through a transparent bidding process.
  • The operation of the trains by the private entity shall conform to the key performance indicators like punctuality, reliability, upkeep of trains etc.

Background

  • Indian Railways network is about 68,000 route kilometers. In the year 2018-19, the reserved passenger volume was 16% (0.59 billion) of the total originating non- suburban passengers (3.65 billion).  Almost 8.85 crore of waitlisted passengers could not be accommodated.
  • Ministry of Railways felt the requirement to introduce private participation in passenger train operation which will allow introduction of next generation technology and provision of higher service quality, ensuring use of improved coach technology and reduced journey time. In this direction, RFQ has been already invited to permit private entities to undertake passenger trains operations.
  • These train services would be operated on the Indian Railway Network where at present both passenger and freight trains are  being operated on the common track. The major trunk routes are saturated and operate at near full capacity. However, with planned commissioning of Dedicated Freight Corridors in 2021 and other infrastructural works, there would be availability of additional paths for operation of additional passenger services and it would therefore be possible to run additional services utilizing modern trains proposed in  the current initiative.
  • The private entities for undertaking the project would be selected through a two-stage competitive bidding process comprising of Request for Qualification (RFQ) and Request for Proposal (RFP). RFQ process will be for pre-qualification and shortlisting of the bidders will be based on their financial capacity, who will be required to offer share in the Gross Revenue at RFP stage (bid parameter) for undertaking the project.

6 . Facts for Prelims


Pulse Oximeter

  • A pulse oximeter is a small, lightweight device used to monitor the amount of oxygen carried in the body. This noninvasive tool attaches painlessly to your fingertip, sending two wavelengths of light through the finger to measure your pulse rate and how much oxygen is in your system.
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