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Current Affairs 03 January 2024

  1. Decline in PM-Kisan Beneficiaries and Saturation Drive Impact
  2. ISRO Launches X-ray Polarimeter Satellite (XpoSat)
  3. ABPS Mandatory for NREGS Payments with Possible Exemptions
  4. Tsunami Warnings After Japan Earthquakes
  5. Cigaritis Meghamalaiensis
  6. e-SCR Portal


Context:

The number of beneficiaries under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-Kisan) scheme has recently witnessed a notable decline, dropping by over 20% from a peak of 10.47 crore in April-July 2022 to 8.12 crore. However, the government’s proactive efforts, including the “saturation drive” implemented as part of the Viksit Bharat Sankalp Yatra, have resulted in the re-inclusion of 34 lakh farmers in the list of beneficiaries.

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Vikasit Bharat Sankalp Yatra: Campaign Overview
  2. PM Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana (PM-Kisan)
  3. Challenges of PM-Kisan

Vikasit Bharat Sankalp Yatra: Campaign Overview

  • Nationwide Awareness Drive:
    • A countrywide campaign focused on conducting outreach activities to achieve the saturation of various Government of India schemes.
    • Targets coverage across all Gram Panchayats, Nagar Panchayats, and Urban Local Bodies.
  • Collaborative Approach:
    • Implemented through a comprehensive government approach with active participation from various Ministries/Departments of the Government of India, State Governments, Central Government Organizations, and Institutions.
Objectives:
  • Targeting the Eligible Vulnerable:
    • Reach out to individuals eligible under different schemes but have not yet availed of the benefits.
  • Information Dissemination and Awareness:
    • Disseminate information and generate awareness about government schemes.
  • Beneficiary Interaction:
    • Engage with beneficiaries of government schemes through the sharing of personal stories and experiences.
  • Enrolment of Potential Beneficiaries:
    • Facilitate the enrolment of potential beneficiaries by gathering relevant details during the Vikasit Bharat Sankalp Yatra.

PM Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana (PM-Kisan):

  • Launched to supplement the financial needs of landholding farmers.
  • Operational since December 2018.
Financial Benefits:
  • Provides a financial benefit of Rs 6000 per year, disbursed in three equal installments every four months.
  • Transferred directly into the bank accounts of farmers’ families nationwide through the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) mode.
Eligibility and Scope:
  • Initially intended for Small and Marginal Farmers (SMFs) with landholding up to 2 hectares.
  • Later expanded to cover all landholding farmers.
Funding and Implementation:
  • Central Sector Scheme with 100% funding from the Government of India.
  • Implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare.
Objectives:
  • Financial Support for Inputs:
    • Supplement the financial needs of Small and Marginal Farmers in procuring various inputs for crop health and yields.
  • Protection from Moneylenders:
    • Prevent farmers from relying on moneylenders for meeting expenses, ensuring their continued participation in farming activities.
PM-KISAN Mobile App:
  • Developed and designed by the National Informatics Centre in collaboration with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.
  • Physical Verification Module:
    • Mandates a mandatory physical verification of 5% of beneficiaries annually, following the scheme’s laid-down provisions.

Challenges of PM-Kisan:

  • Complexity in Land Seeding and Aadhaar Linkage:
    • The mandatory provisions for land seeding and linking Aadhaar with active bank accounts have introduced complexity, posing challenges for farmers in meeting these prerequisites.
  • Technical Challenges in Remote Areas:
    • Farmers, especially those in remote locations, may encounter technical difficulties in fulfilling the Aadhaar linkage and land seeding requirements, impeding their access to PM-Kisan benefits.
  • Limited Awareness and Information:
    • Many eligible farmers may still lack awareness of the PM-Kisan scheme or have insufficient information about the application process, potentially leading to non-participation.
  • Outreach Challenges:
    • Despite outreach efforts, initiatives may struggle to reach all segments of the farming community, particularly those in remote or marginalized areas, resulting in uneven awareness and participation.
  • Technology Disparities:
    • Disparities in technology access, including smartphones and internet connectivity, may pose hurdles for farmers, limiting their ability to engage with the online processes required for PM-Kisan enrollment and compliance.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has successfully launched its inaugural X-ray Polarimeter Satellite (XpoSat) to study X-ray polarization and investigate cosmic sources such as Black holes, Neutron stars, and Magnetars. The mission was propelled into Low Earth Orbit via the PSLV-C58 rocket.

Relevance:

GS III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. X-ray Polarimeter Satellite (XPoSat)
  2. X-rays and their Study of Celestial Objects

X-ray Polarimeter Satellite (XPoSat):

Objective:

  • Designed to study X-ray polarization in the medium X-ray band, providing crucial insights into the radiation mechanisms and geometry of celestial sources.

Significance for Astrophysics:

  • Essential for understanding the physics underlying celestial bodies and their radiation processes.
Payloads:

Carries two main payloads:

  • POLIX (Polarimeter Instrument in X-rays):
    • Observes approximately 40 bright astronomical sources.
  • XSPECT (X-ray Spectroscopy and Timing):
    • Studies the electromagnetic spectrum produced by different types of matter.
Development:
  • Entirely constructed by two Bengaluru-based institutes—ISRO’s UR Rao Satellite Centre and Raman Research Institute.
  • Development initiated in 2008, with a formal agreement signed with ISRO in 2015.
Global Context:
  • Only the world’s second mission dedicated to X-ray polarization in the medium X-ray band.
  • NASA’s Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE), launched in 2021, was the first such mission by a space agency.
National Contribution:
  • Marks India’s third space-based observatory, succeeding the recently launched solar mission Aditya-L1 and AstroSat, launched in 2015.
  • Represents a significant advancement for Indian astronomy and space research.

X-rays and their Study of Celestial Objects:

Nature of X-rays:

  • X-rays are a form of electromagnetic radiation with wavelengths ranging from 0.01 to 10 nanometres.

Electromagnetic Radiation Characteristics:

  • Electromagnetic radiation exhibits characteristics of an electric field and a magnetic field vibrating perpendicular to each other.

Polarization of Electromagnetic Radiation:

  • Polarization refers to the orientation of the electric and magnetic fields as electromagnetic radiation moves through space.

Polarization of X-rays:

  • X-rays can undergo polarization when scattered.
  • Polarized X-rays are also generated when the path of a fast-moving charged particle is altered by a magnetic field.

Measurement and Astronomical Insights:

  • Instruments like POLIX are utilized to measure the polarization of X-rays.
  • This measurement allows astronomers to comprehend the orientation and strength of magnetic fields in celestial objects.

Significance:

  • Insights into the nature and behavior of celestial phenomena emitting X-rays are gained.
  • Crucial understanding of pulsars, regions around black holes, and other cosmic entities emitting X-rays is achieved through the study of X-ray polarization.

-Source: The Hindu, PIB, Indian Express



Context:

The Aadhaar-based Payment System (ABPS) is now mandatory for National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) workers’ payments. The government has indicated that exemptions may be considered on a “case-by-case basis.” The NREGS ensures a legal guarantee of 100 days of employment per financial year to adult members of rural households engaged in unskilled manual work at the statutory minimum wage.

Relevance:

GS II: Government Policies and Interventions

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Aadhaar-enabled Payment System (AePS)
  2. ABPS Implementation for NREGS

Aadhaar-enabled Payment System (AePS)

Identity Verification and Banking Access:

  • AePS enables bank customers to use their Aadhaar number as their identity to access their Aadhaar-enabled bank accounts.
  • Customers can perform basic banking transactions using this service.

Basic Banking Transactions:

  • AePS allows customers to perform various banking activities, including:
    • Balance enquiry
    • Cash withdrawal
    • Remittances through a Business Correspondent.

Mandatory Requirements: To avail AePS, customers must meet the following criteria:

  • Possess a Bank Account with a Bank participating in AePS.
  • Link their Aadhaar to the respective bank account.

Biometric Authentication:

  • Transactions under AePS are completed using the customer’s biometric authentication.
  • This ensures secure and reliable access to banking services.
Objectives of AePS:
  • Aadhaar-based Identity Access:
    • Empower bank customers to use Aadhaar as their identity for accessing Aadhaar-enabled bank accounts.
  • Basic Banking Transactions:
    • Perform fundamental banking transactions, including cash deposits, cash withdrawals, intrabank or interbank fund transfers, balance inquiries, and obtain mini statements through a Business Correspondent.
  • Financial Inclusion Goals:
    • Support the objectives of the Government of India and Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in advancing Financial Inclusion.
  • Retail Payments Electronification:
    • Contribute to the RBI’s goal of electronification of retail payments.
  • Centralized Routing for Aadhaar Transactions:
    • Enable banks to route Aadhaar-initiated interbank transactions through a central switching and clearing agency.
  • Government Entitlement Disbursements:
    • Facilitate the disbursement of Government entitlements such as NREGA, Social Security pension, Handicapped Old Age Pension, etc.
  • Interoperability Across Banks:
    • Enable interoperability across banks in a safe and secured manner.
  • Foundation for Aadhaar-enabled Banking Services:
    • Build the foundation for a comprehensive range of Aadhaar-enabled banking services.

ABPS Implementation for NREGS:

ABPS Utilization Under NREGS (Aadhaar-enabled Payment System):

  • Implemented since 2017 under Mahatma Gandhi NREGS.
  • Links workers’ 12-digit Aadhaar numbers with job cards and associated bank accounts.

Expansion of ABPS for NREGS Beneficiaries:

  • Extended to beneficiaries under the scheme due to widespread Aadhaar availability.
  • Ensures safer and faster payment transfers through ABPS.

Aadhaar Seeding and Authentication Statistics:

  • Out of 14.33 crore active beneficiaries, Aadhaar has been seeded for 13.97 crore.
  • 81.89% of active workers are now eligible for ABPS, with 13.34 crore Aadhaar authenticated.

ABPS Implementation Details:

  • In July 2023, 88.51% of wage payments made through ABPS.

Mandatory ABPS for NREGS Workers:

  • Initially made mandatory from Feb 1, 2023, with extensions until Dec 31, 2023.
  • Mandatory ABPS implementation from Jan 1, 2024, with the mixed route of ABPS and National Automated Clearing House (NACH) for bulk payments.

Exemptions and Technical Issues:

  • Exemption consideration for gram panchayats facing technical or Aadhaar-related problems.
  • Decision on exemptions to be made on a case-by-case basis until the resolution of issues.

Government’s Response to Criticism:

  • Opposition parties criticize ABPS implementation as exclusionary.
  • Government may consider exemptions in case of technical issues.
  • Accusations of “weaponizing technology, especially Aadhaar.”

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

Strong earthquakes, including a preliminary 7.6 magnitude, struck Japan, prompting tsunami warnings from North and South Korea, and Russia. Tsunami waves impacted various coastal areas in Japan, leading to urgent evacuation warnings.

Relevance:

GS I: Geography

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Tsunami Overview
  2. Tsunami Preparedness in India
  3. Why is Japan Prone to Earthquakes and Tsunamis?

Tsunami Overview:

  • Tsunami is a series of massive ocean waves caused by seismic activities like earthquakes or volcanic eruptions beneath the ocean.
  • Characterized by long wavelengths and high energy, tsunamis can traverse entire ocean basins, leading to extensive destruction upon reaching coastlines.
  • These waves can reach considerable heights, moving swiftly over deep waters and slowing down in shallower areas.
Factors Behind Tsunami Creation:
  • Underwater Earthquakes:
    • Shifting tectonic plates generate seismic waves, propagating through water and creating tsunamis.
  • Volcanic Eruptions:
    • Volcanic activity, especially under the ocean, displaces water, triggering tsunamis, particularly during volcanic island collapses or explosive eruptions.
  • Landslides:
    • Underwater landslides, caused by various factors, displace water, generating significant tsunami waves.
  • Meteorite Impact:
    • Rare but possible; the impact of a large meteorite or asteroid in the ocean can create tsunami-like waves.
  • Underwater Explosions:
    • Human activities, such as underwater explosions, have the potential to generate tsunamis.
Devastation Caused:
  • Tsunami waves, traveling at high speeds across the open ocean, unleash devastating force upon reaching coastal areas.
  • Unique energy and wavelength characteristics differentiate them from regular ocean waves, causing widespread damage during inundation.
Tsunami Preparedness:
  • Early warning systems and preparedness measures play a crucial role in minimizing the impact of tsunamis on coastal communities.
  • Swift responses and effective communication are essential components of mitigating the destructive effects of tsunamis.

Tsunami Preparedness in India:

Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System (IOTWS):
  • India actively participates in the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System (IOTWS).
  • The system includes seismic and sea-level sensors strategically placed to detect underwater earthquakes and monitor sea level changes.
  • Information collected is utilized to issue timely warnings to coastal communities.
Tsunami Early Warning Centre (ITEWC):
  • The Tsunami Early Warning Centre (ITEWC) is situated at the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) in Hyderabad.
  • ITEWC provides tsunami advisories to stakeholders.
Public Awareness and Education:
  • INCOIS, in collaboration with the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), conducts mock drills and organizes workshops/trainings on tsunami awareness and preparedness.
Enhancing Community Preparedness:
  • INCOIS coordinates the implementation of the UNESCO-IOC “Tsunami Ready” initiative to enhance community preparedness.
  • Villages like Venkatraipur and Noliasahi in Odisha have been recognized as Tsunami-ready communities by UNESCO-IOC, making India the first country in the Indian Ocean region to achieve this distinction.
Software and Multimode Dissemination:
  • INCOIS has the necessary software for monitoring earthquakes and multimode dissemination of early tsunami warnings.
  • The Decision Support System software automatically generates and disseminates warnings, integrating with the NDMA Common Alert Protocol (CAP) system.
  • INCOIS has developed the “SAMUDRA” mobile application for effective access to marine users for ocean data resources and advisories.

Why is Japan Prone to Earthquakes and Tsunamis?

Pacific Ring of Fire:
  • Japan is located along the ‘Pacific Ring of Fire,’ the most active earthquake tectonic belt globally, forming an imaginary horseshoe-shaped zone around the Pacific Ocean.
  • The Ring of Fire is renowned for frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
Tectonic Plates Interaction:
  • Within the Ring of Fire, several tectonic plates, such as the Pacific Plate, Eurasian Plate, and Indo-Australian Plate, continuously interact.
  • The constant collision and subduction of these plates result in earthquakes, volcanic activities, and the potential for tsunamis.
2011 Earthquake and Tsunami:
  • In 2011, Japan experienced a catastrophic 9.0 magnitude earthquake followed by a devastating tsunami.
  • The northeastern coastal communities were severely impacted, causing the loss of around 18,000 lives and displacing tens of thousands.
  • The tsunami triggered a nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima power plant, marking one of the most severe nuclear accidents since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster in the Soviet Union.

-Source: Indian Express



Context:

The pristine hills of the Meghamalai in Tamil Nadu have thrown up a new species of ‘silverline’ butterflies.

Relevance:

Species in News

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Cigaritis Meghamalaiensis: A New Butterfly Species
  2. Periyar Tiger Reserve: Key Facts

Cigaritis Meghamalaiensis: A New Butterfly Species

  • Recently discovered butterfly species in the Western Ghats, named Cigaritis meghamalaiensis.
  • Marks the first butterfly species described from the Western Ghats in 33 years.
  • Discovered in the high elevations of Periyar in Idukki in 2018, with subsequent findings revealing its confinement to the Meghamalais and the adjoining Periyar Tiger Reserve.
  • Unique features include conjoined discal and post-discal bands on the forewing underside, setting it apart from other Cigaritis species in Peninsular India and Sri Lanka.

Periyar Tiger Reserve: Key Facts

  • Located in the Western Ghats of Kerala, named after the River Periyar originating within the reserve.
  • Drained by two main rivers, Pamba and Periyar.
  • Rich biodiversity with tropical evergreen, semi-evergreen, and moist deciduous vegetation.
  • Home to various tribal communities, including the Mannans and the Palians.
  • Diverse flora, including teak, mangoes, rosewood, jamun, jacarandas, terminalias, tamarind, royal ponciana, and bamboos.
  • Fauna includes elephants, wild pigs, sambar, gaur, mouse deer, dole or barking deer, Indian wild dog, and tigers.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

The Electronic Supreme Court Reports (e-SCR) portal starts with just 2,238 translated judgments as of January 2023 and ends the year with over 31,000 rulings translated.

Relevance:

GS II: Government Policies and Interventions

e-SCR Portal: Digitizing Supreme Court Judgments

  • The e-SCR portal is an initiative by the Supreme Court to offer digital versions of its judgments similar to the official law reports.
  • Developed with the help of the National Informatics Centre, the portal incorporates an elastic search technique for efficient database searches.
  • Search options include free text search, search within search, case type and case year search, judge search, year and volume search, and bench strength search.
  • The portal grants free access to approximately 34,000 judgments for lawyers, law students, and the general public.
  • Judgments will be available on the Supreme Court website, mobile app, and the National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG) judgment portal.

National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG): Key Facts

  • NJDG serves as a national repository for data on cases across India’s courts, covering instituted, pending, and disposed of cases.
  • Developed by the National Informatics Centre (NIC) in collaboration with the Registry’s in-house software development team.
  • Features an interactive interface and analytics dashboard, offering case-related information, statistics on institution, pendency, and disposal of cases, case types, and year-wise breakdown for the Supreme Court of India.
  • The database on the NJDG portal is regularly updated to provide current and comprehensive information.

-Source: The Hindu


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