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Current Affairs 19 August 2023

CONTENTS

  1. Vishwakarma Yojana & Lakhpati Didi Scheme
  2. New Scheme to Alleviate Urban Housing Crisis
  3. Radio Thermoelectric Generators (RTGs)
  4. INS Vindhyagiri
  5. Amylotropic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
  6. Unclaimed Deposits – Gateway to Access inforMation (UDGAM) Portal
  7. Herons

Vishwakarma Yojana & Lakhpati Didi Scheme


Context:

In the recent Independence Day address, the Prime Minister unveiled two significant initiatives aimed at empowering artisans and women’s self-help groups (SHGs) across India.

Relevance:

GS II: Government Policies and Interventions

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Vishwakarma Yojana: Empowering Artisans and Craftsmen
  2. Empowering Rural Women: The Lakhpati Didi Scheme

Vishwakarma Yojana: Empowering Artisans and Craftsmen

  • The Vishwakarma Yojana is an innovative initiative aimed at uplifting skilled traditional craftsmen, particularly from the Other Backward Classes (OBC) community.
  • This scheme is named after Vishwakarma, the divine architect and craftsman, and aims to perpetuate the guru-shishya parampara or teacher-pupil tradition within artisan families.
Key Features:

Recognition and Identity:

  • Artisans and craftsmen enrolled in the scheme will be granted a PM Vishwakarma certificate and an official identity card.

Financial Support:

  • Beneficiaries are eligible for collateral-free credit support of up to ₹1 lakh (first tranche) and ₹2 lakh (second tranche) at a concessional interest rate of 5%.

Budget Allocation:

  • The Vishwakarma Yojana has been allocated a budget ranging from ₹13,000 crore to ₹15,000 crore for five financial years from 2023-2024 to 2027-2028.

Skill Training and Tools:

  • The scheme offers a stipend of ₹500 for skill training and ₹1,500 for the acquisition of modern tools.

Diverse Traditional Trades:

  • Encompassing both rural and urban areas, the scheme covers 18 traditional trades such as carpentry, boat-making, blacksmithing, pottery, sculpting, cobbling, tailoring, and more.

Registration Process:

  • Registration for the Vishwakarma Yojana can be completed at common services centers situated in villages.

Collaborative Support:

  • While the central government provides funding, collaboration with state governments is also sought for the successful implementation of the scheme.

Market Integration:

  • A significant goal of the scheme is to seamlessly integrate artisans into domestic and global value chains, opening doors to improved market access and opportunities.

Empowering Rural Women: The Lakhpati Didi Scheme

  • The Lakhpati Didi Scheme embodies the government’s ambitious aim of fostering economic prosperity among women in rural villages.
  • By targeting the creation of two crore “lakhpati didis” or prosperous sisters, this initiative aligns with broader poverty alleviation goals and aims to uplift women through skill training.
Key Features:

Skill Empowerment:

  • Women in rural areas will receive skill training to enable them to earn an annual income exceeding Rs 1 lakh.

Drones for Agricultural Activities:

  • Women’s Self-Help Groups (SHGs) will receive drones to aid in various agricultural tasks.
  • The utilization of drones aims to blend technology with traditional farming practices, thereby enhancing agricultural productivity and income.

Technology and Empowerment:

  • This initiative stands at the intersection of technology adoption and women’s empowerment, addressing both economic and gender disparities.

Training for Drone Operation:

  • Approximately 15,000 women’s SHGs will undergo training in drone operation and repair.
  • This training equips women with contemporary skills, providing them with an edge in various fields.

Revolutionizing Agriculture:

  • Drones possess the potential to revolutionize agriculture through precision farming, crop monitoring, and pest management.
  • This technological leap contributes to increased crop yields and more sustainable farming practices.

Diverse Skill Training:

  • Beyond drones, the scheme encompasses diverse skills training, including LED bulb making and plumbing.
  • This comprehensive approach broadens the spectrum of income-generating opportunities for rural women.

-Source: The Hindu


New Scheme to Alleviate Urban Housing Crisis


Context:

In his 77th Independence Day address, the Prime Minister introduced a new scheme to address the housing challenges confronting the urban poor. This initiative works in conjunction with the existing flagship program, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana Urban (PMAY-U), launched in 2015.

Relevance:

GS II: Government Policies and Interventions

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana Urban
  2. Components of PMAY-U: Enhancing Urban Housing

Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana Urban

Implemented by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA), the PMAY-U initiative aims to alleviate the pressing issue of inadequate urban housing among economically disadvantaged sections through the following key points:

Objective and Timeline:
  • The mission’s primary objective is to provide durable and permanent houses to eligible urban households by 2022.
  • To ensure the completion of all sanctioned houses, the scheme’s duration has been extended until December 2024. The funding and implementation approach remain unchanged.
Target Beneficiaries:
  • The scheme targets urban housing shortages among various economic segments, including the EWS/LIG and MIG categories.
  • Economically Weaker Section (EWS) with a maximum annual family income of Rs. 3,00,000.
  • Low Income Group (LIG) with a maximum annual family income of Rs. 6,00,000.
  • Middle Income Groups (MIG I & II) with a maximum annual family income of Rs. 18,00,000.
  • Beneficiary families include husbands, wives, unmarried sons, and/or unmarried daughters.

Components of PMAY-U: Enhancing Urban Housing

The Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana Urban (PMAY-U) comprises several key components aimed at improving urban housing conditions:

In-situ Slum Redevelopment (ISSR):

  • Offers Rs. 1 lakh per dwelling as Central Assistance to eligible slum residents during redevelopment.
  • Focuses on utilizing land as a resource in collaboration with private developers.
  • States/Cities can allocate this assistance to other slum redevelopment projects if needed.

Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme (CLSS):

  • Supports EWS/LIG and Middle Income Group (MIG) individuals seeking housing loans.
  • Provides interest subsidies as follows:
    • 6.5% on loans up to Rs. 6 Lakh
    • 4% on loans up to Rs. 9 Lakh
    • 3% on loans up to Rs. 12 Lakh
  • Designated Central Nodal Agencies (HUDCO, NHB, SBI) channel subsidies through lending institutions.

Affordable Housing in Partnership (AHP):

  • Offers Rs. 1.5 Lakh Central Assistance for each EWS dwelling by the Government.
  • Focuses on affordable housing projects targeting at least 35% of homes for EWS category.
  • States/UTs set affordability limits for EWS homes.

Beneficiary-led Individual House Construction/ Enhancement (BLC-N/ BLC-E):

  • Provides up to Rs. 1.5 lakh Central Assistance for constructing/enhancing individual houses.
  • Urban Local Bodies verify beneficiary information, land ownership, and eligibility.

-Source: The Hindu


Radio Thermoelectric Generators (RTGs)


Context:

Recently, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in collaboration with the Bhabha Atomic Research Center (BARC), has embarked on the joint development of Radio thermoelectric generators (RTGs), an innovative approach aimed at surpassing the constraints of conventional chemical engines for interplanetary voyages.

Relevance:

GS III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Radio Thermoelectric Generators (RTGs)
  2. Applications in Spacecraft
  3. Advantages and Considerations

Radio Thermoelectric Generators (RTGs)

  • Radio Thermoelectric Generators (RTGs) are advanced power sources developed for the demands of deep space missions.
  • They offer solutions to the unique challenges posed by these missions, providing essential energy for spacecraft in distant regions of space.
Utilization of Radioactive Decay:
  • RTGs rely on the natural decay of radioactive materials like Plutonium-238 or Strontium-90.
  • As these materials decay, they emit heat energy as a byproduct.
  • The heat generated by radioactive decay is the key resource harnessed by RTGs to produce electricity.
Conversion of Heat to Electricity:
  • RTGs employ thermoelectric technology to convert the emitted heat into electrical power.
  • Thermoelectric materials generate electricity when there is a temperature difference between two sides of the material.
  • The heat from the decaying radioactive material creates this temperature difference, leading to the production of electricity.

Applications in Spacecraft:

  • RTGs are particularly useful for spacecraft traveling in regions where sunlight is insufficient for solar panels to generate power.
  • These generators are employed in missions like outer planets exploration, where solar energy is limited due to greater distances from the Sun.
  • RTGs provide propulsion and electrical power to spacecraft components and instruments, enabling long-duration missions.

Advantages and Considerations:

  • RTGs offer a continuous and reliable power source that can endure for many years.
  • They are highly resilient in harsh environments and can function in extreme temperatures and radiation levels.
  • However, the use of radioactive materials requires strict safety measures for handling, transport, and disposal.

Conclusion:

  • RTGs play a crucial role in enabling deep space exploration by providing sustained power to spacecraft in remote and challenging environments.

-Source: The Hindu


INS Vindhyagiri


Context:

President launched INS Vindhyagiri, the last in the series of three Project 17A (Alpha) frigates. It was built by the Indian Navy at Kolkata-based Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE).

Relevance:

GS III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Stealth Frigates: Cutting-Edge Naval Warfare Vessels
  2. Project 17A: Advancing India’s Naval Capabilities
  3. Key Highlights of Project 17A Frigates

Stealth Frigates: Cutting-Edge Naval Warfare Vessels

A stealth frigate is an advanced naval warship designed with specialized technology to minimize its visibility and detectability by enemy radar and sensor systems.

Reduced Radar Cross-Section:
  • The hull and superstructure of the frigate are intricately designed to deflect and absorb radar waves.
  • This careful design lowers the ship’s radar cross-section, reducing the likelihood of radar signals reflecting back to enemy detection systems.
  • This contributes to the vessel’s reduced visibility on enemy radar screens.
Signature Management:
  • Stealth frigates are equipped with technologies to manage their electromagnetic emissions, including radar and communication systems.
  • These emissions are controlled to prevent easy detection by adversaries’ sensors and radar systems.
  • Infrared and Thermal Signature Reduction:
  • The design and materials of stealth frigates aim to minimize their infrared and thermal signatures.
  • This reduces their visibility to infrared and heat-seeking sensors used by adversaries.
Acoustic Signature Reduction:
  • Specialized sound-absorbing materials and techniques are employed to decrease the noise generated by the ship’s machinery and propulsion systems.
  • This makes it challenging for adversaries’ sonar systems to detect the frigate underwater.
Functional Applications:
  • Stealth frigates are utilized in naval operations such as anti-submarine warfare, anti-air warfare, maritime patrol, surveillance, and escort missions.
  • The incorporation of stealth technology enhances their survivability and operational effectiveness in modern naval warfare scenarios.
Importance in Naval Warfare:
  • The stealth features of frigates contribute to their ability to operate with reduced chances of detection and engagement.
  • In contemporary naval warfare, minimizing detection and engagement ranges is critical for tactical advantage and mission success.

Project 17A: Advancing India’s Naval Capabilities

  • Project 17 Alpha frigates (P-17A) were initiated by the Indian Navy in 2019.
  • They serve as an evolved version of the Project 17 (Shivalik Class) Frigates, boasting enhanced stealth attributes, advanced weaponry, sensors, and platform management systems.
Purpose and Execution:
  • Launched by India’s defense forces, Project 17A aims to construct a series of cutting-edge stealth guided-missile frigates.
  • These frigates are currently being built by two prominent shipbuilding companies: Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders (MDL) and Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers (GRSE).
Construction Details:
  • The Project 17A initiative involves the construction of four ships by MDL and three ships by GRSE.
  • The construction of these ships commenced between 2019 and 2022, with the first five ships already launched.
  • Notable Launches:
  • The maiden vessel introduced under Project 17A was the Nilgiri, unveiled in 2019.
  • The second ship, Udaygiri, was launched in May 2022.
Indigenous Design and Self-Reliance:
  • Indian Navy’s Warship Design Bureau WDB is responsible for the in-house design of Project 17A ships.
  • Aligning with India’s commitment to self-reliance (Aatma Nirbharta), a significant 75% of equipment and system orders for Project 17A originate from indigenous firms, including Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).
Significance:
  • Project 17A exemplifies India’s push to enhance its naval capabilities and bolster its maritime presence through technologically advanced and indigenous vessels.

Key Highlights of Project 17A Frigates:

The Vindhyagiri stealth frigate marks the sixth vessel rolled out as part of the Project 17A Frigate initiative.

Previous Launches:
  • Five other ships under this project – INS Nilgiri, Udaygiri, Himgiri, Taragiri, and Dunagiri – have been launched between the years 2019 and 2022.
Distinctive Features:
  • The vessels under P17A classification are classified as guided missile frigates.
  • They boast dimensions of 149 meters in length, a displacement of around 6,670 tonnes, and can attain a speed of 28 knots.
Multi-Dimensional Capabilities:
  • These frigates are equipped to effectively counter threats in all three dimensions: air, surface, and sub-surface.
Significance:
  • The Project 17A Frigates, exemplified by the Vindhyagiri, represent a significant advancement in India’s naval capabilities, enhancing its readiness to address various security challenges across different domains.

-Source: The Hindu


Amylotropic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)


Context:

Support groups for patients with Amylotrophic Lateral Sclerosis urge that the condition be counted as a rare disease.

Relevance:

GS II: Health

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
  2. Mechanism of ALS Effects

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

  • ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative condition affecting specific nerve cells called motor neurons within the brain and spinal cord.
  • These motor neurons are responsible for controlling various voluntary functions, such as movement, speech, and chewing.
  • The disease is also commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease, named after the famous baseball player who battled ALS.
Impact on Motor Neurons and Muscles:
  • ALS leads to the gradual degeneration of motor neurons, causing the muscles they control to lose functionality and weaken.
  • The result is muscle atrophy, characterized by the wasting away of muscles due to the loss of nerve signals.

Mechanism of ALS Effects:

Upper Motor Neurons:

  • These motor neurons exist in the brain and spinal cord.
  • Their role is to transmit signals to lower motor neurons.

Lower Motor Neurons:

  • Situated in the brain stem and spinal cord.
  • They receive instructions from upper motor neurons and relay messages to muscles, initiating movement.

Diagnostic Timeline:

  • Following the emergence of symptoms, ALS diagnosis typically occurs over a period of 8 to 15 months.

Current Treatment Landscape:

  • Presently, there is no definitive cure for ALS.
  • Available treatments focus on symptom management and improving the quality of life for individuals living with the disease.

-Source: The Hindu


Unclaimed Deposits – Gateway to Access inforMation (UDGAM) Portal


Context:

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) recently launched a Centralised Web Portal, UDGAM (Unclaimed Deposits – Gateway to Access inforMation), for the public to search for their unclaimed deposits across multiple banks at one place.

Relevance:

GS III: Indian Economy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Udgam Portal
  2. Unclaimed Deposits

Udgam Portal

The Udgam Portal is a creation of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) designed to assist the general public in easily locating their unclaimed deposits across various banks.

Collaboration and Development:

  • The development of the Udgam Portal has been a collaborative effort involving key entities such as Reserve Bank Information Technology Pvt Ltd (ReBIT), Indian Financial Technology & Allied Services (IFTAS), and participating banks.

Features and Benefits:

  • The primary purpose of the portal is to streamline the process for individuals searching for unclaimed deposits by centralizing the information from multiple banks in one place.
  • Users have the option to claim their unclaimed deposit amounts or reactivate their dormant deposit accounts through the platform.

Claim Process:

  • Customers can create an account on the ‘Udgam’ platform using their mobile number.
  • After registration, users can search for unclaimed deposits associated with their name.
  • Additional identification inputs like PAN, voter ID, driving license, and passport numbers can be provided to narrow down the search.
  • Once the unclaimed deposit is identified, customers can proceed with the Know Your Customer (KYC) process at their respective bank branch to retrieve the funds.

Nominee Involvement:

  • If the original deposit-holder has passed away, their nominee will be required to submit appropriate documents for the claims process.
  • The Udgam Portal effectively eases the process of locating and claiming unclaimed deposits, streamlining interactions between customers and banks.

Unclaimed Deposits

  • Unclaimed Deposits, as defined by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), pertain to funds present in savings or current accounts that have shown no activity for a period of 10 years.
  • For fixed deposits (FDs), unclaimed deposits are those where withdrawal has not occurred within 10 years from the date of maturity.

Inactivity Period:

  • The crucial criteria for identifying unclaimed deposits is the lack of any transactions or activities within the specified timeframe.

Types of Unclaimed Deposits:

  • Unclaimed deposits cover both savings and current accounts.
  • Additionally, fixed deposits are considered unclaimed if they remain untouched beyond 10 years from the maturity date.

Regulatory Involvement:

  • The Reserve Bank of India regulates the handling and management of unclaimed deposits in financial institutions.
  • Importance of Identification:
  • Identifying unclaimed deposits is crucial as these funds often belong to account holders who have lost track of their accounts or failed to carry out transactions for a substantial period.

Resolution and Retrieval:

  • The introduction of platforms like the Udgam Portal by RBI aims to simplify the retrieval process for individuals with unclaimed deposits.
  • Once identified, account holders can follow the appropriate procedures to claim their funds or reactivate their dormant accounts.

-Source: The Hindu


Herons


Context:

The annual heronry count jointly organised by WWF-India in association with the Forest department in Thiruvananthapuram district has recorded more heronries that in the past.

Relevance:

GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Heron
  2. Importance of Heronry Counts

About Heron:

  • Herons refer to a diverse group of approximately 60 species of long-legged wading birds.
  • These birds are categorized within the family Ardeidae and belong to the order Ciconiiformes.
  • The family Ardeidae also encompasses species commonly known as egrets, along with bitterns in the subfamily Botaurinae.

Global Distribution:

  • Herons are found worldwide, with a higher concentration in tropical regions.
  • They are known for their characteristic behavior of wading in shallow waters like pools, marshes, and swamps.

Feeding Habits:

  • Herons primarily feed by patiently wading in shallow waters, where they capture aquatic creatures such as frogs, fish, and other aquatic animals.

Breeding and Nesting:

  • Herons build their nests using sticks, creating rough platforms in bushes or trees near water sources.
  • These nests are often found in clusters, forming colonies known as heronries.

Importance of Heronry Counts:

  • The practice of conducting heronry counts involves tallying the number of “apparently occupied nests” of herons, egrets, and similar colonial waterbirds.
  • This counting method offers an effective and accurate way to assess the breeding population of waterbirds in a specific area.
  • Given their role as top predators in aquatic ecosystems, monitoring heron populations can serve as an indicator of the overall health of both freshwater and brackish water ecosystems.

-Source: The Hindu


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