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Current Affairs 29 June 2023

CONTENTS

  1. National Research Foundation (NRF)
  2. Indian Ocean Dipole
  3. PM-PRANAM
  4. QS World University Ranking 2024
  5. Rani Durgavati
  6. Geographical Indication (GI) tags
  7. Autonomous District Councils (ADC)

National Research Foundation (NRF)


Context:

The Union Cabinet approved the National Research Foundation (NRF) Bill 2023, which will establish NRF as an apex body to provide high-level strategic direction to scientific research in the country.

Relevance:

GS II: Education

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Salient Features of the NRF Bill 2023
  2. National Research Foundation
  3. What is the Objective Behind Creating NRF?
  4. Significance of NRF

Salient Features of the NRF Bill 2023

The NRF Bill 2023, which aims to establish the National Research Foundation (NRF) in India, has several salient features, including:

  • Establishment of NRF: The bill provides for the establishment of the National Research Foundation, which will serve as a platform to support and promote research and development activities across universities, colleges, research institutions, and R&D laboratories in India.
  • Culture of Research and Innovation: The NRF aims to foster a culture of research and innovation by providing funding, resources, and support for R&D initiatives. It intends to create an environment that encourages and nurtures scientific research and innovation.
  • Repeal of SERB: The proposed bill repeals the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB), which was established by Parliament in 2008. The SERB, which operates under the Department of Science and Technology (DST), will be subsumed into the NRF. This consolidation is aimed at streamlining and strengthening the research funding process.
  • Funding and Support: The NRF will play a crucial role in providing funding and support for scientific and technological research projects, including funding for S&T start-ups, establishment of incubators, and financing science-related initiatives in central and state universities.

National Research Foundation

The NRF, or National Research Foundation, is a proposed organization that will be established in India to promote and support research and development activities across universities, colleges, research institutions, and R&D laboratories.

Here are some key points about the NRF:

Establishment and Cost:

  • The NRF will be set up as per the recommendations of the National Education Policy (NEP). It is estimated to have a total cost of ₹50,000 crore from 2023-28.
  • The government will contribute ₹10,000 crore over five years, and around ₹36,000 crore is expected to come from the private sector as investments into research.

Role of DST:

  • The Department of Science and Technology (DST) will be an “administrative” department of the NRF.
  • This means that the DST will work under the NRF’s umbrella, and its functions and responsibilities will be aligned with the goals and objectives of the NRF.

Governing Board:

  • The NRF will have a Governing Board that will oversee its operations and decision-making.
  • The Prime Minister of India will serve as the ex-officio President of the Board, while the Union Minister of Science & Technology and Union Minister of Education will be the ex-officio Vice-Presidents.
  • The Board will also include eminent researchers and professionals from various disciplines.

Executive Council:

  • The NRF’s functioning will be governed by an Executive Council, which will be chaired by the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India.
  • The Executive Council will play a key role in formulating policies, making strategic decisions, and ensuring the effective implementation of NRF’s initiatives.

What is the Objective Behind Creating NRF?

The creation of the National Research Foundation (NRF) in India is driven by several objectives aimed at promoting equitable and increased research funding, fostering collaboration, and encouraging participation from the private sector.

Here are the key objectives behind the establishment of the NRF:

Equitable Research Funding:

  • The NRF aims to ensure that scientific research is conducted and funded in a fair and equitable manner.
  • Currently, prestigious institutions like the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) receive a significant portion of research funding, while state universities receive comparatively less (around 10%).
  • The NRF intends to address this disparity and provide greater research funding opportunities to a wider range of institutions.

Prioritization of Research Funding:

  • The NRF, through its Executive Council, will prioritize research funding and determine the areas that require support and investment.
  • This strategic approach will enable the NRF to allocate resources to areas of national importance, emerging disciplines, and societal needs.

Collaboration and Partnerships:

  • The NRF aims to foster collaboration among industry, academia, government departments, and research institutions.
  • It seeks to establish effective interfaces for engagement and contribution from industries, state governments, and scientific and line ministries.
  • By forging strong collaborations, the NRF intends to leverage the strengths and resources of different stakeholders to drive research and innovation.

Policy Framework and Regulatory Processes:

  • The NRF will play a crucial role in creating a policy framework and regulatory processes that encourage collaboration and increased spending by industries on research and development (R&D).
  • This includes establishing mechanisms to streamline participation, facilitate knowledge exchange, and incentivize private sector investment in R&D activities.

Significance of NRF:

  • Addressing Regional Imbalances: One of the key significance of NRF is its focus on funding projects in peripheral, rural, and semi-urban areas that often remain neglected in terms of science funding. By prioritizing research in these areas, the NRF aims to bridge the regional imbalances and promote scientific development across the country.
  • Multidisciplinary Research: The NRF goes beyond traditional boundaries by promoting research not only in the natural sciences and engineering but also in social sciences, arts, and humanities. This multidisciplinary approach recognizes the interconnectedness of different fields and encourages holistic research that can address complex societal challenges and foster innovation.
  • Implementation of Missions: The NRF will play a crucial role in the implementation of various missions, such as the supercomputer mission or the quantum mission. These missions are aimed at advancing specific areas of scientific research and technological development. The NRF’s involvement will provide the necessary funding, support, and coordination to drive these missions effectively and achieve their objectives.
  • Research and Innovation Ecosystem: By bringing together academia, industry, government departments, and research institutions, the NRF strengthens the research and innovation ecosystem in the country. It creates a platform for collaboration, knowledge exchange, and partnerships, fostering an environment where research ideas can thrive, innovations can be commercialized, and societal impact can be realized.

-Source: The Hindu


Indian Ocean Dipole


Context:

The Indian Monsoon is expected to be influenced by the El Nino phenomenon in 2023, there are also anticipations of a positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) developing, which could potentially offset the impact of El Nino.

Relevance:

GS I: Geography

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD)
  2. El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO)
  3. Impact of Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD)

Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD)

  • The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), sometimes referred to as the Indian Nino, is a phenomenon similar to El Nino.
  • It occurs in a relatively smaller area of the Indian Ocean, between the Indonesian and Malaysian coastline in the east and the African coastline near Somalia in the west.
  • In the IOD, one side of the ocean along the equator becomes warmer than the other.
  • A positive IOD occurs when the western side of the Indian Ocean, near the Somalia coast, becomes warmer than the eastern Indian Ocean.
  • Conversely, a negative IOD indicates cooler temperatures in the western Indian Ocean.
Negative IOD
  • Air circulation in the Indian Ocean basin moves from west to east near the surface and in the opposite direction at the upper levels.
  • Warmer waters from the western Pacific cross into the Indian Ocean, causing a slight temperature rise in that region.
  • During normal years, this leads to the rising of air and helps maintain the prevailing air circulation.
  • In years when the air circulation becomes stronger, more warm surface waters from the African coast are pushed towards the Indonesian islands, resulting in a warmer western Indian Ocean.
  • Hotter air rises, reinforcing the cycle of a negative IOD.
Positive IOD
  • Air circulation becomes weaker than normal, and in rare cases, it may even reverse direction.
  • As a result, the African coast becomes warmer, while the Indonesian coastline experiences cooler temperatures.
  • Positive IOD events often occur during El Nino periods, while negative IOD is sometimes associated with La Nina.
  • The cooling effect of El Nino on the Pacific side of Indonesia contributes to the development of a positive IOD in the Indian Ocean.

El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO)

  • The El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is a climate phenomenon that affects the Pacific Ocean and has global weather implications.
  • In a normal year, the eastern side of the Pacific Ocean near the northwestern coast of South America is cooler compared to the western side near the islands of the Philippines and Indonesia.
  • This temperature difference arises due to prevailing wind systems that move from east to west, pushing warmer surface waters toward the Indonesian coast.
  • As the warm surface waters are displaced, relatively cooler waters from deeper levels rise up to replace them.
  • During an El Nino event, there is a weakening of the wind systems, resulting in less displacement of the warmer waters.
  • This causes the eastern side of the Pacific Ocean to become warmer than usual. The opposite occurs during La Nina.
  • El Nino and La Nina are two phases of ENSO.
  • Both El Nino and La Nina have widespread effects on weather patterns globally.
  • In India, El Nino has the impact of suppressing monsoon rainfall.
El Niño
  • El Niño is the warm phase of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and is associated with a band of warm ocean water that develops in the central and east-central equatorial Pacific (between approximately the International Date Line and 120°W), including the area off the Pacific coast of South America.
  • The ENSO is the cycle of warm and cold sea surface temperature (SST) of the tropical central and eastern Pacific Ocean.
  • El Niño is accompanied by high air pressure in the western Pacific and low air pressure in the eastern Pacific.
  • During the development of El Niño, rainfall develops between September–November.
  • The cool phase of ENSO is La Niña, with SSTs in the eastern Pacific below average, and air pressure high in the eastern Pacific and low in the western Pacific.
  • The ENSO cycle, including both El Niño and La Niña, causes global changes in temperature and rainfall.
La Niña
  • La Niña is a coupled ocean-atmosphere phenomenon that is the colder counterpart of El Niño, as part of the broader El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) climate pattern.
  • It is a coupled ocean-atmosphere phenomenon that is the colder counterpart of El Niño, as part of the broader El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) climate pattern.
  • During a period of La Niña, the sea surface temperature across the equatorial Eastern Central Pacific Ocean will be lower than normal by 3 to 5 °C (5.4 to 9 °F).
  • An appearance of La Niña persists for at least five months.
  • It occurs as strong winds blow warm water at the ocean’s surface from South America across the Pacific Ocean towards Indonesia.
  • As this warm water moves west, cold water from the deep sea rises to the surface near South America.
  • As a result, it is considered to be the cold phase of the broader El Niño–Southern Oscillation weather pattern, as well as the opposite of El Niño weather pattern.

Impact of Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD)

  • The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) exhibits an ocean-atmosphere interaction that resembles the fluctuations observed during El Nino events in the Pacific Ocean. However, the IOD is relatively less powerful than El Nino, resulting in relatively minimal impacts.
  • During a positive IOD event, rainfall increases along the African coastline and over the Indian subcontinent, while rainfall is suppressed over Indonesia, Southeast Asia, and Australia. The impacts are opposite during a negative IOD event.
Past Events:
  • In 2019, an IOD event developed during the late monsoon season. It was so strong that it compensated for the deficit rainfall experienced during the first month of the monsoon season (June, which had a 30% rainfall deficiency that year).
  • The deficit in June 2019 was also attributed to a developing El Nino, but the El Nino weakened and did not have a significant impact later on.

-Source: Indian Express


PM-PRANAM


Context:

The Centre has approved a new scheme PM-PRANAM to incentivise states to promote alternative fertilisers and reduce the use of chemical fertilisers.

  • It also decided to continue the current urea subsidy scheme for three years ending March 2025, with an outlay of ₹3.68 lakh crore.

Relevance:

GS III: Agriculture

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. PM-PRANAM
  2. Features of the scheme

PM-PRANAM

PM-PRANAM (PM Programme for Restoration, Awareness, Nourishment and Amelioration of Mother Earth) is a scheme introduced by the Prime Minister of India.

Objective:

  • Encourage the balanced use of fertilisers by promoting the use of bio fertilisers and organic fertilisers.
  • Reduce the subsidy burden on chemical fertilisers, which has been increasing significantly.

Implementation:

  • States that adopt alternative fertilisers and reduce the consumption of chemical fertilisers will be incentivised.
  • The subsidy amount saved from reducing chemical fertiliser usage will be provided to the states as a subsidy for promoting alternative fertilisers and other development works.
  • The Centre will give 50% of the subsidy savings to the states.

Example:

  • If a state reduces its consumption of conventional fertilisers by 3 lakh tonnes and saves ₹3,000 crore in subsidies.
  • The Centre will provide 50% of the subsidy savings, which is ₹1,500 crore, to the state for promoting alternative fertilisers and other development initiatives.

Benefits:

  • Encourages the adoption of sustainable and environmentally friendly agricultural practices.
  • Reduces the dependency on chemical fertilisers, promoting the use of bio fertilisers and organic fertilisers.
  • Helps in reducing the subsidy burden on chemical fertilisers, which has been increasing over the years.

Features of the PM-PRANAM scheme include:

Financing:

  • The scheme will be financed through the savings from existing fertiliser subsidies under schemes administered by the Department of Fertilisers.
  • There will be no separate budget allocated for the scheme.

Subsidy Grant:

  • 50% of the subsidy savings resulting from reduced chemical fertiliser usage will be provided to the state as a grant.
  • Asset Creation:
  • 70% of the grant received by the state can be utilized for creating assets related to the technological adoption of alternative fertilisers.
  • This includes establishing alternate fertiliser production units at the village, block, and district levels.

Incentives and Rewards:

  • The remaining 30% of the grant money can be used to reward and encourage farmers, panchayats (village councils), and other stakeholders involved in reducing chemical fertiliser usage and generating awareness about alternative fertilisers.

Calculation Method:

  • The calculation for reducing chemical fertiliser use will compare a state’s increase or decrease in urea consumption in a given year with its average urea consumption over the previous three years.
  • This serves as a reference point to assess the reduction in chemical fertiliser usage.

-Source: The Hindu


QS World University Ranking 2024


Context:

Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay has achieved a significant milestone by breaking into the world’s top 150 universities in the latest edition of the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Ranking. This remarkable leap comes after eight years since the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bangalore achieved a similar feat.

Relevance:

GS II: Education

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Key Insights from QS World University Ranking
  2. QS World University Rankings
  3. Revised Ranking Parameters in QS

Key Insights from QS World University Ranking:

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) continues its reign as the top-ranked university in the world for the twelfth consecutive time.
  • The National University of Singapore breaks into the top 10, becoming the first Asian university to achieve this milestone.
  • India stands out as the seventh most represented country globally, with 45 universities securing rankings in the QS World University Ranking.
  • IIT Bombay achieves its highest rank ever, claiming the 149th position globally. It demonstrates excellence in employment reputation and citation per faculty, with a notable improvement in citation per faculty score.
  • The University of Delhi and Anna University make their debut in the top 500 universities, showcasing their growing recognition and prominence in global higher education.

QS World University Rankings:

  • The QS World University Rankings are annual rankings released by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS).
  • These rankings aim to evaluate and compare the performance and quality of universities worldwide.
  • The methodology used by QS takes into account various indicators, including academic reputation, faculty-student ratio, employer reputation, sustainability, employment outcomes, international research network, citations per faculty, international faculty ratio, and international student ratio.
  • In addition to the overall rankings, QS also provides rankings by subject, region, student city, business school, and sustainability, catering to specific areas of interest and focus.

Revised Ranking Parameters in QS:

  • QS has introduced three new indicators in their ranking methodology: sustainability, employment outcomes, and international research network. Each of these indicators carries a weightage of 5% in the overall ranking.
  • Adjustments have been made to existing parameters such as academic reputation, faculty-student ratio, and employer reputation.
  • The weightage for faculty-student ratio has been decreased in the revised ranking parameters.
  • The impact on Indian institutions is twofold:
    • The reduction in weightage for faculty-student ratio benefits Indian institutions overall.
    • However, research-focused institutions like the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) may face challenges due to the decreased weightage, as it may impact their rankings.
  • The inclusion of the employability outcomes indicator benefits several Indian institutions, as it highlights their strengths in terms of preparing students for the job market.

-Source: Indian Express


Rani Durgavati


Context:

Recently, the Madhya Pradesh government launched a six-day rally called the Rani Durgavati Gaurav Yatra to commemorate the life and legacy of the 16th-century queen, Rani Durgavati, who fought against the Mughals.

Relevance:

GS I: History

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Rani Durgavati
  2. Resistance against the Mughal Empire
  3. Legacy and Recognition

Rani Durgavati:

Early Life and Kingdom:
  • Birth in the Chandela dynasty: Rani Durgavati was born in 1524 in the Chandela dynasty of Mahoba, near the present-day border of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
  • Chandelas and the Khajuraho temples: The Chandela dynasty was known for constructing the famous Khajuraho temples in the 11th century.
  • Marriage and rule of Garha-Katanga: She married Dalpat Shah, son of Gond King Sangram Shah, and assumed the rule of the kingdom of Garha-Katanga after her husband’s death in 1550.
  • Extent of the kingdom: Garha-Katanga encompassed regions in the Narmada Valley and parts of northern Madhya Pradesh.
Resistance against the Mughal Empire:
  • Opposing Mughal expansion: Rani Durgavati staunchly opposed the Mughal Empire’s expansion in the mid-16th century.
  • Battles and leadership: She displayed strong leadership during battles against Asaf Khan, the commander of Akbar, and the neighboring Malwa Sultan Baz Bahadur.
  • Initial triumph and subsequent challenges: Initially, she succeeded in repelling Asaf Khan’s attack on her kingdom, but the Mughals regrouped and overwhelmed her forces.
  • Sacrifice rather than surrender: Instead of surrendering, Rani Durgavati chose to sacrifice her life in the face of Mughal dominance.
Legacy and Recognition:
  • Symbol of self-determination: Rani Durgavati is revered as a patriotic ruler who symbolized India’s spirit of self-determination.
  • Descriptions of her character: Abul Fazl, the court historian of Akbar, described her as a remarkable combination of beauty, grace, courage, and bravery.
  • Defender of culture: She is remembered for her sacrifices and her role as a defender of her culture against foreign invasions.

-Source: Indian Express


Geographical Indication (GI) tags


Context:

Uttar Pradesh, known for its rich cultural heritage and traditional crafts, has recently seen seven of its distinctive products being granted Geographical Indication (GI) tags by the Geographical Indications Registry in Chennai.

Relevance:

GS III: Indian Economy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Seven Products from Uttar Pradesh with GI Tag
  2. Geographical Indications (GI) Tag

Seven Products from Uttar Pradesh with GI Tag:

Amroha Dholak: A Musical Marvel

  • Crafted from natural wood, such as mango, jackfruit, and teakwood.
  • Uses animal skin, typically goatskin, for the drum’s surface.

Baghpat Home Furnishings:

  • Renowned handloom home furnishing products from Baghpat and Meerut.
  • Made using cotton yarn and predominantly woven on frame looms.

Barabanki Handloom Product:

  • Barabanki and its surrounding areas have a significant number of weavers and looms.
  • The annual turnover of the Barabanki cluster is estimated to be ₹150 crore.

Kalpi Handmade Paper:

  • Kalpi is known for its handmade paper manufacturing.
  • Munnalal ‘Khaddari’ introduced the craft in the 1940s.

Mahoba Gaura Patthar Hastashlip:

  • Represents the unique stone craft of Mahoba using the ‘Pyro Flight Stone.’
  • The stone is soft, radiant white, and predominantly found in the region.

Mainpuri Tarkashi:

  • Mainpuri Tarkashi is known for brass wire inlay work on wood.
  • Traditionally used for khadaous (wooden sandals) and sought as a leather alternative.

Sambhal Horn Craft:

  • Sambhal Horn Craft utilizes raw materials obtained from deceased animals.
  • The craft form is entirely handmade.

Geographical Indications (GI) Tag

Definition and Importance:
  • Geographical Indications of Goods indicate the country or place of origin of a product.
  • They assure consumers of the product’s quality and distinctiveness derived from its specific geographical locality.
  • GI tags are an essential component of intellectual property rights (IPRs) and are protected under international agreements like the Paris Convention and TRIPS.
Administration and Registration:
  • Geographical Indications registration in India is governed by the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999.
  • The registration and protection are administered by the Geographical Indication Registry under the Department of Industry Promotion and Internal Trade (DIPIT), Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
  • The registration is valid for 10 years, and it can be renewed for further periods of 10 years each.
Significance and Examples:
  • GI tags provide a unique identity and reputation to products based on their geographical origin.
  • The first product in India to receive a GI tag was Darjeeling tea.
  • Karnataka has the highest number of GI tags with 47 registered products, followed by Tamil Nadu with 39.
Ownership and Proprietorship:
  • Any association, organization, or authority established by law can be a registered proprietor of a GI tag.
  • The registered proprietor’s name is entered in the Register of Geographical Indication for the applied product.
  • Protection and Enforcement:
  • Geographical Indications protect the interests of producers and prevent unauthorized use of the product’s name or origin.
  • Enforcement of GI rights helps maintain the quality and reputation of the products associated with their specific geographical regions.
Location of the Geographical Indications Registry:
  • The Geographical Indications Registry is located in Chennai, India.

-Source: Indian Express


Autonomous District Councils (ADC)


Context:

The Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) recently flagged the “mass migration” of people from ethnic strife-torn Manipur to the State’s capital Shillong and adjoining areas.

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimension of the Article:

  1. About Autonomous District Councils (ADC)
  2. Functions
  3. Revenue Sources

About Autonomous District Councils (ADC)

  • Autonomous District Councils (ADC) are an important feature of the Sixth Schedule in the Indian Constitution. Here are some key details about ADCs:
    • Tribal Areas: The Sixth Schedule designates ten tribal areas in Assam (3), Meghalaya (3), Tripura (1), and Mizoram (3) as autonomous districts.
    • Composition: Each autonomous district has its own Autonomous District Council (ADC). ADCs consist of up to 30 members, with a term of five years. Four members are nominated by the governor, and the remaining 26 members are elected through adult franchise.
    • Tenure: The District Councils serve a term of five years from the date of their constitution.
Functions: ADCs have several functions as defined in the Sixth Schedule:
  • Making laws on land
  • Management of forests (except reserved forests)
  • Appointment of traditional chiefs and headmen
  • Making rules regulating inheritance of property, marriage, divorce, and constitution of village courts
  • Establishing, constructing, or managing primary schools, dispensaries, markets, ferries, fisheries, roads, etc., in the district
  • Making regulations for the control of money lending and trading by non-tribals (with the governor’s assent)
Revenue Sources:

The main revenue sources of ADCs, as specified in the Sixth Schedule, include:

  • Taxes on professions, trades, callings, and employment
  • Taxes on animals, vehicles, and boats
  • Taxes on the entry of goods into a market and their sale
  • Toll taxes on passengers and goods carried on ferries
  • Taxes for the maintenance of schools, dispensaries, or roads

-Source: The Hindu


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