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Daily Current Affairs – 2020

Topic: For Prelims and Mains

PFRDA

22nd July 2020

Why in News?

Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) is working on a minimum assured return scheme (MARS) for subscribers of the National Pension System (NPS).

Background:

  • The Pension Fund Regulatory & Development Authority Act was passed on 19th September, 2013 and the same was notified on 1st February, 2014.
  • PFRDA is regulating NPS, subscribed by employees of Govt. of India, State Governments and by employees of private institutions/organizations & unorganized sectors.
  • The PFRDA is ensuring the orderly growth and development of pension market
  • The Government of India had, in the year 1999, commissioned a national project titled
  • “OASIS” (an acronym for old age social & income security) to examine policy related to old age income security in India. Based on the recommendations of the OASIS report, Government of India introduced a new Defined Contribution Pension System for thenew entrants to Central/State Government service, except to Armed Forces, replacing the existing system of Defined Benefit Pension System.
  • On 23rd August, 2003, Interim Pension Fund Regulatory & Development Authority (PFRDA) was established through a resolution by the Government of India to promote, develop and regulate pension sector in India.
  • The contributory pension system was notified by the Government of India on 22nd December, 2003, now named the National Pension System (NPS) with effect from the 1st January, 2004.
  • The NPS was subsequently extended to all citizens of the countrye.f. 1st May, 2009 including self-employed professionals and others in the unorganized sector on a voluntary basis.

Kannadigas to get priority in the private sector

Why in news?

The Karnataka government has amended rules directing industrial establishments that have taken any support from the government to give priority to Kannadigas in jobs on the shop floor in ‘C’ and ‘D’ category of employees.

Key facts:

  • The industries getting incentives from the government must provide 100 percent reservation in their blue-collared jobs and those not availing any benefits are required to accord priority to Kannadigas.
  • The revised rules also empower the state to intervene if private companies fail to implement the rules in letter and spirit.

What’s the basis for this move?

  • Competition from outsiders: In the last few years, Bangalore has witnessed a huge population influx from all corners of India naturally upsetting the local and migrant balance and causing social friction primarily owing to economic reasons.
  • With not enough jobs being created and the poor spread of those that are getting created, the pressure on, and in, relatively better-performing states is growing.

 Issues associated with this policy:

  • By arm-twisting the private sector into forcibly hiring Kannadigas irrespective of merit or qualification, the indirect assumption seems to be that Kannadigas are incapable of finding jobs on their own merit or hard work.
  • Even as the move will benefit the Kannadiga population, the private sector could suffer a setback as it would hinder choosing the best candidates, irrespective of the linguistic background or domicile of the person, to comply with the rule.
  • Also, once it is enforced, there is no stopping other states from coming up with similar populist policies, even for white-collar jobs where merit is paramount for productivity.
  • This could mean greater informalisation of labour, which in turn means greater insecurity for the same workers whose interests the Karnataka government is purportedly protecting with the move.
  • The end result of industry loss of confidence and business moving elsewhere would, of course, be a decline in the economic well-being of the Kannadiga blue-collar workers the policy is supposed to protect.

Selective Catalytic Reduction( SCR)

What is SCR?

Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) is an advanced active emissions control technology system used in diesel engines.

Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) is an advanced active emissions control technology system that injects a liquid-reductant agent through a special catalyst into the exhaust stream of a diesel engine.

  • The reductant source is usually automotive-grade urea, otherwise known as Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF).
  • The DEF sets off a chemical reaction that converts nitrogen oxides into nitrogen, water and tiny amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2), natural components of the air we breathe, which is then expelled through the vehicle tailpipe.
  • SCR technology is designed to permit nitrogen oxide (NOx) reduction reactions to take place in an oxidizing atmosphere.
  • It is called “selective” because it reduces levels of NOx using ammonia as a reductant within a catalyst system.

The chemical reaction is known as “reduction” where the DEF is the reducing agent that reacts with NOx to convert the pollutants into nitrogen, water and tiny amounts of CO2.

The DEF can be rapidly broken down to produce the oxidizing ammonia in the exhaust stream. SCR technology alone can achieve NOx reductions up to 90 percent.

BS VI

Why in News?

The Union transport ministry will notify the introduction of BSVI emission norms for all vehicles from April 2020, overriding a demand from auto manufacturers to push its rollout by five years.

Related Facts:

About BS-VI:

  • Standards are set by the Central Pollution Control Board under the Ministry of Environment & Forests and climate change
  • Objective is to regulate the output of air pollutants from internal combustion engines and Spark ignition engines equipment, including motor vehicles.
  • Standards are based on European regulations (Euro norms).
  • Current norms in India are BS IV in 33 cities and BS III in the remaining country
  • These norms specify the maximum permissible emission limit for carbon monoxide (CO)Hydrocarbons (HC)Nitrous oxides (NOx) and Particulate matter (PM)

Technologies to be introduced to make vehicles BS IV compliant:-

  • SCR (selective catalytic reduction) module to reduce oxides of nitrogen
  • Vehicles must be fitted with DPF (diesel particulate filter) for Particulate Matter (PM) reduction

Hydropower Projects in Bhagirathi  ESZ

Why in News?

Despite being termed as “destructive” for water resources by the union ministry, the Uttarakhand government has stuck to its zonal master plan of the Bhagirathi eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) that proposes to open up the fragile area for hydropower projects above 2 MW, mining, and roads.

This decision is important considering the 2012 notification of the government.

2012 notification:

In 2012, Centre declared the 100-kilometre stretch along the river Bagirathi, from Gaumukh to Uttarkashi, as an ESZ (Eco-sensitive Zone).

Notification prohibited new hydro-electric power plants and expansion of existing plants on this stretch, except micro or mini-hydel power projects up to 2 megawatts (MW),

It also banned all types of mining of minerals except for the domestic needs of residents

About the Eco-Sensitive Zones:

  • Eco-Sensitive Zones are areas notified by the MoEFCC around Protected Areas , National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries.
  • Purpose of declaring ESZs is to create some kind of “shock absorbers” to the protected areas.
  • They also act as a transition zone from areas of high protection to areas involving lesser protection
  • Government is empowered to declare Eco-Sensitive Zones are declared undersection 3(2)(v) of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
  • The width of the ESZ could go up to 10 kms around the protected area.

Prohibited activities includes:-

    • Commercial mining,
    • Setting of saw mills and industries causing pollution,
    • Commercial use of firewood
    • And major hydro-power projects
    • tourism activities like flying over protected areas in an aircraft or hot air balloon,
    • Discharge of effluents and solid waste in natural water bodies or terrestrial area.

Regulated activities includes:-

    • Felling of trees,
    • Drastic change in agriculture systems
    • Commercial use of natural water resource

Permitted activities includes:-

    • Ongoing agriculture and horticulture practices by local communities,
    • Rainwater harvesting, organic farming,
    • Adoption of green technology
    • Use of renewable energy sources

Amendment to 1987 Montreal Protocol

Why in News?

In Kigali agreement, nearly 200 countries secured a deal to phase down global climate-warming hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) by amendments to Montreal Protocols.

About Kigali agreement:

  • Countries that ratify the Kigali Amendment, commit to cut the production and consumption of HFCs by more than 80 percent over the next 30 years
  • Most developed countries will start reducing HFCs as early as 2019.
  • The move could prevent up to 0.5 degrees Celsius in global warming above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century

HFCs:

  • HFCs  although pose no harm to the ozone layer because, unlike CFCs and HCFCs, they do not contain chlorine but are thousands of times more dangerous than carbon dioxide in causing global warming.
  • HFCs could warm the world by an additional half a degree Celsius by the end of the century.
  • These gases were once identified as a suitable alternative to replace ozone-depleting hydrochloroflurocarbons (HCFCs) that the Montreal Protocol targets for elimination.
About the Montreal Protocol treaty:

  • Montreal Protocol treaty was first signed on Sept. 16, 1987.
  • Aim was to reduce the production and consumption of ozone depleting substances in order to reduce their abundance in the atmosphere.
  • It has undergone eight revisions, in 1990 (London), 1991 (Nairobi), 1992 (Copenhagen), 1993 (Bangkok), 1995 (Vienna), 1997 (Montreal), 1998 (Australia), 1999 (Beijing) and 2016 (Kigali, adopted, but not in force).

India’s first ‘Green corridor’

Why in News?

The 114-km-long Manamadurai– Rameswaram stretch of Southern Railway became India’s first ‘Green corridor’.

Train would have bio-toilets and there would be zero discharge of human waste on tracks in the section.

The Indian Railway had developed the environment friendly ‘IR-DRDO Bio-toilets’, in association with Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

How does bio-toilet work?

  • Anaerobic digestion process is applied for the digestion of human excreta in the bio-toilets.
  • A collection of anaerobic bacteria that has been adapted to work at temperatures as low as –5°C and as high as 50°C act as inocula (seed material).
  • Regenerative type anaerobic bacteria in liquid form poured into the retention tanks in the bio-toilets and the bacteria will help in disintegrating human waste into liquid and bio-gases (mainly Methane CH4 & Carbon Dioxide CO2).
  • The liquid would be chlorinated and discharged with no harm to the environment.

Facts for Prelims

RailWire Wi-Fi:

  • The Railways has successfully completed the work of providing free public Wi-Fi at 5500 stations across the country.

What is RailWire?

  • RailWire is a retail Broadband initiative of the RailTel.
  • It envisages extending broadband and application services to the public.
  • The Wi-Fi at stations has been provided in association with Google as the technology partner.
  • RailTel Corporation is a “Mini Ratna(Category-I)” PSU of Ministry of Railways. It is the largest neutral telecom services providers in the country.

Manodarpan Initiatives:

Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister has virtually launched the Manodarpan initiative as part of the ‘Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’.

Aim: To monitor and provide psychosocial support to students, teachers and families for Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing during the conditions like COVID outbreak and beyond.

 

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