National Current Affairs – UPSC/IAS Exams- 28th October 2019
Topic: Government Schemes
In News: The decision to accept the Institute of Eminence (IOE) status for Delhi University has been deferred following protests from council members.
More on the Topic:
- Council members differed on the following matters,
- The scheme would result in increased privatisation of the university.
- It would also be a huge burden on the university as it called for “world-class” infrastructure, provisions for foreign faculty with differential pay scales and removed caps on fee structures among other issues.
About Institution of Eminence Scheme:
- It is implemented under the Union human resource development (HRD) ministry with the aim to project Indian institutes to global recognition.
- The selected institutes will enjoy complete academic and administrative autonomy and they will receive special funding.
- The selection shall be made through challenge method mode by the Empowered Expert Committee constituted for the purpose.
- Eligibility: Only higher education institutions currently placed in the top 500 of global rankings or top 50 of the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) are eligible to apply for the eminence tag.
- The private Institutions of Eminence can also come up as greenfield ventures provided the sponsoring organisation submits a convincing perspective plan for 15 years.
- Under the scheme, Public Institutions of Eminence are eligible for a grant of ₹1,000 crore from the government and no funds will be given to Private Institutions of Eminence.
- The IoEs will enjoy complete academic and administrative freedom.
- Recruitment of faculty from outside India (limit of 25% of its faculty strength for public institution).
- Enter into academic collaborations with other Institutions within the country.
- Admit additionally foreign students on merit subject to a maximum of 30% of the strength of admitted domestic students.
- Fix and charge fees from foreign students without restriction.
- Fix curriculum and syllabus, with no UGC mandated curriculum structure.
- Offer online courses as part of their programmes with a restriction that not more than 20% of the programme should be in online mode.
- UGC Inspection shall not apply to Institutions of Eminence.
Topic: Science and Technology
In News: Researchers from IIT Bombay have discovered special properties in a class of materials called “semi-Dirac metals” that have been recently talked about in the scientific literature.
More on the Topic:
- Normal metals like gold and silver are good conductors of electricity.
- A key aspect that decides the quality of conduction is the way energy depends on the momentum of electrons.
- Dirac metals differ from normal metals in that the energy depends linearly on the momentum. This difference is responsible for their unique properties.
- Semi-Dirac metals behave like Dirac metals in one direction and like normal metals in the perpendicular directions (since their microscopic structure is different along the two directions).
- Within any material, charge carriers, such as electrons, acquire an effective mass which is different from their bare mass depending on the nature of the material.
- The effective mass and the number of states available for the electron to occupy when it is excited by an electric field, for example, determine the conductivity and other such properties.
- This is also true of a semi-Dirac metal. In particular, the effective mass becomes zero for conduction along a special direction.
Significance and Application:
- Examples of semi-Dirac metals are systems such as TiO2/V2O3 nanostructures (Oxides of Titanium and Vanadium).
- Through calculations, the researchers have shown that such materials would be transparent to light of a given frequency and polarization when it is incident along a particular direction.
- The material would be opaque to the same light when it falls on it from a different direction.
- There are many known applications for transparent conducting films the common example being touch screens used in mobiles.
- Optical conductivity is a measure of the opacity offered by the material to the passage of light through it.
- It also have application in thermos electricity.
- Thermoelectricity is a clean energy technology that uses waste heat to produce electricity typically in low power applications.
In News: The ASI (Archaeological Survey of India) recently discovered that the present-day state of Andhra Pradesh had a maritime center near the banks of Swarnamukhi river around 2,000 years ago.
More on the Topic:
- The excavations were performed at the state’s Gottiprolu.
- The ASI unearthed brick-built structures in varied shapes. The sizes of the bricks were common in the Satavahana/Ikshvaku period of the Krishna valley.
- Also, the team unearthed four armed sculptures of Lord Vishnu. The sculpture belongs to Pallava period according to the analysis of headgear and drapery.
- Also, a series of broken terracotta pipes were found. This suggests that the period had a good system of drainage.
Topic: Government Schemes
In News: The Uttar Pradesh launched “Mukhya Mantri Kanya Sumangala Yojana”.
More on the Topic:
- The scheme will provide Rs 15,000 to every family where a girl child is born. It will be released in a phased manner.
- The design of the scheme is in such a way that the parents will have to take care of the girl child with proper care with respect to her health and education in order to get the benefit
- The funds will be released when the girl child completes various milestones like vaccination, admission to class 1, 5, 9 and graduation.
- The Kanya Sumangala web portal was also launched along with the scheme.
- The launch of the scheme was conferred with symbolic cheques and certificated to some of the beneficiaries.
IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead
Topic: International Affairs
In News: USA president Donald Trump announced that the Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi died in a raid conducted by US special forces in north western Syria.
More on the Topic:
- Baghdadi headed Islamic State between 2013 and 2019. He was an Iraqi born militant who was designated Global terrorist by United States.
- The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria gained global prominence in 2014 when it drove Iraqi government forces out of the key cities in Iraq.
- The group was designated terrorist organization by the United Nations as well as by many other individual countries.
- It was widely known for its beheadings and other type of executions of soldiers, civilians and destruction of cultural heritage sites.
- It was also committed to ethnic cleansing on an unprecedented scale in Northern Iraq.
- The BBC defines the group’s ideology as “radical Islamist,” that aims to establish a “caliphate”, a state ruled by a single political and religious leader according to Islamic law, or Sharia.”
IS and India:
- IS came on the radar of Indian intelligence agencies way back in 2013 when reports from Syria suggested that some Indians were fighting alongside the IS there.
- It was still considered a problem of the Middle East by the agencies until in 2014, IS kidnapped 39 Indians in Iraq and executed them.
- An IS map of the Khorasan Caliphate showed some of India’s states as its part.
- Since then multiple Indians have travelled to Iraq and Syria to fight alongside IS and as many as 100 have been arrested by the agencies either on return from Syria or while preparing to join them.
- Many have also been arrested for preparing to carry out an attack in India after being inspired by the IS.
- The Indian security establishment has approached the issue of IS influence with caution.
- The approach is informed by the fact that despite a very large Muslim population, India has sent very few recruits to the IS.
- It is clear that some of the youth eager to join IS are merely swayed by the IS online propaganda, they may not be fully radicalized given their unblemished background has led agencies to take the counselling approach.
- Only such people have been arrested who agencies believed were in the process of carrying out an attack or had made multiple attempts to go to Syria despite counselling.
Topic: Internal Security
In News: Special Secretary at the Chief Minister’s Office Ramakant Singh has instructed to pay scholarship in a week under the skill development scheme in the Left Wing Extremism affected districts to the ITI-trained students.
More on the Topic:
- Left Wing Extremism (LWE) is recognised as one of the most serious threats, not only to India’s internal security but indeed to the very basic values of the democratic, pluralistic political order enshrined in our Constitution
- Since 1967, when the movement started in a few ‘Parganas’ in West Bengal, it has gradually spread its tentacles into nearly 90 districts in nine states.
- Over the past 51 years, the armed activists of the movement have accounted for widespread death and destruction.
- Later, over the decades that followed, the movement assumed alarming proportions,
- Threatening peace and security over a vast stretch of land spread across 10 states, described as ‘Red Corridor’.
The Naxalite movement prominently focuses on major issues like:
- Reallocation of land resources;
- Ensuring minimum wages for the labour working in the farms;
- Running a parallel government and impose tax and penalties;
- Run parallel Kangaroo Courts;
- Destruction of government property and abduct its officials;
- Attacks on police and law enforcing machinery;
- Enforce its own social code of conduct
- Over the years, at the peak of the LWE movement, nearly 40 per cent of India’s land mass, covering approximately 35 per cent of its population, was affected.
- According to a recent security review by the Ministry of Home Affairs, (MHA), violence in LWE affected region is now spans 90 districts across 10 states.
- In 2017, a total of 263 fatal casualties were recorded and 1888 CPI-Maoists cadres were arrested, which is the highest till now.
- Concurrently, even when the LWE movement is under intense pressure, because of a combination of proactive security and effective development measures, a steady rise in pro-Naxal activities in urban India is being observed.
- SAMADHAN-A Comprehensive Policy Tool: an integrated strategy through which LWE can be countered with full force and competence. This is a compilation of short term and long-term policies formulated at different levels.
- Tracking Flow of Weapons: Real-time technical intelligence plays a decisive role in any proactive counter-insurgency force and its timely receipt defines the strength of that force. In developing these capabilities, the MHA has deployed at least one Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) or Mini-UAV for each CAPF battalions. More helicopter support is provided for CAPFs to rush in supplies and reinforcements.
- Tracking Finances: Apart from robust kinetic measures, a pre-emptive approach warrants limiting the resources of LWE movement and its cadres through effective coordination and thorough investigation.
- Multi-agency Approach: the Ministry of Home Affairs has set up a Multi-Disciplinary Group (MDG) comprising officers from the Intelligence Bureau (IB), Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Enforcement Directorate, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), NIA, Central Board of Direct Taxation (CBDT), CRPF and the state police as well as their Special Branches, Criminal Investigation Departments (CIDs) and other state units. This group is utilised by the MHA as a forum for evolving a well-coordinated approach for handling prolonged national security challenges.
- Bastariya Battalion: the CRPF has decided to enhance local representation in its combat layout deployed in the Bastar area to provide the ‘Bastariya’ youth better avenues of employment under its Civic Action Programme.
- Road Connectivity Schemes: The Road Requirement Plan is being implemented by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways with the objective of better connectivity in 34 LWE affected districts of nine states.
- Data Connectivity: The Department of Telecom is proactively implementing schemes for better data connectivity of LWE affected states with the rest of the country. These efforts are yielding constructive results, helping the security forces with better data connectivity for executing counter-insurgency operations successfully.
- Electrification Initiatives in LWE Districts: The Ministry of Power has proactively started the electrification of the villages in the LWE affected districts under Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY).
- Employment Initiatives: Along with several infrastructural schemes, the Government of India is also executing several schemes under the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojna (PMKVY) that are empowering the citizens with the required skill sets to earn their livelihood. Under this programme 47 Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) and 68 Skill Development Centres (SDCs) are to be established.