IASCLUB Daily Current Affairs : 15 July 2019

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Poverty index: how Jharkhand reduced its poor the fastest

Topic: GS–II: Social Justice  

  • The UN Development Programme and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative released the global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) report for 2019, which found that Jharkhand has made the fastest improvement among Indian states in reducing poverty. Across India, the number of people living in multidimensional poverty has gone down from 690.55 million in 2005-06 to 369.55 million in 2015-16 — a reduction of 271 million people in a decade.

 

  • Jharkhand reduced the incidence of multidimensional poverty from 74.9 per cent to 46.5 per cent between 2005-06 and 2015-16.
  • The graph shows how its index, second only to Bihar’s in 2005-06, has shown the steepest decline among the poorest states. Jharkhand, however, remains one of the poorest states in the country. Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh together accounted for 196 million MPI poor people — more than half of all multidimensionally poor in India.

 

 

  • The global MPI factors in a person’s deprivations across 10 indicators in health, education, and standard of living — nutrition, child mortality, years of schooling, school attendance; access to cooking fuel, sanitation, drinking water; electricity and housing; and assets.
  • For India, the MPI has reduced from 0.283 to 0.123 in a decade. Of 10 selected countries, India and Cambodia reduced their MPI values the fastest. While the proportion of the population living in multidimensional poverty in India has halved from 55.1 per cent to 27.9 per cent in a decade, the intensity of deprivation has fallen less sharply, from 51.1 per cent to 43.9 per cent, the report said.

Draft Model Tenancy Act

Topic: GS –II: Governance

Last week, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MHUA) released the draft Model Tenancy Act, 2019, which aims to regulate rental housing by a market-oriented approach.

Why an Act

  • According to the Census 2011 count of 1.1 crore houses lying vacant,the Model Act would bring these into the rental market, and would promote the growth of the rental housing segment.
  • The existing rent control laws are restricting the growth of rental housing and discourage owners from renting out their vacant houses due to fear of repossession. One of the potential measures to unlock the vacant house is to bringing transparency and accountability in the existing system of renting of premises and to balance the interests of both the property owner and tenant in a judicious manner.

Broad outlook

  • The Model Act lays down the obligations of tenants and landlords, and provides for an adjudication mechanism for disputes. It is intended to be an Act “to balance the interests of owner and tenant by establishing adjudicating mechanism for speedy dispute redressal and to establish Rent Court and Rent Tribunal to hear appeals and for matters connected” to rental housing.
  • Its stated aim is to promote the creation of a rental housing stock for various income segments including migrants, formal and informal sector workers, students, and working professionals, mainly through private participation.
  • The Act mandates that no person will let or take any rental premises without an agreement in writing, in both urban and rural areas. Within two months of executing such an agreement, the land owner and tenant are required to intimate the Rent Authority, who will issue a unique identification number to both parties. Agreements can be submitted through a dedicated digital platform.
  • In 2015, before the Housing for All by 2022 Mission (Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Urban) was launched, it was decided that 20 per cent of the two crore houses that were to be created should be exclusively for rent.
  • However, when it was rolled out in late 2015, the mission promoted only ownership housing — with no mention of rental stock. In subsequent years, the MHUA worked on a draft National Urban Rental Housing Policy, but this did not have the monetary backing of a PMAY mission. The draft provided for incentives like exemptions from stamp duty, registration charge, and property tax, and had provisions for homeless shelters, social rental housing for the urban poor, need-based rental housing for migrant labour, single women and men, and student hostels and paying guest accommodation for the working class.

Tenant and landlord rights

  • The Model Act lays down various rules, including that the security deposit to be paid by the tenant should not exceed two months’ rent for residential property, and should be a minimum of one month’s rent for non-residential property. It lists the kinds of repairs each party would be responsible for, with the proviso that money for repairs can be deducted from the security deposit or rent, as applicable, if a party refuses to carry out their share of the work. The Rent Court can allow repossession of the property by the landlord if the tenant misuses the premises, after being served a notice by the landowner. Misuse of the premises, as defined, includes public nuisance, damage, or its use for “immoral or illegal purposes”. If the tenant refuses to vacate, the landlord can claim double the monthly rent for two months, and four times the monthly rent thereafter.

82 medical colleges to be opened

Topic: GS–II: Health

The Union government will open 82 medical colleges under a scheme run by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to establish medical colleges attached to district and referral hospitals.

More in news:

  • Union government and the States in the north-eastern region and the special category States would share the cost 90:10, and the other States 60:40.
  • In the first phase, 58 districts in 20 States and Union Territories had been approved, and in the second phase, 24 colleges were identified in 8 States.
  • The second phase, was aimed at creating one medical college in every three Lok Sabha constituencies and one government medical college in each State.

Milestones of Moon Mission-II

Topic: GS -III: Science and Technology

Chandrayaan-2 is India’s second lunar probe, and its first attempt to make a soft landing on the Moon. It has an Orbiter, which will go around the Moon for a year in an orbit of 100 km from the surface, and a Lander and a Rover that will land on the Moon. Once there, the Rover will separate from the Lander, and will move around on the lunar surface. Both the Lander and the Rover are expected to be active for one month.

How is Chandrayaan-2 different from Chandrayaan-1?

  • Chandrayaan-2 is ISRO’s first attempt to land on any extraterrestrial surface.
  • One of the instruments on Chandrayaan-1, the Moon Impact Probe or MIP, had been made to land on the Moon, but that was a crash-landing, and the cube-shaped instrument, with the Indian Tricolour on all sides, was destroyed after hitting the lunar surface. The Lander and Rover on Chandrayaan-2, on the other hand, are meant to make a soft landing, and to work on the Moon.
  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) was forced by circumstances to develop its own Lander and Rover for Chandrayaan-2. Originally scheduled to launch in 2011, Chandrayaan-2 was supposed to carry a Russian-made lander and rover, since ISRO did not then have the technology to develop these. The type of lander and rover that Russia was building for Chandrayaan-2, however, developed problems on another mission, forcing it to make design corrections. But then, the proposed new design would not have been compatible with Chandrayaan-2. Russia eventually pulled out, and ISRO began to develop its own Lander and Rover, a task that delayed the Mission by a few years.

Landing schedule

  • Chandrayaan-1 had taken 12 days to enter the Moon’s orbit. The time taken to reach the Moon is dictated by many factors, such as the strength of the rocket carrying the spacecraft, the nature of experiments to be carried out, and the position of the Moon in its orbit.
  • Chandrayaan-2’s launch vehicle, GSLV-Mk-III, is the most powerful rocket ISRO has built — however, it is still not powerful enough to reach the Moon’s orbit in one shot. Therefore, the spacecraft will go around the Earth several times, successively raising its orbital height, before transferring itself into the lunar orbit. Once there, it will orbit the Moon for several days before ejecting the Lander and the Rover. The date, September 6, was chosen because the landing site will remain well illuminated by sunlight over the next one month while the Lander and Rover work and collect data. Also, there is no lunar eclipse during this period.

Soft landing

  • In terms of technology, landing is the most complicated part of the Mission. Travelling at nearly 6,000 km per hour at the time of their ejection from the Orbiter, the Lander and Rover would have to slow down to roughly about 3 km/hr. This 15-minute exercise will mark the “most terrifying moments” for the mission, as ISRO chairman K Sivan put it. The Moon does not have an atmosphere to provide drag, so the use of parachute-like technologies to slow down the Lander cannot be used. Instead, thrusters will be fired in the opposite direction to slow it down. All this while, the Lander will also be imaging the lunar surface to look for a safe site to land.

What new information will the Mission look for?

  • South Pole: Chandrayaan-2 is attempting to go where no spacecraft has gone before — to the south pole of the Moon.
  • There have been 28 landings on the Moon so far, including six human landings. All these landings have taken place in the equatorial region. Studies have, however, indicated that the unexplored Polar Regions could hold much greater scientific potential.
  • The polar regions of the Moon are understood to be filled with small and large craters, ranging from a few cm to several thousands of km. These craters make it extremely hazardous for a spacecraft to land. This region is also extremely cold, with temperatures in the range of –200°C. Unlike the Earth, the Moon does not have a tilt around its axis. It is almost erect, because of which some areas in the polar region never receive sunlight. Anything here is frozen for eternity. Scientists believe that rocks found in these craters could have fossil records that can reveal information about the early Solar System.
  • Chandrayaan-2 will carry out extensive three-dimensional mapping of the topography of the region, and will also determine its elemental composition and seismic activity.
  • Quest for Water: Two instruments on board Chandrayaan-1 provided irrefutable evidence of water on the Moon, something that had been elusive for more than four decades. Chandrayaan-2 will take the search further, trying to assess the abundance and distribution of water on the surface. The large craters in the south polar region are believed to hold large amounts of ice — in millions or billions of tonnes, by one estimate.
  • Equally important would be the attempt to determine the origins of water on the Moon — whether it has been produced on the Moon, or has been delivered from an outside source. This would also offer a clue on how reliable the water resources could be.
  • Studies show that the water detected on the Moon could have been formed in a few different ways. It is known that the lunar surface is full of oxides of multiple elements. These oxides could react with hydrogen ions in the solar wind to make hydroxyl molecules, which could combine with hydrogen to make water.
  • The water could also come from external sources. Comets and asteroids that contain water vapour are known to have collided with the Moon in the past, and could have transferred traces of this water to the Moon, which could have got trapped inside the extremely cold regions.
  • It is the discovery of water on the Moon by Chandrayaan-1, and by a NASA mission a year later, that has rekindled interest in the Moon, and given rise to hopes that it could finally be used to set up a permanent scientific mission, and also as a possible launchpad for going deeper into space. Finding adequate water, and being able to extract it economically, is crucial to this dream.

Timeline: India in space, through the years

  • February 16, 1962: The Indian National Committee for Space Research is formed under the leadership of Vikram A Sarabhai and physicist Kalpathi Ramakrishna Ramanathan.
  • November 21, 1963: India’s space programme takes off with launch of a sounding rocket from Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station in Kerala. It was for probing upper atmospheric regions and space research.
  • August 15, 1969: ISRO is formed.
  • April 19, 1975: Aryabhata, India’s first satellite, is launched from a Soviet Kosmos-3M rocket from Kapustin Yar in then Soviet Union. It was designed and built in India.
  • June 7, 1979: Bhaskara-I, the first experimental remote-sensing satellite built in India, is launched. Images taken by its camera were used in hydrology, forestry and oceanography.
  • July 18, 1980: Satellite Launch Vehicle-3, India’s first experimental satellite launch vehicle, takes off with Rohini Satellite RS-D2. Camera had ability to use data for classifying ground features like water, vegetation, bare land, clouds and snow.
  • April 10, 1982: Insat-1A is launched. Was abandoned in September 1983, when its attitude control propellant was exhausted.
  • April 2, 1984: Rakesh Sharma (left), former IAF pilot, becomes the first Indian in space. In a joint India-Soviet Union mission, Sharma boards the Soyuz T-11 spacecraft to the Salyut 7 Orbital Station.
  • October 22, 2008: Launch of Chandrayaan-1. It orbits the Moon but does not land. It performs high-resolution remote sensing aiming, among various missions, to prepare a 3D atlas of both the near and far sides of the Moon.
  • November 5, 2013: Launch of Mangalyaan, the Mars Orbiter Mission. Orbiting and studying Mars since September 24, 2014.

Speed restrictions and sound alerts mooted for protection of dolphins

Topic: GS -III: Bio-diversity

Restricting the speeds of vessels and blowing sirens and horns is how the Ministry of Shipping plans to safeguard the population of the Ganges River Dolphin, in the country’s one dolphin reserve through which National Waterway-1 connecting Haldia to Varanasi passes.

More in news:

  • The Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary (VGDS), from Sultanganj to Kahalganj on the Ganga in Bihar is the only dolphin sanctuary in the country.
  • The other mitigation measures, according to the Ministry, include fitting vessels with propeller guards and dolphin deflectors to minimise dolphin accidents and using non-toxic paints for painting vessels.
  • The Ministry said the mitigations are based on Comprehensive Environmental and Social lmpact Assessment (ESIA) study on National Waterway-I including on stretches falling within VGDS.

India is home to 1,256 species of orchid, says first comprehensive survey

Topic: GS -III: Bio-diversity

The Botanical Survey of India has come up with the first comprehensive census of orchids of India putting the total number of orchid species or taxa to 1,256.

More in news:

  • Orchids of India : A Pictorial Guide, a publication detailing all the species of India was unveiled earlier this month by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
  • The 1,256 species or taxa of orchids belong to 155 genera and 388 species are endemic to India.

Three life forms

  • Orchids can be broadly categorised into three life forms: epiphytic (plants growing on another plants including those growing on rock boulders and often termed lithophyte), terrestrial (plants growing on land and climbers) and mycoheterotrophic (plants which derive nutrients from mycorrhizal fungi that are attached to the roots of a vascular plant).
  • About 60% of all orchids found in the country, which is 757 species, are epiphytic, 447 are terrestrial and 43 are mycoheterotrophic.
  • The epiphytic orchids are abundant up to 1800 m above the sea level and their occurrence decreases with the increase in altitude. Terrestrial orchids, which grow directly on soil, are found in large numbers in temperate and alpine region whereas mycoheterotrophic orchids, mostly associated with ectomycorrhizal fungi, are found in temperate regions, or are found growing with parasites in tropical regions.
  • A State-wise distribution of orchid species point out that the Himalayas, North-East parts of the country and Western Ghats are the hot-spots of the beautiful plant species.

State-wise distribution

  • The highest number of orchid species is recorded from Arunachal Pradesh with 612 species, followed by Sikkim 560 species and West Bengal; Darjeeling Himalayas have also high species concentration, with 479 species.
  • While north-east India rank at the top in species concentration, the Western Ghats have high endemism of orchids.
  • There are 388 species of orchids, which are endemic to India of which about one-third (128) endemic species are found in Western Ghats. The publication points out that Kerala has 111 of these endemic species while Tamil Nadu has 92 of them. Among the 10 bio geographic zones of India, the Himalayan zone is the richest in terms of orchid species followed by Northeast, Western Ghats, Deccan plateau and Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
  • Considering the importance of orchids in floriculture, the publication, which has photographs of 60% of all species, is the first authentic inventory and will be useful for researchers, growers, nature lovers and people with different backgrounds.
  • Marked by extremely beautiful flowers with unique shape and ornamentation, orchids have complex floral structure that facilitates biotic cross-pollination and makes them evolutionarily superior to the other plant groups.
  • Another interesting factor is that the entire orchid family is listed under appendix II of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) and hence any trade of wild orchid is banned globally.

Editorial section:

Looming challenges to India’s standing – The Hindu

Ecological perils of discounting the future– The Hindu

Warlord and war crimes– The Hindu

A valiant attempt to mainstream the marginalised– The Hindu

Karnataka conundrum –The Hindu

 

 

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