12TH FEBRUARY CURRENT AFFAIRS

1. Atal Tinkering Labs

News: ISRO has adopted Atal Tinkering Labs across the country in the field of space education and technology.

Background:

  • On January 11, 2021, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has decided to adopt 100 Atal Tinkering Labs with an aim to promote education in the field of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), space education, and space technology-related innovations for school students.
  • The Department of Space (DOS), Atal Innovation Mission and NITI Aayog will adopt 45 Atal Tinkering Labs in the first phase and then 55 others will be adopted by ISRO.

What is Atal Tinkering Labs?

  • Atal Tinkering Labs (ATL) is an activity conducted under the umbrella mission named ‘Atal Innovation Mission’ (AIM). AIM is the Indian Government’s flagship program to foster a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation.
  • AIM establishes ATLs in schools across the country with a vision to ‘Cultivate one Million children in India as Neoteric Innovators’. The chief objective of establishing ATLs is to promote curiosity, imagination, and creativity in the minds of school-going children.
  • Other goals of the scheme include inculcating in children a design mindset, adaptive learning, computational thinking, physical computing, etc.
  • The philosophy behind ATLs is that prize awards and incentives are a great start to generate an aggressive wave of innovation and entrepreneurship in school-going children.
  • To know about other Government Schemes, visit the linked article

Features of Atal Tinkering Labs

  • ATL’s are workspaces where children can realize their ideas through hands-on do-it-yourself mode and also acquire innovation skills.
  • They get the chance to comprehend STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) concepts.
  • The labs contain educational kits and equipment on electronics, science, robotics, sensors, 3D printers, computers, and open-source microcontroller boards.
  • The labs can also have other upgraded facilities such as video conferencing and meeting rooms.
  • There would also be other activities such as national and regional level competitions, problem-solving workshops, exhibitions, designing and fabrication of products, lectures, and so on.
  • The financial support for ATLs would be given by the AIM. Each school with an ATL will be given Rs.20 Lakh (includes a one-time Rs.10 Lakh for establishment + operational expenses of Rs.10 Lakh for a maximum of 5 years).
  • ATL’s would be set up by schools (having grades VI to X) that are managed by the government, local bodies, private trusts or societies, etc.

 

2. National Beekeeping & Honey Mission

 

News: Keeping in view the importance of beekeeping as part of the Integrated Farming System in the country, government approved the allocation for Rs. 500 crore for National Beekeeping & Honey Mission (NBHM) for three years (2020-21 to 2022-23). The mission is announced as part of the AtmaNirbhar Bharat scheme.

Background:

  • Beekeeping is an agro-based activity which is being undertaken by farmers/ landless labourers in rural area as a part of Integrated Farming System (IFS).
  • Beekeeping has been useful in pollination of crops, thereby, increasing income of the farmers/beekeepers by way of increasing crop yield and providing honey and other high value beehive products, viz.; bees wax, bee pollen, propolis, royal jelly, bee venom, etc.
  • Diversified agro climatic conditions of India provide great potential and opportunities for beekeeping/ honey production and export of Honey.

Details:

  • NBHM aims for the overall promotion & development of scientific beekeeping in the country to achieve the goal of ‘Sweet Revolution’ which is being implemented through National Bee Board (NBB).
  • The main objective of NBHM is to promote holistic growth of beekeeping industry for income & employment generation for farm and non-farm households, to enhance agriculture/ horticulture production, developing infrastructural facilities, including setting up of Integrated Beekeeping Development Centre (IBDC)s/CoE, honey testing labs, bee disease diagnostic labs, custom hiring centres, Api-therapy centres, nucleus stock, bee breeders, etc. and empowerment of women through beekeeping.
  • Besides,  the scheme also aims to create awareness about scientific bee keeping  under Mini Mission-I, post-harvest management of beekeeping, beehive products, including collection, processing, storage, marketing, value addition, etc. under Mini Mission-II and Research & Technology generation in beekeeping under Mini Mission-III. Rs 150.00 Crores has been allotted to NBHM for 2020-21.
  • 11 projects of Rs. 2560 lakhs have been sanctioned under NBHM for Awareness & Capacity building in scientific beekeeping, empowerment of Women through beekeeping, technology demonstrations on impact of Honeybees on yield enhancement & quality improvements of agriculture/horticulture produce.
  • It also aims to make farmers aware about the distribution of specialized Beekeeping equipments for production of high value products, viz. Royal Jelly, Bee Venom, Comb Honey, etc, and also about the studies on exploring potential of High Altitude Honey, production of special honey in Kannauj & Hathrus Distts. of UP and use of mustard honey to cure colon cancer during the year 2020-21.

Main achievements:

  • Two World Class State of the Art Honey Testing Labs, one at NDDB, Anand, Gujarat & one IIHR, Bengaluru, Karnataka, have been approved/ set up. Lab at Anand has been accredited by NABL and has been inaugurated by Union Minister of Agriculture & Famers Welfare, Govt. of India on 24thJuly, 2020. Now Lab has started testing of Honey samples for all the parameters notified by FSSAI;
  • 10,000 Beekeepers/Beekeeping & Honey Societies/Firms/Companies with 16.00lakhs honeybee colonies have been registered with NBB.
  • Proposal for developing Traceability Source of Honey and other Beehive Products approved and work initiated/ started. This will help in controlling the adulteration in honey & other beehive products.
  • Farmers/ beekeepers have been trained in scientific beekeeping including production of high value beehive products, viz.; Bee Pollen, Propolis, Royal Jelly, Bee Venom, etc.
  • 5 FPOs of Beekeeper/honey producers in the States of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan & West Bengal have been formed and launched by Minister of Agri.& FW on 26.11.2020.
  • Honey production has increased from 76,150 MTs (2013-14) to 1,20,000 MTs (2019-20) which is 57.58 % increase. Export of honey has increased from 28,378.42 MTs (2013-14) to 59536.74MTs (2019-20) which is 109.80 % increase.
  • 16 Integrated Beekeeping Development Centres (IBDCs) as role model of beekeeping have been commissioned, one each in the States of Haryana, Delhi, Bihar, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Manipur, Uttarakhand, Jammu & Kashmir, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh, West Bengal, Tripura, Andhra Pradesh and Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Awareness created about role of honeybees/beekeeping in pollination support of various crops and adoption of scientific beekeeping.

 

3. National Coal Index

 

News: Ministry of Coal has started Commercial Auction of coal mines on revenue share basis. In order to arrive at the revenue share based on market prices of coal, one National Coal Index (NCI) was conceptualized.

Details:

  • The NCI is a price index which reflects the change of price level of coal on a particular month relative to the fixed base year.
  • The base year for the NCI is FY 2017-18. Prices of coal from all the sales channels of coal, including import, as existing today are taken into account for compiling the NCI.
  • The amount of revenue share per tonne of coal produced from auctioned blocks would be arrived at using the NCI by means of defined formula.
  • NCI has already been rolled out on 4thJune 2020 and the same is placed on the website of the Ministry of Coal. NCI is composed of a set of five sub-indices: three for Non Coking Coal and two for Coking Coal.
  • The three sub-indices for Non Coking Coal are combined to arrive at the Index for Non Coking Coal and the two sub-indices for Coking Coal are combined to arrive at the Index for Coking Coal.
  • Thus, indices are separate for Non-coking and Coking Coal. As per the grade of coal pertaining to a mine, the appropriate sub-index is used to arrive at the revenue share.

 

4. Scheme for Capacity Building in Textile Sector

 

News: Scheme for Capacity Building in Textile Sector (SAMARTH) was approved towards addressing the skill gap in textile sector and also to supplement the efforts of textile industry in providing gainful and sustainable employment to the youth.

Key Objectives:

  • To provide demand driven, placement oriented National Skills Qualifications Framework (NSQF) compliant skilling programmes to incentivize and supplement the efforts of the industry in creating jobs in the organized textile and related sectors, covering the entire value chain of textiles, excluding Spinning and Weaving
  • To promote skilling and skill upgradation in the traditional sectors of handlooms, handicrafts, sericulture and jute
  • To enable provision of sustainable livelihood either by wage or self-employment to all sections of the society across the country

India’s Textiles industry:

  • India’s textiles sector is one of the oldest industries in Indian economy dating back to the 19th century.
  • The Indian textiles industry is extremely varied, with the hand-spun and hand-woven textiles sectors at one end of the spectrum and the capital-intensive sophisticated mills sector at the other end of the spectrum.
  • The sector caters to a wide range of segments ranging from traditional handloom products to cotton, wool and silk products and has products that vary across natural & man-made fiber, yarn and apparel.

Status of Indian Textile Industry

  • The textile industry covers around 4.5 crore workers including 35.22 lakh handloom workers all over the country.
  • As per India Brand Equity Foundation, the production of raw cotton in India is estimated to have reached USD 36.1 million bales in FY19, which plays a crucial role in the textile industry to flourish.
  • Indian Textile industry contributes to 7 per cent of industrial output in terms of value, 2 per cent of India’s GDP and to 15 per cent of country’s export earnings.
  • India is the second largest producer and exporter of cotton in the world at $6.3 billion which is marginally close to China.

Significance:

  • The close linkage of the textile industry to agriculture for raw materials such as cotton has helped the growth of both the sectors and contributing to Indian economy.
  • The ancient culture and traditions of the country in terms of textiles make the Indian textiles sector unique in comparison to the industries of other countries.
  • The industry is capable of producing a wide variety of products suitable to different market segments, both within India and across the world.
  • The demand for textiles can be increased by penetration of organized retail, favourable demographics.
  • The textile industry in India has large and diversified segments that in-turn enable businesses and end-consumers to choose from a wide array of products.
  • The availability of highly skilled manpower provides a suitable platform for the textile industry to have an upper hand as compared to its counterparts.
  • There is a huge potential in the domestic and international markets that will help the industry tackle any possible headwinds in the coming decade.
  • The incomparable employment potential owing to the presence of the entire value chain from fibre to apparel manufacturing within the country is an inherent and unique strength of the industry.
  • It promotes buyer-driven value chains where large retailers, marketers and branded manufacturers play the pivotal roles in setting up decentralized production networks in a variety of exporting countries, typically located in developing countries.

Challenges:

  • Highly fragmentation and domination by the unorganized sector and small and medium industries poses a serious challenge to the Indian textile industry.
  • The continuous and ill-planned changes in the government policies at the state and central government levels also add to the problem faced by the industry.
  • The introduction of new tax structure under GST (Goods and Service Tax) makes the garments expensive.
  • Another serious threat to the industry is the raising interest rates and labor wages and workers’ salaries.
  • The industry faces alack of access to the latest technology and fails to meet the global standards in the highly competitive export market.

 

5. Progress of Gaganyaan Mission

 

News: Recently, the Union Minister of Science and Technology informed that the human spaceflight module of Gaganyaan will be launched after the second unmanned mission planned in 2022-23.

Background:

  • It was initially envisaged that the Rs. 10,000 crore Gaganyaan mission aims to send a three-member crew to space for five to seven days by 2022 when India completes 75 years of independence.
  • First unmanned mission is planned in December 2021. It has been delayed due to the Covid-19induced lockdown.

About Gaganyaan:

  • Gaganyaan is a mission by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). Under the Gaganyaan schedule: Three flights will be sent into orbit. There will be two unmanned flights and one human spaceflight.
  • The Gaganyaan system module, called the Orbital Module will have three Indian astronauts, including a woman. It will circle Earth at alow-earth-orbit at an altitude of 300-400 km from earth for 5-7 days.
  • The payload will consist of:
  • Crew module -spacecraft carrying human beings.
  • Service module -powered by two liquid propellant engines.
  • It will be equipped with emergency escape and emergency mission abort.
  • GSLV Mk III, also called the LVM-3 (Launch Vehicle Mark-3,)the three-stage heavy lift launch vehicle, will be used to launch Gaganyaan as it has the necessary payload capability.
  • In June 2019, the Human Space Flight Centre of the ISRO and the Russian government-owned Glavkosmossigned a contract for the training, which includes Russian support in the selection of candidates, their medical examination, and space training.
  • The candidates will study in detail the systems of the Soyuzmanned spaceship, as well as be trained in short-term weightlessness mode aboard the Il-76MDK aircraft.
  • The Soyuz is a Russian spacecraft. The Soyuz carries people and supplies to and from the space station.
  • The Il-76MDKis a military transport plane specially designed for parabolic flights of trainee astronauts and space tourists.

Significance:

  • It will help in enhancement of science and technology levels in the country and help inspire youth.
  • Gaganyaan will involve numerous agencies, laboratories, disciplines, industries and departments.
  • It will help in improvement of industrial growth. Recently, the Government has announced a new organisation, IN-SPACe, part of reforms to increase private participation in the space sector.
  • It will help in development of technology for social benefits. It will help in improving international collaboration. One International Space Station (ISS) put up by multiple countries may not be enough. Regional ecosystems will be needed and Gaganyaan will focus on regional needs: food, water and energy security.

India’s Other Upcoming Projects:

  • Chandrayaan-3 Mission: India has planned a new moon mission named Chandrayaan-3. It is likely to be launched in early 2021.
  • Shukrayaan Mission: The ISRO is also planning a mission to Venus, tentatively called Shukrayaan.