13th January Current Affairs

1.National Mission on Quantum Technology and Applications

News: The detailed project report for a National Mission on Quantum Technology and Applications (NM-QTA) has been drawn out and finalised.

Background:

  • Union Budget 2020-21 proposedto spend Rs 8,000 crore on the newly launched
  • In 2018, the Department of Science & Technologyunveiled a programme called Quantum-Enabled Science & Technology (QuEST) and committed to investing Rs. 80 crore over the next three years to accelerate research.
  • The missionseeks to develop quantum computing linked technologies amidst the second quantum revolution and make India the world’s third-biggest nation in the sector after the US and China.

Need for such mission:

  • Quantum technologies are rapidly developing globally with hugely disruptive potential.
  • The range of quantum technologies is expected to be one of the major technology disruptions that will change the entire paradigm of computation, communication and encryption.
  • It is perceived that the countries who achieve an edge in this emerging field will have a greater advantage in garnering multifold economic growth and dominant leadership role.
  • It has become imperative both for government and industries to be prepared to develop these emerging and disruptive changes.
  • It will establish standards to be applied to all research and help stimulate a pipeline to support research and applications well into the future.

About NM-QTA

  • The mission will function under the Department of Science & Technology (DST).
  • It will be able to address the ever-increasing technological requirements of society and take into account the international technology trends.
  • The mission will help prepare next-generation skilled manpower, boost translational research and also encourage entrepreneurship and start-up ecosystem development.

About Quantum Technology/Computing:

  • Quantum Technology isbased on the principles of Quantum mechanics that was developed in the early 20th century to describe nature at the scale of atoms and elementary particles.
  • The first phase of this revolutionary technology hasprovided the foundations of our understanding of the physical world, including the interaction of light and matter, and led to ubiquitous inventions such as lasers and semiconductor transistors.
  • A second revolution is currently underway with the goal of putting properties of quantum mechanics in the realms of computing.

Applications of Quantum Technology:

  • Secure Communication: China recently demonstratedsecure quantum communication links between terrestrial stations and satellites. This area is significant to satellites, military and cyber security among others as it promises unimaginably fast computing and safe, unhackable satellite communication to its users.
  • Research: It canhelp in solving some of the fundamental questions in physics related to gravity, black hole.
  • Similarly, the quantum initiative could give a big boost to theGenome India project, a collaborative effort of 20 institutions to enable new efficiencies in life sciences, agriculture and medicine.
  • Disaster Management: Tsunamis, drought, earthquakesand floods may become more predictable with quantum applications.
  • The collection of data regardingclimate change can be streamlined in a better way through quantum technology.
  • Pharmaceutical: Quantum computing could reduce the time frame of the discovery of new molecules and related processesto a few days from the present 10-year slog that scientists put in.
  • Augmenting Industrial revolution 4.0: Quantum computing is an integral part of Industrial revolution 4.0.
  • Success in it will help in Strategic initiatives aimed at leveraging other Industrial revolution 4.0 technologieslike the Internet-of-Things, machine learning, robotics, and artificial intelligence across sectors will further help in laying the foundation of the Knowledge economy.

2.Swami Vivekananda

News: The Prime Minister has asked the youth of the nation to follow Swami Vivekananda’s leadership advice and praised the revered monk for his contribution in developing individuals and institutions. Speaking at the valedictory function of the second National Youth Parliament Festival today, the Prime Minister talked about Swami ji’s contribution to start virtuous cycle of individual development to institution-building and vice versa.

About Swami Vivekananda

  • Swami Vivekananda was born Narendra Nath Datta, on 12th January 1863.
  • He was a monk and chief disciple of Ramakrishna Paramhansa.
  • He introduced Indian philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga to the Western world and is credited with raising interfaith awareness, bringing Hinduism to the world stage during the late 19th century.

Vedanta

  • It was based on Upanishadsand their interpretation. Its aim was to enquire about ‘Brahman’ (ultimate reality) which was the central concept of Upanishads. It saw Veda as the ultimate source of information and whose authority could not be questioned. It emphasized on the path of knowledge (jnana) as opposed to that of sacrifice (karma). The ultimate aim of knowledge was ‘Moksha’e. liberation from ‘sansara’.
  • He established Ramakrishna Mission in 1987, named after his Guru Swami Ramakrishna Paramhansa. The institution did extensive educational and philanthropic work in India.
  • He also represented India in the first Parliament of Religion held in Chicago (U.S.) in 1893.

Core Values Of Swami Vivekanand’s Philosophy

Ethics

  • Morality is both individual life and social life is mostly based on fear of societal censure.
  • But Vivekananda gave a new theory of ethics and a new principle of morality based on the intrinsic purity and oneness of the Atman. Ethics according to Vivekananda was nothing but a code of conduct that helps a man to be a good citizen. We should be pure because purity is our real nature, our true divine Self or Atman. Similarly, we should love and serve our neighbors because we are all one in the Supreme Spirit known as Paramatma or Brahman.

Religion

  • One of the most significant contributions of Swami Vivekananda to the modern world is his interpretation of religion as a universal experience of transcendent Reality, common to all humanity.
  • This universal conception frees religion from the hold of superstitions, dogmatism, priestcraft, and intolerance. He believed that every religion offered a pathway to the eternal supreme – supreme freedom, supreme knowledge, supreme happiness.
  • This can be accomplished by realizing one’s ATMA as part of PARAMATMA.

Education

  • Swami Vivekananda laid the greatest emphasis on education for the regeneration of our motherland.
  • According to him, a nation is advanced in proportion as education is spread among the masses.
  • He said that our process of education should be such that it helps the students to manifest their innate knowledge and power. He advocated a man-making character-building education.
  • He said that education must make the students self-reliant and help them face the challenges of life. He was highly critical of the so-called educated who do not care for the poor and downtrodden.

Rationality

  • He was in complete agreement with the methods and results of modern science. He did not discard reason in favor of faith. He recognized intuition or inspiration as a higher faculty than reason. But the truth derived from intuition had to be explained and systematized by reason.

Nationalism

  • Though the growth of Nationalism is attributed to the Western influence Swami Vivekananda’s nationalism is deeply rooted in Indian spirituality and morality. His nationalism is based on Humanism and Universalism, the two cardinal features of Indian spiritual culture.
  • Unlike western nationalism which is secular in nature, Swami Vivekananda’s nationalism is based on religion which is the lifeblood of the Indian people. The basis of his nationalism is:
  • Deep concern for masses, freedom, and equality through which one expresses self, spiritual integration of the world on the basis of universal brotherhood.
  • “Karmyoga” a system of ethics to attain freedom both political and spiritual through selfless service.
  • His writings and speeches established motherland as the only deity to be worshiped in the mind and heart of countrymen.

Youth

  • Swamiji believed that if our youth is determined, there can be nothing impossible for them to achieve in the world. He urged the youth to have the dedication to the cause to attain success. Pursuing a challenge with utmost dedication is really the road to success, for our youth.
  • Hence Swamiji called upon the youth to not only build up their mental energies but their physical ones as well. He wanted ‘muscles of iron’ as well as ‘nerves of steel’.
  • His birthday on January 12 is celebrated as National Youth Day and the week commencing from that day is known as the National Youth Week. As part of National Youth Week celebrations, the Government of India holds the National Youth Festival every year.
  • The youth festival aims to propagate the concept of national integration, the spirit of communal harmony, brotherhood, courage, and adventure amongst the youth by exhibiting their cultural prowess in a common platform.

3.Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana

News: 5 years ago, on 13th January 2016, the Government of India took a historic step towards strengthening risk coverage of crops for farmers of India and approved the flagship crop insurance scheme – the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY). The scheme was conceived as a milestone initiative to provide a comprehensive risk solution at the lowest uniform premium across the country for farmers. The Government of India is committed towards protecting the interests of the farmers.

About PMFBY

  • The new Crop Insurance Scheme is in line with One Nation – One Scheme theme.  It incorporates the best features of all previous schemes and at the same time, all previous shortcomings / weaknesses have been removed. The PMFBY will replace the existing two schemes National Agricultural Insurance Scheme as well as the Modified NAIS.

Objectives

  • To provide insurance coverage and financial support to the farmers in the event of failure of any of the notified crop as a result of natural calamities, pests & diseases.
  • To stabilise the income of farmers to ensure their continuance in farming.
  • To encourage farmers to adopt innovative and modern agricultural practices.
  • To ensure flow of credit to the agriculture sector.

Highlights of the scheme

  • There will be a uniform premium of only 2% to be paid by farmers for all Kharif crops and 1.5% for all Rabi crops. In case of annual commercial and horticultural crops, the premium to be paid by farmers will be only 5%.
  • The premium rates to be paid by farmers are very low and balance premium will be paid by the Government to provide full insured amount to the farmers against crop loss on account of natural calamities.
  • There is no upper limit on Government subsidy. Even if balance premium is 90%, it will be borne by the Government.
  • Earlier, there was a provision of capping the premium rate which resulted in low claims being paid to farmers. This capping was done to limit Government outgo on the premium subsidy. This capping has now been removed and farmers will get claim against full sum insured without any reduction.
  • The use of technology will be encouraged to a great extent. Smart phones will be used to capture and upload data of crop cutting to reduce the delays in claim payment to farmers. Remote sensing will be used to reduce the number of crop cutting experiments.
  • PMFBY is a replacement scheme of  NAIS / MNAIS, there will be exemption from Service Tax liability of all the services involved in the implementation of the scheme. It is estimated that the new scheme will ensure about 75-80 per cent of subsidy for the farmers in insurance premium.

Farmers to be covered

  • All farmers growing notified crops in a notified area during the season who have insurable interest in the crop are eligible.
  • To address the demand of farmers, the scheme has been made voluntary for all farmers from Kharif 2020. 
  • Earlier to Kharif 2020, the enrollment under the scheme was compulsory for following categories of farmers:
  • Farmers in the notified area who possess a Crop Loan account/KCC account (called as Loanee Farmers) to whom credit limit is sanctioned/renewed for the notified crop during the crop season. and
  • Such other farmers whom the Government may decide to include from time to time.
  • Voluntary coverage :Voluntary coverage may be obtained by all farmers not covered above, including Crop KCC/Crop Loan Account holders whose credit limit is not renewed.

Risks covered under the scheme

  • Yield Losses (standing crops, on notified area basis). Comprehensive risk insurance is provided to cover yield losses due to non-preventable risks, such as Natural Fire and Lightning, Storm, Hailstorm, Cyclone, Typhoon, Tempest, Hurricane, Tornado. Risks due to Flood, Inundation and Landslide, Drought, Dry spells, Pests/ Diseases also will be covered.
  • In cases where majority of the insured farmers of a notified area, having intent to sow/plant and incurred expenditure for the purpose, are prevented from sowing/planting the insured crop due to adverse weather conditions, shall be eligible for indemnity claims upto a maximum of 25 per cent of the sum-insured.
  • In post-harvest losses, coverage will be available up to a maximum period of 14 days from harvesting for those crops which are kept in “cut & spread” condition to dry in the field.
  • For certain localized problems, Loss / damage resulting from occurrence of identified localized risks like hailstorm, landslide, and Inundation affecting isolated farms in the notified area would also be covered.

4.Single Window Clearance for Coal Mining

News: The Union government has announced a new online single window clearance portal for the coal sector to speed up the operationalization of coal mines.

Background:

  • The coal sector can be thebiggest contributor towards the target of India becoming a USD 5 trillion economy by 2025. Despite having the world’s fourth-largest coal reserves, India is importing coal.
  • The next tranche of commercial mining auction would belaunched in January 2021.

What is a single-window clearance portal?

  • A single window clearance portal is aimed at allowing successful bidders for coal blocks to be able to obtain all required clearances.
  • It includes environmental and forest clearances, from a single portal with progress monitoring, instead of having to go to multiple authorities.
  • The portal should allow successful bidders to operationalize coal mines more quickly.
  • The Parivesh mechanism for forest and environment-related clearances would likely be merged into this mechanism.

Significance:

  • The portal will allow successful bidders to operationalise coal mines more quickly. It is in the spirit of minimum government and maximum governance.
  • It will furtherease of doing business in the country’s coal sector. It will help in bringing huge investment and creating employment.

Way Forward:

  • PARIVESH Mechanismfor forest and environment related clearances would likely be merged into this single window clearance mechanism which is expected to help with the operationalisation of the coals blocks that are set to be auctioned in the upcoming auctions.
  • PARIVESHis a web-based application which has been developed for online submission and monitoring of the proposals submitted by the proponents for seeking Environment, Forest, Wildlife and Coastal Regulation Zones (CRZ) Clearances from Central, State and district level authorities.