Atmanirbhar Niveshak Mitra portal
- In order to further strengthen efforts to promote domestic investments, the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), is in the process of finalising a dedicated digital portal “Atmanirbhar Niveshak Mitra” for handholding and facilitation, information dissemination, and facilitation of domestic investors.
- The portal will have a dedicated digital investment promotion and facilitation team at Invest India which will facilitate domestic investors to directly connect or request meetings with the Invest India experts and discuss their specific investment/ doing business related matters.
- It will digitally support investors throughout their doing business journey in India and help them getting all the information starting from finding an investment opportunity to exploring incentives & taxes applicable to their businesses, information and assistance for doing business in India, sources of funding, information on raw material availability, training, management requirement and tender information.
- This is one of the most significant digital initiative being undertaken to target the specific investor interests and ensure swift clearances & approvals throughout their doing business journey.
- This Project is under the “Invest India” agency which was set up in 2009 as a non-profit venture under the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
- As the national investment promotion and facilitation agency, “Invest India” focuses on sector-specific investor targeting and development of new partnerships to enable sustainable investments in India.
Mera Ration mobile app
Why in News?
- Mera Ration mobile app launched
- This app will benefit especially those ration card holders who move to new areas for livelihoods.
“One Nation One Ration Card” (ONORC)
- The “One Nation One Ration Card” (ONORC) scheme is being implemented for the nation-wide portability of ration cards, under National Food Security Act (NFSA).
- This system allows all NFSA beneficiaries, particularly migrant beneficiaries, to claim either full or part foodgrains from any Fair Price Shop (FPS) in the country through existing ration card with biometric/Aadhaar authentication in a seamless manner.
- The system also allows their family members back home, if any, to claim the balance foodgrains on same the ration card.
Census data may decide food subsidy
Why in News?
- Once the new census data is available, the Centre may consider revising the number of people who get subsidised foodgrains under the National Food Security Act.
- The NFSA provides for five kg of foodgrains per month to be provided to two-thirds of the country at the subsidised rate of ₹2 per kg of wheat and ₹3 per kg of rice.
- The current NFSA coverage of 81 crore people was determined on the basis of the 2011 census, and has not been revised since the law was passed in 2013.
- The NFSA covered 67% of the country’s population, including 75% of the rural population and 50% of the urban population.
- NITI Aayog has recently circulated a discussion paper proposing a reduction in the NFSA coverage, to 60% of the rural population and 40% of the urban population, in a bid to curb the food subsidy budget.
- Recently launched the ‘Mera Ration’ mobile app to help ration card holders identify their nearest ration shop, check details of their own entitlements, and track their recent transactions.
- The ration card portability scheme, which is a boon for migrant beneficiaries as it allows them to withdraw their foodgrain allocation at any ration shop in the country, has seen 15 crore transactions since the pandemic began, at a rate of about 1.5 crore per month.
Maths, Physics no longer mandatory for engineering entry
Why in News?
- Prospective engineering students will not have to mandatorily study Maths and Physics in Class 12, according to new norms released by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) for 2021-22.
- They are in line with the multi-disciplinary approach of the new National Education Policy.
- Till now, only those who opted for Physics and Maths in higher secondary school were eligible to apply for B.E. and B.Tech programmes.
- Chemistry was removed as a mandatory requirement in 2010.
List of 14 subjects
- However, according to the AICTE’s approval process handbook for 2021-22, students only need to score 45% in any three subjects from a list of 14 in order to qualify.
- The diverse list includes Physics, Mathematics, Chemistry, Computer Science, Electronics, Information Technology, Biology, Informatics Practices, Biotechnology, Agriculture, technical vocational subject, Engineering Graphics, Business Studies and Entrepreneurship.
- “The universities will offer suitable bridge courses such as mathematics, physics, engineering drawing, etc for the students coming from diverse backgrounds to achieve [the] desired learning outcome of the programme.
- Physics, Chemistry and Maths would remain the bedrock of most engineering programmes, but students who did not study these subjects in Class 12 could still take bridge courses in the first year of a BE degree programme.
Why in News?
- On March 21, the largest asteroid predicted to pass by Earth in 2021 will be at its closest. It is called 2001 FO32.
- When it is at its closest, the distance of 2 million km is equal to 5¼ times the distance from Earth to the Moon. Still, that distance is close in astronomical terms, which is why 2001 FO32 has been designated a “potentially hazardous asteroid”.
- 2001 FO32 will pass by at about 124,000 kph – faster than the speed at which most asteroids encounter Earth.
- The reason for the asteroid’s unusually speedy close approach is its highly eccentric orbit around the Sun, an orbit that is tilted 39° to Earth’s orbital plane. This orbit takes the asteroid closer to the Sun than Mercury, and twice as far from the Sun as Mars.
- 2001 FO32 will continue its lonely voyage, not coming this close to Earth again until 2052, when it will pass by at about seven lunar distances, or 2.8 million km.
- It will still be the largest asteroid to pass this close to our planet in 2021.
How to Study it
- When sunlight hits an asteroid’s surface, minerals in the rock absorb some wavelengths while reflecting others.
- By studying the spectrum of light reflecting off the surface, astronomers can measure the chemical “fingerprints” of the minerals on the surface of the asteroid.
Maintains Status Quo In Places Of Worship
Why in News?
- Recently, the Supreme Court asked the Centre to respond to a plea challenging the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991.
- In agreeing to examine the law, the court has opened the doors for litigation in various places of worship across the country including Mathura and Varanasi.
What is the law about?
- Passed in 1991 by the P V Narasimha Rao-led Congress government, the law seeks to maintain the “religious character” of places of worship as it was in 1947 — except in the case of Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute, which was already in court.
What are its provisions?
- The clause declaring the objective of the law describes it as “an Act to prohibit conversion of any place of worship and to provide for the maintenance of the religious character of any place of worship as it existed on the 15th day of August, 1947, and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto”.
- Sections 3 and 4 of the Act declare that the religious character of a place of worship shall continue to be the same as it was on August 15, 1947 and that no person shall convert any place of worship of any religious denomination into one of a different denomination or section.
- Section 4(2) says that all suits, appeals or other proceedings regarding converting the character of a place of worship, that were pending on August 15, 1947, will stand abated when the Act commences and no fresh proceedings can be filed.
- However, legal proceedings can be initiated with respect to the conversion of the religious character of any place of worship after the commencement of the Act if the change of status took place after the cut-off date of August 15, 1947.
‘LGBTIQ Freedom Zone’
Why in News?
- In a resolution recently adopted, the European Parliament symbolically declared the entire 27-member bloc as an “LGBTIQ Freedom Zone” – the acronym meaning lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, non-binary, intersex and queer.
- The move comes as a response against member state Poland’s controversial move to create more than 100 “LGBTIQ ideology-free zones” around the country since 2019, and more generally against the backsliding of LGBTIQ rights in some EU countries, particularly in Poland and Hungary.
The EU resolution
- The EU Parliament resolution to declare the bloc as an ‘‘LGBTIQ Freedom Zone’’ was passed by 492 votes in favour, 141 against and 46 abstentions.
- The resolution reads, ‘‘LGBTIQ persons everywhere in the EU should enjoy the freedom to live and publicly show their sexual orientation and gender identity without fear of intolerance, discrimination or persecution, and authorities at all levels of governance across the EU should protect and promote equality and the fundamental rights of all, including LGBTIQ persons.”
Mahatma Gandhi’s Dandi March
Why in News?
- On the 91st anniversary of the historic salt march led by Mahatma Gandhi from Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi in Gujarat, Prime Minister flagged off a symbolic 386-kilometre ‘Dandi march’, following the same route recently.
- The PM also launched Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav to celebrate 75 years of India’s Independence.
- The 24-day march from March 12 to April 5, 1930 was a tax resistance campaign against the British salt monopoly.
- Based on Gandhi’s principle of non-violence or Satyagraha, the march marked the inauguration of the civil disobedience movement.
- The Dandi march was easily the most significant organised movement against the British Raj after the non-cooperation movement of the early 1920s.
Why did Gandhi call for the Dandi March?
- The 1882 Salt Act gave the British a monopoly in the manufacture and sale of salt.
- Even though salt was freely available on the coasts of India, Indians were forced to buy it from the colonisers.
- Gandhi decided that if there was any one product through which the civil disobedience could be inaugurated, then it was salt.
Ancient Mystery of ‘First Computer’
Why in News?
- From the moment it was discovered more than a century ago, scholars have puzzled over the Antikythera mechanism, a remarkable and baffling astronomical calculator that survives from the ancient world.
- The hand-powered, 2,000-year-old device displayed the motion of the universe, predicting the movement of the five known planets, the phases of the moon and the solar and lunar eclipses.
Recently Researchers decoded
- Now researchers believe they have solved the mystery – at least in part – and have set about reconstructing the device, gearwheels and all, to test whether their proposal works.
- If they can build a replica with modern machinery, they aim to do the same with techniques from antiquity.
- The mechanism, often described as the world’s first analogue computer, was found by sponge divers in 1901 amid a haul of treasures salvaged from a merchant ship that met with disaster off the Greek island of Antikythera.
- According to the team, the mechanism may have displayed the movement of the sun, moon and the planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn on concentric rings.
- Because the device assumed that the sun and planets revolved around Earth, their paths were far more difficult to reproduce with gearwheels than if the sun was placed at the centre.
Why in News?
- New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, has received what may be her greatest accolade yet: a large insect named in her honour.
- A new species of wētā – a giant flightless cricket that is endemic to New Zealand – has been named Hemiandrus jacinda for being Labour-party red in colour and “long-limbed”.
- More than 100 different species of wētā are found in trees, caves, bush and sometimes suburban gardens. As with all members of the Hemiandrus group, jacinda makes burrows in the ground, from which it emerges to hunt at night.
- The newly discovered species is bigger and more brightly coloured than the 17 ground wētā already recorded, and found in native forests in Northland, Bay of Plenty, Waikato and Coromandel in the upper North Island.
- The wētā of New Zealand are a rich and diverse radiation of species living in all sorts of habitats – yet many remain to be recognised.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions From Food Production
- One third of global greenhouse gas emissions caused by humans are linked to food, according to new study.
- The figure is higher for developing countries but also declining significantly in step with decreasing deforestation and increasing downstream activities such as food processing and refrigeration.
- The Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research (EDGAR)-Food by the European Commission categorised emissions data by sector, greenhouse gas and country.
- It incorporated key land-use data for over 245 countries that has been compiled by the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
- Overall, the study found that food-system emissions represented 34 per cent of the total greenhouse gas output in 2015.
- Land-use change and agricultural production to packaging, fertilizer use and waste all contribute to the emissions and were estimated at 18 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2015 (34 per cent).
- The emissions are down from 44 per cent in 1990, indicating a gradual decline even as food systems emissions kept increasing.
- The study noted that the share of emissions from the food system of a country ranged between 14 per cent and 92 per cent. In industrialised countries, roughly 24 per cent of total emissions came from their food systems, a number that has stayed fairly stable between 1990 and 2015.
- Asia was the highest contributor producing 35 per cent of global food system emissions in 1990 and 49 per cent in 2015.
- The various stages of food production, which include inputs such as fertilizers, were the leading contributor to overall food-system emissions, constituting 39 per cent of the total.
- Land use accounted for 38 per cent and distribution contributed 29 per cent, which is expected to continue growing.
- Methane from livestock raising and rice cultivation accounted for 35 per cent of food system greenhouse gas emissions and is broadly the same in both developed and developing countries.
- Globally, refrigeration was estimated to be responsible for 43 per cent of energy consumption by the retail and supermarket sector. The data suggest that GHG emissions from the retail sector increased by 4.2 and 3.6 times in Europe and the United States, respectively, between 1990 and 2015.
- Packaging also contributed about 5.4 per cent of global food-system emissions, which was more than transportation or other supply-chain factors.
Olive Ridley sea turtles
Why in News?
- The nesting of thousands of Olive Ridley sea turtles, a yearly phenomenon, started at the tranquil beaches of Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary in Kendrapara district. It is the world’s largest rookery of sea turtles.
- Around 5,000 Olive Ridley sea turtles came ashore for mass-nesting at the Nasi-1 and Nasi-2 islands of Gahiramatha marine sanctuary for ‘arribada’, a Spanish term for the mass-nesting.
- Nasi-1 and Nasi-2 islands are two tiny islands stretching five kilometres. The small strip of land is the perfectt nesting site for the turtles since there are no predators or human habitation.
- The arribada would continue for a week. The turtle eggs normally take 45 days to hatch. After that, tiny hatchlings come out and make their way into the sea.
- The rookery at Gahiarmatha was declared a marine sanctuary in 1997. It is spread over 1,435 square kilometers from Dhamra mouth to Hukitola island.
- In the previous years, bright light from the missile test range at Wheeler’s Island near the sanctuary had been an impediment for the arrival of the turtles.
- The defence officials switched off the lights this year and thus, the mass-nesting has started.