The HINDU Notes – 27th JUNE 2017(Daily News Paper Analysis For UPSC IAS)
Cabinet to consider proposal for outright sale of Air India
- The Union Cabinet will soon decide the fate of the state-owned carrier Air India by deliberating on three options to divest the government’s majority stake.
- The three options on the table are a full 100% sell-off, a 74% stake sale or retaining a 49% share in the airline, as per the note prepared by the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) for the Cabinet’s consideration.
- While the Central government think-tank NITI Aayog and the Finance Ministry are in favour of an outright sale of the ailing airline, the Civil Aviation Ministry is keen that the government continues to remain a stakeholder in the national carrier after handing over the management to the private sector.
- The Cabinet will also consider a proposal to clear up Air India’s liabilities by forming a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), which will house a portion of its non-aircraft debt along with its subsidiaries and real estate assets.
- Air India has a total debt of around Rs. 52,000 crore which comprises of Rs. 22,000 crore as aircraft loan and the remaining as working capital loan.
- According to the plan, of the airline’s over Rs. 30,000 crore total working capital (non-aircraft) loan, Rs. 25,000 crore will be earmarked for the SPV.
- “The income garnered through sale of assets and subsidiaries will be sufficient to meet the liability of the working capital loan of the SPV,” the official said.
Air India has four wholly-owned subsidiaries
- MRO unit Air India Engineering Services Ltd (AIESL),
- ground handling arm Air India Transport Services Ltd,
- Airline Allied Services Ltd which operates Alliance Air,
- Air India Charters Limited which operates Air India Express.
- The Hotel Corporation of India (which owns Centaur Hotels) is another subsidiary
- Also, it has a joint venture AISATS.
Real Estate assets
- Some of its prime real estate properties include a building at Nariman Point and another at the old airport in Santa Cruz in Mumbai,freehold land in Chennai‘s Anna Salai, an office in Baba Kharak Singh Marg in Connaught Place in New Delhi and freehold land and buildings in Hyderabad.
- However, the airline has mortgaged some of these as security with banks for availing loans.
India may ask Myanmar to end ceasefire with NSCN(K)
- India may ask Myanmar to revoke its ceasefire pact with the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang (NSCN-K) when Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi visits Naypyidaw next month.
- The NSCN-K was banned by India in 2015 for various attacks against its security forces.
- During earlier bilateral meetings, India had handed over a list of over 20 insurgent camps operating in Myanmar, a few kilometres from the Indian border. The Myanmar Army has denied the existence of any insurgent camps on its territory.
- The NSCN-K has a ceasefire agreement with Myanmar. Govt of India to request the neighboring country to revoke the agreement and hand over its leaders to India. Not only NSCN-K, other insurgent groups are also operating their camps from Myanmar. The insurgent groups have formed a network on both sides of the border, to smuggle arms and form the backbone of anti-India activities.
- On June 12, at a meeting in Aizawl, Home Minister Rajnath Singh constituted a committee to examine various methods to curb the misuse of free movement along the Myanmar border, and said that “it was being misused by militants and trans-border criminals who occasionally entered India, committed crimes and escaped to their relatively safer hideouts.”
- India and Myanmar share an unfenced border of 1,643 km adjoining Arunachal Pradesh (520 km), Nagaland (215 km), Manipur (398 km) and Mizoram (510 km) and permit a ‘free movement’ regime up to 16 km across the border.
At 399 ppm, India matches the world in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels
Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration over India shows that it is way above the safety mark and in line with what has been observed in other parts of the world.
Since the 1950s, scientists have been measuring the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere at observatories such as Mauna Loa in Hawaii and since the 1990s, using satellite images.
“For every million gas molecules in the atmosphere, anything beyond 350 carbon dioxide molecules, is considered unsafe.”
These concentrations are likely to trap enough heat to trigger extreme climate events the world over and it would become progressively harder, and costlier, to suck out the excessive CO2.
In 2015, the global average was 400 ppm, according to reports from Mauna Loa.
In India, that year, according to a report published in the latest issue of Current Science, the average CO2 level was 399 parts per million (ppm).
At Cape Rama, a coastal station in Goa, where CO2 levels have been monitored for over a decade, the level shot up to 408 ppm.
The findings, based on readings from the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) — a NASA satellite to monitor the environment — reveal that pockets of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh saw CO2 concentrations hover much higher between 405 ppm and 410 ppm.
Southern India and the western coast saw concentrations between 395 ppm and 400 ppm while the central and northern regions registered between 400 and 405 ppm.
- Lack of a CO2 sink.
- Point sources like forest fires or biomass burning or an urban source.
- Gaseous transport from neighbouring regions based on prevailing weather conditions.
- Generally, CO2 levels increase slightly during winter due to reduced vegetation but for this study, the observations were made from March to July in 2015.
Protocol to deal with CO2 emission
- The Kyoto Protocol is an international treaty which extends the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that commits State Parties to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, based on the scientific consensus that (a) global warming is occurring and (b) it is extremely likely that human-made CO2 emissions have predominantly caused it.
- The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, on December 11, 1997 and entered into force on February 16, 2005.
- There are currently 192 parties (Canada withdrew effective December 2012) to the Protocol.
- The Kyoto Protocol implemented the objective of the UNFCCC to fight global warming by reducing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere to “a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system”
- The Protocol is based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities:
- It puts the obligation to reduce current emissions on developed countries on the basis that they are historically responsible for the current levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
Kasturirangan to head education committee
- Eminent scientist, former Chief of ISRO and Padma Vibhushan Dr. K. Kasturirangan has been appointed Chairman of the committee tasked with preparing the final draft of the National Education Policy.
- The committee has eight members, apart from the chairperson.
- “Consultations were held at tehsil, district and State level. Regional conferences were organised where State governments have given their detailed opinion. Rajya Sabha debated the issues and a special education dialogue was organised in which 48 MPs from all parties participated. Many MPs have given their views in writing. On MyGov platform 26,000 people gave their views online,” the release said.
It added that all these inputs, along with suggestions of the T.S.R. Subramaniam committee, will be considered by the committee.
T.S.R. Subramaniam committee:
In 2015, the central Government had set up a committee under former Cabinet Secretary TSR Subramanian to chalk out a new education policy.
It submitted its report in May, 2016.
The key recommendations in the report are
- An Indian Education Service (IES) should be established as an all India service with officers being on permanent settlement to the state governments but with the cadre controlling authority vesting with the Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry.
- The outlay on education should be raised to at least 6% of GDP without further loss of time.
- There should be minimum eligibility condition with 50% marks at graduate level for entry to existing B.Ed courses. Teacher Entrance Tests (TET) should be made compulsory for recruitment of all teachers. The Centre and states should jointly lay down norms and standards for TET.
- Compulsory licensing or certification for teachers in government and private schools should be made mandatory, with provision for renewal every 10 years based on independent external testing.
- Pre-school education for children in the age group of 4 to 5 years should be declared as a right and a programme for it implemented immediately.
- The no detention policy must be continued for young children until completion of class V when the child will be 11 years old. At the upper primary stage, the system of detention shall be restored subject to the provision of remedial coaching and at least two extra chances being offered to prove his capability to move to a higher class
- On-demand board exams should be introduced to offer flexibility and reduce year end stress of students and parents. A National Level Test open to every student who has completed class XII from any School Board should be designed.
- The mid-day meal (MDM) program should now be extended to cover students of secondary schools. This is necessary as levels of malnutrition and anaemia continue to be high among adolescents.
- UGC Act must be allowed to lapse once a separate law is created for the management of higher education. The University Grants Commission (UGC) needs to be made leaner and thinner and given the role of disbursal of scholarships and fellowships.
- Top 200 foreign universities should be allowed to open campuses in India and give the same degree which is acceptable in the home country of the said university.
Chinese troops transgress Sikkim sector in Doka La area
- In another transgression, Chinese troops entered India in the Sikkim sector and jostled with Indian army personnel guarding the Sino-India frontier, besides destroying two bunker.
- The face-off has been going on in Doka La general area in Sikkim for the past ten days and the Chinese troops have also stopped the batch of pilgrims that was proceeding for Kailash Mansovar yatra.
- The Indian troops had to struggle hard to stop the Chinese personnel from advancing further into Indian territory. They formed a human wall along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) to stop the PLA personnel, some of whom also videographed and clicked pictures of the incident.
- It is not the first time that such a transgression has happened at the Doka La, a place at the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction.
- The Chinese forces had in November 2008 destroyed some makeshift Indian army bunkers at the same place.
When ‘America First’ meets ‘Make in India’
- While much weight is being put on the “personal chemistry” between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and U.S. President Donald Trump, they only have about 20 minutes in their schedule for one-on-one discussions.
- Officials say a number of issues will come up during the delegation-level talks, which will run for an hour.
- Chief among them is charting India-U.S. Strategic Partnership ahead, including talks on the last two of the three “foundational agreements” the U.S. wants India to sign.
- The two sides are expected to discuss three conflict regions of Afghanistan, IS-held Syria and Iraq as well as tensions in the South China Sea.
- Both sides have many trade issues to discuss. Whereas the U.S. is mainly concerned about high tariffs and patent protection in India, India is worried about the possible cuts in visas and jobs for Indians.
- Mr. Trump’s “America First” policy could be in conflict with Mr. Modi’s “Make in India” in terms of where the jobs will be created.
- Several manufacturers such as Lockheed Martin are pitching their plan for F-16 fighter jet assembly lines in India as a possible middle ground.
- The most imminent defence deal could be for 22 Predator drones to be bought off the shelf from U.S. company General Atomics for a cost of reportedly $2-3 billion.
- Meanwhile, there has been little movement on the NPCIL-Westinghouse deal for nuclear reactors, touted as the first commercial contract from the India-U.S. civil nuclear cooperation agreement after Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy earlier this year.
Putting the spotlight on puppets
Togalu Gombeyaata artistes — who use leather puppets which they craft are facing the threat of extinction, with just a few families now practising the art form.
Karnataka is left with less than 250 puppeteer families. Less than a century ago there was 6,000 families. But now few are surviving.There is a need of encouragement of these artists otherwise the form will get wiped out
- Karnataka chitrakala parishat celebrating 85th birth anniversary of founder-secretary Nanjunda Rao on July 5 by showcasing his love for leather puppets.
- During his lifetime, Nanjunda had collected nearly 4,000 leather puppets.
- Documented his mammoth collection, and brought out a book on it — Karnatakada Togalu Gombe
- An annual Nanjunda Rao Award for Art is being instituted for practitioners of Togalu Gombeyaata.
- Most puppeteers are originally from Maharashtra, who settled in Karnataka.
- However, in recent times, lack of financial support have seen many families switch to making leather artefacts, or working in agricultural fields.
- Puppeteers Hanumathappa of Midigeshi, Hombaiah of Nagamangala, Munshyam Rao of Hoskote, and Puttasamachar of Bellur have given away some puppets to the Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath “to see them permanently lodged in an institution that encourages art”.
- Is a puppet show unique to the state of Karnataka, India.
- Togalu Gombeyaata translates to a play of leather dolls in the native language of Kannada.
- It is a form of shadow puppetry.
- Karnataka Chitrakala Parishat has undertaken research on this art and has a good collection of leather puppets.
Four types of Puppets
- The glove puppets are worn on hands just like a glove.
- The middle finger and thumb act as hands of the puppet and the index finger acts as the head. Also known as hand puppets these are a small figure having head and arms wearing a long skirt as its dress.
- One puppeteer can perform with two puppets at a time.
Rod Puppets(West Bengal)
- The rod puppets are manipulated by rods of various types and sizes.
- These puppets have mostly three joints. The heads, supported by the main rod, is joined at the neck and both hands attached to rods are joined at the shoulders.
- The main holding rod that supports the puppet may be hidden by a robe or costume of the puppet.
- The action rods are usually connected to the hands of the puppet and manipulated by the puppeteer to show action.
- The body and hands have a bamboo base covered and plastered with hay and rice husk mixed and moulded into required shape.
- Due to the absence of legs the puppets are draped in a sari or dhoti as per the character. The puppet movements are highly dramatic.
- Shadow puppets are flat puppets that are operated against the rear of a tightly stretched white cloth screen.
- They are cut out of leather, which has been treated to make it translucent.
- Shadow puppets are pressed against the screen with a strong source of light behind it
- . The manipulation between the light and the screen make silhouettes or colourful shadows for the viewers who sit in front of the screen.
- The puppet shapes or cutouts are perforated and split bamboo or cane sticks are attached vertically to the puppet for handling and manipulation.
States In which this puppet show is practiced
- Andhra Pradesh (Tholu Bommalata)
- Karnataka (Togalu Gombeyata)
- Kerala (Tolpavakoothu)
- Maharashtra (chamadyache Bahulya)
- Orissa, and Tamil Nadu (Tolpavaikoothu).
- India has a rich and ancient tradition of string puppets or marionettes.
- String puppets are made of wood, or wire, or cloth stuffed with cotton, rags or saw dust.
- The puppet is suspended from a hand held control strings that are attached to different parts of the puppet’s body.
- Marionettes having jointed limbs controlled by strings allow far greater flexibility and are, therefore, the most articulate of the puppets.
- The puppet is manipulated by operating the control as well as by loosening or pulling the relevant string(s).
- The string puppet also known as marionettes has jointed body and limbs that allow movement.
- Some of the traditional string puppets are very heavy. For the convenience of manipulation and support, two rods are attached to the hands of the puppets.
States In which this puppet show is practiced
- In Assam string puppet shows locally called putal-nach are prevalent in the plains of Assam.
- The string puppets of Karnataka are called Gombeyatta.
- Maharashtrian string puppets which is on the verge of extinction is called Kalasutri Bahulya.
- The string puppets of Orissa are known as Gopalila Kundhei
- The traditional marionettes of Rajasthan are known as Kathputli.
- Puppets from Tamil Nadu, known as Bommalattam combine the techniques of both rod and string puppets.
Extreme rainfall and disease outbreaks
- In line with rising carbon dioxide concentrations, global temperatures have also rocketed, with 2016 being the hottest year since records were systematically maintained from 1880.
- Last year was about 1.1°C warmer than pre-industrial levels. The 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change , hopes to keep the global temperature increase, by the turn of the century, well below 2°C.
- Were CO2 levels to rise at present rates, concentrations could touch 500 ppm within 50 years and warm the earth by an unsustainable 3°C.
- The India Meteorological Department (IMD) says the country is on an average 0.6° Celsius warmer than a century ago. Summer temperatures across India, according to the IMD, were “above normal” and the summer months of March-May last year were 1.36°C higher than the historical average.
- Disease outbreak: The elevated carbon dioxide levels were also linked to increasing instances of extreme rainfall and are likely to cause disease outbreaks. IMD is working on a system to issue 15-day warnings on the likelihood of a malaria or chikungunya outbreak, over different regions.
DNA used to make nano computers
- Scientists have built simple machines out of DNA, which can be used to make nanotech sensors, amplifiers and even a molecular computer.
- The DNA machines can relay discrete bits of information through space or amplify a signal, said Yonggang Ke, an assistant professor from Georgia Institute of Technology in the U.S. “In the field of DNA-based computing, the DNA contains the information, but the molecules are floating around in solution,” Mr. Ke said.
- “What’s new here is that we are linking the parts together in a physical machine,” he said.
- Researchers showed that they could build rectangles and tubes of array units.
It is a branch of computing which uses DNA, biochemistry, and molecular biology hardware, instead of the traditional silicon-based computer technologies. Research and development in this area concerns theory, experiments, and applications of DNA computing.
Pros and cons
The slow processing speed of a DNA-computer (the response time is measured in minutes, hours or days, rather than milliseconds) is compensated by its potential to make a high amount of multiple parallel computations. This allows the system to take a similar amount of time for a complex calculation as for a simple one. This is achieved by the fact that millions or billions of molecules interact with each other simultaneously. However, it is much harder to analyze the answers given by a DNA-Computer than by a digital one.