The Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) is mandated to provide services for weather, climate, ocean and coastal state, hydrology, seismology, and natural hazards; to explore marine living and non-living resources in a sustainable way and to explore the three polar-regions (Arctic, Antarctic and Himalayas). Several major milestones have been accomplished under various schemes of the Ministry of Earth Sciences during the last four years and especially in the year 2018. These achievements include a wide variety of services that are relevant to the society. Some of the most important achievements in this context are given below:
High Performance Computing (HPC) The Ministry of Earth Sciences has augmented its HPC facility by 6.8 Peta Flops (PF) which has been installed at two of its constituent units namely, Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune with 4.0 Peta Flops capacity and National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF), Noida with 2.8 Peta Flops capacity. The HPC facility ‘Pratyush’ at IITM and “MIHIR” at NCMRWF were dedicated to the nation by Union Minister for Earth Sciences,Dr. Harsh Vardhan, on 8 January 2018 and 30 January 2018, respectively. With this facility, a paradigm shift in weather and climate modeling activity for operational weather forecast has been achieved.
India’s ranking has moved from the 368th position to around the top 30 in the Top500 list of HPC facilities in the world. India is now placed at the 4thposition after Japan, UK and USA for dedicated HPC resources for weather/climate community.
This facility is part of Ministry’s continuous endeavor to provide world class forecast services to the citizens of India through its various operational and research and development activities. The Ministry of Earth Sciences has developed several services for societal benefits catering to a variety of sectors of economy by building state-of-the-art systems for multi-hazard risk reduction from cyclones; floods/droughts; heat/cold waves; earthquakes; tsunamis; etc.
Improved Weather and Cyclone Predictions A very high resolution (12 km) state of the art Global Ensemble Prediction Systems (EPS) were commissioned by MoES on 01 June 2018. The resolution (12 km) of the EPS is the highest among all the operational global operational weather forecast centres in the world.The Ensemble forecasts enhance the weather information being provided by the current models by quantifying the uncertainties in the weather forecasts and generate probabilistic forecasts.
The quality of weather services by the Ministry has shown appreciable improvements during the past 4 years. Specifically, noticeable improvements have been achieved in prediction skills of heavy rainfall and tropical cyclones.
The track forecast error during 2014-17 has been 89, 142, 207 km against 125, 202, 268 km during 2007-13 for 24, 48 and 72 hrs lead period respectively. The period during 2014-17 registered a decrease in track forecast error by 29, 30 & 23% as compared to 2007-13 for 24, 48 and 72 hours lead period respectively.
During 2018, six tropical cyclones formed over North Indian Ocean (NIO)against the normal frequency of 4.5 cyclones. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) appreciated IMD for tropical cyclone advisory services during Cyclonic Storm SAGAR over Arabian Sea (16-21 May), Extremely Severe Cyclonic Storm MEKUNU over Arabian Sea (21-27 May), VSCS Luban (06-15 October) and VSCS Titli (08-13 October) which helped minimize the impact and saved many lives
A Mumbai Weather Live Mobile App has been developed by collating ground measurements recorded by IMD and the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, observations from SAFAR-Mumbai, to provide live location specific information on rainfall. Currently, the app covers about 100 sites spread across Mumbai city, suburban areas, Navi Mumbai and surrounding areas.
Agro-Meteorological Advisory Services (AAS) The Ministry in collaboration with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) provides the district level Agromet Advisory Services (AAS) for the benefit of farmers. Farmers make use of these services for planning the operations like sowing, irrigation, application of fertilizer and pesticide, harvest and protection of crops from weather disasters. Currently, about 40 million farmers are receiving crop specific agro-meteorological advisories in vernacular languages. During monsoon 2018, Experimental Block level agromet advisory services has been started from existing AMFUs in 200 blocks of 50 districts.
Services to Power Sector India Meteorological Department (IMD) and POSOCO have launched a web portal dedicated exclusively to energy sector. A Reference Document on Weather Portal for Energy Sector was launched by Union Minister of State (IC), Ministry of Power and New & Renewable Energy, Shri RK Singh on 29 August, 2018.As the demand of power consumption changes due to change in weather conditions, the forecasts of weather including temperature, wind and rainfall helped in better load assessment including generation and distribution of power.
Potential Fishing Zone (PFZ) Advisories The Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) continued to provide its flagship service of Potential Fishing Zone (PFZ) advisories, which contains information on the regions of fish availability. PFZ advisories are generated based on the satellite data on Sea Surface Temperature (SST) and ocean colour along with other environmental parameters such as water clarity and sea level. There was a remarkable growth in user community during 2018
The advisories are being disseminated in smart map and text form on daily basis, depending on satellite data availability, except fishing-ban period and during adverse sea-state. During the period Jan 1-Oct 25, 2018, multilingual Potential Fishing Zones (PFZ) advisories were made available on 225 days. In addition, during the FY 2017-18, INCOIS provided 220 Tuna advisories also, that included information on the maximum fishing depth.
Desalination of water Union Minister of Earth Sciences Dr. Harsh Vardhan laid the foundation stone for the world’s first ever Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) powered desalination project in Kavaratti, Lakshadweep on 22.10.2018.
OTEC is a renewable form of energy utilizing thermal gradient present across the ocean depth. The existing desalination plants in Lakshadweep put up by NIOT, utilize diesel generators for their operation. The proposed plant will utilize clean and green energy provided by OTEC to power desalination and this plant will be set up at Kavaratti. This would not only pave the way for setting up of more environmentally friendly self-sustainable desalination plants but also help in scaling up the OTEC technology for mainland uses.
NIOT also has taken up the task of establishing 1.5 Lakh liters per day capacity LTTD plants in Amini, Androth, Chetlat, Kadamat, Kalpeni, and Kiltan Islands of UT Lakshadweep at a cost of Rs. 187.87 crores with a project duration of 2 years.
Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister along with the Lakshadweep Administrator at the Foundation Stone laying ceremony at Kavaratti.
Ocean Science and Technology for Islands The Atal Centre for Ocean Science and Technology for Islands in Port Blair was inaugurated by Union Minister for Science & Technology, Environment & Forest and Earth Sciences, Dr.HarshVardhan, on 15th September 2018. The activities are focused towards offshore open sea cage culture for marine fishes, deep sea microbial technology aimed at the production of novel bioactive compounds from actinobacteria and other deep sea microorganisms, isolation and production of bio-molecules from macro algae and seawater quality monitoring.
Coastal Research Recognizing the importance of diverse and productive ecosystems of Indian Coast such as estuaries, lagoons, mangroves, mudflats, rocky shores, coral reefs, MoES had reorganized the existing centre into a Centre of Excellence for Coastal Research in April 2018 at Chennai. The National Centre for Climate research (NCCR) is an attached office of the ministry with a mandate to address societal needs of the country.The NCCR would provide scientific and technical support to the coastal states for conservation and sustainable management of the resources to address blue economy in association with the coastal states. This would provide a strong institutional and scientific backing to solve the critical coastal issues and aid in the Nation building exercise.
Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Ministry of Science & Technology, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and Ministry of Earth Sciences laid the foundation stone for the National Centre for Coastal Research (NCCR) and a joint training facility of NCCR and India Meteorological Department (IMD) at Dolphin Hill, Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh on 2nd November, 2018.
Under the Sea Water Quality Monitoring (SWQM) program along Indian Coast, NCCR has seasonal data on >25 parameters pertaining to physico-chemical, biological and microbiological characteristics of seawater and sediment are systematically collected and analyzed using standard protocols. Water (surface, mid-depth and bottom) and sediment samples are being collected at each location at 0/0.5 km (shore), 2/3 km (near-shore) and 5 km (offshore) distance from the shore. Based on the data collected under SWQM program, a status report on, “Seawater quality at selected locations along India coast” was released on 27th July, 2018 in New Delhi on the occasion of Foundation Day of MoES.
The coastline of India is undergoing changes due to various anthropogenic and natural interventions. Population explosion along the coastal area has added to an increase demand for coastal resources. Precise information on shoreline changes is essential to address the various coastal problems such as coastal erosion; closure of river / lagoons /creeks mouths, etc.NCCR has prepared a status report on shoreline changes for the period 26 years (1990 to 2016). It provides details of shoreline changes, 3 types of map, shoreline vulnerability for erosion /accretion, land loss / land gain etc. for entire mainland coast of India. This report will be very useful to coastal managers and other stakeholders in identifying critical area for coastal management to safeguard property and population living in coastal areas.
Metropolitan Air Quality and Weather Services Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union minister of S&T, Earth Sciences, Environment, Forecast and Climate Change inaugurated an air quality monitoring and forecasting station for the benefit of the citizens of one of the most crowded locations of Delhi in Chandni Chowk near Town Hall which will also monitior PM1, Hg and UV-radiations, in addition to routine air pollutants and weather parameters.
Air Quality Early Warning System for Delhi: A new early warning system of air quality in Delhi developed in collaboration with National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), USA was launched on 15 October 2018. The system will assimilate data from around 36 monitoring stations run by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), and System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR). Information from satellites on stubble burning in northwest India or dust storms along with the prevalent meteorological factors will help improve the initial conditions of the dynamical chemistry transport model thereby resulting in accurate prediction of air-quality. This newly developed system will enable the Graded Response Action Plan to be implemented in advance.
Chennai Flood Mitigation National Centre for Coastal Research (NCCR), Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Chennai and Revenue Administration, Disaster Management and Mitigation Department is to provide technical support in the areas related to Coastal Flood Warning System for Greater Chennai Corporation area, which will be extended to the new CMA area in a Phased manner.
NCCR has developed the Chennai Flood Warning System (C-FLOWS) for Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC). The design of the system involved coupling of regional weather forecast model, tide forecast model, tidal flood model, along with flood forecasting and inundation models. As the expert system is multi-disciplinary in nature, multiple institutions and organizations were involved. Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IITB) is the lead institution along with participation of the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IITM), Anna University, the ESSO-National Centre of Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF) and the ESSO-India Meteorological Department (IMD). The system will provide information about flood-levels ward-wise within 1 hour (for real time simulation) and 30 minutes (from expert system) after the weather forecast is received .The updates will be provided every 6 hours for deterministic forecasts and 24 hours for quantile forecasts.
C-FLOWS will be tested for 2018 Northeast Monsoon situation and would provide scientific advisory through development of a dashboard and Mobile application connecting risk forecasts.
Coastal Engineering Design of the Offshore reef with beach nourishment for coastal protection at Puducherry : Further to the gain of beach width of 60m formed near the northern side, a submerged steel wedge was successfully installed as a near shore submerged reef in the northern side. It is a triangular steel wedge, of 800 tonnes, with dimension 50m x 60m x2.5m and was successfully installed at 2.5 m water depth off Puduchery coast as part of Beach Restoration project on August 23, 2018. The Beach Restoration project in Puducherry has been successfully completed. Demonstration of submerged reef at Puducherry has resulted in formation of wide beach.
A workshop on Puducherry beach Restoration was organised on 11th October 2018 at Puducherry. Dr. KiranBedi, IPS, (Retd.) Hon’ble Lt. Governor of Puducherry unveiled the video on Puducherry Beach restoration project and Shri.V.Narayanasamy, Hon’ble Chief Minister of Puducherryreleased the Brochure about the Project. The work carried out was appreciated by the Government of Puducherry, media and public.
Transfer of Technology (ToT) Technology Transfer to industry in April 2018 NIOT signed an agreement for Transfer of Technology (ToT) of Robo coastal observer to CT control technology, through NRDC, on 27th April 2018, at Hyderabad in the presence of Secretary MoES. NIOT signed an agreement for Transfer of Technology (ToT) of Remotely Operable Vehicle to L&T heavy industries through NRDC, on 27th April 2018, at Hyderabad in the presence of Secretary MoES. Transfer of Technology of the patented transducer (patent no 278301) was given to Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and is in production level. NIOT has signed a MoU through NRDC, for technology transfer of Ocean drifter and expandable CTD to Indian industries – M/s.Norinco, Mumbai, M/s.Astra Microwave, Hyderabad and M/s.Azista Industries Pvt. Ltd., Ahmedabad on 31.8.2018, in the presence of Secretary MoES.
Microzonation of selected cities: The Seismic Microzonation work related to Geophysical investigations has been initiated for the four selected cities, namely, Chennai, Bhubaneswar, Coimbatore, and Mangalore. In addition, mocrozonation for 8 more cities, considered to be important from seismic point of view, is being taken up separately on priority through academic and research organizations in India. The list includes Patna, Meerut, Amritsar, Agra, Varanasi, Lucknow, Kanpur and Dhanbad. Ministry has also identified new thrust areas and made strategy to further improve/strengthen and to provide the nation with best possible services.
Initiative have been taken to make agriculture more adaptive and resilient to climate variability and in the process to reduce carbon emission. Important initiatives in this regard include crop diversification programme under Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY), National Food Security Mission (NFSM) and Bringing Green Revolution to Eastern India (BGREI). Other supporting programmes viz. Soil Health Card (SHC), Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY), Mission Organic for Value Chain Development for North East (MOVCD), Rainfed Area Development (RAD), Sub-Mission on Agroforestry (SMAF) and National Bamboo Mission (NBM) are also being implemented under the National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA), which is one of the eight Mission under the National Action Plan for Climatic Change (NAPCC).
Soil, water and crop management practices that reduce carbon emission include: (i) Increasing the area under System of Rice Intensification (SRI) as an alternative to transplanted paddy.
(ii) Deployment of zero tillage drill machines and other residue management equipment which enable planting of rabi crop in the standing residue of rice crop to avoid its burning.
(iii) Alternate wetting and drying, direct seeded rice system of rice cultivation, use of slow release nitrogen fertilizers, integrated nutrient management practices, leaf colour chart-based nitrogen application, use of urea super granules etc.
(iv) Mandatory Neem coating of urea.
(v) Promotion of micro irrigation under Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY)-Per Drop More Crop.
(vi) Planting of trees under National Food Security Mission (NFSM), Bringing Green Revolution to Eastern India (BGREI), Sub-Mission on Agro Forestry (SMAF) and National Bamboo Mission (NBM).
(vii) 45 models of Integrated Farming System (IFS) have been developed for replication in Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) and in the States for enabling climate resilient agriculture.
(viii) Climate resilient villages have been developed by Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), one in each of 151 districts. Climate Vulnerability Atlas has been prepared under National Innovations in Climate Resilient Agriculture (NICRA). District Agriculture Contingency Plans have been developed for 633 districts in order to give real time agro advisories for overcoming climate risks.
About the Bhima- Koregaon battle: A battle was fought in Bhima Koregaon, a district in Pune with a strong historical Dalit connection, between the Peshwa forces and the British on January 1, 1818. The British army, which comprised mainly of Dalit soldiers, fought the upper caste-dominated Peshwa army. The British troops defeated the Peshwa army.
Outcomes of the battle: The victory was seen as a win against caste-based discrimination and oppression. Peshwas were notorious for their oppression and persecution of Mahar dalits. The victory in the battle over Peshwas gave dalits a moral victory a victory against caste-based discrimination and oppression and sense of identity. However, the divide and rule policy of the British created multiple fissures in Indian society which is even visible today in the way of excessive caste and religious discrimination which needs to be checked keeping in mind the tenets of the Constitution.
Why Bhima Koregaon is seen as a Dalit symbol? The battle has come to be seen as a symbol of Dalit pride because a large number of soldiers in the Company force were the Mahar Dalits. Since the Peshwas, who were Brahmins, were seen as oppressors of Dalits, the victory of the Mahar soldiers over the the Peshwa force is seen as Dalit assertion. On 1 January 1927, B.R. Ambedkar visited the memorial obelisk erected on the spot which bears the names of the dead including nearly two dozen Mahar soldiers. The men who fought in the battle of Koregaon were the Mahars, and the Mahars are Untouchables.
What is it? IBMS crates an inventory of all bridges in the country and rate their structural condition so that timely repair and rehabilitation work can be carried out based on the criticality of the structure. IBMS is the largest platform in the world owned by a single owner, with database that could exceed 1,50,000 bridge structures. So far 1,15,000 bridges have been inventorized, of which 85,000 are culverts and the rest are bridges.
Why was it necessary? Lack of any data base on bridges in the country has led to a situation where there is no clear idea about the exact number and location of bridges. Hence, it has become difficult to maintain bridges in proper working condition. Poor condition of bridges hampers efficient transport and has also led to accidents and loss of lives on several occasions.
How it operates? During inventory creation each bridge is assigned a unique identification number or National Identity Number based on the state, RTO zone and whether it is situated on an National Highway, State Highway or is a district road. Then the precise location of the bridge in terms of latitude-longitude is collected through GPS and based on this, the bridge is assigned a Bridge Location Number. Thereafter, engineering characteristics like the design, materials, type of bridge, its age, loading, traffic lane, length, width of carriage way etc are collected and are used to assign a Bridge Classification Number to the structure.
These are then used to do a structural rating of the structure on a scale of 0 to 9, and each bridge is assigned a Structural Rating Number. In addition to the structural rating, the bridges are also being assigned Socio-Economic Bridge Rating Number which will decide the importance of the structure in relation to its contribution to daily socio-economic activity of the area in its vicinity. Based on this inventory IBMS will analyse data and identify bridges that need attention. Further inspection will be carried out wherever required to improve the operational availability of the structure, enhance its life and prioritize repair and rehabilitation work. The data will help to decide which bridge needs critical attention, or which needs to be rebuilt.
Under the Saubhagya scheme, the target of 100% electrification of the state was to be achieved by December 31, 2018. However, the State Power Utility (SPU) achieved the target on December 27, 2018 itself.
About SAUBHAGYA Scheme: Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana – ‘Saubhagya’ was launched in September, 2017. Under Saubhagya free electricity connections to all households (both APL and poor families) in rural areas and poor families in urban areas will be provided.
Rural Electrification Corporation (REC) has been designated as nodal agency for the Saubhagya scheme. The scheme aims to achieve universal household electrification in all parts of the country. All DISCOMs including Private Sector DISCOMs, State Power Departments and RE Cooperative Societies shall be eligible for financial assistance under the scheme in line with Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY). Eligibility: The prospective beneficiary households for free electricity connections under the scheme would be identified using SECC 2011 data. However, un-electrified households not covered under SECC data would also be provided electricity connections under the scheme on payment of Rs. 500 which shall be recovered by DISCOMs in 10 instalments through electricity bill.
Scope of the Scheme: Providing last mile connectivity and electricity connections to all un-electrified households in rural areas. Providing Solar Photovoltaic (SPV) based standalone system for un-electrified households located in remote and inaccessible villages / habitations, where grid extension is not feasible or cost effective. Providing last mile connectivity and electricity connections to all remaining economically poor un-electrified households in urban areas. Non-poor urban households are excluded from this scheme. Mains Question: Electrification, in contemporary times, is a basic human necessity. With reference to the scheme Saubhagya, examine the feasibility of a national universal electrification program.
Important observations made by the committee: Over 56,000 square kilometres of ecologically sensitive areas (ESA) in the Western Ghats could not be earmarked as ‘no-go’ zones due to State governments’ ‘insensitivity’. The recent monsoon floods in Kerala and parts of Karnataka should serve as alarm bells for the administrations in the States of Goa, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, which have failed to mark ESA in the Western Ghats.
Background: The panel had examined issues regarding the categorisation of the Western Ghats as ESA as per the recommendations of two committees led by Madhav Gadgil and K. Kasturirangan. The panel examined 62 assurances during its deliberations with various State governments and other organisations, and had visited Pune, Mumbai, Chennai and Bengaluru, before preparing its report.
What next? The committee is of the view that implementation of the recommendations of the Kasturirangan report is only possible with active support of local population. It also requires consultation with the State government at micro level to achieve the objectives of saving the Western Ghats.
What did the Gadgil Committee say? It defined the boundaries of the Western Ghats for the purposes of ecological management. It proposed that this entire area be designated as ecologically sensitive area (ESA). Within this area, smaller regions were to be identified as ecologically sensitive zones (ESZ) I, II or III based on their existing condition and nature of threat. It proposed to divide the area into about 2,200 grids, of which 75 per cent would fall under ESZ I or II or under already existing protected areas such as wildlife sanctuaries or natural parks. The committee proposed a Western Ghats Ecology Authority to regulate these activities in the area.
What was the need for the subsequent Kasturirangan Committee? None of the six concerned states agreed with the recommendations of the Gadgil Committee, which submitted its report in August 2011. In August 2012, then Environment Minister constituted a High-Level Working Group on Western Ghats under Kasturirangan to “examine” the Gadgil Committee report in a “holistic and multidisciplinary fashion in the light of responses received” from states, central ministries and others.
Recommendations of Kasturirangan Committee: A ban on mining, quarrying and sand mining. No new thermal power projects, but hydro power projects allowed with restrictions. A ban on new polluting industries. Building and construction projects up to 20,000 sq m was to be allowed but townships were to be banned. Forest diversion could be allowed with extra safeguards.
As part of the enhanced outreach programme of Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), a new platform named “Samwad with Students” (SwS) was launched in Bengaluru.
About the SwS Initiative: ISRO aims to engage youngsters across India to capture their scientific temperament. The new conversation mission will inspire students cutting across schools and colleges. The first SwS event saw 40 wards and 10 teachers from select schools interact with ISRO Chairman Dr K Sivan at the Anthariksh Bhavan.
Why in News? President Ram Nath Kovind has nominated Justice AK Sikri as Executive Chairman of National Legal Services Authority (NALSA).
About NALSA: NALSA has been constituted under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987, to provide free legal services to weaker sections of society. The aim is to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reasons of economic or other disabilities.
Important functions performed by NALSA: NALSA organises Lok Adalats for amicable settlement of disputes. NALSA identifies specific categories of the marginalised and excluded groups and formulates various schemes for the implementation of preventive and strategic legal service programmes.
Services provided by the agency include free legal aid in civil and criminal matters for the poor and marginalised people who cannot afford the services of a lawyer in any court or tribunal. Free legal services include provision of aid and advice to beneficiaries to access the benefits under the welfare statutes and schemes and to ensure access to justice in any other manner.
Context: The Union Home Ministry has approved the proposal of the Uttar Pradesh Government to rename Allahabad as Prayagraj.
Background: The city of Allahabad was originally known as Prayag in ancient times. Between 1574 and 1583, the 16th-century Mughal emperor Akbar founded a fort near the confluence of the Ganga and the Yamuna, known as Sangam, as he was impressed with its strategic position. Hence, Akbar named the fort and its neighbourhood as Ilahabad, which meant the “Abode of God”, inspired by the religion he had founded, Din-i-Illahi. In the later years, Akbar’s grandson Shah Jahan renamed the entire city as Allahabad. However, the area near the Sangam, which is the site of the Kumbh Mela, continued to be called Prayag.
Women’s Wall in Kerala: Context: Kerala government had on January 1st organised the Women’s Wall or Vanitha Mathil to “protect renaissance values.
WHAT IS IT? Around thirty lakh women formed a human chain across the National Highway from Kasargod to Thiruvananthapuram, around 620-kilometre long, extending their support to the state government’s resolve to implement the Supreme Court’s verdict allowing women of all ages access to Sabarimala and to protect the secular and progressive values of Kerala. Organised by the government and supported by various social organisations having links with the renaissance movement, the Women’s Wall is an attempt by the government to defend the state from communal forces.
Survey on Retail Payment Habits of Individuals (SRPHi): What is it? It is a survey launched by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). The survey will capture payment habits of individuals in six cities, including four metropolitan towns.
Key facts: The survey will cover a sample of 6,000 individuals from various socio-economic backgrounds across six cities — Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru and Guwahati. The survey seeks qualitative responses from individuals on their payment habits. The findings may provide some idea about awareness and usage habits of digital payment products.
Context: For the first time in history, the federal cabinet has approved a new financial strategy called Panda-Bonds in Pakistan. These bonds will become the new and favorable method to raise foreign exchange.
What Are Panda Bonds? A Panda bond is a Chinese renminbi-denominated bond from a non-Chinese issuer, sold in the People’s Republic of China. These bonds were first issued in 2005 by the International Finance Corporation and the Asian Development Bank.
The Chinese government had been negotiating for several years about implementation details before permitting the sale of such bonds; they had been concerned about the possible effects on their currency peg.
How Will Panda Bonds Benefit Pakistan? The bonds will help Pakistan’s government to diversify the current investor base in capital market insurance and will also be used as a source of raising Renminbi. Furthermore, the tenor, size and pricing will be determined according to the market response at the time of issuance.
Context: Bird watchers and researchers recently sighted Cinereous vulture in Hazaribagh in Jharkhand.
Background: During the winter, the Cinereous vulture migrates from the mountainous regions of Europe and Asia to warmer places, including India.
Key facts: Cinereous vulture (Aegypius monachus) draws its name from “monachus”, which means hooded (like a monk) in Latin. It is also known as the black vulture, monk vulture, or Eurasian black vulture. It is classified as Near Threatened under the IUCN Red List.