GS PAPER – II
Why in news?
- Ministry of Railways has launched Swachhata Pakhwada 2023.
- Swachhata pledge was administered to entire Railway family which includes employees of Railways along with senior officials of Railway Zones and Divisions connected via video conferencing.
- Swachhata Pledge taken by entire Railway family focused on one’s commitment towards cleanliness, devoting hundred hours per year for cleanliness and propagating the message of Swachh Bharat Mission.
- Ministry of Railways is observing Swachhata Pakhwada from 16th September 2023 to 30th September 2023.
- Ministry of Railways has extended it suo-moto up to 02nd October and has decided to culminate it with Mahatama Gandhi’s Jayanti.
- This year, joint campaign of Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs and Ministry of Jal Shakti namely ‘Swachhata hi Sewa’ (SHS) Campaign (from 15.09.23 to 02.10.23) is also being celebrated.
- Activities of SHS have been integrated with Indian Railways’ Swachhata Pakhwada programme.
- For Swachhata Pakhwada – 2023, dedicated days have been assigned for activities during pakhwada like Swachh Railgadi, Swachh Station, Swachh Aahar, Swachh Tracks etc.
- Extensive awareness campaign are also planned to be carried out through digital media/public announcement via PA systems to educate people about the use of bio-toilets, avoiding single use plastic and observing cleanliness habits.
Swachhata Pakhwada Awards
- In order to ensure greater participation & more effective outcome of the fortnight, Swachhata Pakhwada Awards have been provided to each ministry by Ministry of Jal Shakti (nodal Ministry) for awarding to field functionaries/ attached offices/ subordinate organizations for exemplary performance during pakhwada period.
- Previous year Swachhata Pakhwada – 2022 awards have been given to following zonal railways:
- 1st Position: South Western Railway;
- 2nd Position: Western Railway;
- 3rd Position: North Eastern Railway.
GS PAPER – I
Why in news?
- Srinivasan K. Swamy, Executive Chairman of R.K. Swamy Hansa Group, has been unanimously elected Chairman of the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) for 2023-2024.
About Mr. Srinivasan K. Swamy
- Mr. Swamy currently serves as Chairman of the Asian Federation of Advertising Associations.
- He was earlier President/Chairman of the International Advertising Association (IAA), IAA India Chapter, Confederation of Asian Advertising Agency Associations, Advertising Agencies Association of India, Advertising Standards Council of India, All India Management Association, Madras Chamber of Commerce & Industry and Madras Management Association.
About other appointments
- Riyad Mathew, Chief Associate Editor and Director of Malayala Manorama, representing publisher members on the council, has been unanimously elected Deputy Chairman of the Bureau for 2023-2024.
- Mohit Jain, Executive Director of Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd., representing publisher members on the council, was unanimously elected Secretary of the Bureau.
- Vikram Sakhuja, Partner & Group CEO Media & OOH of Madison Communications Private Ltd., representing advertising agencies’ members on the council, was unanimously re-elected Treasurer of the Bureau.
GS PAPER – III
Why in news?
- India’s wholesale prices remained in deflationary mode for the fifth month in a row in August but the decline in prices narrowed to 0.52% from 1.36% in July, even as inflation in food and primary articles slowed to about 6% from more than 7.5% in the previous month.
Reasons for the decline
- The narrowing in the deflation rate was largely driven by fuel and power prices, whose year-over-year decline more than halved from -12.8% in July to -6% in August.
- The Commerce and Industry Ministry attributed the negative rate of inflation “primarily to the fall in prices of mineral oils, basic metals, chemical & chemical products, textiles and food products”.
- Sequentially, however, the Wholesale Price Index logged inflation for the second successive month, rising 0.33% in August compared with 2.01% in July.
- Sequentially, fuel and power costs actually rose 3% after several months of declines, while manufactured products’ prices rose for the first time in four months, albeit at a marginal pace of 0.14%.
- While the wholesale food index was up 5.6%, primary food inflation remained elevated at 10.6% in August after hitting a decade-high of 14.3% in July, with vegetable prices rising 48.4% compared with 62.1% in July.
- Inflation in cereals eased to a three-month low of 7.25% in August, but paddy prices surged 9.2% and pulses by 10.5%, the highest pace in at least six months for both items.
- Onion prices shot up 31.4% in August, compared with 7.1% in July. Milk price inflation eased to a six-month low of 7.8% but was only marginally slower than the 8.15% recorded in July.
GS PAPER: II
Airbus C295 Aircraft
Why in the news?
Recently, the Indian Air Force (IAF) received the first of its 56 new Airbus C295 aircraft, which will replace its ageing Avro-748 fleet.
- The TASL jointly executed the project to equip the Air Force with the new transport aircraft under the Make-in-India initiative in the aerospace sector.
About Airbus C295 Aircraft:
- The C295 is a versatile tactical transport aircraft that can perform a variety of missions, including carrying troops and cargo, maritime patrol, airborne warning, surveillance and reconnaissance, signals intelligence, armed close air support, medical evacuation, VIP transport, and airborne firefighting.
- It is also equipped for air-to-air refuelling of fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters.
- The aircraft is powered by two Pratt & Whitney turboprop engines and can cruise at altitudes up to 30,000 feet, carrying up to 9 tonnes of payload or up to 71 troops at a maximum cruise speed of 260 knots (about 480 km/h).
- It has short take-off and landing (STOL) performance, allowing it to operate from unpaved, soft, and sandy/grass airstrips.
The acquisition of the Airbus C295 is a major milestone for the Indian Air Force and the Indian aerospace industry. The aircraft will boost the IAF’s capabilities and help to reduce its reliance on imports. The “Make in India” initiative will also create jobs and boost the Indian economy.
GS PAPER – III
West Coast Mega Refinery Project
Why in news?
Recently, India and Saudi Arabia have announced that they will intensify efforts to implement the West Coast mega refinery project.
- The project is important for India to meet its growing demand for petroleum fuels, products, and petrochemicals and to become a global refining hub.
About the West Coast mega refinery project:
- It was first conceptualised in 2014, as the West Coast refinery project, also known as the Ratnagiri Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd. (RRPCL).
- It was envisioned as India’s largest greenfield refinery with a capacity of 60 million tonnes per annum and is touted to become the largest integrated refinery and petrochemical facility in the world.
- Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL), Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL), and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) founded the 50:25:25 joint venture known as RRPCL in 2017.
- The decision to participate was made in 2019 by Saudi Aramco and the Abu Dhabi National Oil Corporation (ADNOC), who chose to jointly purchase a 50% stake in the project.
Challenges for the Project:
- The project has been stuck for several years due to opposition from local people and political turmoil in Maharashtra.
- The main concerns of local people are that the refinery will pollute and damage the region, destroy the cultivation of the famed alphonso mango and cashew, and hit local fishing.
- Overall, the West Coast mega refinery project is a complex and challenging project, but it is also an important one for India and Saudi Arabia. The renewed effort to implement the project is likely to generate further debate and discussion in the coming months.
GS PAPER – III
Leopard Sterilisation in India
Why in news?
Recently, the Maharashtra and Gujarat governments have announced plans to sterilize leopards in their respective states.
- This has sparked a debate about the effectiveness and ethics of this approach to wildlife management.
Need for Sterilisation
- The leopard population in India has increased significantly in recent years, leading to increased human-leopard conflict.
- In Maharashtra, for example, 58 people were killed by leopards in 2019-20. Sterilization is seen as a way to reduce the leopard population without killing them, which would also help to protect both leopards and humans.
- Leopards are the smallest of the big cats, and they are known for their ability to adapt to a variety of habitats.
- Leopards are nocturnal animals that hunt by night.
- Leopards are found in a wide range of habitats, including forests, grasslands, and deserts.
- The Indian leopard is a subspecies of leopard that is found in India and Nepal.
- The largest number of leopards in India are found in Madhya Pradesh (3,421) followed by Karnataka (1,783) and Maharashtra (1,690).
- IUCN Red List: Vulnerable
- CITES: Appendix-I
- Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972: Schedule- I
Some experts have raised concerns about the effectiveness and ethics of leopard sterilisation. They argue that the procedure is not always successful and that it can be stressful and painful for the leopards. Additionally, they worry that sterilisation could lead to a decline in the leopard population, which is already vulnerable.