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Global Housing Tech Challenge

Why in news?

The Central Goverment will offer about ₹150 crore as a technology innovation grant to build 6,000 homes – cheaper, faster and better -- using alternative technologies and materials under the Global Housing Technology Challenge.

About the challenge

  • The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs launched the Global Housing Technology Challenge (GHTC) to make the construction of houses cost-effective and innovative.
 
  • The aim of the initiative is to fast-track the construction of affordable housing and meet the target of constructing 2 crore houses by 2022.
  • It is under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana Urban (PMAY-U).
  • GHTC-India challenge is a well-conceptualised and designed programme to bring out the most innovative, simple, effective and appropriate solutions for making housing available and affordable to the common man.
  • The challenge will also focus on identifying and mainstreaming proven demonstrable technologies for lighthouse projects and spotting potential future technologies for incubation and acceleration support through ASHA (Affordable Sustainable Housing Accelerators), India.
Womaniya on GeM

Why in news?

Government e Marketplace [GeM] has launched “Womaniya on GeM”.

About the initiative

  • It is an initiative to enable women entrepreneurs and women self-help groups [WSHGs] to sell handicrafts and handloom, accessories, jute and coir products, home décor and office furnishings, directly to various Government ministries, departments and institutions.
  • The initiative seeks to develop women entrepreneurship on the margins of society to achieve gender-inclusive economic growth.
  • Economic empowerment of women is a step in the direction of poverty alleviation as they tend to invest up to 90 percent of their earnings back in their families.
  • Womaniya on GeM will spur hyper-local economic opportunities for women entrepreneurs and address goals and objectives under United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
  • The initiative aligns with Government’s initiatives for MSMEs, especially to reserve 3 percent in government procurement from women entrepreneurs.

Government e Marketplace

  • Government e Marketplace is a 100 percent government owned company for procurement of common use goods and services by Government ministries, departments and CPSEs.
  • It is setup under the aegis of Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
  • GeM was setup in 2016.

World Affairs

Commonwealth Secretariat Arbitrary Tribunal (CSAT)

Why in news?

Justice A.K. Sikri, the Supreme Court judge whose vote in the Prime Minister-led high-power committee became decisive for the removal of Alok Verma as CBI Director, turned down an offer from the government to nominate him to the London-based Commonwealth Secretariat Arbitrary Tribunal (CSAT).

About CSAT

 
  • CSAT is London based tribunal constituted for resolving disputes involving Commonwealth international or intergovernmental organizations which agree to submit to the jurisdiction of the CSAT.
  • The Commonwealth Secretariat Arbitral Tribunal (CSAT) was established and operates under a Statute agreed by Commonwealth governments in 1995.
  • The Agreed Memorandum says that every contract entered into by or on behalf of the Commonwealth Secretariat contains a provision for any dispute arising out of any such contract to be submitted to the CSAT for settlement.

Capacity and Tenure

  • The CSAT tribunal is meant to deal with any dispute arising out of a contract that the Commonwealth Secretariat has signed.
  • It essentially has jurisdiction to hear applications brought by three kinds of persons:
  1. A member of staff of the Commonwealth Secretariat
  2. The Commonwealth Secretariat
  3. Any person who enters into a contract in writing with the Commonwealth Secretariat.
  • The judgment of the Tribunal shall be final and binding on the parties and shall not be subject to appeal.
  • The statute of the CSAT requires the eight-member CSAT to comprise Commonwealth nationals of “high moral character” who had held “high judicial office in a Commonwealth country” or jurists of recognised competence with not less than 10 years’ experience.
  • Their tenure is four years with room for one additional term.
  • The position did not involve any monthly remuneration nor was it in the nature of a regular assignment.
  • It involved two or three sittings a year.

Current Affair Capsules

Magh Bihu
  • Villagers took part in community fishing on the eve of the Magh Bihu festival on the outskirts of Guwahati,
  • The festival which marks the end of the harvesting season, is celebrated with lavish feasts and bonfires.
Philip Kotler Presidential Award
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi was awarded the “first ever” Philip Kotler Presidential Award by the World Marketing Summit India which was previously only given to recognise achievements in advertising and marketing.
  • The awards are named after a celebrated marketing and management guru Philip Kotler, who is also the founder of the World Marketing Summit (WMS) Group.
DAMINI
  • It is a Mobile App to give alerts on impending lightning activity over the area.
  • Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune developed the application and can warn people about lightning at least 30-45 minutes before it strikes.
 

Culture

Makar Sankranti across India

Why in news?

Makar Sankranti was celebrated across the country.

About Makar Sankranti

  • Makar Sankranti is a Hindu festival which marks the transition of sun into the Capricorn Zodiac and welcoming of longer days.
  • It is celebrated annually on January 14 across India but are known by different names.

Makar Sankranti across India

State

Features

Delhi and Haryana

ü   Known also as Sakraat

ü   Sweets like Churma of ghee, halwa and kheer cooked

ü   Rituals of Sidha and Manana*

Punjab

ü   Celebrated as Maghi

ü   Light Lamps and eat kheer, khichdi and jaggery

ü   Mela at Sri Muktsar Sahib

ü   "bhangra" dance performed

Rajasthan and West Madhya Pradesh

ü   Special festival meals called "Sankrant Bhoj" for newly married women

ü   Small gifts to Brahmins or the needy ones.

ü   Kite flying is traditionally observed

Tamil Nadu

ü   It is a four-day festival from the last day of the Tamil month Maargazhi to the third day of the Tamil month Thai.

ü   Day 1 marks Bhogi Pandigai, Day 2 is Thai Pongal, Day 3 Maattu Pongal and day 4 Kaanum Pongal

Assam

ü   As Magh Bihu or Bhogali Bihu and last for a week

ü   marked by feasts and bonfires

ü   the feast inside makeshift huts, meji, which is burnt the next morning

ü   Traditional Assamese games such as tekeli bhonga (pot-breaking) and buffalo fighting

ü   Make cakes of rice with various names such as Shunga Pitha, Til Pitha etc. and some other sweets of coconut called Laru.

Maharashtra and Goa

ü   It is normally a three-day festival.

ü   people exchange multicoloured halwa and til-gul laadoo and other sweets

ü   In Goa, women celebrate 'haldi-kumkum’

Gujarat

ü   Known as Uttarayan, lasts for two days

ü   Kite flying competitions

Himachal Pradesh

ü   Known as Magha Saaji

ü   take ceremonial dips early morning and shower in the springs or baolis

ü   culminates singing and Naati (folk dance)

Uttarakhand

ü   Also called Ghughutia or Kale Kauva

ü   ceremonial dips in holy rivers

ü   Sweets strung as necklaces worn by children and sing ‘Kale Kauva’ to attract crows and birds welcoming migratory birds

Uttar Pradesh

ü   Known as Kicheri and involves ritual bath

ü   eat sweets such as til ladoo and gud laddo

ü   Kite flying is an inevitable part

Odisha

ü   prepare makara chaula as offering

ü   reaffirm the strength of the bond of friendship, a practice called ‘Makar Basiba’

West Bengal

ü   known as Poush Sankranti

ü   a variety of traditional Bengali sweets

ü   Goddess Lakshmi is usually worshipped

ü   Darjeeling- Magey Sakrati, associated with the worship of Lord Shiva.

Bihar and Jharkhand

ü   Celebrated as Makar Sankranti or Sakraat or Khichdi

ü   people take baths in rivers and ponds and feast upon seasonal delicacies

ü   Kite flying festivals are organised

Karnataka

ü   Suggi or harvest festival for farmers

ü   Ritual called "Ellu Birodhu."*

ü   In north Karnataka, kite flying with community members is a tradition.

ü   Drawing rangoli in groups is another popular event

ü   An important ritual is display of cows and bulls in colourful costumes in an open field.

Kerala

ü   Makara Sankranti is celebrated in Kerala at Sabarimala where the Makara Jyothi is visible followed by the Makaravilakku celebrations.

 

*Note:

  • Sidha’: One brother of every married woman visits her home with a gift of some warm clothing for her and her husband's family.
  • Manana’: Women give a gift to their in-laws
  • Ellu Birodhu’: girls wear new clothes to visit near and dear ones with a Sankranti offering in a plate and exchange the same with other families.

Environment

Impacts of Desalination

Why in news?

According to the study by the U.N. University’s Canadian-based Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH) desalination plants

 

worldwide produce bigger-than-expected flows of highly salty waste water and toxic  chemicals that are damaging the environment.

About the news

  • The study found that Desalination plants pump out 142 million cubic metres of salty brine every day, 50% more than previous estimates.
  • Brine, water comprising about 5% salt, often includes toxins such as chlorine and copper used in desalination which accumulate in the environment and can have toxic effects in fish.
  • Brine can cut levels of oxygen in seawater near desalination plants with “profound impacts” on shellfish, crabs and other creatures on the seabed.

About the Impacts of Desalination

  • Desalination plants have potential impacts on marine life at both ends of the pipe, the intake of ocean water and the discharge of brine back into the ocean.
  • While the water is taken in largescale impingement and entrainment of marine life occur.
  • Impingement refers to mortality of marine life on screens as ocean water is sucked into the pipe.
  • Entrainment refers to the mortality of smaller organisms such as plankton, fish eggs and larvae that pass through the screens and die during the pre-treatment process.
  • During Discharge, a brine is created that is roughly twice as salty as ocean water, which can poison marine life.
  • Chemicals used throughout the desalination process may also be discharged with the brine.

Solutions

  • Subsurface intakes can virtually eliminate impingement and entrainment, as they extract seawater from beneath the seafloor or a beach. The sand acts as a natural filter, providing a level of pre-filtration that can reduce plant chemical and energy use and long-term operating costs.
  • Treating the discharge to eliminate toxic chemicals.

About Desalination

  • Desalination is the process of removing salts and minerals from a substance like soil, water etc.
  • Desalination of saline water involves removal of the mineral salts to obtain fresh water for drinking purposes.
  • It is a very costly process, highly energy intensive and has a high overall ecological footprint.

Map Aided Programme

Impact of Climate Change on Marine Ecosystem

Why in news?

Researchers from Austral University of Chile are conducting a study at the Seno Ballena fjord, dubbed as an open-air lab to study effects of climate change.

Why it is called an open-air lab?

  • The fjord produces the kind of conditions that should be seen in other marine systems in the next few decades.
  • The place, one of the most inhospitable places on Earth, shows what change can be expected of the increased carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere and the melting of glaciers.
  • The researchers are analysing the chemical, physical and biological variables of the waters, which show lower levels of pH, salinity and calcium, especially in the shallowest areas, as a consequence of climate change.

Location of Seno Ballena Fjord

  • It is in Punta Arenas, at the southernmost part of the Patagonia region of Chile.
  • The chilly fjord waters provide one of the most productive marine habitats in the world, where sardines and krill can be found in huge numbers.
  • Patagonia is a sparsely populated region at the southern end of South America, shared by Argentina and Chile.

Impact of Climate Change

  • The melting of a glacier on Santa Ines Island and increased rainfall have led to rising levels of freshwater, which can affect plankton
  • This in turn would affect the whole food chain at the top of which are whales and dolphins.
  • Also calcium carbonate concentration has been found lower, which could affect the shells of marine organisms such as mollusks or krill, a staple of a whale’s diet.
  • It can also the crab, a species vital to the economy of the region.

Previous Year Questions Revision Series (Pqrs)-(2016)

  1. What is/are the importance/importance’s of the ‘United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification’?
  1. It aims to promote effective action through innovative national programs and supportive international partnerships.
  2. It has a special/particular focus on ‘South Asia and North Africa regions’ and its Secretariat facilitates the allocation of major portion of financial resources to these regions.
  3. It is committed to bottom-up approach, encouraging the participation of local people in combating the desertification.

Select the correct answer using the code given below.

(a) 1 only               (b) 2 and 3 only                       (c) 1 and 3 only                       (d) 1, 2 and 3