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Special Kits to Probe Sexual Assault Cases
Paper : General Studies 2, General Studies 3

Why in news?

  • Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Kits (SAECK) have been distributed by the MHA among the states and union territories.
  • They are designed to carry out immediate medico-legal investigation and aid in furnishing evidence in sexual assault and rape cases.
    3120 kits have been distributed.

Why is this important?

  • There has been an increase in crimes against women and rapes as recorded by the NCRB data.
  • 99% of the sexual assault and violence cases still go unreported, based on analysis of the NFHS data from 2015-16.
  • Pendency for rape cases is very high in the judicial system. Thus, there is a need for speedier due process of law that can be done with better evidence procurement mechanisms such as SAECK.

Medicine Labels in Regional Language
Paper : General Studies 2

Why in news?

  • In order to counter fake, sub-standard and expired drugs, Ministry of Health has said that Hindi and regional languages will be used in the tendering process.
  • Drug names and expiry date during tendering will be mentioned in the regional language as well.
  • This step has been taken on the basis of the recommendations of the Drugs Technical Advisory Board.

Why is this step important?

  • Based on an Assocham report in 2015, fake drugs constituted 25% of the domestic drug market in India.
  • The biggest centre of spurious drugs is national capital region (NCR), which includes Delhi and its suburbs of Gurgaon, Faridabad and Noida. Here fake drugs constitute one-third of the total drugs sold.
  • Thus, it becomes necessary to weed out such drugs by utilising regional language so as to make process easier for the locals.

 

205 rail projects report cost overrun of Rs 2.21 lakh crore
Paper : General Studies 3

Why in news?

  • Indian Railways accounts for nearly three-fifths of the 344 central sector projects that are facing huge cost overruns due to delay in implementation for various reasons.
  • This was mentioned in a report released by Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI)
  • MOSPI monitors Central sector projects involving expenditure of Rs. 150 crore and above.
  • After Railways, the Power sector reported the second highest incidence of overall cost overrun.

What are the reasons behind the huge cost overruns?

  • Delay in clearances from various ministries, especially environment
  • Delay in procurement of land
  • Delays in tendering process
  • Corruption and red-tapism
  • Poor performance of contractor
  • Utility shifting
  • Poor coordination between various departments
  • Under-estimation of original cost
  • Volatility of foreign exchange and statutory duties
  • High cost of rehabilitation of displaced people.
  • Monopolistic pricing by vendors of equipment services
  • Shortage of labour and skilled workers
  • Inflation

 

Easter Sunday serial blasts across Sri Lanka
Paper : General Studies 2, General Studies 3

Why in news?

  • Easter day bomb blasts at three Sri Lankan Churches and four hotels killed more than 200 people and wounded more than 400.
  • No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks yet.
  • There had been prior intelligence regarding an attack from Indian intelligence agencies that was conveyed to the Sri Lankan authorities, following which the Chief of Police had sounded a high alert across Sri Lanka.
  • The National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NTJ) is suspected to be behind the attacks.

 

East Asian Birds Make Andaman Stopover
Paper : Prelims Specific, General Studies 3

Why in news?
Several first time visitors have been seen on the islands of Andaman and Nicobar. These include:

  • Horsefield’s Bronze Cuckoo which is a native of Australia and New Guinea
  • Zappey’s Flycatcher which is a song bird that breeds in China and spends winters in the Malay peninsula, Sumatra and Java.
  • Javan Pond Heron which is usually found in Thailand and Cambodia,

Such sightings of East Asian birds have increased in the A&N Islands post the 2004 Tsunami.

  • Some other birds that have been sighted include Mugimaki Flycatcher, Blue-winged Pitta, Chinese Egret and the Chinese Paradise Flycatcher.
  • Several of these birds use these islands for a few weeks rest before they flu along the East Asian Australasian Flyway (EAAF)

What is the East Asian Australasian Flyway (EAAF)?

  • A flyway is a flight path used by a bird in migration
  • The EAAF extends from Arctic Russia and North America to the south Australian boundaries and includes most of east Asian regions including A&N islands.
East Asian Australasian Flyway

East Asian Australasian Flyway

 

Solar Thermal yet to grow at potential
Paper : General Studies 3

Why in news?
Solar thermal power plants have not been able to grow at the same pace as solar photovoltaic which have received a majority of the thrust and attention of government policy.

What is a solar thermal system?

  • Solar thermal technologies capture the heat energy from the sun and use it for heating and/or the production of electricity. This is different from photovoltaic solar panels, which directly convert the sun’s radiation to electricity
  • There are two main types of solar thermal systems for energy production – active and passive. Active systems require moving parts like fans or pumps to circulate heat-carrying fluids. Passive systems have no mechanical components and rely on design features only to capture heat (e.g. greenhouses).

Why have they not been able to gain momentum?

  • The 30% subsidy though encouraging is hard to implement due to the complexity of administration.
  • It is space consuming and the industries tend to use the limited space for the old familiar PV.

 

What measures are being taken to promote solar thermal?

  • Solar Payback project funded by German ‘International Climate Initiative’. The initiative cooperates with partner countries in the practical implementation of climate change mitigation and biodiversity conservation measures. Since its establishment, it has launched more than 500 climate and biodiversity projects.
  • The project aims to promote SHIP in India, South Africa, Mexico and Brazil. Three areas have been identified for early adoption of solar heating – dairy, food processing and pharmaceuticals.

CARE ratings survey mentions the top risks for Indian economy in FY 20
Paper : General Studies 3

Why in news?
Recently, a survey of 285 experts and stakeholders across sectors was released by CARE ratings. It identified risks and the outlook for the FY 2019-20

What are the top risks for the Indian economy identified by the respondents?

  • Slowdown in global growth
  • Liquidity pressures in banking system
  • Elections
  • Rise in crude oil prices
  • Fiscal slippages
  • Subdued investment activities
  • Employment generation
  • Trade wars
  • Currency volatility

What are the risks associated with fiscal slippage?
Loan waivers, higher social expenditure, lower GST collections, lower disinvestment proceeds, lower non tax revenue, lower direct tax collection.

April 22 is World Earth Day
Paper : Prelims Specific

What is World Earth Day?

  • Earth Day is an annual event celebrated on April 22. Worldwide, various events are held to demonstrate support for environmental protection.
  • First celebrated in 1970, Earth Day now includes events in more than 193 countries,which are now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network.
  • Theme for World Earth Day 2019 : Protect Our Species