Current Affairs (18th June 2021)
Deep Ocean Mission
Recently, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved the proposal of the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) on the Deep Ocean Mission (DOM).
The blueprint of the DOM to explore the deep recesses of the ocean was unveiled in 2018. Earlier, MoES had also rolled out the draft Blue Economy Policy.
Deep Ocean Mission is a central sector scheme.
The mission proposes to explore the deep ocean like the space exploration started by ISRO about 35 years ago.
The focus of the mission will be on deep-sea mining, ocean climate change advisory services, underwater vehicles and underwater robotics-related technologies.
The cost of the Mission has been estimated at Rs. 4,077 crores over a five-year period and will be implemented in phases.
MoES will be the nodal ministry implementing this multi-institutional ambitious mission.
It will be a mission mode project to support the Blue Economy Initiatives of the Government of India.Blue Economy is the sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods and jobs, and ocean ecosystem health.
The technology and expertise needed in such missions is now available with only five countries – US, Russia, France, Japan, and China.India will now be the sixth country to have it.
- Oceans, which cover 70% of the globe, remain a key part of our life. About 95% of the Deep Ocean remains unexplored.
- Three sides of India are surrounded by the oceans and around 30% of the country’s population living in coastal areas, the ocean is a major economic factor supporting fisheries and aquaculture, tourism, livelihoods, and blue trade.
- India has a unique maritime position. Its 7517 km long coastline is home to nine coastal states and 1382 islands.
- The Government of India’s Vision of New India by 2030 announced in February 2019 highlighted the Blue Economy as one of the ten core dimensions of growth.
- Oceans are also a storehouse of food, energy, minerals, medicines, modulator of weather and climate and underpin life on Earth.
- Considering the importance of the oceans on sustainability, the UN has declared the decade, 2021-2030 as the Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.
- The government has announced the phased implementation of mandatory Gold Hallmarking of Jewelry, with effect from June 16, 2021.
What is gold Hallmarking?
- The Bureau of Indian Standard (BIS) operates the gold and silver hallmarking scheme in India. It defines hallmarking as the accurate determination and official recording of the proportion of a precious metal(gold) in an article(Jewelry).
- Hence, this means that it will guarantee the purity or fineness of precious metal articles.
Which metals are covered under the scheme?
- The Government of India has notified two categories under the purview of hallmarking—gold jewelry and gold artifacts and silver jewelry and silver artifacts.
- Therefore, hallmarking in India is available for the jewelry of only two metals—gold and silver.
Which metals have been exempted from hallmarking?
- Export and re-import of jewelry as per Trade Policy of Government.
- Jewelry for international exhibitions and government-approved B2B domestic exhibitions.
- Watches, fountain pens, and special types of jewelry such as Kundan, Polki, and Jadau.
What was the need of making Gold Hallmarking mandatory?
- India is the biggest consumer of gold. However, the level of hallmarked jewelry is very low in the country. At present, only 30% of Indian gold jewelry is hallmarked.
- This is due to the non-availability of sufficient assaying and hallmarking centers (A&HC) responsible for a low level of hallmarked jewelry. Hence, Gold Hallmarking has been made mandatory.
Phase wise implementation:
- In the first phase, gold hallmarking will be available only in 256 districts.
- Jewelers having an annual turnover above Rs. 40 lakh will come under its purview.
- Moreover, there will be no penalty imposed till August 2021.
UNESCO Science Report (USR)
- The UNESCO Science Report (USR) has been released.
- UNESCO Science Report is a global monitoring report. It is published every five years by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
- Objective: The report monitors trends in science governance worldwide to identify which development path countries are following.
- Latest Report: The latest edition was published with the title ‘The race against time for smarter development’. The report has an exclusive chapter on India.
UNESCO Science Report (USR) on India:
India’s Investment in Research:
- India’s investment in research and development(R&D) remains unsatisfactory.
- The gross domestic expenditure on research (GERD) has been stagnant at 0.7% of the GDP for years. However, in absolute terms, the research expenditure has increased.
- India also has one of the lowest GERD/GDP ratios among the BRICS nations.
- Target: The Science and Technology Policy of 2003 fixed the threshold of devoting 2% of GDP to research and development (R&D) by 2007.
- However, the target has not been achieved and is being extended again and again.
Density of Scientists and Engineers:
- In 1990, the density of scientists/engineers engaged in R&D in India per 10,000 of the labour force stood at 10.
- This has now marginally increased to just 11 in 2018. This is too low when compared to 50 in China, 130 in Japan, and 180 in South Korea.
R&D by Government and Private Sector:
- Research and Development(R&D) in the government sector has been declining steadily since 2015.
- On the other hand, the share of private business enterprises in R&D has increased to 42%.
- Moreover, investment in R&D by foreign multinationals is on the rise. Ir accounts for as much as 16% of private-sector investment in R&D in 2019.
- There has been an increase in scientific publications by Indian researchers on cutting-edge technologies. Total publications have risen from 80,458 in 2011 to 1.61 lakh in 2019.
- However, patenting by domestic corporations, research institutes, universities, and individuals remain low in India.
- The report underscores the need for ‘policy bridges’ for developing a more effective interaction between foreign and local research firms.
- The report has also called for improved linkages between the start-up ecosystem and manufacturers. It will push technological development in sectors where India enjoys a global presence.
- Union Home Minister called for giving maximum publicity to various mobile apps related to weather forecasting like ‘Umang’, ‘Rain Alarm’ and ‘Damini’.
- The Damini app monitors the lightning occurrence all over India and alerts the user of lightning near them by a GPS notification under 20 km and 40 km.
- Damini app triggers warning about lightning strikes three hours in advance which can help reduce losses to life and property.
- Developed by Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM-Pune) and Earth System Science Organization(ESSO) under ministry of earth sciences.
- Launched in 2020.
Ordnance Factory Board (OFB)
- The Union Government has approved a plan for Ordnance Factory Board(OFB) Corporatisation.
Corporatisation of OFB (Ordnance Factory Board):
- Ordnance Factory Board(OFB) will be dissolved. It will be replaced by seven new Defense Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs). Each undertaking will have a specific manufacturing role.
- The 41 factories under the OFB will be subsumed under one or the other of the seven new companies. These all will be 100% government-owned public sector undertakings (PSU).
- There would be no change in the service conditions of the OFB employees.
- All OFB employees (Group A, B, and C) from different production units will be transferred to the corporate entities on deemed deputation for an initial period of two years.
Significance of Corporatization of OFBs: The restructuring of OFBs is aimed at achieving the following objectives:
- Making it a productive and profitable asset;
- deepen specialisation in the product range;
- enhance competitiveness;
- improve quality and cost-efficiency
- overcome various shortcomings in the existing system and provide these companies opportunities in the market, including exports
- Provide more autonomy, as well as improve accountability and efficiency.
World Sea Turtle Day 2021
- Recently, the World Sea Turtle Day(16th June) has been
- It is observed every year on 16th June, with the aim to save this aquatic species from extinction. It highlights the importance of sea turtles in the marine system.
- The sea turtles live as keystone species in the ocean body. Their existence is important to the environment and influences other species as well. If these species are removed, then the natural habitat will be affected, impacting other wildlife and fauna in a different way.
- It is a day dedicated to and coincides with the birthday of Dr. Archie Carr, the Father of Sea Turtle Biology, and the founder of the Sea Turtle Conservancy.
- Turtles are the world’s oldest reptile groups in existence, across the world found even before lizards and snakes.
- The first few years of a marine turtle’s life are often referred to as the ‘lost years’. That is because the time between when the hatchlings emerge until they return to coastal shallow waters to forage is incredibly difficult to study. The lost years they spend at sea – which can be up to 20 years – largely remain a mystery to humans.
- The seven species of sea turtle are Loggerhead, Green, Leatherback, Hawksbill, Olive Ridley, Kemp’s Ridley, and Flatback. Out of these seven, two species, Hawksbill and Kemps Ridley are considered critically endangered.