News: The catastrophic explosion at Beirut port in Lebanon was caused by over 2,700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate kept in storage for over six years.
- Ammonium Nitrate(NH4NO3): It is a white, crystalline chemical which is soluble in water.
- Where is it used? It is a common industrial chemical used mainly for fertiliser and is also used as one of the main components in mining explosives.
- Why is it used in Agriculture? In agriculture, ammonium nitrate fertiliser is applied in granule form and quickly dissolves under moisture, allowing nitrogen which is key to plant growth to be released into the soil.
- Ammonium nitrate as an explosive: Pure ammonium nitrate is not an explosive on its own.It is classified as an oxidiser under the United Nations classification of dangerous goods.
- However, if mixed with the ingredients like fuel or some other contaminants or because of some other external factors, it can be very explosive.
- Beirut: It is the capital and largest city of Lebanon.It is located on the Mediterranean coast at the foot of the Lebanon Mountains.
News: Jawaharlal Nehru University(JNU) has secured a financial assistance of Rs 455 crore from the Higher Education Funding Agency(HEFA) for construction of new academic buildings, hostels and research centres.
- Higher Education Financing Agency(HEFA): It was formed in 2017 as a joint venture of the Canara Bank and Ministry of Human Resource Development (now renamed as Ministry of Education).
- It is registered under Section 8 [ Not-for-profit] under the Companies Act 2013 as a Union Govt company and as Non–deposit taking NBFC with RBI.
- Aim: To enable India’s premier educational institutions to excel and reach the top in global rankings by financing building world class infrastructure including R&D Infrastructure.
- Approach: It provides timely finance at a competitive interest rate for capital assets creation in India’s educational institutions and supplements it with grants by channelizing CSR funds from the corporate and donations from others.
- Eligibility: All the Centrally Funded Educational Institutions in Higher Education, School Education and Medical Education sectors are eligible to avail of loans through HEFA.
- Revitalising Infrastructure and Systems in Education(RISE) by 2022: It was launched by the Government of India in the FY 2018-19 budget.
- Objectives: The objectives of RISE by 2022 are:
- Qualitatively upgrade the research and academic infrastructure in India to global best standards by 2022.
- Make India into an education hub by making available high quality research infrastructure in Indian higher educational institutions.
- To allow access of HEFA funding to institutions like Central Universities, AIIMS, IISERs without creating any additional burden to the students.
- To bring greater accountability and speed in execution of infrastructure projects.
- To cater to the requirements of the Kendriya Vidyalayas and Navodaya Vidyalayas and medical institutions like AIIMSs in a faster time frame.
News: The organisations representing the Bru community have rejected the sites proposed by the non-Brus in Tripura for their resettlement.
- Brus or Reang: It is a community indigenous to Northeast India living mostly in Tripura, Mizoram and Assam.In Tripura, they are recognised as a Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group.
- Language: They speak the Reang dialect of Bru language which is of Tibeto Burmese origin and is locally referred to as Kau Bru.
- Dance and Festival: The Hojagiri folk dance of the Reang sub tribe is well known all over the world.The most popular festival of reang tribes is Buisu.
- Conflict: In Mizoram,the Bru community have been targeted by the groups that do not consider them indigenous to the state.Hence, Brus fled from Mizoram and were accommodated in relief camps in Tripura.
- Agreement: In January 2020, the Centre, governments of Tripura and Mizoram and representatives of Bru tribe has signed an agreement to settle the Bru refugees in Tripura.
News: Haryana Chief Minister has launched a unique identity card called Parivar Pehchan Patra(PPP).
- Parivar Pehchan Patra(PPP): It is a 8-digit unique identification number meant for each family to enable smooth and automatic delivery of several citizen-centric services launched by the state government from time to time.
- How is PPP different from the Aadhaar card? Aadhaar represents an individual as a unit while PPP represents a family as a unit.
- Is it mandatory? PPP is mandatory for families availing benefits under government schemes.It is also mandatory for government employees to apply for PPP failing which their salaries may also be withheld.
- Benefits of PPP: It will be easier for the state government to maintain a complete database of all families as most government schemes are structured around the family and not around an individual.
News: Union Food Ministry has said that the free food grains under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana were distributed to up to 75 crore beneficiaries during April-June period.
- Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana: It was announced as part of the relief package during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Aim: To ensure sufficient food for the poor and needy during the coronavirus crisis.
- Ministry involved: The program is operated by the Department of Food and Public Distribution under the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution.
- Features: Under the scheme, about 81 Crore National Food Security Act(NFSA) beneficiaries are being provided with an additional quota of free-of-cost foodgrains (Rice/Wheat) at a scale of 5 Kg per person per month over and above their regular monthly entitlement.
- Duration: The scheme was to run for three months from April to June,2020.However, it has now been extended till November 2020.
News: The Energy and Resources Institute(TERI) in partnership with the Department of Science & Technology has developed an external shading system named “ShadeSmart” under the Habitat Model for Efficiency and Comfort Project.
- Habitat Model for Efficiency and Comfort Project: It is an initiative of TERI in partnership with the Department of Science & Technology to provide the building market with external shading products that can reduce direct solar heat gain inside a building while allowing natural daylight for optimum comfort and energy efficiency.
- TERI: It is a non-profit research institute established in 1974.It conducts research work in the fields of energy, environment and sustainable development for India and the Global South.
News: The Supreme court has referred petitions challenging the validity of the Constitution(103rd Amendment) Act which provides for a 10% Economically Weaker Section(EWS) quota in government jobs and educational institutions to a five-judge constitution bench.
- Constitution (103rd Amendment) Act,2019: The act provides 10% reservation for Economically Weaker Sections(EWS) in government jobs and educational institutions whether aided or unaided other than the minority educational institutions.
- The economic reservation was introduced by amending Articles 15 and 16 and adding clauses empowering the State governments to provide reservation on the basis of economic backwardness.
- Criteria: The criteria for EWS includes a) annual income below Rs 8 lakh; b) agriculture land below 5 acres; c) residential house below 1,000 sq.ft; d) residential plot below 100 yards in notified municipality and residential plot below 200 yards in non-notified municipality area.
- Why has it been challenged in court? The petitioners has challenged the act due to following reasons
- The economic criterion cannot be the sole basis for reservation.
- The bill violates basic features of the Constitution as reservation on economic grounds cannot be limited to the general category.
- The overall 50% ceiling limit cannot be breached which violated the decision of the apex court in Indra Sawhney judgement,1993.
- Extending the reservation benefits to unaided institutions violates Article 19(1)(g) which gives citizens the right to carry out any trade or profession.