- Astra: An all weather beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation, India. It is the first air-to-air missile developed by India. It features mid-course inertial guidance with terminal active radar homing. Astra is designed to be capable of engaging targets at varying range and altitudes allowing for engagement of both short-range targets at a distance of 20 km and long-range targets up to a distance of 80 km
- Two new species of Asclepiadaceae or milkweed family plants found in Western Ghats:
- Tylophora balakrishnanii, a straggling vine, has been discovered from the Thollayiram shola in Wayanad, a biodiversity hotspot in the Nilgiri biosphere reserve
- Tylophora neglecta has been discovered from the shola forest on the Thooval Mala hill in Kollam
Paper: General Studies 2, General Studies 3
Topic: Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources; Employment
Why in News?
The government is mulling about linking the wages under MGNREGA with inflation, to keep the wages updated and increase rural demand
What is MGNREGA?
- The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), also known as Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS) is Indian legislation enacted on August 25, 2005.
- The MGNREGA provides a legal guarantee for one hundred days of employment in every financial year to adult members of any rural household willing to do public work-related unskilled manual work at the statutory minimum wage.
- The Ministry of Rural Development (MRD), Govt of India is monitoring the entire implementation of this scheme in association with state governments
- This act was introduced with an aim of improving the purchasing power of the rural people, primarily semi or un-skilled work to people living below the poverty line in rural India. It attempts to bridge the gap between the rich and poor in the country. Roughly one-third of the stipulated work force must be women
- Increase in rural employment – In FY 2015-16, 235 crore Persondays of employment were generated
- Betterment of female employment – about 50% of the total persondays employment generated was utilized by women, more than the stipulated 33%
- Creation of infrastructural assets for driving rural economy, e.g. creation of water management assets having positive outcomes for agriculture sector
- Synergies with other schemes such as use of manual labour in schemes like Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana
Dedicated Freight Corridor
Paper: General Studies 3
Topic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.
Why in News?
- The Railways is working on three more dedicated freight corridors at an estimated cost of about ₹2.6 lakh crore, which will help the national transporter to free up the current tracks to run enough passenger trains so that no traveller gets waitlisted
Dedicated freight corridors – Need:
- ‘Dedicated Freight Corridors’ are planned to be ‘freight-only’ corridors which will make it cheaper, faster, and more reliable to move goods between industrial heartlands in the North and ports on the Eastern and Western coasts. These freight-only railway lines along congested transport corridors were envisaged to ramp up the average speed of freight, which had reduced considerably to 20 kmph.
- The conceptualisation of Dedicated Freight Corridors can be understood clearly as one delves into Indian Railways’ freight operations scenario in the past. It was majorly the Golden Quadrilateral, linking the four metropolitan cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Howrah and its two diagonals (Delhi-Chennai and Mumbai-Howrah) comprising 16% of the route, that carried over 52% of passenger traffic and 58% of freight traffic. This made the trunk routes highly saturated, with line capacity utilisation reaching as high as 150%. Thereby, these freight corridors were proposed to ensure a more reliable, economical and faster transportation of goods.
- The surging power needs requiring heavy coal movement, booming infrastructure construction and growing international trade led to the conception of the Dedicated Freight Corridors along the Eastern and Western Routes, to begin with
- The freight corridors will be designed specifically to improve freight movement as they are proposed to adopt world class and state-of-the-art technology enabling it to withstand heavier loads at higher speeds.
- A Special Purpose Vehicle, ‘Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Limited’ (DFCCIL) has been setup under the Ministry of Railways to facilitate the functioning of these corridors.
Benefit of DFCs:
- Better logistics facilities to manufacturers would enable them to be more competitive in domestic and export markets
- Freeing up of passenger lines from slower moving freight load, thus increasing speeds of existing passenger trains and reducing travel times
- Multiplying effect through a large number of forward and backward linkages of railways and infrastructure sector
- Possibility to run scheduled freight trains with guaranteed transit times
- Easing road congestion, reduced accidents, and enhance energy efficiency
- Easier movement of goods from industrial heartlands in the north to ports on eastern and western coast
Current and Proposed projects:
- Current projects:
- Western DFC – JNPT(Mumbai) to Dadri (Haryana)
- Eastern DFC – Dankuni in West Bengal and Ludhiana in Punjab
- North South DFC – Delhi to Chennai
- East-West DFC – Kolkata to Mumbai
- East Coast DFC – Kharagpur to Vijayawada
- South-west DFC – Chennai to Goa