Mitras Analysis of News : 31-7-2017

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1.Scooping out oil spills (The Hindu)

2.Bharat Bill Payment system (The Economic times)

3.Explained: “Lingayats”

1.Scooping out oil spills (The Hindu) 

Synoptic line: It throws light on the oil spills problems and about the hydrophobic sorbent developed IISER. (GS paper III)


  • Earth, has large reserves of oil and gas trapped deep beneath its surface. Occasionally, these reserves develop cracks and some of the oil or gas seeps out. However, rarely natural way causes any major damage.
  • On the other hand, due to anthropogenic activities cause a great deal of damage to marine ecosystems. In the last thirty odd years, the issue of oil spills and their effects has taken on much importance; it causes a multitude of problems for the environment. 
  • Oil spills often result in both immediate and long-term environmental damage. Some of the environmental damage caused by an oil spill can last for decades after the spill occurs. Thus there is need to device effective mechanism to clean the oil spills.

Hydrophobic sorbent- IISER 

  • Scientists from the Indian Institute of Science, Education and Research (IISER) have developed a hydrophobic sorbent that can suck up oil and congeal it. Scientists have developed the hydrophobic sorbent by using a cheap raw material (mannitol) and cellulose pulp as a matrix.
  • Mannitol was converted into a hydrophobic gelator through a one-step process and a solution was made using this compound. Cellulose balls the size of marbles were then dipped in the solution and dried.
  • The gelator gets adsorbed on the cellulose fibre through hydrogen bonding. This process of adsorption of gelator on the cellulose fibre matrix changes the cellulose matrix from being very hydrophilic (water-loving) to hydrophobic (water repelling), a hydrophobic material naturally becomes Oleilophilic (oil-loving).
  • Unlike other alternatives, the sorbent can be easily applied over oil-water mixture and no solvent is needed for spraying the gelator thus making it environmental benign. The gelator adsorbed on the surface of cellulose fibre is able to absorb oil when it comes in contact with it. Once the sorbent sucks the oil, the gelator slowly gets released from the cellulose fibre and congealing of oil takes place.
  • The team tested the ability of sorbent to congeal oil using six different crude oils, including the one from Bombay High. Irrespective of the different viscosities of the six crude oils tested, the sorbent was able to absorb the oil and the rigid globules could be scooped out in 30 minutes to two hours.
  • Studies found that the sorbent was able to absorb and congeal 16 times of its own weight of oil. The absorbed oil can be recovered by applying pressure or fractionated by a simple distillation process. 

Effects of Oil spills

  • When oil enters marine environments through a spill, its composition undergoes continuous change due to a process known as ‘weathering’. As oil begins to evaporate, emulsify, form sediment it begins to weather; as it is continuously broken down with the combination of sunlight and microorganism. Oil is mainly derived from biological materials; which takes over millions of years to be modified as complex mixtures of hydrocarbons. These hydrocarbons take a long time to breakdown.
  • Oil spill floats on water and prevents sunlight to pass through it. The shiny substance top layer of water makes it difficult for plants and sea animals to survive. Oil spill can prove fatal for plant, animal and human life.
  • The animal life that lives in the water and near the shore are the ones most affected by the spill. In most cases, the oil simply chokes the animals to death. The substance is toxic; it causes massive loss of species that live in the sea. Oil spill penetrates into the plumage and fur of birds, breaks down the insulating capabilities of feather which makes them heavier, disallow them to fly and kill them via poisoning or hypothermia.
  • Major effect of the oil spill is seen on the economy. When precious crude oil or refined petroleum is lost, it affects the amount of petroleum and gas available for use.
  • The local tourism industry also suffers a huge setback. Due to oil spills, various activities such as sailing, swimming, rafting, fishing, parachute gliding cannot be performed. Industries that rely on sea water to carry on their day to day activities halt their operations till it gets cleaned.

Way ahead

  • Due to intensified petroleum exploration and production on continental shelves oceanic oil spills became a major environmental problem. Oil causes severe environmental damage; the best long-term solution would be securing our already vulnerable coast from further development with hazardous and polluting industries.
  • The new devised technique will be satisfactory method has been developed for cleaning up major oil spills.

Question– What are the ecological impacts of oil spill on the ocean?

2.Bharat Bill Payment system (The Economic times)

Synoptic line: It throws light on the one-stop payment platform for all bill- The Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS).

(GS paper III)


  • Bill payment is a major component of the retail payment transactions in India, and is characterized by the presence of large number of billers, who provide a variety of payment options to their customers. In addition, the present bill payment infrastructure in India is largely biller-specific in terms of modes of payment accepted and channels supported, and is still to support an ‘anytime, anywhere’ payment option to customers.
  • Electronic payments in India have received a big boost for linking all bill-generating utilities like electricity, water and telecom companies with banks. National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), the umbrella organisation for all retail payment systems, has received a final nod from the Reserve Bank of India to function as the Bharat Bill Payment Central Unit (BBPCU) and operate the Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS).

Bharat bill payment system (BBPS)

  • The Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS) is an RBI conceptualised system driven by National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI). It is a one-stop payment platform for all bills, providing an interoperable and accessible “Anytime Anywhere” bill payment service to customers across the country with certainty, reliability and safety of transactions. 
  • The Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS) will function as a tiered structure for operating the bill payment system in the country under a single brand image. National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) will function as the authorized Bharat Bill Payment Central Unit (BBPCU), which will be responsible for setting business standards, rules and procedures for technical and business requirements for all the participants.
  • Total number of BBPCU certified by NPCI now stands at 24. The certified units include three public sector banks (Bank of Baroda, Union Bank of India and Indian Overseas Bank), 10 private banks, 5 Cooperative Banks and 6 non-bank biller aggregators.
  • NPCI, as the BBPCU, will also undertake clearing and settlement activities related to transactions routed through BBPS. Payments may be made through the BBPS using cash, transfer cheques, and electronic modes.
  • The BBPCU will not own any transaction financially from a payment system perspective, working only as a medium to connect multiple billers and agents through various Operating Units. In addition to setting standards and ensuring transaction security for the entire ecosystem, it will also ensure that queries, requests and complaints raised by customers are monitored and resolved on time.
  • The BBPS will act as an independent brand and is expected to increase the confidence level of the customers with respect to transaction convenience, security, reliability, accessibility and affordability.  

Way ahead 

  • Due to BBPS the government will also able to fulfill a target of generating 25 billion digital transactions during the current financial year. This is evolution of the bill payment ecosystem, there were a need for an integrated bill payment system in the country that offers interoperable and accessible bill payment services to customers through a network of agents, allows multiple payment modes and provides instant confirmation of payments.

Question– What is Bharat Bill payment system? What are its implications for digital India?


“Lingayats “ (GS paper III) 

About Lingayats 

  • Lingayat, also called Virashaiva are member of a Hindu sect with a wide following in southern India that worships Shiva as the only deity. The followers take their name (“lingam-wearers”) from the small representations of a lingam, a votary object symbolizing Shiva, which both the men and the women always wear hanging by a cord around their necks, in place of the sacred thread worn by most upper-caste Hindu men.
  • Lingayathism is started in the 12th century by Guru Basaveshwara; Lingayat has the aim to stop the evil, traditions, to stop bifurcating people by birth, to stop male female inequality, to provide education to people.
  • Lingayat literature explains the clear proper concept of GOD, and provides a way to worship the GOD in the form of Ishtalinga and it rejects all the superstitions beliefs. Rules of conduct prescribed by Basaveshwara cannot be equated to the Hindu way of life.
  • The Lingayats’ earlier overthrow of caste distinctions has been modified in modern times, but the sect continues to be strongly anti-Brahmanical and opposed to worship of any image other than the lingam.
  • In their rejection of the authority of the Vedas, the doctrine of transmigration of souls, child marriage, and ill treatment of widows, they anticipated much of the viewpoint of the social reform movements of the 19th century. In the early 21st century some Lingayats began to call for legal recognition by the Indian government as a religion distinct from Hinduism or alternatively, as a caste within Hinduism.

Why on raise

  • The Lingayats are numerically and politically strong community of Karnataka, want to be categorised as a religious group separate from Hindus. The Lingayats feel they are beyond just a caste since they have a founder (Basavanna) and a holy text (Vachana).
  • Lingayats, comprising 10-17% of the population and listed in the Other Backward Classes category. The demand has rattled the government in Karnataka, as any division in its single-biggest vote base could affect the party’s chances in the Assembly elections next year.

Question– Who are lingyats ? Why they want to be identified as a different entity?

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