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National Affairs Current Affairs - August 2022

Power Sector’s Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme: Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Power Ministry’s flagship Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme.

Key Highlights:

  • Mr Modi unveiled the scheme during a programme marking the culmination of ‘Ujjwal Bharat Ujjwal Bhavishya – Power @2047’ through video conferencing.
  • Ujjwal Bharat Ujjwal Bhavishya – Power @2047’ is a 5-day programme that concluded on 30 August 2022.
  • It is a part of the ongoing ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’ to showcase the transformation in the power sector achieved in the last eight years.
  • It has been organised across the country.
  • It showcases the transformation in the power sector achieved in the last eight years.
  • It also highlights the vision ahead on Power @ 2047.
  • Under this programme, 'Bijli Mahotsav' was also organized through active public participation collaboration of the Central and State Governments.
  • It aims to empower citizens by improving their awareness and participation in various power related initiatives, schemes and programmes of the government.

About the scheme:

  • This scheme is aimed at improving the operational efficiencies and financial sustainability of the Distribution Companies (DISCOMs) and power departments.
  • With an outlay of Rs.3,03,758 crore over a period of five years from FY 2021-22 to FY 2025-26, the scheme aims to provide financial assistance to DISCOMs for modernization and strengthening of distribution infrastructure, aiming at improvement of the reliability and quality of supply to end consumers.
  • It is also proposed to provide 25 crore Smart Prepaid meters to consumers all over the country.

Other projects launched by the PM:

  • During the programme, the Prime Minister also dedicated and laid the foundation stone of various green energy projects of National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) Limited worth over five thousand two hundred crore rupees.
  • He also launched the ‘National Solar rooftop portal’.
  • This portal will enable online tracking of the process of installation of rooftop solar plants, starting from registering the applications to release of subsidy in residential consumers’ ('beneficiaries’) bank account after installation and inspection of the plant.
  • The estimated capacity under the national solar rooftop program is 4000 MW.
  • This will be a major step towards realizing the solar rooftop potential of the nation and will contribute towards India’s target to produce 500 GW energy through non-fossil fuels committed in COP-26.
  • He inaugurated the 100 MW Ramagundam Floating Solar Project in Telangana and the 92 MW Kayamkulam Floating Solar Project in Kerala.
  • He laid the foundation stone of the 735 MW Nokh Solar Project in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan.
  • He launched the Green Hydrogen Mobility Project at Leh, Ladakh is a pilot project and aims for five Fuel Cell Buses to be run in and around Leh.
  • This pilot project would be the first deployment of Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles for public use in India.
  • He launched the Kawas Green Hydrogen Blending with Natural Gas project in Gujarat.

National Handloom Day 2022: India celebrates National Handloom Day (NHD) on 7th of August every year.

Key Points:

  • This day is celebrated to honour the handloom weavers.
  • The day also highlights the contribution of the handloom industry to the socioeconomic development of the country and increased the income of the weavers.
  • It also raises awareness among people regarding the handloom industry.
  • The day also aims to protect the rich handloom heritage of India as well as to empower handloom community by providing better opportunities.
  • Ministry of Textile is the nodal agency of the celebration.
  • 2022 marks the 8th National Handloom Day.
  • The Ministry of Textiles will be celebrating National Handloom day at Dilli Haat which is celebrated from August 1 to August 15.

 Theme of NHD 2022:

This year theme of National Handloom Day 2022 is” Handloom, an Indian legacy”.

History of NHD:

  • The Union government officially declared August 7 as NHD in July 2015.
  • In 2015, the Honorable Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi declared August 7 as National Handloom Day.
  • It was on this day in 1905 that the Swadeshi Movement was launched
  • First National Handloom Day was celebrated on August 7, 2015 in Chennai.

Swadeshi Movement:

  • India’s handloom industry played a significant role in Swadeshi Movement.
  • The Swadeshi Movement was launched in the Calcutta Town hall to protest against the partition of Bengal by the British Government on August 7, 1905.
  • This movement was aimed to inspire and organize people to take up local goods and boycott the imported goods.
  • As a part of the movement, almost every household started production of khadi.

When India got independence, Indian flag made of Khadi was unfurled near India Gate.

About Indian handloom Industry:

  • Handloom is a symbol of India's glorious cultural heritage and an important source of livelihood.
  • It is the largest industry in India.
  • It is an important source of employment across rural areas of India.
  • This industry contributes significantly to the empowerment of women.
  • Women make up 70% of all weavers and related occupations.
  • Products manufactured by weaving community are in high demand all around the world.
  • The Indian handloom sector exports its products to more than 20 countries worldwide, like the UK, Germany,the USA, France, and South Africa.

Initiatives by the Indian Government:

The government, apart from celebrating the day in a general sense, has put in place a number of programmes.

These initiatives include the following:

  • Comprehensive Handloom Cluster Development Scheme (CHCDS),
  • National Handloom Development Programme (NHDP),
  • Handloom Weavers Comprehensive Welfare Scheme (HWCWS), and
  • Yarn Supply Scheme (YSS).

These programmes intend to boost the handloom sector while helping it go international.

Some of the known handlooms include -

  • Tamil Nadu’s famous Kanchipuram sarees,
  • the Paithani weaves of Maharashtra, 
  • Muga Silk from Assam, and
  • Mysore Silk from Karnataka among others.

Central Universities (Amendment) Bill, 2022: The Lok Sabha on 3rd August 2022 passed the Central Universities (Amendment) Bill 2022.

  • The Central Universities (Amendment) Bill was introduced by Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan in the Lok Sabha.

Key Points:

  • The Bill provides for establishing central universities in various states by amending the Central Universities Act of 2009.
  • It seeks to convert National Rail and Transportation Institute (NRTI), a Deemed to be University into Gati Shakti Vishwavidyalaya (GSV), a Central University.
  • The Bill also seeks to expand the scope of the university from beyond just the Railways to cover the entire transport sector and support growth and modernization in the field.
  • Once the Bill clears both Houses of Parliament, the new university, will be funded and administered by the Ministry of Railways.
  • The establishment of the Gati Shakti Vishwavidyalaya would address the need for talent in the strategically important and expanding transportation sector and meet the demand for trained talent to fuel the growth and expansion of the sector.
  • The National Rail and Transportation Institute, Vadodara, which will be renamed as the Gati Shakti Vishwavidyalaya after the amendment is passed is India’s first transport institute.

According to the Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, the focus of the institute will on five major aspects —

  1. Transport focussed courses,
  2. Skill development,
  3. Applied research,
  4. Technology development
  5. Transport economics and infrastructure financing.

While the headquarters will be in Vadodara there will be campuses across the country which will be developed as centres of excellence.

Note: Transportation is a complex sector and globally all countries have such institutes.

Vanijya Bhawan & NIRYAT: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on June 23 2022 inaugurated the new premises of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Vanijya Bhawan in New Delhi.

Key Highlights:

  • PM Modi also launched a new portal- National Import-Export Record for Yearly Analysis of Trade (NIRYAT).
  • The New Vanijya Bhawan and NIRYAT Portal will represent the aspirations of an 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat'.
  • It seeks to bring positive changes in the field of trade and commerce, especially for MSMEs.
  • PM Modi during the unveiling of Vanijya Bhawan and NIRYAT Portal said that despite the global disruptions, India exported a total of $670 billion- Rs. 50 lakh crores.
  • Exports are vital to a country’s progress.
  • He further said that programmes like "Vocal for Local" have also enhanced India's exports.

About Vanijya Bhawan:

  • Vanijya Bhawan is the new premises of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
  • It is constructed near the India Gate.
  • It is designed as a smart building that incorporates the principles of sustainable architecture with a special focus on energy saving.
  • It will serve as an integrated and modern office complex that will be used by the two Departments under the Ministry that is, the Department of Commerce and the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT).

About NIRYAT Portal:

  • NIRYAT Portal is a one-stop platform for the stakeholders to get all the necessary information related to India’s foreign trade.
  • The Portal will help promote healthy competition between the states in the area of export.

NIPUN: An innovative project for skill training of construction workers called ‘NIPUN’ (National Initiative for Promoting Upskilling of Nirman) workers was recently launched by Shri Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister of Housing & Urban Affairs and Petroleum & Natural Gas, Government of India.

Key Highlights:

  • The project NIPUN is an initiative of the MoHUA under its flagship scheme of the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Urban Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NULM).
  • DAY-NULM is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme, being implemented since 2014-15, with the aim to reduce poverty and vulnerability of urban poor households in the country by enabling them to access self-employment and skilled wage employment opportunities, resulting in an appreciable improvement in their livelihoods on a sustainable basis.

Implementation of NIPUN:

  • The National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), the nodal agency under the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE), Government of India (GoI), will be the Implementation Partner for the project NIPUN.

The NIPUN project implementation is divided into three following parts:-

  1. Training through Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) at construction sites,
  2. Training through Fresh skilling by Plumbing and Infrastructure SSC, and
  3. International Placement through industries, builders, and contractors.

Aim of NIPUN:

  • Its main aim is to train over 1 lakh construction workers, through fresh skilling and upskilling programmes in partnership with the NSDC under DAY-NULM.
  • This project will also provide work opportunities in foreign countries.

Significance of NIPUN Project:

  • By enhancing their capacities and diversifying their skill sets, this initiative will enable Nirman employees to become much more proficient and skilled while forcing them to adopt future trends in the construction business.
  • It will also enable the construction workers to seek better job opportunities, increase their wages and even pursue overseas placements - an indication of a new eco-system.
  • By offering upskilling and employment possibilities to urban people, especially the youth, the National Urban Livelihoods Mission has significantly reduced the vulnerability of urban poor households.

Har Ghar Tiranga Initiative: The Centre is organizing the Har Ghar Tiranga initiative on the occasion of India’s 75th year of Independence.

Key Highlights:

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter to ask Indians to hoist or display the National Flag at their homes from August 13 to August 15 as part of the Har Ghar Tiranga initiative of the government.
  • In a series of tweets, which marked the anniversary of the adoption of the National Flag in 1947, Mr. Modi said -
  • 22nd July has a special relevance in our history.
  • It was on this day in 1947 that our National Flag was adopted.
  • Also, this movement will deepen our connect with the national flag.

National Flag Day:

  • The National Flag Day is celebrated in India every year on July 22, 2022.
  • It was on this day that the Constituent Assembly adopted the Tricolor in its present form in 1947. 

National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj (NIRDPR): The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, recently approved the signing of MoU between National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj (NIRDPR) and University of Reading (UoR), United Kingdom (UK).

Key Points:

  • The MoU was signed in March 2022.
  • It calls for collaboration in the field of agriculture and rural development in developing countries.
  • It seeks to help NIRDPR faculty in acquiring and expanding their knowledge, and develop an international professional network in agriculture, nutrition and rural development.

About NIRD&PR:

  • The National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj (NIRDPR) is an autonomous organisation under the Union Ministry of Rural Development.
  • It is a premier national centre of excellence in rural development and Panchayati Raj.
  • It is recognized internationally as one of the UN-ESCAP Centres of Excellence.
  • The Institute is located in Hyderabad, Telangana.
  • In addition to the main campus at Hyderabad, this Institute has North-Eastern Regional Centre at Guwahati, Assam.

Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme (RDSS): Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi launched the Ministry of Power’s flagship Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme.

  • RDSS scheme was launched during a programme marking the culmination of ‘Ujjwal Bharat Ujjwal Bhavishya – Power @2047’ on 30 July at 12.30 pm via video conferencing.

Key Points of Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme (RDSS):

  • The scheme is aimed at improving the operational efficiencies and financial sustainability of the power distribution companies (discoms).
  • The scheme, with an outlay of Rs.3,03,758 crore over a period of five years from FY 2021-22 to FY 2025-26, aims to provide financial assistance to DISCOMs for modernization and strengthening of distribution infrastructure, aiming at improvement of the reliability and quality of supply to end consumers.
  • It also aims to reduce the AT&C (aggregate technical and commercial) losses to pan-India levels of 12-15% and ACS-ARR (average cost of supply-average revenue realised) gap to zero by 2024-25. REC and PFC have been nominated as nodal agencies for the scheme.
  • RDSS mandates compulsory installation of smart meters across the country.
  • The Centre has set an ambitious target of installing 250 million smart meters by 2025.
  • With this new scheme coming into force, all other previous schemes such as Integrated Power Development Scheme, Deendayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana and Ujjwal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY) would stand subsumed.

Family Courts’ Amendment Bill, 2022: The Lok Sabha passed the Family Courts’ Amendment Bill, 2022 by voice vote.

Key Points:

  • It seeks to amend the Family Courts Act, 1984.
  • The Act allows state governments to establish Family Courts.
  • The Bill validates the existence of the three family courts in Himachal Pradesh and Two in Nagaland with retrospective effect.
  • It also seeks validation of the decisions taken by the two states and the family courts.
  • The family courts located at Shimla, Dharmashala, and Mandi in Himachal Pradesh will come into force, with a retrospective effect of February 15th 2019.
  • The Family Courts located at Dimapur and Kohima in Nagaland will come into force with retrospect effect from November 12th 2008 on enactment of the Bill.
  • The enactment was necessitated as it came to light in connection with a case that the central Government notifications were not existing with respect to these five family courts.

11th Agricultural Census 2021-22: Union Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on July 28, 2022 launched the 11th Agriculture Census 2021-22.

Key Points about Agricultural Census 2021-22:

  • The field work for the census will start in August 2022.
  • It was launched to gather data on several parameters, including operational holdings.
  • For the first time the data will be collected via smartphones and tablets for the first time.
  • The agriculture Census is conducted every 5 years.
  • The census is being undertaken now after a delay due to COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The main focus of the census is to increase income of the farmers and empower them by organizing small farmers.
  • On the occasion, Shri Tomar also released the Handbook on Operational Guidelines for Census for the use of States/UTs, and launched the Data Collection Portal/App.
  • The new initiatives highlighted in the presentation include use of digital land records like land title records and survey reports, collection of data through app/software using smartphone/tablet, complete enumeration of all villages in states with non-land records during Phase-I as done in states having land records, and real time monitoring of progress and processing.

Agriculture Census in India:

  • Agricultural Census is the main source of information on a variety of agricultural parameters at a relatively minute level, such as the number and area of ​​operational holdings, their size, class-wise distribution, land use, tenancy and cropping pattern, etc.
  • The Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare (DA&FW) conducts Agriculture Census in India every 5 years in collaboration with States and Union Territories (UTs) following standard concepts, definitions and methodology.
  • Agriculture Census Scheme is being undertaken by Agriculture Ministry since 1970-71.
  • Since then ten Agriculture Censuses have been conducted.
  • Last edition of Agriculture census was conducted in 2015-16.
  • It is being conducted in India, on the basis of guidelines of decennial World Census of Agriculture (WCA) that has formulated by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of United Nations.

Note:

  • The Agriculture Census Scheme was converted to Central Sector Scheme, from a Centrally-Sponsored Scheme, in 2007-08.
  • Therefore, the central government provides 100% financial assistance to States or UTs for payment of salaries, honoraria, office expenses, and printing of schedules, etc.

 

NITI Aayog’s India Innovation Index: The Third edition of the India Innovation Index was recently released by NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Suman Bery at an event in the NITI Bhawan.

Key Highlights:

  • The India Innovation Index 2022 was released on 21 July 2022 in the presence of Dr. V K Saraswat, Member; Shri Parameswaran Iyer, Chief Executive Officer and other esteemed dignitaries.
  • The India Innovation Index 2021 provides state-wise rankings on the basis of innovation landscape and performance of states and union territories in India
  • The first edition was released in October 2019 and second in January 2021.

Key Features of India Innovation Index 2021:

  • The India Innovation Index 2021 is set against the backdrop of the pandemic, which has disrupted the global demographic landscape.
  • It examines innovation capacities and ecosystems at the sub-national level and highlights the recent factors and catalysts for promoting such crisis-driven innovation.
  • The third edition has been prepared on the basis of Global Innovation Index (GII), which is published by World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), on annual basis.
  • It is based on 7 pillars viz., human capital, investment, business environment, safety & legal environment, knowledge workers, knowledge output, and knowledge diffusion.
  • It provides a more comprehensive outlook to measure innovation performance across country based on 66 new & unique indicators, as opposed to 36 indicators in India Innovation Index 2020.
  • The states and the union territories have been divided into 17 ‘Major States’, 10 ‘North-East and Hill States’, and 9 ‘Union Territories and City States’, for effectively comparing their performance.
  • A special section has also been introduced in the India Innovation Index 2021 for showcasing the detailed analysis of the drivers of innovation, by evaluating the improvement in the indicators.
  • The states can assess their position and the factors that led to a change in their ranking vis-à-vis that in the India Innovation Index 2020.

According to the Index released -

  • Manipur (Score 18.01) secured the lead in the Northeast and Hill States category.
  • Chandigarh (Score 27.88) was the top performer in the Union Territories and City States category.
  • Karnataka (Score 18.01) has topped Niti Aayog's India Innovation Index 2022 among major states.
  • The report attributed Karnataka's high score to its peak performance in attracting FDI, or foreign direct investment, and a large number of venture capital deals.
  • Telangana, Haryana and Maharashtra stood second, third and fourth in the list of top states.

What is India Innovation Index?

  • The India Innovation Index is prepared by NITI Aayog and the Institute for Competitiveness.
  • It is a comprehensive tool for evaluation and development of the country’s innovation ecosystem.
  • The index ranks states and union territories on their innovation performance to encourage healthy competition between them.
  • The number of indicators in the index has increased from 36 to 66.
  • They are now distributed across 16 sub-pillars and 7 key pillars.

 The 7 pillars are –

  1. Human capital,
  2. Investment,
  3. Business environment,
  4. Safety & legal environment,
  5. Knowledge workers,
  6. Knowledge output, and
  7. Knowledge diffusion.

National Flag Day 2022:  The National Flag Day is celebrated in India every year on July 22, 2022.

Key Facts:

  • It was on this day that the Constituent Assembly adopted the Tricolor in its present form in 1947.
  • The adoption of the national flag of India was the first topic that was discussed when the members of the Indian Constituent Assembly met in the Constitution Hall in Delhi on July 22, 1947.
  • At the meet, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru proposed the resolution to declare the tricolour the national flag of India.
  • A horizontal tricolour of deep saffron (kesari), white, and dark green in equal proportion was suggested as the Indian national flag at the discussion.
  • Additionally, it was suggested that the Dharma charkha in the centre of the white band would be navy blue in colour.

What do the colours in the Indian National Flag signify?

  1. The saffron colour on the top of the national flag represents India's strength and courage.
  2. The white middle colour indicates peace and truth and
  3. The Bottom green colour represents shows growth, fertility and auspiciousness of the land.

Significance:

  • The National Flag of India commemorates adoption of the Indian National Flag and India's freedom from the British Raj in 1947.
  • The Indian national flag was hoisted for the first time in Independent India by first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru at the Red Fort on August 16, 1947.

History about the National Flag:

  • The National Flag of India was designed by Indian freedom fighter Pingali Venkayya.
  • In the initial flag design, Venkayya had drawn a spinning wheel instead of the Ashoka Chakra.
  • Mahatma Gandhi had first proposed a Tricolour flag to the Indian National Congress in 1921.
  • He had proposed the national flag to be inscribed with the spinning wheel on the white strip.
  • The Tricolour was hoisted for the first-ever time on April 13, 1923 during a procession in Nagpur in protest of the tragic Jallianwala Bagh Massacre.
  • The spinning wheel was replaced by the Ashoka Chakra in the national flag of India by the Constituent Assembly committee formed on June 23, 1947.

The Indian government modified the Indian flag code on January 26, 2002, allowing people to hoist the national flag over their homes and offices.

National Broadcasting Day: India celebrates the National Broadcasting Day on July 23 every year.

Key Points:

  • This day is celebrated with the aim of reminding people regarding the impact of radio on our lives.
  • It marks the establishment of first-ever radio broadcast “All India Radio (AIR)” in India.
  • All India Radio (AIR) celebrated the day by holding a symposium on Creation of New India and Broadcasting Medium in New Delhi.
  • The National Broadcasting Day was created in 1936.
  • IBC was transformed into All India Radio (AIR) on June 8, 1936.

History:

  • Radio broadcasting services, in India were rolled out during the British rule in 1923 as a part of an initiative of Radio Club of Bombay.
  • India’s first ever radio broadcast went on air from Bombay Station, in accordance with Indian Broadcasting Company in 1927.
  • All India Radio was established on July 23, 1927 as a private company named “Indian Broadcasting Company ltd (IBC)”.
  • On the 8th of June, 1936, the Indian State Broadcasting Service became All India Radio (AIR).
  • In 1956, Akashvani name meaning voice or announcement from the skies was formally adopted for AIR.
  • The name Akashvani was given on the basis of a “Akashvani poem” written by Rabindranath Tagore in 1938.

Significance:

  • Since 1927, Radio has been an important part of people's life in India.
  • All India Radio has been serving to inform, educate and entertain the masses truly living up to its motto - 'Bahujan Hitaya, Bahujana Sukhaya'.
  • The day is significant for India because the Indian radio played an important role in creating an independent India.
  • Azad Hind Radio of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose as well as Congress Radio helped uniting Indians to fight against the British.
  • Akashvani also helped Bangladesh in gaining independence from Pakistan in 1971 war.

All India Radio (AIR):

  • It is a division of Prasar Bharati.
  • Earlier, AIR was controlled by the Government but now it has become an autonomous body.
  • Currently, AIR is one of the largest public broadcasting organisations in the world.

6th National Conclave on Mines and Minerals: Union Minister for Mines Pralhad Joshi inaugurated the 6th National Conclave on Mines and Minerals in New Delhi.

Key Highlights:

  • The conclave was organized by the Ministry of Mines as part of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav iconic week celebrations on 12th July, 2022 in New Delhi.
  • Shri Amit Shah, the Union Minister of Housing, was the chief guest at the colloquium that will be held at the Dr. Ambedkar International Center.

Key Points about the conclave:

  • The conclave’s opening session included a technical presentation from the National Mineral Exploration Trust (NMET) and a discussion on mining automation.
  • During the round table discussions, the CEOs of various mining businesses did come up with crucial ideas related to India’s mining industry.
  • Some of the highlights of the conclave are - the launch of three modules of the Mining Tenement System (MTS), awards for 5-Star rated mines for the years 2020–21, and the National Geo Science Awards–2019.
  • Other highlights included the presentation of the national level Rashtriya Khanij Vikas Puraskar to the best performing States in the field of mining.
  • As part of the afternoon session, the award function included presenting new mine blocks to State Governments and the Ministry of Coal and providing incentive to State Governments for successful auction and identification of blocks.
  • Districts performing well under District Mineral Foundation Trust (DMF) were showcasing their achievements.
  • Digital kiosk showcasing exhibition on development of exploration and mining during the last 75 years was on display. 
  • A life size digital booklet depicting reforms undertaken in mining sector will be yet another attraction of the conclave.

National Conclave on Mines & Minerals:

  • Ministry of Mines introduced the concept of National Mining Conclave in 2016.
  • This conclave was introduced with the aim to provide a platform for interaction among different stakeholders like Central Government officers who are policy makers, state government officers, the real executors in the auction regime, industry and the industry associations.
  • The National Conclave on Mines & Minerals is regarded as a resounding success in that it gave participants a forum to highlight important policy measures that had been made and assisted the government in gathering insightful feedback for the sustainable expansion of the mining sector.

Points to remember:

  • The current Union Minister of Housing is Shri Amit Shah.
  • The current Union Minister of Mines, Coal, and Parliamentary Affairs is Shri Pralhad Joshi.
  • The current Minister of State for Mines, Coal, and Railways is Shri Raosaheb Patil Danve.
  • The current Secretary Ministry of Mines is Shri Alok Tandon.

National Conference of State Agriculture & Horticulture Ministers: Hon'ble Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Narendra Tomar inaugurated the State Agriculture and Horticulture Ministers Meeting along with Minister of State, Kailash Choudhary, Shobha Karandlaje, and many other eminent dignitaries in Bengaluru.

Key Highlights:

  • This conference is being organized by Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare in Bengaluru on July 14 and July 15, 2022.
  • The two-day conference will deliberate on the adoption of modern as well as sustainable farming practices and mechanisms for increasing production & productivity in India.
  • It is being organized to commemorate 75 years of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav which is a step forward towards building a self-reliant India.

Key Facts

  • The main focus of this conference will be on farmers' accessibility digitally to multiple numbers of markets, buyers, and service providers.
  • It will also focus on bringing transparency in trade transactions with the intent to improve price discover mechanisms for better price realization of farm produce to the farmers.
  • A session on the “best practices in agriculture & allied sector” that has been adopted by states across India will be held.
  • This session will be integrated with technical sessions.
  • During the conference, technical sessions would be held under nine thematic areas namely:
  • Digital Agriculture
  • Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana
  • Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi
  • National Food Security Mission
  • Agriculture Infrastructure Fund
  • New Technology by ICAR.
  • Natural Farming
  • FPO
  • e-NAM

Launch of e-NAM platform of platforms:

  • During the conference, Union minister of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare Narendra Singh Tomar will launch the e-NAM Platform of platforms (PoPs).
  • This platform will be used for promoting trade & marketing of agriculture produce, in order to get better prices of agriculture commodities to farmers.

Significance of the e-NAM PoPs:

  • The government, through e-NAM PoPs will facilitate the participation of all the stakeholders to take revolution in Agri-Produce Marketing to next level.
  • This in turn, will make it easier for Indian farmers to sell their goods in other states.
  • It will increase farmers’ accessibility digitally towards various numbers of markets, service providers and buyers.
  • It will also bring transparency in trade transaction.
  • It will also help in create an efficient “One Nation One Market” ecosystem.

About National Agriculture Market (eNAM):

  • National Agriculture Market (eNAM) i is an online trading platform, launched by the Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India (GoI) for agricultural commodities in India.
  • It was founded on 14 April 2016.
  • The platform facilitates the farmers, traders and buyers an option in online trading in commodities.
  • It also helps them in getting a better price and provides facilities for smooth marketing of produce.
  • The Portal is managed by Small Farmers’ Agribusiness Consortium (SFAC) with the technology provider, NFCL’s iKisan division.

India Animal Health Summit 2022: Union Minister of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, Parshottam Rupala recently inaugurated the First India Animal Health Summit 2022 at NASC Complex, New Delhi.

Key Highlights:

  • India Animal Health Summit 2022 is a two day event that has been organized by Indian Chamber of Food and Agriculture (ICFA) and the Agriculture Today Group.
  • It has been organized considering the significance of animal health towards the broader objective of the country's food and nutrition security, rural incomes and prosperity and overall economic development.
  • The event will host a plethora of panel discussions ranging from topics such as Animal Health policy initiatives to Business environment & investment opportunities in the Animal Health sector.
  • The deliberations evolved will later be documented and presented to authorities.

Objectives of Summit:

This event is being organized with the following objectives:

  • To discuss the broad national scenario in the animal health sector, scope and opportunities and challenges faced, the issues of access and equity, and the initiatives by states
  • To discuss policy, trade, technology, business, and regulatory environment for the growth of the animal health and nutrition segment in India.
  • To create a platform for partnerships in innovations, technologies, services and health delivery systems, and mobilizing investments to support the ecosystem for sustainable growth.
  • To share national and global animal health and management scenarios, emerging trends, developments, challenges, and opportunities, as well as the implications on states.

National Health Claims Exchange: The National Health Authority (NHA) and Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has decided to develop a National Health Claims Exchange  as a digital platform to settle health claims.

Key Points:

  • The National Health Claims Exchange will be developed as a digital platform, for settling the health claims.
  • Debasish Panda, the chairman of IRDAI, has also suggested setting up a working committee with industry representation.
  • The working group will decide on how to attract more people to buy health insurance, by making the largest segment of general insurance in India.

About IRDAI:

  • Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) is a regulatory body, set up under the jurisdiction of Ministry of Finance (MoF).
  • It is an autonomous, statutory body tasked with regulating and promoting the insurance and re-insurance industries in India.
  • It was established by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority Act, 1999 (IRDAI Act 1999), an Act of Parliament passed by the Government of India (GoI).
  • The powers and functions of the Authority are laid down in the IRDAI Act, 1999 and Insurance Act, 1938.
  • IRDAI was headquartered in Hyderabad, Telangana.
  • It was moved from Delhi to Telangana in 2001.

Members of IRDAI:

  • It is a 10-member body including the chairman, five full-time and four part-time members appointed by the government of India.

Objectives of IRDAI:

  • The main objectives of the IRDAI include promotion of competition so as to enhance customer satisfaction through increased consumer choice and fair premiums, while ensuring the financial security of the Insurance market.
  • It helps in regulating and licensing the insurance and re-insurance industries across country.

The National Health Authority (NHA):

  • The National Health Authority (NHA) is the apex body responsible for implementing India’s flagship public health insurance/assurance scheme called “Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana”.
  • NHA has been entrusted with the role of designing strategy, building technological infrastructure and implementation of “National Digital Health Mission” (NDGM)to create a National Digital Health Eco-system in coordination with different ministries/departments of the Government of India, State Governments, and private sector/civil society organizations.
  • State Health Agencies (SHAs) in the form of a society/trust have been set up by respective States.
  • SHAs have full operational autonomy over the implementation of the scheme in the State including extending the coverage to non SECC beneficiaries.
  • NHA is the successor of National Health Agency, which was formed on May 23, 2018.

Members of NHA:

  • NHA is governed by a Governing Board chaired by the Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare.
  • It is headed by a Chief Executive Officer (CEO), an officer of the rank of Secretary to the Government of India, who manages its affairs.
  • The CEO is the Ex-Office Member Secretary of the Governing Board.
  • Governing Board have 1 Chairperson and 11 members.
  • The current CEO of the NHA is Ram Sevak Sharma.

Dr. Rajendra Prasad Memorial Award: Union Science and Technology Minister Dr. Jitendra Singh announced setting up of Dr. Rajendra Prasad Memorial Award in public administration in the field of academic excellence.

Key Points:

  • Dr. Jitendra, who is also the Union Minister of State (independent charge) for Science and Technology, Minister of State (independent charge) for Earth Sciences, as well as the MoS for PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy, and Space announced the award in memory of the first President of India, while he chaired the meeting of Executive Council of Indian Institute of Public Administration (IIPA) in New Delhi.
  • He said that to achieve the objectives established by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, IIP must have a futuristic vision for the following 25 years.
  • He stated that IIPA has the ability and must continue to perform by maintaining a broad pool of professionals and a diverse range of activities.
  • He also congratulated the IIPA Director General and staff for receiving the ISO 9001:2015 certification while presiding over the 320th meeting of the Executive Council of IIPA.

National Fish Farmers’ Day 2022: The National Fish Farmers Day was celebrated on 10 July 2022 across India.

Key Points:

  • The day was celebrated in virtual mode by the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry & Dairying and National Fisheries Development Board in Hyderabad.
  • Year 2022 marked the 65th National Fish Farmers Day.
  • The day is celebrated to exhibit solidarity with fish farmers, fisher folks, and concerned stakeholders across India.
  • This day is also observed as the foundation day of NFDB.
  • The year 2022 marks the 16th NFDB Foundation Day.

About National Fish Farmers Day:

  • National Fish Farmers Day is observed on July 10, annually in India in remembrance of scientists Dr. K. H. Alikunhi and Dr. H.L. Chaudhury.
  • They successfully demonstrated the technology of induced breeding (Hypophysation) in Indian Major Carps on 10th July, 1957 at the erstwhile ‘Pond Culture Division’ of CIFRI at Cuttack, Odisha (presently Central Institute of Freshwater Aquaculture, CIFA, Bhubaneswar).
  • This was done for the first time in India, by administering the pituitary hormone extract of carp in breeding of major carps.
  • This method was later standardized and synthetic hormones were started being developed for quality seed production in India.
  • This pioneering work of induced breeding over the years has changed the expansion of aquaculture sector from traditional to intensive aquaculture practices and has led to success of modern aquaculture industry.

Background:

  • The Government of India (GoI) in 2001 declared that 10th July will be celebrated as National Fish Farmers Day.
  • The first National Fish Farmers Day was observed in 2001 by the Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR)- Central Institute of Fisheries Education (CIFE), Mumbai, Maharashtra.
  • CIFE is the premier institute of Fisheries Education in India.

About NFDB:

  • National Fisheries Development Board (NFDB) was set up in 2006 as an autonomous organization under the administrative control of the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare.
  • Now, it works under Department of Fisheries of Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry & Dairying.
  • It was established to enhance the fish production and productivity in India as well as to synchronize fishery development in an integrated and holistic way.
  • It is supporting several initiatives for fishery development:
  • Intensive aquaculture in ponds and tanks
  • Capture fisheries in reservoirs, based on culture
  • Mariculture
  • Coastal Aquaculture
  • Sea Weed Cultivation
  • Establishment of fishing harbours and fish landing centres
  • Domestic marketing etc.

Schemes for Fisheries Sector:

"Blue Revolution” - Integrated Development and Management of Fisheries:

  • Government of India launched a Centrally Sponsored Scheme “Blue Revolution” - Integrated Development and Management of Fisheries in 2016.

Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana:

  • Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY) was launched on 10th September 2020.
  • It strives to create direct employment to 15 lakh fishers, fish farmers, etc. and about thrice this number as indirect employment opportunities.
  • It also aims to double the incomes of fishers, fish farmers and fish workers by 2024-25.

Fisheries and Aquaculture Infrastructure Development Fund:

  • The Fisheries and Aquaculture Infrastructure Development Fund (FIDF) scheme was started in 2018-19 with a budget of Rs. 7,522.48 crores, which is also continuing presently.
  • It is created to attract private investment in creation and management of fisheries infrastructure facilities.
  • It will specifically cater to creation of fisheries infrastructure facilities both in marine and inland fisheries sectors to augment the fish production to achieve the target.

Marine Products Export Development Authority:

  • MPEDA was established in 1972 under the Marine Products Export Development Authority Act (MPEDA), 1972.
  • It is a nodal coordinating, state-owned agency engaged in fishery production and allied activities.

Fisheries Startup Grand Challenge:

  • The Fisheries Startup Grand Challenge has been launched with an objective to provide a platform to start-ups within the country to showcase their innovative solutions within the Fisheries and Aquaculture sector.

Seaweed Park:

  • Multipurpose seaweed park in Tamil Nadu would be the center of production for quality seaweed-based products, developed on a hub and spoke model.

National Statistics Day 2022: National Statistics Day is celebrated every year on 29th June to mark the birth anniversary of Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis, an Indian scientist and statistician.

Key Points:

  • This year, National Statistics Day 2022 marks the 129th birth anniversary of Prof Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis.
  • The Statistics Day 2022 is also being celebrated as a part of a week-long celebration in the Ministry, from June 27 to July 3, in commemoration of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav (AKAM), an initiative of the Government.

Theme for National Statistics Day 2022:

The theme for this year’s celebration is ‘Data for Sustainable Development’.

Importance this year's theme:

  • The analysis of data is crucial currently in order to draw a conclusion.
  • However, in the modern era, there is also a need for sustainable development to maintain a balance between all the variables of life.
  • In order to predict and make informed judgments, data analysis is required.
  • If used responsibly, new data sources, technology, and analytical methods—such as satellite data—can enable swifter, effective, and evidence-based decision-making, as well as more accurately and fairly gauge progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • Additionally, this would help in gaining real-time insights into people’s well-being and  in focusing humanitarian initiatives on vulnerable populations.
  • The theme for the celebration would follow intensive and narrowly targeted conversations about filling the data gaps and improving data collection, processing, and dissemination.

Objective:

  • Ministry of Statistics and Programme( MOSPI) commemorates National Statistics Day at the National level.
  • The main Objective behind celebrating Statistics Day is the creation of public awareness, especially among the younger generation, on the role and importance of statistics in socio-economic planning and policy formulation for the development of the country.

Note: The world observes World Statistics Day on Ocober 20, every five years.

History:

  • India celebrated the first National Statistics Day on 29th June, 2007.
  • The Indian Government decided to to designate 29th June i.e., the birth date of Prof. P C Mahalanobis as National Statistics Day.
  • On June 5th, 2007, the Indian Gazette initially published a notification about this.

National Statistics Day 2022: Significance

  • The National Statistics Day is observed to create public awareness, especially in the younger generation to draw inspiration from Professor Mahalanobis about the role and importance of statistics in socio-economic planning and policy formulation.
  • The Prof PC Mahalanobis National Award was created by to recognizes the outstanding contribution through high quality research in the field of applied and theoretical statistics benefiting the official statistical system.
  • The names of the winners of Prof PC Mahalanobis National Award in Official Statistics are also announced on this day.

About Prof. Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis:

  • Professor Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis (29 June 1893– 28 June 1972), who was called ‘PCM’ by his colleagues, was a noted Indian scientist and applied statistician.
  • He is also known as the Father of Indian Statistics.
  • He introduced the Mahalanobis distance, a statistical measure, and random sampling.
  • He was also one of the members of the first Planning Commission of India.
  • He played a key role in shaping the first 5-year plan.
  • He was instrumental in designing the way surveys are conducted today.
  • He introduced the concept of pilot surveys and advocated the importance of sampling methods.
  • He made pioneering studies in anthropometry in India.
  • He also introduced a method for the estimation of crop yields using statistical sampling.
  • Prof. Mahalanobis in 1931 set up the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) at Kolkata.
  • It was declared an autonomous “Institute of National Importance” through an act of Parliament in 1959, also celebrates June 29 as the “Worker Day”.

BHARAT-NCAP: Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari has approved the Draft GSR Notification to introduce Bharat NCAP (New Car Assessment Program).

Key Points:

  • Under Bharat NCAP the automobiles in India shall be accorded Star Ratings based upon their performance in Crash Tests.
  • Bharat-NCAP will serve as a consumer-centric platform which will allow customers to opt for safer cars based upon their star-ratings, while promoting a healthy competition among OEMs in India to manufacture safer vehicles.

Significance of Bharat NCAP:

  • Star Rating of Indian Cars based on Crash Tests is extremely crucial not only to ensure structural and passenger safety in cars, but to also increase the export-worthiness of Indian automobiles.
  • The testing protocol of Bharat NCAP shall be aligned with Global Crash Test Protocols factoring in the existing Indian regulations, allowing OEMs to get their vehicles tested at India’s own in-house testing facilities.
  • With the goal of making India the top automotive hub in the world, Bharat NCAP will prove to be a crucial tool in growing the country's automotive industry.

Dak Karmayogi: Minister of Communications, Railways, and Electronics & IT Ashwini Vaishnav recently launched an e-learning portal of the Department of Posts named ‘Dak Karmayogi’.

Dak Karmayogi was launched at a function held at Stein Auditorium, Indian Habitat Centre on 28 July 2022. Shri Ashwini Vaishnaw and Electronics & Information Technology and Shri Devusinh Chauhan, Minister of State for Communications conferred the Meghdoot Awards to recognise the good performance of employees of the Department of Posts and motivate them in eight different categories during the event.

The Meghdoot awards were conferred to recognise the good performance of employees of Department of Posts and motivate them to maintain or improve their good work.

About ‘Dak Karmayogi’ portal:

  • ‘Dak Karmayogi’ portal aims to enhance the competencies of about 4 lakh Gramin Dak Sevaks & Departmental employees.
  • It will enable the trainees to access the uniform standardized training content online or in blended campus mode to enable them to effectively deliver a number of G2C services for enhanced customer satisfaction.
  • The training videos and quizzes on the portal are available in 12 Indian languages to help postal trainees to access training content in vernacular languages.
  • A system-generated course completion certificate will be emailed instantly to the trainee's registered email ID upon successful completion of the final summative assessment.
  • The portal allows trainees to give their feedback, ratings and suggestions for each and every video and other learning content so that necessary enrichment can be ensured.
  • This portal has been developed ‘In-House’ under vision of ‘Mission Karmayogi’.
  • Mission Karmayogi was conceptualized by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with a view to bring efficiency in actions of all the employees of Government of India and transforming efficiency of bureaucracy with ‘Minimum Government’ and ‘Maximum Governance’.

Significance:

  • Department of Posts has been imparting training to its employees through its network of 10 Postal Training Centres/Regional Training Centre and Rafi Ahmed Kidwai National Postal Academy (RAKNPA), a Central Training Institute.
  • However, with the launch of this portal, Departmental employees and Gramin Dak Sevaks will be able to avail training ‘Any-time, Any-where’ and upgrade their Attitude, Skill and Knowledge (ASK), as per their convenience.
  • The portal is expected to go a long way in being an enabler in providing better services by upgrading employees and Gramin Dak Sevaks.

About Mission Karmayogi:

  • Mission Karmayogi is the National Programme for Civil Services Capacity Building (NPCSCB).
  • It is the biggest bureaucratic reform initiative Indian Bureaucracy.
  • This initiative was launched on September 20, 2020 by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Union Cabinet.
  • It will cover around 46 lakh central employees between 2020-2025.
  • Mission Karmayogi will have the following six pillars:-
  1. Policy Framework
  2. Institutional Framework
  3. Competency Framework
  4. Digital Learning Framework (Integrated Government Online Training Karmayogi Platform (iGOT-Karmayogi)
  5. Electronic Human Resource Management System (e-HRMS)
  6. Monitoring and Evaluation Framework
  • A special purpose vehicle (SPV) (non-profit company) is set up under the Companies Act 2013 to run this mission.
  • This SPV will manage i-GOT Karmayogi which is the online training digital platform.

Aim:

  • It aims to transform capacity-building in bureaucracy by bringing institutional and process reforms.
  • The mission envisages preparing Indian civil servants for future by making them more constructive, proactive, creative, imaginative, innovative, progressive, professional, energetic, transparent and technology-enabled.

National Affairs Current Affairs - July 2022

Vanijya Bhawan & NIRYAT: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on June 23 2022 inaugurated the new premises of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Vanijya Bhawan in New Delhi.

Key Highlights:

  • PM Modi also launched a new portal- National Import-Export Record for Yearly Analysis of Trade (NIRYAT).
  • The New Vanijya Bhawan and NIRYAT Portal will represent the aspirations of an 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat'.
  • It seeks to bring positive changes in the field of trade and commerce, especially for MSMEs.
  • PM Modi during the unveiling of Vanijya Bhawan and NIRYAT Portal said that despite the global disruptions, India exported a total of $670 billion- Rs. 50 lakh crores.
  • Exports are vital to a country’s progress.
  • He further said that programmes like "Vocal for Local" have also enhanced India's exports.

About Vanijya Bhawan:

  • Vanijya Bhawan is the new premises of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
  • It is constructed near the India Gate.
  • It is designed as a smart building that incorporates the principles of sustainable architecture with a special focus on energy saving.
  • It will serve as an integrated and modern office complex that will be used by the two Departments under the Ministry that is, the Department of Commerce and the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT).

About NIRYAT Portal:

  • NIRYAT Portal is a one-stop platform for the stakeholders to get all the necessary information related to India’s foreign trade.
  • The Portal will help promote healthy competition between the states in the area of export.

NIPUN: An innovative project for skill training of construction workers called ‘NIPUN’ (National Initiative for Promoting Upskilling of Nirman) workers was recently launched by Shri Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister of Housing & Urban Affairs and Petroleum & Natural Gas, Government of India.

Key Highlights:

  • The project NIPUN is an initiative of the MoHUA under its flagship scheme of the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Urban Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NULM).
  • DAY-NULM is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme, being implemented since 2014-15, with the aim to reduce poverty and vulnerability of urban poor households in the country by enabling them to access self-employment and skilled wage employment opportunities, resulting in an appreciable improvement in their livelihoods on a sustainable basis.

Implementation of NIPUN:

  • The National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), the nodal agency under the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE), Government of India (GoI), will be the Implementation Partner for the project NIPUN.

The NIPUN project implementation is divided into three following parts:-

  1. Training through Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) at construction sites,
  2. Training through Fresh skilling by Plumbing and Infrastructure SSC, and
  3. International Placement through industries, builders, and contractors.

Aim of NIPUN:

  • Its main aim is to train over 1 lakh construction workers, through fresh skilling and upskilling programmes in partnership with the NSDC under DAY-NULM.
  • This project will also provide work opportunities in foreign countries.

Significance of NIPUN Project:

  • By enhancing their capacities and diversifying their skill sets, this initiative will enable Nirman employees to become much more proficient and skilled while forcing them to adopt future trends in the construction business.
  • It will also enable the construction workers to seek better job opportunities, increase their wages and even pursue overseas placements - an indication of a new eco-system.
  • By offering upskilling and employment possibilities to urban people, especially the youth, the National Urban Livelihoods Mission has significantly reduced the vulnerability of urban poor households.

National Conference on The Development Of The Space Start-Up Ecosystem In India: The Union Minister of State for Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, Rajeev Chandrasekhar recently inaugurated a National Conference on “development of Space Start-up Ecosystem” in India.

Key Points:

  • Development of Space Start-up Ecosystem was held in Bengaluru.
  • It was organised by Astronautical Society of India in collaboration with Indian Space Research Organisation, Indian National Space Promotion & Authorisation Centre, New Space India Limited, and Defence Research and Development Organisation.

Key Takeaways:

Investments in Indian Space Ecosystem:

  • Up until 2021, India's space sector investments got off to a lukewarm start.
  • As of 2021, total investments totaled USD 100 million.
  • However, investment in this sector has been increasing.
  • Four companies have investments of over USD 10 million, in 2022 alone. India witnessed investments of worth USD 146.83 million since 2016.

Space Start-ups in India:

  • According to a report by Space Tech Analytics, in May 2021 there were 368 space start-ups in India.

NewSpace India Limited (NSIL):

  • NSIL is a Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) and commercial arm of ISRO.
  • It was established on March 6, 2019 in accordance with Company Act 2013.
  • It works under the administrative control of Department of Space (DoS).
  • The main goal of NSIL is to boost industry participation in Indian space programmes.

Indian National Space Promotion & Authorisation Centre (INSPACe):

  • IN–SPACe is a single-window autonomous agency, working under Department of Space.
  • It acts as a regulator and facilitator of space activities in India. Establishment of IN–SPACe was announced in June 2020.
  • The centre will act as a link between ISRO and private sector companies.
  • It will help in assessing “how to increase speed-based activities and utilise India’s space resources” in best manner.
  • It will evaluate demands of private sector companies as well as educational institutes.
  • Pawan Kumar Goenka is the current chairman of Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Centre (IN-SPACe).

ONORC Scheme Active across the Nation: With Assam becoming the 36th State to implement One Nation One Ration Card (ONORC) scheme, this plan has become operational in entire India.

  • With the addition of Assam, this scheme is successfully implemented in all 36 states, and Union Territories, making food security portable throughout the country.

About ONORC Scheme:

  • The ONORC scheme is nationalization of ration card.
  • The implementation of ONORC was initiated in August 2019.
  • Under the ONORC (One Nation, One Ration Card), beneficiaries covered under the National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA) can get their quota of subsidized food grains from any electronic point of sale device (ePoS)-enabled fair price shops of their choice by using their existing ration cards with biometric authentication.
  • This scheme is aimed at enabling migrant workers and their family members to seamlessly lift their entitled subsidized food grains from any Fair Price Shop of their choice anywhere in the country.
  • This move also enables the family members to buy food grains, pending from allowed quota in ration card from across country.

Beneficiaries:

  • The ONORC food security scheme has benefitted the National Food Security Act (NFSA) beneficiaries, immensely. This is because; they received subsidized food grains during COVID-19 pandemic.
  • This scheme has been swiftly implemented across India.
  • Thus, it is benefiting more than 80 crore Indians.

Mera Ration mobile app:

  • The “Mera Ration Mobile App”, was launched by the government to make best use of ONORC.
  • The app will provide information to users in real-time in 13 languages.

Gandhi-King Scholarly Exchange Initiative: The United States (US) Department of State recently launched the Gandhi King Scholarly exchange initiative.

Key Details:

  • This initiative announced by the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs is a first-of-its-kind initiative.
  • It will open on June 15, 2022, with a one-week virtual program and orientation followed by a two-week academic residency hosted at Alabama A&M University, a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) and the University of Alabama.
  • Participants in the Gandhi-King Scholarly Exchange Initiative will tour civil rights sites in Montgomery, Selma, and Birmingham, Alabama; Memphis, Tennessee; and Atlanta, Georgia, in addition to classroom instruction and discussion.
  • The Indian and American participants, in January 2023, will reconvene in India to visit important sites, organisations, and communities that will complement their academic curriculum, which is primarily focused on the academic themes of peace, nonviolence, and conflict resolution, and help them develop their leadership capabilities.

Aim and Significance:

  • It aims at bringing together 20 emerging young civic leaders from India and the United States to advance civil rights, social justice, and inclusion on the local, national and international levels by exploring the histories and legacies of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who were patrons of civil rights and social justice.
  • This exchange was championed by late civil rights leader John Lewis.

IMD's World Competitiveness Index 2022: The annual World Competitive Index (WCI) was recently released by the Institute for Management Development (IMD).

Key Highlight:

  • India witnessed sharpest rise among Asian countries with a six-position jump from 43rd to 37th rank on the annual World Competitive Index (WCI) 2022.
  • The rise is largely due to gains in economic performance.

Reasons for better performance in WCI:

  • Indian economy witnessed significant improvement in competitiveness, after stable and stagnant five years because of gains in economic performance.
  • The domestic economy has experienced a stratospheric rise from 30th to 9th position in a year.
  • The labour market is a key sub-factor in the business efficiency parameter, moved up from 15th to 6th, while management practices and business attitudes and values also made major leaps.
  • Major improvements in the context of retrospective taxes in 2021, India has restored the trust of the business community.
  • Its re-regulation of a number of sectors, including drones, geo-spatial mapping and space have also played a role in the country's stellar performance in the 2022 World Competitiveness Centre (WCR).
  • It is also a driving force in global movement to fight climate change.
  • Furthermore, India’s pledge of net-zero by 2070 at the COP26 summit in November 2021 is in sync with its strength in environment-related technologies in 2022 ranking.

Challenges faced by India:

India faces challenges like -

  1. Managing trade disruptions and  energy security,
  2. Maintaining high GDP growth after covid-19,
  3. Employment generation,
  4. Skill development,
  5. Resource mobilisation for infrastructure development, and
  6. Asset monetisation.

What are the top five attractive factors in India’s economy?

Top five attractive factors for business in Indian economy are -

1)Skilled workforce

2)Dynamism of economy

3)Cost competitiveness

4)Positive attitudes

5)High educational level

Countries in top 10:

  • Denmark has been ranked at top position, among top 63-nation list. It was ranked at third position in 2021.
  • Switzerland dropped from the top position to second position.
  • It is followed by Singapore at third position, which was ranked at fifth, position.
  • Sweden, Hong Kong SAR and Netherlands at fourth, fifth and sixth positions respectively.
  • Taiwan at seventh position followed by Finland in eighth position
  • Norway at ninth position with
  • USA at 10th position.

Rashtriya Puruskar Portal: The Government of India (GoI) recently launched Rashtriya Puruskar Portal.

Key Highlights:

  • This award has been launched to invite nominations for various awards from the various ministries, departments, and agencies.
  • It has been developed by the Government to bring together all the awards under one digital platform.

Aim:

  • Rashtriya Puruskar Portal aims at facilitating citizens to nominate the individuals and organisations for various awards instituted by the Indian Government.

Nominations for other National Awards:

  • The nominations and recommendations for Padma Awards are open till 15/09/2022.
  • For Sardar Patel National Unity Awards, the nominations will be open till 31/07/2022
  • Nomination for Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Award will remain open till  till 16/06/2022.
  • Nomination for Jeevan Raksha Padak series of Awards will be open till 30/09/2022.
  • The individual can be nominated for Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya Telecom Skill Excellence Award till 16/06/2022.

National Tribal Research Institute: The Union Home and Cooperation Minister Amit Shah recently inaugurated the newly built National Tribal Research Institute (NTRI) in New Delhi.

Key Highlights:

  • The inauguration was also attended by the Union Minister of Tribal Affairs, Shri Arjun Munda and other Cabinet and State Ministers, including, the Minister of Law and Justice, Shri Kiren Rijiju; MoS Tribal Affairs, Smt. Renuka Singh Saruta; MoS Minority Affairs, Shri John Barla and the MoS of Rural Development and Steel, Shri Faggan Singh Kulaste and other dignitaries graced the occasion.
  • The newly built NTRI was inaugurated as a part of the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav.
  • During the launch NTRI, an exhibition showcasing the achievements of the Tribal Affairs Ministry under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi was displayed.
  • The indigenous products and performances of more than 100 tribal artisans and tribal dance troupes all over the country were also showcased.

About NTRI:

  • The National Tribal Research Institute (NTRI) will be the premier national institute for the promotion and preservation of tribal heritage and culture.
  • The institute will also be the nerve center of tribal research issues and matters in executive, academic, and legislative fields.
  • It is being established at a cost of 10 crore rupees.

Objective of NTRI:

  • The main objective of this institute is to promote and preserve the tribal heritage and culture and the nerve centre of tribal research issues and matters in academic, executive and legislative fields.
  • The projects of the Tribal Research Institutes, Centres of Excellence, and the research scholars of NFS will be monitored by the Centre.
  • It will help in collaborating and networking with the reputed research institutes, organizations, and universities as well as the academic bodied and research centre.
  • It will set up norms for the improvement in the quality of research and training.
  • It will also help in running the Tribal Museums and showcase the rich tribal cultural heritage of India under one umbrella.
  • It will provide policy inputs to the Tribal Affairs Ministry as well as the State Welfare Departments to improve and support the socio-economic aspects of tribal life.

About the Tribal Research Institute (TRI):

  • Tribal Research Institute (TRI) is the research body of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs at the state level.
  • There are 26 Tribal Research Institutes (TRIs) supported by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs.
  • It will not only collaborate and network with reputed research institutes, universities, organizations as well as academic bodies and resource centres but will also monitor projects of Tribal Research Institutes, Centres of Excellence and set up norms for improvement in the quality of research and training.

NHAI Guinness World Record: State-owned National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) has created a Guinness World Record for laying the longest continuously bituminous lane of 75 kilometres on national highway between Amravati and Akola districts of Maharashtra, in 105 hours.

Key Points:

  • The total length of the 75 kilometres of single lane continuous bituminous concrete road is equivalent to 37.5 kilometres of two-lane paved shoulder road.
  • The bitumen mix of 36,634 metric tonnes, consisting of 2,070 metric of bitumen was used.
  • The project was implemented by 720 workers including a team of independent consultants who worked day and night.
  • Work on this road started on June 3, 2022 and was completed on June 7 2022.
  • Total time taken is 105 hours and 33 minutes.

Previous Record:

  • Previous World Record for longest continuously laid bituminous was building a 25.275 kilometres road in Doha, Qatar in February 2019.
  • This task was completed in 10 days.

About Amravati to Akola Road:

  • Amravati to Akola section is the part of NH 53.
  • It is an important east-east corridor that connects major cities like Raipur, Surat, Nagpur and Kolkata .
  • It passes through a mineral-rich region of our country.

Significance:

After this stretch is complete, it will play a significant role in easing movement of traffic, and freight on the route. The travel time will also be reduced.

National Highway 53:

  • This national highway is the combination of old NH6 Surat-Kolkata, NH200 Bilaspur-Chandikhole and NH5A Chandikhole-Paradeep.
  • The highway connects Hajira in Gujarat to Paradeep port in Odisha. NH-53 passes through the states of Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, and Odisha in India.
  • It is the part of Asian Highway 46 (AH46) network and is officially listed as running over 1949 km from Kolkata to Surat.
  • It is also called as Surat – Kolkata Highway.

About NHAI:

  • The National Highways Authority of India or NHAI is an autonomous agency of Government of India.
  • It was set up in 1995.
  • It is a nodal agency under Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.
  • The current Chairperson of NHAI is Alka Upadhyaya.

Aadhaar Seva Kendras: The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) is set to roll out ‘door-to-door Aadhaar seva”.

Key Details:

  • UIDAI is gearing up to enable users to update their Aadhaar card details, including phone numbers and addresses, without visiting the Aadhaar Seva Kendra.
  • UIDAI is training 48,000 postal officers of the India Post Payment Bank (IPPB) to go door to door in the remotest parts of the country and link Aadhaar number with mobile numbers, update details, and conduct enrolment of children at the doorstep.
  • A total of 1.5 lakh officers are to be trained in two phases.
  • They will be provided digital equipment, including a laptop and biometric scanner, to update Aadhaar card-related information.
  • Apart from IPPB postmen, UIDAI is also looking to enrol 13,000 banking correspondents employed by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology’s Common Service Centre under Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to support the initiative. 
  • UIDAI also plans to open an Aadhaar Sewa Kendra in each of the 755 districts of the country oo ensure that the Aadhaar details collected and updated by IPPB postmen and CSC banking correspondents are updated as quickly as possible
  • Currently, there are 88 UIDAI Sewa Kendra in 72 cities.
  • Apart from that that, banks, post offices, and state governments run 52,000 Aadhaar Enrollment Centers.

Mini "Aadhaar Seva Kendra":

  • UIDAI also plans to open ‘mini’ Aadhaar Sewa Kendras (ASKs) in all the 7224 blocks of the country.
  • This mini ASKs will have the necessary set up for linking mobile phone and permanent account number cards to Aadhaar, updating of details such as phone number or address, among others.

About Aadhaar:

  • Aadhaar is a 12-digit unique identity number generated by UIDAI.
  • This number can be obtained voluntarily by citizens of India or any resident foreign nationals who have lived here for more than 182 days in twelve months immediately before the date of application for enrolment, based on their biometric and demographic data.

Note: Aadhaar is the world's largest biometric ID system.

About UIDAI:

  • The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) is a statutory authority established under the provisions of Aadhaar act 2016 by the Government of India under the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY) on 12 July 2016.
  • UIDAI was created with the objective to issue Unique Identification numbers (UID), named as "Aadhaar", to all residents of India.
  • The Aadhaar Act 2016 has been amended by the Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Act, 2019 (14 of 2019) w.e.f. 25.07.2019.

National Education Ministers’ Conference: A two-day National Education Ministers’ Conference began on 1st June 2022 Gandhinagar Gujarat.

Key Highlights:

  • The conference was inaugurated by  Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan
  • The conference witnessed the participation of State Education Ministers from across the country who came together to discuss strengthening the education ecosystem in the country.
  • This conference has been organized by the Human Resource Development department in Gandhinagar in collaboration with the Ministry of Gujarat.
  • As part of the conference, the Ministers also visited the Bhaskaracharya National Institute for Space Applications and Geo-informatics (BISAG), the Vidya Samiksha Kendra (VSK), the International Automobile Centre of Excellence (iACE), and the National Forensic Science University (NFSU).

Focus of the Conference:

  • The focus of the conference was the implementation of the new National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, skilling in various schools of the nation, and digital initiatives such as the National Educational Technology Forum (NETF), National Digital Education Architecture (NDEAR), etc.
  • The main aim of the conference was also to leverage technology to minimise the non-academic work of teachers, strengthen the base of numeracy and literacy, and ensure holistic evaluation of teachers, students, and schools so as to cultivate a vibrant learning and teaching environment.
  • Deliberations on how to boost the country’s education ecosystem also took place during this conference.

Key Takeaways:

  • Dharmendra Pradhan is the current Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship and Electronics and Information Technology.
  • Rajeev Chandrasekhar is the current Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship and Electronics and Information Technology.
  • Dr. Subhash Sarkar is the current Minister of State for Education.

eSanjeevani - ABDM Integration: The National Health Authority (NHA) recently announced that government’s ‘eSanjeevani’ telemedicine service has been integrated with Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission.

Key Points about the integration:

  • With the help of this integration existing eSanjeevani users can easily create their Ayushman Bharat Health Account (ABHA).
  • They would also be able to use it to link and manage their existing health records.
  • In addition, they can further share their health records with doctors on eSanjeevani, which in turn will help in better clinical decision making and ensuring the continuum of care.

Significance of the integration:

  • The Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM) is aimed towards building digital highways, in a bid to bridge the gaps in existing digital health solutions and stakeholders in India.
  • Integration of eSanjeevani with Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission is an example where 22 crore ABHA holders would be able to link and store their health records, that has been created through eSanjeevani in health lockers of their choice.
  • They would also be able share their previously linked health records with doctors on eSanjeevani.
  • Therefore, the entire consultation process would become paperless.

Variants of eSanjeevani Service:

The eSanjeevani service is available in two variants:

1.eSanjeevani Ayushman Bharat-Health and Wellness Centre (AB-HWC:

  • It a doctor-to-doctor telemedicine service, using which the beneficiaries visiting a health and wellness centre would be able to virtually connect to doctors in the hub acting as a tertiary healthcare facility, a hospital or a medical college.
  • It will enable the government in providing general and specialised health services in rural areas as well as to isolated communities.

2.eSanjeevani OPD:

  • This platform is serving patients across India by connecting them directly to doctors from their homes.

Both the variants of eSanjeevani services have been integrated with the ABDM platform.

With this integration, this platform has now joined other 40 digital health applications that have completed their ABDM integration.

Lifestyle for the Environment (LiFE) Movement: Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched a global initiative ‘Lifestyle for the Environment (LiFE) Movement, on the occasion of World Environment Day through video conferencing.

Key Highlights:

  • Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Bhupender Yadav, NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant were present on the occasion.
  • The programme also witnessed participation of Co-Chairman Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Bill Gates, Climate Economist Lord Nicholas Stern, CEO and President World Resources Institute Aniruddha
  • Dasgupta, Author of Nudge Theory Prof. Cass Sunstein, UNEP Global Head Ms. Inger Andersen, UNDP Global Head Achim Steiner, World Bank President David Malpass among others. 

Key Points:

  • The vision of LiFE is to live a lifestyle that is in tune with our planet and does not harm it and those who live such a lifestyle are called Pro-Planet People.
  • Mission LiFE borrows from the past, operates in the present and focuses on the future.
  • The launch aims to initiate ‘LiFE Global Call for Papers’ inviting ideas and suggestions from academics, universities & research institutions etc to influence and persuade individuals, communities and organisations across the world to adopt an environment conscious lifestyle.
  • The launch initiated ‘LiFE Global Call for Papers’ inviting ideas and suggestions from academics, universities and research institutions, etc to influence and persuade individuals, communities and organizations across the world to adopt an environment-conscious lifestyle.

Background:

  • The idea of LiFE was introduced by the Prime Minister during the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties COP-26 in Glasgow 2021.

Significance:

  • The idea promotes an environment-conscious lifestyle that focuses on mindful and deliberate utilization instead of mindless and destructive consumption.

 

Merger of Film Media Units with NFDC: The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) has transferred the mandate of production of documentaries and short films, organization of film festivals and preservation of films to the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC).

NFDC is a public sector undertaking that has been working under the Ministry.

Overview:

  • As per the ministry, the bringing of all these activities under single management will reduce the overlap of activities and also ensure better utilization of public resources.
  • The mandate of production of feature films is already being carried out by NFDC.
  • It will give a strong impetus to the production of films of all genres including documentaries, feature films, animation films and children films, organizing various domestic festivals and preservation of the filmic content.
  • The ownership of the assets available with these units will remain with the government.
  • By orders issued on 31st March 2022, the mandate of production of documentaries that was earlier done by Films Division has been completely transferred to NFDC.
  • The legacy and brand name of Films Division will be taken further and the Production Vertical for production of documentaries in the NFDC will be named as “Films Division”.
  • Similarly, the organization of film festivals that was the mandate of DFF has been transferred to NFDC.
  • This will integrate the activities of numerous national and international film festivals  under one roof, resulting in higher synergy and a much more concentrated worldwide outreach.
  • Some of the major upcoming Film Festivals to be organized by NFDC are the Mumbai International Film Festival, International Film Festival of India at Goa, and Children’s Film Festival.

Background:

In December 2020, the ministry, under former I&B minister Prakash Javadekar, had announced the government's decision to merge the four public bodies namely the National Film Archives of India (NFAI), Films Division (FD), Children’s Film Society of India (CFSI), and Directorate of Film Festivals (DFF) with NFDC by expanding the Memorandum of Articles of Association of NDFC, which will then carry out all the activities hitherto performed by them with the objective of ensuring synergy, convergence of activities & better utilization of resources.

About the Films Division (FD): 

  • Films Division (FD) was established in 1948.
  • It produces, and distributes newsreels and documentary films on historical events and political figures.
  • In Post-Independence, films made by the erstwhile colonial agencies of Information Films of India, Indian News Parade, and Army Film and Photographic Unit were handed over to Film Division (FD). 
  • It preserved audio and visual records of India’s history of decolonization and the process of nation-building.
  • For example, it includes works of Satyajit Ray, MF Husain, Mani Kaul, Pramod Pati, and more recent films by contemporary filmmakers. 

About the National Film Archive of India (NFAI):

  • National Film Archive of India (NFAI) was established in 1964.
  • It is the oldest of the four units.
  • It has the mandate to trace, acquire, and preserve the heritage of fiction cinema in India.
  • Built under the supervision of the renowned curator P K Nair, it preserves several thousand films, books, scripts, posters, and photographs dating back to the 1910s,
  • It actively promotes film research and scholarship on Indian and South Asian cinema. 

About the Children’s Film Society of India (CFSI):

  • Children’s Film Society of India (CFSI) was established in 1955 with the specific objective of providing children and young people value-based entertainment through the medium of films.

About the Directorate of Film Festivals (DFF):

  • Directorate of Film Festivals (DFF) was established in 1976 to promote Indian films and cultural exchange.
  • It organizes the National Film Award, for example, Dada Saheb Phalke Award, and the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) etc.

All four of these institutions have historically provided original prints from their archives for screenings at film festivals, film societies, and educational institutions around the world. 

The NFDC:

  • The National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) is a public sector undertaking.
  • It was established in 1975,
  • Its aim is to promote filmmakers outside the mainstream film industries of India.
  • It also contributed to the development of parallel cinema.

FASTER: Chief Justice of India NV Ramana recently launched the Fast and Secured Transmission of Electronic Records (FASTER) software.

The online introduction of the FASTER programme was attended by CJI Ramana, Justices AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud, and Hemant Gupta, as well as Chief Justices and Judges of High Courts.

Key Points:

  • The initiative ‘FASTER‘ was initiated when a bench led by CJI Ramana took suo motu notice of delays in convicts’ release even after they had been granted bail, citing reasons such as non-receipt or non-verification of legal orders.
  • According to a Supreme Court press release, the FASTER system was developed on a war footing by the Registry in collaboration with the NIC.
  • FASTER has been launched so that court orders can be transmitted securely and swiftly via electronic mode thus ensuring that judicial orders can be communicated quickly.
  • Through the use of this software orders that were passed by the high courts (HC) and the Supreme Court (SC) will be transmitted safely without any third-party interference.
  • 73 nodal officers have been selected at the HC level to ensure that this system reaches all of India’s districts.
  • Jail authorities have also been selected through a network of judicial communication.
  • By constructing a safe conduit, all Nodal Officers have been connected through a specific judicial communication network JCN.
  • For this software a secure pathway email id has also been established.

Significance this software:

  • Bail orders will be communicated via FASTER.
  • For authentication purposes, it will include the institutional digital signatures as well as the digital signatures of the recognized nodal officers of the SC.
  • In this manner, bail orders would be received by all interested parties without wasting much time, and they would be able to perform the appropriate actions quickly.
  • Only email id holders would be able to communicate, assuring safety, secrecy, and security.
  • A total of 1,887 email ids of the selected nodal officers have been connected.

Need for such software:

  • In the past, inmates were not freed by the jail officials even after bail orders were passed because the hard copies of the certified bail orders arrived late.
  • Thus, this software was implemented so that Article 21, Right to Life, could be implemented swiftly and the bail orders are executed on time.

Air Traffic Management Systems: In a major boost to Government’s “Make in India” Initiative, Airports Authority of India (AAI) has recently signed an agreement with the Defence Public Sector Undertaking Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL).

Key Points:

  • The present agreement is in conformity with AAI’s R & D Policy to upgrade its ANS Infrastructure in systematic, efficient and cost-effective manner and in compliance with the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ missions of the Government of India (GoI).
  • The agreement has been signed for the joint indigenous development of systems for aircraft traffic management and surface movement at airports across the country were previously imported.
  • This will reduce AAI’s foreign dependency for procurement of ANS infrastructure.
  • Under this Agreement, they both will collaborate to develop the Civil air traffic Management System (ATMS) with Advanced-Surface Movement Guidance and system (ASMGCS).
  • ASMGCS is a complex ground surveillance system that manages air traffic at airports and in Indian civil airspace to confirm safe flight operations.
  • Air traffic control has two purposes:

1.To confirm safety by maintaining separation between many planes.

2.To manage airport operations efficiently.

  • ASMGCS provides routing, guidance, and surveillance services to aircraft and vehicles on the ground in order to guarantee safe surface mobility in all weather situations at the airport
  • The system accommodates air traffic in congested airports and airspaces, including military flights.

Significance:

  • The goal of ATMS with ASMGCS is to provide the air traffic controller with the complete air traffic picture of the coverage area while interacting with Primary/Secondary Radar, Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B), Multi-lateration System (MLATs), and navigational equipment such as GPS, Instrument Landing System (ILS) and Doppler Very High Frequency Omni Range (DVOR).
  • The system is used in congested airports and airspaces to serve large volume of air traffic, including military flights.
  • The system comprises multiple, in-house developed technologies, such as Situation Display for Air traffic controller, Surveillance Data Processing (SDP), Flight Data Processing (FDP), Safety Net and Decision Support (SNET), Control & Monitoring Display (CMD), Advanced ASMGCS, etc.
  • It helps in increasing capacity with improved safety by reducing controller workload, improving air traffic flow and minimizing flight delays.
  • Enhanced system reliability and availability are provided through redundant and distributed architecture, safeguarding ATM operations.

Association of Asian Election Authorities (AAEA): India has been unanimously elected as the new Chair of the Association of Asian Election Authorities (AAEA) for 2022-2024.

Key Points:

  • India was appointed as the new Chair AAEA at the meeting of the Executive Board and General Assembly in Manila, Philippines held on May 7th, 2022.
  • Commission on Elections, Manila was the current chair of AAEA.
  • India also served on the Executive Board of the AAEA as the Vice-Chair during 2011-13 and Chaired during 2014-16.

Election Commission of India:

  • The Executive Board meeting at Manila was attended by The Election Commission of India 3-member delegation headed by Deputy Election Commissioner Shri Nitesh Vyas, along with CEO Manipur Shri Rajesh Agrawal and CEO Rajasthan Shri Praveen Gupta.
  • The Indian delegation presented the work plan for 2022-23 presented the work plan for 2022-23 as also futuristic activities for 2023-24 to the Executive Board.
  • They also presented on ‘Gender Issues in Elections’ which highlighted various interventions by India to break socio-political barriers in electoral and political processes for inclusive and participative elections.

About AAEA:

  • Association of Asian Election Authorities (AAEA) was established in 1998.
  • AAEA was established in pursuance of the resolution passed by participants of the Symposium on Asian Elections in the 21st Century held from January 26-29, 1997 in Manila, Philippines.
  • It is a non-partisan forum that aims to provide a non-partisan forum in the Asian region for sharing experiences and best practices among election authorities to discuss and act upon ways to promote open and transparent elections to support good governance and democracy.
  • The Election Commission of India (ECI) is the founding member of AAEA’s Election Management Body (EMB).

Members:

  • The new member of the Executive Board now includes Russia, Uzbekistan, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Taiwan, and the Philippines.
  • Currently, 20 Asian EMBs are members of AAEA.

PM MITRA Scheme: The Ministry of Textiles recently organized a National Conference on PM Mega Integrated Textile Regions and Apparel (PM MITRA) Parks Scheme.

Key Highlights:

  • The conference provided a platform for presentations by officials of 13 state government, viz. – Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh
  • The details of the 18 plans for the establishment of PM MITRA Parks in their respective states were outlined by each state representative.
  • Each state government highlighted its advantages in the textiles industry, paying particular attention to scheme, policy, benefits, incentives and basic utilities provided for creating an industry-friendly ecosystem to populate the proposed PM-MITRA Parks.

Vision of PM MITRA scheme:

  • The PM MITRA scheme is inspired by the 5F vision – Farm to Fibre to Factory to Fashion to Foreign.
  • It aims to realize the dream of creating an Aatmanirbhar Bharat and cement India's position on the world textiles scene.

Features of PM MITRA Scheme:

  • Under the project, PM Mitra Parks will be set up by a special purpose vehicle owned by the State Governments and the Centre in a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model.
  • Each Park will have an incubation centre, common processing house and a common effluent treatment plant and other textile related facilities such as design centres and testing centres.
  • The Master Developer will not only develop the Industrial Park but also maintain it during the concession period.
  • Sites for PM MITRA Parks will be selected by a Challenge Method based on objective criteria.
  • Proposals of States with ready access to contiguous and encumbrance-free land parcel of 1,000+ acres along with other textiles related facilities will be welcomed.

Funding:

  • The Centre will provide capital support for common infrastructure development of Rs 500 crore for each greenfield Mitra park and Rs 200 crore for each brownfield.

Significance:

  • It will offer an opportunity to create an integrated textiles value chain right from spinning, weaving, processing/dyeing, and printing to garment manufacturing at 1 location.
  • It will reduce the logistics cost of the Industry and strengthen the value chain of the textile sector to make it globally competitive.
  • It is intended to generate around 1 lakh direct and 2 lakh indirect jobs per park.
  • The parks will not only attract cutting edge technology but will also boost local & foreign investment in the textiles sector.
  • It will also help in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 9: “Build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation”.

Reconstitution of CABA: The Central Advisory Board on Archaeology (CABA), which was formed seven years ago to promote ties between the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and people working in the field of archaeological research, was re-established.

Key Points:

  • The board has been reconstituted by ASI.
  • The board has been formed to strengthen the bridge between archaeological research, Indian universities, and the Archaeological Survey of India.
  • The reconstituted board includes the Culture Minister as chairperson and members including officials from the Culture Ministry and ASI, MPs, State government nominations, university representatives, scientists, and Indus Valley script experts.
  • This board will also consist of 5 persons that will be nominated by the Indian Government along with the former Director-General of ASI.

Functions:

  • The Board will meet once a year and will be advising the Central government regarding various archaeological matters.
  • It will be looking to promote the application of antiquarian principles.
  • It will also be promoting the training of future archaeologists and through various activities of the ASI, will be bridging ties between the state governments and the societies of India.
  • It may also make suggestions on such matters for the consideration of the Government.
  • It also set up a Standing Committee of the board to be chaired by the ASI D-G.

About ASI:

  • The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is an Indian government agency attached to the Ministry of Culture that is responsible for archaeological research and the conservation and preservation of cultural monuments in the country.
  • ASI was founded in 1861 by Alexander Cunningham- the first Director-General of ASI. Alexander Cunningham is also known as the “Father of Indian Archaeology”.
  • It administers more than 3650 ancient monuments, archaeological sites and remains of national importance.
  • Its activities include carrying out surveys of antiquarian remains, exploration and excavation of archaeological sites, conservation and maintenance of protected monuments etc.

Gen Next Democracy Network: The 2nd batch of the 10 Ten day Gen Next Democracy Network programme of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) recently concluded.

The first batch was organized in India in November, 2021.

Key Highlights:

  • 27 delegates from six countries-Ghana, Bangladesh, Peru, Nepal, Brunei and Norway visited India participated in the Gen Next Democracy Network programme.
  • They all shared their experiences of visiting India in the closing ceremony.

About Gen Next Democracy Network:

  • The Gen Next Democracy Network is a new inititative launched by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR).
  • This programme will acquaint the young leaders of 75 democracies with India’s culture, heritage and the “Idea of India” by showcasing India’s contributions to addressing global issues through its democratic worldview.
  • ICCR had organized the first batch of the Gen-Next Democracy Network Programme, constituting delegates from eight countries Bhutan, Jamaica, Poland, Malaysia, Sweden, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Uzbekistan, in India in November, 2021.
  • Under this progaramme, youth from democratic countries come to India to get acquainted with India’s heritage, culture and functioning of Indian democracy.

Aim:

  • The programme aims at defining India’s democratic governance structure at various levels and provides an understanding of the success of India’s democratic journey across the world.

About Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR):

  • Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) is an autonomous organisation of the Government of India (GoI).
  • It was founded in 1950 by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, the first Education Minister of independent India.
  • It is headquartered in New Delhi.
  • It is involved in India’s global cultural relations, through cultural exchange with other countries and their people.
  • It operates missions internationally, with established cultural centres in various countries.
  • It also administers the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding, established by the Government of India in 1965, whose last award was in 2009.

National Data and Analytics Platform: The country’s policy commission, the National Institution of Transforming India (NITI Aayog) recently launched the National Data and Analytics Platform (NDAP) for free public use.

Key Points:

  • The platform aims to democratise access to public government data by making information accessible, interoperable, interactive, and available on a user-friendly platform.
  • It houses basic datasets from a variety of government departments, organises them, and provides analytics and visualisation capabilities.
  • This public debut comes after the platform’s beta release in August 2021, which gave a small number of users access for testing and feedback.
  • To ensure that the datasets hosted on the platform are adapted to the needs of data users from government, academia, journalism, civil society, and the corporate sector, NDAP uses a use-case methodology.
  • All datasets are standardised to the same schema, making it simple to combine them and do cross-sectoral analysis.

About NITI Aayog:

  • The National Institution For Transforming India Aayog (NITI Aayog) is the premier policy 'Think Tank' of the Government of India (GoI).
  • It was established on 1 January 2015 with an objective to foster cooperative federalism through structured support initiatives and mechanisms with the States on a continuous basis, recognizing that strong States make a strong nation.
  • It provides directional and policy inputs.
  • Apart from designing strategic and long-term policies and programmes for the government, NITI Aayog also provides relevant technical advice to the centre, states, and union territories.
  • The Governing Council of NITI, with The Prime Minister as its Chairman, comprises Chief Ministers of all States and Lt. Governors of Union Territories (UTs).
  • The current CEO of NITI Aayog is Parameswaran Iyer.

 

National Affairs Current Affairs - June 2022

National Time Release Study, 2022: The Chairman of Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Custom (CBIC) Shri Vivek Johri presented a set of Time Release Studies (TRS) conducted by the department.

About TRS:

TRS are essentially a performance measuring instrument for assessing the international trade cargo clearing procedure, as recommended by the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the World Customs Organization (WCO) under the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) (WCO).

It adopts average cargo release time, i.e. the time taken from the arrival of the cargo at the customs station to its eventual release for import or export, as the case may be.

About National Time Release Study, 2022 (NTRS 2022):

The National Time Release Study (NTRS) 2022 covered 15 major Customs formations, including four port categories -

  1. Seaports,
  2. Air Cargo Complexes (ACCs),
  3. Inland Container Depot (ICDs) and
  4. Integrated Check Posts (ICPs),

These four categories handle 80% of the bills of entry (imports documents) and 70% of the shipping bills (export documents).

It is based on the sample period between 1st – 7th January 2022.

The Custom House level Time Release Studies and the National TRS 2022, have found strong support for the four-part ‘path to promptness’, which are:

  • Risk-based facilitation of cargo
  • Benefits of a trustable client programme – Authorized Economic Operators
  • Direct Port Delivery (DPD) facility
  • Advance filing of import documents allowing for pre-arrival processing

Key Findings of National TRS 2022

  • The study has reported an improvement in the average release time of cargo in 2022 for all four port categories ranging from 2 percent for ICPs to 16 percent for ACCs.
  • The average release time for sea cargo cleared through seaports or inland container depots has has improved by 12 percent.
  • With this improvement, the ICPs have achieved the National Trade Facilitation Action Plan (NTFAP) target release time to be achieved by 2023.
  • It was found that in the case of exports the documentary clearance of consignments for exports has also been minimized significantly ranging from 4:04 hours in the case of ACCs to 47:41 hours in the case of ICDs.

Recommendation by NTRS 2022 and local TRSs:

  • Certain recommendations have also been made by the local TRS and the National TRS 2022 to further reduce the average release time targets to meet the targets set out in the NTFAP and improve the trade facilitative eco-system in the country.

e-Sanjeevani Tele-consultation Facility: Union Health Minister Dr Mansukh Mandaviya virtually launched e-Sanjeevani Tele-consultation facility at one lakh centres recently.

Key Points:

  • The e-Sanjeevani Tele-consultation facility was launched on the occasion of 4th Anniversary of Ayushman Bharat Health and Wellness Centres (AB-HWCs) with the aim of helping the people living in remote villages in the country receive medical advice from various health experts.
  • So far, more than one lakh 17 thousand AB-HWCs have been operationalized in the country.
  • Now the common citizens will also be able to take advice from the big doctors of the country through e-Sanjeevani Tele-consultation facility.
  • E-Sanjeevani is providing affordable and accessible health care as envisioned by the Prime Ministe's Ayushman Bharat.
  • Teleconsultation services are very crucial for people in remote areas and are helpful in making healthcare services accessible for all.
  • Primary Health Centres are the most important component of the health system of our country as they cater to the local population.
  • These centres are ensuring delivery of health facilities in the interest of the community and fulfilling the commitments of National Health Policy- 2017.
  • Health Fair will be organized in every block of the country from 18th to 23rd of April.

About e-Sanjeevani:

  • The Government of India (GoI) launched e-Sanjeevani on 2019.
  • It is also known as the National Teleconsultation Service.
  • This scheme is run by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
  • It was launched with the aim of providing healthcare services to the patients in their respective homes.
  • Under this platform, in order to provide teleconsultation services, 56,994 doctors have registered on this site.
  • Approximately 2.33 million consultations have been provided through this platform as of the 31st of January 2022.

Ayushman Bharat - Health Care Center scheme:

  • Ayushman Bharat - Health Care Center scheme was launched by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in 2018 to increase the health schemes across the country.
  • So far, 17000 such health care centers have been established across the country under this scheme.
  • The health care centres provide the facility of testing for non-communicable diseases is available and these are within the reach of common man.
  • Most importantly, by adopting the practice of remote consultation and teleconsultation, these health care institutions have expanded their offerings and begun the work of delivering professional guidance.

Stand-up India scheme: The Stand-up India scheme launched on 5th April 2016 by the Indian government completed six years on 5th April 2022.

Achievement of this scheme:

  • The achievements under this scheme are as follows:
  • More than 1.33 lakh new job-creators and entrepreneurs have been facilitated.
  • More than 1 lakh women entrepreneurs have benefited under this scheme in the last six years.
  • Under this scheme, up to 21st March 2022 an amount of Rs. 30,160 crores have been sanctioned by the government to a total of 1,33,995 accounts.
  • Out of the total sanctioned accounts -
  • 6,435 accounts belonged to ST borrowers with Rs 1373.71 crore sanctioned.
  • 19,310 accounts belonged to SC borrowers with Rs 3976.84 crore sanctioned.
  • To 1,08,250 women entrepreneurs who held accounts, Rs. 24809.89 crore has been sanctioned.

 About the ‘Stand Up India Scheme’:

  • The Stand Up India Scheme was Launched in 2016.
  • The scheme is part of an initiative by the Department of Financial Services (DFS),Ministry of Finance to promote entrepreneurial projects.
  • It seeks to promote entrepreneurship at the grass-root level of economic empowerment and job creation.

Aim:

  • It is aimed at leveraging the institutional credit structure to reach out to the underserved sector of people such as SCs, STs and Women Entrepreneurs.
  • The offices of SIDBI and NABARD shall be designated Stand-Up Connect Centres (SUCC).
  • Loans under the scheme are available for only Greenfield projects.

Objective:

  • The main objective of the scheme is to facilitate loans from Scheduled Commercial Banks (SCBs) of value between Rs 10 lakh and Rs 1 crore to at least one SC or ST borrower and one woman borrower per bank branch for setting up green field enterprises in manufacturing, service or trading sector.

Eligibility:

In order to be eligible for obtaining a loan under the Stand Up India Loan scheme, an individual must comply with the following eligibility criteria:

  • The individual must be above 18 years of age.
  • The entrepreneur must either be a woman or belong to the SC or ST community.
  • Loans will be provided under this scheme only for funding green field projects.
  • A green field project implies that the venture is the very first one ever being undertaken by the applicant under the trade, services or manufacturing sector.
  • If the loan is being taken for a non-individual enterprise, then it is compulsory that a minimum of 51% of the shareholding and controlling stake should be held by a woman entrepreneur or SC/ST entrepreneur.
  • The loan applicant must not be an existing defaulter to any bank or financial organization.

State Energy and Climate Index: NITI Aayog recently launched the State Energy & Climate Index (SECI) Round I.

Gujarat has topped NITI Aayog State Energy and Cli­m­ate Index-(SECI) Ro­und 1 among larger states.

Key Points:

 The SECI Round I ranks the states’ performance on 6 parameters, namely,

  1. DISCOM’s Performance
  2. Access, Affordability and Reliability of Energy
  3. Clean Energy Initiatives
  4. Energy Efficiency
  5. Environmental Sustainability
  6. New Initiatives

These parameters are further divided into 27 indicators.

Based on the composite score of SECI Round I, the states and UTs have been ranked as larger states, smaller states, and UTs, based on size and geographical differences.

States and UTs are categorized into the following three groups:

  1. Front Runners
  2. Achievers
  3. Aspirants

Top 3 states among larger states category are Gujarat, Kerala and Punjab.

Top 3 States among smaller states category are Goa, Tripura and Manipur.

Top three UTs (Union Territories) are Chandigarh, Delhi and Daman & Diu/Dadra & Nagar Haveli.

National Maritime Day 2022: India observed its 59th edition of the National Maritime Day on the 5th of May 2022.

Key Points:

  • National Maritime Day is observed on 5 April every year.
  • This day is celebrated every year to illustrate the awareness in supporting intercontinental commerce and the global economy as the most well-organized, safe and sound, environmentally responsive approach of transporting goods from one corner to another corner of the world.

NMD Award of Excellence:

  • On this day ‘NMD Award of Excellence’ is usually given during the celebrations and there is a trophy and citation, given to recognize and honour individuals for their lifetime distinguished and exceptional achievements and performances in the Indian Maritime sector at a senior level.

Theme:

  • The theme of the National Maritime Day is “Sustainable Shipping beyond Covid-19’’.

History of National Maritime Day of India:

  • National Maritime Day was first celebrated on April 5, 1964.
  • The saga of Indian shipping first started on April 5, 1919, when the SS Loyalty, the first ship of The Scindia Steam Navigation Company Ltd travelled from Mumbai to the United Kingdom (London).

Varuna Award:

  • On this day an award called “Varuna” is conferred to those who made an outstanding contribution to the Indian maritime sector.

 

National Affairs Current Affairs - April 2022

Merger of Film Media Units with NFDC: The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) has transferred the mandate of production of documentaries and short films, organization of film festivals and preservation of films to the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC).

NFDC is a public sector undertaking that has been working under the Ministry.

Overview:

  • As per the ministry, the bringing of all these activities under single management will reduce the overlap of activities and also ensure better utilization of public resources.
  • The mandate of production of feature films is already being carried out by NFDC.
  • It will give a strong impetus to the production of films of all genres including documentaries, feature films, animation films and children films, organizing various domestic festivals and preservation of the filmic content.
  • The ownership of the assets available with these units will remain with the government.
  • By orders issued on 31st March 2022, the mandate of production of documentaries that was earlier done by Films Division has been completely transferred to NFDC.
  • The legacy and brand name of Films Division will be taken further and the Production Vertical for production of documentaries in the NFDC will be named as “Films Division”.
  • Similarly, the organization of film festivals that was the mandate of DFF has been transferred to NFDC.
  • This will integrate the activities of numerous national and international film festivals  under one roof, resulting in higher synergy and a much more concentrated worldwide outreach.
  • Some of the major upcoming Film Festivals to be organized by NFDC are the Mumbai International Film Festival, International Film Festival of India at Goa, and Children’s Film Festival.

Background:

In December 2020, the ministry, under former I&B minister Prakash Javadekar, had announced the government's decision to merge the four public bodies namely the National Film Archives of India (NFAI), Films Division (FD), Children’s Film Society of India (CFSI), and Directorate of Film Festivals (DFF) with NFDC by expanding the Memorandum of Articles of Association of NDFC, which will then carry out all the activities hitherto performed by them with the objective of ensuring synergy, convergence of activities & better utilization of resources.

About the Films Division (FD): 

  • Films Division (FD) was established in 1948.
  • It produces, and distributes newsreels and documentary films on historical events and political figures.
  • In Post-Independence, films made by the erstwhile colonial agencies of Information Films of India, Indian News Parade, and Army Film and Photographic Unit were handed over to Film Division (FD). 
  • It preserved audio and visual records of India’s history of decolonization and the process of nation-building.
  • For example, it includes works of Satyajit Ray, MF Husain, Mani Kaul, Pramod Pati, and more recent films by contemporary filmmakers. 

About the National Film Archive of India (NFAI):

  • National Film Archive of India (NFAI) was established in 1964.
  • It is the oldest of the four units.
  • It has the mandate to trace, acquire, and preserve the heritage of fiction cinema in India.
  • Built under the supervision of the renowned curator P K Nair, it preserves several thousand films, books, scripts, posters, and photographs dating back to the 1910s,
  • It actively promotes film research and scholarship on Indian and South Asian cinema. 

About the Children’s Film Society of India (CFSI):

  • Children’s Film Society of India (CFSI) was established in 1955 with the specific objective of providing children and young people value-based entertainment through the medium of films.

About the Directorate of Film Festivals (DFF):

  • Directorate of Film Festivals (DFF) was established in 1976 to promote Indian films and cultural exchange.
  • It organizes the National Film Award, for example, Dada Saheb Phalke Award, and the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) etc.

All four of these institutions have historically provided original prints from their archives for screenings at film festivals, film societies, and educational institutions around the world. 

The NFDC:

  • The National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) is a public sector undertaking.
  • It was established in 1975,
  • Its aim is to promote filmmakers outside the mainstream film industries of India.
  • It also contributed to the development of parallel cinema.

FASTER: Chief Justice of India NV Ramana recently launched the Fast and Secured Transmission of Electronic Records (FASTER) software.

The online introduction of the FASTER programme was attended by CJI Ramana, Justices AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud, and Hemant Gupta, as well as Chief Justices and Judges of High Courts.

Key Points:

  • The initiative ‘FASTER‘ was initiated when a bench led by CJI Ramana took suo motu notice of delays in convicts’ release even after they had been granted bail, citing reasons such as non-receipt or non-verification of legal orders.
  • According to a Supreme Court press release, the FASTER system was developed on a war footing by the Registry in collaboration with the NIC.
  • FASTER has been launched so that court orders can be transmitted securely and swiftly via electronic mode thus ensuring that judicial orders can be communicated quickly.
  • Through the use of this software orders that were passed by the high courts (HC) and the Supreme Court (SC) will be transmitted safely without any third-party interference.
  • 73 nodal officers have been selected at the HC level to ensure that this system reaches all of India’s districts.
  • Jail authorities have also been selected through a network of judicial communication.
  • By constructing a safe conduit, all Nodal Officers have been connected through a specific judicial communication network JCN.
  • For this software a secure pathway email id has also been established.

Significance this software:

  • Bail orders will be communicated via FASTER.
  • For authentication purposes, it will include the institutional digital signatures as well as the digital signatures of the recognized nodal officers of the SC.
  • In this manner, bail orders would be received by all interested parties without wasting much time, and they would be able to perform the appropriate actions quickly.
  • Only email id holders would be able to communicate, assuring safety, secrecy, and security.
  • A total of 1,887 email ids of the selected nodal officers have been connected.

Need for such software:

  • In the past, inmates were not freed by the jail officials even after bail orders were passed because the hard copies of the certified bail orders arrived late.
  • Thus, this software was implemented so that Article 21, Right to Life, could be implemented swiftly and the bail orders are executed on time.

Air Traffic Management Systems: In a major boost to Government’s “Make in India” Initiative, Airports Authority of India (AAI) has recently signed an agreement with the Defence Public Sector Undertaking Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL).

Key Points:

  • The present agreement is in conformity with AAI’s R & D Policy to upgrade its ANS Infrastructure in systematic, efficient and cost-effective manner and in compliance with the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ missions of the Government of India (GoI).
  • The agreement has been signed for the joint indigenous development of systems for aircraft traffic management and surface movement at airports across the country were previously imported.
  • This will reduce AAI’s foreign dependency for procurement of ANS infrastructure.
  • Under this Agreement, they both will collaborate to develop the Civil air traffic Management System (ATMS) with Advanced-Surface Movement Guidance and system (ASMGCS).
  • ASMGCS is a complex ground surveillance system that manages air traffic at airports and in Indian civil airspace to confirm safe flight operations.
  • Air traffic control has two purposes:

1.To confirm safety by maintaining separation between many planes.

2.To manage airport operations efficiently.

  • ASMGCS provides routing, guidance, and surveillance services to aircraft and vehicles on the ground in order to guarantee safe surface mobility in all weather situations at the airport
  • The system accommodates air traffic in congested airports and airspaces, including military flights.

Significance:

  • The goal of ATMS with ASMGCS is to provide the air traffic controller with the complete air traffic picture of the coverage area while interacting with Primary/Secondary Radar, Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B),Multi-lateration System (MLATs), and navigational equipment such as GPS, Instrument Landing System (ILS) and Doppler Very High-Frequency Omni Range (DVOR).
  • The system is used in congested airports and airspaces to serve large volume of air traffic, including military flights.
  • The system comprises multiple, in-house developed technologies, such as Situation Display for Air traffic controller, Surveillance Data Processing (SDP), Flight Data Processing (FDP), Safety Net and Decision Support (SNET), Control & Monitoring Display (CMD), Advanced ASMGCS, etc.
  • It helps in increasing capacity with improved safety by reducing controller workload, improving air traffic flow and minimizing flight delays.
  • Enhanced system reliability and availability are provided through redundant and distributed architecture, safeguarding ATM operations.

 

Shahid Diwas 2022: Shaheed Diwas, also known as Martyrs' Day is being observed all around India on 23 March 2022.

Key Facts:

  • The day is observed every year on 23 March to mark the day when the British hanged Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev, India's three young revolutionaries, in the year 1931.
  • These revolutionaries dedicated their lives to India's freedom and their ideas were immensely popular popular among the masses.
  • Newly elected Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, on 22 March 2022, officially declared 23 March as a holiday in the state, commemorating the death anniversary of Shaheed-e-Azam Sardar Bhagat Singh.
  • A resolution has also been passed in the Punjab Assembly to install statues of Shaheed Bhagat Singh and BR Ambedkar.

History:

  • On March 23, three heroes of our nation were hanged to death, namely Bhagat Singh, Shivaram Rajguru, and Sukhdev Thapar by the British.
  • Bhagat Singh was born on September 28, 1907, in Lyallpur, Punjab.
  • He, together with his companions Rajguru, Sukhdev, Azad, and Gopal, fought for the assassination of Lala Lajpat Rai.
  • He became an inspiration for youngsters due to his daring adventures.
  • He and his companions, on April 8th, 1929, threw bombs over the Central Legislative Assembly by reading the slogan "Inquillab Zindabad".
  • And for this, a murder case was charged against them.
  • On March 23rd, 1931, in the Lahore Jail, they were hanged.
  • Their bodies were cremated on the banks of the Sutlej River.

Additional Info:

To honour the martyrs of the nation, several other days at the national level were also declared as Sarvodaya or Shaheed Diwas.

  • 30 January is celebrated as Shaheed Diwas, or Martyr’s Day, in the memory of Mahatma Gandhi, The Father of the Nation fondly called Bapuji. He was assassinated by Nathuram Godse in the Birla House during his evening prayers on January 30, 1948.
  • 13 July is celebrated as Martyr's Day in Jammu and Kashmir to commemorate the deaths of 22 people. On July 13, 1931, people were killed by royal soldiers while demonstrating adjacent to the Maharaja, Hari Singh of Kashmir.
  • 17th November is celebrated as Martyr's Day in Odisha to observe the death anniversary of Lala Lajpat Ray, also known as the "Lion of Punjab". He also played an important role in the freedom struggle of India from the British dominion.
  • 19th November is also celebrated as Martyr's Day in Jhansi. On November 19th, Rani Lakshmi Bai was born. She also sacrificed her life during the 1857 revolt.

March 23rd is also Ram Manohar Lohia's birth anniversary. He was an activist in the Indian independence movement and a socialist political leader.

Shaheed Diwas Quotes:

  • “They may kill me, but they cannot kill my ideas. They can crush my body, but they will not be able to crush my spirit.” — Shaheed Bhagat Singh
  • “Lovers, Lunatics and poets are made of same stuff.”― Shaheed Bhagat Singh
  • “They may kill me, but they cannot kill my ideas. They can crush my body, but they will not be able to crush my spirit.” — Shaheed Bhagat Singh

Dare to Erade TB: Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh while addressing the event on World TB Day 2022 announced the launch of “Dare to Erade TB” program.

Key Points:

  • The program will be based on the Indian data and the formation of the Genome Sequencing Consortium for Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) TB Surveillance.
  • Union minister said that Indian Tuberculosis Genomic Surveillance Consortium (InTGS) is proposed on lines of the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomic Consortia (INSACOG) for Whole Genome Sequencing, (WSG) TB surveillance.
  • He also stated that Dare2eraD TB will be the umbrella TB program of DBT comprising of following key initiatives-
  • InTGS - Indian Tuberculosis Genomic Surveillance Consortium;
  • InTBK Hub- Indian TB Knowledge Hub- Webinar Series;
  • Host Directed therapies against TB and developing an evidence-based regimen for treating extra-pulmonary Tuberculosis.
  • Dr. Jitendra Singh said that there is a need for a mass movement to get rid of Tuberculosis to realize the dream of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi of a “TB Mukt Bharat” by the year 2025.
  • Minister of State for Health Bharati Pravin Pawar noted in her speech at the event that the government has increased its capacity for early detection and treatment of tuberculosis cases.
  • These capabilities, she said, have been reinforced through surveillance and contact tracing, and digital technology will effectively advise health personnel.
  • The well-performing district and states of the country were awarded by Mansukh Mandaviya, Union Health Minister, for improving the levels to eliminate Tuberculosis.

Tuberculosis in India:

  • Tuberculosis in India is one of the major public health problems of the country.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that the largest tuberculosis epidemic in the world is in India.
  • In 2020, India had accounted for 26% of all TB-related cases worldwide.
  • There are 192 cases of TB found per 1,00,000 population in the country.

About TB Day:

  • World Tuberculosis (TB) Day is celebrated every year on 24 March to commemorate the date when Robert Koch announced his discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacillus that causes TB in 1882.
  • This Day is observed to educate people about TB and its impact around the world.
  • The term tuberculosis was coined by Johann Schonlein in 1834.
  • India has set the target to make the country TB free by 2025.

Theme of TB Day 2022:

  • Theme of 2022 is ‘Invest to End TB. Save Lives.’

About Tuberculosis:

  • Tuberculosis is an infectious disease that mostly affects the lungs of those who are sick.
  • Sneezes and coughs emit microscopic droplets into the air, which carry tuberculosis-causing bacteria from one person to another.

BRICS Vaccine R&D Centre: Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Shri Mansukh Mandaviya recently launched the BRICS Vaccine Research & Development (R&D) Center and Workshop on Vaccine Cooperation through a video conference in New Delhi, Delhi.

Key Details:

  • The launch ceremony was chaired by the Minister of Science and Technology of China Wang Zhigang.
  • Speaking at the launch, Wang Zhigang asked the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) countries to focus on promoting the fair distribution of vaccines and to increase cooperation among the BRICS countries.
  • The panel also discussed different techniques for collaborating and dealing with future pandemics.
  • India has one of the world’s largest vaccine manufacturing industries.
  • It exports vaccines to more than 150 countries meeting 65-70 percent of WHO vaccination demand.
  • It also has one of the world's largest vaccine manufacturing industries.
  • India will offer its vaccine manufacturing industry to develop vaccines for the BRICS nations as well as the rest of the world.

Significance of the Centre:

  • The R&D Centre initiative will collaborate with countries, share experiences, build collaborations for mutual benefits and accelerate the development of vaccines of public health importance.
  • This centre will also aid in the development of preclinical and clinical studies, basic R&D, and the strengthening of BRICS countries' laboratories in order to test vaccine candidates.
  • It will assist in bringing together the BRICS countries' strengths in the field of vaccine production and research, enhancing the BRICS countries' ability to control and prevent infectious illnesses.
  • The BRICS countries will also be able to assist other developing countries throughout the world in providing timely help.

Background:

  • A BRICS Vaccine R&D Centre was proposed to be established in the 2018 Johannesburg Declaration.
  • During the XIII BRICS Summit: New Delhi Declaration, 2021, the leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the early launch of the BRICS Vaccine R&D Centre.

Drone-based Mineral Exploration: India’s largest iron ore producer, National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) Ltd, recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with IIT Kharagpur for the purpose of drone-based mineral exploration.

Key points:

  • The NMDC is increasingly dependent on technical innovation and the digitization of its exploration and mining database.
  • Drones are currently used in agriculture, forestry, mining, urban planning, disaster management, surveillance, and transportation, among other industries, and the government has taken the first step in regulating and monitoring their use and operations in India.
  • Key Details:
  • With this MoU, NMDC becomes the first CPSE in India to conduct Drone-based Geophysical Surveys and Hyperspectral Studies for Mineral Exploration in the country.
  • The collaboration between NMDC and IIT-Kharagpur will open a new era in mineral exploration for the country.
  • Spectral products, algorithms and methods would be developed by IIT Kharagpur and NMDC for exploration using drones (UAV) for mining.
  • This collaboration would also lead to the development of software spectral tools for the purpose of capacity-building programs on mining technology and mineral excavation.
  • Mineral Exploration of NMDC for six decades has been exploring minerals for a wide range of minerals such as rock phosphate, copper, tungsten, diamond, magnetite, limestone,  and beach sands amongst others right from the G4 reconnaissance level to the detailed G1 level of United Nations Framework Classification for Resources (UNFC).

Where is the mineral exploration being conducted?

  • The mineral exploration is being conducted by NDMC in Madhya Pradesh as well as diamonds in Chhattisgarh’s Beloda-Belmundi block.
  • NMDC is also the first CPSE to use Space Geophysics in Central Indian Diamond Province and the first to use online monitoring of exploration of data on the BHUVAN platform.

About BHUVAN platform:

  • BHUVAN is a multi-purpose end-user satellite application platform.
  • It is also known as the Indian version of Google Maps.
  • ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) is in charge of this platform.
  • Users can explore a 2D/3D representation of the Earth’s surface with this software program.
  • The browser has been designed specifically for viewing India.
  • In comparison to other Virtual Globe Software, it provides more detailed images of Indian locations, with spatial resolutions up to 1 metre.

About NDMC:

  • The NMDC Limited is a government-owned mineral producer, under the Ministry of Steel.
  • It is the largest Iron Ore producer in India.

National Affairs Current Affairs - March 2022

National Vaccination Day 2022: National Vaccination Day (NVD) or National Immunization Day (NID) is observed every year on March 16 in India to convey the importance of vaccination and its role in public health.

Key Facts:

  • Apart from the impact in public health, the impact of vaccination  also has a social or economic impact at the community and the National level.
  • The main purpose behind the celebration of NVD is to make all people aware of arming against polio and eradicating it completely from the world.
  • NVD 2022 is also important amid the COVID-19 pandemic against which vaccine has come out to be the only solution of preventing the deadly disease.
  • In 2021, India started its biggest Covid-19 immunization programme.
  • This day also marks India’s victory against Polio disease.
  • In order to sustain the eradication, GoI organizes Pulse Polio immunization campaigns on the standards set by World Health Organization (WHO).

Theme of The National Vaccination Day 2022:

  • The National Vaccination Day 2022 theme is “Vaccines Work For All”.
  • National Vaccination Day 2022 theme highlights how vaccines work for all and save lives all around the world.

History:

  • National Immunization Day was first observed on 16th March 1995 when India started the  Pulse Polio Programme and the first dose of Oral Polio vaccine was given.
  • The last case of wild polio was reported on 13 January 2011.
  • The Pulse Polio Program in India became a huge success as on 27th March 2014, the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced India to be a ‘Polio Free Country’.
  • Following the success of the Polio Program, India began its work on vaccination against severe diseases such as TB, mumps, tetanus, and much more.

India's Vaccination Mission:

In 2014, Mission Indradhanush was launched by the Government of India under the Universal Immunization Program to better the health of mothers and children who are deprived of vaccination.

This mission aims to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of ending preventable child deaths by 2030.

The world’s largest COVID-19 vaccination program has been launched in India with an aim of vaccinating the entire population against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Significance of Immunization Day:

  • The National Immunization Day is one of the four strategies that are recommended by the WHO to eradicate polio completely. According to WHO, the NID has to be conducted twice a year at a gap of 2 to 4 weeks.
  • There are two types of vaccines that are being administered in the country.
  •  It includes IPV (Inactivated Polio Vaccine) and OPV (Oral Polio Vaccine).

What is Vaccination?

  • Vaccination or immunization Vaccination is the administration of a vaccine to help the immune system develop immunity from a disease.
  • Vaccine-induced broad immunity is largely responsible for the worldwide eradication of smallpox and the containment of diseases like polio, measles, and tetanus in large swaths of the world.
  • The information about the licensed vaccines that are currently available to prevent or add to the prevention and control of twenty-five preventable infections are given by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Gender Samwaad: the Ministry of Rural Development recently organized the third edition of ‘Gender Samwaad’.

Key Points:

  • This event was organized by the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM) as a part of Ministry’s Iconic Week celebration theme ‘Naye Bharat ki Naari’ under Amrit Mahotsava.
  • It was organized from 7th – 13th March 2022 during the week of International Women’s Day (8th March 2022).
  • Over 3000 State Mission staff of State Rural Livelihoods Missions (SRLM) and Self-Help Group (SHG) members logged in from 34 states attended the third edition of Gender Samwaad.
  • The theme for this edition was ‘Promotion of food and nutrition security through women’s collectives’.
  • The event enabled National and State Rural Livelihoods Missions (SRLM) to listen to voices from SHG women and for SRLMs to share and learn from best practices.

About Gender Samvaad:

  • Gender Samvaad is a national virtual initiative under the DAY-NRLM to generate greater awareness on the mission’s interventions across the country with a gender lens.
  • The objective of the ‘Gender Samwaad’ initiative is to generate awareness on the interventions of DAY-NRLM across India with a gender lens.

Significance of SHGs:

  • Self-Help Groups (SHGs) under the DAY-NRLM have undertaken several initiatives to combat malnutrition among their members.
  • These initiatives include assisting rural households with their livelihoods, diversification of nutrient rich food crops, increasing production, improving productivity, and so forth.
  • SHG women play an important role in social and behavior change communication (SBCC).
  • They can encourage behaviour change, provide advice on caring for low-birth-weight babies, support girls' education, healthy eating habits, micronutrient consumption, marriage at the appropriate age, and spacing between pregnancies.
  • They have played a key role in raising awareness among 5.5 crore rural households during the COVID-19 pandemic.

About DAY-NRLM:

  • DAY-NRLM (Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana – National Rural Livelihoods Mission) is a centrally sponsored programme, launched by the Ministry of Rural Development in June 2011.
  • It is the flagship program of Government of India (GoI) for promoting poverty reduction through building strong institutions of the poor, particularly women, and enabling these institutions to access a range of financial services and livelihoods.
  • It was launched as ‘Aajeevika – National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM)’ by the GoI's Ministry of Rural Development in the year 2011.
  • It was renamed as DAY-NRLM in 2015.

Objectives:-

  • To eliminate rural poverty by creating effective and efficient institutional platforms to enable the rural poor to increase their household income by means of sustainable livelihood enhancements and better access to financial services across the country.
  • To harness the innate capabilities of the poor and complements them with capacities (information, knowledge, skills, tools, finance and collectivization) to participate in the growing economy of the country.

Functions:

  • Its function involves working with community institutions through community professionals in the spirit of self-help which is a unique proposition of DAY-NRLM.

Implementation:

  • It is implemented in a Mission mode by special purpose vehicles (autonomous state societies) with dedicated implementation support units at the national, state, district and block levels, using professional human resources in order to provide continuous and long-term handholding support to each rural poor family.

Gati Shakti Cargo Terminal: Indian Railways’ first Gati Shakti Cargo Terminal was recently inaugurated in the Eastern Railway’s Asansol division.

Key Points:

  • The Asansol division of Indian Railways (IR) successfully commissioned a private siding of Maithan Power Limited at Thaparnagar, in accordance with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision “Gati Shakti” and the Ministry of Railways’ policy regarding the “Gati Shakti Multi-Modal Cargo Terminal” also known as GCT.
  • This is the first such GCT commissioned in Indian Railways since the publication of GCT policy in December 2021.
  • The Maithan Power Project began construction in 2009, and power generation began in 2011.
  • The coal required for the power plant was delivered via road, which is estimated to yield 120 inbound coal rakes every month.
  • About two to four outward rakes of Fly Ash are expected to be handled from the siding area.
  • The cargo facility is expected to boost railway earnings by roughly Rs 11 crore per month.

Significance:

  • Rail transportation is beneficial to the economy because it is the most energy efficient and cost-effective mode of transportation.
  • The commissioning of this port, as well as other similar terminals, will have a significant positive impact on the nation’s economy.

About PM Gati Shakti:

  • The Government of India (GoI) launched the ambitious Gati Shakti scheme or National Master Plan for multi-modal connectivity plan in 2021.
  • This scheme was launched with an aim of coordinated planning and execution of infrastructure projects across all key infrastructure ministries, including railways, roads, waterways, and aviation, for the planning as well as execution of national infrastructure projects including all state governments.
  • This initiative has brought together 16 ministries and departments of the Indian government, including the railways and roads.
  • It will also incorporate the infrastructure schemes of various Ministries and State Governments like Sagarmala, Bharatmala, UDAN, inland waterways, dry/land ports, and so forth.
  • Economic Zones like defence corridors, agri zones, electronic parks, industrial corridors, textile clusters, pharmaceutical clusters, fishing clusters will be covered to improve connectivity and make Indian businesses more competitive.
  • It will also leverage technology extensively including spatial planning tools with ISRO imagery developed by BiSAG-N (Bhaskaracharya National Institute for Space Applications and Geoinformatics).

India’s Solar Capacity: As of February 28, 2022, India's cumulative installed solar capacity had topped 50 GW.

Key Points:

  • India added a record 10 Gigawatt (GW) of solar energy to its cumulative installed capacity in 2021.
  • This has been the highest 12-month capacity addition, recording nearly a 200% year-on-year growth.
  • This is a milestone in India’s journey towards generating 500 GW from renewable energy by 2030, of which 300 GW is expected to come from solar power.
  • India's capacity additions place the country fifth in the world in terms of solar power deployment, accounting for approximately 6.5 percent of the global total capacity of 709.68 GW.

Challenges:

  • However, there are some areas of concern to highlight.
  • Of the 50 GW installed solar capacity
  • 42 GW comes from ground-mounted solar photovoltaic (PV) systems,
  • 6.48 GW comes from rooftop solar (RTS).
  • 1.48 GW from off-grid solar PV.
  • Despite significant growth in the installed solar capacity, solar energy's contribution to the country's power output has not kept pace. Solar power, for example, provided only 3.6 percent (50 billion units) of India's total power generation of 1390 BU in 2019-20.
  • The utility-scale solar PV sector continues to face challenges like land costs, high T&D losses and other inefficiencies, and grid integration challenges.
  • There have also been conflicts with local communities and biodiversity protection norms.
  • Also, while India has achieved record low tariffs for solar power generation in the utility-scale segment, this has not translated into cheaper power for end-consumers.

National Rail Plan (NRP) 2030: Indian Railways have prepared a National Rail Plan (NRP) for India – 2030.

  • The Plan is to create a ‘future ready’ Railway system by 2030.

Aim of NRP:

  • The NRP is aimed to formulate strategies based on both operational capacities and commercial policy initiatives to increase the modal share of the Railways in freight to 45%.
  • The objective of the Plan is to create capacity ahead of demand, which in turn would also cater to future growth in demand right up to 2050 and also increase the modal share of Railways to 45% in freight traffic and to continue to sustain it.

Key Objectives of National Rail Plan 2030:

  • Formulate strategies based on both operational capacities and commercial policy initiatives to increase the modal share of the Railways in freight to 45%.
  • Reduce transit time of freight substantially by increasing the average speed of freight trains to 50 Kmph.
  • As part of the National Rail Plan, Vision 2024 has been launched for accelerated implementation of certain critical projects by 2024 such as

1)100% electrification,

2)Multi-tracking of congested routes,

3)Upgradation of speed to 160 kmph on Delhi-Howrah and Delhi-Mumbai routes

4)Upgradation of speed to 130kmph on all other Golden Quadrilateral-Golden Diagonal (GQ/GD) routes and elimination of all Level Crossings on all GQ/GD routes.

  • Identify new Dedicated Freight Corridors.
  • Identify new High-Speed Rail Corridors.
  • Assess rolling stock requirement for passenger traffic as well as wagon requirement for freight.
  • Assess Locomotive requirement to meet twin objectives of 100% electrification (Green Energy) and increasing freight modal share.
  • Assess the total capital investment that would be required along with a periodical break up.
  • Sustained involvement of the Private Sector in areas like operations and ownership of rolling stock, development of freight and passenger terminals, development/operations of track infrastructure, etc.
  • 58 Supercritical Projects of a total length of 3,750 km costing ₹39,663 Crore and 68 Critical Projects of a total length of 6913 km costing ₹75,736 crore have been identified for completion by 2024.
  • To achieve this objective all possible financial models including Public-Private Partnership (PPP) are being considered.

This information was given by the Minister of Railways, Communications and Electronics & Information Technology, Shri Ashwini Vaishnaw in a written reply to a question in Lok Sabha on 16th March 2022.

 

Virtual Smart Grid Knowledge Centre: Recently, Union Minister for Power and New & Renewable Energy R.K. Singh along with Krishan Pal Gurjar, the Minister of State for Power launched the Virtual Smart Grid Knowledge Center (Virtual SGKC) and Innovation Park.

Key Points:

  • This Virtual SGKC was launched virtually as part of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav Programme.
  • It is the first of its kind initiative by the Union government.
  • It is located within the powergrid centre in Manesar (Haryana).
  • It seeks to be one of the leading Centers of Excellence globally to foster innovation, entrepreneurship and research in smart grid technologies.
  • The SGKC has been established by POWERGRID with support from the Union ministry of power and technical assistance from US Agency for International Development’s (USAID) for demonstration and advancement of frontier smart grid technologies.

Significance:

  • It aims to be one of the leading Centers of Excellence globally to foster innovation, entrepreneurship and research in smart grid technologies and create capacities in the power distribution sector.
  • It will enable a digital footprint of the physical setup of SGKC, the need for which was felt during Covid-19 pandemic.

About Smart Grid Knowledge Center:

  • The SGKC was established in 2018 by POWERGRID at Manesar, Haryana with support from the Ministry of Power.
  • It was established to provide utilities and other power sector players with capacity building and knowledge on the deployment of Smart Grid technologies.
  • It has working models of smart grid technology, as well as state-of-the-art training infrastructure, to provide hands-on training in this field.
  • The institution already has trained over 500 experts in the power sector on a national and international level.

What is a Smart Grid?

  • Smart Grid is an Electrical Grid with Automation, Communication and Information Technology (IT) systems that can monitor power flows from points of generation to points of consumption (even down to appliances level) and control the power flow or curtail the load in real time or near real time to match generation.
  • Smart Grids can be created by implementing efficient transmission and distribution systems, system operations, consumer integration and renewable integration.
  • Smart grid solutions allow you to monitor, measure and control power flows in real time which can help you in the identification of losses and take appropriate technical and managerial actions to stop them.

Vision for India:

  • India's vision is to transform the Indian power sector into a secure, adaptive, sustainable and digitally enabled ecosystem that provides reliable and quality energy for all with active participation of stakeholders.

The benefits of Smart Grid Implementation:

  1. Reduction in T&D losses, enhancement in peak load management, QoS and reliability are improved.
  2. Reduction in power purchase cost.
  3. Improved asset management.
  4. Increased grid visibility and self-healing grids.
  5. Renewable integration and accessibility to electricity.
  6. Increased options such as ToU tariff, DR programs, net metering.
  7. Satisfied customers and financially sound utilities etc.

Swatantrata Sainik Samman Yojana (SSSY): The Government of India (GoI) recently approved the continuation of the Swatantrata Sainik Samman Yojana (SSSY) and its components beyond 31.03.2021 for the Financial Years 2021-22 to 2025-26.

Key Highlights:

  • The total financial outlay will beRs.3,274.87 crore.
  • The Ministry of Home Affairs, led by Union Home Minister Shri Amit Shah, accepted the proposal for continuation of the SSSY.
  • Under the SSSY, freedom Fighters and their eligible dependents have been sanctioned the Swatantrata Sainik Samman Pension.
  • Currently, under SSSY, there are 23,566 beneficiaries across the country.
  • The amount of pension has been revised from time to time and Dearness Relief has also been provided since August 15, 2016.

About SSSY:

  • The Swatantrata Sainik Samman Yojana (SSSY) is a Central Scheme for granting pension to freedom fighters and their families from the Central Revenues.
  • It was introduced by the Government of India (GoI) as a gesture of respect for their contributions to the national freedom movement.
  • After their demise, pension is given to their eligible dependents viz. unemployed and unmarried daughters, spouses, and dependent parents, as per the prescribed eligibility procedure and norms

Background:

  1. The GoI introduced the ‘Ex-Andaman Political Prisoners Pension Scheme’in 1969 to honour the freedom fighters who had been incarcerated in the Cellular Jail at Port Blair.
  2. In 1972, to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of Independence, a regular scheme for grant of freedom fighters' pension was introduced.
  3. Thereafter, with effect from 1st august 1980, a liberalized scheme, namely the ‘SwatantrataSainikSamman Pension Scheme, 1980’ is being implemented.
  4. From the financial year 2017-18 onwards, the nomenclature of the Scheme has been changed as 'Swatantrata Sainik Samman Yojana'.
  5. The amount of pension has been revised from time to time and Dearness Relief is also given since 15.08.2016.

WHO Global Centre for Traditional Medicine: The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the establishment of the World Health Organization Global Centre for Traditional Medicine (WHO GCTM).

Key Points:

  • A host Country agreement was signed between the Indian Government and WHO to establish the GCTM.
  • The WHO GCTM will be established in Jamnagar, Gujarat with the help of the Government of India (GoI) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • It will be established under the Ministry of AYUSH ( Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, Sowa-Rigpa and Homoeopathy).
  • It will be the first and only global outposted centre (office) for traditional medicines.
  • A Joint Task Force (JTF) has been formed to coordinate, carry out, and monitor activities related to the establishment of this Centre.
  • The JTF is made up of delegates from the Government of India (GoI), India’s Permanent Mission in Geneva, and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Benefits:

  • The move will help to position AYUSH systems across the globe.
  • It will provide leadership on global health matters pertaining to traditional medicine.
  • It will aid in ensuring quality, safety and efficacy of traditional medicine, as well as its accessibility and sensible application.
  • It will help in developing norms, standards and guidelines, tools and methodologies for collecting data, undertaking analytics and assessing impact.
  • It will also develop specific capacity building and training programmes in the areas of relevance to the objectives and conduct training programmes in campus, residential, or web-based, and through partnerships with the WHO Academy and other strategic partners.

Other collaboration between AYUSH Ministry and WHO:

Ministry of AYUSH has collaborated with the WHO for various initiatives:

  • Developing benchmark documents on the practice of Ayurveda and Unani Systems.
  • Introducing the second module in the Traditional Medicine Chapter of the International classification of Diseases-11.
  • Developing M-yoga app.
  • Supporting the work of International Pharmacopeia of Herbal Medicine (IPHM).

The WHO-GCTM will be critical in identifying the issues that nations face in regulating traditional medicine.

Significance:

  • Traditional medicine is a crucial component of healthcare delivery systems.
  • It plays an important part in sustaining good health and well-being.
  • As the globe approaches the ten-year milestone for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2030, safe and effective traditional medicine will play a vital role in ensuring all people have access to excellent essential health care services and safe, effective, and affordable essential medicines.

National Land Monetisation Corporation (NLMC): The Union Cabinet has approved the setting up National Land Monetization Corporation (NLMC) for undertaking the surplus land monetization.

Key Points:

  • NLMC will be set up as a wholly owned Government of India (GoI) company.
  • It will be set up under the finance ministry’s administrative control.
  • It will be a lean organization with few full-time employees hired on a contract basis from the market.
  • The NLMC will have an initial authorized share capital of Rs 5000 crore and paid-up share capital of Rs 150 crore.
  • It will undertake monetization of surplus land and building assets of ‘Central Public Sector Enterprises’ (CPSEs) and other Government agencies.
  • It is also expected to own, hold, manage and monetize the surplus land and the building assets of CPSEs under the closure.
  • The proposal is in pursuance of the Budget Announcement for 2021-22.

Significance of NLMC:

  • With monetization of non-core assets, Government would be able to generate substantial revenues by monetizing unused and under-used assets.
  • It will also help carry out monetization of assets belonging to public sector firms that have closed or are lined up for a strategic sale.
  • Currently, CPSEs hold considerable surplus, unused and under used non-core assets in the nature of land and buildings.
  • For CPSEs undergoing strategic disinvestment or closure, monetization of these surplus land and non-core assets is important to unlock their value.

Structure of the NLMC:

  • NLMC’s Board of Directors will consist of eminent experts, and senior Central Government officers to enable management and professional operations of the company.
  • The chairman and the non-government directors will be appointed through a merit-based selection process.

What is Asset Monetization?

  • Asset monetization is a process that helps the government to create a new source of revenue by unlocking the economic value i.e. monetization of previously unutilized and underutilized, tangible and intangible public assets.
  • A public asset can be any property owned by a public body, roads, railways, stations, airports,  pipelines, mobile towers, transmission lines, etc. and land that remains un-utilized.
  • Monetization will also permit for the productive use of underutilized assets, as well as the initiation of new economic activities, private sector investments, the generation of financial resources for social and economic infrastructure, and the development of the local economy.

Janaushadhi Diwas Week: The Janaushadhi Diwas is being organized by the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers from 1st March to 7th March 2022.

Highlights:

  • The 4th Jan Aushadhi Diwas will be celebrated on 7th March 2022.
  • The Government of India (GoI) has set a target to increase the number of Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Kendras (PMBJKs) to 10,500 by the end of March 2025.

The theme of this week:

  • The theme of the 4th Janaushadhi Diwas is “Jan Aushadhi-Jan Upyogi”.

Objective of the Janaushadhi Diwas Week:

  • The main objective of the Janaushadhi Diwas Week is to create awareness about the benefits of Jan Aushadhi Pariyojana and the usages of generic medicines.

About PMBJP:

  • The Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP) was launched in 2008 by the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers.
  • This initiative was launched with the objective of making high-quality medicines available to all at affordable prices, especially to the poor and underprivileged, through exclusive outlets such as Jan Aushadhi Medical store.
  • It also looked to boost awareness regarding generic medicine usage within the country.
  • The scheme makes quality drugs available at affordable prices through dedicated stores selling generic medicines.
  • A public program was also started involving the govt., Private Sector, PSUs, Societies, NGOs, Co-operative Bodies, etc.
  • Three IT-enabled PMBJP warehouses are functional at Chennai, Gurugram, and Guwahati, and a fourth one is set to begin operations at Surat.
  • As of January 2022, the number of stores under this scheme has increased to 8675.
  • PMBJP's product basket includes 240 surgical instruments and 1451 drugs.
  • New nutraceuticals products and medicines such as malt-based food supplements, protein powder, protein bar, immunity bar, sanitizers, masks, oximeter, glucometer, etc. have also been launched.
  • Thirty-nine distributors have been assigned to help the delivery of medicines to remote and rural locations across India.

Swacchagraha: Ministry of Culture in collaboration with Sulabh International organized “Swacchagraha: celebrating Swachhta and Swadhinta” on 5 March 2022.

It was organized under the aegis of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav to encourage mass awareness with the core thought of “Swachhta, Swadhinta and Sulabh”.

About Swacchagraha :

  • The event was conducted in two sessions.
  • In the first session Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak, founder of Sulabh Sanitation, Social Reform & Human Rights Movement addressed the audience.
  • A special screening of the Amrit Mahotsav film was done on the occasion.
  • The event also had a panel discussion on new ideas and measures for increasing Swacchtha, Swadhinta and Sulabh along with a song and film showcase.
  • The evening session themed ‘Ek Shaam Sur, Taal aur Swachhta ke Naam’ was addressed by Chief Guest Shri Vijay Goel.
  • The event featured a performance by Dhruva –The Sanskrit Band.

Note: This is the world’s only music band that is based on India’s oldest own tradition of Vedic–gaan and Stotra–gaan in the Sanskrit language.

What is Stotra?

  • Stotra is a Sanskrit word that means "ode, eulogy or a hymn of praise."
  • It is a literary genre of Indian religious texts designed to be melodically sung, in contrast to a shastra which is composed to be recited.

National ICT Award 2020 & 2021: The Union Minister Of State (MoS) for Education Smt Annpurna Devi has given National ICT Awards to 49 teachers from all over the country.

Speech by Smt Annpurna Devi:

  • While presenting the awards, Annpurna Devi in her speech said that the NEP-2020 emphasizes the efficient use of technology in the field of teaching, which will remove the language barriers and increase access for DIVYANG students.
  • She informed that the Information and Communication Technology [ICT] intervention under Samagra Shiksha also has inclusions to provide technological upgradations to schools and Teacher Education Institutes (TEIs).
  • She also highlighted that DIKSHA, school MOOCs on SWAYAM, PMeVIDYA, ePathshala, ICT Curriculum for Teachers and Students and National Initiative for School Heads’ and Teachers’ Holistic Advancement integrated teacher training programme through online mode are among the flagship projects to bridge the digital divide.
  • She appreciated the role of teachers in nation-building and a Guru (teacher) is given the most respectful person in Indian Society.
  • The recent budget announcements by the Govt. of India have provided the impetus to each and every digital education initiative.
  • Launching of 200 DTH TV channels, 750 Virtual labs in science and mathematics, transforming teachers as digital teachers are some of the new budget announcements of our Govt. for 2022-23.

Aim of ICT Awards:

  • Recognition in the form of a National Award for ICT in Education for school teachers indirectly motivates instructors to utilize ICT extensively and significantly in their classrooms by combining content pedagogy and technology.
  • It has now been foreseen to extend this Award to Teacher Educators (School Complexes, CRCs, BRCs, BIETs, DIETs, CTEs/IASEs, SCERTs/SIEs, SIETs, SIEMAT, etc. and for the States and UTs for their best educational practices.
  • These ICT Awardees are also given the responsibility of serving as ICT Ambassadors, expanding the reach of ICT in Education through their ongoing efforts to mentor other teachers and also develop entrepreneurial skills among the students to develop a skilled workforce.

Arogya Vanam: The President of India Ram Nath Kovind, on March 1, 2022,  inaugurated a newly developed Arogya Vanam at the President’s Estate in the presence of the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi.

About Arogya Vanam :

  • The Arogya Vanam has been developed in a 6.6-acre area
  • It has been developed in the shape of a human sitting in the Yoga Mudra.
  • It consists of around 215 herbs and plants like Neem, Tulsi, Bel, Arand, Arjun, Ashwagandha and Harsingar used for therapeutic purposes in Ayurveda.
  • Some of the other features of this Vanam are water fountains, a Yoga platform, a water channel, a lotus pond and a viewpoint.
  • The concept of Arogya Vanam has been conceived with the aim of publicizing the importance of Ayurvedic plants and their benefits on the human body.
  • This Vanam will be now open for public viewing.

National Safety Day 2022: National Safety Day (NSD) is celebrated every year on the 4th of March.

Key Highlights:

  • NSD is observed to commemorate the foundation of the National Safety Council (NSC) of India.
  • The day aims to raise public awareness of all safety principles, including road safety, workplace safety, human health safety, and environmental safety.
  • The year 2022 marks 51st NSD.

The theme of NSD 2022:

Every year, this day is celebrated with a different theme.

This year, the National Safety Council of India announced the theme to be ‘Nurture young minds – Develop safety culture’.

Significance of the day:

  • National Safety Day is observed in order to ensure adequate workplace wellbeing.
  • Learning a variety of safety measures comes in handy when one faces risky situations in our life. 
  • The development of a proactive attitude not only towards safety but also towards methods for identifying workplace dangers and reducing accidents and exposure to hazardous circumstances and substances, is critical to every employee’s job satisfaction.

History of the day

  • In 1962, at the 22nd Labour Ministers' Conference recommendations were made to set up a National Safety Council (NSC) to promote accident prevention.
  • The National Safety Council was set up on 4th March 1966 by the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Government of India (GoI).
  • The idea behind this council was to create the SHE campaign.
  • The SHE campaign stands for the safety, health, and environmental movement.
  • In 1972, the Government decided to celebrate March 4th as national safety day, and it won’t be celebrated just for a day, but it will be more like an awareness week. 
  • The first National Safety Day was observed in 1972.

About National Safety Council (NSC):

  • The NSC was established by The Ministry of Labour of the Government of India (GoI) in 1966.
  • It is a non-profit tripartite body registered under the Societies Registration Act of 1860 and the Bombay Public Trust Act of 1950.
  • It was to initiate, develop and maintain voluntary campaigns on Safety, Health and the Environment (SHE) at the national level.
  • It is located in Navi Mumbai.

Activities of NSC:

 Its activities include

  1. Organizing and carrying out specialized training programs and courses, conferences, seminars and workshops;
  2. Conducting consultancy studies, such as safety audits, safety levels, hazard evaluation and risk assessments;
  3. Designing and developing HSE promotional materials and publications;
  4. Promoting Organizations to celebrate and observe various campaigns, such as National Safety Day and Week, Fire Service Week, World Environment Day and Road Safety Week.

Members:

  • Its Board of Governors consists of members from the government, employers’ organizations and trade union organizations.
  • The chairperson of the NSC is appointed by the government and is usually a prominent industrialist.

Sanctions by the US on India: Amid Russia and US conflict over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the United States has announced that the country has been looking whether to apply or waive sanctions on India for its purchase of S-400 Triumf missile defence system from Russia, under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

Key Details:

  • The latest move by the US against India has come as the country abstained from a UN vote to rebuke Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
  • The voting results that were displayed on the screens at the United Nations General Assembly showed that 141 countries had voted in favour of condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, while 5 nations were against it, with 35 countries, including India, abstaining.
  • Under CAATSA, the US can also consider sanctions against India for continuing with defence deals with Russia amid the international crisis.
  • According to CAATSA, any country working against US interests will be under sanctions.
  • Helping Russian arms sales is not in the US interest.
  • Russia has been in the dog house mainly because of annexing Crimea from Ukraine, for its role in Syria and interference in US elections.
  • The CAATSA was basically aimed at Iran, Russia and North Korea, identified as states hostile to American interests.
  • Therefore, any country purchasing the S-400 automatically comes under US sanctions.
  • India went into the $5-billion deal with Russia in 2018.
  • However, Biden Administration is yet to decide on applying sanctions on India under CAATSA.

Note: The US has already imposed sanctions on Turkey under the CAATSA for the purchase of a batch of S-400 missile defence systems from Russia.

What is CAATSA Act?

The 'Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA)' is a piece of US legislation that imposes sanctions on the American Adversaries- North Korea, the States of Iran, and Russia.

CAATSA Bill was passed back in 2017.

Provisions:

Countering Iran's Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017:

  • CAATSA requires the President to impose sanctions against:

1)Iran's ballistic missile or weapons of mass destruction programs,

2)The sale or transfer to Iran of military equipment or the provision of related technical or financial assistance, and

3)Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and affiliated foreign persons.

  • The President may impose sanctions against persons responsible for violations of internationally recognized human rights committed against individuals in Iran.
  • The President may temporarily waive the imposition or continuation of sanctions under specified circumstances.

Countering Russian Influence in Europe and Eurasia Act of 2017:

  • The President must submit for congressional review certain proposed actions to terminate or waive sanctions with respect to the Russian Federation.
  • Specified executive order sanctions against Russia shall remain in effect.
  • The President may waive specified cyber- and Ukraine-related sanctions.
  • The bill provides sanctions for activities concerning:

(1) Cyber security,

(2) Crude oil projects,

(3) Financial institutions,

(4) Corruption,

(5) Human rights abuses,

(6) Evasion of sanctions,

(7) Transactions with Russian defense or intelligence sectors,

(8) Export pipelines,

(9) Privatization of state-owned assets by government officials

(10) Arms transfers to Syria.

The Department of State shall work with the government of Ukraine to increase Ukraine's energy security.

  • The bill:

(1) Directs the Department of the Treasury to develop a national strategy for combating the financing of terrorism, and

(2) Includes the Secretary of the Treasury on the National Security Council.

  • The act had imposed new sanctions on Russia for the interference in the 2016 US elections and its involvement in Ukraine and Syria, among others.

Korean interdiction and Modernization of Sanctions Act:

  • The bill modifies and increases the President's authority to impose sanctions on persons in violation of certain United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding North Korea.
  • U.S. financial institutions shall not establish or maintain correspondent accounts used by foreign financial institutions to provide indirect financial services to North Korea.
  • A foreign government that provides to or receives from North Korea a defense article or service is prohibited from receiving certain types of U.S. foreign assistance.
  • The bill provides sanctions against:

(1) North Korean cargo and shipping,

 (2) Goods produced in whole or part by North Korean convict or forced labor,

(3) Foreign persons that employ North Korean forced laborers.

  • The State Department shall submit a determination regarding whether North Korea meets the criteria for designation as a state sponsor of terrorism.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PMAYG Dashboard: The Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana – Gramin (PMAYG) Dashboard was recently launched by the Union Minister for Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Shri Giriraj Singh.

Key Details:

  • The dashboard will be used by the Stakeholders of PMAYG including Sarpanchs of villages to Members of Parliament of constituencies, for monitoring the scheme for monitoring and managerial purpose.
  • However, the Minister has asked the officials to make the portal public in order to make it ”Aam Janta Ka Portal”.
  • The Dashboard has been developed on the lines of the Governments' policy of Zero tolerance against corruption by the National Informatics Centre (NIC) of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY).
  • This Dashboard will provide complete transparency in the implementation of the scheme.

Benefits of the Portal:

  • The Dashboard will provide End-to-End insights, catering to analytical and strategic business intelligence needs and physical & financial progress of PMAY-G scheme at a glance.
  • It will provide actionable insights that include the single screen visualization of entire physical and financial progress and state-level reports drillable to block level.
  • It will help analyze the gap and delays in the release of installments, age-wise, category-wise data analysis to find out anomalies, speed of house construction, outliers, discrepancies, etc.
  • It will further illustrate the trend analysis for sanction and completion progress using dynamic and customizable data visualization in close coordination with business users.
  • From now-onwards, the users of the Dashboard may not require to spend a large amount of time reviewing and analyzing different reports to end in a final conclusion.
  • This Dashboard will allow the user to see, at a glance, an overall situation of PMAYG and will help to get the desired information.

 About Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana-Gramin (PMAY-G):

  • Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana-Gramin (PMAY-G) was launched in 2016.
  • PMAY-G is revamped rural housing programme namely ' Indira Awaas Yojana (IAY) which was initiated in January 1996.
  • The main objective of this scheme is to provide “Housing to All” by 2024.
  • The scheme seeks to complete 2.95 crore PMAY-G houses with all basic amenities.

As of 21st February 2022, a total of 1073 crore houses have been completed against the allocated cumulative target of 2.62 crore houses.

Aim of PMAY-G:

The PMAY-G scheme aims to:

  1. Improve the speed and quality of houses construction
  2. Ensure timely release of funds to beneficiaries
  3. Direct transfer of funds to beneficiaries’ accounts
  4. Technical assistance to beneficiaries
  5. Stringent monitoring through MIS-AwaasSoft and AwaasApp.

Bhasha Certificate Selfie: The Ministry of Education (MoE) recently launched a campaign titled the "Bhasha Certificate Selfie".

Key Points:

  • Bhasha Certificate Selfie campaign has been launched to encourage cultural diversity and promote multilingualism and foster the spirit of Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat (EBSB).
  • This initiative aims to promote the Bhasha Sangam mobile app, developed by the Ministry of Education and MyGov India.
  • Using the app, people can learn 100+ sentences of daily use in as many as 22 scheduled Indian languages.
  • The initiative, under the aegis of EBSB, seeks to ensure that the country's people acquire basic conversational skills in several Indian languages.
  • To achieve this, a target of 75 lakh people acquiring basic conversational skills has been set.

About Bhasha Certificate Selfie Initiative:

  • The ‘Bhasha Certificate Selfie’ initiative encourages people to upload their selfies with the certificate using the hashtag #BhashaCertificateSelfie.
  • To receive a Ministry of Education-approved certificate, a user must first download the mobile app accessible on Android and iOS platforms. Then the user can choose any language from an inventory of twenty-two Indian languages, complete all levels, take a test, and receive the certificate.

About Bhasha Sangam mobile app:

  • Bhasha Sangam mobile app was launched on October 31, 2021, by Minister of Education and Skill Development Shri Dharmendra Pradhan while commemorating Rashtriya Ekta Diwas which is celebrated on October 31 every year to mark the birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
  • This app was launched with an aim to lay emphasis on the promotion of Indian languages.

About Bhasha Sangam Initiative:

  • Bhasha Sangam Initiative is an initiative to teach basic sentences of everyday usage in 22 Indian languages (Eighth Schedule languages).
  • It is developed by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) so that the people could acquire basic conversational skills in an Indian language other than their mother tongue.
  • It is available on DIKSHA, ePathshala and through 22 booklets

About Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat (EBSB):

  • Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat (EBSB) is an initiative of the Ministry of Education.
  • EBSB was launched in 2015.
  • It was launched with an aim to promote engagement amongst the people of different States and Union Territories (UTs) so as to enhance mutual understanding and bonding between people of diverse cultures, thereby securing stronger unity and integrity of India.
  • Every State and UT in the country would be paired with another State and UT for a time period.
  • During that time period, they would carry out a structured engagement with one another in the spheres of language, literature, festivals, cultural events, cuisine and tourism, etc.

About Eighth Schedule of the Constitution:

  • The Constitutional provisions relating to the Eighth Schedule occur in Article 344 (1) and 351 of the Constitution.
  • The languages listed under Eighth Schedule are:

1)Assamese,

2)Bengali,

3)Gujarati,

4)Hindi,

5)Kannada,

6)Kashmiri,

7)Konkani,

8)Malayalam,

9)Manipuri,

10)Marathi,

11)Nepali,

12)Oriya,

13)Punjabi,

14)Sanskrit,

15)Sindhi,

16)Tamil,

17)Telugu,

18)Urdu

19)Bodo,

20)Santhali,

21)Maithili and

22)Dogri.

Languages are added through Constitutional Amendments.

Sustainable Cities India program: The World Economic Forum(WEF) and the National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to collaborate on a jointly designed ‘Sustainable Cities India program’.

Key points:

  • The Sustainable Cities India program is aimed to create an enabling environment for cities to generate de-carbonization solutions.
  • This program intends to enable cities to decarbonize in a systematic and sustainable way that will reduce emissions and deliver resilient and equitable urban ecosystems.
  • This initiative is on the lines of India's commitment to turn net Zero by 2070 as a climate mitigation response at COP26.
  • The WEF and NIUA will adapt the Forum’s City Sprint process (CSP) and Toolbox of Solutions for decarbonization in the context of 5 to 7 Indian cities across two years.

About City Sprint process (CSP):

  • The City Sprint process (CSP) is a series of multi-sectoral, multi-stakeholder workshops involving business, government, and civil society leaders to enable decarbonization, especially through clean electrification and circularity.
  • The CSP uses the Toolbox of Solutions – a digital platform containing over 200 examples of clean electrification, efficiency and smart infrastructure best practices and case studies across buildings, energy systems and mobility from over 110 cities around the world.
  • CSP will help to jumpstart and/or accelerate net zero planning and action.
  • It will not only reduce emissions but also maximize System Value, such as improved air quality or job creation.

About WEF’s Net Zero Carbon Cities:

  • The WEF’s Net Zero Carbon Cities’ mission is to create an enabling environment for clean electrification and circularity, resulting in urban decarbonization and resilience.
  • WEF is headquartered in Cologny, Switzerland.
  • As per the WEF's Global Risks Report 2022, densely populated countries that are highly dependent on agriculture, such as India, are especially vulnerable to climate insecurity.
  • Decarbonization in cities is a real opportunity to keep global warming well below 2°C and cities in India can make an enormous contribution in reaching this goal.

About National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA):

  • The National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) was established in 1976.
  • NIUA is India’s leading national think tank on urban planning and development.
  • As a hub for the generation and dissemination of cutting-edge research in the urban sector, NIUA seeks to provide innovative solutions to address the challenges of a fast urbanizing India and pave the way for more inclusive and sustainable cities of the future.

National Strategy on Additive Manufacturing: The Minister of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) Ashwini Vaishnav, on 24th February 2022, released a National Strategy on Additive.

Key Highlights of Policy:

  • This will cater to next-generation digital manufacturing.
  • The policy aims to increase India’s share in global additive manufacturing to 5 percent within the next three years and thereto add nearly US$ 1Bn to the GDP by 2025.
  • Furthermore, India aims to achieve certain targets such as 50 India-specific technologies for material, machine and software, 100 new startups for additive manufacturing, 500 new products and 1 Lakh new skilled manpower in Additive Manufacturing (AM) sector by 2025.
  • In total, MeitY hopes that these new startups and opportunities will give jobs to at least 1 lakh new skilled workers over the next three years.

Way forward:

  • To get ahead in the additive manufacturing or 3D printing space, India must adopt it in all sectors, including in defence and public sectors.
  • An apex body that has subject matter experts and leaders from local and global industries could be established to lead the mission.

The Policy postulates the tenets of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’ and ‘Make in India’ and that advocate self-reliance through the technological transformation of the production paradigm.

Additional Info:

What is 3D Printing?

  • 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, is a method of creating a three-dimensional object layer-by-layer using a computer-created design.
  • 3D printing is an additive process whereby layers of material are built up to create a 3D part
  • This is the opposite of subtractive manufacturing processes, where a final design is cut from a larger block of material.
  • As a result, 3D printing creates less material wastage.
  • There are three broad types of 3D printing technology; sintering, melting, and stereolithography.

Sintering:

  • Sintering is a technology where the material is heated, but not to the point of melting, to create high-resolution items.
  • Metal powder is used for direct metal laser sintering while thermoplastic powders are used for selective laser sintering.

Melting:

  • Melting methods of 3D printing include powder bed fusion, electron beam melting and direct energy deposition, these use lasers, electric arcs, or electron beams to print objects by melting the materials together at high temperatures.

Stereolithography:

  • Stereolithography utilizes photopolymerization to create parts.
  • This technology uses the correct light source to interact with the material in a selective manner to cure and solidify a cross-section of the object in thin layers.

History of 3D Printing:

  1. The earliest 3D printing manufacturing equipment was developed by Hideo Kodama of the Nagoya Municipal Industrial Research Institute.
  2. He invented two additive methods for fabricating 3D models.
  3. Building on Ralf Baker's work in the 1920s for making decorative articles (patent US423647A), Hideo Kodama's early work in laser cured resin rapid prototyping was completed in 1981.
  4. His invention was expanded upon over the next three decades, with the introduction of stereolithography in 1984.
  5. Chuck Hull of 3D Systems invented the first 3D printer in 1987, which used the stereolithography process.
  6. This was followed by developments such as selective laser sintering and selective laser melting, among others.
  7. Other expensive 3D printing systems were developed in the 1990s-2000s, although the cost of these dropped dramatically when the patents expired in 2009, opening up the technology for more users.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

National Affairs Current Affairs - February 2022

G20 Secretariat: The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on 15 February 2022 approved the setting up of a G20 Secretariat and its reporting structures.

Key Highlights:

  • The Secretariat will be responsible for the implementation of overall policy decisions and arrangements needed for steering India’s forthcoming G20 Presidency.
  • India will hold the Presidency of the G20 from 1st December 2022 to 30th November 2023.
  • It will host the G20 summit in 2023.
  • G20 is the premier forum for international economic cooperation that plays an important role in global economic governance.
  • As per practice, a G20 Secretariat is being established to handle work relating to knowledge, content, technical, media, security, and logistical aspects of India’s G20 Presidency.

About G20 Secretariat:

  • The Secretariat will be functional till February 2024.
  • The G 20 Secretariat will be manned by officers and staff from the Ministries of External Affairs and Finance, and other relevant line Ministries, Departments, and domain knowledge experts.
  • It will be guided by an Apex Committee headed by Prime Minister.
  • It will comprise of Finance Minister, Home Minister, External Affairs Minister, and G20 Sherpa (Commerce & Industry, Textiles, Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Minister) to provide overall guidance to India’s G20 Presidency.
  • A Coordination Committee will also be set up to oversee all G20 preparations and report to the Apex Committee.
  • The G20 Secretariat will enable long-term capacity building, including knowledge and expertise, for India’s leadership on global issues in multilateral fora.

About G20:

  • The G20 means the Group of Twenty.
  • It is an international forum for the governments and central bank governors from 19 countries and the European Union (EU).
  • The membership of the G20 consists of 19 individual countries plus the European Union.
  • The members of the G20 group are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Republic of Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union (EU).
  • The EU is represented by the European Commission and by the European Central Bank.
  • It was established on 26 September 1999 with an aim to discuss policy pertaining to the promotion of international financial stability. 
  • The main objective of G20 is to unite world leaders around shared economic, political and health challenges.
  • The current Chairman of G20 is Joko Widodo, President of Indonesia.

Durbar Hall at Raj Bhavan: President of India, Ram Nath Kovind recently inaugurated the Durbar Hall at Raj Bhavan, situated at Malabar Hill, Mumbai.

Key Highlights:

  • President Kovind inaugurated the hall during his three-day visit to Maharashtra.
  • Earlier, the inauguration of Durbar Hall was scheduled on December 8 2021 but was postponed due to the sudden demise of General Bipin Rawat, chief of defense staff, during a helicopter crash.

About Durbar Hall:

  • The Durbar Hall was first built in 1911 to welcome the Emperor of India King George V and Empress of India Queen Mary.
  • It has political importance because it has been associated with oath-taking ceremonies of the Governors, chief ministers of the state only until 1995.
  • In 1995 Manohar Joshi took oath as the chief minister at Shivaji Park at Dadar for the first time.
  • Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray also took an oath of the position at a grand event held at Shivaji Park on November 29, 2019.
  • CM Thackeray also informed that the map of Unified Maharashtra was inaugurated here at Durbar Hall at the hands of the then prime minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.

About the new Durbar Hall:

  • The new Durbar Hall is built on the site of the old Durbar Hall.
  • It has a seating capacity of 750.
  • While retaining the heritage features of the old court hall, the new hall has been given additional features such as a balcony and a sea view gallery.

Ban on 54 Apps of Chinese Origin: The government of India (GoI) has banned 54 apps of Chinese origin citing security concerns.

Key Points:

  • Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) used its powers under Section 69a of the Information Technology Act, 2000 to enforce the latest order.
  • The government has also directed top app stores including Google’s Playstore to block these applications.

What are these new apps and why have these been banned?

  • The list of banned apps includes Beauty Camera-Selfie Camera, Sweet Selfie HD, Dual Space Lite, Viva Video Editor, Garena Free Fire – Illuminate, Tencent Xriver, Onmyoji AppLock and Arena.
  • The apps banned by MeitY are re-branded versions of apps banned by India in 2020.
  • These 54 apps were banned because they allegedly obtain critical permissions and collect sensitive data of users.
  • Collected real-time data are being misused and are being transmitted to servers located in hostile country.
  • The apps include Sea Ltd.’s marquee game Free Fire and other apps related to tech firms like Tencent, Alibaba and NetEase.

Garena Free Fire:

  • Garena Free Fire is Singapore-based and its developer is not from China.
  • Free Fire is often compared with PUBG.
  • It is among the world’s most popular mobile games.
  • This game was one of the most downloaded games in India 2021.
  • The app was already removed from App Store and Play Store in India.

Background:

  • India has blocked 321 apps, since border tensions started with China in May 2020.
  • India announced the first round of bans in June 2020, following the killing of 20 Indian soldiers in a clash with Chinese troops at Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh.
  • Since then, the government has banned Chinese apps starting with about 59 apps in the first round, including popular applications like TikTok, Shareit, WeChat, Helo, Likee, UC News, Bigo Live, UC Browser, ES File Explorer, and Mi Community.

Section 69A of the Information Technology (IT) Act:

  • Under Section 69A of the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000 provides government power to issue directions for blocking public access of any information through any computer resource.
  • This section allows the government to block websites.

FAITH 2035 Vision: The federation of Associations in Indian Tourism & Hospitality (FAITH) has recently released the FAITH 2035 vision document.

Key Points:

  • The FAITH 2035 vision has been launched commemorating the 75th year of Indian independence.
  • The vision document contains goals and an execution path for making Indian tourism preferred and loved by the world by the year 2035.
  • The report has identified 4 strategic pillars to achieving the India Tourism Vision 2035, which includes:
  1. Shared National Tourism Vision: Concurrent Status, Export Status, National Tourism Council, Unique National Tourism ID, and Sustainable Tourism
  2. Value Accretive Regulation: Competitive GST, Domestic Travel Credit, Single Window E-clearance, Seamless Tourism Transportation, and Credits based skilling
  3. Investment Driver: States Centres of Excellence, Industry Status across all States, Mega Tourism Zones, Tourism land banks, Infrastructure Sector, and Last Mile Connectivity
  4. Market Excellence: Segments of Excellence, Global Tourism Brand Ambassadors, Branding as an Investment, Short Haul International Tourism, and 12 Months Country.

Aim:

  • It aims to position tourism as a ‘Social-Economic Job and Infrastructure creator for India’.
  • It also aims to be a role model for creating a Sustainable and Inclusive Ecosystem’.

About FAITH:

  • The Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism & Hospitality (FAITH) is the policy federation of all the national associations representing the complete tourism, travel, and hospitality industry of India (ADTOI, ATOAI, FHRAI, HAI, IATO, ICPB, IHHA, ITTA, TAAI, TAFI).

Hippocratic Oath: India`s apex medical education regulator, the National Medical Commission (NMC) has suggested that the centuries-old tradition of Greek origin, the Hippocratic oath be replaced with `Charak Shapath` during the convocation with medical graduates.

Key Highlights:

  • The suggestion for the replacement of oath was made during a recent meeting of NMC, which is the regulator for medical education and practices in India.
  • Hippocratic Oath is taken in the name of Greek physician Hippocrates who is regarded as the father of modern medical science.
  • Now, the National Medical Commission is planning to bring an oath in the name of Charaka, the father of Ayurveda for replacing the Hippocratic Oath.
  • The new oath of choice is an ode to Maharshi Charaka, considered one of the principal contributors to the ancient science of Ayurveda and the author of the medical treatise, ‘Charaka Samhita’.
  • The oath can be taken in regional language too.

Oath Controversy:

This move has triggered a controversy.

  • The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has objected to NMC's suggestion that the Hippocratic oath should be replaced with ‘Charak Shapath.
  • According to IMA, Charak Shapath was not made from the viewpoint of modern medicine.
  • As per IMA oaths shall follow an international outlook. It must be beyond the views of race, caste, gender and creed.
  • The main concern of IMA is that the proposed oath will lead to exclusion of modern medicine from the global community which in turn will drag the sector backward.
  • However, NMC in favour of their move has said that modern medicine has a history of not more than 200 years while India has a rich past in medicine so it should be a matter of pride to take an oath in the name of Maharshi Chakara.

About NMC:

  • The National Medical Commission (NMC) was instituted in September 2020, when it supplanted the Medical Council of India through an act of Parliament.

About IMA:

  • Indian Medical Association (IMA) is a national voluntary organization of physicians in India.
  • It was established as the All India Medical Association in 1928.
  • In 1930, it was renamed the “Indian Medical Association”.
  • It is a society registered under “The Societies Act of India”.
  • It looks and cares after the interest of doctors or the wellbeing of the community.

About Hippocratic Oath:

  • Hippocratic Oath is an ethical code for fresh medical graduates that are believed to be written by ancient Greek physician Hippocrates.
  • This oath was revised by World Medical Association (WMA) and promoted as the Declaration of Geneva in 1948.
  • It outlines the professional duties of physicians and affirms ethical principles of the global medical profession.

About World Medical Association (WMA):

  • The World Medical Association (WMA)  is an international and independent confederation of free professional medical associations representing physicians worldwide.
  • WMA was formally established on September 18, 1947.
  • It has grown to 115 national medical associations, as of 2021.

About Hippocrates:

  • Hippocrates of Kos was an ancient Greek physician who lived during Greece's Classical period.
  • He is believed to have lived from 460 to 375 BC.
  • He believed illness has natural causes and is not due to the wrath of God.
  • He is traditionally referred to as the "Father of Medicine" in recognition of his lasting contributions to the field, such as the use of prognosis and clinical observation, the systematic categorization of diseases, or the formulation of humoural theory.
  • He has been revered for his ethical standards in medical practice, mainly for the Hippocratic Oath, which, it is suspected, he did not write.

 

ICRISAT: Prime Minister Narendra Modi kickstarted the 50th Anniversary celebrations of the International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in Patancheru, Hyderabad.

Key Highlights:

  • PM Modi also inaugurated ICRISAT’s Climate Change Research Facility on Plant Protection and ICRISAT’s Rapid Generation Advancement Facility.
  • These two facilities are dedicated to the smallholder farmers of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
  • He also unveiled a specially designed logo of ICRISAT and launched a commemorative stamp issued on the occasion.

About ICRISAT:

  • The ICRISAT (the full form is International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics) is an international organization that conducts agricultural research for rural development.
  • It conducts agricultural research for development in Asia & sub-Saharan Africa.
  • It helps farmers by providing improved crop varieties and hybrids and also helps smallholder farmers in the drylands fight climate change.
  • ICRISAT was founded in 1972 while its charter was signed by the FAO and the UNDP.  
  • It is headquartered in Patancheru, Hyderabad.

Parvatmala-National Ropeways Development Programme:  Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) recently decided to exclude ropeway projects from the scrutiny of environmental impact assessment.

Key Points:

  • This was done at the recommendation of the Expert Appraisal Committee of the Infrastructure sector.
  • MoEF&CC termed the aerial ropeway as an "environment-friendly mode of transport" in hilly areas with the least impact on the environment compared to roads and highways.
  • The Ministry stated citing a letter from August 2019 that Public utility ropeways have been excluded from the ambit of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 subject to certain conditions.
  • The Project would be taken up on the Public-private partnership (PPP) model.
  • It is to be taken up as a preferred ecologically sustainable alternative to conventional roads in difficult hilly areas.

Background:

  • Union Finance Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman in the Union Budget for 2022-23 had announced National Ropeways Development Programme – “Parvatmala” to improve connectivity in hilly areas.
  • The budget allocation for this scheme includes the creation of an institutional, financial, and regulatory framework for the technology.

About Parvatmala Scheme:

  • Parvatmala initiative is an ecologically sustainable alternative in place of conventional roads in difficult hilly areas.
  • The main aim of this project is to improve connectivity and convenience for commuters, besides promoting tourism.
  • The scheme is being presently started in regions like Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir,  Manipur and the other North-Eastern states.
  • Contracts for eight ropeway projects for a length of 60 kms would be awarded in 2022-22.

Idea behind Ropeways Infrastructure:

Cost-Effective Alternative:

  • Ropeways are an economical means of transportation since they are built in a straight route over mountainous terrain, resulting in lower land acquisition expenses.
  • As a result, while having a greater construction cost per kilometre than motorways, ropeway projects may be more cost-effective than roadways.

Faster & Better:

  • Ropeways offer an advantage over roadway projects since they can be erected in a straight line, even over mountainous terrain, because they are an aerial means of transportation.

Sustainable Alternative:

  • Ropeways can pave the way towards low dust emissions which is good for the environment.
  • Material containers can be built to prevent environmental contamination.

Last-mile connectivity:

  • Ropeways are preferably better for last-mile connectivity ease.
  • The projects using 3S (a type of cable car system) or related technologies can transport 6000-8000 passengers in the last mile.

What are the advantages of ropeway connectivity?

  • Ropeway connectivity is ideal for challenging, severe, difficult or sensitive terrain, especially the hilly areas.
  • They have long rope spans.
  • The system easily navigates around obstacles such as rivers, buildings, ravines, and roadways.
  • The Ropes that are led over towers take up little space on the ground and pose no threat to persons or animals.
  • Ropeway projects adopting 3S (a kind of cable car system) or equivalent technologies
  • This mode of transportation will provide mobility to people living in remote places.
  • It can transport 6000-8000 passengers per hour.
  • It will allow them easy access and transport to other areas.
  • Villagers and farmers in such places will be able to sell their produce in other areas, allowing them to increase their revenue.
  • Ropeway having multiple cars propelled by a single power plant and drive mechanism.
  • This saves money on both construction and upkeep.
  • The employment of a single operator for a complete ropeway reduces labour costs even more.

Nodal Ministry:

  • The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MORTH) will have responsibility for the development of ropeway and alternative mobility solutions technology, as well as construction, research, and policy in this area.
  • The Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules 1961 was revised in February 2021, allowing the Ministry to oversee the development of ropeways and alternative mobility solutions.

Central Sector scheme-SMILE: The Department of Social Justice & Empowerment is launching the Central Sector Scheme “SMILE: Support for Marginalized Individuals for Livelihood and Enterprise”.

  • The scheme will be launched by the Minister for Social Justice & Empowerment in the presence of Ministers of States (SJ&E) on 12 February 2022 at the BHIM Auditorium, Dr. Ambedkar International Centre, New Delhi.

Key Points about the scheme:

  • This umbrella scheme has been designed to provide welfare measures to the Transgender community and the people engaged in the act of begging.
  • This scheme includes two sub-schemes:

1.‘Central Sector Scheme for Comprehensive Rehabilitation for Welfare of Transgender Persons’.

2.‘Central Sector Scheme for Comprehensive Rehabilitation of persons engaged in the act of Begging’.

  • The scheme strengthens and expands the reach of the Rights that give the targeted group the necessary legal protection and a promise to a secured life.
  • It keeps in mind the social security that is needed through multiple dimensions of identity, medical care, education, occupational opportunities and shelter.

About Central Sector Scheme for Comprehensive Rehabilitation for Welfare of Transgender Persons:

The Sub-scheme - ‘Central Sector Scheme for Comprehensive Rehabilitation for Welfare of Transgender Persons’ includes the following components-

I.Scholarships for Transgender Students: Scholarships for students studying in IX and till post-graduation to enable them to complete their education.

II.Skill Development and Livelihood: Skill Development and Livelihood under PM-DAKSH scheme of the Department

III.Composite Medical Health: A comprehensive package in convergence with PM-JAY supporting Gender-Reaffirmation surgeries through selected hospitals

IV.Housing in the form of ‘GarimaGreh’: Shelter Homes ‘Garima Greh’ where food, clothing, recreational facilities, skill development opportunities, recreational activities, medical support, etc. will be provided

V.Provision of Transgender Protection Cell: Setting up of Transgender Protection in each state to monitor cases of offences and to ensure timely registration, investigation and prosecution of offences.

VI.E-Services (National Portal & Helpline and Advertisement) and other Welfare Measures.

About Comprehensive Rehabilitation of persons engaged in the act of Begging:

 The focus of the sub-scheme ‘Comprehensive Rehabilitation of persons engaged in the act of Begging’ is as follows-

I.Survey and identification: Survey and Identification of beneficiaries shall be carried out by the Implementing Agencies.

II.Mobilisation: Outreach work will be done to mobilize the persons engaged in begging to avail the services available in the Shelter Homes.

III.Rescue/ Shelter Home: The shelter homes will facilitate education for children engaged in the act of Begging and children of persons engaged in the act of Begging.

IV.Comprehensive resettlement.

In addition, Skill development and vocational training will be provided to attain capacity, capability and desirability so that they can sustain and live a life of dignity by engaging in self-employment.

Pilot projects are being initiated on Comprehensive Rehabilitation in ten cities namely Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Indore, Lucknow, Mumbai, Nagpur, Patna and Ahmedabad.

Implementation:

  • The sub-schemes will be implemented by a party consisting of National Coordinators along with a suitable team that will be created in the Ministry.
  • The qualifications of the National Coordinator, emoluments, powers and functions and line of command will be as prescribed by the Department.
  • Additionally, the components will be monitored at regular intervals by the Ministry including the Project Monitoring Unit (PMU) or any other agency/unit appointed by the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment.

Fund:

The Ministry has allocated Rs. 365 Crore for the scheme from 2021-22 to 2025-26.

 About Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment:

  • The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment is a Government of India (GoI) ministry.
  • The Ministry of Welfare adopted the name Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment in May 1998.
  • It is responsible for welfare, social justice and empowerment of disadvantaged and marginalized sections of society, including scheduled castes (SC), Other Backward Classes (OBC), Manual Scavengers, the disabled, the elderly, and the victims of drug abuse.
  • The Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment holds cabinet rank as a member of the Council of Ministers. The current minister is Virendra Kumar, who is assisted by a Minister of State, Rattan Lal Kataria, Krishan Pal Gujjar and Ramdas Athavale.

SAMRIDH Initiative: NITI Aayog, Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), and Agency for International Development (USAID) have recently announced a new partnership under the SAMRIDH initiative.

(Full form of SAMRIDH is Sustainable Access to Markets and Resources for Innovative Delivery of Healthcare)

The event announcing collaboration also witnessed the release of a paper titled ‘Reimagining Healthcare in India through Blended Finance’.

  • It offers an overview of blended finance and its role in promoting healthcare access in India.

About SAMRIDH initiative:

This new partnership aims to improve access to affordable and quality healthcare for vulnerable populations in tier-2 and tier-3 cities, and rural and tribal regions.

In 2020, USAID, IPE Global, and stakeholders from the Indian government, private sector and academia developed the innovative SAMRIDH.

The initiative blended finance facility for combining philanthropic and public funds with commercial capital, in a bid to create and rapidly scale market-based health solutions.

Under this partnership:

  • AIM and SAMRIDH have announced a Call for Proposals for healthcare innovators and entrepreneurs in India.
  • This new partnership seeks to enhance SAMRIDH’s efforts to reach vulnerable populations, leveraging AIM’s expertise in innovation and entrepreneurship.
  • It will leverage public sector resources and philanthropic capital for offsetting barriers for commercial investments across small and medium health enterprises for investing in and scale healthcare solutions.
  • The collaboration would focus on innovations across the healthcare landscape with the common goal to mount an effective response to the ongoing third wave of COVID-19.
  • It will build health system preparedness for future infectious disease outbreaks and health emergencies.
  • It will also focus on mental health solutions, by emphasizing support for healthcare providers and patients who are recovering from COVID-19 pandemic.

Significance of SAMRIDH initiative:

  • The USAID-supported SAMRIDH initiative adopts a holistic approach to provide both financial and technical support to enterprises that bring to the table unique propositions to address complex healthcare challenges.
  • SAMRIDH initiative will help in strengthening India’s health systems with sustainable business innovations and solutions.
  • This collaboration will also share the commitment of AIM and USAID for leveraging innovative financing solutions in order to unlock greater investment in healthcare services.

About USAID:

  • USAID refers to the US Agency for International Development.
  • It is an independent agency of the United States federal government. It is primarily responsible for administering civilian foreign aid and development assistance.
  • It was founded on 3rd November 1961.
  • It is headquartered in Washington, D.C., United States.
  • The current Administrator of USAID is Mark Green.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Federated Digital Identities: The Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) has recently proposed the “Federated Digital Identities” to bring 'One Digital ID' that links PAN, Aadhaar, Passport, PAN, Aadhaar.

About the Federated Digital Identities:

  • The proposal is part of the Electronics and IT Ministry’s India Enterprise Architecture 2.0 (IndEA 2.0) framework.
  • InDEA 2.0 proposes a model of Federated Digital Identities that seeks to optimise the number of digital identities that a citizen needs to have.
  • The model empowers the citizen by putting her in control of these identities and providing her the option of choosing which one to use for what purpose.
  • It gives agency to the citizens and protects privacy by design.
  • Under Federated Digital Identities a citizen’s multiple digital IDs — from PAN and Aadhaar to driving licence and passport numbers — can be interlinked, stored, and accessed via one unique ID.
  • This would eliminate the need for a repeated verification processes.
  • It would also serve as a key to a registry where all different state and Central identities could be stored.
  • Citizens can use the digital ID “for availing other third-party services through authentication and consented eKYC”.
  • The IT Ministry in the draft stated that as various government platforms across domains are being digitized, there is a tendency to create more IDs each with its own ID card, ID management, and effort to make it unique, etc,” on which stakeholder comments have been invited till February 27.

Creation of 3 kinds of digital registries:

  • Apart from a 'federated digital identity, as per the report, the Centre hopes to create three kinds of digital registries, namely Digital Identity, Digital Assets and Digital Transactions.
  • The domain architecture pattern would be most suited to be adopted by Central ministries, or by ministries that deal with concurrent or state subjects, or have substantial funding and involvement of the Central government.
  • The identity ecosystem will make it easier for citizens as government platforms across domains are digitized.

  About IndEA:

  • The IndEA was launched in 2017.
  • It aims to establish Unity in Diversity in E-Governance and to deliver governance with optimal use of ICT infrastructure.
  • The 2.0 version enables the public and private companies to build and design IT architecture beyond boundaries.
  • This version focuses on domain architecture patterns and state architecture patterns.

PM GatiShakti National Master Plan: The Union Minister for Finance & Corporate Affairs, Smt Nirmala Sitharaman, on 1st February 2022 tabled the Union Budget 2022-23 in Parliament.

PM GatiShakti National Master Plan:

  • PM Gati Shakti is driven by seven engines, namely, Roads, Railways, Airports, Ports, Mass Transport, Waterways, and Logistics Infrastructure.
  • The scope of PM GatiShakti National Master Plan will encompass these seven engines for economic transformation, seamless multimodal connectivity and logistics efficiency.
  • It will also include the infrastructure developed by the state governments as per the GatiShakti Master Plan.
  • The focus will be on planning, financing including through innovative ways, use of technology, and speedier implementation.
  • The projects pertaining to these 7 engines in the National Infrastructure Pipeline will be aligned with PM GatiShakti framework.

Road Transport:

  • PM GatiShakti Master Plan for Expressways will be formulated in 2022-23 to facilitate faster movement of people and goods.
  • The National Highways network will be expanded by 25,000 km in 2022-23.
  • An amount of Rs 20000 crore will be mobilized for National Highways Network expansion through innovative ways of financing to complement the public resources.

Seamless Multimodal Movement of Goods and People:

The data exchange among all mode operators will be brought on Unified Logistics Interface Platform (ULIP), designed for Application Programming Interface (API).

An open-source mobility stack, for organizing seamless travel of passengers will also be facilitated.

Multimodal Logistics Parks:

  • Contracts for implementation of Multimodal Logistics Parks at four locations through PPP mode will be awarded in 2022-23. 

Railways:

  • Development of new products and efficient logistics services for small farmers and Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) by the Railways.
  • One Station One Product concept to help local businesses & supply chains.
  • As a part of Atmanirbhar Bharat, 2000 Km of the railway network to be brought under Kavach, the indigenous world class technology and capacity augmentation in 2022-23.
  • 400 new generation Vande Bharat Trains to be manufactured during the next 3 years.
  • 100 PM GatiShakti Cargo terminals for multimodal logistics to be developed during the next 3 years.

Parvatmala:

  • National Ropeways Development Program, Parvatmala to be taken up on PPP mode.
  • Contracts to be awarded in 2022-23 for 8 ropeway projects of 60 Km length.

Capacity Building for Infrastructure Projects:

With technical support from the Capacity Building Commission, central ministries, state governments, and their infra-agencies will have their skills upgraded.

One Nation, One Registration:  Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, during the presentation of the Union Budget 2022 announced the establishment of the ‘One Nation, One Registration’ mechanism.

Key Points:

  • One Nation, One Registration will be established for registration from anywhere to facilitate ease of living and doing business.
  • This initiative will bring upon uniform registration process throughout the country.
  • Same process will be followed for registration of any land or vehicle or any other registration.
  • Registration can be made anywhere in the country.
  • There will be no state barriers.
  • It will adopt a 3C formula. The formula focuses on -

1. Central of Records,

2. Convenience of Records

3. Collection of Records

  • 14 – Digit unique number is to be allocated to the land.
  • The number is to be called the “Aadhaar number of the land”.
  • In order to implement the scheme, the Government of Indi (GoI) is to link the National Generic Document Registration system (NGDRS) with One Nation One Registration scheme.

About National Generic Document Registration System (NGDRS):

  • NGDRS or National Generic Document Registration System (NGDRS) is an in-house and state-specific software to assist states in property registrations.
  • NGDRS is customizable as per the specific needs and property registration rules of the States.
  • It offers services such as online document entry by the citizens, online property valuation and stamp duty calculation among others.
  • To provide, one Nation one software for registration of documents & properties to 'empower citizens', the Department developed and field-tested a NGDRS through NIC/NICSI under the broad aegis of Digital India Land Records Modernisation Programme (DILRMP).

About DILRMP:

  • The Digital India Land Records Modernization Programme (DILRMP) is a Central Sector scheme that has been extended in order to meet its original targets as well as expand its ambit with a slew of new schemes.
  • It is being implemented by the Department of Land Resources (Ministry of Rural Development).
  • The DILRMP, previously known as the National Land Record Modernization Programme (NLRMP),   was launched in 2008.
  • It was established to modernize the country's land records system.
  • The DILRMP is the amalgamation of two projects Centrally sponsored schemes namely Computerization of Land Records (CLR) and Strengthening of Revenue Administration and updating of Land Records (SRA&ULR).
  • The DILRMP has information about land use, parcel ownership, location boundaries, taxation, land value, encumbrances, etc.
  • 1,486 laws were revoked to increase ease of living.
  • 75,000 compliances were eliminated so far.
  • Under the programme, the Government of India (GoI) has so far digitized 90% of land records in the country.
  • This has been achieved in 24 States/UTs.

What are the benefits of the One Nation One registration system?

  • The One Nation One registration system will not only reduce the delay in payment but will also help in achieving a complete paperless end-to-end ebill system.
  • This will reduce issues around buying and selling of lands.
  • It provides real-time ownership of the lands.
  • It will save the valuable time of the citizens.
  • This system will reduce harassment as it will reduce the interface between government functionaries and citizens.

NAFCC: The National Adaptation Fund for Climate Change (NAFCC) was established to support adaptation activities in the States and Union Territories (UTs) of India that are vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.

Key Highlight:

  • NAFCC is implemented in project mode.
  • Till date, 30 projects are sanctioned in 27 States and UTs.
  • The NAFCC projects implemented in the states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh include activities relating to coastal areas and these projects are –

A. Promotion of integrated farming system of Kaipad in coastal wetlands of North Kerala

B. Management and rehabilitation of coastal habitats and biodiversity for climate Change Adaptation and Sustainable Livelihood in Gulf of Mannar, Tamil Nadu and

C. Climate Resilient interventions in Dairy Sector in coastal and Arid areas in Andhra Pradesh.

  • Till date, a sum of Rs. 6,35,68,108/- has been released to the State of Andhra Pradesh under NAFCC.

This information was given by Shri Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Minister of State, Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change in Rajya Sabha recently.

Important Info:

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has demarcated the Hazard Line for the entire mainland coast of India under its Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) project.

Further, Coastal Regulation Zone Notification 2019 has been notified to conserve and protect the unique environment of coastal stretches and marine areas to promote sustainable development.

About NAFCC:

  • The National Adaptation Fund for Climate Change (NAFCC) is a Central Sector Scheme.
  • NAFCC was set up in the year 2015-16.
  • The Scheme has been designed to fulfill the objectives of National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) and operationalize the State Action Plans on Climate Change (SAPCCs).
  • The overall aim of NAFCC is to support concrete adaptation activities which mitigate the adverse effects of climate change.
  • The activities under this scheme are implemented in a project mode.
  • The projects related to adaptation in sectors such as agriculture, animal husbandry, water, forestry, tourism etc. are eligible for funding under NAFCC.
  • National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) is the National Implementing Entity (NIE).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parakram Diwas: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on January 23, 2022, paid floral tributes to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose on his 125th birth anniversary in the central hall of the Parliament.

Key Highlights:

  • PM Modi wished all the countrymen a very Happy Parakram Diwas.

Note: In 2021, the Government had declared 23rd January as Parakram Diwas to commemorate the 125th birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.

  • In a first, India began its Republic Day celebrations from January 23 instead of January 24, to include Netaji's birth anniversary.
  • The Government had declared that from 2022, the Republic Day celebrations will start on Netaji's birth anniversary on January 23rd and conclude on January 30th, the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
  • A full dress rehearsal was held at Rajpat with the parade taking the same route that it will take on January 26th.

Ahead of Republic Day:

Statue of Netaji:

  • PM Modi had announced earlier on January 21st that a grand statue of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose will be installed at India Gate as a symbol of the country's "indebtedness" to him.
  • Till the statue is installed, a hologram statue of his would be present at the same place.
  • The dimension of Netaji’s statue is expected to be 28 feet in height and 6 feet in breadth.
  • It will be made of granite.
  • The hologram statue was unveiled by PM Modi on the occasion of Netaji's 125th birth anniversary.

What is a hologram?

  • It is a three-dimensional image formed by the interference of light beams from a laser or other coherent light source.
  • The hologram technology projects an image.
  • The image is projected in such a way that, it looks so realistic.
  • Also, the image appears 3D.

Merger of AJJ with NWMF: The eternal flame called the Amar Jawan Jyoti (AJJ) at the India Gate will be extinguished after 50 years and will be merged with the flame at the adjoining National War Memorial (NWM) in the run-up for Republic Day.

  • Amar Jawan Jyoti was built after Indo – Pakistani War, 1971.
  • It was built to honour the soldiers who lost their lives in the war.
  • NWM was created in 2019.

Subhash Chandra Bose Aapda Prabandhan Puraskar:

  • The Subhash Chandra Bose Aapda Prabandhan Puraskar has been set up by the central government to honour the invaluable contribution rendered by individuals and organizations in India in the field of disaster management.
  • The award is announced every year on the occasion of the birth anniversary of the iconic freedom fighter.
  • The award carries a cash prize worth Rs 51 lakh and a certificate in the case of an organization and Rs 5lakh and a certificate in the case of an individual.
  • The Subhash Chandra Bose Aapda Prabandhan Puraskar 2022 was conferred upon Gujarat Institute of Disaster Management (GIDM) and Sikkim State Disaster Management Authority’s Vice Chairman Vinod Sharma.

About Netaji Subash Chandra Bose:

  • Subhas Chandra Bose (23 January 1897 – 18 August 1945) was an Indian nationalist who defied British colonial rule.
  • He played a major role in India's freedom struggle.
  • He had set up the Azad Hind Fauj to help liberate India from the clutches of the British.
  • He became a hero among Indians, but his wartime alliances with Nazi Germany and Fascist Japan gave intimations of authoritarianism and anti-Semitism.
  • The honorific Netaji which means "Respected Leader" was first applied to Bose in Germany in early 1942 by the Indian soldiers of the Indische Legion and by the German and Indian officials in the Special Bureau for India in Berlin.
  • It is now used throughout India.
  • Netaji started a newspaper called “Swaraj”.
  • He had written a book called “The Indian Struggle”. The book covers the Indian Independence movement between 1920 and 1942.
  • The term “Jai Hind” was coined by Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.
  • With the slogan “Give me blood and I will give you freedom”, he awakened the country towards fighting against the British.

Key Points:

  • He was born into a wealthy Bengali family in Orissa.
  • The early recipient of an Anglocentric education, he was sent to take the Indian Civil Service examination in England after college.
  • He succeeded with distinction in the vital first exam but he left the studies midway citing nationalism as a higher calling.
  • He returned to India in 1921 and joined the Indian nationalist movement led by Mahatma Gandhi and the Indian National Congress.
  • He became Congress president in 1938.
  • After re-election in 1939, there were differences between him and Gandhi and Bose eventually resigned as President and was ousted from the party later.
  • He arrived in Nazi Germany in 1941 seeking German aid to free India.
  • Bose was able to acquire funds Netaji built a force known as the Azad Hind Fauj (Indian National Army) giving the slogan of “Dilli Chalo”.
  • The Azad Hind Fauj recruited Indian prisoners of war and expatriates in Europe.
  • The Azad Hind Fauz planned a land invasion of India.
  • Adolf Hitler, who had met Bose once in late May 1942 offered to arrange a submarine for Bose.
  • Bose boarded the German submarine in February 1943 and then he was transferred to a Japanese submarine from which he disembarked in Japanese-held Sumatra in May 1943.
  • With the support of the Japanese, he revamped the Indian National Army (INA).
  • A Provisional Government of Free India was declared on the Japanese-occupied Andaman and Nicobar Islands and nominally presided by Bose.
  • However, Although Bose was unusually driven and charismatic, the Japanese considered him to be militarily unskilled, and his soldierly effort was short-lived.
  • In late 1944 and early 1945, the Indian Army reversed the Japanese attack on India. Almost half the Japanese forces and the participating INA contingent were killed.
  • The remaining INA was driven down the Malay Peninsula and surrendered with the recapture of Singapore.
  • Bose is known to have escaped to Manchuria to seek refuge in the Soviet Union.
  • As per reports, he died when his overloaded plane crashed in Taiwan on August 18, 1945.
  • However, some Indians did not believe that the crash had occurred.

National Girl Child Day: National Girl Child Day is celebrated every year on 24th January.

Key Points:

  • Gender discrimination is a major problem that girls or women face throughout their life.
  • The objective behind celebrating the National Girl Child Day is to provide all support and opportunities to the girls of the country.
  • It also aims towards promoting awareness about the rights of the girl child and to increase awareness on the importance of girls’ education, and their health and nutrition.

History:

  • National Girl Child Day was first initiated in 2008 by the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
  • The main focus is on changing society’s attitude towards girls, decreasing female feticide, and creating awareness about the decreasing sex ratio.

Steps taken by the Government to improve the condition of girl child:

The government has taken several steps over the years to improve the conditions of girls and has started several campaigns and programmes.

These are -

  • Save the Girl Child,
  • Beti Bachao Beti Padhao,
  • Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana,
  • CBSE Udaan Scheme,
  • Reservation for women in colleges and universities, and
  • National Scheme of Incentive to Girls for Secondary Education.

National Girl Child 2022:

  • Ministry of Culture will organize Rangoli Utsav ‘Umang’ as part of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav.
  • In the event, it is proposed that the participating teams will make Rangoli decorations for about one kilometer of length on the roads and squares that have been named after the female freedom fighters or the female role models of the country.
  • The rangoli decorations are being done at more than 50 locations across the country.
  • The Ministry said that it would be a great opportunity to celebrate the Girl Child Day and Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav through this event.

About Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav:

  • Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’ is an initiative of the Government of India to celebrate and commemorate 75 years of progressive India and the glorious history of its people, culture, and achievements.

Portal of NIPER: Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers Dr Mansukh Mandaviya recently launched the research portal of the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research, (NIPER), in New Delhi.

Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilizers Bhagwanth Khuba and Niti Aayog member, Health, Dr V. K Paul were also present on the occasion.

Aim:

NIPER Research Portal has been created with the aim to disseminate the information about all the NIPERs and their research activities, patents filed and Publication information in one place so that industry and other stakeholders know about them.

Purpose:

  • The purpose of this portal is to authenticate the availability of the research work that is ongoing.
  • It will help other researchers and especially the industry to get in touch with the relevant organization so that they can work together and make the research more purposeful and meaningful.
  • For long, research institutes have been working in silos or isolation.
  • The research portal will try to bring together research institutions spread across different departments within government and also these institutions with industries.

About NIPER:

  • National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPERs) are a group of national-level institutes of pharmaceutical sciences in India.
  • NIPERs were established in 1998.
  • The Government of India (GoI) has declared the NIPERs as Institutes of National Importance.
  • They operate as autonomous bodies under the aegis of the Department of Pharmaceuticals, Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers.
  • They are located in 7 cities in India: Ahmedabad, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Hajipur,  Kolkata, S.A.S. Nagar and Raebareli.

Swachhata Start-Up Challenge: The Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs (MoHUA) in partnership with the Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) and Agence Française de Développement (AFD) launched the Swachhata Start-Up Challenge on 27th January 2022.

Key Points:

The official notice about this Start-Up was released in the Press Information Bureau PIB, Government of India page.

The Swachhata Start-Up Challenge has been launched for the following reasons:-

  • To provide an impetus to innovative start-ups to come forward and drive catalytic transformation in the sanitation and waste management sector.
  • In line with Hon’ble Prime Minister’s vision for ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ and ‘Make in India’ the Challenge seeks to promote an enabling environment for enterprise development under Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban 2.0 (SBM-U 2.0).
  • To capitalize on the start-up movement by providing opportunities for entrepreneurship to young innovators to create socially impactful and market-ready business solutions.

Eligibility:

The Challenge is open to start-ups registered in India and French actors collaborating with an Indian start-up (as a joint venture).

Thematic Areas:

The challenge is open across four thematic areas viz.

I.Social inclusion,

II.Zero dump (solid waste management),

III.Plastic waste management and

IV.Transparency through digital enablement.

Awards and Prizes:

  • Top 10 startups will receive ₹25 lakhs along with one year of dedicated incubation support from French Tech which is the French government’s initiative to promote start-ups.
  • The eligible startups will get additional incentives which include up to ₹ 50 Lakhs follow-on investment from Villgro, the implementation partner of the Challenge and up to 100,000 USD worth of credits and technology support from technology partner Amazon Web Services, to each winner.

73rd Republic Day: India is celebrated the 73rd Republic Day on 26 January 2022.

Key Highlights:

  • The celebrations this year are special as India is in the 75th year of Independence – being celebrated as ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’.
  • India did not have a Chief Guest this year due to the global situation arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • According to the Ministry of Defence (MoD), for the first time, an Indian Air Force (IAF) showcased a grand flypast by 75 aircraft or helicopters.
  • Again, for the first time around 480 dancers performed during the cultural programme at the parade.
  • They were selected through a nationwide Vande Bharatam dance competition.
  • A total of 24 tableaux were a part of the Republic Day parade.
  • The musical representation of India showcased its unity and diversity and portrayed how traditional meets modern, folk meets contemporary, popular meets unexplored in a melting pot of styles and rhythms.
  • Earlier, the government had dropped Abide With Me, a hymn that has been used in the Beating the Retreat ceremony since 1950 from the ceremony.
  • It has been replaced by Kavi Pradeep’s Aye Mere Watan Ke Logon, which was written in the wake of the Sino-Indian War.

Beating Retreat:

  • Beating the Retreat marks the last ceremony of the nation's Republic Day celebrations, which started on 23 January with PM Modi unveiling the hologram statue of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose at India Gate.
  • A drone show by 1,000 indigenously developed drones has been planned for the Beating the Retreat ceremony, along with projection mapping will be shown for the first time.

Republic Day:

  • Every year, Republic Day is celebrated in India on 26 January to commemorate the date on which the Constitution of India came into effect and the country became a republic.
  • This day defines the importance of having a proper constitution that all the citizens must abide by.
  • It is celebrated with festivities and patriotic fervor all around the country.
  • About the Indian constitution:
  • The Constitution of India or the Bharatiya Samvidhana is the supreme law of India.
  • The document lays down the framework demarcating fundamental political code, structure, procedures, powers, and duties of government institutions and sets out fundamental rights, directive principles, and the duties of citizens.
  • The Constitution of India was adopted by the Constituent Assembly on 26th November 1949 but came into force on 26th January 1950.

Background:

  • India became independent on the 15th of august, 1947.
  • The laws, before the enactment of the constitution, were running on the basis of the Government of India (GoI) Act 1935.
  • GoI appointed a Drafting Committee on 28th of August 1947 to draft it and Dr, B. R. Ambedkar as the Chairman of the Drafting Committee.
  • After almost 3 years, the 308 members of the Assembly, after many consultations and a few modifications finally signed a constitution on the 24th of January 1950.
  • It came into effect on the 26th of January 1950.
  • Since then, 26th January is celebrated as Republic Day in India.
  • And the Constitutional head of India, the President hoists the national flag on this day.

National Affairs Current Affairs - January 2022

Merger of AJJ with NWMF: The Amar JawanJyoti (AJJ) flame which has been burning for 50 years will be extinguished and merged with the National War Memorial flame (NWMF) in a ceremony on January 22, 2022.

Note: Amar JawanJyoti means “eternal flame.

Key Highlights:

  • The historic ceremony will be presided over by the Integrated Defence Staff chief Air Marshal BalabadhraRadha Krishna who would merge the two flames.
  • A part of the eternal flame will be carried to the National War Memorial in a solemn ceremony and then merged with the NWM flame at around 3.30 pm.
  • The ceremony will take place in the run-up to the Republic Day 2022 celebrations.

About National War Memorial (NWM):

  • The NWM was inaugurated on 25th February 2019 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
  • It is located at the ‘C’ Hexagon near India Gate.
  • It was built in memory of Indian soldiers who laid down their lives for the country in the post-Independence period.
  • The names of 25,942 brave soldiers have been inscribed in golden letters on granite tablets.
  • In a change of tradition, before the commencement of the Republic Day parade in 2020, PM Modi paid homage to fallen soldiers by laying a wreath at the flame of the immortal warrior at the NWM, instead of the AJJ at India Gate.
  • After its inauguration, all military ceremonial events were shifted from Amar JawanJyoti to the National War Memorial.

History of AJJ:

  • India Gate was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.
  • It was unveiled by Lord Irwin on February 12, 1931.
  • India Gate is a 42 metre-high structure built as the All India War Memorial Arch to honour about 84,000 Indian soldiers who died in the First World War (1914-1918) and the Third Anglo-Afghan War (1919).
  • The landmark has the names of these soldiers inscribed on it.
  • However, the original arch did not have Amar JawanJyoti.
  • The AJJ was inaugurated on January 26, 1972, by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
  • AJJ was set up after the 1971 war which paved the way for the creation of Bangladesh.
  • AJJ includes a black marble plinth, a cenotaph, which acted as a tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
  • It is a memorial symbolized by an inverted L1A1 self-loading rifle with a bayonet, on top of which was a soldier’s war helmet and an eternal flame burning beside it.
  • The AJJ is guarded day and night by soldiers from the Indian Army, Air Force and the Indian Navy.
  • The flame has been burning for 50 years, ever since it was established.
  • All tri-service chiefs and visiting delegates used to pay their respect at the Amar JawanJyoti earlier and the Prime Minister of India would also pay tribute at the site on Republic Day.

 

NCGG: A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was recently signed by The National Centre for Good Governance (NCGG), Government of India (GoI) and National Institute of Rural Development & Panchayati Raj (NIRD & PR), Hyderabad. 

  • The MoU was signed in order to promote inclusive good governance, strengthening of local institutions and effective implementation of government programmes.

Objective:

  • The main objective of this agreement is to focus on different collaborative activities by drawing upon the strengths of these two national institutions for bringing better good governance mechanisms into practice across all programmes and schemes.

About National Centre for Good Governance (NCGG):

  • The National Centre for Good Governance (NCGG) is an autonomous institute under the aegis of the Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances (DAR&PG), GoI.
  • Its head office is in New Delhi and the branch office is at Mussoorie.
  • The NCGG has been set up to assist in bringing about governance reforms through studies, training, knowledge sharing and promotion of good ideas.

Mandate:

  1. To promote Good Governance by:
  2. Conducting training at both National and International levels.
  3. Carrying out studies on issues relating to Governance.
  4. Organizing consultations, workshops to promote improved Governance.
  5. Undertaking Initiatives for citizen-centric Governance.

Origin:

  • The NCGG traces its origin to the National Institute of Administrative Research (NIAR).
  • NIAR was set up in 1995 by the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA) the Government of India's apex training Institute for higher civil services.
  • NIAR was subsequently rechristened with an expanded mandate, as National Centre for Good Governance, which was inaugurated on February 24th, 2014.

Management Committee:

  • NCGG has a Management Committee with Secretary, Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances, Government of India as the Chairperson.

SVP 2021-22: The Swachh Vidyalaya Puraskar 2021 – 2022 (SVP 2021-22) was launched virtually by the Minister of State (MoS) for Education, Subhas Sarkar.

Key Points:

  • The Swachh Vidyalaya Puraskar 2021-22 is open to all categories of schools, ranging from Government, Government aided and Private schools across both rural and urban areas.
  • This year, a total of 40 schools will be selected under the overall category at the national level.

How will the schools be assessed?

  • The schools will be assessed by an online portal & mobile app in 6 subcategories where the system will generate their overall score and rating automatically.
  • The 6 categories are -

1. Water

2. Hand washing with soap

3. Sanitation

4. Capacity Building and Behaviour Change

5.Operation & Maintenance

6.COVID-19 Preparedness and Response.

Award Money:

  • The award money, under the Samagra Shiksha scheme, has been increased from Rs 50,000 to Rs 60,000 per school.
  • In addition, 6 sub-category awards have been introduced with award money of Rs. 20,000/- per school for the first time.

About the award:

  • The Swachh Vidyalaya Puraskar (SVP) recognizes, inspires and awards schools that have undertaken exemplary work in the field of water, sanitation and hygiene.
  • The award also provides a benchmark and a roadmap for schools to make further improvements in the future.
  • SVP was first instituted by the Department of School Education & Literacy.
  • The award was first distributed in 2016-17 to create self-motivation and awareness about sanitation.

India-Mauritius Partnership: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Prime Minister of Mauritius Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, 20 January 2022, jointly inaugurated the India-assisted Social Housing Units project in Mauritius virtually on.

Key Points:

  • This project has been implemented as part of the partnership development between India and Mauritius.
  • On this occasion, the two dignitaries also took part in a virtual foundation stone laying ceremony for two other projects in Mauritius that are being undertaken under India’s development support. They are -
  1. Construction of a state-of-the-art Civil Service College that will help in skilling government officers.
  2. An 8 MW Solar PV Farm–also undertaken as part of India’s development support.
  • The ceremony included exchange of two key bilateral agreements:
  1. An agreement on extending a USD 190 million Line of Credit from India to Mauritius for the Metro Express Project and other infrastructure projects.
  2. MoU on the implementation of small development projects were also exchanged during the event.
  • The Mauritius government has decided to name one of the major metro stations the 'Mahatma Gandhi' station.

Background:

  • The Government of India (GoI) in May 2016 had extended a grant of US$ 353 mn to the Government of Mauritius as Special Economic Package (SEP) to execute five priority projects identified by the Government of Mauritius, among others.
  • These were:
  1. The Metro Express Project
  2. Supreme Court Building
  3. New ENT Hospital
  4. Supply of Digital Tablets to Primary School Children
  5. The Social Housing Project.
  • With the current inauguration of the Social Housing Project, all the high profile projects under the SEP have been implemented.
  • In 2019, Prime Minister Modi and Prime Minister Jugnauth had jointly inaugurated the Metro Express project and the New ENT Hospital in Mauritius in virtual mode.
  • Likewise, in July 2020, the new Supreme Court Building of Mauritius was also inaugurated virtually by them.

About Civil Service College project:

  • The Civil Service College project is located in Reduit.
  • It is being financed through grant support of US$ 4.74 million, under an MoU signed in 2017 during the visit of Prime Minister of Mauritius Pravind Jugnauth to India.
  • Once constructed, this will provide a fully equipped and functional facility for the civil servants of Mauritius to undertake various training and skill development programme. 
  • It will further strengthen institutional linkages with India.

About 8 MW Solar PV Farm project:

  • The 8 MW Solar PV Farm project involves the installation of 25,000 PV cells to generate approximately 14 GWh of green energy annually, to electrify approximately 10,000 Mauritian households with an estimated avoidance of 13,000 tons of CO2 emissions every year, helping Mauritius mitigate the effects of climate change.

India Mauritius Relations:

  • India and Mauritius share close ties anchored in our common history, ancestry, culture and language.
  • This is reflected in the privileged development partnership between our two countries, with Mauritius being a key development partner for India in the Indian Ocean Region.
  • Today’s event, in line with the spirit of ‘Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas, Sabka Prayas’, marks yet another milestone in this successful, time-tested partnership.

NECBDC: The North East Cane and Bamboo Development Council (NECBDC) sponsored a training programme on “Bamboo Shoot Processing and Preservation” which was conducted by the NECBDC impaneled cluster M/s Delicacies food processing Center, Meghalaya the same venue from 13th to 17th, December 2021.

The primary goal for such training is to empower the women and other rural folks to have the means to a decent livelihood.

About NECBDC:

  • North East Cane and Bamboo Development Council (NECBDC) is under the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), Govt. of India.
  • Formerly known as Cane and Bamboo Development Council (CBDC), NECBDC was incorporated with the objective of organizing the hitherto untapped bamboo sector of North East (NE) India.
  • NECBDC involves its creativity and resource in talent scouting, training, technology sourcing, and market linkage for giving a new age thrust to the age old bamboo sector.
  • It is located in Byrnihat, Assam.

Additional Info:

What are Bamboo shoots?

  • Bamboo shoots or bamboo sprouts are the edible shoots (new bamboo culms that come out of the ground) of many bamboo species including Bambusa vulgaris and Phyllostachys edulis.
  • They are used as vegetables in numerous Asian dishes and broths.

PSP-V 2.0: The external affairs ministry and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) recently signed an agreement for the second phase of the Passport Seva Programme (PSP-V2.0).

Key Highlights:

  • The PSP-V2.0 is an extension of Passport Seva Programme Version – 1 (PSP-V1.0).

Note: PSP-V1.0 is an online service that was launched under the National E-Governance Plan.

  • The Government of India (GoI) is all set to launch e-Passports very soon for citizens renewing their passport or applying for a new passport.
  • Under the second phase, a new data centre will be created.
  • Apart from that, it envisages creating a disaster recovery centre and Government Secure Repository linked to all Passport Seva Kendras (PSKs), passport offices, Post Office Passport Seva Kendra (POPSKs), and Indian missions abroad.

What is the role of TCS in PSP-V 2.0?

  • India’s largest software exporter, TCS, is likely to bring in technology for e-passports.
  • However, the authority to grant and print passports will remain with the government.

Who is designing the security features?

  • The National Informatics Centre (NIC) and Indian Security Press in Nashik are designing the security features for the e-passport. 

About PSP-V 2.0:

  • The PSP-V2.0 is a continuation and enhancement of PSP-V1.0.
  • The main objective of PSP-V 2.0 is to ensure a digital ecosystem, improve citizen interface, process overhauling & integration among different stakeholders & database, upgraded technology, as well as a stronger data security.
  • This process seeks to be transparent, accessible and reliable.
  • Under the second version, several technological upgrades are to be added.
  • This includes advanced data analytics, ChatBot, auto-response, cloud enablement and natural language processing.
  • The new version will also issue e-passports.

What are e-passports?

  • The e-passports comprise of a microchip with secure biometric data.
  • The chip carries personal details of the holder including biographical information.
  • This prevents unauthorized data access.

The objective of e-passports:

  • The main objective of providing e-passports is to make them more secure which in turn will make immigration easy.
  • It is an upgrade of the traditional passport.

Significance of PSP-V 2.0:

  • The PSP-V 2.0 will ensure a digital ecosystem; improve citizen interface, process overhauling & integration among different stakeholders & databases, upgraded technology, as well as a stronger data security.

Who is designing the security features?

  • The software for the E-Passport was developed by National Informatics Centre and IIT Kanpur.
  • The E-Passports have been designed in accordance with the ICAO standards.

Note: ICAO is International Civil Aviation Organization that was established in 1944.

ICAO operates under United Nations.

 

25th National Youth Festival: The Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi inaugurated the 25th National Youth Festival (NYF) on 12th January 2022 in Puducherry, via video conferencing.

Highlights:

  • The 5-day programme was launched on the occasion of Swami Vivekanand’s 159th birth anniversary in the virtual mode.
  • A National Youth Summit was also organized on 13th January that aims to bring diverse cultures of India and integrate them into a united thread of Ek Bharat, Shreshtha Bharat.
  • PM Modi also inaugurated a Technology Centre of the MSME Ministry, established at Puducherry with an investment of about Rs. 122 crore.
  • The role of the MSME sector is very important in creating 'Atmanirbhar Bharat'.
  • He also inaugurated the Perunthalaivar Kamarajar Manimandapam - an auditorium with an open-air theatre, constructed by the Government of Puducherry at a cost of about Rs 23 crores. The auditorium, which can accommodate more than 1000 people, would primarily be used for educational purposes.

Key Highlights of PM's address:

  • PM Modi gave the mantra of ‘compete and conquer’ during his opening remarks at the inauguration of this event.
  • He highlighted that the world looks at India’s young demography with hope & faith and India is young in its thoughts & consciousness.
  • He said that India's youth carry democratic values along with demographic dividends.
  • India considers its youths as development drivers
  • He stressed that the contributions of many freedom fighters did not get the recognition they deserved so the more the youth write and research about such individuals, the more awareness will increase in future generations of the country.

About Youth Festival 2022:

  • The festival was held on January 12 and 13, in the virtual mode because of the covid-19 pandemic.
  • NYF is being organized with the aim of shaping the minds of Indian youth and transforming them into a “united force for nation-building”.
  • This festival aims to galvanize, ignite, unite and activate the young citizenry towards nation-building, to unleash the true potential of our demographic dividend.
  • During the event, the Prime Minister unveiled selected essays on “Mere Sapno ka Bharat” and “Unsung Heroes of Indian Freedom Movement” that have been selected from submissions by over 1 lakh youth on the two themes.

National Youth Summit:

  • A National Youth Summit was also organized after the inauguration of NYF.
  • During the summit, the panel discussed four themes:
  1. Environment, climate & sustainable development goals (SDG) led growth
  2. Technology, entrepreneurship and innovation
  3. Indigenous and ancient wisdom
  4. National character, nation-building and homegrown.
  • The festival will also included idea exchange youth summit sessions which will be held with both homegrown and global icons along with experts to disseminate knowledge and shape intellect.
  • The National Youth Summit aims to bring diverse cultures of India and integrate them into a united thread of Ek Bharat, Shreshtha Bharat.

About National Youth Day/ National Youth festival:

  • National Youth Day is observed on 12th January every year to commemorate the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda.
  • The week commencing from that day is known as the National Youth Week.
  • This is also known as Yuwa Diwas.
  • The Government of India declared 12th January as the National Youth Day in 1984 to commemorate the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda who was one of the greatest social reformers, thinkers, and philosophers of India.

Note: The theme for National Youth Day 2022 is “It’s all in the mind,” key teaching of Swami Vivekananda.

  • As part of the National Youth Week celebrations, the Government of India holds the National Youth Festival every year.
  • National Youth Festival is organized by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports in collaboration with one of the States willing to host National Youth Week, i.e. from January 12th to 16th.
  • It is an annual gathering of youth with various activities.
  • The National Youth Festival began in 1995.

About Swami Vivekananda:

  • Swami Vivekanand was a great social reformer, philosopher, thinker and patriotic saint of India.
  • He was born as Narendranath Dutta on 12th January 1863 at Calcutta.
  • He was the chief disciple of the 19th-century mystic Ramakrishna Paramhansa.
  • He went on to become a key figure in the introduction of the Indian darsanas (teachings, practices) of Vedanta and Yoga to the Western world and was credited with raising interfaith awareness.
  • He established spiritual supremacy of India at the World Parliament of Religions held in Chicago in 1893.
  • He was given a standing ovation for his speech beginning with "Sisters and Brothers of Universe".
  • He established the monastic order i.e. Ramakrishna Mission in 1897, after the name of his guru. It is an organization that works in the area of value-based education, culture, health, women's empowerment, youth and tribal welfare and relief and rehabilitation.
  • He proclaimed “Renunciation and service" as the two-fold national ideals of modem India.
  • He was a spiritual precursor of India’s freedom movement.
  • Valentine Chirol author of Indian Unrest described Vivekananda’s teachings as one of the major causes of the nationalist movement in India.
  • Swami Vivekananda died on July 4, 1902, at Belur Math.

 

Water Purification: Union Minister of Science & Technology Dr. Jitendra Singh recently launched Artificial Intelligence (AI) driven Start-Up for water purification through innovative technology.

Key Highlights:

  • AI-driven start-up for water purification has been developed by an IIT Alumni.
  • The facility aims to provide clean drinking water at a price much lower price than the market price.
  • An MoU has also been signed between the Technology Development Board (TDB), a statutory body of the Department of Science & Technology, Government of India (GoI) and M/s Swajal Water Private Limited.
  • M/s Swajal Water Private Limited is a tech Start-Up company founded by ex-IITians based in Gurugram.
  • The company focuses on innovative technologies for making reliable clean drinking water accessible to communities at affordable prices.
  • Their project on IoT has enabled the use of the “Solar Water Purification Unit” for villages, slums, and High Utility Areas.

Financial Support:

  • The financial support was extended to Swajal by TDB.

Ministry’s Support:

  • Ministry of Science and Technology is committed to reaching to potential small and viable start-ups with skill and talent pool but lacking resources.

 Way Ahead to clean drinking water:

  • The Union Minister urged that apart from the Centre’s initiatives like National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) and Jal Jeevan Mission, Private Sector should come forward in a big way with state of the art tech solutions to cover nearly 14 Crore households where clean drinking water has not yet reached.
  • Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) is positively contributing to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Vision and Mission of “Har Ghar Nal Se Jal”.
  • In just two years of the JJM, more than four and a half crore families have started getting water from taps and
  • The Minister asked the CEO & Co-Founder of Swajal, Dr. VibhaTripathi to scale up this technology to help achieve India’s ambitious target of providing clean drinking water to all by 2024, as envisaged by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Heli-borne survey technology:

  • Union Minister Jitendra Singh had launched state-of-the-art Heli-borne survey technology for groundwater management in October 2021.
  • It was launched for groundwater management.
  • The technology was developed by CSIR-NGRI Hyderabad in collaboration with the union minister for Jal Shakti.
  • States of Rajasthan, Punjab, Gujarat, and Haryana are being taken up for this survey.

Clairvoyant:

  • Named ‘Clairvoyant’, the Start-up uses artificial intelligence for optimizing purification systems and predicting future breakdowns.
  • Thus, it allows managing the system remotely, updating, and repairing each system in real-time.

Water ATMs:

  • Clean drinking water solutions in Water ATMs have also been developed.
  • It combines Internet of Things technology with solar energy for providing clean drinking water.

Smart Cities, Smart Urbanization: Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA), Government of India (GoI) is organizing a series of 30 events under the clarion call of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav (AKAM) by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Independence.

Key Highlights:

  • The Ministry organized 28 iconic and impactful pre-events from 1st to 31st January 2022.
  • Activities displayed a ‘whole of government’ approach, people’s participation, the country's rich cultural heritage, innovations and future aspirations.
  • The pre-events and main event which was conducted from 1st January will be conducted until 5th February.
  • The event reflects five themes. These are

1. Freedom Struggle

2.Actions@75

3.Achievements@75

4.Ideas@75

5.Resolve@75

  • The events are designed to bring the nation together through activities that celebrate the spirit, strength and aspirations of citizens in urban India.
  • The events will culminate in a grand finale of the ‘Smart Cities, Smart Urbanization’ conference, wherein 6 main events will be organized in Surat tentatively on the 4th and 5th of February, 2022.
  • A formal release of an illustrated brochure-themed ‘Smart Cities, Smart Urbanization’ was done by Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Puri virtually.
  • He said that it is befitting that the entire country has come together to celebrate Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav.
  • He added that only 17% of Indians lived in urban areas at the time of independence and this percentage has more than doubled now.
  • He also said that the government is committed to providing first-grade living spaces to its citizens.

About Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav:

  • Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav (AKAM) is an initiative of the Government of India (GoI) to celebrate and commemorate 75 years of progressive India and the glorious history of its people, culture and achievements.
  • AKAM is dedicated to the people of India who have not only been instrumental in bringing India thus far in its evolutionary journey but also hold within them the power and potential to enable Prime Minister Modi’s vision of activating India 2.0, fuelled by the spirit of Atmanirbhar Bharat.
  • This Mahotsav is an embodiment of all that is progressive about India’s socio-cultural, political, and economic identity.
  • AKAM celebrations were inaugurated by the Hon’ble Shri Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi in March 2021 which marked a 75-week countdown to the 75th Anniversary of India's independence in August 2022.
  • The celebrations will continue till August 2023.

 

Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas 2022: The Pravasi Bhartiya Divas (PBD) also known as Non-Resident Indian Day is celebrated on 9 January every year.

On the occasion of 2022 Pravasi Bhartiya Divas (PBD), Union Minister of State for External Affairs V. Muraleedharan spoke at a virtual youth PBD conference on the “role of Indian diaspora” in innovation and new technology.

Key facts of PBD:

  • PBD commemorates the contribution of Indians living in other countries to the development of their homeland.
  • It is a day dedicated to the Indian community living in other countries that occurs every two years.
  • The day is named after Mahatma Gandhi, the greatest Pravasi and our nation's Father of the Nation.
  • PBD Convention is held in New Delhi.
  • It provides an ideal platform for the government to interact with the diaspora community who reside in several parts of the world.
  • PBD Convention is the flagship event of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and provides an important platform to engage and connect with overseas Indians.
  •  During the Convention, selected overseas Indians are also honored with the prestigious Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award to recognize their contributions to various fields both in India and abroad.
  • Regional Pravasi Bharatiya Divas is organized outside India.
  • This day plays a significant role as the overseas Indian community gets a shared platform to get them engaged with the government and the native people of the land.

History:

  • On 9 January 1915, Mahatma Gandhi returned from South Africa and became the leader of the Indian independence movement.
  • He led India’s Freedom Struggle and made India free from British or colonial rule.
  • As a Non-Resident Indian or Pravasi, he is presented as a symbol of a change and development that could bring into India.
  • As a result, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has commemorated this day every year from January 07-09 since 2003.

Aim of PBD:

This practice will bring Indians living abroad together to contribute their knowledge, expertise, and talents on a common platform. Its main aim is as follows:

  • To provide an open platform for NRIs to express their feelings, outlooks and perceptions about India.
  • To create a network of NRIs in all the countries of the world and connect the younger generation with immigrants.
  • To connect the Indian Diaspora.

Additional Info:

Some of the Government Initiative related to Overseas Indians is listed below:

  • Pravasi Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PKVY): To institutionalize the process of skill development of emigrant Indian workers.
  • Know India Program (KIP): It familiarizes Indian-origin youth (18-30 years) with their Indian roots and contemporary India.
  • Scholarship Programme for Diaspora Children (SPDC): A hundred scholarships per annum are granted to Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) and Non-Resident Indians (NRI) students for undergraduate courses.
  • VAJRA (Visiting Advanced Joint Research Faculty) scheme: It formalizes a rotation program wherein top NRI scientists, engineers, doctors, managers and professionals serve Indian public sector organizations for a brief period, lending their expertise.
  • E-migrate system: It is a foreign employer’s database. It ensures the welfare and checks on exploitation met to emigrants.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AGC: Power and new and renewable energy minister, Raj Kumar Singh recently dedicated Automatic Generation Control (AGC) to the nation.

Key Highlights:

  • The AGC sends signals to power plants every 4 seconds to maintain the frequency and thereby reliability of India’s power system.
  • It will help in achieving the government’s target of 500 GW non-fossil fuel-based generation capacities by 2030.

About Automatic Generation Control:

  • The AGC is being operated by Power System Operation Corporation (POSOCO) through National Load Despatch Centre.
  • Through AGC, NLDC (National Load Despatch Centre) sends signals to more than 50 power plants in the country every 4 seconds to maintain the frequency and reliability of the Indian Power System.
  • This will ensure more efficient and automatic frequency control for handling variable and intermittent renewable generation.

Assessment of Inertia in Indian Power System:

Shri R.K. Singh also released a report titled “Assessment of Inertia in Indian Power System” which has been prepared by POSOCO with the help of IIT Bombay.

POSOCO has been taking all measures in order to ensure that the grid frequency always remains within the 49.90-50.05 Hz (hertz) band.

India has achieved an installed capacity of 150 GW of renewable energy and aims to achieve a renewable energy capacity of 175 GW in 2022.

About POSOCO:

  • Power System Operation Corporation Limited (POSOCO) is a wholly-owned Government of India enterprise working under the Ministry of Power.
  • The organization is responsible for ensuring the integrated operation of Grid in a reliable, secure and efficient manner.
  • It comprises of 5 Regional Load Despatch Centres (RLDCs) and a National Load Despatch Centre (NLDC).

Note: POSOCO day is celebrated o 3rd January to commemorate its independent operation, which commenced on 3 January 2017, under the Ministry of Power as one of the PSU Power after the split with POWERGRID as its subsidiary.

What is automatic generation control?

 

  • In an electric power system, automatic generation control (AGC) is a system for adjusting the power output of multiple generators at different power plants, in response to changes in the load.

 

Phase-II of Green Energy Corridor: The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently approved the second phase of the Green Energy Corridor of the Intra-State Transmission system (InSTS) at a cost of Rs 12,000 crore.

Key Highlights:

  • The scheme is an addition to the Green Energy Corridor phase-1.
  • The second phase of the Green Energy Corridor will be implemented during 2021-22 to 2025-26 fiscal years.
  • This scheme has been given for InSTS for the addition of approximately 10,750 circuit kilometres of the transmission lines and approx. 27,500 Mega Volt Amperes transformation capacity of substations.
  • Eighty percent of phase one of the schemes has been completed and the outlay of the first phase was Rs. 10,142 crores.
  • The scheme will facilitate grid integration and power evacuation of approximately 20 GW of Renewable Energy power projects in seven states in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh.
  • The estimated cost of the scheme is Rs 12,031 crore, and 33% of the project cost — around Rs 3,970.3 crore — will be met as Central Finance Assistance (CFA).

Significance:

  • The second phase of the Green Energy Corridor Scheme will further contribute to the long-term energy security of India and will promote ecologically sustainable growth by reducing carbon footprint.
  • It will help in achieving the target of 450 GW installed RE capacity by 2030.
  • It will also facilitate in generating large direct and indirect employment opportunities for both the skilled and unskilled personnel.

About India’s Green Energy Corridor:

  • Green Energy Corridor is a comprehensive scheme for evacuation & integration of the renewable energy (RE) capacity addition of 32,713 MW during the 12th Plan Period.
  • The Green Energy Corridor in India aims at synchronizing the electricity produced from renewable resources, such as wind and solar, with the conventional power stations in the grid.
  • They are being set up in two phases.
  • Phase 1 of the Green Energy Corridor is already under implementation in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
  • It is working for the grid integration and power evacuation of about 24GW of Renewable Energy.
  • The second phase of the transmission corridors aims to supply 20 gig watts (GW) of Renewable Energy (RE) to the national grid from the seven states i.e., Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh.
  • The objective of the green energy corridor is to evacuate approx. 20,000 MW of large-scale renewable power and improvement of the grid in implementing states.

About Intra State Transmission System Project:

  • In 2015 – 16, the Intra State Transmission System Project was launched.
  • It delivers electricity within the state.
  • The project includes substations, transmission lines and all other associated equipment.

 

24th Conference on e-Governance 2020-21: The 24th National Conference on e-Governance was recently inaugurated in Hyderabad, Telangana.

Key Points:

  • This 2-day conference was inaugurated by Union Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Jitendra Singh.
  • The conference has been organized by the Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances (DARPG) and the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY), in association with the State Government of Telangana.
  • The conference will witness the participation of delegates from 28 states and 9 Union Territories along with academia, research institutions, IT Industry through Virtual Mode.
  • The conference includes sessions on selected themes and sub-themes, exhibitions, cultural functions and other related activities.

Theme:

  • The theme of the conference is ‘India’s Techade: Digital Governance in a Post Pandemic World’.

Sub-theme:

  • Emerging technologies
  • Universalization of public services
  • Ease of living by good governance 
  • Innovation – platformization
  • Government re-engineering
  • Participation of citizens in government processes

National Awards for e-Governance 2021:

  • During the event, National Awards for e-Governance 2021 will be presented under 6 categories to 26 e-Governance initiatives at Central, State and District levels and also to Academic and Research Institutions and Public Sector Undertakings.
  • The six categories are -
  1. Excellence in government re-engineering for digital transformation,
  2. Excellence in district level e-governance,
  3. Universalizing access to e-services,
  4. Excellent research on citizen-centric services,
  5. Use of ICT in COVID-19 management
  6. Outstanding adoption of emerging technologies.
  • This includes 12 Gold, 13 Silver and 1 Jury Award.

Significance of the conference:

  • The conference will provide considerable momentum to the e-governance initiatives across the country.
  • It provides opportunities to industries and civil servants to exhibit their successful interventions in E-Governance which in turn improves end-to-end service delivery.

 

Logo and Mascot of 25th NYF: Union Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Anurag Thakur recently unveiled the Logo and Mascot of the 25th National Youth Festival.

Key Highlights:

The 25th National Youth Festival is to be held in Puducherry from 12th -16th January 2022.

Shri Anurag Thakur also unveiled the tagline of the National Youth Festival, 'Shaksham Yuva Shashakth Yuva' meaning Capable Youth- Forceful Youth, Able Youth- Strong Youth.

About NYF:

The NYF is organized by the Government of India (GoI) every year in collaboration with one of the States from January 12th to 16th to commemorate the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda i.e. 12th January.

The basic objective of the NYF is to bring the youth of the country together in an attempt to showcase their talents in various activities to cover almost all socio-cultural aspects of life, providing an opportunity to amateur young artists to express themselves.

Note: Swami Vivekanand was a great social reformer, philosopher, thinker, and patriotic saint of India.

About National Youth Day:

  • The day is celebrated on the 12 January every year.
  • The Government of India declared 12th January as the National Youth Day in 1984 to commemorate the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda who was one of the greatest social reformers, thinkers, and philosophers of India.
  • Since then it is celebrated all over the country every year.
  • The main aim of the celebration of Youth Day is to motivate the students across the country to apply the ideas and philosophy of Swami Vivekananda in their lives so as to make a better future for India.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

National Affairs Current Affairs - December 2021

Fourth Edition of the State Health Index: NITI Aayog has released the fourth edition of the State Health Index for 2019–20. The report, titled “Healthy States, Progressive India”, ranks states and Union Territories on their year-on-year incremental performance in health outcomes as well as their overall status.

Health Index is a weighted composite score incorporating 24 indicators covering key aspects of health performance. The domains covered in the report are health outcomes, governance and information, and key inputs and processes. Each domain has been assigned weights based on its importance with higher score for outcome indicators.

In 2017, the NITI Aayog, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) and the World Bank, had initiated an annual Health Index for tracking Overall Performance and Incremental Performance on health across all states and Union Territories (UTs).

Key Points
• NITI Aayog has released the fourth edition of the State Health Index for 2019–20.
• The index is being compiled and published since 2017.
• The State Health Index is annual tool to assess the performance of states and UTs.
• Health Index is a weighted composite score incorporating 24 indicators covering key aspects of health performance.

 

The Findings
Kerala has ranked at the top in terms of overall health performance among larger states while Tamil Nadu and Telangana have emerged as the second and third best performers, respectively.

When comes to smaller statesMizoram emerged as the best performer in overall performance as well as incremental performance. Among Union territories, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu came first.

Among the ‘Larger States’, in terms of annual incremental performance, Uttar Pradesh, Assam and Telangana are the top three ranking states.

Among ‘Smaller States’, Mizoram and Meghalaya registered the maximum annual incremental progress.

Among UTs, Delhi, followed by Jammu and Kashmir, showed the best incremental performance.

All-India Mayor’s Conference: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has inaugurated an All-India Mayor’s Conference in Varanasi on December 17, 2021 through video conferencing.

 

Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath and Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri were among those present on the occasion.

 

The conference is being held in Deen Dayal Upadhyay-Business Facilitation Center (DDUTFC) located in Bada Lalpur, Uttar Pradesh.

 

The Conference has registered the participation of mayors from more than 120 cities. These mayors from various states participated in the conference whose theme is New Urban India.

Significance of the conference

The conference marks the beginning of a month-long celebration in Varanasi following the inauguration of Kashi Vishwanath Dham (KVD).

 

Inauguration of exhibition

• On the occasion, Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath and Union Minister of Urban Development Hardeep Singh Puri will inaugurate a three-day exhibition.

 

• Exhibition will be organised under the theme “Changing Urban Environment” in the TFC premises.

 

• It will be organized from December 17 to 19, 2021.

InFinity Forum: Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently inaugurated InFinity Forum through video conferencing.

 

The event was hosted by International Financial Services Centres Authority (IFSCA) under the aegis of Government of India (GoI) in collaboration with GIFT City and Bloomberg on December 3 and 4, 2021.

 

The forum witnessed the participation from over 70 countries.

 

Partner Countries of the Forum:

Indonesia, South Africa and the U.K. are partner countries in the first edition of the Forum.

Key Partners of the Forum:

NITI (National Institution for Transforming India) Aayog, Invest India, FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry) and NASSCOM (National Association of Software and Service Companies) are some of the key partners of 2021’s Forum.

Theme:

The Forum focused on the theme of ‘Beyond’ with various sub-themes.

The theme Beyond seeks to set the tone for stakeholders to think beyond conventional mindsets and approaches and discuss new trends in SpaceTech, GreenTech, AgriTech, quantum computing and more.

The sub-themes included FinTech beyond boundaries, FinTech beyond Finance, and FinTech Beyond Next, with a focus on how Quantum Computing could impact the nature of the Fintech industry in the future and promote new opportunities.

Aim:

InFinity Forum aims to bring together leading minds of the world in policy, business and technology.

 

Siddha Day: The fifth Siddha Day was celebrated by AYUSH Ministry on 23rd December.

 

Key Facts:

  • Siddha system of medicine is one of the oldest codified traditions of healthcare originated in the Indian sub-continent with many intricate, novel therapeutic interventions and treatment modalities.

 

  • Siddha system of medicine is one of the oldest codified traditions of healthcare originated in the Indian sub-continent.

 

  • The Siddha system is still being practised in the southern parts of India.

 

  • The fundamentals and principles of Siddha system largely rely upon Panchabootham, taste and three humours.

 

  • Union Ministry of Ayush observes Siddha Day on eve of Siddhar Agathiya’s birthday every year.

 

  • Siddhar Agathiya is the father of Siddha Medicine.

 

Collaboration of MoHUA, UNDP on Waste Management: Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

The agreement was signed under the Swachh Bharat Mission Urban 2.0 to strengthen the waste management sector in India.

Terms of MoU:

  • Under the terms of the MoU, the UNDP will help in setting up 75 Smart Swachhata Kendras across the country.
  • The UNDP will also help India on integrating the informal waste pickers.
  • It will assist India in linking them with government welfare schemes.
  • The MoU also included digitizing the waste flow and streamlining activities in Swachhata Kendras. It will encourage the use of machine learning and Artificial Intelligence in measures adopted under Swachh Bharat Mission Urban 2.0.
  • Also, the UNDP will work collaborate with MoHUA to promote and replicate sustainable model for waste management.

Aim:

  • The MoU was signed with an aim to help Swachh Bharat Mission Urban 2.0 to achieve its zero waste target and also to bring about improvement in the lives of informal waste pickers.
  • The MoU aims to realize the vision of “Clean Air, Clean Water, Clean Land” in urban India which is to be achieved through a circular approach based on 3R (reduce, reuse and recycle) principle.

Key focus of Swachh Bharat Mission – Urban:

  • The key focus of Swachh Bharat Mission – Urban is solid waste management.
  • It focuses on scientific processing of municipal solid waste and source segregation of waste.

Significance of the MoU:

  • The MoU will further strengthen the solid waste management.
  • It will aid India in achieving its vision of making cities “Garbage Free”.
  • It will help in achieving 100% waste processing as aimed by Swachh Bharat Mission – Urban 2.0.

About MoHUA:

  • MoHUA refers to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.
  • MoHUA  is a federal ministry of Government of India with executive authority over the formulation and administration of the rules and regulations and laws relating to the housing and urban development in India.
  • It was founded in 1952.
  • The current Minister responsible for MoHUA is Hardeep Singh Puri (Union Minister) and Cabinet Minister Kaushal Kishore, Minister of State.

About UNDP:

  • UNDP is the acronym for United Nations Development Programme. UNDP was founded on  22 November 1965.
  • It is headquartered in New York, USA.
  • It promotes technical and investment cooperation among nations and advocates for change and connects countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life for themselves.
  • The current head of UNDP is Achim Steiner.

Eighth Indian Ocean Dialogue: The eighth Indian Ocean Dialogue was held on December 15, 2021.

 

Key Takeaways

 

The eighth Indian Ocean Dialogue was jointly hosted by External Affairs Ministry and the Indian Council of World Affairs.

 

Theme:

 

The theme for this year’s edition was “Leveraging Digital Technologies for Health, Education, Development, and Trade in Indian Ocean Rim Association Member States.”

 

Key Highlights:

 

  • India has hosted the 1st and the 6th Edition of the Indian Ocean Dialogue in Kerala and New Delhi in September 2014 and December 2019 respectively.

 

  • Delivering the keynote address, Minister of State for External Affairs Rajkumar Ranjan Singh underscored the need for greater collaboration among IORA Member States for post-pandemic recovery.

 

  • He also highlighted the critical role of new and emerging technologies and re-affirmed India’s readiness to collaborate on it.

 

Importance of the Indian Ocean Rim region:

 

  • The Indian Ocean Rim region is crucial for global commerce, energy and geopolitical stability.
  • Half of the world’s container ships and two-thirds of global oil shipments pass through the region, which is home to more than 2.7 billion people.

 

About Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA):

 

  • Formerly known as the Indian Ocean Rim Initiative and the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC), the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) is an international organization consisting of 23 countries bordering the Indian Ocean.

 

  • IORA was first established in March 1995, as Indian Ocean Rim Initiative.

 

  • It was formally launched in March 1997 with the conclusion of a multilateral treaty called “Charter of the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Co-operation”.

 

  • The IORA is a regional forum, tripartite in nature, bringing together representatives of Government, Business and Academia, for promoting co-operation and closer interaction among them.

Principles of IORA:

  • IORA is based on the principles of Open Regionalism to strengthen Economic Cooperation, especially on Trade Facilitation & Investment, Promotion and Social Development of the region.

 

IORA Secretariat:

 

  • Coordinating Secretariat of IORA is situated at Ebene in Mauritius.

 

Dam Safety Bill (2019): The Rajya Sabha recently passed the landmark Dam Safety Bill (2019).

Highlights:

  • The passing of this bill has paved the way for enactment of the Dam Safety Act in the country.
  • The Dam Safety Bill (2019) was passed by the Lok Sabha on 2nd August 2019.

About the Bill:

  • The Bill provides for the surveillance, inspection, operation, and maintenance of all specified dams across the country.
  • These are dams with height more than 15 metres, or height between 10 metres to 15 metres with certain design and structural conditions.
  • It constitutes the 2 National as well as 2 State bodies. They are:
  1. National Committee on Dam Safety and National Dam Safety Authority
  2. State Committee on Dam Safety and State Dam Safety Organisation

About National Bodies:

  • The National Committee on Dam Safety functions includes evolving policies and recommending regulations regarding dam safety standards.
  • The National Dam Safety Authority functions include implementing policies of the National Committee, providing technical assistance to State Dam Safety Organizations (SDSOs), and resolving matters between SDSOs of states or between a SDSO and any dam owner in that state.

About State Bodies:

  • State Committee on Dam Safety, and State Dam Safety Organisation.
  • These bodies will be responsible for the surveillance, inspection, and monitoring the operation and maintenance of dams within their jurisdiction.

Functions of the national bodies and the State Committees on Dam Safety have been provided in Schedules to the Bill.

These Schedules can be amended by a government notification.

An offence under the Bill can lead to imprisonment of up to two years, or a fine, or both.

Satellite Institutes of National Institutions: The Government is developing the following four satellite institutes of existing National Institutes.

This information was given by Minister of Ayush Shri Sarbananda Sonowal in a written reply in Rajya Sabha.

The list is as follows:

1.

National Institute of Homoeopathy, Kolkata

National Institute of Homoeopathy, Narela, Delhi

2.

National Institute of Unani Medicine, Bangaluru

National Institute of Unani Medicine, Ghaziabad, UP

3.

National Institute of Ayurveda, Jaipur

National Institute of Ayurveda, Panchkula, Haryana

4.

All India Institute of Ayurveda, New Delhi

All India Institute of Ayurveda, Goa

Steps taken by the Government:

  • The Government has been undertaking various steps to push in R&D and innovation in Ayush.
  • The Ministry of AYUSH has setup five Research Councils as Autonomous Institute for undertaking research in Ayurveda, Homoeopathy, Unani, Siddha and Yoga and Naturopathy.
  • The research activities by the Councils are undertaken through peripheral institutes/ centers/ units all over India and also through collaborative studies with various universities, hospitals and institutes.
  • The research activities of the Councils include medicinal plant research (Medico-ethno botanical survey, pharmacognosy and tissue culture), Drug Standardization Pharmacological Research, Clinical Research Literary Research & outreach activities.
  • The Ministry of AYUSH has introduced the Scheme of Extra Mural Research in addition to the Intra Mural Research undertaken by the Research Council.
  • The purpose of this scheme is to encourage academic and research organizations to pursue research activities with related sciences like Botany, Chemistry, Pharmacy, Pharmacology etc. which will enrich scientific data and may lead to innovations having IPR Value across the country and at global level.
  • The Ministry of Ayush has also undertaken various measures for promotion of Ayush Systems of Medicines in various fields.

About Ministry of Ayush:

  • The Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, Sowa-Rigpa and Homoeopathy (abbreviated as AYUSH) is purposed with developing education, research and propagation of indigenous alternative medicine systems in India.
  • This Ministry was formed on 9 November 2014.
  • As per a recent notification published in the Gazette of India on 13 April 2021, the Ministry of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy), will now be known as the Ministry of Ayush.
  • The Ministry of Ayush includes the seven traditional systems of healthcare.
  • The current Ayush Ministers are Sarbananda Sonowal (Cabinet Minister)and Mahendra Munjapara (Minister of State).

National Minorities Rights Day 2021: The National Minorities Rights Day is observed anually on December 18 in India to uphold the right to freedom and equal opportunities for the ethnic minorities in India and create awareness about the respect and dignity of the minorities.

Key Points:

  • Since the British Rule, regarding basic human rights, India faced many obstacles.
  • However, these rights were safeguarded after the independence and for the people to be made aware of it we celebrate Minorities Rights Day on 18th December every year.

Minority Rights in India:

  • The Constitution of India provides equal rights for all citizens and adopted several measures for safeguarding the rights of linguistic, ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities.
  • Also, it takes care of those people who are economically or socially disadvantaged people irrespective of their caste, culture, and community including the people of scheduled tribes and scheduled castes.

Aim of Minority Rights Day 2021:

  • The Minority Rights Day 2021 aims to uplift all the minority sections of society and back them to voice their opinion.
  • Considering the COVID-19 pandemic, all the sessions, seminars, and debates are likely to take place digitally.

History of the day:

  • 18 December was declared as the Minorities Rights Day back in 1992 by the United Nations.
  • The UN had adopted the statement on the individual’s Rights belonging to religious or Linguistic National or Ethnic Minorities.
  • In India, it is the responsibility of the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) to carry out the events on this day.

About National Commission for Minorities (NCM):

  • The NCM was established by the Union Government under the National Commission for Minorities Act, in 1992.
  • It was established on 17 May 1993.

About Ministry of Minority Affairs:

  • Ministry of Minority Affairs:
  • It is a ministry of the Government of India (GoI).
  • It was carved out of Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
  • It was created on 29 January 2006 to ensure a more focused approach towards issues relating to the notified minority communities namely Muslim, Christian, Budhist, Sikhs, Parsis and Jain.
  • The minority religious communities in India are notified as minority communities in The Gazette of India under Section 2(c) of the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992.
  • The mandate of the Ministry includes formulation of overall policy and planning, coordination, evaluation and review of the regulatory framework and development programmes for the benefit of the minority communities.
  • The Union Minister of Minority Affairs is Shri Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.

National Mathematics Day: India observes the National Mathematics Day every year on 22 December since 2012 to commemorate the birth anniversary of Mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan.

Key Facts:

  • The year 2021 is celebrates Srinivasa Ramanujan's 134th birth anniversary of Ramanujan.
  • The main objective behind the celebration of National Mathematics Day is to make people aware of the development of mathematics and its importance in the growth of humanity.

History of National Mathematics Day:

  • The day was announced on 26 February 2012 by the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to mark the 125th anniversary of the birth of the Indian mathematical genius Srinivasa Ramanujan (22 Dec 1887- 26 Apr 1920).
  • 2012 was also observed as National Mathematics Year.
  • Ramanujan had a wealth of ideas that have transformed and reshaped 20th-century mathematics.
  • These ideas continue to shape the mathematics of the 21st century.

About SASTRA Ramanujan Prize:

  • SASTRA Ramanujan Prize is an anual prize instituted by The shanmugha Arts, Science, Technology, Research Academy (SASTRA), Tamil Nadu.
  • The award recognizes the outstanding contributions in the field of mathematics by the mathematicians not exceeding the age of 32.
  • The prize is presented at the international conference organized by SASTRA in Kumbakonam, the home town of Ramanujan around his birth anniversary i.e., 22nd December.

Note: The first SASTRA Ramanujan Prizes were jointly awarded to Professors Kannan Soundararajan (University of Michigan and Manjul Bhargava (Princetown University) on December 20, 2005.

About Srinivasa Ramanujan:

  • Srinivasa Ramanujan born Srinivasa Ramanujan Aiyangar was born on December 22, 1887 at Erode, Tamil Nadu in a Tamil Brahmin Iyengar family.
  • He was an Indian mathematician who lived during the British Rule in India.
  • Ramanujan studied at the Government College in Kumbakonam in 1903.
  • In college, he failed exams due to his negligence for non-mathematical subjects.
  • He had almost no formal training in pure mathematics but he made substantial contributions to mathematical analysis, number theory, infinite series, and continued fractions, including solutions to mathematical problems then considered unsolvable.
  • His breakthrough finally came in 1913, when Ramanujan wrote to G H Hardy.
  • The British mathematician, on realising Ramanujan’s genius wrote back to him, invited him to London.
  • Hardy then got Ramanujan into Trinity College, Cambridge and what began was a captivating saga of success.
  • During his short life, Ramanujan independently compiled nearly 3,900 results (mostly identities and equations).
  • Many were completely novel; his original and highly unconventional results, such as the Ramanujan prime, the Ramanujan theta function, partition formulae and mock theta functions, have opened entire new areas of work and inspired a vast amount of further research.
  • In 1916, he received a Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree.
  • He was elected to the London Mathematical Society in 1917.
  • Ramanujan returned to India in 1919. A year later, he breathed his last at the age of 32.

Fun Fact: The 2015 movie ‘The Man Who Knew Infinity was released based on Srinivasa Ramanujan’s biography.

Additional Info:

  • Archimedes is known as the Father Of Mathematics.
  • He lived between 287 BC – 212 BC. Syracuse, the Greek island of Sicily was his birthplace.

Kisan Diwas: National Farmers’ Day or Kisan Diwas or is celebrated across the nation on December 23 every year.

Key Facts:

  • This day is celebrated to commemorate the birth anniversary of the fifth Prime Minister of India, Chaudhary Charan Singh.
  • He brought farmer-friendly policies and worked towards the welfare of the farmers.
  • He was the fifth Prime Minister of India and served the country as Prime Minister from 28 July 1979 to 14 January 1980.
  • National Farmers Day is celebrated every year, especially in those states which are actively engaged in farming, such as Punjab, Haryana,Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, among others.

History:

  • In 2001, the Government of India declared December 23, the day Chaudhary Charan Singh was born, to be celebrated as National Farmers’ Day and for all the right reasons.
  • A memorial dedicated to him was built at Raj Ghat and is called ‘Kisan Ghat.’
  • He played an important role in raising issues of the small and marginal farmers.

About Chaudhary Charan Singh:

  • Chaudhary Charan Singh, born on 23 December 1902, was the Kisan Leader who served the country for a very short period, from July 28, 1979, to January 14, 1980.
  • Historians and people alike frequently refer to him as the 'champion of India's peasants.'
  • In the 1950s, he drafted and ensured the passage of revolutionary land reform laws. In 1959, he first opposed the then PM Jawaharlal Nehru’s ‘socialistic and collectivist land politics.’
  • In 1967, he defected from the Congress and became the first non-Congress Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh.

National Affairs Current Affairs - November 2021

Cancellation of Three Farm Laws: Three farm laws at the heart of massive farmer protests across the country for over a year will be withdrawn, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said.

“While apologizing to the nation, I want to say with a sincere and pure heart that maybe something was lacking in our tapasya (dedication) that we could not explain the truth, as clear as the light of the diya, to some of our farmer brothers. But today is Prakash Parv, not the time to blame anyone. Today, I want to tell the country that we have decided to repeal the three farm laws,” PM Modi said in an address to the nation.

Thousands of farmers had camped at Delhi’s borders since last November for the cancellation of these farm laws.

The announcement to repeal the three farm laws came on a day Sikhs are celebrating the birth anniversary of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak.

 

In his nationally-televised address, Mr Modi said the farm laws were brought for the welfare of farmers, especially small farmers, in the interest of the agriculture sector. “But despite several attempts to explain the benefits to the farmers, we have failed. On the occasion of Guru Purab, the government has decided to repeal the three farm laws,”

Farmers in Punjab and Haryana are celebrating the news.

 All-India Mayor’s Conference: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has inaugurate an All-India Mayor’s Conference in Varanasi on December 17, 2021 through video conferencing.

Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath and Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri were among those present on the occasion.

The conference is being held in Deen Dayal Upadhyay-Business Facilitation Center (DDUTFC) located in Bada Lalpur, Uttar Pradesh.

The Conference has registered the participation of mayors from more than 120 cities. These mayors from various states participated in the conference whose theme is New Urban India.

 

Significance of the conference
The conference marks the beginning of a month-long celebration in Varanasi following the inauguration of Kashi Vishwanath Dham (KVD).

Inauguration of exhibition
• On the occasion, Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath and Union Minister of Urban Development Hardeep Singh Puri will inaugurate a three-day exhibition.
• Exhibition will be organised under the theme “Changing Urban Environment” in the TFC premises.
• It will be organized from December 17 to 19, 2021.

Russia Annual Summit: On December 6, 2021, Russia President Vladimir Putin paid a visit to India for the 21st India – Russia Annual summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. During his visit, India and Russia signed 28 agreements. Some of them were semi – confidential. Thus, the Ministry of External Affairs did not release all of its details.

Putin’s visit to India lasted less than five hours. However, his ministers had arrived a day earlier to participate in the inaugural 2+2 ministerial meeting and hold bilateral talks, including the meeting of the intergovernmental commission on military and technical cooperation.

About the Summit

• Reserve Bank of India and Bank of Russia have signed a pact in the field of responding to cyberattacks.
• The leaders agreed that both the countries share common perspectives on the situation in Afghanistan. They agreed to implement a bilateral roadmap created to act upon Afghanistan.
• The Inter – Governmental Commission on Military and Military – Technical Cooperation was held. This commission was established in2000.

 

Discussions during the summit
• The leaders discussed on International North – South Transport Corridor and also about the Chennai – Vladivostok Eastern Maritime Corridor (which is under proposal).
• Russia welcomed the “Delhi Declaration on Afghanistan”.
• India congratulated Russia on joining as an observer in NAM. And Russia congratulated India for its membership at the United Nations Security Council.

Key Takeaways

• The “Special and Previleged Strategic Partnership” between the countries is getting stronger.
• The visit of Russian President is a reflection of the country’s commitment to its ties with India. This is in need of the moment. Because, the ties between India and Russia were buffeted by New Delhi’s ties with the US. Also, Russia was getting closer with China on the back of US sanctions, CAATSA and its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.
• Also, ahead of Putin’s visit, India and Russia held the 2+2 dialogue. It was held between the external affairs minister and defence ministers of the countries. During the dialogue, the countries signed several military agreements. Under the agreement, India and Russia agreed to manufacture the Russian AK-203 in Amethi, Uttar Pradesh. Around 6 lakh rifles are to be manufactured. Through this, India will move ahead in its self – reliant path.

National Milk Day: The National Milk Day to commemorate the birth centenary of Dr Verghese Kurien is being celebrated on 28 November 2021.

Key points

• Every year since 2014, November 26 is celebrated as National Milk Day to commemorate the birthday of Dr Verghese Kurien, known as “Father of India’s White Revolution.”

• November 26, 2021 marks the 100th birth anniversary of Dr Verghese Kurien

 

• His contribution to the dairy industry has earned Dr Verghese Kurien the moniker of the ‘Milkman of India.’

National Milk Day-Historical Background
All the dairy majors of India along with Indian Dairy Association resolved in 2014 to observe National Milk Day on November 26 to pay tribute to Dr. Verghese Kurien. November 26 is the birthday of Dr Kurien.

Who was Dr Verghese Kurien?
Dr Verghese Kurien is known as ‘Father of the White Revolution’ in India. He was a social entrepreneur. He led Operation Flood, which is the largest agricultural dairy development programme worldwide. This operation made India the largest milk producer of the world, from a milk-deficient country. This movement doubled the milk available per person as well as increased milk output four-time, in some 30 years.

Man Behind Amul’s success

Dr Kurien played a significant role in formation of Amul. It broke the local trade cartel 65 years ago. This, it paved way for dairy co-operative sector to flourish in Gujarat. Dr Kurien served the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF) in between 1973 to 2006.

Objective of National Milk Day
The National Milk Day is observed with the objective of providing information regarding the need and importance of milk in human’s life. Milk is the first food that a child consumes after the birth. It is perhaps the food consumed throughout life.

Recipient of several awards
Dr Verghese Kurien was a recipient of several awards, including the Padma Vibhushan (1999), World Food Prize (1989), Krishi Ratna (1986), Padma Bhushan (1966), Padma Shri (1965), Ramon Magsaysay Award (1963) etc.

• World Milk Day is observed on 1 June every year by the United Nations.

National Press Day: Celebrated every year on 16th November as a mark to commemorate the presence of an independent and responsible press in India, National Press Day also marks the establishment of Press Council of India as well as a day it started operating as a statutory and quasi-judicial establishment.

Press Council of India acts as a moral watchdog for the Indian press. It ensures that the credibility of journalism remains intact in India.

The duty of PCI is to regulate, check and monitor all journalistic activities in the country.

Since the press is considered the fourth pillar of democracy, it is a truism that press and media has a very big responsibility in helping India evolve as a vibrant and egalitarian democracy. Journalists and members of the press act as a mirror to the society. They bring out the truth with no fear or favour for or against any governmental agency or private entity.

 

History of the National Press Day
National Press Day is celebrated in India as a day to commemorate the establishment of the Press Council of India (PCI). Proposal to set up Press Council of India (PCI) was put first in 1956 at a Press Commission’s meeting where PCI was envisioned as an independent watchdog of the press. Following several discussions, PCI came into being on November 16, 1966. Since then, PCI has been working as an agency to monitor quality of reportage provided by Indian Press.

Theme of national press day
Theme for National Press Day 2021 is ‘Who is Not Afraid of Media?’

E-Amrit: E-Amrit is a one-stop destination for all information on electric vehicles–busting myths around the adoption of EVs

India has launched ‘E-Amrit’, a web portal on electric vehicles (EVs), at the ongoing COP26 Summit in UK’ Glasgow..

According to a statement issued by the NITI Aayog, E-Amrit is a one-stop destination for all information on electric vehicles–busting myths around the adoption of EVs, their purchase, investment opportunities, policies and subsidies.

What is e-AMRIT Portal?

 

e-AMRIT portal stands for “Accelerated e-Mobility Revolution for India’s Transportation”. The portal has been developed and hosted by NITI Aayog under a collaborative knowledge exchange programme with the UK government and as part of the UK–India Joint Roadmap 2030, signed by the Prime Ministers of the two countries.

Aim of the portal
The e-AMRIT portal was launched with the aim of creating awareness regarding electric mobility in India. It has been developed as a ‘one-stop site’ containing all the information regarding adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) in India.

Which devices can be used to access the portal?
The web portal can be accessed using different devices like PCs, mobile phones, screen readers and tablets.

Purpose of e-AMRIT Portal
The e-AMRIT portal aims to assist electric vehicle users or electric vehicle adopters to:

  1. Switch to electric vehicles by offering insights on electric vehicle technologies, insurance options, types of electric vehicles and financing options.
  2. Set up electric vehicle or associated enterprise by means of providing details on key initiatives of central and state governments.
  3. Assess benefits of electric vehicles with designed tools for determining users’ savings with electric vehicles as compared to petrol or diesel vehicles.
  4. Get all information regarding Indian electric vehicle market and industry.
    Significance of e-AMRIT Portal
    The e-AMRIT portal will accelerate initiatives of the government to raise awareness on electric vehicles. It will sensitize people on benefits of adopting electric vehicles. It acts as an accelerator of change and influence millions of users.

In the recent past, India has taken many initiatives to accelerate the decarbonisation of transport and adoption of electric mobility in the country. Schemes such as FAME and PLI are especially important in creating an ecosystem for the early adoption of EVs.

NITI Aayog intends to add more features and introduce innovative tools to make the portal more interactive and user-friendly.

Whistle-Blower Portal: The Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA), a PSU under the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy, has launched a ‘whistle-blower Portal’, as a part of ‘Vigilance Awareness Week 2021’.

Key Points:

  • The Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) is a PSU under the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy.
  • IREDA has launched a ‘whistle-blower Portal’, as a part of ‘Vigilance Awareness Week 2021’.
  • Through this portal, IREDA employees can raise concerns related to fraud, corruption, abuse of power, among others.
  • Through this portal, IREDA employees can raise concerns related to fraud, corruption, abuse of power etc. The portal has been developed by IT Team of the company.
  • The portal was launched by Pradip Kumar Das, Chairman & Managing Director (CMD), IREDA and Praveen Kumari Singh, Additional Secretary, Central Vigilance Commission (CVC).
  • Launching the portal, Das highlighted that Whistle-blower portal is a part of a IREDA’s “zero tolerance” of corruption.
  • Reiterating the Good and Clean Governance policy of the company, he stressed the importance of transparency and procedural fairness.
  • Singh extended her compliments for launching of the portal by IREDA.
  • On this occasion, latest issue of Vigilance journal ‘Pahal’ was also released by IREDA.

UNESCO Executive Board: India has won re-election to the executive board of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) for the term of 2021-2025 at the UNESCO’s 41st General Conference held in Paris, France on November 17, 2021.

With 164 votes, India was elected to the UNESCO’s highest executive body along with China, Japan, Viet Nam, the Philippines, and Cook Islands that represent Group IV of Asian and Pacific States

Key Points

• India was re-elected with 164 votes.

• Among Group IV Asian & Pacific States, Japan, Vietnam, Philippines, Cook Islands and China were also elected.

UNESCO Executive Board:

UNESCO Executive Board is one of the three constitutional organs of UNESCO (the others being the General Conference and the Secretariat).

The Executive Board is elected by the General Conference.

The board acts under the authority of General Conference.

It examines the programme of work for organisation and corresponding budget estimates, which is submitted by Director-General.

The board comprises of 58 member-states, each having a four-year term of office.

About United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO):

UNESCO is a specialised agency of United Nations (UN).

It aims to promote world peace & security through international cooperation in education, science, arts, and culture.

It comprises of 193 member states and 11 associate members besides partners in intergovernmental, non-governmental, and private sector.

The agency is headquartered at World Heritage Centre in Paris, France. Apart from that, it has 53 regional field offices and 199 national commissions which facilitate its global mandate.

History of UNESCO:

UNESCO was founded in 1945 by succeeding the League of Nations’ International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation. Its constitution establishes the goals, operating framework and governing structure of the agency.

UNESCO’s Program:

UNESCO works across five major program areas namely, education, social or human sciences, natural sciences, culture and communication or information. It sponsors projects to improve literacy, protect independent media, provide technical training & education, and promote cultural diversity.

Fifth East Asia Summit (EAS) Conference: The fifth edition of EAS Conference on Maritime Security Cooperation is being held in Kolkata on 23-24 November 2021. The event is being organized by India in partnership with Australia. Apart from the two governments, organizers include the ASEAN-India Centre (AIC) at Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS) in collaboration with National Maritime Foundation (NMF) and the Research Centre for East and North East Regional Studies, Kolkata (CENERS-K).

The fourth edition of EAS Conference on Maritime Security Cooperation was held in Chennaiin 2020.

The first Conference was organized in New Delhi in November 2015, the second in Goa in November 2016 and the third in Bhubaneswar in June 2018.

During the conference, experts from both government and academia from the EAS participating countries is deliberating upon various aspects of maritime security cooperation under four thematic sessions, namely Maritime Security; Resource and Information Sharing; Science and Technology Cooperation; and Pandemic and Disaster Risk Reduction and Management. The event will conclude with a panel discussion on the Way Forward.

The EAS is composed of 18 members- the ten ASEAN countries (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Las, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam) along with Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Russia and the United States.

Since its establishment in 2005, the East Asia Summit has been playing an important role in the regional architecture of Asia-Pacific. India is committed to strengthening EAS as an ASEAN-led organization.

Top Aspirational Districts in Education Sector: The Central government think tank NITI Aayog has announced the top five most aspirational districts in education sector.

NITI Aayog has announced the top five most improved aspirational districts in the education sector for the month of September. Bhoopalpalli in Telangana tops the ranking. It is followed by Chatra and Sahibganj in Jharkhand, Nuapada in Odisha and Jaisalmer in Rajasthan. This is as per NITI Aayog’s delta rankings.

• The Central government think tank NITI Aayog has ranked the most improved aspirational districts in the education sector for September month.

• As per NITI Aayog’s delta rankings in education sector, Bhoopalpalli in Telangana has topped the list of aspirational districts in India in the education sector for the month of June 2021.

• The other districts among the top-5 are Chatra & Sahibganj in Jharkhand, Nuapada in Odisha and Jaisalmer in Rajasthan.

Overall ranking

• In the Delta ranking 2021 for September month, Baramulla district in north Kashmir has secured 3rd rank among aspirational districts, in a significant development.

• Ranchi and Chatra districts in Jharkhand were ranked at 1st and 2nd position respectively.

• Wayanad in Kerala secured 4th and Shrawasti district in UP secured 5th spot.

What is Delta Ranking?

The ‘delta ranking’ for the aspirational districts measures the incremental progress made by aspirational districts of India across six developmental areas of health and nutrition, education, agriculture and water resources, financial inclusion, skill development, and basic infrastructure.

Significance of the ranking:

These rankings are a yardstick of incremental progress in developmental indices like health & nutrition, agriculture & financial inclusion and water resource.

Aspirational Districts Programme:

Aspirational District Programme was launched by prime minister Narendra Modi in January 2018. The programme is implemented by NITI Aayog with the help of several stakeholders for improving the living standards of people in aspirational districts. This programme was launched with the aim of bringing rapid transformation in districts that have made comparative progress across key social sectors.

Launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in January 2018, the Aspirational Districts programme aims to quickly and effectively transform 112 most under-developed districts across the country.

India and Senegal: On 5th of November in the Senegalese capital of Dakar INDIA and the African nation signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on health and medicine as both countries celebrates the 60th years of their diplomatic ties.

The agreement was signed during the two-day visit (November 4-5) of India’s minister of state for external affairs V Muraleedharan to Senegal.

V Muraleedharan also co-chaired the Third Joint Commission Meeting.

A commemorative postal stamp was also released by the minister to mark the 60th years of India Senegal diplomatic ties.

The MoU entails collaboration including in Disease Surveillance, Medical Research, Drugs and Pharma, medical equipment & Traditional Medicine.

About Senegal:

  • Senegal, officially the Republic of Senegal, is a country in West Africa.
  • It is a unitary presidential republic and is the westernmost country in the mainland of the Old World, or Afro-Eurasia.
  • It owes its name to the Senegal River, which borders it to the east and north. 
  • Senegal is bordered by Mauritania in the north, Mali to the east, Guinea to the southeast, and Guinea-Bissau to the southwest.
  • Senegal's economic and political capital is Dakar.
  • The currency used here is West African CFA franc.
  • The current President of Senegal is Macky Sall.

India and Bhutan: With a view to increasing trade connectivity, India and Bhutan will have seven additional entry and exit points for trade.

Key Takeaways:

 The decision to have seven more entry and exit points was taken in a commerce secretary-level meeting that was held on trade and transit issues between both the countries.

• While Indian side was led by BVR Subrahmanyam, Secretary of Department of Commerce under the Ministry of Commerce & Industry, the Bhutanese side was led by Dasho Karma Tshering, Secretary of Ministry of Economic Affairs, in Government of Bhutan.

 

Trade between India and Bhutan

The trade between India and Bhutan has more than doubled since 2014. It has reached one thousand 83 million dollar in 2020-21 from 484 million dollar in 2014-15.

Agenda of the meeting:

• Extensive discussions on the current trade and transit issues took place during the meeting.

• Issues of mutual interests and measures to strengthen the bilateral trade relations were discussed.

• Discussions were held to increase trade connectivity between both the countries.

• Both sides also formalised seven additional entry or exit points, through a Letters of Exchange.

What are seven entry or exit points?

Seven entry or exit points include-

• Nagarkata Land Customs Station without commodity restriction

• Agartala Land Customs Station

• Pandu port at Guwahati Steamerghat. It is subject to cross border control at Dhubri

• Jogighopa port. This port is also subject to cross border control at Dhubri.

• Asian Highway 48 that connects Torsha Tea Garden in India with Ahllay in Bhutan. This highway acts as an additional route corresponding to the Land Customs Station at Kamardwisa, Jaigaon and Birpara.

Cyber Security Grand Challenge: The winners of the Cyber Security Grand Challenge will be felicitated by the Union minister for electronics and IT Ashwini Vaishnaw and Union Minister of State for Electronics & IT, Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Rajeev Chandrasekhar today.

Cyber Security Grand Challenge is the first of its kind cyber security challenge to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in the country.

The winner of the Cyber Security Grand Challenge is entitled for a prize money of INR One Crore while the 1st runner-up and 2nd runner-up will win INR 60 lakh and INR 40 lakh respectively.

A unique feature of this challenge is that the IPR of the product being developed as part of the challenge will be owned by the respective start-up.

The Cyber Security Grand Challenge was launched by the MeitY in collaboration with the Data Security Council of India as a way to promote innovation and to motivate the growth and expansion of Indian cyber security products.

National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG): The first day of Ganga Utsav (The River Festival 2021) witnessed the registration of National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) in the Guinness Book of World Records for recording the highest number of photos of handwritten notes that were uploaded on the social media platform in an hour on the very first day of Ganga Utsav 2021.

Ganga Utsav 2021
5th edition of Ganga Utsav, event to celebrate the glory of river Ganga, virtually started with fun and festivities. The festival will celebrate the glory of river Ganga as well as other rivers of India.

About Ganga Utsav
Ganga Utsav is celebrated by the National Mission for Clean Ganga, which is implemented by the National Ganga Council (NGC). It is a three-day festival, promoting engagement of the stakeholders. It also encourages public participation. The event is celebrated through storytelling, folklores, dialogues with eminent personalities, quizzes, music & dance performances and displaying traditional art forms, exhibitions & photo galleries.

What is the purpose of Ganga Utsav?
Ganga Utsav is celebrated with the objective of connecting different people to rejuvenate the river. It seeks to solve the sensitive ecological issues through conversations.

 

Where is Ganga Utsav celebrated?
The Ganga Utsav is celebrated across the banks of the river. For instance, in Prayagraj, it is celebrated at the confluence of River Ganga & River Yamuna. In Ujjain, it is celebrated on River Shipra.

Key Takeaways
• It was registered in the Guinness Book because record numbers of photos of handwritten notes were uploaded on Facebook in an hour.
• The Ganga Utsav event was organised to raise awareness on Ganga rejuvenation as well as to provide impetus to the reach of the event.

National Affairs Current Affairs - October 2021

BSRMS: 

The University Grants Commission has issued notification recognizing Bachelor of Sowa Rigpa Medicine and Surgery (BSRMS) under the specified Degrees.

Note: Sowa Rigpa is a traditional and popular medicinal practice in the Himalayan region.

Key Points:

  • It was issued in a gazette notification on 14th of October 2021.
  • As per the notification, UGC has recognized BSRMS as a new degree under Medicine & Surgery, Ayurveda, Unani, Homeopathy and Health & Allied Sciences, Pharmacy, Paramedical and Nursing.
  • Duration of the degree will be of minimum of five years and Ten plus Two (102) is fixed as entry qualification.
  • So far, only two deemed to be universities, Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies (CIHTS) located in Saranath and namely Central Institute of Buddhist Studies (CIBS) in Leh are offering the degree in Sowa Rigpa medicine.
  • With UGC recognition, any university could offer BSRMS degree in their colleges.

Significance:

  • This recognition would surely help practicing and in preserving the traditional Sowa Rigpa medicinal practices.

National Research Institute of Sowa Rigpa (NRISR):

  • The National Research Institute for Sowa- Rigpa(NRISR) at Leh, Ladakh was established by the Ministry of AYUSH in 2009.
  • The current Director of NRISR is Dr. Padma Gurmet.

About Sowa Rigpa:

Sowa Rigpa is a traditional system of medicine practiced in the Himalayan belt of India.

The father of Sowa Rigpa is believed to be Yuthog Yonten Gonpo from Tibet.

It is popularly practiced in countries namely, India, Bhutan, Nepal, Mongolia, and Russia.

The majority of theory and practice of Sowa-Rigpa is similar to “Ayurveda”.

The basic theory of Sowa-Rigpa may be indicated in terms of the following five points:

  • The body in disease as the locus of treatment.
  • Antidote, i.e., the treatment.
  • The method of treatment through antidote.
  • Medicine that cures the disease.
  • Materia Medica, Pharmacy & Pharmacology.

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CII-Future Tech 2021: The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) recently organized an International Conference and Exhibition on Digital technologies, “Future Tech 2021- a Journey of digital transformation to technology adoption and acceleration”.

Highlights:

Future Tech 2021 has been organized from October 19 to 27, 2021.

The inaugural session was virtually attended by Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Minister of State in the Ministry of Electronics & IT, Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship.

Theme:

The focus theme of the International conference  is “Driving technologies for building the future, we all can trust”

The theme will have 5 pillars: Strategy, Growth, Resilience, Inclusiveness, Trust.

Significance:

The International conference will serve as a platform for Indian industry and entrepreneurs to understand the nuances of technologies and identify the right approach and technologies for their business as well as B2B partnerships.

About Confederation of Indian Industry (CII):

The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) is a non-governmental trade association and advocacy group.

CII was founded in 1895.

CII engages business, political, academic, and other leaders of society to shape global, regional, and industry agendas.

It is a membership-based organization.

It is headquartered in New Delhi, India.

The current Director-General (DG) is Chandrajit Banerjee.

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Indian Telegraph Right of Way (Amendment) Rules, 2021: The Indian government recently notified “Indian Telegraph Right of Way (Amendment) Rules, 2021” for incorporating provisions related to nominal one-time compensation and uniform procedure for establishment of overground telegraph line in the Indian Telegraph Right of Way Rules, 2016.

Key Highlights:

Under the amended rules, the government has fixed a cap of Rs 1,000 per km as the amount of one-time compensation for the establishment of an overground telegraph line.

The Amendment Rules have simplified the documentation process for Right of Way (RoW) application for overground telegraph line.

Earlier, RoW rules covered only underground Optical Fibre Cable (OFC) and mobile towers.

As per the Amendment Rules, there will not be any other fee other than the administrative fee and restoration charges to establish, repair, maintain, transfer, shift, or work the underground and overground telegraph infrastructure.

How has the Amendment Rules eased permission procedures?

As per the rules, these amendments will aid in easing RoW related permission procedures for establishing and augmentation of digital communications infrastructure across India.

With a robust pan India digital infrastructure, new rules will also help in bridging the digital divide between rich & poor and rural & urban areas.

Significance:

These amendments will ease Right of Way related permission procedures for establishment and augmentation of Digital Communications Infrastructure across the country.

New rules have a provision of strengthening e-governance and financial inclusion.

It not only seeks to bring in ease of doing businesses but will also fulfil the information and communication needs of citizens as well as enterprises.

The Amendment Rules as a part of the Gati Shakti National Master Plan stipulates that necessary infrastructure is to be built at the lowest logistical costs, stated Cellular Operators Association of India.

With the Amended rules, the clarity for laying overhead Optical Fibre Cable (OFC) will also be available that will go a long way in establishing necessary infrastructure for the rollout of 5G projects in India.

What is RoW?

The Right of Way (RoW) in the telecommunications sector is referred to as the legal right, allowing online filing of application.

It basically means a legal framework for setting up telecom towers, laying optical fibre cables (OFC), improving coordination among companies, and settling disputes.

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PM GatiShakti National Master Plan: The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has recently approved PM GatiShakti National Master Plan, including implementation, monitoring and support mechanism, for providing multi-modal connectivity.

Background:

  • Prime Minister Modi had launched the Rs 100-lakh crore PM GatiShakti NMP for multi-modal connectivity on 13th October, 2021.
  • It was launched to develop infrastructure to reduce logistic costs and boost the economy.

Key Points:

  • Implementation framework includes Empowered Group of Secretaries (EGOS), Network Planning Group (NPG) and Technical Support Unit (TSU) with required technical competencies.
  • The Empowered Group of Secretaries (EGOS) will be headed by the Cabinet Secretary and secretaries of 18 ministries as members, among others.
  • The main task of EGOS is to review and monitor implementation of the PM GatiShakti NMP to ensure logistics efficiency.
  • A Multimodal Network Planning Group (NPG) will be constituted with representation from the heads of Network Planning Division from various Ministries and Departments.
  • The NPG will be supported by a Technical Support Unit (TSU) located in Logistics Division of Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

Significance:

  • With this approval, PM GatiShakti shall bring in various stakeholders together and help integrate different modes of transportation.
  • PM Gatishakti NMP for multi-modal connectivity will ensure holistic governance at the Centre of which are people of India, industries of India, manufacturers of India and farmers of India.

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MyParkings App:

 Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Anurag Thakur launched MyParkings app in New Delhi.

Key Points about MyParkings App :

  • MyParkings App is a first of its kind initiative.
  • It is an IoT technology enabled end to end digital solution and will be available for use with mobile apps in both Android and iOS platforms.
  • This app is launched with an aim to tackle the issue of congestion the of vehicle parking.
  • The app will tell about the total capacity of vehicles to be parked, used spaces and space available for parking in each parking site so that the people can book parking slots online in areas which are under the jurisdiction of South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC).
  • This app has been developed by Broadcast Engineering Consultants India Limited (BECIL) with SDMC with the purpose to digitize all authorized parking under the civic body''s municipal limits.
  • BECIL is the implementing agency for app based smart parking system in the jurisdiction of SDMC.
  • The entire cost of development and maintenance along with the capital cost of the server as well as its allied hardware and software of the app will be beared by BECIL.

Significance of the app:

  • With the growing population of vehicles in the city, the problem of parking has also grown over time.
  • But through this app is an effort to reduce stress and help people plan their trips better.
  • MyParkings app will offer various features.
  • It will ease the process of booking parking slots because through this app citizen will be able to know the availability of slots remotely.
  • This Smart Parking app, having a cashless and paperless transaction mode will save tonnes of paper on a daily basis.
  • It will also help in management of parking pass for daily/regular commuters.
  • It will provide options for electric vehicle charging station and integration of card with DTC/Delhi Metro; smart QR code for slot booking, check in and checkout and Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) system.

Integration with other apps:

  • MyParking' App will also be integrated with Vahan App. FASTag, E Challan and other government initiatives.
  • BECIL will also run a dedicated call centre as a customer care unit for the citizens in order to address their queries and issues related to the app.

                                                                  

NGT: The Supreme Court of India recently declared the National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) position as a “unique” forum endowed with suo motu powers to take up environmental issues across the country.

Key Highlights of the Judgement:

  • The role of the NGT is not simply adjudicatory in nature. The Tribunal has to perform equally vital roles that are preventative, ameliorative or remedial in nature.
  • The NGT need not wait for the “metaphorical Godot” to knock on its portal to flex its considerable muscles to save the environment.
  • The exercise of power by the NGT is not circumscribed by the receipt of applications.
  • The apex court exclaimed that when substantial questions relating to the environment arise and the issue is civil in nature and those relate to the Act, the NGT can self ignite action either towards amelioration or towards prevention of harm.
  • Supreme Court dismissed objections from the Centre, legal experts and even the court’s own amicus curiae who all argued against the NGT clothed with suo motu powers.
  • The judgment described the NGT “as a complimentary, competent, specialised forum to deal with all environmental multidisciplinary issues both as original and also as an appellate authority, which complex issues were hitherto dealt with by the High Courts and the Supreme Court”.

About National Green Tribunal (NGT):

  • NGT is a specialized body having the necessary expertise to handle environmental disputes involving multi disciplinary issues.
  • The National Green Tribunal has been established on 18.10.2010 under the National Green Tribunal Act 2010.
  • With the establishment of the NGT, India became the third country in the world to set up a specialised environmental tribunal, only after Australia and New Zealand, and the first developing country to do so.

About NGT Act, 2010:

  • The National Green Tribunal (NGT) Act, 2010 is an Act of the Parliament of India which enables the creation of a special tribunal to handle the expeditious disposal of the cases pertaining to environmental issues.
  • It draws inspiration from the India's constitutional provision of Article 21, which assures the citizens of India the right to a healthy environment.

Objectives of NGT:

The major objectives of the tribunal are as follows:

  • To provide effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection
  • To facilitate enforcement of any legal right relating to environment
  • To provide giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
  • To make environmental justices accessible

Role of NGT:

  • The NGT has the power to hear all civil cases relating to environmental issues and questions that are linked to the implementation of laws listed in Schedule I of the NGT Act.
  • These include the following:
  • The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974;
  • The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act, 1977;
  • The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980;
  • The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981;
  • The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986;
  • The Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991;
  • The Biological Diversity Act, 2002.
  • The NGT is not bound by the procedure laid down under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, but shall be guided by principles of natural justice.

Composition:

  • Currently, the sanctioned strength of the tribunal is 10 expert members and 10 judicial members.
  • However, the act allows for up to 20 of each.
  • The Chairman of the tribunal who is the administrative head of the tribunal also serves as a judicial member.
  • The Chairman of the tribunal is required to be a serving or retired Chief Justice of a High Courtor a judge of the Supreme Court of India (SCI).
  • Every bench of tribunal must consist of at least one expert member and one judicial member.
  • New Delhi is the Principal Place of Sitting of the Tribunal.
  • Bhopal, Pune, Kolkata and Chennai shall be the other four place of sitting of the Tribunal.

                                                                         

One Health Consortium: The Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Ministry of Science and Technology, GoI, launched a ‘One Health’ consortium on October 14, 2021 in virtual mode.

Key Points:

  • It was launched by secretary of Department of Biotechnology, Dr Renu Swarup.
  • This programme envisages carrying out surveillance of important bacterial, viral and parasitic infections of zoonotic and transboundary pathogens in India.
  • It will also look into use of existing diagnostic tests and development of additional methodologies to conduct surveillance and understand the spread of emerging diseases.

Organizations under Consortium:

  • This Consortium, consisting of 27 organizations is led by DBT National Institute of Animal Biotechnology, Hyderabad.
  • It is one of the biggest one health programs launched by Government of India (GoI) in post COVID times.
  • The One health consortium comprises of AIIMS (Delhi), AIIMS (Jodhpur), IVRI (Bareily), GADVASU (Ludhiana), TANUVAS (Chennai), MAFSU (Nagpur), Assam agricultural and veterinary university and many more ICAR, ICMR centres and wild life agencies.

One Health Approach:

  • COVID 19 pandemic showed the relevance of ‘One Health’ principles in the governance of infectious diseases, especially efforts to prevent and contain zoonotic diseases throughout the world.
  • One Health approach notes that health of people, health of animals, and the health of environment are interconnected.
  • The Primary goal of ‘One Health’ is to encourage the collaborative efforts of stakeholders across the stated three domains in order to achieve best health outcomes for humans, animals, and environment.

                                                                                            

Rail Kaushal Vikas Yojana (RKVY): Indian Railways’ Production Unit, Banaras Locomotive Works recently organized a function for distribution of self employment toolkits and certificates for successful trainees under Rail Kaushal Vikas Yojana (RKVY) on 13.10.2021.

Key Details:

  • This marks the culmination of the 100 hour training program organized by BLW for training of the first batch, in Technical Trades viz. Electrician, Fitter, Machinist, and Welder, under Rail Kaushal Vikas Yojana (RKVY).
  • Total 54 trainees received toolkits and certificates on 13.10.2021.

Background:

  • RKVY program was launched on 17.09.2021 by the Minister of Railways Shri Ashwini Vaishnaw.
  • This program empowers local youth by way of providing entry level training in Industry relevant skills through Railway Training Institutes.
  • It is under aegis of Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikasa Yojana (PMKVY) – a scheme of the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE) to achieve vision of Aatma Nirbhar Bharat.
  • Total 50,000 Youths will be trained over period of three years in 75 Railway Training Institutes, spread all across India.

Nodal Agency:

  • Banaras Locomotive Works has been entrusted as nodal agency for implementation of RKVY program.
  • Course content and Assessment procedure for Training has been developed by Banaras Locomotive Works.

                                                                                 

Coal Crisis in India: The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) recently reviewed the coal stock situation in India’s thermal power plants.

Key Facts:

  • Several states reported alarmingly low coal stocks and some resorted to load shedding.
  • Delhi, Punjab and Rajasthan have raised concerns about potential blackouts. Rajasthan, Punjab and Bihar have already reported load shedding.
  • States have been forced to buy power from exchanges at high rates to meet demand.

Key Details:

  • India’s thermal power plants currently have an average of four days worth of coal stock against a recommended level of 15 30 days, with a number of states highlighting concerns about blackouts as a result of the coal shortage.
  • Coal and lignite fired thermal power plants account for about 54 per cent of India’s installed power generation capacity but currently account for about 70 per cent of power generated in the country.
  • Purchase bids on the Day Ahead Market (DAM) on the India Energy Exchange (IEX) on October 12 were for 430,778 MWh (Megawatt hours) up from 174,373 MWh a month ago.

What are the reasons for coal shortage?

  • The shortage in coal is a result of a sharp uptick in power demand as the economy recovered from the effects of the pandemic.
  • A sharp increase in the international prices of coal due to a shortage in China and low accumulation of stock by thermal power plants in the April June period have also contributed to the coal shortage.
  • A delayed monsoon that created roadblocks for mining, high power demand and record coal import prices rendering plants unviable have all contributed to the situation.

What is the government doing to address the situation?

  • The Power Ministry has issued instructions ranging from asking states not to sell power at high prices on the exchange to ordering state electricity generators to ensure adequate supplies.
  • The ministry has also permitted power generators using local coal to use upto a 10 per cent blend of imported coal to boost coal stocks.

                                                                   

 

Pandora Papers Exposé: 

The Pandora Papers recent leak reveals potential tax evasion by 380 rich, famous Indians.

  • The Indian Express has so far verified and corroborated documents related to about 60 prominent individuals and companies.

About Pandora Papers:

  • The Pandora Papers investigation is the world’s largest ever journalistic collaboration, involving more than 600 journalists from 150 media outlets in 117 countries.
  • The investigation is based on a leak of confidential records of 14 offshore service providers that give professional services to wealthy individuals and corporations seeking to incorporate shell companies, trusts, foundations and other entities in low  or no tax jurisdictions.
  • They provide a rare window into the hidden world of offshore finance, casting light on the financial secrets of some of the world’s richest people.
  • The Pandora Papers are 11.9 million leaked files from 14 global corporate firms which set up about 29,000 off the shelf companies and private trusts in not just obscure tax jurisdictions but also countries such as Singapore, New Zealand, and the United States, for clients across the world.
  • These documents relate to the ultimate ownership of assets ‘settled’ (or placed) in private offshore trusts and the investments including cash, shareholding, and real estate properties, held by the offshore entities.

Pandora Paper Expose:

  • The Pandora Paper exposes how the rich and powerful individuals and entities on the radar of the Pandora investigation have set multi layered trusts for the purposes of real estate.
  • The purposes of the layered structured trusts are divided into two objectives:
  • Tax Avoidance: To hide from tax authorities by hiding the real identities behind the offshore companies,
  • Tax Evasion: To safeguard investments such as real estate, aircraft, cash, art, shareholdings, yachts, etc from law enforcers and creditors.

How is Pandora different from the Panama Papers and Paradise Papers?

  • The Panama and Paradise Papers dealt largely with offshore entities set up by individuals and corporates respectively.
  • The Pandora Papers investigation reveals how businesses have created a new normal after countries have been forced to tighten the screws on such offshore entities with rising concerns of money laundering, terrorism funding, and tax evasion.

What is a Trust in case of Pandora Papers?

  • A Trust can be defined as a fiduciary arrangement where a third party is  referred to as the trustee.
  • A Trust holds assets on behalf of individuals or organizations that are to benefit from it.
  • These trusts aid large businesses or wealthy families to hold their assets and investments such as real estate, shareholding, cash, etc.
  • A trust comprises following three key parties:
  • First one is the Settlor who sets up, creates, or authors a trust.
  • The second one is the Trustee who holds the assets for the benefit of a set of people named by the ‘settlor’.
  • The third ones are the Beneficiaries to whom the benefits of the assets are bequeathed.
  • Though a Trust is not a separate legal entity, the legal aspect of it comes from the Trustee.
  • At times, the ‘settlor’ appoints a ‘protector’, who has the powers to supervise the trustee, and even remove the trustee and appoint a new one.

Is setting up a trust in India or one offshore/ outside the country, illegal?

  • The Indian Trusts Act, 1882, gives legal basis to the concept of trusts.
  • While Indian laws do not see trusts as a legal person/ entity, they do recognise the trust as an obligation of the trustee to manage and use the assets settled in the trust for the benefit of ‘beneficiaries’.
  • India also recognizes offshore trusts i.e., trusts set up in other tax jurisdictions.

                                                                                       

National Road Safety Board: Union Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MoRTH) recently notified constitution of a “National Road Safety Board”.

Key Points:

  • The Board will be responsible for promoting road safety, innovation and adoption of new technology.
  • It will also be responsible for regulating traffic and motor vehicles.
  • The notification also specifies provisions for the composition, eligibility for Chairman & Members of the Board, term of office, selection process, powers & functions of the board, procedure of resignation & removal, meetings of the Board etc.

About National Road Safety Board:

  • The Head Office of National Road Safety Board will be established in the National Capital Region.
  • Board might establish offices at other places as well in India.

Members:

  • The road safety board will comprise of the Chairman.
  • Apart from that, these will be not less than 3members and more than 7 members.
  • All the members will be appointed by the Central Government.

Function:

 

  • The Board shall be responsible for promoting road safety, innovation and adoption of new technology and for regulating traffic and motor vehicles.
  • For the above said purposes, the Board shall formulate the following: 
  • Specific standards for road safety, traffic management and road construction for hilly regions.
  • Guidelines for capacity building and development of skills for traffic police, hospital authorities, highway authorities, educational and research organizations and other organizations.
  • Guidelines for establishing and operating trauma facilities and para medical facilities, for consideration by the Central Government.
  • The Board will also provide technical advice and assistance to Central, State and local authorities on road safety & traffic management.

                                                                                                  

Captive Mines: The Ministry of Coal recently announced that the coal mines that produce coal solely for their own use, known as “captive mines”, will now be allowed to sell 50% of their annual output in the open market.

Key Highlights:

  • The Ministry of Coal has amended Mineral Concession Rules, 1960 in this regard.
  • The move comes as the Indian coal fired utilities face an acute fuel shortage with inventories falling to multi year lows.
  • Now, with the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2021, the coal mines that produce coal only for their own use will now be able to sell 50 percent of their annual output in the open market.
  • Earlier this year, the Mines and Minerals (Development & Regulation) Amendment Act had been amended to this effect.
  • This is applicable for both the private and public sector captive mines.

Significance:

  • The availability of additional coal will ease pressure on power plants and will also aid in import substitution of coal.
  • In addition, the allowance for the sale of the prescribed quantity of coal or lignite is expected to motivate the lessees to enhance the production from the captive mines.
  • Furthermore, the payment of an additional premium amount, royalty, and other statutory payments in respect of the quantity of coal or lignite sold shall boost the revenue of the state governments.

Difference between Captive and Non Captive Mines:

Captive Mines:

  • Captive mines are the mines that are owned by companies.
  • The coal or mineral produced from these mines is for the exclusive use of the owner company of the mines.
  • The company cannot sell coal or mineral outside.
  • Some electricity generation companies used to have captive mines.

Non  Captive Mines:

  • Non captive Mines are mines from which the produced coals of minerals could be used for its own consumption and as well as for selling it.

                                       

Good Samaritan: The Union government recently launched a scheme for ‘Good Samaritan’.

Highlights:

The scheme will be implemented from October 15, 2021 and will run till March 31, 2026.

The rules had been notified by the Transport Ministry under Section 134A of the Motor Vehicle Amendment Act 2019, on September 29, 2020.

Key points about the Scheme:

  • Under this scheme, anyone who saves the life of a road accident victim by rushing them to a hospital within the “golden hour” will get a cash reward of ₹5,000.
  • Note: ‘Golden hour’ is the 1 hour time period after a traumatic injury. During this period, there is the highest possibility of preventing death by providing prompt medical care.
  • Each Good Samaritan would also receive a certificate of appreciation.
  • An individual could be awarded a maximum of five times in a year.

National Level Awards:

  • Besides the individual award, there would be 10 national level awards each year for the worthiest Good Samaritans.
  • The worthiest Good Samaritans would be selected from all those who have been awarded during the whole year and they would be given an award of ₹1 lakh each.
  • If more than one Good Samaritan saves the life of more than one victim, the amount of award would be ₹5,000 per victim saved, subject to maximum ₹5,000 per Good Samaritan.
  • MoRTH would also provide a sum of Rs 5 lakh of initial grant to the transport department of states and UTs for awarding the cash prize.

Note: 

  • As per the 201st report of the Law Commission of India, “Over 50% of those who die in road accidents can be saved with timely medical care within the first one hour."
  • 50% of the road accidents can be avoided if rapid assistance is provided.
  • As per save life foundation data, 3 out of 4 people in India are hesitant to help accident victim due to fear of legal authorities and counter questions.

                              

CHCDS: Ministry of Textiles has approved the continuation of Comprehensive Handicrafts Cluster Development Scheme (CHCDS).  

Key Facts:

  • The scheme, with a total outlay of Rs 160 crore will continue up to March 2026.
  • The mega handicraft clusters having more than 10,000 artisans will be selected for overall development under this scheme.
  • Provisions provided under the scheme is as follows:
  • Infrastructural support, design and technology up gradation suppor, market access etc will be provided to handicrafts artisans.
  • Soft interventions like Baseline Survey and Activity Mapping, Skill Training, Improved Tool Kits, Marketing events, Seminars, Publicity, Design workshops, Capacity Building, etc will be provided.
  • The scheme will also grant, hard interventions like Common Facility Centers, Emporiums, Raw Material Banks, Trade Facilitation Centers, Common Production Centers, Design and Resource Centers.

Aim and objective of CHCDS:

  • This scheme aims to create world class infrastructure that caters to the business needs of the local artisans & SMEs to boost production and export.
  • The main objective of setting up these clusters is to assist the artisans and entrepreneurs to set up world class units with modern infrastructure, latest technology, and adequate training and human resource development inputs, coupled with market linkages and production diversification.
  • The focus will be on integration of scattered artisans, building their grass root level enterprises and linking them to SMEs in the handicrafts sector to ensure economies of scale.

Who will undertake the projects?

  • The integrated projects for development will be taken with the help of Central or State Handicrafts Corporations, Autonomous body Council Institute, Registered Co  operatives, Registered SPV, Producer Company of artisans, which are having good experience in handicrafts sector.

About Ministry of Textile:

  • The Ministry of Textiles is an Indian government national agency.
  • It is responsible for the formulation of policy, planning, development, export promotion and regulation of the textile industry in India.
  • It was founded on 1st April 1999.
  • The current Union Minister of Textile is Piyush Goyal and State Minister of Textile is Darshana Vikram Jardosh.

 

National Affairs Current Affairs - September 2021

DelhiMumbai Expressway (DME): The Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari recently concluded the twoday review of the work progress on the DelhiMumbai Expressway (DME) at Sohna in Haryana, Dausa and Bundi in Rajasthan, Ratlam in Madhya Pradesh.

Key Highlights:

  • He announced the work on the eightlane DelhiMumbai Expressway, a 1,380 km road will be completed by March 2023.
  • In 2018, the Government kickstarted this highway project with the project’s foundation stone being laid on 9 March 2019.
  • Once ready, the expressway will feature a spur to Noida International Airport and Jawaharlal Nehru Port to Mumbai through a spur in the financial capital.
  • It will reduce travel time between certain cities to 1212.5 hours from 24 hours.
  • The project is expected to improve connectivity to economic hubs of India like Jaipur, Ajmer, Kishangarh, Chittorgarh, Kota, Udaipur, Ujjain, Bhopal, Indore, Vadodara, Ahmedabad, and Surat.

Key features of DME:

  • The expressway is eightlane accesscontrolled and can be expanded to a 12lane expressway depending on the traffic volume.
  • It will boast wayside amenities such as resorts, food courts, restaurants, fuel stations, logistics parks, facilities for truckers.
  • For accident victims, it will offer helicopter ambulance service as well as a heliport, which will use drone services for business.
  • Along the highway, over two million trees and shrubs are planned to be planted.
  • The highway project is Asia’s first and the world’s second to include animal overpasses in order to facilitate unrestricted wildlife movement.
  • Besides, it will also involve two iconic eightlane tunnels.
  • The project will result in annual savings of more than 320 million litres of fuel as well as reduce Carbon dioxide emissions by 850 million kg.
  • Over 12 lakh tonnes of steel will be consumed in the project’s construction, which is equivalent to constructing 50 Howrah bridges.
  • For the project, 80 lakh tonnes of cement will be consumed, which is around 2 per cent of the country’s annual cement production capacity.
  • The ambitious DelhiMumbai Expressway project has also created job opportunities for thousands of trained civil engineers apart from generating over 50 lakh man days of work.

About Morth:

  • It refers to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.
  • The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways is a ministry of the Government of India(GoI).
  • Morth is the apex body for formulation and administration of the rules, regulations and laws relating to road transport, transport research.
  • Its task is also to increase the mobility and efficiency of the road transport system in India. It was founded in July 1942.
  • The current Union Minister of Morth is Nitin Gadkari.

 

Sign Language Day in India: The Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre (ISLRTC), an autonomous body within the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan) under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, will be celebrated ‘Sign Language Day’ on September 23, 2021.

Highlights:

  • ISLRTC is based in New Delhi:
  • Ever since the United Nations declared 23rd September as the International Sign Language Day, the ISLRTC has celebrated it every year.
  • During the programme, the Centre presented a documentary on the ‘Indian Sign Language Journey’.
  • The winners of the 4thIndian Sign Language Competition, 2021 – a nationallevel competition held for students with hearing disabilities were also announced.

Background:

  • ISLRTC had signed an MoU with National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) in 2020 for converting NCERT textbooks from Class I to XII into Indian Sign Language (digital format) to make the textbooks accessible to children with hearing disabilities.
  • The First phase of the project for conversion of Class I to V textbooks has been completed and eContent thereof will be launched during the programme.

About International Day of Sign Languages:

  • International Day of Sign Languages is celebrated annually across the world on 23 September every year along with International Week of the Deaf.
  • The day supports and protects the linguistic identity of people who are deaf along with other users of sign languages.

Theme of 2021:

  • The 2021 theme, declared by the World Federation of the Deaf, is “We Sign For Human Rights,”.
  • This theme highlights how each of us – deaf and hearing people around the world – can work together hand in hand to promote the recognition of our right to use sign languages in all areas of life.

History

  • World Federation of the Deaf (WFD), a federation of 135 national associations of deaf people, proposed International Day of Sign Languages.
  • The resolution for the same was adopted by consensus on 19 December 2017.
  • The first International Day of Sign Languages was observed in 2018.
  • The date 23 September was chosen because it marks the establishment of WFD in 1951.

What are sign languages?

  • Sign languages (also known as signed languages) are languages that use the visualmanual modality to convey meaning.
  • Sign languages are expressed through manual articulations in combination with nonmanual elements.
  • Sign languages are fullfledged natural languages with their own grammar and lexicon.
  • The United Nations (UN) describes sign languages as fullfledged natural languages, structurally distinct from spoken languages.

Significance of sign language:

  • Sign language protects ‘linguistic identity and cultural diversity’ of all users.
  • Sign language not only plays an important role in educating people, but also is vital in creating employment and vocational training for persons with hearing disabilities.
  • According to the WFD, there are approximately 72 million deaf people worldwide, more than 80 per cent of whom live in developing countries.
  • Collectively, they use more than 300 different sign languages.

 

National Pension System Diwas: The Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) has kickstarted a new campaign named National Pension System Diwas (NPS Diwas) under ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’.

Highlights:

  • This campaign has been started to promote pension and retirement planning.
  • PFRDA will celebrate the National Pension System Diwas (NPS Diwas) on 1st October 2021.
  • PFRDA is promoting this campaign on its social media platforms with #npsdiwas.
  • NPS aims to encourage every citizen to plan towards making a financial cushion to ensure for oneself a financially sound future after retirement.
  • NPS subscribers will enjoy the benefits, power of compounding now and reap many of the benefits after retirement.

About PFRDA:

  • Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) is the regulatory body under the jurisdiction of Ministry of Finance, Government of India (GoI) for overall supervision and regulation of pension in India.
  • The Pension Fund Regulatory & Development Authority Act was passed on 19 September 2013 and the same was notified on 1 February 2014.
  • PFRDA works as the regulator of NPS to ensure orderly growth and development of the pension market.
  • It was founded on 23 august 2003.
  • Its Chairperson is Supratim Bandyopadhyay.

 

National Service Scheme Awards: President Ram Nath Kovind, on 24th September 2021, conferred the National Service Scheme (NSS) Awards for 201920 from Rashtrapati Bhavan in a virtual mode.

Key Highlights:

  • The National Service Scheme (NSS) Awards for the year 201920 have been given to 42 awardees in 3 different categories like University/ +2 Councils, NSS Units and their Programme Officers and NSS Volunteers.
  • Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports Anurag Thakur and Minister of State Nisith Pramanik also attended the event.
  • The National Service Scheme Award is conferred by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Department of Youth Affairs every year to recognize and reward outstanding contributions towards voluntary community service made by the universities or colleges, (+2) councils, senior secondary, NSS units or programme officers and NSS volunteers, with a view to further promote NSS in the country.

About NSS:

  • National Service Scheme (NSS) was established in 1969, on the occasion of the birth centenary of Mahatma Gandhi.
  • NSS is a Centrally Sector Scheme launched with the primary objective of developing the personality and character of the student youth through voluntary community service.
  • It is a visionary scheme through which students get an opportunity to serve the society and country during their school and college days itself.
  • The ideological orientation of the NSS is inspired by the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi. Very appropriately, the motto of NSS is “NOT ME, BUT YOU”.
  • The NSS volunteers work on issues of social relevance, which keep evolving in response to the needs of the community, through regular and special camping activities.

 

Antyodaya Diwas 2021: The Antyodaya Diwas is observed on September 25, every year in India to mark the birth anniversary of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya.

Highlights:

  • The year 2021, the Antyodaya Diwas marks the 105th birth anniversary of Upadhyaya.
  • He was the nationalist who stood for the explanation for the poor and downtrodden.
  • As Antyodaya means uplifting the poorest of the poor, or “rise of the last person” the special day aims at reaching the last person of the society.
  • On this occasion, the Ministry of Rural Development felicitates the beneficiaries of skill development programmes  Deen Dayal Upadhyay Grameen Kaushalya Yojana and Rural Self Employment Training Institute.

History:

  • The day was declared by the Modi Government on September 25, 2014 and officially celebrated since 2015.
  • Through Antyodaya Diwas, the government aims to carry forward the message of Upadhyaya who visualised uplift of the poorest of the poor in the country.

About Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya:

  • Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya (191668) was wellknown political personality and thoughtful philosopher.
  • He was a humanist, economist, journalist, and an abled statesman.
  • He was coordinator and famous leader of Jan Sangh, which is considered precursor to BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party).
  • He was the leader of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh from 1953 to 1968.
  • In the 1940s, Deendayal Upadhyaya launched ‘Rashtra Dharma’, a monthly journal, from Uttar Pradesh’s Lucknow for spreading the ideology of Hindutva nationalism. Later, he started ‘Panchjanya’, a weekly magazine, and a daily, ‘Swadesh’.
  • He wrote drama Chandragupta Maurya in Hindi and later wrote a biography of Shankaracharya.
  • His philosophical idea of ‘Integral Humanism’ was adopted in 1965 as the official doctrine of the Jan Sangh and later the BJP.
  • He strongly supported swadeshi and small scale industrialization.
  • He advocated ‘Samyanit Upabhog’ (sustainable consumption) as he did not favour the exploitation of Mother Nature practiced by the capitalist societies of the West.

 

Operation Blue Freedom Triple World Records: 

A team of eight persons with disabilities created a new world record for the “largest number of people with disabilities” to scale the world’s highest battlefield, Siachen Glacier.

Key Highlights:

  • They scaled up to the Kumar Post at an altitude of 15,632 ft.
  • The team with disabilities was trained and led by CLAW Global, a team of Special Forces veterans who had left the service due to disabilities.
  • This is the land world record expedition part of “Operation Blue Freedom Triple World Records” being undertaken by CLAW Global.
  • The expedition team climbed a total distance of 60 km atop the spine of the Siachen Glacier over a period of five days from September 7 to finally reach Kumar Post on September 11, 2021.

About Team CLAW:

  • Team CLAW (full form of CLAW is Conquer Land Air Water) is a team of exIndian Special Forces commandos.
  • In general, all the team members are either from Indian Army Para Commandos or the Naval Marine Commandos, also known as the MARCOS.
  • Each team member had been a crack soldier in the Army / Navy Special Forces and was highly trained with multiple specializations in Mountaineering, Skydiving, SCUBA diving, Unarmed combat, Multi – terrain survival tech, Emergency Med Response, etc.
  • Each team member had undergone some of the toughest selection, training and operational environments anywhere on the globe.
  • The Team united their energy and skills to teach their life skills to people having disabilities.
  • Their focus is to design and implement sustainable largescale employment solutions for people with disabilities and the underprivileged, especially in the Environment conservation and Sustainability space.
  • The initiative was taken by Major Vivek Jacob, a Para (Special Forces) officer.

 

About Maj Vivek Jacob:

  • Team CLAW’s founder Major Vivek Jacob served 14 years as a Special Forces operator.
  • Post his training in the National Defence Academy and the Indian Military Academy, he volunteered for and successfully completed one of the harshest Special Forces selections in the world.
  • In January 2019, Major Vivek Jacob, a Para SF officer with 14 years of experience in the Indian Army who had to hang up his boots following a combat skydive injury, founded CLAW Global (Conquer Land Air and Water), to teach life skills to adventurers and people with disabilities (PWD).

About the Operation Blue Freedom:

  • Operation Blue Freedom was launched in 2019 by CLAW Global, a team of former Special Forces Operatives of the Indian Army and the Indian Navy.
  • Its main aim is to shatter the common perception of pity, charity and inability associated with people with disabilities and recreates it to one of dignity, freedom and ability.
  • Further, their focus is to ‘design and implement sustainable largescale employment solutions’ for people with disabilities, especially in the ‘Environment conservation and Sustainability’ space.

About Siachen Glacier:

  • The Siachen Glacier is located in the Eastern Karakoram range in the Himalayas, just northeast of Point NJ9842 where the Line of Control between India and Pakistan ends.
  • It is the SecondLongest glacier in the World's NonPolar areas.
  • Fedchenko Glacier, located in Yazgulem Range, Tajikistan is the longest glacier in the World's NonPolar areas.
  • The Siachen Glacier lies immediately south of the great drainage divide that separates the Eurasian Plate from the Indian subcontinent in the extensively glaciated portion of the Karakoram sometimes called the "Third Pole".
  • The Siachen Glacier is part of Ladakh which has now been converted into a Union Territory.
  • The Siachen Glacier is the world's highest battlefield.
  • The entire Siachen Glacier has been under the administration of India since 1984 (Operation Meghdoot).

What is the importance of Siachen Glacier?

  • The Siachen glacier demarcates central Asia from the Indian subcontinent, and separates Pakistan from China in the region.  
  • The Saltoro Ridge of the Siachin glacier serves as a divide that prevents direct linking of PoK with China, stopping them to develop geographical military linkages in the area.

 

Engineer's Day 2021: September 15 is observed as Engineer's Day every year in India to mark the birth anniversary of Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya who is considered a pioneer in the field of engineering in India.

Highlights:

The day is observed to commemorate the great work of engineers and to encourage them for improvement and innovation.

The year 2021 marks the 160th birth anniversary of M Visvesvaraya.

His contributions to the field of engineering and education are significant.

Visvesvaraya was regarded as the "Father of Modern Mysore".

History of Engineers Day:

Since 1968, India has celebrated Engineers day on this day every year.

His birthday is celebrated as Engineers’ Day in India, Sri Lanka and Tanzania.

Note: Every country celebrates its engineers on different days.

UNESCO has marked March 4 as the annual World Engineer's Day to honour the contribution of various engineers in a variety of field.

About Sir MV:

Popularly known as Sir MV, Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya was born on September 15, 1861, in the Muddenahalli village of Karnataka.

He completed his school education in his hometown and later went to study Bachelor of Arts (BA) from the University of Madras. However, he changed his career path after graduating and pursued civil engineering at the College of Science in Pune.

He undertook many complex projects and delivered remarkable infrastructural results during his career.

Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya passed away in 1962 but his achievements and contributions are celebrated till date.  

Contributions of Sir Visvesvaraya:

Sir MV was the founder of Block System to prevent the wasteful flow of water in dams, which was first installed at the Khadakvasla reservoir in Pune.

He patented and designed the 'automatic barrier water floodgates' installed in Pune in 1903 at the Khadakvasla reservoir.

In 1917, he established the Government Engineering College at Bangalore which was later renamed after him as University Visvesvaraya College of Engineering (UVCE).

He was the Chief Engineer for the Krishna Raja Sagar dam project in Karnataka.

He was one among the committee members who had planned the Indian Economy in 1934.

An expert in irrigation techniques and flood disaster management, Sir MV was not just a great civil engineer but also served as the 19th Diwan of Mysore from 1912 to 1919.

While serving as the Diwan of Mysore, in 1915 he was awarded ‘Knight’ as a commander of the British Indian Empire by King George V.

In 1955, Sir Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya received India's highest honour, the Bharat Ratna for his contribution to the building of India.

India's Top Six Engineers:

The milkman of India  Verghese Kurien

The Indian king of communication  Satish Dhawan

The missile man of India  Dr APJ Abdul Kalam

Magic maker at Microsoft  Satya Nadella

Google's Sundar Pichai

 

India and Italy: Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi recentlyapproved the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Italy on Cooperation in the field of Disaster Risk Reduction and Management.

  • MoU was signed between National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) of India and Department of Civil Protection of the Presidency of Council of Ministers of Italy.

Benefits of the MoU:

  • The MoU seeks to put in place a system, whereby both India and Italy will benefit from the Disaster Management mechanisms of each other.
  • It will help in strengthening the areas of preparedness, response and capacity building in the field of Disaster Management.

Background:

  • This MoU on cooperation in the Field of Disaster Risk Reduction and management between the NDMA of the Republic of India and the Department of Civil Protection of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers of the Italian Republic was signed in June, 2021.

Economic, Political and Cultural and Historical Relations with India:

Economic Relations:

  • India fifth largest trading partner among the European Union in Italy whereas Italy is the fifth largest investor in India.

Political Relations:

  • India and Italy established political relations in 1947 after India's independence.

Cultural Relations:

  • India and Italy, both signed cultural cooperation in 1976.
  • It comprises of Cultural Exchange Programme (CEP) between both the nations, that provides for exchange of students in language programmes and other academic courses.
  • However, culturally both the countries share relation since ancient time.

Historical Relations:

  • Classical languages namely Sanskrit and Latin belong to IndoEuropean language family.
  • For more than 2000 years, peoples of these two ancient civilizations have interacted and traded with each other.
  • Italian port cities acted as important trading posts on the spice route to carry spices from India to European nations. Indian troops were also active in Italy during World War II.

About Italy:

  • Italy, officially the Italian Republic is a country consisting of a peninsula delimited by the Alps and several islands surrounding it.
  • Italy is located in the center of the Mediterranean Sea, in Southern Europe and is also often considered part of Western Europe.
  • It shares land borders with France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia, and the enclaved microstates of Vatican City and San Marino.
  • Its capital is Rome which is home to the Vatican as well as landmark art and ancient ruins.
  • The currency used here is Euro.
  • The current President and Prime Minister of Italy are Sergio Mattarella and Mario Draghi.

 

15th EAS of Energy Ministers: The Union Minister of State for Power Shri Krishan Pal Gurja recently attended the 15th East Asia Summit Energy Ministers Meeting virtually.

Key Highlights:

  • The Theme of the meeting was “We Care, We Prepare, We Prosper”.
  • The meeting was aimed at coordinating efforts of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries in pursuing the goal of energy security and energy transition that will benefit the people of the region.

Key points about the meeting:

  • India established that ASEAN is a region of great importance and engagement with ASEAN has been, and will remain, a critical element of India’s ‘Act East’ policy and strategy.
  • Acting East is now a central element in India’s IndoPacific vision.
  • India also provided a brief status of the Indian energy transition plans, policies, challenges and efforts towards decarbonization.
  • Some of India’s towards decarbonization initiatives include the following:
  • National Solar Mission (NSM)
  • Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY)
  • Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for All (UJALA)
  • Smart City Mission (SCM)
  • FAME India Scheme
  • National Hydrogen Mission
  • Waste to Energy Projects
  • International Solar Alliance (ISA), which has more than 70 member countries.
  • As of now, India is among the world’s top five countries in terms of renewable power capacity.

About East Asia Summit:

  • The East Asia Summit, established in 2005, is a premier forum in the AsiaPacific region dealing with issues relating to security and defence.
  • It is a forum of 18 regional leaders for strategic dialogue and cooperation on the key political, security, and economic challenges facing the IndoPacific region.
  • The concept of East Asia Grouping was first promoted in 1991 by the then Malaysian Prime Minister, Mahathir bin Mohamad.

Membership:

  • It comprises the ten member states of the ASEAN which are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, along with 8 other countries namely Australia, China, Japan, India, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, Russia and the USA.
  • ASEAN leads the forum, and the chair position rotates between the ASEAN Member States annually.
  • India is one of the founding members of the East Asia Summit.

Note: Brunei Darussalam is the chair for 2021.

ASEAN:

  • It refers to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
  • ASEAN is a regional intergovernmental organisation and it comprises of 10 countries in Southeast Asia.
  • It was created on 8 August 1967 by 5 countries namely Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand.
  • The ASEAN Secretariat is located at Jakarta, Indonesia.
  • The Summit is held twice annually.
  • The First ASEAN Summit was held in Bali, Indonesia in 1976.
  • It was created with an aim to promote intergovernmental cooperation.
  • The organization also facilitates political, economic, military, educational, security, and sociocultural integration among its members as well as in other countries in Asia.
  • ASEAN has been India’s utmost priority under its Act East Policy.
  • The 10 member countries are Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Cambodia, Myanmar (Burma), Laos

Act East Asia Policy:

  • It was announced in November 2014 as a diplomatic initiative to promote economic, strategic and cultural relations with the vast AsiaPacific region at different levels.
  • It involves intensive engagement with Southeast Asian countries in the field of connectivity, trade, culture, defence and peopletopeoplecontact at bilateral, regional and multilateral levels.

 

Ek Pahal Drive: A PanIndia Special Campaign called “Ek Pahal / एक पहल drive for Justice Delivery at doorstep was recently launched by the Ministry of Law and Justice.

Key Points about EK Pahal Campaign:

  • This campaign was launched by Department of Justice and National Legal Services Authority (NALSA).
  • It was launched on 17 September 2021 in a bid to encourage mass registration under TeleLaw.

Note: TeleLaw means the use of communications and information technology for the delivery of legal information and advice.

  • Department of Justice has partnered with NALSA and CSC eGovernance Service India Limited for mainstreaming legal aid to the marginalized communities through Common Services Center (CSC).
  • The Ek Pahal campaign will run across the India from 17th September till 2nd October.

Justice in Preamble:

  • The Preamble to the Constitution of India has recognised Justice as the first deliverable for the Indian citizens.
  • A successful and vibrant democracy is where every citizen not only get guaranteed justice, but where justice is equitable.
  • This principal mandates for State to create an environment where justicedelivery is looked as a citizencentric service rather than a sovereign function.

What is the significance of Tele law?

  • The significance of Tele law is that provides prelitigation advice or consultation to beneficiaries by Panel Lawyers.
  • This medium uses a huge network by covering 51,434 Common Service Centres across 50,000 Gram Panchayats in 633 districts of 34 States & UTs.
  • It will also be holding 4100 Legal Aid Clinics to give prelitigation or legal advice to common citizens with the help of Panel Lawyers and ParaLegal Volunteers.
  • Awareness programmes will also be launched at village level on legal aid in 672 districts.

About NALSA:

  • The National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) has been constituted under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987.
  • It was established on 9 November 1995.
  • The principal objective of NALSA is to provide free and competent legal services to the weaker sections of the society and to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities, and to organize Lok Adalats for amicable settlement of disputes.
  • The current Executive of NALSA is Hon'ble Mr. Justice Uday Umesh Lalit.

 

Planetarium Innovation Challenge: MyGov India, under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has recently launched the Planetarium Innovation Challenge for Indian startups and tech entrepreneurs.

Key Highlights:

  • This Planetarium challenge was launched with the main aim to bring together the tech firms and Startups, which are based out of India, with the potential to build indigenous planetariums system software.
  • This system software must be built by using latest technologies such as Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and Merged Reality (MR).
  • Planetarium Innovation Challenge Registration is open till 10th October 2021.
  • The Innovation Challenge can be joined at https://innovateindia.mygov.in/.
  • This challenge perfectly aligns with the objective of India’s progressive digital transformation under the Aatmanirbhar Bharat initiative.

Significance:

  • This challenge provides an opportunity for Planetariums in India to deploy indigenously built new technologies for smaller cities and rural areas.
  • It invites applications from startups and tech entrepreneurs in order to develop stateoftheart technology for Planetariums.

Background:

  • This challenge has been inspired by the Chandrayaan launches.
  • Prior to the launch, Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) had conducted the ISRO Quiz Competition2019 in collaboration with MyGov.
  • In that quiz, several schools, parents and enthusiastic mentors had actively participated.

Planetarium Innovation Challenge Prizes:

  • The 1st Winner will get five lakh.
  • The 2nd Winner will get three lakh.
  • The 3rd Winner will get two lakh.

About MyGov:

  • MyGov has been established as Government of India's Citizen Engagement Platform.
  • This platform collaborates with multiple Government bodies/ Ministries to engage with citizens for policy formulation and seeks the opinion of people on issues/ topics of public interest and welfare.
  • It was established on 26th July 2014.
  • Its main aim is to promote the active participation of Indian citizens in the governance and development of India.
  • It also aims to create common platform for Indian citizens in a bid to “crowdsource governance ideas from citizens”.

 

PRANA Portal:

 Union environment minister, Bhupendra Yadav, on September 7, 2021, launched PRANA (Portal for Regulation of Airpollution in NonAttainmen) under the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP).

Key Highlights:

  • PRANA meaning ‘Life’ in Sanskrit is a portal for regulation of air pollution in 132 cities across the country.
  • This portal was launched on the occasion of ‘International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies’ in nonattainment cities (NAC).

Note: Nonattainment cities are those cities that failed to meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for over five years.

  • With India’s efforts, 86 cities showed a better air quality in 2019 and it increased to 104 cities in 2020.
  • During the launch event held at the ministry headquarters here on the occasion of ‘International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies’, a smog tower was also inaugurated at Anand Vihar, as an experimental technology and its impact would be observed for two years.

Key points about PRANA Portal:

  • PRANA Portal will be used to track the progress of the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) in order to comply with India’s commitment to ensure clean air and blue skies to everybody.
  • The portal would support tracking of the physical and financial status of city air action plan implementation.
  • It would also disseminate information on air quality to the public while also providing comprehensive information related to NCAP programme details, progress, city action plans, implementation updates by city/state/ national level agencies, air quality data, and trends, etc.

Features of PRANA Portal:

The portal (prana.cpcb.gov.in) has a national dashboard that has interactive points on 7 thematic areas of city air action plans, PM10 performance, ambient air monitoring network, public grievance redressal portal, graded response action plans, and more. It is intertwined with the Government’s goal for sustainable utilization, protection, and conservation of public goods and the environment.

India’s target:

  • The Environment ministry and Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) seek to achieve 2030 percent reduction in particulate matter (PM10 as well as PM2.5) concentrations in India by 2024.
  • In order to achieve the target, India has prepared and is implementing cityspecific action plans to improve air quality in 132 NACs/Million Plus Cities.
  • It targets cityspecific air polluting sources like MSW burning, domestic fuel, soil & road dust, vehicles, construction material and industries.

About National Clean Air Programme (NCAP):

  • National Clean Air Programme, a midterm, fiveyear action plan was launched in 2019 by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
  • It is the firstever effort in the country to frame a national framework for air quality management with a timebound reduction target.
  • It seeks to cut the concentration of coarse (particulate matter of diameter 10 micrometer or less, or PM10) and fine particles (particulate matter of diameter 2.5 micrometer or less, or PM2.5) by at least 20% in the next five years, with 2017 as the base year for comparison.
  • The plan includes 102 nonattainment cities, across 23 states and Union territories, which were identified by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) on the basis of their ambient air quality data between 2011 and 2015.

 

Himalayan Day 2021: Himalayan Day is celebrated on the 9th of September every year particularly in Uttarakhand.

  • The day is celebrated to create and spread awareness on the conservation of the Himalayan Ecosystem.

Key Highlights:

  • Himalayan Diwas 2021 was organized by the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) in association with Naula Foundation.
  • The theme for year 2021 is ‘Contribution of Himalayas and our responsibilities’.
  • The event was part of the ongoing celebration of ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’.
  • Proceedings of ‘Stakeholders Webinar on PahadPaaniParampra’ were released at the event.

History:

  • Himalayan Day was first observed in Uttarakhand in 2010 as an initiative of a group of noted environmentalists including Sunderlal Bahuguna, Anil Prakash Joshi and Radha Behen.
  • It was officially declared as Himalaya Day in 2015 by the then Chief Minister.

Significance:

  • Himalaya plays an important role to save and sustain nature and protect the country from adverse weather conditions.
  • Himalayas are a source of medicinal plants which makes Ganga water special and gives life to not only Ganga but many smaller streams
  • The Himalayan range is also responsible for rain besides being a rich repository of floral and faunal biodiversity.

Concern:

  • Shri Rajiv Ranjan Mishra, Director General, NMCG raised concerns over unplanned urbanization in the Himalayas.
  • He said that the Himalayan hill towns face several challenges because of poor building planning & designs, poor infrastructure (roads, sewage, water supply etc) and unprecedented cutting of trees.
  • This, in turn causes serious ecological issues.  
  • He added that there was an urgent need to develop ecosensitive hill town plans and designs

 

Swachh Survekshan Grameen 2021: The “Swachh Survekshan Grameen 2021” under Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen) Phase II was recently launched by the Minister of State of Jal Shakti Ministry, Shri Prahlad Singh Patel.

Key Highlights:

This event was organized by Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation (DDWS).

Swachh Survekshan Grameen 2021 will be undertaken by the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation (DDWS) across the country.

DDWS has also commissioned the Survekshan in 2018 and 2019 earlier.

Aim:

This programme was launched with an aim to support acceleration of ODF Plus interventions and increase momentum for improving ODF Sustainability as well as Solid and Liquid Waste Management (SLWM) activities across the villages in the country.

The Phase II of SBM (G) aims at achieving the goal of comprehensive cleanliness or Sampoorna Swachhata by addressing ODF Sustainability and SLWM issues.

Key Points about the Scheme:

As part of the Survekshan, Villages, Districts and States would be ranked using key parameters.

As part of Swachh Survekshan Grameen 17,475 villages in 698 Districts across India will be covered.

Around 87,250 public places namely schools, anganwadis, public health centres, haat/bazaars/religious places in these 17,475 villages will be visited for survey.

In line with the Swachh Bharat Mission phase II program, SSG 2021 would focus on assessing ODF Sustainability & Implementation of ODF Plus in the villages.

Many new elements have been added in the SSG 2021. These elements include  

Assessment of Solid, Liquid

Plastic Waste & faecal Sludge Management Arrangements

Awareness on Menstrual Hygiene

Management & Disposal Arrangements for Menstrual Waste

Significance:

India achieved the challenge of ODF declaration of all villages in mission mode in five years period of 20142019.  

The vision of Swachh Bharat triggered the Behavior Change to end open defecation by construction of more than 10 crore toilets.

It also led to Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) to address water security.

SSG 2021 mobile App:

Under this phase, a mobile app named “SSG 2021 mobile app” will also be made available in major local Indian languages.

This App will help in getting feedback from citizens and using it survey will be well monitored through frequent field visits.

The weights to different elements of the SSG 2021 are as below:

Direct Observation of sanitation in villages including HHs/public places 30%

Citizen’s Feedback including feedback from common citizens, key influencers at the village level and from citizens online using a mobile App 35%

Service Level Progress on sanitation related parameters 35%

About Swachh Bharat Initiative:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi,on 2 October 2014 had launched the Swachh Bharat initiative.

This initiative was launched on the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

It was launched with an aim to eradicate open defecation by 2 October 2019, the 150th anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi.

Under it, a national behaviour change movement was started comprising of two following primary yardsticks:

Transparency

People’s participation.

  • With the help of this movement, Swachh Bharat initiative succeeded in achieving its goal of safe sanitation across rural India.

 

 

 

IROAF: The Indian Railways recently issued an order on September 7, 2021, to shut down the Indian Railways Organization of Alternate Fuel (IROAF).

Key Details:

  • IROAF, a green fuel vertical of the Railways, had recently invited bids for the hydrogen fuel cellbased technology for trains.
  • However, the Railways have stated that the decision of shutting down the alternate fuel wing will not impact the ongoing projects or the contracts in any way.
  • With some administrative change, projects will be executed as usual.
  • The work of IROAF will be transferred to the Northern Railways and the Railway Board.
  • Solar power rolling stock or Alternate Fuel Electrical Directorate of the IROAF will be transferred to the Railway Board, while the existing tenders will be handled by Northern Railway.

Solar Trains:

  • Four years ago, the first solarpowered train of India was launched. The technology for which was developed by IROAF.  
  • The entire electrical needs of the train such as fans, lights, and other systems were met by power generated by solar panels fitted atop coaches of a DEMU.
  • IROAF had also been working on solarpowered trains in line with government’s plans to reduce carbon emission by adopting renewable energy by 2022.
  • The IROAF was also working on research and development of projects relating to use of compressed natural gas (CNG) as a substitute to highspeed diesel to create a clean environment and reduce cost of transportation.
  • It was also focusing on ecofriendly technologies in the operation, production and maintenance of assets in Indian Railways.

What was IROAF?

The Indian Railways Organization of Alternate Fuels (IROAF) was an enterprise that was exclusively formed to promote green energy by introducing alternative energy, fuelefficient, and emissioncontrol technologies across the Indian Railway network.

It seeked to introduce Bio Diesel in Indian Railways, convert Diesel Powered Multiple Units (DEMU) to dual fuel using Compressed Natural Gas (CNG).

It also seeked to promote the use of Solar Energy in Rolling Stock & Mechanical Assets.

Concerns with the set target:

  • In the past, IROAF had experimented with biodiesel, CNGfuelled engines, etc.
  • The organization had also been working on the solarpowered trains as well as in tandem with the plans of the BJP government to reduce carbon emission through the adoption of renewable sources of energy by 2022.
  • However, except for the minor projects and the showcase installations, the Indian Railways has not yet aligned itself with the targets of 2022.
  • Railways is doing very little to contribute to the agenda set by Government of India (GoI).

 

Peace Pact with NSCN: The Centre, on 8th September 2021, signed a ceasefire agreement with the Niki Sumi faction of National Security Council of Nagaland (NSCN) Khaplang (K)

The signing of the agreement has made it the second such agreement this week following Karbi Anglong Accord last August 4.

Key Points:

  • The agreement was signed between Additional Secretary (Northeast) in MHA, Piyush Goyal, and NSCN (K) Niki representatives Nikato Pilot Sumi, supervisor of the Ceasefire Supervisory Board (CFSB), and Abel Zingru Thuer, a CFSB member.
  • The agreement will be in effect for one year beginning September 8.
  • According to Home Ministry, with the signing of the peace agreement, about 200 cadres of NSCN group along with 83 weapons have joined the peace process.
  • Central Government has also signed peace pact with other factions of National Socialist Council of Nagaland NSCN (NK), NSCN (R), and NSCN (K) Khango.

Background:

  • In December 2020, the NSCNK, led by dreaded militant Niki Sumi, had announced a ceasefire and had expressed his willingness to sign the ceasefire agreement with the government for initiating peace dialogue.

Significance:

  • According to Ministry of Home Affairs, this peace process was signed with the aim of fulfilling Prime Minister Modi’s vision of ‘insurgency free and prosperous North East.
  • The agreement is aimed at bringing about lasting peace in the State of Nagaland with the involvement of Naga people.

 Naga Peace Accord:

  • The framework agreement for Naga Peace Accord was inked between Central Government and NSCN (IM) group on 3rd August 2015.
  • Before this framework agreement, NSCN (K) had revoked the peace pact with the government in March 2015.
  • This pact was signed to end the insurgency in Nagaland.

Other Peace Accords:

Bodo Agreement: In January 2020, with the signing of the Bodo agreement, more than 2,250 cadres of insurgent groups, including all factions of NDFB, along with 423 weapons and a huge quantity of ammunition surrendered in Assam and joined the mainstream.

Karbi Anglong Agreement: On February 23, 2021, as many as 1,040 leaders and cadres of various underground Karbi groups of Assam surrendered along with 338 weapons, and it was followed by the signing of the Karbi Anglong agreement on September 4, 2021.

 

NLM Portal: Union Minister for Fisheries, Animal Husbandry, and Dairying, Parshottam Rupala recently launched the portal for National Livestock Mission (NLM).

  • With the portal, the Government aims to increase the effectiveness and ensure transparency in the implementation of the scheme.

About NLM portal:

  • The NLM portal is developed by the Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) in collaboration with the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying (DAHD).

Note: The Department of Animal husbandry and Dairying (DAHD) is an Indian government department. It is a subsidiary department of the Ministry of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries which was formed as a new Indian ministry in 2019.

  • The online portal aims to enable a customized workflow between State Implementing Agency (SIA), lenders, and Ministry as required under the National Livestock Mission.
  • The portal was launched during the national level meeting with all State Animal Husbandry/Veterinary Ministers convened by Union Minister Parshottam Rupala.

About National Livestock Mission (NLM):

  • NLM is an initiative of the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare.
  • The mission was introduced in 201415, with the objective of sustainable development of the livestock sector.
  • This mission seeks to ensure quantitative and qualitative improvement in livestock production systems especially in Sheep, Goat, Pig, Poultry, Feed and Fodder sector and capacity building of all stakeholders.
  • This mission covers all the Indian states.
  • There are 4 submissions under National Livestock Mission:
  • SubMission on Fodder and Feed Development
  • SubMission on Livestock Development
  • SubMission on Development of Pig in NorthEastern Region
  • SubMission on Technology Transfer, Skill Development and Extension
  • The scheme is being implemented as a sub scheme of White Revolution  Rashtriya Pashudhan Vikas Yojana.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

National Small Industry Day: Every year on August 30, India celebrates National Small Industry Day to commemorate the contribution of small-scale industry to the country’s growth.

Key Points:

This day is celebrated to support and promote small Industries for their overall growth potential and opportunities received for their development in the year.

The day aims to promote the value of small businesses in the society and to encourage the small industries across the country.

History:

  • On this day in 2000, a comprehensive policy package for the Small Scale Industry (SSI) sector was launched, providing significant support to small firms in India.

  • The erstwhile Ministry of Small Scale Industries which is now the Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium enterprises (MSME) has decided to designate 30th of August every year as the National Small Industry Day.

Note:

  • On the other hand, the UN General Assembly has declared June 27 as the MSME Day to enhance public awareness of MSMEs’ contribution to sustainable development and the global economy.

  • The day is celebrated since 2017 following a resolution passed in the Assembly during the year.

  • According to a UN blog, formal and informal MSMEs make up over 90 per cent of all firms and account, on average, for 70 per cent of total employment and 50 per cent of GDP worldwide.

What role do the MSMEs play in India?

  • Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector has emerged as a highly vibrant and dynamic sector of the Indian economy over the last five decades

  • The MSMEs have contributed immensely to the country's socio-economic development.

  • It not only generates employment opportunities but also works hand-in-hand towards the development of the nation's backward and rural areas.

  • It is the boon for the fresh talent in India.

  • India is home to more than 6.3 crore MSMEs and contributes 45% of the total exports in sub sectors like leather, pharmaceuticals, textiles gems & Jewelry and automotives, etc.

Some of the key reforms introduced by Ministry of MSME are:

Revision of MSME definition:

  • Government of India (GoI) approved the upward revision of MSME definition on 1st June 2020.

  • It was approved under the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Package.

  • The Government revised the MSME classification by inserting composite criteria of both investment and annual turnover.

Udyam Registration:

  • Udyam is an online and simplified procedure of filing of registration.

  • It enables MSMEs to obtain registration without any documentation and fees.

Champions Portal:

  • It is an ICT based technology system.

  • The platform is aimed at making the smaller units big by solving their grievances, encouraging, supporting, helping and handholding throughout the business lifecycle.

  • It facilitates a single window solution for all needs of MSMEs.

National SC-ST Hub (NSSH):

  • National SC-ST Hub has been launched to promote entrepreneurship culture in the SC-ST community and fulfill the 4% procurement target mentioned in the Public Procurement Policy order, 2018.

Self-Reliant India (SRI) Fund:

  • The scheme is expected to facilitate equity financing of Rs.50,000 crore in the MSME Sector.

  • The infusion of equity will provide an opportunity to get MSMEs listed in stock exchanges.

Procurement Policy:

  • For providing marketing support to MSEs, all Central Ministries/Government Departments and CPSEs are required to procure 25% of their annual requirements of goods and services from MSEs including 4% from MSEs owned by SC/ST and 3% from MSEs owned by women entrepreneurs under the Public Procurement Policy.

Establishment of Enterprise Development Centers (EDCs):

  • Till date Ministry of MSME has set up 102 EDCs across India.

  • The main aim of these centers is to build a network of entrepreneurial leaders by providing professional mentoring and handholding support services to existing as well as aspiring MSMEs with special focus on rural enterprises on continuous basis.

About the Ministry of MSME:

  • MSME is an acronym for Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises.

  • It is a branch of the Government of India (GoI).

  • It is the apex executive body for the formulation and administration of rules, regulations and laws relating to micro, small and medium enterprises in India.

  • It was founded in 2007.

  • The Ministry of Agro and Rural Industries and Ministry of Small Scale Industries (SSI) were merged into a single Ministry, namely, the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME).

  • The current Union Minister of MSME is Narayan Tatu Rane (Rajya Sabha-Maharashtra) and Minister of State is Bhanu Pratap singh Verma(Constituency-Jalaun, Uttar Pradesh)

Thematic POSHAN Maah: As part of the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development have planned to organize and celebrate Thematic POSHAN Maah throughout the month of September 2021.

Key Points:

  • The entire month of September will be sub-divided into weekly themes for a focused and assimilated approach towards improving Holistic Nutrition.

  • The weekly themes are as follows:

  1. The weekly theme for the activities to be taken up from 1st to 7th September is – Plantation Activity as “PoshanVatika.

  2. The theme for 8th to 15th September week is Yoga and AYUSH for Nutrition while

  3. The theme for the thrd week is- Distribution of ‘Regional Nutrition Kit’ to Anganwadi beneficiaries of High Burdened Districts.

  4. The theme for the 4th week 24th to 30 September has been named as Identification of severely acute malnourished children and distribution of nutritious food.

About Poshan Abhyaan:

  • The POSHAN (Prime Minister’s Overarching Scheme for Holistic Nutrition) Abhiyaan is the flagship programme of government of India to improve nutritional outcomes for pregnant women, lactating mother, children and adolescent Girls.

  • The POSHAN Abhiyaan, also known as National Nutrition Mission was launched by PM Narendra Modi on March 8, 2018, on the occasion of International Women’s Day in Rajasthan.

Jan Andolan:

  • POSHAN Abhiyaan is a People’s Movement or a Jan Andolan that incorporates inclusive participation from government bodies, local bodies of states or UTs, social organizations, private sector, and the public at large.

Aim:

  • This initiative aims to make India a malnutrition-free country by 2022.

  • It aims to reduce stunting in children from 38.4 percent to 25 percent by 2022.

  • The Budget 2021-2022 included the announcement of Mission POSHAN 2.0 (Saksham Anganwadi and Poshan 2.0) as an integrated nutrition support programme.

  • The mission POSHAN 2.0 focuses on strengthening nutritional content, outreach, delivery, and outcomes by developing practices that improve health, wellness, and immune response to disease and malnutrition.

World Coconut Day 2021: Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare (MoA&FW) celebrated World Coconut Day on 2nd September 2021 to commemorate the foundation day of the International Coconut Community.

Note: International Coconut community is an inter-governmental organization of coconut producing countries under the aegis of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, UN-ESCAP.

  • The function was also addressed by the Ministers of State for Agriculture Shobha Karandlaje and Kailash Choudhary and Agriculture Secretary Sanjay Agarwal.

  • The theme for the 23rd World Coconut Day celebrations for 2021 is Building a safe, inclusive resilient and sustainable coconut community amid COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

About World Coconut Day:

  • Every year, September 2, 2021, is observed as World Coconut Day.

  • This day is celebrated to emphasize and raise awareness about the importance as well as benefits of coconuts.

  • Coconut Development Board celebrates Coconut Day every year to create increased awareness on the importance of coconut and focus national and international attention on coconut sector.

History:

  • This day started in 2009, on the day when the Asian and Pacific Coconut Community (APCC) was founded.

About APCC:

  • APCC is an intergovernmental organization that supervises and facilitates Asian-pacific states that produce coconuts.

  • The APCC is headquartered at Jakarta, Indonesia.

Coconut production in India:

  • India currently is the third largest coconut producer with Indonesia at the top.

  • In India, states such as Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Goa, West Bengal, etc. are the major producers of coconut.

About Coconut:

  • Coconut is one of the most loved and versatile fruits.

  • It belongs to the drupe family.

  • It is a fleshy fruit that has been planting in tropical regions.

  • It is not just edible, but you can also use its oil for skin benefits.

  • A rich source of electrolytes and lauric acid, coconuts contain many antioxidants and antibacterial, anti-fungal, and antiviral.

  • They are produced in more than 80 countries around the world.

About MoA&FW:

  • The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare (MoA&FW) is a branch of the Government of India (GoI).

  • It is the apex body for formulation and administration of the rules and regulations and laws related to agriculture in India.

  • The three broad areas of scope for the Ministry are agriculture, food processing and co-operation.

  • It was formed in 1947 and is headquartered in New Delhi.

  • Currently the agriculture ministry is headed by Minister of Agriculture Narendra Singh Tomar and the Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare is Shri Kailash Choudhary.

National Teachers' Awards: President Ram Nath Kovind on September 5, 2021 conferred the National Teachers' Awards upon 44 teachers from across the country for their contribution to developing innovative methods of teaching.

  • The national-level awards are given on Teachers' Day to celebrate the unique contribution of some of the finest teachers in the country and to honour those who, through their commitment, have not only improved the quality of school education but also enriched the lives of their students.

Key Details:

  • This year, online self-nomination process was followed by a three-tier selection process at district, state and national level.

  • A documentary film on each of the 44 awardee teachers was also shown during the virtual award ceremony.

  • The National Education Policy (NEP), which was implemented in 2020, has set an ambitious objective of establishing India as a global knowledge superpower.

Note: The Education Ministry has started an integrated teachers’ training programme called ‘Nishtha’ under which efforts are being made for ‘Online Capacity Building’ for teachers.

  • On this occasion, Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan also conferred AICTE- Visvesvaraya Best Teacher Award on 17 faculty members in Engineering and Technology at a function in New Delhi.

  • Three faculty members were awarded the AICTE-Dr. Pritam Singh Best Teacher Award in Management Education.

  • The Minister also conferred Chhatra Vishwakarma Award and Clean and Smart Campus Award, 2020 to the selected institutions.

Awardees for 2021:

  • Two teachers from Delhi’s Bal Bharati Public School, Dwarka and Rajasthan’s Birla Balika Vidyapeeth, Jhunjhunu received the awards from amongst those working in CBSE schools.

  • There were two awardees each from Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, UP, Maharashtra, Assam, Sikkim, Odisha, Bihar, Gujarat and Rajasthan.

  • A teacher from Karpawand, Bastar is also among awardees.

About the award:

  • The National Awards to Teachers were first instituted in 1958 to recognize the excellence and commitment of teachers in shaping the minds as well as the future of the youth.

  • From the mid-60s onwards, September 5 came to be the fixed date for the function on account of the birthday of Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan, former president of India and an eminent educationist.

  • The awards accord public recognition to meritorious teachers working in elementary and secondary schools.

About Teachers Day:

  • Every year on September 5, India celebrates National Teachers' Day to mark the birth anniversary of India's first Vice President and second President, Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan.

  • He was a renowned philosopher, scholar, teacher and politician. His contribution to shaping India’s education is immense.

  • It is a day to honour, recognize and celebrate the teachers in our lives and express our gratitude for their guidance and influence.

National Teacher's Day: Every year on September 5, India celebrates National Teachers' Day to mark the birth anniversary of India's first Vice President and second President, Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan.

  • He was a renowned philosopher, scholar, teacher and politician. His contribution to shaping India’s education is immense.

  • It is a day to honour, recognize and celebrate the teachers in our lives and express our gratitude for their guidance and influence.

Teachers'Day 2021:

  • President Ram Nath Kovind on 5th September 2021 presented National Awards to 44 teachers from all over the country.

  • On this occasion, Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan also conferred AICTE- Visvesvaraya Best Teacher Award on 17 faculty members in Engineering and Technology at a function in New Delhi.

  • Three faculty members were awarded the AICTE-Dr. Pritam Singh Best Teacher Award in Management Education.

  • The Minister also conferred Chhatra Vishwakarma Award and Clean and Smart Campus Award, 2020 to the selected institutions.

History of Teacher's Day:

  • Teachers' Day is marked on the birthday of Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan.

  • In 1962, when he took the office of the President of India, his students approached him to seek permission to celebrate September 5 as a special day.

  • He instead asked them to observe this day as Teacher's Day, to recognize the contribution of teachers to society.

  • Ever since, Teacher's Day has been celebrated across schools, colleges, universities and educational institutions.

Significance of this day:

  • The day holds significance, as students across all educational institutions show gratitude and honour to all their teachers and mentors.

  • Teachers are also recognized for their unspoken contribution to the development of society. Schools also pay tribute to Dr Radhakrishnan.

When is world Teacher's Day?

  • World Teachers’ Day is held annually on October 5 since the first observation way back in 1994.

History of World Teachers' Day:

  • This holiday marks the anniversary of the adoption of the 1966 UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers.

  • It sets standards regarding the rights and responsibilities of teachers for their initial preparation, further education, recruitment, employment, and learning conditions.

Karbi Anglong Agreement: The centre, on September 4, 2021, signed a tripartite agreement- "Karbi Anglong Agreement” with representatives of Karbi outfits in New Delhi promising to fulfill all the conditions for development of the Karbi people within the stipulated time.

Key Highlights:

  • The agreement was signed in the presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.

  • The historic agreement was signed by a delegation of six Karbi group members including -

  1. Karbi People's Liberation Tigers (R),

  2. Karbi Longri NC Hills Liberation Front (KLNLF),

  3. Karbi People's Liberation Tigers (Ceasefire),

  4. People’s Democratic Council of Karbi Longri (PDCK),

  5. United Peoples Liberation Army (UPLA) and

  6. Karbi People’s Liberation Tiger (KPLT).

  • A total of 1,040 militants of five militant groups had surrendered along with their weapons during an event at Guwahati in Assam on February 25.

  • The Karbi Anglong Agreement is another milestone in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of “insurgency-free prosperous North East”.

Key Points:

Under the agreement, the Assam Government has agreed to the following:

  • To invest ₹1,000 crore by the Assam government for development of the Karbi Anglong area in the next five years.

  • To provide reservation for the people of Karbi for the first time.

  • To rehabilitate the surrendered militants.

  • To set up of Karbi Welfare Council by the Assam government.

  • To supplement resources of Karbi Autonomous Council by augmenting consolidated fund of the state, along with protection of their language and culture etc.

  • Consider favorably the proposal of KAAC to notify Karbi as the official language of KAAC. However English, Hindi & Assamese will continue to be used for official purposes.

  • In return, all signatory armed groups shall abjure the path of violence, disband their organizations and surrender their weapons within one month of signing of the Agreement.

  • All camps occupied by these groups will also be vacated forthwith.

Significance of Karbi Anglong Agreement:

  • Located in central Assam, Karbi Anglong is the state’s largest district and a melting pot of ethnicities and tribal groups — Karbi, Dimasa, Bodo, Kuki, Hmar, Tiwa, Garo, Man (Tai speakers), Rengma Naga.

  • The Karbis are dotted by many factions, and marked by ethnic violence, killings, abductions, taxation since the late 1980s that did not allow the region to develop.

  • The agreement hopes to bring an end to this violence and establish peace in the state.

Background:

  • Apart from the Bodoland movement and the one led by ULFA for a sovereign Assam, the Karbi insurgency — for a separate state of Karbi Anglong and North Cachar Hills — is one of the several insurgencies that Assam has faced over the years.

  • In February, ahead of the Assam Assembly elections, over 1040 insurgents belonging to five militant outfits of the Karbi Anglong autonomous district had surrendered to the Assam Government.

  • The current accord is a result of negotiations with the five groups since then.

Who are Karbis?

  • Karbis is a major ethnic community of Assam, which is presently splintered into various groups and factions.

  • Originally, they are one of Northeast India’s tribal groups, largely inhabiting the Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao (formerly North Cachar) hills districts.

Note: The Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC) is an autonomous district council, which is protected under the Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution.

National Monetization Pipeline:

Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs, Nirmala Sitharaman has unveiled the asset monetization pipeline of Central ministries and public sector entities: ‘National Monetization Pipeline (NMP)’.

  • National Monetization Pipeline has been designed to attract more investors to the country and encourage alternative financing.

What is Monetization?

  • Monetization is defined as the process of earning revenue from an asset business by converting the assets into cash or a form that is easily convertible into cash.

  • Real estate investment trusts (REITs) and infrastructure investment trusts (InvITs) are some of structures that will be used to monetize assets in roads and power sectors.

What Is Asset Monetization?

  • Asset Monetization means a limited period license/ lease of an asset, owned by the government or public authority, to a private sector entity for upfront or periodic consideration.

What is National Monetization Pipeline (NMP)?

  • The National Monetization Pipeline (NMP) lists out assets and asset classes, under various infrastructure ministries, which will be monetized over a period of time. Which means assets will be monetized.

  • The pipeline has been developed by NITI Aayog (National Institution of Transforming India), in consultation with infrastructure line ministries, based on the mandate for ‘Asset Monetization’ under Union Budget 2021-22.

  • NMP estimates aggregate monetization potential of Rs 6.0 lakh crores through core assets of the Central Government, over a four-year period, from FY 2022 to FY 2025.

What Are The Assets Identified For Monetization?

  • The NMP does not include monetization through disinvestment and of non-core assets.

  • Currently, it includes only the assets of central government ministries and CPSEs in infrastructure sectors.

  • The sectors included are roads, ports, airports, railways, warehousing, gas & product pipeline, power generation and transmission, mining, telecom, stadium, hospitality and housing.

  • The top 5 sectors capture about 83% of the aggregate pipeline value.

  • These top 5 sectors include-

  1. Roads (27%)

  2. Railways (25%)

  3. Power (15%)

  4. Oil & gas pipelines (8%)

  5. Telecom (6%)

Assets in the NMP list:

Assets on the NMP list include-

  1. 26700 km of roads, railway stations, train operations & tracks

  2. 28608 CKT km of power transmission lines

  3. 6 GW of hydroelectric & solar power assets

  4. 86 lakh km fibre assets & 14,917 towers in the telecom sector

  5. 8154 km of natural gas pipelines and

  6. 3930 km of petroleum product pipelines.

Framework:

  • The pipeline has been prepared based on inputs and consultations from respective line ministries and departments, along with the assessment of total asset base available therein. Monetization through disinvestment and monetization of non-core assets have not been included in the NMP.

  • Further, at present, only assets of central government line ministries and CPSEs in infrastructure sectors have been included. Process of coordination and collation of asset pipeline from states is currently ongoing and the same is envisaged to be included in due course.

  • The framework for monetization of core asset monetization has three key imperatives.

  1. Monetization of Rights Not ownership, Assets handed back at the end of transaction life

  2. Brownfield de-risked assets, stable revenue streams

  3. Structured partnerships under defined contractual frameworks with strict KPIs and performance standards.

Objective:

  • The strategic objective of the programme is to unlock the value of investments in Brownfield public sector assets by tapping institutional and long-term patient capital, which can thereafter be leveraged for further public investments,

  • The NMP comprises a four-year pipeline of the Central Government's Brownfield infrastructure assets.

Significance of the monetization:

  • Monetization seeks to help in creating further value for infrastructure creation India and exploring innovative ways of private participation without transferring the government ownership.

  • The National Monetization Pipeline book will be released in the presence of Vice Chairman of NITI Aayog, Dr Rajiv Kumar, CEO, Shri Amitabh Kant, and Secretaries of relevant line ministries whose assets constitute the monetization pipeline.

Key challenges of the scheme:

Major key challenges in the NMP roadmap include:

  • Lack of identifiable revenue streams across various assets,

  • Level of capacity utilization across gas and petroleum pipeline networks,

  • Dispute resolution mechanism,

  • Regulated tariffs in power sector assets, and

  • Low interest among investors for national highways below four lanes.

Background:

  • The Union Budget 2021-22 identified and laid a lot of emphasis on Asset Monetization as a means to raise innovative and alternative financing for infrastructure, and included a number of key announcements.

  • The Finance Minister had made a lot of significant announcements regarding asset monetization and stressed on the fact that the government is looking at innovative ways to raise finances.

Endemic Stage of COVID:

The Chief Scientist of the World Health Organization (WHO) Dr. Soumya Swaminathan recently said that COVID-19 in India may be entering the stage of endemicity where there is a low or moderate level of transmission going on.

Note: The endemic stage is when a population learns to live with a virus. It's very different from the epidemic stage when the virus overwhelms a population.

Key Details:

  • While talking about the clearance to India’s homegrown COVID-19 vaccine ‘COVAXIN’, she said that she is confident that the technical team of WHO will be satisfied to give clearance to be its authorized vaccines.

  • In an interview to journalist Karan Thapar for news website The Wire, she explained that given the size of India and the heterogeneity of the population and immunity status in various parts of the country, it is very feasible that the situation in India may continue like this with ups and downs in various parts of the country.

  • She added that India may be entering the stage of endemicity where moderate or low level of transmission will continue to happen however, no exponential growth or peaks will be there.

  • Dr. Swaminathan was hopeful that by the end of 2022, India maybe in that position where 70% of vaccine coverage will have been achieved and then the nations can get back to normal.

COVID-19 among children:

  • On the issue of prevalence of COVID-19 among children, Dr. Swaminathan said that parents need not panic.

  • She explained that, according to Sero Survey, it is possible that children can get infected and transmit.

  • But they will be having mild illness most of the time.

  • Very small percentage will get sick & inflammatory complications and few will die.

  • But the number will be much less than the adult population.

  • However, she further added that it is good to be prepared.

  • Preparing hospitals for pediatric admissions, pediatric intensive care is going to serve India’s health system in many ways for other illnesses children that children have.

Can drugs be used for COVID-19 treatment?

  • On use of drugs like Remdesivir, HCQ or Ivermectin for treatment, she stated that, as of now there is no evidence of role of Ivermectin or HCQ in reducing mortality or morbidity in people infected with the COVID-19 virus.

  • These drugs also have no role in preventing the infection.

National Food and Nutrition Campaign:

The Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, Narendra Singh Tomar recently launched the National Food and Nutrition Campaign for the farmers.

Key Details:

  • This campaign is organized by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).

  • ICAR has been working successfully on which crops should be cultivated and which seeds should be invented for rainfed and other areas.

  • Efforts are also being made to make agriculture and farmers connected with new technology.

  • The present government has been working continuously since the year 2014 based on a comprehensive approach.

  • The Government has also resolved to solve the problem of malnutrition problem and has also launched several schemes and programs in this direction.

  • Union Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Shri Kailash Choudhary said that the year 2023 will be celebrated as the International Year of Millets under the leadership of India, which is a matter of pride for India.

  • It is the responsibility of farmers associated with Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) to motivate other farmers for improved farming and ensure participation of all farmers in various schemes including Farmers Producer Organizations (FPO), Agri Infra Fund, and increasing the area of organic farming under traditional farming.

About MoA&FW:

  • The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare (MoA&FW) is a branch of the Government of India (GoI).

  • It is the apex body for formulation and administration of the rules and regulations and laws related to agriculture in India.

  • The three broad areas of scope for the Ministry are agriculture, food processing and co-operation.

  • It was formed in 1947 and is headquartered in New Delhi.

  • Currently the agriculture ministry is headed by Minister of Agriculture Narendra Singh Tomar and the Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare is Shri Kailash Choudhary.

BH-series:

The Ministry of Road Transport & Highways vide notification dated 26 Aug 2021, has introduced a new registration mark for new vehicles i.e. “Bharat series (BH-series)”.

Key Points:

  • It has been introduced in order to facilitate seamless transfer of vehicles.

  • The vehicles bearing the BH-series mark will not require the assignment of a new registration mark when the owner of the vehicle shifts from one State to another.

About BH-series:

  • The new BH series notification will be available for select vehicle owners who are subject to frequent transfers and relocations.

  • It will be available on a voluntary basis to Defense personnel, employees of Central Government/ State Government/ Central/ State Public Sector Undertakings and private sector companies/organizations, which have their offices in four or more States/Union territories.

  • Motor vehicle tax will be levied for two years or in multiple of two. After completing fourteenth year, this tax will be levied annually and it will be half the amount that was charged earlier for that vehicle.

  • The following are the format of Bharat series (BH-series) Registration Mark :

Registration Mark Format: –

  • YY BH #### XX

  • YY – Year of first registration

  • BH- Code for Bharat Series

  • ####- 0000 to 9999 (randomized)

  • XX- Alphabets (AA to ZZ)

Why were the new BH Series launched?

The new BH-series were launched considering the following difficulty.

  • The Government as well as private sector employees undergo station relocation.

  • Such movements create a sense of unease in the minds of such employees with regard to the transfer of registration from the parent state to another state.

  • The reason for this is that, under section 47 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, a person is allowed to keep the vehicle for not more than 12 months in any state other than the state where the vehicle is registered.

  • Instead a new registration with the new state- registering authority has to be made within the stipulated time of 12 months.

National Affairs Current Affairs - August 2021

MOU On International Trade & Investment Law:

The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi on 18th August 2021 approved the signing of an Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Permanent Mission of India (PMI) to the WTO, Centre for Trade and Investment Law (CTIL) of the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, and Centre for Trade and Economic Integration (CTEI) and Geneva-based Centre for Trade and Economic Integration.

Key Details:

  • The move will provide valuable academic and research opportunities to the employees of CTIL and the Department of Commerce in the field of international trade and investment law.

  • In addition, capacity-building programmes or activities will be carried out under the MoU to enhance the understanding of the DOC officials, CTIL researchers and academics on contemporary issues of international trade and build support for India’s positions in international trade and investment law.

  • The collaboration between academicians, jurists, policy makers, practitioners, and students from India, Switzerland and other countries would help create a technical and nuanced understanding of emerging and new areas of international trade and investment law and related disciplines.

  • The proposed collaborations under the MoU with CTEI are academic in nature.

  • Hence, the researchers and academicians from India, including employees from CTIL and Department of Commerce and other government agencies would benefit from capacity-building and research-oriented activities.

  • This would be beneficial to formulating India's positions on various issues on international trade negotiations and dispute settlement

  • The MoU will remain in force for three years.

NERAMAC:

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved a package of Rs 77.45 crore for the revival of state-run North Eastern Regional Agricultural Marketing Corporation Ltd (NERAMAC).

  • The decision was taken in the cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi here.

Key Points:

  • As per the Government, this move will help ensure remunerative price to the farmers of Northeast region for their products.

  • The package will also help NERAMAC to implement various innovative plans namely providing better farming facilities, training to farmers in clusters, organic seeds and fertilizer, post harvesting facilities in order to promote the products of NE farmers in the world market through participation in events, registration of GI products etc.

  • The implementation of revival of NERAMAC is also expected to generate direct or indirect employment for about 33,000 persons.

About NERAMAC:

  • North Eastern Regional Agricultural Marketing Corporation Ltd (NERAMAC) is a central Public Section Enterprises under the administrative control of Ministry of Development of North Eastern Regional (MDoNER).

  • It was incorporated in the year 1982 as a marketing organization in the field of Agri-Horti sector of the North-eastern region.

  • It was set up to support farmers and producers of North East for getting remunerative prices for their produce and thereby bridge the gap between the farmers and the market and also to enhance the agricultural, procurement, processing and marketing infrastructure of the Northeastern Region of India.

  • NERAMAC has continuously been making all efforts for the development of the farmers of the region and double their income by the end of 2022.

National Hydrogen Mission:

The Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi recently announced the launch of the National Hydrogen Mission on India’s 75th Independence Day during his Independence speech from the Red Fort.

Key Points:

  • The Mission aims to aid the government in meeting its climate targets and making India a green hydrogen hub.

  • This mission was announced in the backdrop of India spending Rs 12 trillion annually to meet its energy needs.

  • India, at present imports 85% of its oil and 53% of its gas demand.

  • It is expected to increase to 11.7 million tonnes (mt) by 2029-30.

What is National Hydrogen Mission?

  • The National Hydrogen Mission was proposed in the Union Budget 2021.

  • This mission was proposed to harness the potential of hydrogen in the energy area and enable generating hydrogen from green power sources.

  • The mission seeks to focus deeply on the generation of green hydrogen which is extracted from clean and green power sources and enable its commercial viability as a transportation fuel.

  • Green hydrogen energy is vital for India to meet its Nationally Determined Contributions.

  • It is a clean-burning molecule, which can decarbonise a range of sectors including iron and steel, chemicals, and transportation.

  • The initiative has the potential of transforming transportation.

Major Activities to be carried out under the Mission:

  • Creating volumes and infrastructure

  • Demonstrations in niche applications

  • Goal-oriented Research & Development

  • Facilitative policy support

  • A robust framework for standards

  • Regulations for hydrogen technologies

About Hydrogen:

  • Hydrogen is the lightest and first element on the periodic table.

  • Since the weight of hydrogen is less than air, it rises in the atmosphere and is therefore rarely found in its pure form, H2.

  • At standard temperature and pressure, hydrogen is a nontoxic, nonmetallic, odourless, tasteless, colourless, and highly combustible diatomic gas.

  • It is used for industrial uses like petroleum refining, manufacturing of chemicals, steel, & ammonia fertilizers and aerospace applications.

What is Hydrogen Fuel?

  • Hydrogen fuel is a zero-emission fuel burned with oxygen.

  • It can not only be used in fuel cells or internal combustion engines but it also is used as a fuel for spacecraft propulsion.

  • It can be manufactured by the following processes:

Electrolysis:

  • Electrolysis of water by using direct current.

Natural Gas Reforming/Gasification:

  • Natural Gas on reaction with steam produces Synthesis gas.

  • Synthetic gas is a mixture of hydrogen, carbon monoxide, and a small amount of carbon dioxide.

Fermentation:

  • Biomass is converted into sugar-rich feedstocks that can be fermented to produce hydrogen.

  • It is then stored after mixing or converting to ammonia or synthetic gas for easy liquefaction and transport.

Types of Hydrogen Fuel:

  • As per the World Energy Council (WEC), 96 percent of hydrogen is produced from fossil fuels through carbon-intensive processes

  • There are different types of hydrogen fuel. They are as follows:

Green Hydrogen:

  • Green hydrogen is extracted through the electrolysis of clean energy sources such as renewables.

  • This hydrogen type releases zero carbon (CO2) emissions but is expensive and commercially not viable yet.

  • The government is working on projects to produce green hydrogen.

Grey Hydrogen:

  • Not an expensive type but releases a lot of CO2 emissions as it is extracted through the burning of fossil fuels.

Blue Hydrogen:

  • The CO2 released during the production of hydrogen is trapped through carbon capture and storage (CCS) processes to turn grey hydrogen into blue hydrogen.

Brown Hydrogen:

  • Hydrogen is extracted through two methods for Industrial purposes, namely, gasification of coal or through steam methane reformation (SMR).

  • In SMR, methane from natural gas is heated with steam to produce carbon monoxide and hydrogen, which is used as fuel.

  • However, these methods aren’t carbon-friendly and cause vast emissions of greenhouse gasses.

  • Hydrogen produced from this method is called as brown hydrogen.

Green Hydrogen Consumption Obligation (GHCO):

  • Government of India (GoI) has also planned to implement Green Hydrogen Consumption Obligation (GHCO) in fertilizer production and petroleum refining.

  • It is similar to renewable purchase obligations (RPO) that require electricity distribution companies to buy a fixed amount of renewable energy.

  • It helps to cut reliance on fossil fuels.

Sadbhavana Diwas:

Every year India observes Sadbhavana Diwas on August 20 to commemorate the birth anniversary of late erstwhile Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi.

Key Facts:

  • Year 2021, is the 77th birth anniversary of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

  • The Indian National Congress instituted Rajiv Gandhi Sadbhavana Award in 1992, a year after his death.

  • Every year this day is celebrated in the memory of the late Rajiv Gandhi who was the youngest Prime Minister of India at the age of 40 years.

  • In lieu of paying tribute to his vision for India, on this occasion contributions to society betterments are made.

About Rajiv Gandhi:

  • Rajiv Gandhi became the youngest Prime Minister of India at an age of 40 years after the assassination of his mother Indra Gandhi and served from 1984-89.

  • He came up with a National Education Policy in 1986 to modernize the education system.

  • He founded Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya System where he provided free residential education to rural sections from classes 6 to 12.

  • He always had a dream of a developed nation for which he did many deeds including the National Education Policy in 1986, reduced Licence Raj, and included Panchayati Raj.

  • For remembering his dreams, his social and economic work for taking the nation towards development, Sadbhavana Diwas came into existence.

Akshay Urja Diwas 2021:

Akshay Urja Diwas (Renewable Energy Day) is observed every year on 20 August every year in India.

Highlights:

  • This day is observed to raise awareness about the developments and adoption of renewable energy in India.

  • The Government of India (GoI) is aware of the importance of development or renewable energy sources to provide the state with a sustainable amount of energy.

  • It is significant to promote awareness about renewable resources among people who are ignorant about the subject.

Key Points:

  • The Akshay Urja Day was initiated by the Indian Ministry for New & Renewable Energy Sources in 2004.

  • Energy such as Biogas, Solar Energy, Wind energy, hydroelectrical power is a few examples of Akshay Urja.

  • The main motive of Akshya urja Diwas is to make people aware that they have to think about renewable energy (Akshya Urja) apart from traditional energy.

History of Indian Akshay Urja Day:

  • Renewable Energy Day or Indian Akshay Urja Day was established in 2004 to support renewable energy development programs and promote its use instead of traditional sources of energy.

  • The 20th of August was chosen as it marks the birthday anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi, former Prime Minister of India.

  • The very first event relating to Akshay Urja Diwas was organized in New Delhi.

  • In 2004, the Prime Minister released a commemorative stamp, and 12,000 schoolchildren formed a human chain to promote renewable energy.

  • Later on, during the upcoming years, the events were organized in Nagpur, Hyderabad, Panchkula, Haryana.

Central Universities (Amendment) Bill, 2021: The Indian Parliament, on 9th August 2021, passed the Central Universities (Amendment) Bill, 2021 amid an opposition walkout.

Highlights:

  • The Bill in the Upper House was passed with a voice vote.

  • It seeks to establish a central university in the Union Territory of Ladakh.

  • The bill was cleared by Lok Sabha last week.

Key Details:

  • According to the Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Bill, at present there is no Central university in Ladakh and therefore, the government has decided to establish a new one there to ensure increase in accessibility and quality of higher education and research for the people of the Union territory.

  • It also aims to facilitate and promote avenues of higher education and research for the people of the Union territory.

  • As per the to the statement of objects, the Bill seeks to amend the Central Universities Act, 2009, to provide for the establishment of a university named “Sindhu Central University” in Ladakh.

  • The varsity is intended to cater to other areas of the UT including Leh and Kargil.

  • The government had said that the varsity is likely to reduce the imbalance in the Education sector of the region and provide opportunities to the students belonging to the UT of Ladakh to pursue higher educational opportunities.

  • An amount of Rs. 750 crore has been allocated by the government for the establishment of the central varsity in which nearly 2,500 students will get an opportunity to study in their own city.

India and US: Indian and American bodies, on August 10, 2021, signed an agreement on monsoon data analysis and cooperation.

Key Details:

  • The two bodies would enhance technical cooperation for improving weather forecasts.

  • The agreement was signed by India's National Institute of Ocean Technology Director, G.A. Ramadass and the U.S. Assistant Administrator for Research and Acting Chief Scientist, Craig McLean of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

  • The two bodies would enhance technical cooperation in the development of the Research Moored Array for African-Asian-Australian Monsoon Analysis and Prediction (RAMA) and the Ocean Moored buoy Network in the northern Indian Ocean (OMNI) for improving weather and monsoon forecasts between NOAA and India’s Ministry of Earth Sciences.

Background:

  • The agreement is a follow up to the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between the Ministry of Earth Sciences and NOAA last October for Technical Cooperation in Earth Observations and Earth Sciences.

  • The MoU had been signed by India’s Ambassador to the US, Taranjit Singh Sandhu and Dr Neil A Jacobs, Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Acting Administrator, NOAA.

About National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA):

  • NOAA is an American scientific agency working under the United States Department of Commerce.

  • It focuses on the conditions of oceans, major waterways, and the atmosphere.

  • It warns about the dangerous weather, charts seas and guides on use & protection of ocean & coastal resources.

  • It also conducts research to provide the understanding and improve stewardship of the environment.

Nation First, Always First: The theme of India’s 75th Independence Day celebrations will be ‘Nation First, Always First’.

Key Highlights:

  • This year, India will celebrate its 75th year of Independence at Red Fort from where Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the nation on August 15, 2021.

  • All the Olympians who won medals at the 2020 Tokyo Games have been sent special invites for the event.

  • Like 2020, due to the pandemic, the event this year too will be restricted to the public with no cultural performance.

  • Usually, the day is observed with parades and pageants showcasing the scenes of independence struggle to the cultural diversity of India.

  • A group of NCC cadets will attend the event.

  • From paintings to floral arrangements, all aspects of the programme will bear ‘Nation First, Always First’ theme.

Drone alert:

  • The Union Ministry of Home Affairs, after the recent drone attacks in Jammu, has asked the Delhi Police to strictly follow the Standard Operating Procedures for drone operations.

  • Personnel have also been directed to take down the drones or the aerial objects in case anyone sees one approaching the Red Fort.

  • A makeshift wall of containers has also been erected at the periphery of the Red Fort.

  • It will rule out any form of security breach owing to the ongoing farmers’ protest.

Additional Info:

Amrit Mahotsav:

  • Independence Day 2021 will be known as 'Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav'.

  • A 241 mile long march will take place from Ahemdabad to Dandi.

  • The event started on 12th March to mark the anniversary of Dandi March that Mahatma Gandhi did for salt.

About Independence Day:

  • Independence Day is marked as the occasion to celebrate the countless sacrifices and struggles our freedom fighters have made to make India independent from British rule.

  • It is observed as a national holiday with a flag hoisting ceremony, parade, and singing the national anthem with patriotic spirit.

  • It was on August 15, 1947 that India was freed from British colonialism by gaining independence.

History:

  • For a period of almost 200 years, the British ruled India.

  • At the Lahore meeting of the Indian National Assembly in 1929, the Purna Swaraj Declaration or “Indian Declaration of Independence” was promulgated, and it was declared Independence Day on January 26, 1930.

  • Congress called on the people to guarantee civil disobedience and implement the instructions issued by the Congress from time to time until India achieves complete independence.

  • Congress designated January 26 as Independence Day from 1930 to 1946.

  • The British Parliament had authorized Lord Mountbatten to transfer power before June 30, 1948.

  • As per Mountbatten’s inputs, the Indian Independence Bill was introduced in the British House of Commons on July 4, 1947, and passed within a fortnight.

  • It provided for the end of the British rule in India, on August 15, 1947, and the establishment of the Dominions of India and Pakistan.

  • After gaining actual independence on August 15, 1947, the Indian Constitution came into effect on January 26, 1950. Since then, January 26 has been designated as “Republic Day.”

Partition Horrors Remembrance Day: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday declared August 14 will be observed as ‘Partition Horrors Remembrance Day’ to acknowledge the pain undergone by Indians due to the partition of India in 1947.

Key Points:

  • The day commemorates the victims and sufferings of people during Partition of India.

  • The Union Home Ministry on 14th August 2021 evening issued a notification declaring that August 14 will be observed as Partition Horrors Remembrance Day.

  • Declaration of such a day would remind present and future generations of Indians of the pain and suffering faced by the people during the partition.

Aim:

  • The day was announced with the aim of reminding Indians the need of removing social divisions and disharmony.

  • It also seeks to further strengthen the spirit of oneness, social harmony and human empowerment.

About Partition:

  • The Partition of India was the division of British India[c] into two independent Dominions: India and Pakistan.

  • The Dominion of India is today the Republic of India (since 1950); while the Dominion of Pakistan was composed of what is known today as the Islamic Republic of Pakistan (since 1956) and the People's Republic of Bangladesh (since 1971).

  • The partition involved the division of two provinces, Bengal and Punjab, based on district-wide non-Muslim or Muslim majorities.

  • The partition was outlined in the Indian Independence Act 1947 and resulted in the dissolution of the British Raj, i.e. Crown rule in India.

The horrors of partition:

  • India attained its freedom from British rule on 15th August, 1947.

  • However, with the sweetness of freedom came also the trauma of partition leaving permanent scars on millions of Indians.

  • The partition displaced between 10 and 20 million people along religious lines, creating overwhelming refugee crises in the newly constituted dominions.

  • The partition caused amongst the largest migrations in human history.

  • Millions of families had to abandon their ancestral villages/towns/cities and were forced to find a new life as refugees.

  • The violent nature of the partition created an atmosphere of hostility and suspicion between India and Pakistan that affects their relationship to this day.

Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India Bill 2021: With the passage in Rajya Sabha, Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India (Amendment) Bill, 2021 got approval of both houses of Parliament on 4th August 2021.

Lok Sabha has already passed the bill on July 29.

Key Points about the Bill:

  • The Bill was moved on the floor of the house for passage and consideration by Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia.

  • It seeks to amend the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India Act, 2008.

  • The 2008 Act established the Airport Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA).

  • AERA regulates tariffs and other charges (such as airport development fees) for aeronautical services rendered at major airports in India and to monitor performance standards of airports.

  • The bill allows tariff determination of a 'group of airports' by way of amending the definition of 'major airport.'

  • The bill amends the provisions of the law in relation to tariffs for single airports.

Objective:

  • The main objective of the government is to develop not only the high traffic volume & profitable airports but also the low traffic volume of non-profitable airports. The revenue earned by AAI from these airports will be utilized for the development of airports in Tier-II and Tier-III cities.

  • It would help encourage the development of smaller airports.

  • This approach would help in the development of more airports through the PPP route thus, expanding the air connectivity to relatively remote and far-flung areas.

How is an airport designated as a major airport?

  • The 2008 Act designates an airport as a major airport if it has annual passenger traffic of at least 35 lakh.

  • The central government may also designate any airport as a major airport by a notification.

  • The Bill adds that the central government may group airports and notify the group as a major airport.

FTSCs: The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has approved the continuation of 1,023 Fast Track Special Courts (FTSCs); including 389 exclusive POCSO courts, as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) for another two years.

Key Details:

  • According to an official release by the Ministry of Law and Justice, Fast Track Special Courts are dedicated courts expected to ensure swift dispensation of justice.

  • The scheme would continue from April 1, 2021, to March 31, 2023, with an outlay of Rs 1572.86 crore — Rs 971.70 crore as central share and Rs 601.16 crore as state share.

  • Central Share is to be funded from Nirbhaya Fund.

Aim:

The continuation of the 1023 FTSCs aims at the following:

  • Reduce the number of pending cases of the Rape and POCSO Act.

  • Provide speedy access to justice to the victims of sexual crimes.

  • Act as a deterrent for sexual offenders.

Background:

  • To bring more stringent provisions and expeditious trial and disposal of such cases, the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018 was enacted which made provision of stringent punishment, including the death penalty, for perpetrators of rape.

  • This led to the establishment of 1023 FTSCs in January 2020 as a part of the National Mission for Safety of Women (NMSW), out of which 389 Courts were proposed for POSCO Act, 2021 related cases in Districts where the pendency of such cases is more than 100.

  • The Scheme was launched on 02.10.2019.

  • FTSCs are proposed to be expanded to cover all 31 states which are eligible to join the Scheme.

  • Fastracking of these cases will declog the judicial system of the burden of case pendency

  • It currently covers 28 States of India.

  • West Bengal is one of the states which has not started the scheme.

Commission for Air Quality Management in NCR and Adjoining Areas Bill, 2021: Parliament has passed the Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region (NCR) and Adjoining Areas Bill, 2021 with the Rajya Sabha approving it with a voice of vote amid din.

The Bill is for better coordination, research, identification and resolution of problems surrounding the air quality index.

Key Points:

  • This bill which was passed on August 5, 2021 by Minister Bhupinder Yadav , seeks to set up a commission for air quality management in the National Capital Region and its adjoining areas.

  • The bill was passed by Lok Sabha on 4th August 2021.

  • The Bill provides for the constitution of a Commission for better co-ordination, research, identification, and resolution of problems related to air quality in the NCR and adjoining areas.

  • Uttar Pradesh (UP), Haryana, Punjab, and Rajasthan have been defined as adjoining areas where any source of pollution may cause adverse impact on air quality in the NCR.

  • Contravention of provisions of the Bill will be punishable with imprisonment of up to five years, or fine of up to one crore rupees, or both.

  • Efforts have been made to decriminalize Section 14 (which provides penalty for causing pollution).

  • The Bill excludes farmers from the scope of these penalties.

National Handloom Day 2021: National Handloom Day is celebrated every year on 7 August.

Highlights:

  • The day is celebrated to honour the contributions of the handloom weaving community in the socio-economic development of India.

  • It is also observed to raise awareness about India's handloom heritage, to protect it, and to empower the handloom weavers and workers with greater and better opportunities.

Aim:

  • Through this observance, the government aims to honour handloom workers in the country and to empower them with greater opportunities.

  • The day also aims to shine a spotlight on the need to protect our handloom heritage.

Why was 7 August chosen as National Handloom Day?

  • To commemorate the Swadeshi Movement, 7 August was chosen as National Handloom Day.

  • Swadeshi Movement was launched on 7 August, 1905 in the Calcutta Town hall to protest against the partition of Bengal by the British Government.

  • On this day 116 years ago, prominent Indian freedom fighters - Lajpat Rai, Bipin Chandra Pal, Bal Gangadhar Tilak and others launched the Swadeshi Movement urging Indians to boycott British-made textiles in favour of homespun products for self-reliance.

  • The spinning wheel soon became a symbol of the mass movement against British rule in India.

  • The objective of the movement was also to revive domestic products and production processes.

Significance of Handloom:

  • Indian handloom holds a great cultural significance in history.

  • The handloom sector provides livelihood in rural and semi-rural areas of the country.

  • It is one of the largest income-generating sources in the country.

  • The handloom sector addresses women empowerment as more than 70 percent of all weavers and allied workers are women.

  • Handloom is unparalleled in its flexibility and versatility, permitting experimentation and encouraging innovations.

National Handloom Day: History

  • First National Handloom Day was celebrated on 7 August 2015, and was presided over by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Chennai.

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in the 75th year of Independence, has urged all of us as a nation to buy Indian Handloom products and showcase their grandeur by associating with #MyHandloomMyPride.

  • At the National level, “My Handloom My Pride Expo” is being organized from 1 August to 15 August 2021 at Dilli Haat, INA, New Delhi by National Handloom Development Corporation (NHDC) to celebrate the 7th National Handloom Day.

Additional Info:

The Government has also implemented a number of schemes like the National Handloom Development Programme (NHDP), Handloom Weavers Comprehensive Welfare Scheme (HWCWS), Comprehensive Handloom Cluster Development Scheme (CHCDS) and Yarn Supply Scheme (YSS).

Handlooms of India:

Almost every Indian state has its own unique designs and prints.

Here are few of the handlooms of India.

Ikat from Odisha:

  • Ikat is weaved in several parts of the country but Odisha seems to have pretty much mastered the Ikat art of weaving.

  • Ikat weavers in Odisha are more often than not the members of communities like the Meher or Bhulia who have inherited the art form and have mastered the trait over the years.

  • They strive to bring the rich Oriya culture to life in their Ikats with their unique dyeing techniques.

Bandhani or tie and dye from Gujarat:

  • Tie and dye or bandhani is a derivative of the Sanskrit word 'bandh" which means 'to tie' and is one of the most popular textile arts of India.

  • Considering they come from one of the most culturally rich states of Gujarat and Rajasthan, bandhani in its full glory is a burst of vibrant colours and glasswork.

  • The authentic bandhani features square or round motifs that are a result of the dye—the more intricate your tie and dye the more authentic your bandhani.

Kalamkari from Andhra Pradesh:

  • One of the most prominent features of Andhra Pradesh, Kalamkari is a kind of hand-painted or block-printed textile art that dates back to the Indus Valley Civilisation.

  • With a history of 3000 years, Kalamkari is known to have evolved during the Mughal era and has managed to retain its grace to date.

Brocades from Uttar Pradesh:

  • Banarasi saris are one of India’s most precious textile art forms and wearing one is like wearing a piece of art.

  • The weavers of Varanasi are nothing short of artists themselves as they weave with fine gold and silver metallic threads to create exotic delicate brocades.

Patan Patola from Gujarat:

  • Made in pure silk, Patola saris are the ultimate manifestation of the weaving prowess that the artisans of Gujrat have attained over several centuries.

  • In the Patan town of Gujarat, this silk cloth with double Ikat patterns is brought to life as weavers work diligently for over five months to weave one Patola sari.

Kanjivaram Sarees from Kanchipuram:

  • Kanchipuram was the cradle of civilization during the Pallavas reign and is among the seven sacred cities in Hinduism.

  • The legend goes that the Kanchi weavers are descendants of the Sage Markanda who was the master weaver of the Gods and is said to have woven tissue out of a Lotus fiber.

  • The silk sarees in Kanchipuram are woven out of pure mulberry silk thread.

Atmanirbhar Bharat Corner: TRIFED, in collaboration with Ministry of External Affairs, TRIFED is all set to establish an Atmanirbhar Bharat corner.

Note: TRIFED is an acronym for Tribal Co-operative Marketing Federation of India.

Highlights:

  • The Atmanirbhar Bharat Corner will be set up in 100 Indian Missions/ Embassies across the world.

  • Catalogues and brochures that showcase the richness and variety of tribal products have also been shared with the Missions and embassies for display at the corner.

  • The international conclave at Aadi Mahotsav 2021 witnessed the participation of Diplomats from large number of countries and delegates of international organizations.

About:

  • The corner will be an exclusive space to promote GI tagged tribal art and craft products besides natural and organic products.

  • Among the missions and embassies contacted, 42 of them, from countries such as Jamaica, Ireland, Turkey, Kenya, Mongolia, Israel, Finland, France, and Canada, have reverted.

  • TRIFED is in the process of dispatching the first set of tribal products for the corner.

  • India enacted the Geographical Indications (Registration and Protection Act), 1999, which came into effect from September 15, 2003.

Adi-Prashikshan Portal: Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA) has launched ‘Adi-Prashikshan Portal'.

Key Details of Adi-Prashikshan Portal:

  • It will act as a central repository of all training programs conducted by Ministry of Tribal Affairs and other organizations funded by the Ministry.

  • It was launched for strengthening the capacities (in terms of knowledge, skills, attitude) of government functionaries, ST PRI members, Teachers, SHG women, Youth and Tribal Communities.

  • All trainers, trainees and master trainers related to the training programs must be registered through this portal.

  • All Tribal Research Institutes including Gujarat Tribal Research & Training Society, Gandhinagar have been given training on the functionality of the portal.

Objective:

  • The main objective of the portal is to create an end-to-end centralized online interactive training platform on tribal development.

  • It seeks to bring together training organizers, thematic experts/resource persons, master trainers, trainees and training material at one place.

TRIFED's 34th Foundation Day: Tribal Co-operative Marketing Federation of India (TRIFED) celebrated its 34th foundation day on 6th August 2021.

About TRIFED:

  • TRIFED refers to Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India.

  • It is a national-level apex organization.

  • It functions under the Ministry of Tribal Affairs.

  • It was established on August 6, 1987, under the Multi-state co-operative societies act 1984.

  • It works towards marketing development of tribal products and provides marketing support to the products made by tribals through a network of retail outlets.

  • It is a component of the ‘Mechanism for Marketing of Minor Forest Produce (MFP) through Minimum Support Price (MSP) & Development of Value Chain for MFP’.

  • The idea is to set up tribal community-owned Van Dhan Vikas Kendra Clusters (VDVKCs) in predominantly forested tribal districts.

  • The current Managing Director of TRIFED Pravir Krishn.

Aim:

  • TRIFED aims to drive tribal development through marketing support for tribal products, both, handicrafts and Non Timber Forest Produce (NTFP).

Important Functions:

  • It plays the dual role of both a market developer and a service provider, empowering the tribals with knowledge and tools to better their operations in a systematic, scientific manner and also assist them in developing their marketing approach.

  • It is involved actively in capacity building of the tribal people through sensitization and the formation of Self Help Groups (SHGs).

  • The organization also assists them in exploring and creating opportunities to market the developed products in national and international markets on a sustainable basis.

DRIP-2: India and World Bank, on 4th August 2021 signed a $250 million project.

Highlights:

  • This project was signed by the Government of India (GoI), Central Water Commission, government representatives of 10 participating states and World Bank for long-term dam safety program.

  • The signed project is known as Second Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP-2).

  • Project will help in improving the safety and performance of existing dams across different states in India.

  • World Bank support to dam safety in India includes the recently closed DRIP-1 ($279 million + $62 million Additional Financing) that improved the safety and sustainable performance of 223 dams in six states of India and one central agency.

Key Points about DRIP-2:

  • DRIP-2 will strengthen dam safety by building dam safety guidelines, bring in global experience, and introduce innovative technologies.

  • The project will be implemented in approximately 120 dams across the states of Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Meghalaya, Odisha, Rajasthan, and Tamil Nadu.

  • At the national level it will be implemented through the Central Water Commission (CWC).

  • Other important measures that DRIP-2 will also support include the following:

  • Flood forecasting systems and integrated reservoir operations that will contribute to building climate resilience.

  • The preparation and implementation of Emergency Action Plans to enable vulnerable downstream communities to prepare for and enhance resilience against the possible negative impacts and risks of climate change.

  • The piloting of supplemental revenue generation schemes such as floating solar panels.

About World Bank:

  • The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans and grants to the governments of poorer countries for the purpose of pursuing capital projects.

  • It comprises two institutions which are the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the International Development Association.

  • It is headquartered in Washington, D.C., United States.

  • It was founded on July 1944 by John Maynard Keynes and Harry Dexter White.

  • Its main aim is providing financing, advice, and research to developing nations to aid their economic advancement.

  • The bank predominantly acts as an organization that attempts to fight poverty by offering developmental assistance to middle- and low-income countries.

  • The current President of World Bank is David Malpass.

National Institutes of Food Technology, Entrepreneurship and Management Bill, 2021: Lok Sabha on 26th July, 2021 passed the National Institutes of Food Technology, Entrepreneurship and Management Bill, 2021.

Highlights:

  • The bill was introduced in the Parliament by the Government in the Budget session this year. 

  • This bill was moved by Pashupati Kumar Paras who is the Food Processing and Industries Minister.

  • The bill was passed amid uproar by opposition parties over their various demands including repeal of farm laws and probe into allegations of surveillance using Pegasus spyware.

  • The bill got introduced and passed in a time of just 8 minutes making it a record.

Key Points:

  • The objective of the bill is to confer the status of Institutions of National Importance to National Institute of Food Technology, Entrepreneurship and Management (NIFTEM) at Kundli, Haryana, and the Indian Institute of Food Processing Technology (IIFPT) at Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu.

  • The bill seeks to give these institutes greater autonomy so that they can start new and innovative courses.

  • The legislation also seeks to provide for research and instructions in food technology, entrepreneurship and management and for the advancement of learning and dissemination of knowledge in such branches.

  • The institutes would implement the reservation policy of the Government and would also undertake special outreach activities for the benefits of concerned stakeholders.

  • It would enable the institutes to provide world class teaching and research experience by adopting innovative practices.

Additional Info:

Note: The Factoring Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was also passed in Lok Sabha.

About Lok Sabha:

  • The Lok Sabha, or House of the People, is the lower house of India's bicameral Parliament, with the upper house being the Rajya Sabha.

  • Members of the Lok Sabha are elected by adult universal suffrage.

  • Under the constitution of 1950, its members are directly elected for a term of 5 years by territorial constituencies in the states.

  • The maximum strength of the House allotted by the Constitution of India is 550.

  • Currently, the house has 543 seats which is made up by the election of up to 543 elected members and at a maximum.

  • Two additional members were appointed by the president to represent the Anglo-Indian community but were abolished in January 2020 by the 104th Constitutional Amendment Act, 2019.

  • Om Birla is the current speaker of the Lok Sabha.

Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Bill : The Parliament, on 28 July 2021, passed the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Bill 2021 with Rajya Sabha approving it amid din.

Highlights:

  • The amendment of the Act was taken up after the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) in a survey of children’s shelter homes in India found that over 7,600 children were living in poor living conditions with no access to basic amenities.

  • The Bill seeks to amend the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.

  • The Bill has already been passed in the Lok Sabha.

Key Points:

  • The amendment seeks to increase the role of additional district magistrates and district magistrates regarding the matters which concern adoption and child care.

  • The district magistrates have now been empowered to sign adoption orders under Section 61 of the Juvenile Justice Act thus making the process of adoption faster and more compliant with rules.

  • The bill also seeks to provide justice and support to the children.

About Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children), Act, 2015:

  • In 2015, the Parliament introduced and passed the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act to replace the Juvenile Delinquency Law and the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children Act) 2000.

  • The Act offered provisions to allow trials of juveniles in the age group of 16-18 years as an adult who were found to be in conflict with the law, especially heinous crimes.

  • The Act also offered provisions regarding adoption.

  • The Act replaced the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act (1956) and Guardians of the ward Act (1890) with more universally accessible adoption law.

  • The Act enabled smooth functioning of adoption procedures for orphans, surrendered, and abandoned children while making the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) the statutory body for adoption-related matters.

Offences committed by juveniles:

Currently, the Act outlines three categories of offences which are as follows:

  1. Petty

  2. Serious

  3. Heinous

  • Serious offences are those offences that allow imprisonment of three to seven years.

  • Therefore, serious offences will have maximum punishment which is more than seven years of imprisonment and for the minimum punishment it is less than seven years.

Why was this amendment necessary?

  • In order to fasten the adoption proceedings this decision has been taken because as of the month of July 2018, across the country, there were 629 pending adoption cases in various courts.

Muslim Women Rights Day 2021: India was observed on August 1, as "Muslim Women's Rights Day."

  • Shri Naqvi along with the Minister for Women and Child Development Smt. Smriti Irani and the Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Shri Bhupender Yadav attended a programme virtually organized at the National Commission for Minorities office in New Delhi to observe the “Muslim Women Rights Day”.

Highlights:

  • The day is observed across India to commemorate the enactment of laws that protect the rights of Muslim women.

  • The year 2021 marks the second anniversary of the Muslim Women Act (Protection of Rights on Marriage) passed in the Rajya Sabha.

  • Ministry of Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, announced that Muslim Women Rights Day would be observed across the nation on August 1 to celebrate the enactment of law prohibiting triple talaq.

Background:

  • The legislation classifying triple talaq as a criminal offence came into effect on August 1, 2019.

  • There is a significant decline in Triple Talaq cases after the law came into effect.

  • Muslim women across the country have overwhelmingly welcomed this law.

What is Triple Talaq?

Triple Talaq is a form of Islamic divorce which has been used by Muslims in India, especially adherents of Hanafi Sunni Islamic schools of jurisprudence.

It allows any Muslim man to legally divorce his wife by stating the word talaq (the Arabic word for "divorce") three times in oral, written, or more recently, electronic form.

Key provisions of the Bill:

  • The Bill makes all declaration of talaq, including in written or electronic form, to be void (i.e. not enforceable in law) and illegal.

  • It defines talaq as talaq-e-biddat or any other similar form of talaq pronounced by a Muslim man resulting in instant and irrevocable divorce.

  • The Bill makes declaration of talaq a cognizable offence, attracting up to three years’ imprisonment with a fine.

  • In terms of allowance, a Muslim woman against whom talaq has been declared is entitled to seek subsistence allowance from her husband for herself and for her dependent children.

  • The amount of the allowance will be decided by a First Class Magistrate.

  • A Muslim woman, against whom such talaq has been declared, is entitled to seek custody of her minor children.

  • The determination of custody will be made by the Magistrate.

Triple Talaq in Other Countries:

  • Egypt was the first Muslim Nation to abolish triple talaq in 1929 followed by Pakistan and Sudan in 1956, bangladesh in 1972, Iraq in 1959, Syria in 1953 and Malasia in 1969.

  • Jordan, Iran, Brunei, Cyprus, algeria, Morocco, Quatar and UAE too abolished the practice of Triple Talaq.

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Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen) Phase – 2: The ODF Plus Manuals under Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen) Phase – 2 was recently released by Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat in New Delhi.

Key Points:

  • The manuals pertain to key components of ODF Plus – Grey Water Management, Plastic Waste Management, Faecal Sludge Management and Biodegradable Waste Management.

  • The Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation has developed manuals to support states, districts, and rural local bodies implement solid and liquid waste management initiatives.

  • The manuals launched will contribute significantly towards capacity building and knowledge enrichment at various levels strengthening Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen) Phase – 2 initiatives.

  • Addressing the media after the release of Manuals, Mr Shekhawat said that Swachh Bharat Mission, Grameen has transformed rural India by manifesting into a Jan Andolan for sanitation, achieving Open Defecation Free rural India milestone in mission mode.

Background:

  • Phase – 2 of the Swachh Bharat mission aiming at achieving ODF Plus goal was launched last year.

  • The mission focuses on ODF sustainability and Solid and Liquid Waste Management aiming at comprehensive cleanliness in villages.

Second Amendment to the SGP: India and the US on 30th July 2021 signed the Second Amendment to the Statement of Guiding Principles (SGP) on Triangular Cooperation for global development.

  • The second amendment was signed by Abhilasha Joshi, Joint Secretary, Development Partnership Administration-II Division in the External Affairs Ministry and Karen Klimowsky, Acting Mission Director for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in India.

Key Details:

  • The SGP Agreement, signed in November 2014, underscores the contribution of India-US partnership to global stability and prosperity.

  • It provides a framework for promoting cooperation between the two countries to meet the developmental aspirations of partner countries, particularly in Asia and Africa.

  • This triangular cooperation with the US will complement India’s other ongoing and future development partnerships, capacity building and technical assistance with countries globally.

About Second Amendment:

  • The Second Amendment to the SGP Agreement extends the validity of the SGP Agreement up-to 2026.

  • It expands the scope of capacity building activities undertaken jointly by India and the United States under this framework.

  • It also provides a consultative mechanism for joint biannual monitoring and review of activities undertaken under the SGP.

  • Under the triangular cooperation agreement, India and the US have agreed to continue to offer capacity-building assistance to partner countries in multiple sectors.

  • The focus will mainly be on health, nutrition, agriculture, education and institution building, clean and renewable energy, women empowerment, water, sanitation, disaster preparedness, regional connectivity and trade and investments.

Objectives:

  • The main objectives of this agreement are to fulfill the joint commitment of the two nations to work together and utilize their combined capacities to provide demand-driven development partnerships.

  • This agreement will also support India’s other ongoing and future development partnerships, capacity building and technical assistance as well with countries across the world.

Background:

  • The agreement was signed just after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s first visit to India as a part of the Biden administration.

  • Blinken held talks with his Indian counterpart, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.

Coconut Development Board (Amendment) Bill, 2021: The Rajya Sabha on 30th July 2021 passed the Coconut Development Board (Amendment) Bill, 2021 making the post of the Chairman non-executive.

Highlights:

  • It was passed without discussion amidst opposition uproar.

  • The Bill seeks to amend Section 4 of the Coconut Development Board Act, 1979.

  • The number of members of the board has been raised from four to six as after the amendment. Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat will be able to nominate their representatives in the Board.

  • The bill will pave the way to appoint professional persons as a non- Executive Chairman instead of a government official.

Benefits of this amendment:

  • The step will be beneficial to the Coconut Growers at large.

  • The objective behind the amendment to the Coconut Development Board Act ,1979, is to bring more and more areas under coconut cultivation and to provide marketing facilities so that farmers are benefitted.

About CBD:

  • The Coconut Development Board (CBD) is a legal body under the Ministry of Agriculture of the Government of India (GoI).

  • This board is responsible for the comprehensive development of coconuts and coconut-related products.

  • The board was established on January 12, 1981.

  • It operates under the administrative control of the Ministry of Agriculture of the GoI.

  • Its headquarters is located in Kochi, Kerala, and the regional offices are located in Bengaluru, Chennai and Guwahati.

  • This board has six state centres which are situated at Kolkata, Patna, Hyderabad, Bhubaneswar, Thane, and Port Blair.

National Affairs Current Affairs - July 2021

National Logistics Excellence Awards: The Government, on 19 July 2021 announced the launch of a new category of awards named the National Logistics Excellence Awards.

This award has been launched with a view to turn the spotlight on the logistics sector.

Key Details:

  • The framework of awards has been finalized in consultation with the logistics associations and forum user industry partners.

  • This award will highlight best practices including consolidation, process standardization, technological upgrade, digital transformations and sustainable practices in the logistics sector.

  • The main aim of the Government through these awards is to turn the spotlight on logistics service providers who have attained adopted digitization and technology, operational excellence, pursued sustainable practices and improved customer service among the many other achievements.

  • Its objective is to provide due recognition to the various players involved in the logistics supply chain in the country.

  • The awards are in two categories. They are as follows:

  1. The first group includes logistics infrastructure and service providers.

  2. The second one is for various user industries.

  • For the user industries, these awards will showcase efforts towards supplier ecosystem development, supply chain transformation, automation, skill development and other similar endeavors.

  • The winners will be announced on October 31.

Indian logistics sector:

  • According to the Ministry ofCommerce, the Indian logistics sector has been growing at a CAGR of 10.5%, reaching approximately USD 215 billion in value in 2020.

  • However, there are systemic, interconnected problems that have to be addressed to enhance its efficiency.

  • Comprehensive logistics costs amount to almost 14% of India’s GDP.

  • Closing India’s competitiveness gap vis-à-vis the global average of 8 percent, would make the Indian logistics sector advanced, organized and efficient, on par with global peers with the ambition of being amongst the top 25 countries in the global Logistics Performance Index (LPI).

About the Ministry of Commerce and Industry:

  • The Ministry of Commerce and Industry administers two departments, the Department of Commerce and the Department for Promotion of Industry & Internal Trade (formerly Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion).

  • The department is entrusted with formulating and implementing the foreign trade policy and responsibilities relating to multilateral and bilateral commercial relations, state trading, export promotion measures, and development and regulation of certain export oriented industries and commodities.

  • The head of the Ministry is a Minister of Cabinet rank.

  • The first Minister of Commerce and Industry of independent India was Syama Prasad Mukherjee.

  • Smt. Anupriya Patel is the current Minister of State of Ministry of Commerce and Industry while Shri Piyush Goyal is the Minister of Commerce & Industry, Consumer Affairs & Food & Public Distribution and Textiles, Government of India (GoI).

Dairy Investment Accelerator: The Department of Animal Husbandry & Dairying (DAHD), Government ofIndia (GoI), under its Investment Facilitation Cell, has setup Dairy Investment Accelerator.

It was set up with a view to provide dedicated focus towards promoting & facilitating investments in the Indian Dairy sector.

About Dairy Investment Accelerator:

  • This Investment Accelerator is a cross functional team constituted to serve as the interface with investors.

  • It will provide support across the investment cycle.

  • The following are the features of Dairy Investment Accelerator:

  • Offering specific inputs for evaluation of investment opportunities

  • Addressing queries about application to govt. schemes

  • Connecting with strategic partners

  • Providing on-ground assistance with state departments & relevant authorities

Key Details:

  • The Dairy Investment Accelerator will work together with DAHD to organize a series of events with global & local industry participants.

  • It will hold one-on-one discussions with investors to understand their views.

  • It will promote direct interaction with various government officials and other industry players.

  • Dairy Investment Accelerator is also generating awareness among investors about Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development fund (AHIDF).

About AHIDF:

  • Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development fund (AHIDF) is a flagship scheme launched by the Department of Animal Husbandry & Dairying (DAHD), Government of India (GoI).

  • It is a Rs. 15,000 crore scheme set up to offer financial support to private companies, entrepreneurs, Farmers Producers Organizations (FPOs), MSME and Section 8 companies.

  • Benefits of this scheme can be availed to expand or set up new units in the areas of dairy processing, Animal Feed Plant and meat processing & its related infrastructure.

The benefits available are as follows:

  • 3% interest subvention on loans

  • 2-year moratorium with 6-year repayment period

  • INR 750 Cr credit guarantee

The DAHD encourages all the private companies, individual entrepreneurs, and start-ups,who are interested in investing in Dairy sector, to reach out to the Dairy Investment Accelerator on dairy-accelerator@lsmgr.nic.in.

About DAHD:

  • The Department of Animal husbandry and Dairying (DAHD) is an Indian government department.

  • It is a subsidiary department of the Ministry of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries.

  • The DAHD or the erstwhile Department of Animal husbandry, Fishiries and Dairying was formed in 1991 by merging together into a separate department, of two divisions of Department of Agriculture and Cooperation namely Animal husbandry and Dairy development.

  • In 1997 the fishiries division of Department of Agriculture and Cooperation and a part of Ministry of Food Processing Industries was transferred to it.

  • On 1 February 2019, the Department of Fishiries was carved out from the Department of Animal husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries and it has been functioning as Department of Animal husbandry and Dairying since then.

  • The Department is under the overall charge of Shri Parshottam Rupala, Hon'ble Minister for Fisheries, Animal Husbandry & Dairying assisted by two Ministers of State for Fisheries, Animal Husbandry & Dairying namely Dr. Sanjiv Kumar Balyan and Dr. L Murugan.

Mandate:

  • The Department is responsible for matters relating to livestock production, preservation, and protection from diseases and improvement of stocks and dairy development, and also for matters relating to the Delhi Milk Scheme and the National Dairy Development Board.

NIDHI4COVID2.0: NIDHI4COVID 2.0 initiatives has been devised as a rapid response to support startup driven solutions, which would be helpful in tackling the current challenging COVID-19 situation in the country.

Aim:

  • Inducted as a special drive of the National Science & Technology Entrepreneurship Development Board (NSTEDB), Department of Science & Technology (DST) & govt of India, NIDHI4COVID2.0 aims at introducing indigenous solutions and innovative products which would aid the nation in to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic effectively.

  • Not only in the fight against COVID, but NIDHI-Technology Business Incubator(TBI) are serving other objectives as well including -

  • Creating jobs, wealth and businesses aligning with national priorities.

  • Promoting new technology & innovation-based startups.

  • This also aims to build a vibrant startup ecosystem, by establishing a network to provide cost-effective, value-added services to startups like mentoring, legal, financial, technical, intellectual property related services.

Why has this initiative been devised?

  • This initiative has been devised as unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures and to wage a successful war, the entire national capacity has to be leveraged.

  • Resources, energies and mindshare of leaders, entrepreneurs have to be synergized to minimize the damage of the pandemic.

Implementation:

  • In recent developments, KIIT- Technology Business Incubator, a Centre of Excellence supported by DST, has been selected as the Implementing Agency of NIDHI4COVID 2.0 initiative.

  • In this, KIIT-TBI will work closely together with DST to support promising startups with upto 50 lakhs funding assistance under the program.

Startups in India:

  • Looking at the current scenarios, startups have the potential to play a crucial role in introducing new technologies and products to the market, thus, making India stronger on multiple fronts.

  • Some of the startups already have promising technologies but need mentoring, financial and marketing support to reach the next level.

  • Therefore, DST’s attempt through this new initiative is to scout and support deserving startups with much-needed support to scale up their technologies, helping them reach the product deployment stage in the minimum time possible.

Efforts to Accelerate COVID-19 Product's Market Entry & Deployment:

Thrust Area to be supported includes:

  • Oxygen Innovation

  • Portable Solution

  • Relevant Medical Accessories & Equipments, Diagnostics

  • Informatics among others

Benefits:

  • Under the NIDHI4COVID programme, Startups whose technologies/products are of huge importance in the war against COVID would be considered for Seed Support through DST supported network of Technology Business Incubators.

  • Financial and mentoring support would be offered to the recommended promising startups for scaling up their products/technologies to the next level and speeding up their processes, helping them reach the product deployment stage as fast as possible.

Indian Startup Ecosystem: Opportunity in Chaos

As the country grapples with the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, startups in India have stepped up to continue igniting rays of hope by helping in procurement efforts.

From making masks to deployment to oxygen necessities, to bringing together essential medical equipment, the Indian Startup Ecosystem proved to bring innovation even in dire situations because as it is stated that even in chaos, there is an opportunity.

Eligibility:

  • The applicant startup must be a startup/company registered in India. Startup having a formal association with the incubator (Any central and state government supported incubators) in its resident or virtual incubation program would be preferred.

  • Startups should be less than 10 years in existence.

  • The startup having DPIIT recognition with Startup India would be preferred. In case the startup does not have DPIIT recognition while applying in the NIDHI4COVID 2.0 program, the startup may ensure to get DPIIT recognition as soon as possible.

  • Founders of the applicant company should have at least 51% Indian shareholding, and should be having a competent team in place, preferably with domain expertise.

  • The applicant startup should have developed a clear product to market fit, customer discovery with clarity on intended customers and value propositions for its targeted customers.

  • Preferably at a revenue stage or has raised funds earlier.

  • Preferably to have already deployed or ready to deploy a product within a few weeks.

  • Innovative solutions at conceptual stage requiring funds for prototype development would be directed towards NIDHI PRAYAS program in line with the program guidelines.

National Broadcasting Day: National Broadcasting Day is observed annually in India on 23 July to commemorate the first-ever radio broadcast in the country.

Highlights:

The first-ever radio broadcast in India went on air from the Bombay Station under the Indian Broadcasting Company On July 23, 1927.

Since 1927, radio has played a crucial role in the lives of people in India.

To mark this event, All India Radio (AIR), in New Delhi, held a conference on the Creation of New India and Broadcasting Medium.

History:

  • Radio broadcasting began in India under British rule in 1922 with programs by the Bombay Presidency Radio Club.

  • Later in 1927, the Indian Broadcasting Company (IBC) was made a private entity and granted permission to operate two radio stations.

  • In 1930, the British Government took over radio broadcasting and the Indian State Broadcasting Service (ISBS) was started by them.

  • In the month of May, 1932, IBC was permanently renamed as the Indian State Broadcasting Service (ISBS).

  • Later on, the Indian State Broadcasting Service (ISBS) became All India Radio (AIR) on June 8, 1936.

About Prasar Bharati and All India Radio:

In the past 93 years, radio broadcast in India.

  • Prasar Bharati is India’s largest public broadcasting agency, headquartered in New Delhi.

  • It is a statutory autonomous body set up by an Act of Parliament and comprises the Doordarshan Television Network and All India Radio, which were earlier media units of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

  • The Parliament of India passed the Prasar Bharati Act to grant this autonomy in 1990, but it was not enacted until 15 September 1997.

  • Currently, All India Radio’s (AIR) service comprises of 414 stations located acrossthe country and it reaches to around 92% of the country’s area and about 99.19% of the total population of the nation.

  • AIR broadcasts in 23 languages and 146 dialects and in terms of broadcasted languages, the spectrum of socio-economic and cultural diversity it serves it is one of the largest broadcasting organizations in the world.

National Thermal Engineer Day: The National Thermal Engineer Day is observed on 24 July every year to raises awareness about thermal engineers and their contribution to the electronics and engineering industry.

The day commemorates the importance of thermal management in the electronics industry and the engineers and companies that make it possible.

History:

  • The day was established by Advanced Thermal Solutions, Inc. (ATS) in July 2014.

  • According to ATS, thermal engineers’ work is overshadowed by the electronics and software sector but in reality, thermal engineers are enabling electronics to function.

  • So, ATS decided to start the National Thermal Engineer Day on July 24.

  • They selected July 24 because it is the hottest day of the year which is more perfect for thermal engineers to celebrate.

What is Thermal Energy?

  • Thermal Energy is the energy contained inside a system that is responsible for its temperature. Heat is the flow of thermal energy.

  • The thermodynamics branch of physics deals with how heat is transferred between various systems and how is work done in the process.

What is Thermal Engineering?

  • Thermal engineering is important to the design of almost any machine.

  • It deals with the research, design, and modeling of heat transfer equipment and processes.

  • The applications of thermal engineering are listed below:

  1. Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC)

  2. Cooling of computer chips

  3. Boiler design

  4. Process Fired Heaters

  5. Solar heating

  6. Combustion engines

  7. Thermal power plants

  8. Cooling systems

  9. Heat exchangers

  • The electronics we use every day will not work without thermal engineering.

About ATS:

  • Advanced Thermal Solutions, Inc. (ATS) is a leading-edge engineering/manufacturing company focused on the thermal management of electronics.

  • It was founded in 1989 as a consulting company.

  • Ever since ATS has evolved to a complete thermal solutions provider and is world renowned for its portfolio of more than 450 high- and ultra-performance heat sinks, research-quality test equipment, and leading-edge R&D.

  • ATS is committed to providing the electronics industry with innovative, high-quality and cost-effective thermal management and packaging solutions.

National Farmers Welfare Program Implementation Committee: Union Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister Shri Narendra Singh Tomar inaugurated the office of National Farmers Welfare Program Implementation Committee.

The Ministers of State for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welafare Shri Kailash Chaudhary and Ms. Shobha Karandlaje, Secretary Shri Sanjay Agarwal, CEO of PM-Kisan Scheme Shri Vivek Agarwal along with senior officers and representatives of various agencies were present on the occasion.

Key Points:

The National Farmers Welfare Program Implementation Committee would act as a project monitoring unit for the implementation of the following:

  • PM-Kisan Yojana

  • Kisan Maandhan Yojana

  • Agriculture Infrastructure Fund and

  • Other schemes of the Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare.

About PM-Kisan:

  • The Central Government has implemented the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-Kisan) scheme to make farmers self-reliant and to provide direct income support for agricultural expenditure.

  • Under this scheme, an amount of Rs 1.37 lakh crore has been transferred to the accounts of more than 11 crore farmer families so far.

NEIFM as NEIAFMR: The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi on 14 July 2021 gave the approval for changing the nomenclature & mandate of North Eastern Institute of Folk Medicine (NEIFM) as North Eastern Institute of Ayurveda & Folk Medicine Research (NEIAFMR).

Key Details:

  • The proposal to change the nomenclature and mandate of NEIFM to NEIARMR was approved keeping in view the need for imparting quality Education and Research in Ayurveda & Folk Medicine at Pasighat, Arunachal Pradesh.

  • The consequential changes will also be carried out in the Memorandum of Association & Rules and Regulations.

Significance:

  • The inclusion of Ayurveda within the mandate of the Institute seeks to be highly beneficial for the people of North East region for imparting quality education and research in Ayurveda and Folk medicine.

  • The institute will also provide opportunities for students of Ayurveda and Folk medicine not only in India but also the neighboring countries such as Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, Mongolia, China and other Central Asian countries.

About North Eastern Institute of Folk Medicine (NEIFM):

  • The NEIFM, Pasighat was established for systemic research, documentation and validation of traditional folk medicine and health practices of the region.

  • The institute was established with the following objectives:

  1. To function as an apex research centre for all aspect of Folk Medicine,

  2. To create an interface between traditional healers and scientific research, survey, documentation validation of folk medicine practices, remedies and therapies for possible usage in public health care and future research etc.

Kisan Sarathi: The Central Government, on 16 July 2021 launched digital platform named’ Kisan Sarathi.’

Highlights:

  • The platform Kisan Sarathi was launched to facilitate farmers to get 'right information at right time' in their desired language.

  • This digital platform was jointly launched by Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and Electronics and Information Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw through video conference on the occasion of 93rd ICAR Foundation Day.

  • The Minister asked the ICAR Scientists to take-up research on new technological interventions in the area of transportation of farmer’s crop from their farm gate to warehouses, markets and the places where they want to sell with minimum damage.

About Kisan Sarathi:

  • Through this digital platform, the farmers can avail personalized advisories on agriculture and allied areas directly from scientists of Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVKs).

  • This initiative of Kisan Sarathi will empower farmers with the technological interventions and reach farmers in remote areas.

About ICAR Foundation Day:

  • Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) celebrated its 93rd foundation day virtually on 16 July 2021.

  • The ICAR has played a pioneering role in ushering Green Revolution and subsequent developments in agriculture in India through its research and technology development, therefore making a visible impact on the national food and nutritional security.

  • It has played a major role in promoting excellence in higher education in agriculture.

Theme of 2021:

This Year, the day was celebrated on the theme - “Yoga for Well-being”.

Key Details:

  • The Indian Council of Agricultural Research has been recognizing and rewarding the institutions, scientists, teachers, farmers and agricultural journalists every year.

  • On the occasion of the foundation day, Shri Tomar announced awards in various categories and released the publications of ICAR in the presence of Union Minister for Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying Shri Parshottam Rupala, Union MoS for Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare Shri Kailash Choudhary and Ms. Shobha Karandlaje.

  • The ICAR conferred 16 Awards in 4 major categories during the occasion. The awards are

  1. National Award for outstanding contributions for Agricultural Institutes

  2. National Award for outstanding contributions in Agricultural Researches

  3. National Award for Application of Agricultural Technologies” and

  4. National Award for Innovation and Technology Development by Farmers

  • The dignitaries virtually felicitated about 60 Awardees in 16 different categories. The Awardees included

  • 4 ICAR Institutes

  • 1 All India Coordinated Research Project

  • 4 Krishi Vigyan Kendras

  • 39 Scientists

  • 11 Farmers

  • Apart from the Awards, the Hindi Rajbhasha Awards in the various categories were also conferred during the occasion.

About ICAR:

  • ICAR was established on 16 July 1929 as a registered society under the Societies Registration Act, 1860.

  • It is an autonomous body responsible for coordinating agricultural education and research in India under the Department of Agricultural Research and Education (DARE), Ministry of Agriculture.

  • The Union Minister of Agriculture serves as its president.

  • Indian Council of Agricultural Research’s headquarters is in New Delhi.

COVID Teeka Sank Surakshit Van, Dhan aur Uddyam: Shri Arjun Munda, Minister of Tribal Affairs, today, virtually launched the nationwide campaign 'COVID Teeka Sang Surakshit Van, Dhan aur Uddyam.'

Key Points:

  • This campaign is being launched in partnership with UNICEF (United Nations Children's Emergency fund) and WHO (World Health Organization) to increase the COVID-19 vaccination of 10.5 crores tribal people in India.

  • It will help in beating “infodemic” against coronavirus vaccine and myths, rumors, disinformation & misinformation that are adding to infodemic.

  • It focuses on reassurance, pride & self-efficacy and promotes ‘Livelihoods with Health’ in tribal areas.

  • This campaign seeks to make the Van Dhan Vikas Kendras and villages to be the first in respective states to be declared COVID free and free of all restrictions.

  • The campaign will leverage the 45,000 Van Dhan Vikas Kendras (VDVK) of the Tribal Co-operative Marketing Development Federation of India (TRIFED).

Note: TRIFED is a national level cooperative body under the administrative control of Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Government of India (GoI).

  • The campaign is an important step at vaccinating the tribal people to ensure that the tribal areas are not impacted by the third wave of the pandemic.

Implementation:

  • The ground-level workers in villages, SHGs, traditional village headsmen, and the Van Dhan Kendras will be the focal points to implement the campaign.

Objectives:

  • The main objective of this campaign is at keeping the tribal communities safe from COVID-19 and enables them to continue with their livelihood activities.

  • The goal of the campaign is to spread awareness among more than 50 lakh tribals about the free COVID-19 vaccination available at nearby centres and that getting vaccinated protects them from hospitalization and death.

The 3 Js of the Campaign:

The campaign will be focusing on three key areas:

  1. Jeevan (Life): Every life and livelihood is precious and vaccination is key to life.

  2. Jeevika (Livelihood): Vaccination will help in continuing Van Dhan Vikas Kendra and livelihood activities without any fear of contracting the disease. It will also save hospitalization and other opportunity costs.

  3. Jaagrookta (Awareness): Simplification of registration process for vaccination, place, accessibility to different people and age groups, including women & elderly population.

Significance of Campaign:

  • This campaign will leverage strength and network of Self-Help Groups and other common points like Haats & Bazaars, Common Service Centres, fertilizers outlet centres, VDVKs & milk collection points.

How this campaign will run?

  • The Campaign will be run by using wall paintings comprising tribal motifs in a bid to promote vaccine uptake and COVID Appropriate Behaviour.

  • It will also use non-traditional partnerships and community reach such as involvement of traditional leaders like tadvis/patels, incentivizing adoption of vaccines using local health structures in order to vaccinate Tribal population.

About Van Dhan Yojana:

  • The Van Dhan Scheme is an initiative of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs and TRIFED.

  • The scheme was launched on 14 April 2018 to create livelihood generation for tribal gatherers and transform into entrepreneurs.

  • This scheme is implemented through Ministry of Tribal Affairs as Nodal Department at the Central Level and TRIFED as Nodal Agency at the National Level.

  • At State level, the State Nodal Agency for MFPs and the District collectors are envisaged to play a pivot role in scheme implementation at grassroot level.

  • Locally the Kendras are proposed to be managed by a Managing Committee (an SHG) consisting of representatives of Van Dhan SHGs in the cluster.

  • Under Van Dhan Yojana Van Dhan Vikas Kendra (VDVK) is established for providing skill upgradation and capacity building training and setting up of primary processing and value addition facility.

  • Each VDVK cluster set under the scheme contains 15 tribal SHGs (Self help groups) i.e. about 300 beneficiaries per cluster and the Government provides Rs. 15 lakhs for each cluster.

About TRIFED:

  • It refers to Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India.

  • TRIFED is a national-level apex organization.

  • It functions under the Ministry of Tribal Affairs.

  • It was founded in 1987.

  • It works towards marketing development of tribal products and provides marketing support to the products made by tribals through a network of retail outlets.

  • It is a component of the ‘Mechanism for Marketing of Minor Forest Produce (MFP) through Minimum Support Price (MSP) & Development of Value Chain for MFP’.

  • The idea is to set up tribal community-owned Van Dhan Vikas Kendra Clusters (VDVKCs) in predominantly forested tribal districts.

  • The current Managing Director of TRIFED Pravir Krishn

MoU on coking Coal: The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Russia on cooperation in coking Coal.

The MoU was signed between Ministry of Steel (India) and Ministry of Energy (Russia).

Note: Coking coal is used for Steel making.

Benefits of MoU:

  • The MoU will help India reduce its dependence on far-located countries like Australia, South Africa, Canada and the US for sourcing of coking coal.

  • It will benefit the entire steel sector by reducing their input cost as Russia is geographically closer compared to the said countries.

  • This will lead to reduction in cost of steel in the country and promote equity and inclusiveness.

  • The MoU will provide an institutional mechanism for co-operation in the coking coal sector between India and Russia.

Objective of MoU:

The main objective of the MoU is strengthening cooperation between the Govt. of India and Govt of Russia in the steel sector.

The activities involved in the cooperation are aimed at diversifying source of coking coal.

What is Coking Coal?

  • Coking coal, also known as metallurgical coal, is used to create coke, one of the key irreplaceable inputs for the production of steel.

  • Coke quality is largely influenced by coal rank, composition, mineral content and the ability to soften when heated, become plastic, and resolidify into a coherent mass. Bituminous class coals of high, medium, and low volatile rank that possess these properties are called “coking” coals.

  • This coal has low content of ash, moisture, sulphur and phosphorus.

  • High quality coking coals are in great demand by steel producers, who need these coals to make high quality coke to maximise the productivity of their blast furnace operations.

Note: Coking coal is different than thermal coal because thermal coal does not produce coke when heated.

MoU with Denmark: The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi recently approved Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (India) and Ministry of Health (Denmark) on Cooperation in areas of Health and Medicine.

Benefit of the MoU:

  • The MoU will strengthen the bilateral ties between both India and Denmark in the health sector through joint initiatives, development of research and technology development.

  • It will also help in improving the public health status of the people of both the countries.

India-Denmark relations:

  • Foundation for a friendly relationship between India and Denmark was laid by the Indian Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.

  • He visited Denmark in 1957 after India’s independence in 1947.

  • Both the countries have set up a diplomatic relation by establishing Denmark’s embassy in New Delhi and India’s embassy in Copenhagen.

  • Relation between both the countries is cordial and friendly.

  • It is based on cooperation in the fields of politics, economics, academic and research. Both the countries hold periodic high-level visits.

  • However, in 2012, Government of India (GoI) had decided to scale down its diplomatic ties with Denmark when it refused to appeal in their Supreme Court against decision by its lower court of rejecting extradition of prime accused of Purulia arms drop case, Kim Davy.

History:

About Tranquebar:

  • Tranquebar, a town in southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu was a Danish Colony in India from 1620 to 1845.

  • It was sold, along with the other Danish settlements in India, to Great Britain in 1845.

  • Nicobar Islands were also colonized by Denmark and were sold to British in 1868.

Foundation Day of NABARD: Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar addresses a webinar on 40th foundation day of National Bank For Agriculture And Rural Development (NABARD).

About NABARD:

  • It was established on 12 July 1982.

  • It is an apex regulatory body for overall regulation and licensing of regional rural banks and apex cooperative banks in India.

  • It is under the jurisdiction of Ministry of Finance, Government of India(GoI).

  • It was established on the recommendations of B.Sivaraman Committee to implement the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development Act 1981.

Objective:

  • Promoting agriculture and rural development through participative financial and non-financial interventions, innovations, technology and institutional development for securing prosperity.

Functions and activities:

  • NABARD provides refinancing facilities to Commercial banks, State co-operative banks, Central Co-operative banks, Regional rural banks and Land Development banks.

  • It provides refinance assistance for agriculture, promoting rural development activities.

  • It also provides all necessary finance and assistance to small scale industries.

  • GoI created the Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF) in NABARD in 1995-96, with an initial corpus of Rs.2,000 crore.

  • It supervises State Cooperative Banks (SCBs), District Cooperative Central Banks (DCCBs), and Regional Rural Banks (RRBs) and conducts statutory inspections of these banks.

  • NABARD is also known for its ‘SHG Bank Linkage Programme’ which encourages India’s banks to lend to self-help groups (SHGs).

India CTRI Portal: AYUSH Minister Kiren Rijiju on July 5, 2021 launched Ayurveda dataset on Clinical Trials Registry- India (CTRI) Portal.

Key Highlights:

  • The portal is a significant step towards enabling worldwide visibility for Ayurveda-based clinical trials.

  • Ayurveda Dataset of CTRI has been developed jointly by The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences (CCRAS) under the AYUSH Ministry.

  • On the occasion, four more portals namely AMAR, SAHI, e-MEDHA and RMIS was also launched, all of them have been developed by Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences (CCRAS).

  • Rijiju also released four publications related to the Traditional Indian Medicine System of India and lauded the collaborative efforts of the ICMR and the Archaeological Survey of India for these initiatives

  • AYUSH seeks to play a big role in the National Digital Health Mission to provide health security to Indian people.

About Clinical Trial Registry-India (CTRI):

  • CTRI is primary register of Clinical Trials under the International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (ICTRP) by World Health Organisation (WHO).

  • Creation of Ayurveda dataset in CTRI facilitates will make use of Ayurveda terminologies to record clinical study meta data on the basis of Ayurveda interventions.

  • Till date, clinical trials in Ayurveda were dependent on terminology borrowed from modern medicine.

  • With this portal and joint efforts of ICMR and CCRAS, Ayurvedic terminology has become part of CTRI.

  • This is a great step towards a worldwide visibility for Ayurveda based Clinical Trials.

Features of CTRI Portal:

  • The key feature of this digital platform is the provision of selection of the Ayurveda Health conditions from drop-down of 3 thousand 8 hundred 66 Ayurveda morbidity codes.

  • These codes have been incorporated from NAMASTE portal (developed by AYUSH Ministry).

  • On NAMASTE portal, morbidity statistics pertaining to Ayurveda has been classified as per International Classification of Diseases standards.

  • Thus information & results of Ayurveda Clinical Trials will be available in Ayurvedic vocabulary in clinical trials registry of India.

Key points and significance of AMAR, SAHI, e-MEDHA and RMIS:

AMAR (Ayush Manuscripts Advanced Repository) Portal:

  • This Portal is of immense value and it has digitized information on rare and hard to find Manuscripts and catalogues of Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha, Sowa Rigpa in libraries or in individual collections across India or in other parts of the world.

SHAI (Showcase of Ayurveda Historical Imprints) Portals:

  • This portal showcases inscriptions, Archeo-botanical Information, Sculptures, Philological sources and advanced Archeo Genetic studies.

  • This portal will be of tremendous use in understanding of Indian Knowledge system with a focus on indigenous health care practices.

E-Medha (electronic Medical Heritage Accession) Portal:

  • Online public access catalog for more than 12000 Indian medical heritage books through NIC’s e-granthalaya platform.

CCRAS-Research Management Information System:

  • A collaborative effort of ICMR and CCRAS, this portal will be a one stop solution for Research and Development in Ayurveda based studies.

  • Free of cost research guidance by experienced Scientists, Clinicians of Ayurveda can be availed through this portal.

  • Research tools, reference material are also in place in this portal.

About the publications released by the Ministry of Ayush:

  1. Proceedings of International workshop on” Preservation and Promotion of SOWA-RIGPA in Asia

  2. Compendium of Important Cereals mentioned in Ayurveda-Series-1, volume-1

  3. Ayurveda Sangraha: An important classical textbook of Ayurveda which is mentioned in the Schedule 1 of Drugs and Cosmetics Act 1940. Up till now this book was available in Bengali language. Now it has been transliterated to Devanagari Script.

  4. PathapathyaVinishcaya- An important book of Ayurveda and has details of diet and lifestyle.

Bills to Counter Centre's New Farm Laws: The Shiv Sena-led MVA government in Maharashtra on 6 July 2021 introduced three amendment bills in the assembly in a move to counter the enacted by the Centre.

These three bills are related to agriculture, co-operation, food, and civil supplies.

About the three amendment Bills:

  • The bills have provisions for higher than MSP rate for produce in farming agreement with traders, timely payment of dues, three-year jail term and Rs 5 lakh fine or both for harassment of farmers.

  • They also have provisions to give power to the state government to regulate and prohibit production, supply, distribution and impose stock limits on essential commodities.

  • These bills which have been placed in public domain for two months during which all stakeholders can hold discussions for suggestions and debates on their provisions.

  1. Essential Commodities (Amendment), Farmers (Empowerment and Protection), Guarantee Price

  2. Agriculture Related Agreements (Maharashtra Amendment)

  3. Amendments to Central Government Farmer Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation).

  • The draft bills have been prepared by a cabinet sub-committee headed by Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar.

  • The bills will be taken up for discussion and passage during the winter session of the legislature in Nagpur (held in December).

Provisions of the new Amendment Bills:

The new three amendment bills have provisions for:

Higher than MSP rate for produce in farming agreement with traders, ensuring timely payment of dues, three-year jail terms and Rs 5 lakh fine or both for harassment of farmers.

  • Farming agreements (between traders and farmers) will be considered invalid if the price of agri produce being offered is not more than the MSP (minimum support price).

  • Furthemore, if the farmer is not remunerated within 7 days of the sale of his agricultural produce, a criminal suit can be registered against the trader for which punishments include three-year imprisonment and Rs 5 lakh penalty.

  • The Amendments to Centre’s Farmer Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) is to ensure that farmers get fair remuneration price for their agriculture produce within a set timeframe.

  • Co-operation Minister Balasaheb Patil said that the Centre’s farm laws offer no control over traders in case of failure of payment to the farmer after the sale of his agricultural produce.

  • The draft bill proposes that no trader shall trade in any scheduled agri produce unless he has a valid license from the competent authority.

  • In case of a dispute, farmers and traders can seek assistance by filing an application to the competent authority and an appeal against the order of competent authority to the appellate authority.

Allotment of power to state government:

  • They also have provisions to give power to the state government to regulate and prohibit production, supply, distribution and impose stock limits on essential commodities.

  • The state government has right to make laws and we want to suggest amendments to the central agriculture laws which we feel are anti-farmer.

  • In case of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 which has already been amended by the Centre, there is no provision for the state government to regulate or prohibit production, supply, distribution, imposing stock limits under extraordinary circumstances which may include price rise, famine or natural calamity.

  • Therefore, the state government proposes to amend the act further, in its application to Maharashtra, in order to have power over-regulating and prohibiting production, supply, distribution and imposing stock limits on essential commodities during extraordinary circumstances.

Coconut Development Board Act, 1979: The Union Cabinet has approved amendment in the Coconut Development Board Act, 1979 to make the post of Chairman, Coconut Development Board as Non-Executive one.

It will be beneficial to the Coconut Growers at large.

About Coconut Development Board (CDB):

  • Coconut Development Board (CDB) is a statutory body established under the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Government of India (GoI).

  • The Board came into existence in 1981.

  • It is headquartered in Kochi in Kerala.

  • Its mandate is the integrated development of coconut cultivation and industry in the country with focus on productivity increase and product diversification.

17th century Georgian Queen St. Ketevan Relics: External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar recently handed over the relics of St. Queen Ketevan to the government and the people of Georgia.

Key Points:

  • In heeding to a long-standing request of Georgia, the holy relics was handed over nearly 16 years after they were found in Goa.

  • Her relics were found in 2005 at the St. Augustine Convent in Old Goa, on the basis of medieval Portuguese records.

  • The relics were handed over by him at a ceremony in Tbilisi in the presence of Beatitude Ilia II, Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia, and Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili.

  • The relics have reached Georgia back after more than 390 years.

  • Mr Jaishankar is on a two-day visit to Georgia, a strategically important country situated at the intersection of Eastern Europe and Western Asia.

Background:

  • In 2017, at the request of the Georgian government, India sent the relics to Georgia for an exhibition for six months.

  • The relics were personally welcomed by His Holiness and Beatitude Ilia II, the Catholicos-Patriarch of Georgia along with many Georgians on September 23, 2017.

  • This loan of relics was extended for another six months and was returned to India on September 30, 2018. The relics spent the year travelling to different Churches of Georgia.

  • Considering the persistent request from the Georgian side for the permanent transfer of the relics and also taking into account the historical, religious and spiritual sentiments attached to the St. Queen Ketevan by the Georgian people, India decided to gift one part of the relics to Georgia.

  • Her relics were found in 2005 at the St. Augustine Convent in Old Goa, on the basis of medieval Portuguese records.

  • The relics are believed to have been brought to Goa in 1627 and interred in St. Augustine Complex.

  • At the instance of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), the CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad, carried out DNA analysis that confirmed its authenticity.

About St. Queen Ketevan:

  • St. Queen Ketevan was a 17th century Georgian Queen.

  • Ketevan the Martyr (c. 1560 – September 13, 1624) was a queen of Kakheti, a kingdom in eastern Georgia.

  • She was regent of Kakheti during the minority of her son Teimuraz I of Kakheti from 1605 to 1614.

  • She was killed at Shiraz, Iran, after prolonged tortures by the Safavid suzerains of Kakheti for refusing to give up the Christian faith and convert to Islam.

  • She was canonized by Patriarch Zachary of Georgia (1613–1630), and September 13 (corresponding to September 26 in the modern Gregorian calendar) was instituted by the Georgian Orthodox Church as the day of her commemoration.

Additional info:

  • During the visit, Mr Jaishankar will have a bilateral meeting with his counterpart covering various aspects of bilateral relations as well as exchange views on issues of regional and global interest.

  • He is also scheduled to unveil the newly-installed statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Tbilisi.

  • The visit would further strengthen the close and cordial relations between India and Georgia.

About Georgia:

  • Georgia, a country at the intersection of Europe and Asia, is a former Soviet Republic.

  • It is bounded on the north and northeast by Russia, on the east and southeast by Azerbaijan, on the south by Armenia and Turkey, and on the west by the Black Sea.

  • Its Capital is Tbilisi.

  • The currency used here is Georgian lari.

  • The current President of Georgia is Salome Zourabichvili.

National Fish Farmers Day (NFFD) 2021: Every year, India celebrates 10 July as the "National Fish Farmers' Day" to honor fishermen, aquapreneurs and fishermen in appreciation of their achievements in the field and their contribution to the growth of the country's fisheries sector.

This day is celebrated by the Department of Fisheries, Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying in association with the National Fisheries Development Board (NFDB).

NFFD 2021:

  • The year 2021 is the 64th National Fish Farmer's Day.

  • The Fisheries Department, as part of observing National Fish Farmers Day organized a series of virtual events in the wake of the lockdown regulations to honour selected farmers who have made commendable contributions to the field of inland fish farming ventures.

  • The virtual events were opened by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

  • The events were hosted at 13 locations in Kozhikode district.

  • One of the major projects to commemorate this year's celebration was the release of a micro-level directory with panchayat-level details about the fish farmers and scientific farming practices.

  • Screening of exclusive documentaries and seminars on aquaculture and modern farming methods was also a part of the virtual celebrations.

History:

  • National Fish Farmers Day is celebrated in the memory of scientists Dr K. H. Alikunhi and Dr H. L. Chaudhury.

  • Both of them successfully demonstrated Hypophysation (technology of induced breeding) in Indian Major Carps (common name for several species of fish) on 10th July 1957 at the former CIFRI Pond Culture Division in Cuttack, Odisha. (Presently Central Institute of Freshwater Aquaculture, CIFA, Bhubaneswar).

Aim:

The main aims of the event are as follows:

  • To recognize the accomplishments and contribution of fish farmers, aquapreneurs (entrepreneurs in the water sector) and fisher folks in the growth of the fisheries sector in the country.

  • To draw attention to changing the way the country manages fisheries resources to ensure sustainable stocks and healthy ecosystems.

  • The event is celebrated every year by congratulating outstanding farmers, aquapreneurs, and farmers in appreciation of their accomplishments in the field and their contribution to the development of the country's fisheries sector.

About National Fisheries Development Board (NFDB):

  • NFDB was established in 2006 as an autonomous organization under the administrative control of the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare.

  • Now, it works under the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying.

  • Its task is to enhance fish production and productivity in the country and to coordinate fishery development in an integrated and holistic manner.

About ICAR-National Bureau of Fish Genetic Resources (ICAR-NBFGR):

  • ICAR-NBFGR is a dedicated research center in fishery science under the Indian Council of Agricultural Research of Government of India (GoI).

  • It is located in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh.

  • This institute was established in 1983.

Mandate:

  • Exploration, characterization and cataloguing of fish genetic resources.

  • Maintenance and preservation of fish genetic resources for conservation and utilization of prioritized species.

  • Evaluation of indigenous and exotic germplasm including risk assessment and fish health.

About Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying:

  • Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying is a newly formed ministry in India.

  • It was formed in May 2019 by Modi government from the department of same name under Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare.

  • Recently, Senior BJP leader Parshottam Rupala took charge as the Union Minister of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying on 8 July 2021.

India and Japan: The Union Cabinet on recently approved a Memorandum on Cooperation (MoC) between India and Japan.

The MoC was signed between the Competition Commission of India (CCI) and Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC).

Aim:

The agreement is aimed at promoting and strengthening cooperation in the matter of Competition Law and Policy through the exchange of information as well as through various capacity-building initiatives in the areas of technical cooperation and experience sharing and enforcement cooperation.

Significance:

  • The MoC, through the exchange of information, will enable CCI to emulate and learn from the experiences of its Japanese counterpart, which would enhance efficiency.

  • This will also help improve enforcement of the Competition Act, 2002 by CCI.

  • The outcomes will benefit consumers at large and will promote equity and inclusiveness.

Background:

  • Section 18 of the Competition Act, 2002 permits CCI to enter into any memorandum or arrangement with any agency of any foreign country for the purpose of discharging its duties or performing its functions under the Act.

About CCI:

  • Competition Commission of India (CCI) is a statutory body of the Government of India (GoI).

  • It has been established under the provisions of The Competition Act, 2002, however it was not fully operational until 2009.

  • It comes under the Ministry of Corporate Affairs.

  • It is headquartered in New Delhi.

  • Ashok Kumar Gupta is the current Chairperson of the CCI.

  • It is responsible for enforcing The Competition Act, 2002 throughout the country which prohibits anti-competitive agreements and abuse of dominant position by enterprises.

  • It regulates mergers and acquisition (M&A) which can have an adverse effect on competition within India. Thus, deals beyond a certain threshold are required to get clearance from CCI.

  • Through constructive engagement with all stakeholders, the government, and foreign jurisdiction, it aims to create a competitive environment in the Indian economy.

National Statistics Day: National Statistics Day is celebrated on June 29 on the birth anniversary of late Professor Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis.

Key Points:

  • The day is observed to popularize the use of Statistics in everyday life.
  • This year's National Statistics Day marks the 128th birth anniversary of Professor Mahalanobis.
  • The first National Statistics Day was observed on June 29, 2006.

2021 National Statistics Day Theme:

  • End Hunger, Achieve Food Security and Improved Nutrition and Promote Sustainable Agriculture (Sustainable Developent Goal or SDG 2 of the UN) is the theme of this year's National Statistics Day.
  • Goal 2 seeks "sustainable solutions to end hunger in all its forms by 2030 and to achieve food security."

Events of National Statistics Day 2021:

  • This year, due to COVID-19 pandemic, the main event of the Statistics Day, 2021 is being organized through Video Conferencing/ Webcasting at NITI Aayog, New Delhi.
  • The Chief Guest of the event is Rao Inderjit Singh, Hon’ble Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) of Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) and Ministry of Planning.
  • During the event the Prof. P.C. Mahalanobis National Award winner, 2021 will be felicitated.
  • The winners of Prof. P.C. Mahalanobis National Award in Official Statistics, 2021 and Prof C. R. Rao National Award for Young Statistician, 2021 will also be announced.
  • The winners of the ‘On the Spot Essay Writing Competition, 2021’ for Post Graduate Students on the subject relevant to statistics organized at the All India level will also be felicitated. 

History:

  • The Government of India (GoI) decided to celebrate National Statistics Day on the outstanding contribution made by Late Professor Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis in the field of economic planning and statistics and therefore National Statistics Day mark his birth anniversary.
  • Notification to this effect was published in the Gazette of India on June 05, 2007.

Note: World Statistics Day is held every five years on October 20th. The day celebrates the achievements of the Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics.

About PC Mahalanobis: 

  • PC Mahalanobis is often referred to as the 'father of Indian statistics'.
  • He was born on June 29, 1893 in Calcutta (now Kolkata), West Bengal. He died on 28 June, 1972 in Calcutta.
  • He was a key member of the first Planning Commission of independent India.

Awards:

He was honoured with many prestigious awards by India as well as foreign countries. They are:

  • Padma Vibhushan (1968)
  • Weldon Memorial Prize from the University of Oxford (1944)
  • Fellow of the Royal Society, London(1945)

His Contributions:

  • The key contribution of PC Mahalanobis is known as "Mahalanobis distance'.
  • He was the member of the planning commission (1956-61) and he gave two-sector Input-output model for the Second Five Year Plan which later became known as the Nehru-Mahalanobis model.
  • He founded Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) in Calcutta on 17 December, 1931.
  • A few of his major works include the introduction of techniques for conducting large-scale sample surveys.
  • He was a pioneer in anthropometry studies and in pilot surveys.
  • He is credited with calculating acreages and crop yields by using random sampling methods.
  • He had also devised a statistical method, which could be used to compare the socio-economic situation of different groups of people.
  • He was instrumental in formulating India's strategy for industrialization.
  • He was a pioneer in applying statistics to planning for flood control.

About Mahalanobis distance:

  • The formula is used to find the distance between a point and a distribution.
  • It is based on measurements in multiple dimensions.
  • It is widely used in the field of cluster analysis and classification.

What is Statistics?

  • Statistics is the discipline concerning collection, analysis, organization, interpretation, and presentation of data.

Importance of Statistics:

  • Statistics is applied to a scientific, industrial, or social problem which starts with studying a statistical population or statistical model.
  • Statistics helps in formulating economic plans and policies. It presents facts in a precise form.
  • It also plays an important role in health field and helps conduct social surveys.
  • It is an important part of Mathematics.

NATRAX – HST: Minister of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises Prakash Javdekar on 29 June 2021 inaugurated The National Automotive Test Tracks (NATRAX) - the High-Speed Track (HST) located in Pithampur, Indore, Madhya Pradesh.

  • This HST is the longest such track in Asia and world's fifth-longest in the world.
  • Speaking at the e-inauguration of the world-class 11.3 km High Speed Track, Javdekar termed this as a proud moment for India and a key initiative in realizing Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision of Aatmanirbhar Bharat.

About NATRAX Facility:

  • The NATRAX facility measures 11.3 km in length.
  • NATRAX is one of the state-of-the-art automotive testing and certification centre under NATRiP.
  • It is a flagship project of the Ministry of Heavy Industries, planned under the Automotive Mission Plan launched by the Centre.
  • It is located near the vibrant industrial township of Pithampur (District Dhar), which is 50 km from the commercial capital of Madhya Pradesh i.e. Indore, situated on NH-3 By-Pass Road (Indore– Mumbai).
  • The center has been developed in approx 3,000 acres of land.

Power of NATRAX Centre:

  • The NATRAX centre has multiple test capabilities like measurements of maximum speed, acceleration, constant speed fuel consumption, emission tests through real road driving simulation, high speed handling and stability evaluation during maneuvered such as lane change, high speed durability testing, etc. and is a Centre of excellence for Vehicle Dynamics.

What is High Speed Track (HST)?

  • The High-Speed Track (HST) is used for measuring the maximum speed capability of high-end cars like BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Tesla and so forth which cannot be measured on any of the Indian test tracks.

Key Highlights of HST:

  • The high-speed track has been developed in an area of 1000 acres of land.
  • It is a one-stop solution for all sorts of high-speed performance tests for the widest categories of vehicles ranging from 2 wheelers to heavy tractor-trailers.
  • It will be used for measuring the maximum speed capabilities of high-end cars and other categories of vehicles.
  • It also includes different test tracks to aid automotive and component testing.
  • It is located centrally in Madhya Pradesh, which makes it accessible for most of the major Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs). 
  • Foreign Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) will be looking at NATRAX HST for the development of prototype cars for Indian conditions.
  • At present, foreign OEMs go to their respective high-speed track abroad for high-speed test requirements.

Significance:

  • The Union Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises is committed to fulfilling Prime Minister’s dream of ensuring that India becomes a hub of auto manufacturing.
  • The expansion of the automobiles and manufacturing industries will help generate employment.
  • The promotion of manufacturing and automobile industry will help empowering the nation at a larger scale.

National Doctors' Day 2021: In India, Doctor's Day is observed on 1st July by the Indian medical Association (IMA) to mark the importance of doctors hold in our lives. This day is also meant to commemorate the medical industry and its advancements.

On the occasion of National Doctor’s Day, PM Modi  addressed the doctor’s community at a program organized by the IMA.

Why is National Doctor's Day celebrated on July 1?

National Doctors’ Day is actually celebrated on July 1 to mark the birthday of Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy, who was a world renowned physician, freedom fighter, and a politician who held the post of chief minister of West Bengal.

History:

  • The first National Doctors’ Day was celebrated in the year 1991 in the honour of Dr BC Roy’s contributions to serving humanity and to the medical field.
  • He was born on July 1, 1882, and incidentally passed away on the same date in the year 1962.
  • Dr Roy was awarded with the Bharat Ratna on February 4, 1961.
  • He was instrumental in establishment of institutions like Chittaranjan Cancer Hospital, Chittaranjan Seva Sadan, Jadavpur T.B. Hospital, Victoria Institution (college), and Kamala Nehru Memorial Hospital, among others.
  • Apart from his service to the nation and to the field of medicine, Dr Roy was also instrumental in the establishment of the Medical Council of India (MCI) and the Indian Medical Association (IMA).

More about Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy:

  • Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy was born in Patna, Bihar.
  • He studied at Patna Collegiate School, Presidency College Calcutta and Patna College.
  • He did his post-graduation from St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London, where his application was accepted by the Dean after 30 rejections.
  • There he became a member of the Royal College of Physicians and a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons. He returned to India in 1911 and whole-heartedly devoted himself to community service and to the freedom movement.
  • Dr Roy actively helped students and freedom fighters during the struggle for independence.
  • He was also close confidante and doctor of Mahatma Gandhi.
  • He was also the second chief minister of West Bengal.

National Doctors’ Day – Significance:

  • The day is dedicated to all the doctors and healthcare workers who have been serving the people by risking their lives.
  • The day is observed to recognize their functions and obligations.
  • Pandemic has once again has become a reminder about the contributions and sacrifices made by doctors and healthcare workers around the globe.

Additional info:

  • Doctor’s day is not just celebrated in India but also in different countries but on different dates.
  • In the US it is observed on March 30,
  • In Cuban the day is observed on December 3.
  • For the first time the Doctor's Day was observed in March 1933 in the US state of Georgia and was celebrated by sending a card to the physicians and offering flowers on the graves of doctors who have passed away.

Goods and Services Tax (GST) Day: GST Day is celebrated on 1st July every year by the Government of India (GoI) to mark the roll-out of the historic tax reform.

Highlights:

  • This year, marks 4th anniversary of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
  • The date of July 1 was designated by the central government as 'GST Day'.
  • The main objective behind the implementation of this tax is to make a uniform tax system in the country.
  • During these years, several key policy initiatives were taken by the government to make the GST system and compliance mechanism simple, transparent and technology driven.
  • This year on GST day, the Union ministry of finance will issue certificates of appreciation to over 54,000 GST payers for timely filing of returns and a cash payment of the tax.

History:

  • The government decided to celebrate July 1, 2018, as 'GST Day' to mark the first anniversary of the new indirect tax regime.
  • GST was launched on the 1st July, 2017 in a majestic ceremony held in the Central Hall of Parliament on the midnight of 30th June, 2017.
  • The celebration of the 1st GST day included listing the remarkable successes achieved that year, followed by the motto, “One Nation, One Tax, One Market.”
  • The tax implementation was deemed to be the 2nd historic moment in India’s independence despite the initial hardships.

Significance:

  • India’s biggest tax reform is a perfect example of cooperative federalism and its motto of ‘One Nation, One Tax, One Market’- binds India into an Economic Union.
  • One Nation, One Tax, One Market became a reality one year ago with the stroke of midnight on 1st July.
  • Before implementation of GST, Indian taxation system was a mix of central, state and local area levies.
  • GST replaced multi-layered, complex indirect tax structure with a simple, transparent and technology-driven tax regime.

What is GST?

  • The Goods and Services Tax (GST) is an indirect, multi-stage, comprehensive tax in India, imposed on the supply of goods and services.
  • It is intended to replace other indirect taxes like Value Added Tax (VAT).
  • The tax came into effect from 1 July 2017 through the implementation of the One Hundred and First Amendment of the Constitution of India by the Indian government. The GST replaced the existing multiple taxes levied by the central and state governments.
  • As per the newly implemented tax system, there are 4 different types of GST:
  1. Integrated Goods and Services Tax (IGST)
  2. State Goods and Services Tax (SGST)
  3. Central Goods and Services Tax (CGST)
  4. Union Territory Goods and Services Tax (UTGST).

20 key facts related GST:

1. The Goods and Services Tax (GST) was first implemented in France.

2. India's GST is based on the Canadian model.

3. GST in India was made on the recommendation of Vijay Kelkar Committee.

4. GST in India was implemented on July 1, 2017

5. The first state which implemented the GST was Assam.

6. Amitabh Bachchan has been made the brand ambassador of GST.

7. GST has been implemented under Article 279 of the Indian constitution.

8. GST Council was formed by the President of India in September 2016.

9. At present Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is the Chairman of the GST Council.

10. At present GST Council has 33 members out of which 2 members are of centre and 31 members are from 28 state and 3 Union territories with legislation.

11. GST has been implemented by the 101st Constitution Amendment Act, 2016.

12. The GST was the 122nd constitutional amendment bill to be introduced in the Parliament of India.

13. The President of India approved GST bill on 8th September 2016.

14. During passing of GST bill in parliament; 336 votes casted in the favour of GST bill and 11 votes were against it.

15. There is a provision of 5 years imprisonment for those who do not pay GST.

16. There are 5 rates of taxes in GST i.e. 0%, 5%, 12%, 18% and 28%.

17. GST is an indirect tax in broader terms it can be said a federal tax.

18. After the implementation of GST, sales tax, service tax, customs duty, excise duty, VAT, Octroi tax etc. will not exist.

19. The biggest reason behind the implementation of the GST is to bring uniformity in the tax system of the country.

20. After the implementation of GST, tradition of 'Tax upon Tax' will be eliminated.

Importance of tax payment:

  • Taxes paid by citizens contribute to their economic benefit via services and operations.
  • They basically help the government run the country as a budget and source of income.
  • This helps to finance public sector services that indeed aid the population.
  • These include healthcare, defense, and the legal administration of the country.
  • In addition, tax payments help foster social security and the development of the economy.

Architecture and education are also aided by tax funding.

How does GST Help?

  • GST also helps level the inequalities in income due to the progressive structure.
  • The income effect is curved due to the reduced purchasing power of taxpayers.
  • There is also a substitution effect imposed between taxed and untaxed goods.
  • GST checks all the necessities of tax and helps consolidate all the indirect taxes under one umbrella factor.

Tax evasion:

  • Tax evasion is the illegal practice of deliberately avoiding the payment of taxes to the government.
  • Tax evasion is considered a criminal offence, and the entity doing so is liable to judicial charges and penalties.

National Chartered Accountants Day: Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) celebrates its Foundation Day each year on July 1 as 'Chartered Accountants' Day' or 'CA Day'.

Highlights:

This year, 2021 is the 73rd celebration of the day.

It is observed to celebrate and acknowledge the contribution of India's most professional and old finance and accounting body ICAI.

ICAI is a statutory body established by an Act of Parliament, viz. The CA Act, 1949 for regulating the profession of Chartered Accountancy in India.  

History:

  • Before ICAI came into existence, the British Government in India used to maintain accounts using the Companies Act. The British Government then launched an accountancy diploma course for auditors.
  • The people who completed this course became eligible to work as auditors all across India.
  • However, the accountancy profession remained unregulated in India until an expert committee, in 1948, suggested the formation of an autonomous body to regulate the same.
  • It was followed by the passing of Chartered Accountant Act in 1949.
  • The ICAI was established on 1 July 1949.

Significance:

Chartered Accountants (CA) play a very important role in development of our country.

Moreover, the ICAI is the most professional institute which regulates the accounting standard in India.

The organization has over 2.5 lakh members.

The official motto of ICAI is taken from the Upanishad which reads, “Ya esha supteshu jagriti”. It means 'the one who is awake in those that sleep'.         

ICAI:

  • It refers to the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India.
  • ICAI functions under the administrative control of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India (GOI).
  • It was established on 1st July in the year 1949 under an Act passed in Parliament.
  • It is the national professional accounting body of India and also the second biggest accounting organization in the world.
  • It is the sole licensing and regulatory body for the financial audit and accounting profession in India. 
  • Its recommendations are followed by everyone – from the National Financial Reporting Authority (NFRA) to companies and accounting organizations.
  • Its affairs are managed by a Council as per the provisions of the Chartered Accountants Act, 1949 and the Chartered Accountants Regulations, 1988.
  • It is headquartered in New Delhi.
  • The current President of ICAI Nihar Jambusaria.

NFRA:

  • It refers to the National Financial Reporting Authority. NFRA was constituted on 1 October 2018 by the Government of India under Sub Section (1) of section 132 of the Companies Act, 2013.
  • The current Chairman of NFRA is R.Sridharan.

Digital India: The government’s flagship programme- Digital India has completed six years on 1 July 2021.

Highlights:

  • The vision of Digital India programme is to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy.
  • Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi addressed a virtual event to mark the completion of six years of Digital Indian programme.
  • The event also witnessed the presence of Minister of Electronics and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad.
  • The programme is being organized by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.
  • The digital India initiative was launched with a vision to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy.
  • The programme was started on 1 July, 2015.

On the occasion, PM Modi interacted with beneficiaries of various schemes of Digital India programme, including Diksha, eNAM, eSanjeevani solution for telemedicine, DigiBunai and PM SVANidhi scheme via video conference.

Key points of PM's Address:

  • In his address PM Modi said that the data and demographic dividend combined with India’s proven tech prowess presents massive opportunity for the country, and this decade will be ‘India’s techade’.
  • He highlighted Various Schemes of Digital India programme:
  • Diksha: It stands for Digital Infrastructure for Knowledge Sharing. It serves as National Digital Infrastructure for Teachers. All teachers across the nation will be equipped with advanced digital technology.
  • eNAM: It was launched on 14th April 2016 as a pan-India electronic trade portal linking Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMCs) across the States.
  • eSanjeevani: It is a telemedicine service platform of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.
  • DigiBunai: DigiBunai aids the weavers to create digital artwork and translate the saree design to be loaded to the looms. DigiBunai™ is a first of its kind Open Source software for Jacquard and dobby weaving.
  • PM SVANidhi scheme: The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) has launched Pradhan Mantri Street Vendor's AtmaNirbhar Nidhi (PM SVANidhi), for providing affordable loans to street vendors. It incentivises digital transactions by the street vendors.
  • The Digital India journey in the past 6 years has centered on empowerment, inclusion, and digital transformation. It has positively impacted all aspects of the lives of Indian citizens through Aadhaar, Direct Benefit Transfer, Common Services Centres, DigiLocker and mobile-based UMANG services.
  • Through Aadhaar, the Government has provided digital identity to 129 crore residents of the country with 99 per cent coverage of adult population.
  • The combination of Jandhan bank Accounts, mobile phones and digital identity through Aadhaar is helping the poor in receiving the benefits directly into their bank accounts.
  • Digital solutions also played a pivotal role   during Covid-19: Contact tracing app, Aarogya Setu.

What is Digital India?

  • Digital India is a Rs 1,13,000-crore flagship programme of the Government of India (GoI) with a vision to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy.
  • Since the mid-1990s, the e-governance initiatives in India took a broader dimension with an emphasis on citizen-centric services.
  • Among the major focus of e-governance was railway computerization, land record computerization, etc, which then slowly percolated to the states to include other facets of governance within the digital purview.

NHP-Bhuvan Portal: The Secretary, Department of Space & Chairman, ISRO, Dr. K. Sivan recently launched the NHP –Bhuvan portal of the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC).

About NHP –Bhuvan Portal:

  • The National Hydrology Project or NHP-Bhuvan Portal is a repository of information on the initiatives undertaken by NRSC under NHP (National Hydrology Project).
  • The portal also has a facility to download the reports and knowledge products being developed by NRSC.
  • National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC), Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), Hyderabad as one of the Implementing Agency under the National Hydrology Project (NHP), is carrying out hydrological studies using satellite data and geospatial techniques.

About National Hydrology Project (NHP):

NHP is being taken up from Ministry of Jal Shakti, Government of India (GoI) with financial aid from World Bank.

The main objective of the project is to improve the extent and accessibility of water resources information and strengthen institutional capacity to enable improved water resources planning and management across India.

The mission is to establish an effective and sound hydrologic database and Hydrological Information System (HIS), together with the development of consistent and scientifically based tools and design aids to assist in the effective water resources planning and management within each to the implementing agencies based on sound scientific driven framework.

The project comprises four broad components:

  • Improving In Situ Monitoring System (IMS)
  • Improving Spatial Information System (SIS)
  • Promoting Water Resources Operation and Management Applications (WROMA)
  • Strengthening Water Resources Institutions and Capacity Building (WRICB).

National Affairs Current Affairs - June 2021

ICMED 13485 PLUS: Quality Council of India (QCI) and Association of Indian Manufacturers of Medical Devices (AiMeD) have launched “Indian Certification of Medical Devices Plus (ICMED) Scheme”.

ICMED scheme added further features to the ICMED Scheme that was launched in 2016 for Certification of Medical Devices.

About ICMED 13485 PLUS:

  • The ICMED 13485 PLUS, as the new scheme has been christened, will undertake verification of the quality, safety and efficacy of medical devices.
  • It has been designed to integrate the Quality Management System components and product-related quality validation processes through witness testing of products with reference to the defined product standards and specifications.
  • This is the first scheme around the world in which quality management systems along with product certification standards are integrated with regulatory requirements.
  • This scheme will be an end-to-end quality assurance scheme for the medical devices sector in India.

Significance of the scheme:

The scheme will not only assist procurement agencies to tackle challenges related to counterfeit products and fake certification but will also eliminate circulation and use of sub-standard medical products or devices of doubtful origin.

About Quality Council of India (QCI):

  • Quality Council of India (QCI) was set up in 1997 jointly by the Government of India (GoI) and the Indian Industry represented by the three premier industry associations i.e. ASSOCHAM, CII and FICCI, to establish and operate national accreditation structure.
  • It was established under Societies Registration Act in 1997 to provide accreditation services across different sectors for product, services and persons.
  • The Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, is the nodal ministry for QCI.
  • The Council is independent and works under the directions of its Governing Body (GB) having equal representation of government, industry and industry associations.
  • It does not get funded by the government and is a self-sustaining non-profit organization with its own Memorandum of Association (MOA) and Rules.
  • It is headquartered in New Delhi.

India and Saint Vincent: The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved an agreement between India and Saint Vincent and The Grenadines for the exchange of tax information and assistance in the collection.

Key Details:

  • This is for the first time that an Agreement has been approved between the Republic of India and Saint Vincent and The Grenadines.
  • The Agreement mainly proposes to facilitate exchange of information between the two countries and to provide assistance to each other in collection of tax claims.
  • It also contains tax examination abroad provisions which provide that a country may allow the representatives of the other country to enter its territory (to the extent permitted under its domestic laws) to interview individuals and examine records for tax purposes.

About Saint Vincent and the Grenadines:

  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, often simply referred to as Saint Vincent, is an island nation in the Caribbean.
  • It is located in the southeast Windward Islands of the Lesser Antilles, which lie in the West Indies at the southern end of the eastern border of the Caribbean Sea where the latter meets the Atlantic Ocean.
  • The capital of Saint Vincent is Kingstown. The currency used here is Eastern Caribbean dollar.
  • The current Prime Minister of Saint Vincent is Ralph Gonsalves.

Passport Seva Divas: Every Year, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) celebrates Passport Seva Divas (PSD) on June 24 every year to commemorate the enactment of Passports Act on 24 June, 1967.

It was on this day in 1967 that the Passports Act, 1967 had come into effect.

In India, the first Passport Seva Divas was celebrated in 2013.

Passport Act:

  • The Passport Act describes the procedures of getting Indian passport.
  • The act replaced British Indian Passport and the Passport Act, 1920.
  • By Article 9 of the Indian Constitution, the act does not allow dual citizenship. According to the act, if a person acquired foreign citizenship, he has to surrender his passport.

About Passport:

There are different types of passports issued under the Passport Act. They are as follows

  1. Official Passport
  2. Ordinary Passport
  3. Diplomatic Passport

Under the act, travel documents are also provided. They are

  1. Certificate of Identity
  2. Emergency Certificate to authorize a person to enter India

Who issues passports in India?

  • An Indian passport is issued by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs to Indian citizens for the purpose of international travel.
  • It enables the bearer to travel internationally and serves as proof of Indian citizenship as per the Passports Act (1967).
  • The Passport Seva (Passport Service) unit of the Consular, Passport & Visa (CPV) Division of the Ministry of External Affairs functions as the central passport organisation, and is responsible for issuing Indian passports on demand to all eligible Indian citizens.
  • Indian passports are issued at 93 passport offices located across India and at 197 Indian diplomatic missions abroad.

Additional Info:

  • On the occassion of PSD, Passport Seva Puraskars are also announced for the best performing Passport Offices and the personnel of the Service Provider.
  • As Police verification is an important component of the process of issue of passport, special mention was made of the Police Departments for their efforts in providing speedy police clearances.

Background:

  • The Ministry of External Affairs had constituted a working group cum assessment committee on Passport Seva Puraskar to deliberate upon and recommend the methodology of assessment for the award in 2016-17.
  • The committee recommended the candidature for the award in various disciplines that was approved by the ministry.

MSDC: Union Minister of State (I/C) for Port, Shipping and Waterways Shri Mansukh Mandaviya recently chaired the 18th meeting of the Maritime State Development Council (MSDC) through a video conference.

The meeting was organized by the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways.

About Maritime State Development Council (MSDC):

  • MSDC is an apex advisory body for the development of the Maritime sector.
  • The council aims to ensure integrated development of Major and non-Major Ports.
  • The MSDC was constituted in May 1997.
  • It was constituted to assess in consultation with State Governments, the future development of existing and new Minor Ports by the respective Maritime States either directly or through captive users and private participation.

JaanHaiToJahaanHai: The Minority Affairs Minister, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi recently launched a nationwide “JaanHaiToJahaanHai” awareness campaign on Corona vaccination for rural and remote areas.

Highlights:

  • This campaign aims to aware people of the Corona vaccination and to crush rumours and apprehensions related to Corona vaccination.
  • It has been launched by the Ministry of Minority Affairs in association with various socio-educational organizations, NGOs, and Women Self Help Groups.
  • Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi urged members of Central Waqf Council, Maulana Azad Education Foundation, and other social and educational institutions to take part in this awareness campaign.

Note: India is running the world’s largest Corona vaccination drive.

International Labour Organization (ILO): Apurva Chandra, Secretary (Labour and Employment) recently completed his tenure as Chair of Governing Body of ILO.

Key facts:

  • He held the position for the period October 2020- June 2021.
  • India assumed the Chairmanship of the Governing Body of ILO after a gap of 35 years.

About International Labour Organization (ILO):

  • About International Labour Organization (ILO):
  • It is a United Nations (UN) agency.
  • It deals with labour issues, particularly international labour standards, social protection, and work opportunities for all.
  • It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • Its Parent organization is Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
  • It is also a member of the United Nations Development Group (UNDP), a coalition of UN organization aimed at helping meet the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • The ILO has 187 member states: 186 out of 193 UN member states plus the Cook Islands.

History:

  • It was founded in 1919 as part of the Treaty of Versailles that ended World War I.
  • In 1946, the ILO became a specialized agency of the newly formed United Nations.
  • It is the only U.N. agency tripartite organization that brings together representatives of governments, employers and workers in its executive bodies.
  • In 1969, ILO received the Nobel Peace Prize for improving fraternity and peace among nations.
  • India is the founding member of ILO.

Deep Ocean Mission: The Union Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently approved the proposal for Deep Ocean Mission for sustainable use of ocean resources and nutrient-based subsidy.

Key Highlights:

  • The Deep Ocean Mission will prove to be a game changer in the future.
  • India has seven thousand 517 km long coastline.
  • The estimated cost of the Deep Ocean Mission will be over Rs 4000 crore and it will be implemented in a phase-wise manner in five years.
  • For the first phase for the 3 years (2021-2024), the government would spend Rs 2,823.40 crore.
  • The main objective of the Deep Ocean Mission is to support the Blue Economy Initiatives of the Government of India (GoI).

Significance:

  • This futuristic decision will give impetus to the Blue Economy by exploring the deep ocean for resources and developing deep-sea technologies for sustainable use of ocean resources.
  • This mission will help in the study of deep ocean biodiversity and minerals.
  • Around 30 per cent of the country’s population lives in coastal areas.
  • Ocean is a major economic factor supporting fisheries and aquaculture, tourism, livelihoods and blue trade.
  • Oceans are also a storehouse of food, energy, minerals, and medicines.

About Deep Ocean Mission:

  • The 'Deep Ocean Mission' will be a mission mode project to support the Blue Economy Initiatives of the government and Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) will be the nodal Ministry implementing this multi-institutional ambitious mission.
  • Under the Mission, a manned submersible will be developed to carry three people to a depth of six thousand metre in the ocean.
  • The Deep Ocean Mission consists of the following six major components:
  1. Development of Technologies for Deep Sea Mining, and Manned Submersible
  2. Development of Ocean Climate Change Advisory Services
  3. Technological innovations for exploration and conservation of deep-sea biodiversity
  4. Deep Ocean Survey and Exploration
  5. Energy and freshwater from the Ocean
  6. Advanced Marine Station for Ocean Biology.

Projects of BRO:  On June 17, 2021, Raksha Mantri Rajnath Singh dedicated 12 roads, built by Border Roads Organization (BRO) in the Northern and Eastern border areas to the nation.

Highlight:

  • Chief Minister of Assam Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma, Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh Pema Khandu, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Youth Affairs & Sports, Minority Affairs and AYUSH (Independent Charge) Kiren Rijiju and Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat. Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Development of North Eastern Region & Minister of State, PMO, Dr Jitendra Singh was among the dignitaries attended the event virtually.
  • At an event organised in Lakhimpur district of Assam, the Raksha Mantri e-inaugurated a 20-km long double lane Kimin-Potin road, along with nine other roads in Arunachal Pradesh and one each in the Union Territories of Ladakh and Jammu & Kashmir.
  • Raksha Mantri reiterated the resolve of the Government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, for the development of North-east, describing the region as the gateway to not only the overall development of the country, but also to the nation’s relations with East Asian countries.
  • He also paid tribute to the soldiers who showed exemplary courage during the Galwan Valley incident last year and made the supreme sacrifice in the service of the nation.
  • He said that India is a peace-loving nation but its response to aggression has been resolute.
  • The Raksha Mantri also touched upon some of the major reforms undertaken by the Government, including appointment of Chief of Defence Staff, measures to boost self-reliance in defence manufacturing and Corporatisation of Ordnance Factory Board (OFB).
  • These reforms are proving to be a game changer in the military preparedness in the rapidly changing times, he said.
  • Shri Rajnath Singh underlined the constant efforts of the Government to make India self-reliant in defence manufacturing under the ‘AatmaNirbhar Bharat’ envisioned by the Prime Minister.

About:

  • The roads have been constructed under ‘Arunank’, ‘Vartak’, ‘Brahmank’, ‘Udayak’, ‘Himank’ and ‘Sampark’ projects of BRO.
  • The roads hold strategic and socio-economic importance as they will play an important role in strengthening national security as well as promoting development of the North-East region.
  • These roads will be helpful in fulfilling the needs of our Armed Forces and transporting necessities like medicines and ration to remote areas,” he said.
  • These road projects are part of the ‘Act East Policy’ of the Government wherein special emphasis is being laid on the overall development of the border areas.

About BRO:

  • BRO refers to the Border Roads Organization.
  • In order to ensure coordination and expeditious execution of projects, the Government of India (GoI) set up the Border Roads Development Board (BRDB) with the Prime Minister as Chairman of the Board and Defence Minister as Deputy Chairman.
  • The BRO was formed on 7 May 1960 to secure India's borders and develop infrastructure in remote areas of the north and north-east states of the country. It develops and maintains road networks in India's border areas and friendly neighboring countries.
  • It is responsible for the construction and maintenance of roads along the borders with China and Pakistan. Officers from the Border Roads Engineering Service (BRES) and personnel from the General Reserve Engineer Force (GREF) form the parent cadre of the Border Roads Organization.
  • BRO has been entirely brought under the Ministry of Defence.
  • Earlier it received funds from the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.
  • The current Director General of BRO is Lt. Gen. Rajeev Chaudhary.

TV Channel Selector Portal: Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recently launched TV Channel Selector Portal.

Key Points:

  1. TRAI launched this portal for consumers who could not access its mobile phone app of the same name due to lack of a smartphone.
  2. This portal will facilitate those subscribers who do not own a mobile phone but want to use a web browser for selection of TV channels.
  3. It will help the subscriber to check their own subion and view all the channels provided by the DTH and Cable operators.
  4. With the help of this portal subscribers can choose their channel of interest and remove the unwarranted channels.
  5. It also allows the subscriber to modify existing subions.
  6. The users can also provide the feedback through the portal.

Background:

  1. The TV Channel Selector App for smartphone was launched on June 25 2020 that enabled users to check their subscription, modify it, view all channels provided by their cable operators and choose channels of interest under a regulatory framework notified in December 2018.

About Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI):

  1. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is a statutory body set up by the Government of India under section 3 of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997.
  2. TRAI was established on 20 February 1997.
  3. It regulates telecom services, including fixation/revision of tariffs for telecom services which were earlier vested in the Central Government.

Objective:

  1. TRAI's mission is to create and nurture conditions for growth of telecommunications in the country in a manner and at a pace which will enable India to play a leading role in emerging global information society.
  2. One of the main objectives of TRAI is to provide a fair and transparent policy environment which promotes a level playing field and facilitates fair competition.

Members:

  1. It consists of a Chairperson and not more than two full-time members and not more than two part-time members.

Amendment of TRAI Act:

  1. The TRAI Act was amended by an ordinance, effective from 24 January 2000, establishing a Telecommunications Dispute Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) to take over the adjudicatory and disputes functions from TRAI.
  2. TDSAT was set up to adjudicate any dispute between a licensor and a licensee, between two or more service providers, between a service provider and a group of consumers, and to hear and dispose of appeals against any direction, decision or order of TRAI.

National Sickle Cell Conclave: Minister of Tribal Affairs, Shri Arjun Munda, inaugurated the Second National Sickle Cell Conclave on the occasion of World Sickle Cell Awareness Day 2021 on June 19.

The aim of the webinar is to increase awareness in the community, the global burden of the Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) disorder and its prevalence in India.

About National Sickle Cell Conclave:

  • The National Sickle Cell Conclave is held to mark world Sickle Cell Day every year.
  • It was organized by Ministry of Tribal Affairs in association with Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI), Apollo Hospitals, Novartis, Piramal Foundation etc.
  • The flagship event will bring together top government officials, stakeholders including Ministry of Tribal Affairs, FICCI, Novartis, Apollo Hospitals, Piramal Foundation, GASCDO, NASCO.
  • The event will also include experts and clinicians to discuss ways and means to enhance awareness, prevention and management initiatives especially among women and children along with recent advances in SCD management.
  • The program will include a panel discussion featuring leading clinicians, advocates and policy makers who are focused on delivering high-quality healthcare to people living with SCD.
  • The conclave will visualize a roadmap for streamlining guidelines and for effective management of sickle cell disease through Continuum of Care approach in India.

SCD in India:

  • SCD is widespread amongst many tribal population groups in India.
  • Several cost-effective interventions have reduced morbidity and mortality from SCD in India.
  • However, access to care for SCD in tribal regions limited.
  • SCD is prevalent predominantly in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, western Odisha, eastern Gujarat Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Nilgiri Hills of north Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

About Sickle cell disease (SCD):

  • Sickle cell anemia is a genetic red blood cell disorder.
  • According to mayoclinic.org. people with sickle cell disorders don't have enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body.
  • SCD is a group of blood disorders that affect a person’s red blood cells.
  • It is a genetic condition that is passed on from parents.
  • The disorder causes normal round and flexible blood cells to become stiff and sickle shaped, which in turn stops the blood cells and the oxygen they carry from moving freely around the body.

World Sickle Cell Awareness Day 2021:

  • World Sickle Cell Day, observed every year on June 19.
  • The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution to recognize sickle cell disease as a public health problem on December 22, 2008.
  • The main aim of observing this day is to raise awareness of sickle cell disorders.

 National Reading Day 2021: India celebrates its 26th National Reading Day on June 19, 2021.

Highlights:

  • The week following June 19 will be observed as Reading Week and the entire month till July 18 will be observed as Reading Month.
  • The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) celebrates National Reading Day annually on 19 June.
  • The Day is celebrated to honour the father of the ‘Library Movement in Kerala’, the late P.N. Panicker, whose death anniversary falls on June 19.
  • The P N Panicker Foundation has been observing the national reading day, reading week, and reading month since June 19, 1996.
  • This year, the foundation has organized activities that motivate reading online due to the prevailing COVID 19 situation in the country.

Background:

  • On June 19, 2017, Prime Minister launched the 22nd National Reading Month Celebrations and called for unity to spread the message of ‘Read and Grow’ among all the citizens of the country by 2022.

Additional info:

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi had recently announced the ‘Young, Upcoming and Versatile Authors’ scheme.
  • This is a mentorship programme to train 75 young authors to celebrate India’s 75th Independence Day.
  • Along with this, the government is expected to announce some initiative to celebrate National Reading Day India 2021.

About P N Panicker:

  • Puthuvayil Narayana Panicker (1 March 1909 – 19 June 1995) is known as the “Father of the Library Movement” in the Indian state of Kerala.
  • He promoted Kerala Association for Non-Formal Education and Development (KANFED), a non-formal education movement and institutions like Kerala Grandhasala Sangam (Kerala State Library Council).
  • The activities that he initiated triggered a popular cultural movement in Kerala which led to universal literacy in the state in the 1990s.
  • Kerala became the first total literate state of the country in 1991.

Cross-Disability Early Intervention Centres: Minister for Social Justice & Empowerment Shri Thaawarchand Gehlot virtually inaugurated 14 Cross-Disability Early Intervention Centres located at 7 National Institutes and 7 Composite Regional Centres in New Delhi.

Highlights:

  • These have been established under the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD), Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
  • These have been setup at 7 National Institutes at Delhi, Mumbai, Dehradun, Secunderabad, Cuttack, Chennai and Kolkatta and 7 Composite Regional Centres at Sundernagar, Lucknow, Patna, Bhopal, Rajnandgaon,Nellore and Kozhikode in the first phase.
  • These 14 Centres will provide contiguous facilities for therapeutic, rehabilitative care services and pre-school training for children with disabilities (0-6 years) covering all types of disabilities covered under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016.
  • These services will be provided under a single roof with accessible and aesthetically designed environments.

ECOSOC: India has recently been elected to the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), one of the six main organs of the United Nations, for 2022-2024 term in the elections held in United Nations.

Key Points:

  • India was elected in the Asia-Pacific States category along with Afghanistan, Kazakhstan and Oman.
  • From the African states, Cte d'Ivoire, Eswatini, Mauritius, Tunisia and the United Republic of Tanzania were elected.
  • From the eastern European states, Croatia and the Czech Republic were elected.
  • From the Latin American and Caribbean states, Belize, Chile and Peru were elected.
  • In the Economic and Social Council by-election, Greece, New Zealand and Denmark were elected for a term of office from January to December 2022 and Israel was elected for a term of office beginning January 1, 2022 and until December 31, 2023.
  • India is currently serving the 2021-22 term as a non-permanent member of the powerful UN Security Council and will assume the Presidency of the 15-nation UN organ in August.

About ECOSOC:

  • ECOSOC is the acronym for United Nations Economic and Social Council.
  • ECOSOC was established ECOSOC in 1945 as one of the six main organs of the United Nations by the UN Charter.
  • It is headquartered in New York, USA.
  • ECOSOC is the principal body for coordination, policy review, policy dialogue and recommendations on economic, social and environmental issues, as well as the implementation of internationally agreed development goals.

Members:

  • The Council consists of 54 Members States, which are elected by the General Assembly for overlapping three-year terms.
  • Seats on the Council are allotted based on geographical representation with 14 allocated to African states, 11 to Asian states, six to eastern European states, 10 to Latin American and Caribbean states and 13 to western European and other states.

Functions:

  • It coordinates the work of the 14 UN specialized agencies, ten functional commissions and five regional commissions, receives reports from nine UN funds and programmes and issues policy recommendations to the UN system and to member states.
  • Being the heart of United Nations system, it helps in advancing economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.
  • It organizes follow-up, major UN conferences and summits.
  • It promotes high standards of living, full employment, economic & social progress,
  • It also identifies solutions for global economic, social & health problems etc.

ECOSOC’s annual High-Level Segment includes:

  • High-Level Political Forum, which reviews implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, is convened under the auspices of the Council every July.
  • Development Cooperation Forum reviews trends and progress in development cooperation.

Specialized agencies:

  • The specialized agencies of the United Nations are autonomous organizations working within the United Nations System, meaning that while they report their activities to the Economic and Social Council, they are mostly free to their own devices.

Ratle Hydroelectric Project: NHPC (National Hydroelectric Power Corporation) limited, India’s premier hydropower company under Ministry of Power has formed a joint venture company, “Ratle Hydroelectric Power Corporation Limited” for the implementation of 850 MW Ratle Hydroelectric Project.

Key Highlights:

  • This comes in the backdrop of India’s plan to fully utilize its share of the waters under the Indus Waters Treaty of 1960.

Note: The Chenab flows from India to Pakistan.

  • The Joint Venture Company (JVC) has been incorporated on 01.06.2021 with NHPC and Jammu & Kashmir State Power Development Corporation Ltd (JKSPDC) holding equity share of 51% and 49% respectively.
  • Ratle Hydoelectric Project (850 MW), is a Run of River Scheme located on River Chenab, Kishtwar district, Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • A tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed on 03.02.2019 between JKSPDC, NHPC and the then Government of Jammu and Kashmir in the presence of Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi.
  • In January 2021, the Union Cabinet has given its approval for the investment of Rs.5281.94 crore for 850 MW Ratle Hydro Electric (HE) Project.
  • It shall be commissioned within a span of 5 years.

About NHPC Limited:

  • NHPC Limited (erstwhile National Hydroelectric Power Corporation) is an Indian government hydropower board under the ownership of Ministry of Power, Government of India (GoI).
  • It was founded in 1975.
  • At present, NHPC Ltd is a Mini-Ratna Category-I Enterprise of the Government of India.
  • NHPC Limited was incorporated with an objective to plan, promote and organise an integrated and efficient development of hydroelectric power in all aspects.
  • Later on NHPC expanded its objects to include other sources of energy like Solar, Geothermal, Tidal, Wind etc.

Largest Green Railways: Indian Railways (IR) is moving towards becoming the world’s largest green railway network by achieving “net-zero carbon emission” by 2030.

Key Points:

In a statement on World Environment Day 2021, IR had stated that the railways are moving towards a complete green restart.

Along with the ambitious goal of achieving “net-zero carbon emission” by 2030, the IR is looking at helping the environment with steps ranging from massive electrification, water & paper conservation, to saving animals from being injured on Railway tracks.

Steps taken by IR to achieve net-zero carbon emission by 2030:

To achieve the net-zero carbon emission, IR has taken some of the following steps:

  • The Railways is developing Dedicated Freight Corridors (Eastern DFC and Western DFC) in the form of a low carbon green transportation network with a long-term low carbon roadmap which will enable it to adopt more energy-efficient and carbon-friendly technologies, processes and practices.
  • Indian Railways has adopted modern measures such as Head-On-Generation systems, Bio-Toilets and LED lights, automatic coach washing plants, and water conservation.
  • In 2016, an MoU was signed between Confederation of Indian Industry and IR to facilitate green initiatives on IR. Following this, 39 Workshops, 7 Production Units, 8 Loco Sheds and one Stores depot were ‘GreenCo’ certified.
  • Note: The Green certifications are allotted keeping in mind the sustainable development goals such as the use of renewable energy, energy conservation measures, water conservation, Green House Gas emission reduction, waste management, recycling and material conservation.
  • Climate Change features have been incorporated into Indian Railways' risk assessments and disaster management protocols.
  • The Environment Sustainability Report, published annually by IR and subsidiary units, establishes a framework document defining strategies and focal points in the context of climate change, the issues at stake, and steps to address them. This helps the railways in helping support government commitments such as the Paris agreement on climate change, the UN Sustainable Development Goals and National Disaster Management Plans.

Background:

  • The IR is guided by a holistic vision of being an environmental-friendly, efficient, cost-effective, punctual and modern carrier of passengers as well as freight to serve the growing needs of New India.
  • The IR network has enabled movement of essential items such as food grains and even medical oxygen at the height of the pandemic while being more environmentally friendly as compared to Road transport.
  • The IR, between April 2021 and May 2021, moved about 73 Lakh tonnes of food grains and have run 241 loaded Oxygen express trains, moving 922 loaded tankers, thereby transporting 15,046 tonnes of oxygen to various part of the country.  

About IR:

  • IR refers to the Indian Railways.
  • IR is India's national railway system operated by the Ministry of Railways.
  • It is among the world's largest rail networks.
  • The first railway proposals for India were made in Madras in 1832.
  • The formal inauguration ceremony was performed on 16th April 1853.
  • The first passenger train in India ran between Bombay (Bori Bunder) and Thane.
  • The 14-carriage train was hauled by three steam locomotives: Sahib, Sindh and Sultan. It carried 400 people and ran on a line of 34 kilometres (21 mi) built and operated by the Great Indian Peninsula Railway.
  • The current Minister of Railways is Piyush Goyal.

Devika River Project: The Minister of State for Development of the North Eastern Region has recently requested suggestions for the Devika River project in Udhampur, J&K.

The Namami Gange Project is compared to this project.

About Devika River project:

  • This is a Rs. 190 crore Project.
  • The work on the project began in March 2019 as part of the National River Conservation Plan (NRCP).
  • As part of the project the following will be done:
  • Bathing “ghats” (places) on the banks of the Devika River will be developed
  • Encroachments will be removed
  • Natural water bodies will be restored
  • Catchment areas will be developed along with cremation ground
  • Small hydropower plants and three solar power plants shall also be developed.
  • The project will result in the reduction of pollution and improvement of the water quality.

About Devika River:

  • Devika River originates from the hilly Suddha Mahadev temple in Udhampur district of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • It flows down towards western Punjab (now in Pakistan) where it merges with the Ravi River.
  • The river holds religious significance as it is revered by Hindus as the sister of river Ganga.

Devika Bridge:

  • In June 2020, Devika Bridge was inaugurated in Udhampur.
  • Apart from taking care of traffic congestion, the Devika Bridge was also meant to help smooth passage of Army convoys and vehicles.

About National River Conservation Plan (NRCP):

  • The NRCP is a centrally funded scheme.
  • The plan was launched in 1995.
  • It is aimed at preventing the pollution of rivers.
  • Programs for river conservation are being implemented under National River Conservation Plan (NRCP) and NGRBA (National Ganga River Basin Authority).

Activities under NRCP:

  • Interception and Diversion works to capture the raw sewage flowing into the river through open drains and divert them for treatment.
  • Low Cost Sanitation works to prevent open defecation on riverbanks.
  • Electric Crematoria and Improved Wood Crematoria to conserve the use of wood
  • River Front Development works such as improvement of bathing ghats.
  • Public awareness and public participation.

India and Kuwait: On 10 June 2021, India and Kuwait signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that brings Indian domestic workers in the Gulf nation within a legal framework that provides them with the protection of the law and streamlines their recruitment.

The MoU was signed by Indian Ambassador Sibi George and Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kuwait Majdi Ahmad Al-Dhafiri in the presence of visiting External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his Kuwaiti counterpart Sheikh Ahmad Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Sabah.

About MoU:

  • The MoU will bring Indian domestic workers in Gulf nation within the legal framework which will provide them protection under law.
  • A joint committee will also be set up to assess and review periodically on implementation of MoU.
  • Agreement will also streamline recruitment of domestic workers.
  • It will ensure rights and obligations of domestic workers as well as employer.
  • A 24-hour assistance mechanism will be established to assist domestic workers.

Background:

  • MoU was signed between India and Kuwait during a three-day bilateral visit of External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar in Kuwait to mark 60th anniversary of establishment of bilateral relations between India and Kuwait.

Indians in Kuwait:

  • Indian community in Kuwait comprises of Indian expatriates in Kuwait and Kuwaiti citizens of Indian origin or by descent.
  • As per Indian ministry of external affairs, as of 2020, about 10 lakh Indians are residing in Kuwait.
  • Majority of Indians belong to Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
  • India is one of the largest trading partners of Kuwait and Kuwait is a key supplier of oil to India.

CoEs at Seema Sadak Bhavan: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh recently inaugurated two centres of excellence at Seema Sadak Bhawan in New Delhi.

Highlights:

  • Both the CoE has been established by the Border Roads Organization (BRO) to achieve excellence in road safety as well as foster growth in construction of roads, bridges, air fields and tunnels.
  • At the event, Mr. Singh also flagged off the first-ever solo women motorcycle expedition by Kanchan Ugursandi to Umling La Pass, Ladakh and back.

About Centres of Excellence:

CoEs have been established to achieve excellence in road safety and to foster growth in construction of roads, air fields, tunnels and bridges. Two CoEs are:

  • Centre of Excellence for Road Safety & Awareness (CoERSA)– which aims to create awareness regarding road safety by analyzing sharing of road accidents. It will also suggest methods to save lives.
  • Centre of Excellence for Roads, Bridges, Air Fields and Tunnels (CoERBAT)- that focuses on institutionalising knowledge gained in development of about 60,000 kilometres of roads, 19 airfields, 56,000 metres of bridges, and four tunnels in eastern and north-western part of India.

Significance of CoEs:

  • CoEs seeks to play a significant role in saving precious lives. It will help in saving lives.
  • As per data, this silent pandemic (road accidents) claims about 1.5 lakh lives every year.
  • To save these lives, several measures like National Road Safety Policy, Motor Vehicle Act 2020 and identification of black spots on national highways have been initiated.
  • Furthermore, the CoEs will further boost the efforts of government.

About BRO:

  • BRO refers to the Border Roads Organization.
  • In order to ensure coordination and expeditious execution of projects, the Government of India (GoI) set up the Border Roads Development Board (BRDB) with the Prime Minister as Chairman of the Board and Defence Minister as Deputy Chairman.
  • The BRO was formed on 7 May 1960 to secure India's borders and develop infrastructure in remote areas of the north and north-east states of the country.
  • It develops and maintains road networks in India's border areas and friendly neighboring countries.
  • It carries infrastructure operations in 19 states, three union territories and neighbouring countries like Afghanistan, Bhutan, Tajikistan, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.
  • It is also responsible for the construction and maintenance of roads along the borders with China and Pakistan.
  • Officers from the Border Roads Engineering Service (BRES) and personnel from the General Reserve Engineer Force (GREF) form the parent cadre of the Border Roads Organisation.
  • BRO has been entirely brought under the Ministry of Defence. Earlier it received funds from the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.
  • The current Director General of BRO is Lt. Gen. Rajeev Chaudhary.

WHO Director-General Special Recognition Award: World Health Organization (WHO) has awarded Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan with 'WHO Director-General Special Recognition Award' for his accomplishments in the area of tobacco control.

  • Every year, WHO recognizes individuals or organizations in each of the six WHO Regions for their accomplishments in the area of tobacco control?
  • This recognition takes the form of WHO Director-General Special Recognition Award and World No Tobacco Day Awards.

World No Tobacco Day’ Event:

  • Meanwhile, Dr. Harsh Vardhan recently chaired an event to mark the ‘World No Tobacco Day’ on May 31, 2021 and led the pledge by everyone present to abstain from tobacco.
  • The theme for 2021 is “Commit to Quit.”

Impact of Tobacco in India:

  • In India, over 1.3 million deaths are attributable to tobacco use every year amounting to 3500 deaths per day, imposing a lot of avoidable socio-economic burden.
  • Smokers face a 40-50% higher risk of developing severe disease deaths from COVID-19.
  • As per the WHO study titled “Economic Costs of Diseases and Deaths Attributable to Tobacco Use in India”, the economic burden of diseases and deaths attributable to tobacco use of tobacco in India was as high as Rs. 1.77 lakh crores, amounting to approx 1% of GDP.

What steps have been taken in India to control Tobacco?

The following steps have been taken in India to control tobacco:

  • Tobacco control legislation in India dates back to ‘Cigarettes Act, 1975’ which mandates display of statutory health warnings in advertisement and on cartons and cigarette packages.
  • A Central Legislation banned smoking in public places in 2002, on the directions of Supreme Court.
  • This was followed by comprehensive tobacco control legislation in 2003 [Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade, Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act –COTPA, 2003] which aims to provide smoke free public places and also places restrictions on tobacco advertisement and promotion.
  • The ‘Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes Bill, 2019’ prohibits Production, Manufacture, Import, Export, Transport, Sale, Distribution, Storage and Advertisement of e-Cigarettes.
  • The National Health Policy 2017 has set an ambitious target of reducing tobacco use by 30% by 2025.
  • Tobacco Quitline service -1800-112-356 was initiated in 2016, that was expanded in September, 2018.

 

RDSO: Research Design and Standards Organization (RDSO), Lucknow, has become the first standards body in the country to join the ‘One Nation, One Standard’ scheme of the central government.

Highlights:

  • RDSO, Lucknow, is the the sole R&D wing of the Railways Ministry. It is one of India’s leading Standard formulating Body undertaking standardization work for railway sector.
  • It has now been recognised as a SDO (Standard Developing Organiszation)’ by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), for a three years period.
  • BIS is the implementing agency for the ‘One Nation, One Standard’ scheme.
  • To attain “ Nation One Standard” vision of Govt. of India, Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), the National Standards Body launched a scheme which provides for “Recognition of SDO”.
  • RDSO took the initiative to seek recognition as a Standard Developing Organization (SDO) under the BIS SDO Recognition Scheme.
  • Now, this partnership under the One-Nation-One-Standard mission, RDSO of Indian Railways and BIS will be jointly defining the parameters to ensure quality goods and services for the Railways.

About One Nation, One Standard Scheme:

The ‘One Nation, One Standard’ scheme was launched in 2019 with the objective to develop one template of standard for one given product in the country, instead of having multiple agencies set it, thereby building a ‘Brand India’ identity in the long run.

About RSDO:

  • The Research Designs & Standards Organization (RDSO) is an ISO 9001 research and development organization under the Ministry of Railways of government of India (GoI).
  • It was founded in 1921.
  • It is headquartered in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India.
  • It functions as a technical adviser and consultant to the Railway Board, the Zonal Railways, the Railway Production Units, RITES, RailTel and Ircon International in respect of design and standardization of railway equipment and problems related to railway construction, operations and maintenance.
  • RDSO is headed by the Director-General who ranks equivalent to the general manager of a Zonal Railway. The present Director General is Virendra Kumar

About BIS:

  • A new Bureau of Indian standards (BIS) Act 2016 which was notified on 22 March 2016, has been brought into force with effect from 12 October 2017.
  • The Act establishes the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) as the National Standards Body of India.
  • BIS is responsible for the harmonious development of the activities of standardization, marking and quality certification of goods and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

 

India and Japan: The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi approved Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) on Sustainable Urban Development between India and Japan by suspending the existing MoU of 2007 on Urban Development.

Implementation:

  • A Joint Working Group (JWG) will be constituted to strategize and implement programmes on cooperation under the framework of the MoC.
  • The JWG will meet once in a year, alternately in Japan and in India.
  • Cooperation under MoC will continue for a period of 5 years, which can be auto-renewed for 5 years at a time.

Significance of the MoC:

  • The MoC will promote strong, deep and long-term bilateral cooperation in the field of Sustainable Urban Development between the two countries.
  • It is expected to create employment opportunities in listed areas of sustainable urban development including Urban Planning, affordable housing, rental housing, Smart Cities Development, Urban Flood Management, water management, Sewerage & Waste Water Management, Disaster Resilient development and Urban Transport (including Intelligent Transport Management System, Transit-Oriented Development and Multimodal Integration).

Objectives of the MoC:

  • The main objective of the MoC is to facilitate and strengthen India-Japan technical cooperation in field of Sustainable urban development and other listed areas such as Urban Planning, Smart Cities Development, Affordable Housing (including rental housing), Urban Flood Management, Sewerage and Waste Water Management, Intelligent Transport Management System, Transit-Oriented Development, Multimodal Integration, Disaster Resilient development as mutually identified by both Sides.
  • It will also enable exchange of key learning and best practices in above listed areas.

 

SAGE Initiative: The Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment, Shri ThaawarchandGehlot virtually launched the SAGE (Seniorcare Aging Growth Engine) initiative and SAGE portal for elderly persons on June 4, 2021.

SAGE programme and SAGE portal have been launched with a view to help such persons who are interested in entrepreneurship in the field of providing services for elderly care.

Key Points:

  • The SAGE portal seeks to select, support and create “one-stop access” of elderly care products and services provided by credible start-ups.
  • The Project was formulated following the recommendations of empowered expert committee report on start-ups for elderly.
  • The SAGE portal is now opened for applications from 5th June, 2021 onwards.
  • Start-ups can apply to be a part of it through dedicated portal.

Selection of Start-ups:

  • The start-ups will be selected on the basis of innovative products and services, which they should be able to provide across sectors such as health, housing, care centers.
  • Their selection will also be based on technological access linked to finances, food and wealth management, and legal guidance.

Facilitator of the Scheme:

  • Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment will be the facilitator to enable elderly to access products through these identified and verified start-ups.

Survey:

  • As per surveys, the share of elders, as a percentage of the total population in the country is expected to increase from around 7.5 per cent in 2001 to almost 12.5 per cent by 2026.

 

Hisaab Ki Kitaab: Union Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs, Anurag Singh Thakur recently launched the six modules of short films of Investor Education & Protection Fund Authority (IEPFA).

These six modules are titled “Hisaab Ki Kitaab”.

About Hisab Ki Kitaab:

  1. Hisab Ki Kitaab is a series of 6 short films/modules of Investor Education & Protection Fund Authority (IEPFA).
  2. It has been developed by Common Services Centers(CSC) eGov as a part of their training tool.
  3. There are 6 short films/ modules are of 5 minutes duration each.
  4. They highlight the importance of budget, saving, importance of Insurance schemes, various social security schemes of the government etc. thus promoting Financial literacy.
  5. The modules also portray the consequences of a common man falling prey to the schemes and how they should protect themselves from Ponzi schemes.
  6. These short films will be used by IEPFA and its partnering organisation for Investor Awareness Programs across the country.

About IEPF Authority:

  1. Investor Education and Protection Fund Authority (IEPF) has been established under under the provisions of section 125 of the Companies Act, 2013.
  2. IEPF was established by the Government of India (GoI) in 2016 for promotion of investors' awareness and protection of the interests of investors.
  3. The Authority is under the Ministry of Corporate Affairs.
  4. The Authority is entrusted with the responsibility of administration of the IEPF, make refunds of shares, unclaimed dividends, matured deposits/debentures etc. to investors and to promote awareness among investors.
  5. The Chairperson of the Authority is the Secretary Ministry of the Corporate Affairs.

National Affairs Current Affairs - May 2021

Indo-Israel Agriculture Action Plan: India and Israel have recently inked a three-year joint work programme for cooperation in agriculture.

  Highlights:

  • The work program signing ceremony was also attended by Union Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Shri Parshottam Rupala and Shri Kailash Choudhary along with Senior officers of Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India and Ministry of Agriculture & Farmer’s Welfare, Government of India.
  • The programme will continue till 2023.

Aim:

  • The Joint work programme was initiated with the aim of enhancing cooperation in agriculture.
  • The work program will  grow existing Centres of Excellence, establish new centers, increase CoE’s value chain, bring the Centres of Excellence into the self-sufficient mode, and encourage private sector companies and collaboration.

Note: Previously too, India and Israel have completed 4 similar joint work programmes successfully.

About the New Programme:

  • MIDH, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmer’s Welfare, Government of India (GoI), and MASHAV - Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation - are leading Israel’s largest G2G cooperation, with 29 operational Centres of Excellence (COEs) across India in 12 States, implementing Advanced-Intensive agriculture farms with Israeli Agro-Technology tailored to local conditions.
  • India and Israel are implementing the “INDO-ISRAEL Agricultural Project Centres of Excellence” and "INDO-ISRAEL Villages of Excellence (IIVOE)".
  • Under new work programme, 13 Centres of Excellence (CoEs) were set up to make Indian farmers aware of Israeli farm and water technologies.
  • A model ecosystem in agriculture called Villages of Excellence (VoE) will also be created across eight states within 75 villages.
  • This new programme will promote the increase of net income and better the livelihood of the individual farmer, transforming traditional farms into modern-intensive farms based on IIAP standards.
  • Large-scale and complete value chain approach with economic sustainability, embedded with Israeli novel technologies and methodologies will be tailored to local conditions.
  • The IIVOE program will focus on the following:

(1) Modern Agriculture infrastructure,

(2) Capacity Building,

(3) Market linkage.

  • It will transform traditional farms into modern-intensive farms on the basis of IIAP standards.
  • It will also strengthen the bilateral relations and mutual cooperation between both the countries in agriculture to benefit farming community.
  • India Israel Agricultural relation “India and Israel started the bilateral relations in agriculture sector in 1993.
  • This new programme is 5th Indo-Israel Agriculture Action Plan (IIAP).

Significance of Indo-Israel Agriculture Action Plan:

  • The COEs established under these Israeli-based action plans are are playing a significant role in doubling farmers’ income.
  • The exchange of technology between both the countries has improved productivity and quality of horticulture which boost farmer’s income.

About Centres of Excellence (CoEs):

  • 29 CoEs are operational in 12 states of India.
  • They produce about 25 million vegetable seedlings, about 3,87,000 quality fruit plants.
  • CoE also provides training to about 1.2 lakh farmers about latest technology which can be used in horticulture.

India and Maldives: The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has recently approved the opening of a new Consulate General of India in Addu City, Maldives in 2021.

Highlights:

  • India and Maldives share ethnic, linguistic, cultural, religious and commercial links steeped in antiquity.
  • Maldives occupies an important place in the Neighbourhood First Policy and the SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region)vision of the Government of India.
  • Opening of a Consulate General in Addu City will help augment India's diplomatic presence in Maldives.
  • Augmentation of India's diplomatic presence will, inter-alia, provide market access for Indian companies and bolster Indian exports of goods and services.
  • This in turn would have a direct impact in augmenting domestic production and employment in line with our goal of a self-reliant India or 'Atmanirbhar Bharat'.

About Maldives:

  • The Maldives, officially the Republic of Maldives, is a small island nation in South Asia.
  • It is situated in the Arabian Sea of the Indian Ocean.
  • It lies southwest of Sri Lanka and India.
  • The Capital of Maldives is Male.
  • The Currency of the Maldives is Maldivian Rufiyaa.
  • The current President of the Maldives is Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.

 ICoAl & ICSI: The Union Cabinet has recently granted ex-post facto approval to the  Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) entered into by Institute of Cost Accountants of India (ICoAl) and Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI) with various Foreign Countries and Organizations.

Key Points:

  • The MoUs seek to facilitate mutual recognition of qualifications and a range of collaborative activities for the exchange of knowledge.
  • The signed MoUs would help in the advancement of the goals on equity, public accountability and innovation among the beneficiaries’ countries.
  • ICoAl and ICSI have signed MoUs with the following foreign organizations:
  1. Institute of Public Accountants (IPA)
  2. Australia, Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment, UK (CISI)
  3. Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA), UK
  4. Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA), UK
  5. Institute of Certified Management Accountants, Sri Lanka

About ICoAl:

  • The Institute of Cost Accountants of India (ICoAl) was established by a Special Act of Parliament, namely, the Cost and Works Accountants Act, 1959 as a statutory professional body for the regulation of the profession of Cost Accountancy.
  • It is the only recognized statutory professional organization and licensing body in India specializing exclusively in Cost Accountancy.

About ICSI:

  • Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI) is a statutory body established by an Act of Parliament of India, i.e. The Company Secretaries Act, 1980.
  • It was founded to develop and regulate the profession of Company Secretaries in India.

Retrospective Tax Dispute: British oil company Cairn Energy Plc has sued Air India in New York to seize its assets to enforce the $1.2 billion arbitration award it won against the Indian government in a retrospective tax dispute.

Cairn Energy-Air India dispute:

  • In December 2020, a three-member international arbitral tribunal had ruled in a 568-page unanimous verdict that the Indian government was “in breach of the guarantee of fair and equitable treatment” which was against the India-UK bilateral treaty and that the breach caused a loss to the British energy company.
  • It awarded Cairn $1.2 billion in compensation that India was liable to pay.
  • To enforce this award, Cairn moved a court in the South District of New York against Air India.
  • Meanwhile, India too has challenged the arbitration award in Netherlands.
  • India has moved its appeal to a different jurisdiction as because the arbitration award was delivered in Hague.

What is retrospective tax?

  • The term retrospective means to look back on something that has occurred in the past. So, the term retrospective tax means to pay tax for goods and services purchased in the past or income earned in the past.
  • This may happen due to laws being amended or new rules of taxation being introduced in an economy.
  • A retrospective tax is usually caveated with a validation clause. It helps validate the demand for a retrospective tax payment made by one party and the decision or order passed by the country's concerned tax authority.

For example: The Supreme Court of India (SCI) clearly states that you cannot add a new tax liability in retrospect. That is why it is accompanied by the validation clause that serves to verify the demand and pass a judgment.

  • India retrospectively amended its taxation laws through the Finance Act of 2012, permitting tax authorities to reopen and/or investigate transactions from 2006 for evasion of capital gains tax.

About International Arbitration Tribunal:

The International Arbitration Tribunal is an independent and non-governmental panel of independent and impartial experts most often composed of three members nominated by the Parties (or appointed by the international arbitration institution, or more rarely by a national court) on the basis of their legal and practical expertise and knowledge, to render a final and binding award.

International arbitration is the preferred method of resolving cross-border disputes. The neutrality it offers, together with the relative ease of enforceability of awards, can make it a more attractive forum for disputes than litigating in contracting parties' national courts.

National Anti Terrorism Day: In India, the National Anti Terrorism Day is observed on May 21 every year to commemorate the death anniversary of former Prime Minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi.

The day is observed with the following objectives:

  • To spread the message of peace, harmony, and humankind and
  • To promote unity among the people.
  • To increase awareness among people about these terrorist groups and how they plan to strike the terror.
  • To provide education and training to the youngsters will prevent them from joining different terrorist groups.
  • To generate awareness in the country about the danger of terrorism, violence and its dangerous effect on the people, society, and whole country.

About Rajiv Gandhi:

  • Rajiv Gandhi was the youngest Prime Minister of India.
  • He was appointed as the sixth Prime Minister of the country.
  • He served the nation from 1984 to 1989.
  • He was assassinated on May 21, 1991, by a human bomb.
  • He was killed in Tamil Nadu in a campaign by a terrorist.

Then, under the V.P. Singh government, the centre has decided to observe 21st May as Anti Terrorism Day.

DIPCOVAN Kit: The Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) have recently developed an antibody detection kit for the early screening of COVID-19.

About:

  • An antibody detection-based kit 'DIPCOVAN', the DIPS-VDx COVID 19 IGg Antibody Microwell ELISA for sero surveillance has been developed by the Defence Institute of Physiology and Allied Sciences, a lab of DRDO, in association with Delhi based firm Vanguard Diagnostics Pvt Ltd.
  • The COVID-19 antibody detection kit was approved by the Indian Council of Medical Research in April 2021.
  • The DIPCOVAN kit was developed indigenously by the scientists, followed by extensive validation on more than one thousand patient samples at various COVID designated hospitals in Delhi.
  • In May, the product received the regulatory approval from the Drugs Controller General of India to manufacture for sale and distribution.

Significance of the DIPCOVAN Kit:

  • The kit seeks to be very useful for understanding COVID‐19 epidemiology and assessing an individual's previous SARS‐CoV‐2 exposure.
  • The kit can detect both spike as well as nucleocapsid proteins of SARS-CoV-2 virus with a high sensitivity of 97% and specificity of 99%.
  • It requires just 75 minutes to conduct the test without any cross reactivity with other diseases.
  • The kit has a shelf life of 18 months and it is expected to be available at about 75 rupees per test.
  • DIPCOVAN aims for the qualitative detection of IgG antibodies in human serum or plasma, targeting the SARS-CoV-2 related antigens.

Additional Info:

  • The DRDO had also launched an anti-COVID drug 2-deoxy-D-glucose (2-DG).
  • The drug is developed by the Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences of DRDO in partnership with Dr Reddy’s Laboratories.
  • The first batch of the anti-COVID drug was launched by the Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.

India and Oman: India and Oman recently renewed the Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) on military cooperation along with its annexure as well as on maritime issues.

Key Points:

  • The signing ceremony of MoU on military cooperation was held at the Ministry of Defense, Muscat.
  • The document was signed by Secretary General of the Ministry of Defense, Oman Dr Mohammed bin Nasser Al Zaabi and Ambassador of India to Oman Munu Mahawar.
  • The MoU on cooperation on maritime issues was signed at the Maritime Security Centre by the Commander of Royal Navy of Oman, the Head of Maritime Security Committee, Rear Admiral Saif bin Nasser Al Rahbi and Mr Mahawar.

Background:

In 2018, the pacts were signed during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Oman.

It allowed the use of strategically located Duqm Port in Oman and dry dock for maintenance of Indian Military vessels.

The reason for signing the pacts during that time was seen as a move by India to counter the rising influence by China in the Indian Ocean.

Note: Oman is the first Gulf nation to have formalized defence relations with India.

India and Oman Military Exercises:

Naseem Al Bahr:

It is a Bilateral Maritime Exercise between Indian Navy and Royal Navy of Oman (RNO).

Al Nagah:

It is a joint military exercise between Indian Navy and Royal Navy of Oman (RNO).

CCI: It refers to The Competition Commission of India.

The CCI recently celebrated its 12th anniversary.

About CCI:

  • Competition Commission of India (CCI) is a statutory body of the Government of India (GoI).
  • It has been established under the provisions of The Competition Act, 2002, however it was not fully operational until 2009.
  • It is responsible for enforcing The Competition Act, 2002 throughout the country which prohibits anti-competitive agreements and abuse of dominant position by enterprises.
  • It regulates mergers and acquisition (M&A) which can have an adverse effect on competition within India. Thus, deals beyond a certain threshold are required to get clearance from CCI.
  • Through constructive engagement with all stakeholders, the government, and foreign jurisdiction, it aims to create a competitive environment in the Indian economy.
  • The main aims of CCI are as follows:
  1. Prevent actions that harm the competition.
  2. Promote and maintain market competition.
  3. Protect the interests of consumers.
  4. Ensure the freedom of trade.
  • It is headquartered in New Delhi.
  • It comprises of a Chairperson and 6 Members appointed by the Central Government.
  • Its preceding agency is Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission.
  • Ashok Kumar Gupta is the current Chairperson of the CCI.

National Technology Day:  National Technology Day is celebrated on 11 May across India.

  • The Technology Development Board (TDB) a statutory body of the Department of Science & Technology (DST) celebrates this day every year to commemorate achievements of innovations and technological excellence in the country.

Theme for 2021:

  • This year, the National Technology Day is being celebrated under the theme - "Science and Technology for a Sustainable Future".

Key Points:

  • The Ministry of Science and Technology organizes several events across the country to celebrate the day.
  • The National Technology Day is celebrated in India for two reasons namely:
  • To mark the anniversary of Pokhran Nuclear tests that was conducted in 1998.
  • To highlight the importance of technological advancements for the country
  • The day is being celebrated as National Technology Day since 1999.

History of National Technology Day:

  • Every year, National Technology Day is celebrated across India on 11 May to memorize the anniversary of Shakti, the Pokhran nuclear test held on 11 May 1998.
  • Shakti also knows as the Pokhran Nuclear Test was the first nuclear test code-named ‘Smiling Buddha’ was carried out in May 1974.
  • The second test was then conducted as Pokhran II which was a series of five tests of nuclear bomb explosions carried out by India at the Pokhran Test Range of Indian Army in May 1998.
  • The first test was a Fusion Bomb and the rest four were fission bombs.
  • It was under the initiative of the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the tests were conducted.
  • This operation was administered by late president and aerospace engineer Dr APJ Abdul Kalam.
  • All these nuclear tests evolved various sanctions against India by many major countries, including the United States (US) and Japan.
  • After the test, India becomes a nuclear state thus making it the sixth country in the world that has joined the nations “nuclear club”.

1st BRICS EWG Meeting: India recently hosted the first BRICS Employment Working Group (EWG) virtually.

  • The 1st BRICS EWG Meeting chaired by Apurva Chandra, Secretary, Labour and Employment was held on 11-12 May 2021 in Sushma Swaraj Bhawan, 
  • India assumed BRICS Presidency in 2021.

Highlights of the meet:

The prime agenda for the discussions were as follows:

  1. Promoting Social Security Agreements amongst BRICS Nations,
  2. Formalization of labour markets,
  3. Participation of women in labour force
  4. Gig and Platform workers and their Role in labour market.

Social Security Agreement:

  • The members agreed to conduct dialogues and discussions with each other to solve the issue of Social Security Agreement (SSA) and take it forward towards signing of the agreements.
  • The International Labour Organization (ILO) and International Social Security Agency (ISSA) on their part, expressed willingness to provide technical support in facilitating conclusion of such agreements.
  • The member countries also agreed to create a multilateral framework for the same.

Formalization of Labour Market:

  • The Member Nations discussed various initiatives taken by them towards formalization of jobs and how Covid-19 has enhanced informalization risk.

Women in Labour Market:

  • The member countries resolved to promote participation of women in remunerative, productive and decent work.
  • They agreed to extend social security cover to the women workers engaged in the informal sector.
  • Impact of Covid-19 on participation of women in the labour force was also discussed.

Gig and Platform workers and their role in the labour market:

  • The member nations discussed how the proliferation of Digital Labour Platforms is transforming the labour processes in the world of work.
  • They also discussed about the challenges faced by them and the various measures being taken by the member countries including extension of social protection system.

India’s SSA:

  • At present, India has Social Security Agreements (SSA) with South Korea, Switzerland, Sweden, Portugal, Norway, Netherlands, France, Finland, Denmark, Japan, Hungary, Germany, Czech Republic, Canada, Belgium, Austria, and Australia.
  • In 2018, India signed SSA with Brazil.
  • India has not yet signed SSA with United States.

About BRICS:

  • BRICS is an acronym for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa and is an association of these countries.
  • Originally the first four were grouped as "BRIC", before the induction of South Africa in 2010.
  • The BRICS members are known for their significant influence on regional affairs.
  • All are also the members of G20.
  • Since 2009, the BRICS nations have met annually at formal summits.
  • BRICS headquarter is situated at Shanghai, China.
  • BRICS members are known for their influence in regional affairs.

MIS Module: The National Bamboo Mission (NBM) has recently launched the MIS Module (Management Information System) to strengthen the domestic Agarbatti industry.

About MIS Module:

  1. The module will collect data about Agarbatti production, availability of raw materials, location of stick making units, production capacity, functioning of units, marketing etc.
  2. The system will act as an intermediary between the production units and the Agarbatti industry (as a whole). This will help to fill the information gaps.
  3. The NBM, Ministry of Small and medium Enterprises (MSME), Khadi and Village Commission (KVIC) as well as states with industry partners have come together to make India Atma Nirbhar in Agarbatti sector.
  4. It also aims to bring back livelihoods for the local communities while at the same time modernizing the sector too.
  5. The Government of India (GoI) is also taking steps to make Indian Agarbatti go global.
  6. To boost the domestic Agarbatti units, the import duty on round sticks were increased to 25%.
  7. The raw batti imports were also moved from free to restricted category.

National Bamboo Mission (NBM):

  1. The National Bamboo Mission was launched in 2018-19.
  2. It was launched with and outlay of INR 1,290 Crore for 2 years.
  3. It comes under the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare (MoA&FA)
  4. NBM was implemented by the Department of Agriculture & Cooperation (DAC) under the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare to harness the potential of the bamboo crop.
  5. Currently, NBM is implemented in 21 states.
  6. The scheme aims to promote growth of bamboo sector through area based regionally differentiated strategy.

Green Urja Award: Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Ltd (IREDA) has recently been conferred with the “Green Urja Award”.

Highlights:

  • IREDA gets the award for the pivotal and developmental role it plays in Green Energy Financing.
  • The award is conferred by the Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC).
  • Despite the pandemic time, IREDA has ended the year 2020-21 ended on a strong note and disbursed the second-highest (from the date of inception) amount of loan amounting to Rs. 8827 crore, which indicates that IREDA has the ability to translate this problem into an opportunity.

About IREDA:

  • Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Ltd (IREDA) is a Mini Ratna (Category – I) Government of India Enterprise under the administrative control of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE).
  • It is a Public Limited Government Company established as a Non-Banking Financial Institution in 11 March 1987.
  • It is a Public Limited Government Company established as a Non-Banking Financial Institution in 1987.
  • IREDA has been notified as a “Public Financial Institution” under section 4 ‘A’ of the Companies Act, 1956 and registered as Non-Banking Financial Company (NFBC) with Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
  • IREDA’s Motto is “Energy for Ever.”
  • It is the only dedicated institution for financing Renewable Energy (RE) & Energy Efficiency (EE) projects in India.
  • The company, since its inception, has played a catalytic role in the developing market for financing the EE and RE projects.
  • Over the years, the agency has sanctioned loans that aggregate to Rs. 96,601 crores, has disbursed Rs. 63,492 crores and has supported more than 17,586 MW of Renewable Energy capacities in India to date.

Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC):

  • The Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) is the premier body of business and industry in Eastern and North-Eastern India.
  • Founded in 1925, Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) is the leading and only National Chamber of Commerce having headquarters in Kolkata.
  • The membership of the Chamber comprises several of the largest corporate groups in the country, with business operations all over the country and abroad.
  • Set up by a group of pioneering industrialists led by Mr G D Birla, the Indian Chamber was closely associated with the Indian Freedom Movement, as the first organized voice of indigenous Indian Industry.
  • ICC’s flagship Annual Conferences include the North-East Business Summit, India Energy Summit, Convergence India Leadership Summit, Agro Protech, ICC Insurance Summit, ICC Mutual Fund Summit, to name a few. These Summits take place all across India and abroad, and address key strategic issues.