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June 2020 - National News



  • Inner Line Permit and Citizenship Amendment Act
    Recently, the Supreme Court refused to stay the Adaptation of Laws (Amendment) Order, 2019, issued by the President to amend the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation (BEFR), 1873.

    The court said it will have to hear what the government has to say on the matter.

    Key Points
    The Presidential order was challenged in the Supreme Court by Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad (AJYCP) and All Tai Ahom Students’ Union (ATASU).

    The petitioners claimed that the Presidential Order moved some of the districts of Assam away from the purview of BEFR just before the grant of assent to Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), 2019.

    The districts included Kamrup, Darrang, Nowgong, Sibsagar, Lakhimpur and Cachar.

    BEFR empowers some of the states to bring districts under the inner line area.

    Once the districts had come under ‘the inner line’ area, the CAA could not be implemented to the extent of granting citizenship to illegal immigrants in Assam in view of Section 6B (4) of the CAA.

    Section 6B (4) of the CAA restricts the implementation of CAA to the tribal areas as included in the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution and the area covered under the “Inner Line” notified under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, l873”.

    The CAA relaxes eligibility criteria for certain categories of migrants from three countries (Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan) seeking Indian citizenship and exempts certain categories of areas, including those protected by the Inner Line system.

    The State government claims that ILP cannot be implemented in Assam since Assam is the gateway to northeast India.

    Implementation of ILP will increase the unemployment level. It will affect the tea sector and oil sector.

    According to the petitioner, BEFR could have been the answer to tackle the problems of illegal immigrants which Assam and its citizens are facing today.



  • Re-establishment of PCIM&H
    Recently, the Union Cabinet has given its approval to re-establish Pharmacopoeia Commission for Indian Medicine and Homoeopathy (PCIM&H) as a subordinate office under the Ministry of AYUSH.

    Pharmacopoeia Laboratory for Indian Medicine (PLIM) and Homoeopathic Pharmacopoeia Laboratory (HPL), central laboratories established at Ghaziabad (Uttar Pradesh) since 1975, will be merged into the PCIM&H.

    Key Points
    Presently, PCIM&H is an autonomous body under the aegis of Ministry of AYUSH, established since 2010.

    Pharmacopoeia is an officially recognized book of standards as per the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 and Rules 1945 thereunder.

    As per the Second Schedule of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, it is designated as the official book of standards for drugs imported and/or manufactured for sale, stock or exhibition for sale or distribution in India.

    It specifies the standards of drugs manufactured and marketed in India in terms of their identity, purity and strength.

    The merger intends to accord legal status to the merged structure of PCIM&H and its laboratory by making the necessary amendments and enabling provisions in the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945.

    Consultations have been done with the Director General Health Services, Drugs Controller General and the Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani Drugs Technical Advisory Board (ASUDTAB).

    Benefits of the Merger:
    Optimum use of infrastructural facilities, technical manpower and financial resources of the three organizations for enhancing their standardised outcomes.

    Focused and cohesive development of standards of AYUSH drugs and publication of pharmacopoeias and formularies.



  • EESL, USAID launched Healthy and Energy Efficient Buildings
    State-run Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) has partnered with US Agency for International Development's (USAID) Market Integration and Transformation Program for Energy Efficiency (MAITREE) program and launched 'Healthy and Energy Efficient Buildings' initiative. The initiative is a part of the US-India bilateral Partnership between the Power Ministry of India and USAID.

    Healthy and Energy Efficient Buildings:
    Healthy and Energy Efficient Buildings initiative aims to make workplaces healthier and greener.

    The initiative aims to accelerate the adoption of cost-effective energy efficiency measures as a standard practice within buildings, and specifically focuses on cooling.

    Under the initiative, EESL has become the first to implement the framework in its own offices.

    This initiative will address air quality and energy use concerns in buildings like directly improving comfort, health, productivity, and ultimately the quality of life of citizens in India and South Asia.



  • Boosting Infrastructure along China Border
    The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has announced to spend 10% funds of the Border Area Development Programme (BADP) only to improve the infrastructure along the China border.

    Key Points
    Enhancing Infrastructure:
    The Border Area Development Programme (BADP) has been allocated Rs. 784 crore for projects in areas of States/UTs inhabited along the Indo-China border i.e. Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh, Sikkim and Uttarakhand.

    The fund is distributed to the border States and Union Territories (UTs) depending on various criteria such as the length of the international border and population.

    Under this, the projects for developing strategically important villages and towns in border areas will be given priority.

    Construction of roads, bridges, primary schools, health infrastructure, playfields, irrigation works, etc. will be undertaken within 10 km of the border.

    Role of Various Security Forces:
    Security Forces such as the Border Security Force (BSF), deployed along the Bangladesh and Pakistan borders, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) on the China border, the SashastraSeemaBal along the Nepal border, and the Assam Rifles stationed along the Myanmar border would provide independent feedback on the projects in the blocks concerned and may be tasked to conduct social audit of the works, it stated.

    These forces will play a crucial role in identification of the villages and implementation of the related work.


  • Internal Displacement Caused by Disasters
    The ‘State of India's Environment 2020 in Figures’ report was published by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).

    It states that India had around 50 lakh internal displacements caused by disasters and extreme weather conditions like floods, cyclones and drought in 2019.

    Key Points
    Major Findings related to Internal Displacement:
    According to it, the internal displacements in India were the highest in the world in 2019.

    Internal Displacement refers to the forced movement of people within the country they live in, due to conflict, violence, development projects, natural disasters and climate change.

    It refers to the number of movements, not people, as individuals can be displaced several times.

    Natural Disasters: Displacements due to the flooding caused by the south-west monsoon and followed by Cyclone Fani, Vayu, Bulbul and drought conditions.

    Forced Migration: It has also caused many migrants to move for work from one state to another.

    Impact of Covid-19: Due to the impact of lockdown which was imposed to contain the Covid-19 pandemic, many workers migrated to their homes because of lack of employment and food.

    2011 Census Data on Migrant Populations:

    There were over 45 crore migrants in the country at the time, with the vast majority migrating within their own state.

    In 2011, over 1.7 crore new migrants had moved for employment purposes, mostly from rural to urban areas.




  • Urban Forest scheme to develop 200 Nagar Van across the country in next 5 years
    Government announced the implementation of the Nagar van scheme to develop 200 Urban Forests across the country in the next 5 years. The announcement was made on the occasion of World Environment Day (WED). The move is in line with WED 2020's focus on 'Biodiversity'.

    Nagar van scheme:
    Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change released a brochure on the best practices on Urban Forests and announcing the Nagar Van scheme.

    It is expected that Urban Forest will revive the age-old tradition of village forests in cities.

    Warje Urban Forest has been set as a role model for the Urban Forest in the country.

    It has been studied that the forest is rich in biodiversity with 23 plant species, 29 bird species, 15 butterfly species, 10 reptiles, and 3 mammal species. The Urban Forest project will help to maintain ecological balance, serving both environmental and social needs.

    India has 8% of the world's biodiversity. India occupies 2.5% of the world's landmass with 4% of freshwater sources.


  • National Institute of Public Finance and Policy
    Urjit Patel has been appointed chairman of the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP). He will succeed Vijay Laxman Kelkar.

    Urjit Patel is a former Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor.

    NIPFP is India’s premier economic think tank - a centre for research in public economics and policies.

    Key Points
    Formation: NIPFP is an autonomous body set up jointly by the Ministry of Finance, the erstwhile Planning Commission, and several state governments. It was founded in 1976. It is registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860.

    Functions:
    It undertakes research, policy advocacy and capacity building in areas related to public economics.

    One of the major mandates of the institute is to assist the Central, State and Local governments in formulating and reforming public policies by providing an analytical base.

    Funding: It receives an annual grant from the Ministry of Finance and various State governments. However, it maintains an independent non-government character.

    Governing Body:
    It includes the Revenue Secretary, Economic Affairs Secretary and the Chief Economic Advisor from the Union Finance Ministry and representatives from NITI Aayog, RBI and three state governments.

    It also includes three distinguished economists, members of sponsoring agencies and other invitees.

    It is involved in appointing the Chairman and the Director.

    The usual tenure of a chairman is four years, which can be extended.

    Location: New Delhi.

  • R&D Portal for Mining: SATYABHAMA
    The Ministry of Mines has launched a portal "SATYABHAMA (Science and Technology Yojana for Atmanirbhar Bharat in Mining Advancement)" with an aim to promote research and development in the mining and minerals sector.

    Key Points
    The Portal has been launched to increase efficiency and effectiveness of the Science and Technology Programme Scheme.

    Under the Science and Technology Programme Scheme, the Ministry of Mines promotes research in applied geosciences, mineral exploration, mining and allied areas, mineral processing, optimum utilization and conservation of the mineral resources of the country.

    The Ministry of Mines provides funds to Academic institutions, universities, national institutes and R&D institutions recognized with the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (under the Ministry of Science & Technology) for implementing R&D projects.

    This portal will allow online submission of project proposals along with monitoring of the same and utilisation of funds.

    The portal has been designed, developed and implemented by the National Informatics Centre (NIC).

    The portal is also integrated with NGO Darpan Portal of NITI Aayog.

    NGO-DARPAN is a platform that provides space for interface between Non-Government organizations (NGOs)/Voluntary Organizations (VOs) in the country and key Government Ministries/Departments/Government Bodies.

    it is an e-governance application offered by NITI Aayog to electronically maintain data and transparency regarding NGOs/VOs in the country.

    The NGO-DARPAN was earlier maintained by erstwhile Planning Commission, which has been replaced by the NITI Aayog w.e.f. 1st January, 2015.

  • Assessment of Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana
    Recently, a study by the Ministry of Rural Development has observed that the Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY) has not been able to achieve the desired objectives and failed to make a significant impact.

    The study was conducted as part of the Fifth Common Review Mission (CRM) for “independent assessment” of the progress of various programmes and schemes of the Rural Development Ministry.

    Key Points
    Study/Assessment: The study was conducted by a team comprising retired bureaucrats, academics and research organisations etc. The team visited around 120 villages, in 21 districts across eights states

    Major Findings:
    Low selection of Panchayats: Since the launch of the scheme only 1,855 gram panchayats have been selected across five phases, with only seven in Phase 5.

    Lack of Interest and Funds: Model villages under the scheme are hit by lack of interest and funds. In many of SAGY villages, the MPs did not give any significant fund from Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS). Example:

    In Arood village of Khandwa district in Madhya Pradesh, out of 118 activities planned in 2014, only about 60 %have been achieved and the rest are pending for lack of funds.

    Lack of Political Will: The concept of SAGY has not percolated down to field officials due to lack of accountability and political will.

    Issues with Declaration: Even villages declared as Adarsh Grams in some districts were found yet to be declared Open Defecation Free.

    Limited Impact: In some cases, where MPs have been proactive, some infrastructure development has taken place, but the scheme has not made any perceptible impact.

    Low Convergence of MGNREGA with MPLAD: Lesser convergence of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) with MPLAD was observed in few villages.

    Rural Roads: The study expressed concern over the quality of roads constructed under schemes of state governments and maintenance of rural roads under central Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY).

    Positive Impact: Progress of work was better in the Gram Panchayats where the MP has taken keen interest and allocated substantial amounts from MPLAD. Example:

    A village in Bhilwara Rajasthan was found to be very urbanised due the various development schemes taken up at the initiative of the Ex-MP.

    Recommendations:
    Need to Enhance Impact: The report recommended that the Ministry of Rural Development may review the scheme for enhancing its impact.

    Uniform Norms: It has urged the Centre to frame a “National Rural Road Policy” to ensure uniform norms of construction and maintenance, irrespective of whether the road belongs to a state scheme or PMGSY.

    Additional Funds: The Centre should examine if the Finance Commission can provide funds for maintenance of rural roads, as many states have requested that the Centre should share the cost of maintenance.

  • Secrecy of Ballot
    In a recent judgement, the Supreme Court has held that secrecy of ballot is the cornerstone of free and fair elections.

    The choice of a voter should be free which is ensured by the secret ballot system in a democracy.

    Key Points
    Highlights of the Judgement:
    The SC held that the principle of secrecy of ballots is an important postulate of constitutional democracy and referred to Section 94 of the Representation of People Act (RPA) 1951.

    The section upholds the privilege of the voters to maintain confidentiality about their choice of the vote.

    The law must protect the right of voters to the secrecy of the ballot. Even a remote or distinct possibility that a voter can be forced to disclose for whom she/he has voted would act as a positive constraint and a check on the freedom to exercise the franchise.

    However, a voter can also voluntarily waive the privilege of non-disclosure.

    The privilege ends when the voter decides to waive it and decides voluntarily to disclose their vote.

    The court held that voters can neither be prevented from disclosing nor can be subjected to a complaint by anyone.

    Background:
    The judgment came on an appeal against the Allahabad High Court decision, setting aside the voting of a no-confidence motion in a Zila panchayat in Uttar Pradesh in 2018.

    A no-confidence motion or vote of no-confidence or a no-trust vote can be sought to express that there is no longer confidence in the government.

    Allahabad HC found that some of the panchayat members had violated the rule of secrecy of the ballot.

    The SC referred to Section 28(8) of the Uttar Pradesh Kshettra Panchayat and Zila Panchayat Adhiniyam, 1961 and ordered a re-vote of the motion within the next two months, by the secret ballot system.

    This provision states that a motion of no confidence shall be put to vote in the prescribed manner by secret ballot.

    Restoring Secrecy of Ballot:
    Secrecy of ballot has become a notional concept after the introduction of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).

    Since voters believe that only they themselves and their trusted ones know who they voted for which is not true actually because EVMs give a near accurate idea of voting patterns.

    Each EVM is used for about 1,400 electors and votes cast in the EVMs are individually counted and tallied booth-wise.

    Before the introduction of EVMs, ballot papers were often mixed to prevent intimidation of voters by disclosure of voting patterns.

    The idea of voting patterns gives an advantage to political parties which can be neutralised if totalisers are deployed to count votes in a constituency.

    Totalizer:
    It is a mechanism which allows votes from 14 booths to be counted together.

    This result obtained is without disclosure of votes polled by candidates at particular voting booths/stations, which will allay the fears of voters against any pre-poll intimidation or post-poll victimisation by any candidate.

  • Civil Services Board
    Recently, Punjab government has set up a three-member Civil Services Board (CSB) for transfers and postings of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers in the state.

    Key Points
    CSB:
    The CSB is headed by the Chief Secretary of a state and has senior most additional chief secretary or chairman, Board of Revenue, Financial Commissioner or an officer of equivalent rank and status as member.

    The CSB provides for the state to follow Centre’s guidelines on giving a fixed tenure of at least two years for cadre officers.

    If anyone recommends the transfer of the officers before the completion of tenure, then the board will examine and effect it. The final authority in this regard is the Chief Minister.

    Benefits:
    If the officials have a fixed tenure they will be able to provide better administration.

    They will also feel safe and try to stick to the rules instead of pleasing political bosses.

    Every official requires 3-6 months to get into the routine at his/her new place of posting. If they stay there for two years, it would mean better delivery and stable tenure to people.

    Issues Involved:
    If the tenure of bureaucrats is fixed, it may create functional and administrative problems.

    The officers may overstep the authority and jurisdiction of the state government.

    It may make them less answerable and accountable to legislators.

    With the fixed tenure rule, the political executives feel their influence has been reduced to nothing, since all the powers to examine a recommendation for a transfer lies with the CSB.

    The bureaucrats feel the urge to go to courts for effective implementation of guidelines in letter and spirit.

    E.g. Haryana had the CSB in place but the guidelines are not followed there.

    Background:
    The Punjab government’s notification is based on a 2014 order issued by the Central government. The order was aimed at providing stability of tenure and checking political interference.

    Punjab is the 20th state to adopt the CSB.

    In October 2013, the Supreme Court had also mandated minimum tenure for bureaucrats, to insulate the bureaucracy from political interference and to put an end to frequent transfers of civil servants by political bosses.

    Frequent and arbitrary transfers of officers before completion of a reasonable tenure on any post have always been considered as a major reason for the declining standards of administration.

    IAS officers like Ashok Khemka, Durga Sakthi Nagpal and Kuldip Narayan, among others, have allegedly been victims of arbitrary suspensions and transfers.

  • National People’s Party
    Political troubleshooting is going on in Manipur after the four MLAs of National People's Party (NPP) along with few others had withdrawn support from the ruling government recently.

    Key Points
    National People’s Party:
    The NPP got the status of national party in 2019, after it was recognised as a state party in four states — Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland and Meghalaya.

    It is the eighth party to get the recognition — after INC, BJP, BSP, NCP, CPI, CPI(M) and Trinamool Congress. It is also the first party from Northeast India to be recognised as a national party.

    BACKGROUND:
    Types of Parties:
    The Election Commission of India lists political parties as “national party”, “state party” or “registered (unrecognised) party”.

    The conditions for being listed as a national or a state party are specified under the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968.

    National Party:
    For recognition as a national party, a party has to satisfy these conditions:

    6% valid votes polled in any four or more states at a general election to the Lok Sabha or to the State legislative assembly; and, in addition, it wins four seats in the Lok Sabha from any state or states.

    2% of all Lok Sabha seats in the last such election, with MPs elected from at least three states.

    Recognition as a state party in at least four states.

    State Party:
    For recognition as a state party, any one of five conditions needs to be satisfied:

    Two seats plus a 6% vote share in the last Assembly election in that state.

    One seat plus a 6% vote share in the last Lok Sabha election from that state.

    3% of the total Assembly seats or 3 seats, whichever is more.

    One of every 25 Lok Sabha seats (or an equivalent fraction) from a state.

    An 8% state-wide vote share in either the last Lok Sabha or the last Assembly polls.

    Loss of Recognised Status:
    Once recognised as a national or a state party, a political party loses its given status only if it fails to fulfil any of the conditions for two successive Assembly and two successive Lok Sabha elections.

    That means a party retains that status irrespective of its performance in the next elections.

  • Founder of Ahom Kingdom: ChaolungSukapha
    Recently, there has been a controversy in Assam regarding ChaolungSukapha who founded the Ahom kingdom.

    Amidst the ongoing India-China border tension, he has been repeatedly referred to as a Chinese invader.

    Key Points
    ChaolungSukapha:
    He was a 13th century ruler who founded the Ahom kingdom that ruled Assam for six centuries. The Ahoms ruled the land till the province was annexed to British India in 1826 with the signing of the Treaty of Yandaboo.

    Sir Edward Gait, in his book ‘A History of Assam’, wrote that Sukapha is said to have left a place called Maulung (Burma which is now known as Myanmar) in 1215 AD with eight nobles and some people.

    He and his people reached Brahmaputra valley and in 1235 AD, finally settled in Charaideo in upper Assam.

    Sukapha established his first small principality in Charaideo, sowing the seeds of further expansion of the Ahom kingdom.

    Ahoms:
    They created a new state by suppressing the older political system of the bhuiyans (landlords).

    The Ahom state depended upon forced labour. Those forced to work for the state were called paiks.

    Ahom society was divided into clans or khels. A khel often controlled several villages.

    Ahoms worshipped their own tribal gods but instead of imposing their own language, religion and rituals on communities living in Assam, they accepted the Hindu religion and the Assamese language.

    However, the Ahom kings did not completely give up their traditional beliefs after adopting Hinduism.

    Ahom society was very sophisticated. Poets and scholars were given land grants and theatre was encouraged. Important works of Sanskrit were translated into the local language.

    Historical works, known as buranjis, were also written, first in the Ahom language and then in Assamese.

    Most of the Sukapha’s people were men who later married women from communities living in Assam. Intermarriage also increased assimilation processes.

    Significance:
    Sukapha successfully assimilated different communities and tribes. He developed very amiable relationships with the tribal communities of Assam especially the Sutias, the Morans and the Kacharis.

    He is widely referred to as the architect of ‘BorAsom’ or ‘Greater Assam’ because he consolidated power, culture and religion in the region and managed to group a diverse mix of people in such a politically sensitive region crisscrossing South Asia and South-East Asia.

    Assam celebrates ‘Asom Divas’ on 2nd December every year to commemorate Sukapha and his rule.

  • KVIC starts reviving ancient glory of Pokhran potteries
    KVIC starts reviving ancient glory of Pokhran potteries.

    Details:
    The Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) distributed 80 electric potter wheels to 80 potter families in Pokhran which has a rich heritage in terracotta products.

    Pokhran, in Jaisalmer district of Rajasthan, has over 300 potters’ families that have been engaged with pottery for several decades, but potters had started looking for other avenues due to heavy drudgery in the work and no market support.

    Apart from the electric wheels, the KVIC also distributed 8 blunger machines, used for mixing the clay which can produce 800 kg clay in just 8 hours. Manually it takes 5 days to prepare 800 kg mud for pottery making.

    The 80 potters were also given 15-days’ training to help them come up with exquisite pottery.

    About Rajasthan potteries:
    Rajasthan is famous for terracotta items. Diverse forms of pottery are made in different regions of Rajasthan.

    Alwar is known for producing paper-thin Kagazi pottery, while Pokhran is renowned for white and red clay articles with geometric designs. Bikaner is home to painted pottery, tinted with lac colours. Jaisalmer is famous for stoneware pottery.

    Rajasthan is also known for its Blue Pottery.

    Turko-Persian in origin, the art of blue pottery is said to have flourished in Jaipur under the 19th century ruler Maharaja Ram Singh II.

    The special feature of blue pottery is that, unlike others, it is made of ground quartz stone and clay is not used at all. The traditionally used colours are blue (extracted from oxide of cobalt), green (from the oxides of copper) and white.

    Some pottery is semi translucent and in addition to the traditional colours, other combinations have now been evolved, such as canary yellow, dark blue and brown.

    The conventional designs are floral or arabesque patterns, sometimes with figures of animals.

  • NITI Aayog, ITF to launch Decarbonising Transport
    NITI Aayog in collaboration with International Transport Forum (ITF) is to launch the “Decarbonising Transport in India” project on 24 June.

    The project intends to develop a pathway towards a low-carbon transport system for India. The project will be launched by ITF Secretary-General Young Tae Kim and NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant.

    Decarbonising Transport in India:
    The project will inform the transport and climate stakeholders in India about planned project activities.

    The project will provide an opportunity to provide inputs regarding India’s transport challenges and how it can be related to CO2 reduction ambitions. The discussion will help to focus the project further on India’s specific needs and circumstances.

    Decarbonising Transport in India project will design a tailor-made transport emissions assessment framework for India.

    It will provide the government with a detailed understanding of current & future transport activity and the related CO2 emissions as a basis for their decision-making.

    The project is carried out in the wider context of the International Transport Forum’s “Decarbonising Transport” initiative.

    This project is a part of the Decarbonising Transport in Emerging Economies (DTEE) family of projects, which supports transport decarbonisation across different world regions.

    The launch ceremony will be available on YouTube Livestream at https://youtu.be/l2G5x5RdBUM

  • Employment Scheme for Urban Poor: Jharkhand
    Jharkhand is set to launch a 100-day employment scheme for urban unskilled workers similar to the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) amid the coronavirus pandemic and increasing unemployment.

    Recently the Government of India has launched a rural public works scheme ‘Garib Kalyan RojgarAbhiyaan’ to provide livelihood opportunities to the returnee migrant workers and rural citizens.

    Even Jharkhand launched three employment schemes earlier to create wage employment for workers in rural areas. In this context, an employment guarantee scheme for urban poor is unique and timely intervention.

    Key Points
    Name of the Scheme: The scheme will be known as Mukhyamantri SHRAMIK (Shahri Rozgar Manjuri For Kamgar) Yojana.

    Objective: Enhancing livelihood security for urban poor. They will be given priority in the existing schemes. If they could not be accommodated in existing schemes, exclusive schemes for the purpose will be created and Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) would be given separate funds for this.

    Basic Provisions:
    The workers will be able demand work either in writing or orally for a minimum of seven days and a maximum of 100 days.

    If a worker has a child of five years or less, then a female worker will need to be employed—to take care of the child—and paid the minimum wage. All basic amenities, medical facilities, registration as well as a social security will be provided.

    Demand based Work: The work will be demand based and divided into various categories like cleanliness, water harvesting, tree plantation, public works construction or repair and managing shelter homes, among others.

    Minimum Wage: Workers will be paid the minimum wage as notified by the state government.

    Decent Wage: The wages under the proposed Yojana are likely to be at least 40% higher than that provided under the MGNREGA programme in the state.

    Swift Transfer of Wages: The amount will be credited to the bank account of workers, either after work or within seven days of the completion of work. In any situation, the payment has to be made within 15 days of the completion of work.

    Unemployment Allowance: Like MGNREGA, the scheme will also have a provision for unemployment allowance where a person who has asked for work does not get it within 15 days will be liable to be paid one-fourth of the minimum wage as allowance for the first month, half the wage in the second month, and the full minimum wage amount in the third month of no work.

    Job Cards & Dedicated Website: Urban workers will also be registered and they would be provided job cards. A special website is also being designed, similar to the website functions in MGNREGS.

    Implementation: The scheme will be implemented by the urban development and housing department through the state urban livelihood mission. Municipal commissioners, executive offices or special officers of municipal bodies will be the nodal officer of the scheme.

    Background
    Large Number of Casual Labours: There are about 13-14 lakh households in urban areas of Jharkhand, of which around 15% are employed as casual labourers. An estimated 25% households in urban areas have been adversely affected by the extended lockdown.

    Influx of Migrants: There was a need for a scheme like this because of the huge influx of migrant workers to the state. This will help the migrant workers who returned to urban Jharkhand after the coronavirus outbreak.

    Skill Mapping of Migrants: Skill mapping of 2.5 lakh workers has revealed that 30% of workers who returned from different states are unskilled labourers.

    Addressing Urban Poor: Till now there was a notion that poor means rural people. So, a lot of poor alleviation schemes were launched for rural areas. However, there is also a chunk of urban poor and they also need job guarantee like in rural areas.

    Examples from Other States:
    Recently, the Odisha government announced a Rs 100-crore Urban Wage Employment Initiative.

    Kerala also runs Ayyankali Urban Employment Guarantee Scheme (AUEGS).

    AUEGS aims at enhancing the livelihood security of people in urban areas by guaranteeing hundred days of wage-employment in a financial year to an urban household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work.

    "YuvaSwabhiman Yojana” of Madhya Pradesh provides employment for both skilled and unskilled workers among urban youth.

  • VariyamkunnathKunjahammed Haji
    The year 2021 will mark the 100th year anniversary of the Malabar/Moplah uprising of 1921.

    The freedom fighter VariyamkunnathKunjahammed Haji led the Moplah uprising against the British in Kerala’s Malabar region.

    Key Points
    VariyamkunnathKunjahammed Haji was born into an affluent Muslim family sometime in the 1870s (the exact date is not confirmed) and grew up hearing stories of the torture and injustice done by the British.

    His father, Moideenkutty Haji, was deported and jailed in the Andaman Islands for his participation in a rebellion against the British.

    Kunjahammed Haji was very much fascinated by the traditional music-based art forms like Daffumutt and poems like ‘Malappuram Padappattu’ and ‘BadrPadappattu’ and he used them as an instrument to rally the locals against the British.

    These poems were on the exploitation of the peasants by feudal lords under the British so these were banned later on by the British.

    Kunjahammed Haji simultaneously challenged the British and ignited sentiments against them among the local population.

    Haji was respected for his scholarship and knowledge in Urdu, Arabic and English.

    Leaders of the Khilafat movement and the INC introduced him to the Khilafat cause and he promised to join them against the atrocities of the British and the landlords.

    Haji decided to take arms against the British and took the leadership of the Khilafat and was mostly heard all over Calicut and south Malabar.

    Haji ensured that the movement had a secular character as he was aware of the strength of Hindu-Muslim unity and ensured people of other faiths were given adequate security.

    Britishers cast him as a religious fanatic to create divisions within the movement and there was a possibility of the movement losing direction and perhaps even resulting in a communal riot.

    As the rebellion spread across the Ernad and Valluvanad taluks of erstwhile Malabar district, Britishers and their loyal escaped, leaving vast territory under the control of the local rebels.

    The territory was declared an ‘independent state’ in August 1921 with Haji as its undisputed ruler.

    For nearly six months, Haji ran a parallel Khilafat regime headquartered in Nilambur, with its own separate passport, currency and system of taxation.

    An extensive army with the participation of Hindu men was built with the aim of thwarting any attempt by the British to overthrow the Khilafat rule.

    Tenants were granted the power over the lands they cultivated along with tax incentives.

    In January 1922, under the guise of a treaty, the British betrayed Haji through his close friend UnyanMusaliyar and arrested him. He was sentenced to death along with his compatriots.

    The bodies were cremated fearing that the grave may become an inspiration for the rebels and all the records connected with the Khilafat raj were burnt in order to make the people forget the Mappila khilafat rule of six months.

  • Speaker and Anti-Defection Law
    The ruling party crisis in Manipur has raised questions on the Speaker’s powers to disqualify under the Constitution.

    Key Point
    Background:
    In 2017, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) formed the government in Manipur after seven legislators of Congress joined the BJP.

    The Congress party asked the Speaker to disqualify these seven, but the petitions were kept pending.

    According to paragraph 2(1)(a) of the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution, an elected member of the house shall be disqualified from being a member if they win the election as a candidate of one party and then join another. The power for this disqualification is vested in the Speaker, who is usually a nominee of the ruling party.

    Recently, a crisis in the ruling party emerged because the four MLAs (out of seven MLAs, who had in 2017 jumped to BJP) once again pledged their votes to the Congress and the rest three were disqualified.

    BACKGROUND:
    Role of Supreme Court:
    Citing the 2016 SA Sampath Kumar vs Kale Yadaiah and Others case relating to the disqualification of a Telangana MLA, the Supreme Court directed the Speaker of Manipur to rule on the disqualification within three months.

    The Supreme Court also questioned, “why a Speaker- who is a member of a particular political party and an insider in the House, should be the sole and final arbiter in the cases of disqualification of a political defector”.

    The Speaker did not take a call on the disqualifications.

    After, the Manipur High Court also passed similar orders relying on the SC verdict, the Speaker finally ruled on the petitions.

    The High Court also reasoned that since the remedy under Tenth Schedule is an alternative to moving courts and if the remedy is found to be ineffective due to deliberate inaction or indecision on the part of the Speaker, the court will have jurisdiction.

    Speaker and Issue of Impartiality:
    The office of Speaker has been criticised time and again for being an agent of partisan politics especially in context of power for the disqualification.

    The Supreme Court in Jagjit Singh versus State of Haryana (2006) highlighted the similar allegations about the confidence on the role of Speaker in the matters of impartiality.

    In the KihotoHollohan versus Zachillhu case (1992), one of the judges observed that the suspicion of bias on the Speaker’s role could not be ruled out as his/her election and tenure depends on the majority will of the House (or specifically of the ruling party).

    Suggestions:
    The Supreme Court has held that the Parliament consider taking a relook at the powers of the Speakers citing instances of partisanship.

    It has suggested independent tribunals to decide on disqualification.

    In Britain, the Speaker is strictly a non-party person. There is a convention that the Speaker has to resign from his party and remain politically neutral. .

    Hence, this mechanism can be adopted whereby Speakers need to renounce all political affiliations, membership and activity once they have been elected to the office.

  • YUKTI 2.0 Platform for Higher Education Institutes
    The Ministry of Human Resource Development has launched an initiative ‘YUKTI 2.0’ to help systematically assimilate technologies having commercial potential and information related to incubated startups in higher education institutions.

    YUKTI 2.0 is an extension of ‘YUKTI (Young India combating Covid with Knowledge, Technology and Innovation) Portal’ which was launched to identify ideas relevant in Covid pandemic.

    Key Points
    Creation of Database: The Ministry has invited students, faculty members, startups and other stakeholders of higher education institutions to register on the YUKTI portal and share their technologies and innovations.

    Importance of Database:
    Database shared will be showcased to the investor community such as businessmen, farmers and industrialists i.e. students will be able to sell their ideas.

    However, preliminary innovations won’t be showcased on YUKTI 2.0 but only those which have commercialisation potential.

    It will provide a clear picture of the state of the innovation ecosystem of our higher educational institutions.

    It will help the government to identify bottlenecks and formulate appropriate policies to strengthen the innovation ecosystem in the country.

    Further, it will offer solutions to the problems faced by the country.

    In Line with Atmanirbhar Bharat: YUKTI 2.0 will also help in fostering the culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in academic institutions.

    Other Initiatives to Boost Innovation:
    Institutions of Eminence (IoE) Scheme is a government's scheme to provide the regulatory architecture for setting up or upgrading of 20 Institutions (10 from public sector and 10 from the private sector) as world-class teaching and research institutions.

    Various amendments have been made in the Prime Minister’s Research Fellowship Scheme to boost research in the country.

    Through the Atal Innovation Mission, the government has established Atal Tinkering Laboratories (ATLs) in schools across the country. The objective of this scheme is to foster curiosity, creativity and imagination in young minds; and inculcate skills such as design mindset, computational thinking, adaptive learning, physical computing.

  • Make in India initiative in locust control
    Department of Agriculture, Cooperation & Farmers’ Welfare (DAC&FW), under Make in India initiative indigenously develop a vehicle-mounted ULV sprayer for locust control to overcome the limitation of importing equipment.

    Highlights:
    Mechanization and Technology Division of DAC&FW developed a prototype of the sprayer, through an Indian manufacturer.

    The trials of the sprayer were successfully conducted in Ajmer and Bikaner district of Rajasthan.

    As the ground control vehicles with sprayers used for locust control can only spray up to a height of 25-30 feet the tractor-mounted sprayers were used. It reached to the inaccessible areas and tall trees.

    The deployment of drones has enhanced another dimension in the capabilities of Locust Circle offices to ensure effective control over desert locust.

    Currently, vehicle-mounted sprayers were supplied by M/s Micron Sprayers, UK. GoI placed an order for 60 nos. of sprayers on the firm in February 2020.

  • SC gives nod to woman to abort foetus
    The Supreme Court has allowed a woman in her 25th week of pregnancy bearing twins to medically terminate one of the foetuses detected with substantial abnormalities.

    Details:
    The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act of 1971 bars abortion if the foetus has crossed the 20-week mark.

    An exception to the law is made if a registered medical practitioner certifies to a court that the continued pregnancy is life-threatening for the mother.

    In the present case, a three-judge Bench set aside the Bombay High Court’s rejection.

    It allowed the woman to go ahead with the “selective foetal reduction” procedure after a medical expert reported that the process would not harm the other normal foetus or the mother.

  • India TB Report 2020
    Recently, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has launched the annual Tuberculosis (TB) Report 2020.

    Eliminating TB by 2025: India is committed to eliminating tuberculosis from the country by 2025, five years ahead of the global target by the World Health Organisation (WHO) i.e. 2030.

    National Tuberculosis Elimination Programme: To align with the ambitious goal, the programme has been renamed from the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP) to National Tuberculosis Elimination Programme (NTEP).

    Key Points
    State TB Index: On the basis of the score in State TB Index, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh were the top three best-performing states for tuberculosis control under the category of states with 50 lakh population.

    Tripura and Nagaland were best-performing in the category of states having less than 50 lakh population.

    Dadra and Nagar Haveli, and Daman and Diu were selected as the best performing Union Territories.

    Rising Tobacco Consumption: It also revealed that Tobacco consumption is rising among Indian TB patients.

    8% of TB cases can be attributable to tobacco usage.

    HIV Patients and TB: People living with HIV are the most vulnerable among all those TB patient groups which have other comorbidities (rate of death). Hence, the World Health Organization lays social emphasis (through awareness programmes) on them.

    HIV-associated TB: India accounts for 9% of all HIV-associated TB deaths in the world, the second-highest number globally.

    A total of 92,000 HIV-associated TB patients were recorded on an annual basis.

    Awareness among TB patients about their HIV status has gone up to 81% from 67%.

    Diabetes Associated TB: The other such group is patients suffering from diabetes. According to the report, 20% of all TB cases in India also suffer from diabetes.

    In 2019, among the notified TB patients under the Revised National TB Control Programme, 64 % were screened for Diabetes.

    Missing Patients: The report highlighted that the notification of TB is a major hurdle in surveillance of the disease in India.

    Nearly 0.54 million TB cases are still missing across India.

    Lower Reporting than WHO: According to the report, India notified the highest number of 24.04 lakh tuberculosis cases last year (2018) as against an estimated 26.9 lakh cases by WHO, indicating that around three lakh patients missed out from the national TB programme.

    Low Fatality: It stated that 79,144 deaths due to tuberculosis were reported in 2019, which is much lower than the WHO estimate of 4.4 lakh fatalities.

    Treatment Success Rate: It is around 70-73% in the last two years. From 2014-2016, it was between 76 and 77%.

    Initiatives by India
    The Nikshay Ecosystem: It is the National TB information system which is a one-stop solution to manage information of patients and monitor program activity and performance throughout the country.

    NikshayPoshan Yojana (NPY): This scheme is aimed at providing financial support to TB patients for their nutrition.

    TB HaregaDeshJeetega Campaign: Launched In September 2019 it is showcasing the highest level of commitment for the elimination of TB.

    The Saksham Project: It is a project of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) that has been providing psycho-social counselling to DR-TB patients.

  • Interest Subvention Scheme for Shishu Loan Accounts
    The government has approved a 2% interest subsidy scheme for Shishu loan account holders under the Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY).

    The Scheme will help small businesses tide over difficulties created by the lockdown following Covid-19 outbreak.

    Key Points
    In-Line with Atmanirbhar Abhiyan:
    The 2% Interest Subsidy Scheme is in line with the measures announced relating to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) under the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan.

    The scheme will be extended to loans which meet the following criteria: outstanding as on 31st March 2020; and not in Non-Performing Asset (NPA) category, as per the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) guidelines on 31st March 2020 and during the period of operation of the Scheme.

    The interest subsidy would be payable for the months in which the accounts are not in NPA category including for the months that the account becomes a performing asset again, after turning NPA.

    The scheme will incentivize people who will make regular repayments of loans.

    Implementation:
    The Scheme will be implemented through the Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) and will be in operation for 12 months.

    SIDBI was set up on 2nd April 1990 under an Act of the Parliament.

    It acts as the Principal Financial Institution for Promotion, Financing and Development of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) sector as well as for coordination of functions of institutions engaged in similar activities.

    For borrowers, who have been allowed a moratorium by their respective lenders, as permitted by RBI under the ‘Covid-19 Regulatory Package’, the Scheme would commence post completion of the moratorium period till a period of 12 months i.e. from 1st September 2020 till 31st August 2021. For other borrowers, the scheme would commence w.e.f. 1st June 2020 and will last till 31st May 2021.

    Cost to the Government: The estimated cost of the Scheme would be approximately Rs. 1,542 crore.

    Background:
    The ongoing Covid-19 crisis and the consequent lockdown has led to severe disruption of business for micro and small enterprises which are funded through Shishu Mudra loans.

    Small businesses typically function on thin operating margins, and the current lockdown has had a severe impact on their cash flows, jeopardizing their ability to service their loans.

    This could lead to default in repayment and have a resultant impact on access to institutional credit in future.

    As on 31st March 2020, about 9.37 crore loan accounts under the Shishu category of PMMY with a total loan amount of about Rs 1.62 Lakh crore, were outstanding.

  • Extension to OBC Sub-Categorisation Commission
    Recently, the Union Cabinet has approved a six-month extension to the commission appointed to examine sub-categorisation of Other Backward Classes (OBCs), up to 31st January 2021.

    Key Points
    Commission:
    Headed by Justice (Retd.) G Rohini, the commission was constituted under Article 340 of the Constitution with the approval of the President on 2nd October 2017.

    Article 340 deals with the appointment of a commission to investigate the conditions of backward classes.

    It had been constituted to complete the task of sub-categorising 5000-odd castes in the central OBC list so as to ensure more equitable distribution of opportunities in central government jobs and educational institutions.

    In 2015, the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) had recommended that OBCs should be categorised into extremely backward classes, more backward classes and backward classes.

    The benefits of the reservation in OBCs are being cornered mostly by the dominant OBC groups over the years so there is a need to recognise sub-quotas for the extremely backward classes within the OBCs.

    NCBC has the authority to examine complaints and welfare measures regarding socially and educationally backward classes.

    Mandate:
    Examine the uneven distribution of reservation benefits among different castes in the central OBC list. For example, certain castes were left out of the ambit because of a difference in spelling in a State.

    Work out mechanism and parameters for sub-categorisation of OBCs, to identify castes, sub-castes and communities and classify them into sub-categories.

    Submit a comprehensive report after consultation with various stakeholders so that Census 2021 can include comprehensive data on OBCs.

    Work Done:
    It has met representatives of state governments, state backward classes commissions, community associations etc. apart from obtaining caste-wise data of OBCs in higher educational institutions and recruits in central departments, public sector banks and financial institutions.

    Reasons for Extension:
    The Commission would require more time to submit its report since the repetitions, ambiguities, inconsistencies and errors of spelling or transcription etc. appearing in the existing Central List of OBCs need to be cleared.

    Apart from that, the nationwide lockdown and restrictions on travel imposed in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic slowed down the commission’s performance.

    Possible Outcomes:
    The commission may make recommendations which will benefit the communities in the existing list of OBCs which have not been able to get any major benefit of the OBCs reservation scheme for appointment in central government posts and for admission in central government educational institutions.

  • Union Minister inaugurated Product Application and Development Centre at Paradip, Odisha
    Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas & Steel Dharmendra Pradhan along with the Chief Minister of Odisha Shri Naveen Patnaik inaugurated a Product Application & Development Centre (PADC) at Paradip, through video conference on 25 June. It was set up by Indian Oil.

    PADC:
    PADC is setup by IndianOil at Paradip with a capex of Rs.43 crores, adjacent to its Refinery and Petrochemicals complex.

    There are 4 laboratories in PADC namely Polymer Processing Lab, Analytical Testing Lab, Chemical Analysis Lab, and Characterisation Lab.

    The Technical centre is equipped with 50 latest sophisticated polymer testing and processing equipment to cater to the needs of customers and new investors.

    PADC, Paradip is recognized as a research centre by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR), Ministry of Science & Technology, Govt of India.

    PADC will act as an incubation centre for new entrepreneur development in and around Odisha in the field of Plastics.

    The centre will render assistance to customers and investors in product and application development for polymer finished products such as molded furniture, houseware, woven sacks for packaging cement, fertilizer, healthcare applications like baby diaper, personal protective suit, mask, etc.

    The centre will carry out testing and developmental activities for investors of Paradeep Plastic Park and other clusters like Balasore and Khurda.

  • Dr. Harsh Vardhan launched eBloodServices Mobile App
    Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare Dr. Harsh Vardhan launched the ‘eBloodServices’ mobile App on 25th June 2020 through video conferencing.

    The app was developed by the Indian Red Cross Society (IRCS). The Union Health Minister is the Chairman of the Indian Red Cross Society.

    eBloodServices Mobile App:
    eBloodServices Mobile App is developed by the E-Raktkosh team of Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC) under the Digital India scheme launched by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi in 2015.

    This Blood Donation App is a prime example of how the Digital India Scheme is serving the need for accessing blood services.

    Through this App, four units of blood can be requisitioned at a time and the blood bank will wait for as long as 12 hours for the person to collect it.

    This app makes it easy for those in need to request for Blood units at IRCS NHQ.

    Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mobile App will provide succor to all those who direly require blood.

    The NHQ Blood Bank conducted 55 blood donation camps collecting 2896 units of blood. A total of 5221 units were collected during the lockdown period.

  • Cabinet approves declaration of Kushinagar Airport in Uttar Pradesh as an International Airport
    Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved the declaration of Kushinagar Airport in Uttar Pradesh as an International Airport.

    Kushinagar Airport:
    Kushinagar Airport is located in the vicinity of several Buddhist Cultural Sites like Sravasti, Kapilvastu, Lumbini.

    The declaration of Kushinagar Airport as an International Airport will offer improved connectivity, a wider choice of competitive costs to the air-travellers.

    The decision will result in boosting domestic/international tourism and economic development of the regions.

    It will be an important strategic location with the international border close by.

    Note: Kushinagar is located in the north-eastern part of Uttar Pradesh about 50 km east of Gorakhpur. It is one of the important Buddhist pilgrimage sites.

  • Dr Jitendra Singh inaugurated two important Bridges in Jammu and Kashmir
    Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), (MoS) Dr. Jitendra Singh inaugurated two important Bridges namely Devika and Puneja in Udhampur and Doda districts respectively in Jammu & Kashmir through the virtual platform. The bridge projects will usher in a new era of development for the region.

    Devika Bridge in Udhampur District:
    Devika Bridge in Udhampur District is 10-meter-long and costs around Rs.75 lakhs.

    The bridge will solve the traffic issues in the region.

    The bridge will help in the smooth passage of Army convoys and vehicles.

    The bridge was constructed by Border Roads Organisation (BRO) in a span of 1 year.

    Puneja Bridge:
    Puneja Bridge was constructed by BRO at a cost of Rs.4 Crore at Bhaderwah in Doda District.

    The bridge is 50-meter-long Puneja

    Basoli-Bani-Bhaderwah road is a vital alternate link to the Doda, Kishtwar, Bhaderwah, and Kashmir valley from Pathankot (Punjab) region without passing Jammu and Udhampur.

    The new connectivity and infrastructure projects will make Doda to emerge as a new centre of development.

  • Mali awarded Project Management Consultancy contract to NTPC to develop 500 MW Solar Park
    The Republic of Mali has awarded the Project Management Consultancy contract to NTPC Limited, a central PSU that functions under the Ministry of Power, in an event held on 24 June 2020.

    The contract aims to develop 500 MW Solar Park. The event was chaired by the Union Minister of State for Power R.K.Singh, NRE, Skill Development and President of International Solar Alliance (ISA), and Mr.H.E. Sekou Kasse, the Ambassador of Mali.

    Highlights:
    The event was hosted by ISA in the Ministry of Renewable Energy, New Delhi.

    The Republic of Mali has taken various initiatives towards the energy security of the country especially to increase access to electricity for its citizens.

    The move comes with a focus on solar power and applications.

    The development of Solar Projects in Mali is expected to make a considerable impact on the socio-economic growth of Mali.

    ISA:
    ISA is created with the vision and leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and announced jointly with President of France during COP-21 held in Paris in 2015.

    ISA’s vision is for a large-scale solar revolution, hinges on creating a facilitative international ecosystem that enables access to science and economic resources, reduce the cost of technology and capital, facilitates price reduction, and enables the development of storage technology and innovation.

    With its scale and authoritative understanding of the energy transition opportunities of diverse economies, ISA is the world's foremost energy transition catalyst for bringing a change from energy poverty to energy empowerment.

  • Cabinet approved setting up of Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund
    The Union Cabinet headed by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved setting up of Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund (AHIDF). The approval is to provide a much-needed boost to infrastructure across sectors, which are crucial in the time of the pandemic.

    Highlights:
    To set up AHIDF, the Centre allocated a sum of Rs.15000 crore.

    AHIDF will be an incentive infrastructure investment in dairy, meat processing, and animal feed plants.

    The beneficiaries who are eligible under the Scheme are Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs), MSMEs, Section 8 Companies, Private Companies, and individual entrepreneurs with only a 10% margin money contribution by them.

    The remaining 90% will be the loan component that is to be made available to them by scheduled banks.

    Centre will provide a 3% interest subvention to eligible beneficiaries.

    It also announced a 2 years moratorium period for repayment of the loan with 6 years repayment period thereafter.

    GoI is to establish a Credit Guarantee Fund of Rs.750 crore to be managed by NABARD. It will credit guarantee to the projects that are covered under the MSME defined ceilings.

    Guarantee Coverage will be up to 25% of the Credit facility of the borrower.

    Background:
    GoI had earlier approved the Dairy Infrastructure Development Fund (DIDF) worth Rs.10,000 crores for incentivizing investment by the cooperative sector for the development of dairy infrastructure. But, the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and Private companies were also needed to be promoted and incentivized for their participation in processing and value addition infrastructure in the animal husbandry sector.

  • Navigating the New Normal: NITI Aayog
    The National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog, in partnership with several other stakeholders has launched a behaviour change campaign called ‘Navigating the New Normal’, and its website.

    Key Points
    The campaign has two parts:
    Covid-safe behavioural norms: The first is a web portal, containing resources informed by behavioural science and the use of nudge and social norms theory, related to Covid-safe behavioural norms during the ongoing Unlock phase, and

    Wearing of Masks: The second is a media campaign focused on the wearing of masks.

    The portal focuses on easy implementation of four key behaviours in the unlock phase: mask-wearing (essential focus), social distancing, Hand hygiene, and not spitting in public.

    Citizens Role: It aims at desired social behaviour in which the enforcement burden shifts from the Government to the citizens.

    Sector Specific: The website will have sector-specific collaterals and guidelines for health, nutrition, and public transport (in metro cities).

    International Examples: Japan and South Korea have made ‘mask-wearing’ a socially accepted norm.

    Recent Examples/Initiatives in India:
    Recently, Meghalaya has issued a new health protocol which also lays emphasis on the Behaviour Change Model for living with Covid-19.

    The Economic Survey 2019 too lays out an ambitious agenda for behavioural change by applying the principles of behavioural economics to several issues, including gender equality, a healthy and beautiful India, savings, tax compliance and credit quality.

    Behavioural Science
    Behavioural science is a method of analysis that applies psychological insights into human behaviour to explain their decision-making

    In reality, decisions made by people often deviate from the classical principles. Drawing on the psychology of human behaviour, science provides insights to ‘nudge’ people towards desirable behaviour.

    Limitations of Behavioural Science
    Continuous Efforts vs One-time Action - Give It Up campaign for LPG subsidy was a comparatively easy policy as it requires only a one-time action of affluent households, whereas task is very difficult in case of living with Covid-19, BetiBachao, BetiPadao and SBM, as it requires continuous effort to dislodge mind-sets that prevailed for decades.

    Specific Targeting is Required: In order to make this campaign a success, focus must be on special areas of concern such as small factories and poor labourers, who comprise a large part of the vulnerable population. Example: Advertising campaigns such as the BetiBachaoBetiPadhao scheme did not target specific states where child sex ratios were already skewed (although it was effective in Haryana, which also has a very poor sex ratio).

    Case of Confirmation Bias: The applications of behavioural insights appeared to be a result of confirmation bias (to the extent that past policies were viewed with a behavioural lens).

  • Increased Funding for Panchayats
    Recently, in a meeting with the 15th Finance Commission, the Panchayati Raj Ministry has pitched for a fivefold increase in funding for rural local bodies.

    The Ministry asked for Rs 10 lakh crore to be allocated for the 2020-21 to 2025-26 period, in comparison to the Rs 2 lakh crore allocated under the 14th Finance Commission.

    Key Points
    Allocations had tripled between the 13th and 14th Commissions and the utilisation rate for FC grants between 2015 and 2019 stands at 78%.

    The 2.63 lakh panchayats across the country have 29 functions under their ambit, according to the 11th Schedule of the Constitution.

    Road construction, its maintenance and drinking water supply are the major projects carried out by panchayats using FC grants.

    BACKGROUND:
    Seventy-Third Amendment Act, 1992:
    Granted constitutional status and protection to the Panchayati Raj institutions.

    For this purpose, the Amendment added a new Part-IX entitled as ‘the panchayats’ and a new 11th Schedule containing 29 functional items of the panchayats.

    During the Covid-19, panchayats gained importance as crucial nodal points as they ran isolation centres, medical camps and contact tracing.

    However, a major challenge during the pandemic and lockdown was that most panchayats could not provide cooked food at short notice.

    The Ministry has proposed to set up community kitchens in each panchayat, operated by local self-help groups (SHGs).

    The role of panchayats also becomes important because now the Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyan will also depend on them to generate employment for newly returned migrant workers.

  • Inclusion of Reservation Laws in Ninth Schedule
    Recently, a Union Minister emphasised the need to include all reservation-related laws in the Ninth Schedule of Constitution so that they are shielded from judicial review.

    Key Points
    The minister argued that reservation is not confined just to Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) and is available to Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and poor sections of the upper castes as well and have been attached to Fundamental Rights.

    SC/ST Reservation:
    Both the Centre and the states are permitted to make any special provision for the advancement of SCs and STs.

    The quota in government jobs and educational institutions for SCs and STs is 15% and 7.5% respectively (total 22.5%).

    Other Backward Class (OBC) Reservation:
    Both the Centre and the states are empowered to make provision for the advancement of OBCs regarding their admission to educational institutions and government jobs.

    The quota limit for OBCs is 27%.

    However, various state governments have different quota limits for OBCs in their state like Tamil Nadu has 50% reservation for OBCs.

    In the IndraSawhney& Others vs Union of India, 1992 judgement, the Supreme Court fixed the upper limit for the combined reservation quota i.e. should not exceed 50% of seats.

    Economically Weaker Section (EWS) Reservation:
    The 103rd Constitution Amendment Act, 2019 empowers both Centre and the states to provide 10% reservation to the EWS category of society in government jobs and educational institutions.

    Background:
    This demand comes after the Supreme Court’s recent observation that the Right to Reservation is not a Fundamental Right.

    Earlier, SC ruled that reservation in the matter of promotions in public posts was not a fundamental right and that a state cannot be compelled to offer quota if it chooses not to.

    Apart from that, there have been repeated challenges to the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 and its amendments.

  • Small Farmers’ Agribusiness Consortium
    The Union Minister of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare highlighted the role of Small Farmers’ Agribusiness Consortium (SFAC) in increasing incomes of small and marginal farmers through aggregation and development of agribusiness.

    Key Points
    Established: SFAC was established in 1994 under Societies Registration Act, 1860 as an autonomous body promoted by the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers' Welfare.

    Objectives: Promoting agribusiness by encouraging institutional and private sector investments and linkages to ensure the empowerment of all farmers in the country.

    Organising small and marginal farmers as Farmer Interest Groups, Farmer Producer Organisations and Farmer Producer Company for endowing them with bargaining power and economies of scale.

    Few Important Schemes Implemented by SFAC: Equity Grant & Credit Guarantee Fund (EGCGF) Scheme , Venture Capital Assistance (VCA) Scheme, Farmer Producer Organization (FPO) Scheme, National Agriculture Market (NAM) Scheme, etc.

    Recent Initiatives/Developments: SFAC launched the KisanRath app with the help of officials of the Ministry of Agriculture which lessened the problem of transport of farm produce during lockdown.

    It signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) to bring in better synergy in the agricultural activities.

  • Centre launched Aarogyapath for healthcare supply chain
    Government of India has launched Aarogyapath, a web-based solution for the healthcare supply chain that provides real-time availability of critical supplies. Aarogyapath is available on CSIR National Healthcare Supply Chain Portal. The portal Aarogyapath was developed in partnership with Sarvodaya Infotech.

    Aarogyapath:
    AarogyaPath will serve manufacturers, suppliers, and customers.

    The aim is to tackle the national health emergency that has arisen out of the COVID-19 pandemic, where the critical items may be compromised due to a variety of reasons.

    AarogyaPath aims to provide a path that leads one on a journey towards Aarogya (healthy life). it has been developed to address these challenges.

    AarogyaPath is expected to become the national healthcare information platform of choice in the years to come, filling a critical gap in last-mile delivery of patient care within India through improved availability and affordability of healthcare supplies.

  • Centre directs all 8 North Eastern States to set-up e-office
    Centre has directed all the 8 North Eastern States to set up e-office in a stipulated timeframe. The announcement was made by Union Minister of State for Personnel, PG and Pensions Dr. Jitendra Singh. The e-office project will be a cardinal pillar of Digital India.

    Highlights:
    The e-office project is in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision of “Minimum Government, Maximum Governance”.

    The e-office will ensure ease of administration, transparency, and citizen-centric delivery mechanism.

    So far, 55 Ministries in the Government of India have implemented the e-office.

    GoI also assured that all technical and financial support to achieve the e-office mission to be implemented right from Civil Secretariat to the District level in all the States.

    The implementation of e-Office will creation a paperless State Secretariats in a time-bound manner where officers would be empowered with virtual private networks, digital signature certificates, and promote less contact governance.

  • NHAI becomes first construction sector organisation to go Fully Digital
    The National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) under the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has announced that it has gone Fully Digital as it has launched a unique cloud-based and Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered Big Data Analytics platform 'Data Lake and Project Management Software'.

    Highlight:
    NHAI's entire project management workflow is transformed from manual to the online portal based.

    Also, the complete project execution operations including 'workflow with timelines' and 'alert mechanism' have been configured.

    Project documentation, contractual decisions, and approvals are processed through the portal only.

    The Data Lake software, with advanced analytics, will forecast the delays, likely disputes, and will give advance alerts.

    The system will facilitate in taking correct and timely decisions as the system is likely to predict the financial impacts of different alternatives based on the historical data and will reduce a lot of disputes.

    Majority of the disputes can be minimized as the Data Lake software has provisions to keep track and check on all these constraints and will ensure work is carried out within the deadlines in a transparent manner.

    As all processes are going to be portal-based, decision-making will be faster and will eventually diminish the chances of litigation in the future.

  • SC to extend virtual court system amid COVID-19 fears
    A committee of Supreme Court judges has decided to continue the virtual court system and not revert to the physical hearings, given the rise in COVID-19 cases.

    Details:
    The SC has been hearing urgent cases through video-conference. The court had named this mechanism the ‘virtual court system’.

    The Supreme Court Advocates-on Record Association, the Supreme Court Bar Association and the Bar Council of India have been making representations to the SC calling for resumption of physical hearings at the earliest.

    They have argued that a majority of the lawyers cannot effectively present their arguments at virtual hearings.

  • Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (CIMAP)
    The Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic plants (CIMAP) has announced a photography competition on medicinal and aromatic plants to convey the message of conservation of these medicinal plants.

    The theme of the competition is ‘Know your Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (MAPs)’.

    Key Points
    Established: Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants, popularly known as CIMAP, was established originally as Central Indian Medicinal Plants Organisation (CIMPO) in 1959. It was rechristened as Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (CIMAP) in 1978.

    Objectives: It is a frontier plant research laboratory of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). It focuses on high quality research in biological and chemical sciences and extending technologies and services to the farmers and entrepreneurs of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (MAPs).

    Headquarters: Lucknow, U.P.

    CIMAP, Lucknow houses the National Gene Bank of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants, in addition to seed gene bank, tissue and DNA bank.

    Research Centres: Bangalore (Karnataka), Hyderabad (Telangana), Pantnagar (Uttarakhand) and Purara (Uttarakhand).

    CIPAM is presently accredited by International Centre for Science and High Technology- United Nations Industrial Development Organization (ICS-UNIDO) and Indian-Ocean Rim Association (IORA) as a focal point for research and training on Medicinal Plants among participating member countries.

  • Behaviour Change Model for Living with Covid-19
    Recently, Meghalaya has issued a new health protocol saying that it would consider everybody as an asymptomatic (showing no symptoms) carrier of Covid-19 ‘by default’ because it is the best way to prevent the threat of community transmission with migrants returning to the state from different zones.

    Key Points
    Behaviour Change Model for living with Covid-19:
    The pandemic has resulted in two kinds of fear: fear for the loss of life and fear for the loss of livelihood, that is why the state wants to build a system through which people can protect themselves and carry out their livelihood at the same time.

    People have to live with the coronavirus now and that could be achieved through what psychologists call the ‘locus of control’, or the extent to which one feels control over events in their lives.

    As soon as people think that they could be Covid-19 positive, their entire behaviour changes and they become more cautious and feel responsible for their actions and thus help to reduce the risk of community transmission.

    Implementation Method:
    To implement this, there is a four-pronged plan that suggests testing everyone who enters the state, isolating them, stressing on behavioural change and finally training them.

    Everyone in the state shall be treated as Category A patients unless they are tested on a continuous basis.

    This implies living with the assumption that every person could be an asymptomatic, mobile carrier of the Covid-19 virus, with a probability of transmitting the virus to others unknowingly.

    The Category A patients will have to follow three non-negotiable practices: compulsory mask-wearing, hand hygiene and social distancing.

    For that, the health department of the state has built a series of training modules by dividing the entire population into three categories:

    The elderly, who are above 65.

    Those who have comorbidities (It is the presence of one or more additional medical conditions often co-occurring with a primary condition and is associated with worse health outcomes, more complex clinical management and increased health care costs).

    The mobile group or the mobile workforce including students who are constantly on the move.

    The Health Department will carry out the training with the help of identified master trainers and a certificate will be provided to all those who have successfully completed training.

    The two main components of training include checklists and self-help diaries.
    Checklists: A checklist, with a set of model questions which address topics such as hand hygiene, social distancing, respiratory etiquette, will be provided for all three groups. The checklist is designed in such a way that one can rate themselves out of ten based on their performance on that day.

    Self-help Diaries: The senior population and those living with comorbidities can use these as a tool to monitor themselves. Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) and Anganwadi teams will go to every house to train this section.

  • Talamaddale gone virtual
    The traditional art of ‘talamaddale’, a variant of Yakshagana theatre, has gone virtual in times of Covid-19.

    Key Points
    In the conventional ‘talamaddale,’ the artists sit across in a place without any costumes and engage in testing their oratory skills based on the episode chosen.

    It has only spoken words without any dance or costumes. Hence it is Yakshagana minus dance, costumes and stage conventions.

    Yakshagana
    Yakshagaana, traditional theatre form of Karnataka, is based on mythological stories and Puranas.

    The most popular episodes are from the Mahabharata i.e. Draupadi swayamvar, Subhadra vivah, Abhimanyu vadh, Karna-Arjun yuddh and from Ramayana i.e. Rajyabhishek, Lav-Kush yuddh, Baali-Sugreeva yuddh and Panchavati.

    Gombeyatta puppet theatre closely follows Yakshagana.

  • Centre launched Feedback Call Centres on COVID-19 Public Grievances
    Union Minister of State (MoS) for Personnel, PG and Pensions Dr. Jitendra Singh launched the Feedback Call Centres on Public Grievances on 15 June. Recently, the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG) reached the milestone of redressing one lakh COVID-19 Public Grievances.

    Highlights:
    DARPG collaborated with Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) to operationalize Feed Back Call Centers in Bhubaneshwar, Guwahati, Jamshedpur, Vadodara, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Ajmer, Guntur, Coimbatore and Guntakal with 1406 call centre operators.

    The Feedback Call Centres will get feedback from individual citizens on citizen satisfaction on 1.28 lakh COVID-19 Public Grievances that were filed on Centralized Public Grievance Redress and Monitoring System (CPGRAMS) for the period 30 March to 30 May 2020.

    Training on the feedback questionnaires that are necessary to call centre operators has been completed on 9-10 June 2020.

    Feedback call-centres will operate in many Indian languages including Hindi, English, Gujarati, Marathi, Punjabi, Kannada, Konkani, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Oriya, Bengali, Assamese and Rajasthani.

  • HIL India Ltd. supplies 25 MT Malathion 95 percent ULV Insecticides to Iran for Locust Control Programme
    HIL (India) Limited, a PSU under the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers, has supplied 25MT Malathion 95% Ultra-low volume (ULV) to Iran under Government-to-Government initiative for Locust Control Programme.

    Highlights:
    HIL (India) Limited is supplying Malathion 95% ULV to the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmer’s Welfare Locust Control Programme in India. From the year 2019 to date, the HIL company has supplied more than 600 MT of Malathion 95% ULV for this programme.

    As per the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the hopper stage population of the locust is building up in the Sistan-Baluchistan region of Iran and might migrate to India in the coming months leading to further crop devastation.

    Also, the Government of India has taken an initiative to counter the locust menace at its breeding ground itself and approached Iran for coordinated efforts.

    Background:
    Recently, India approached Pakistan and Iran for coordinated response to counter desert locust menace in the region for which Iran expressed its willingness to the proposal.

    According to that, the Ministry of External Affairs placed an order with HIL (India) Limited to manufacture and supply 25 MT of Malathion 95% ULV to Iran. The consignment is expected to reach Iran by 16th June 2020.

    Desert Locust has devastated in Horn of Africa, East Africa, and the Arabian Peninsula has entered India in March/April 2020. It has affected the field crop, horticulture crops, and other plantations in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Punjab, and Uttar Pradesh. Also, India is experiencing the worst locust invasion, which was last observed more than 25 years back.

  • Centre distributed assistive aids and devices to divyangjan under ADIP Scheme
    Government of India has taken special measures to benefit the welfare scheme for Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan) amidst the prevailing unprecedented situation faced by the society due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Highlights:
    A Virtual Assistance to Disabled Persons (ADIP) Scheme for free distribution of assistive aids and devices at Block level for Divyangjans under the ADIP scheme was organized at Talwandi Bhai Block of Firozpur district in Punjab.

    Such camp was organized by the ALIMCO under DEPwD, M/o Social Justice and Empowerment for the first time after the opening of lockdown with the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) approved by the Government of India.

    Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has announced that the Virtual ADIP Camps will be organized nationwide for distribution of aids & assistive devices to Divyangjan during the pandemic.

    Under the Ministry, several schemes have been initiated to provide financial assistance and scholarships to Divyangjan students to pursue their education to become self-reliant.

    Centre also invited Divyangjan and their family members to get enrolled for Unique ID Cards for Divyangjan which are valid all over India.

    31 Lakhs Unique ID Cards have been delivered to Divyangjan so far in India.

    The following Aids and appliance were distributed in the series of Blockwise distribution camps in Firozpur district. The details are as under:
    Braille Kit - 03
    Motorised Tricycle - 200
    Tricycle - 239
    Wheel Chair - 194
    C.P Chair - 23
    Crutches - 394
    Walking Sticks - 108
    Smart Cane - 76
    Smart Phone - 51
    Daisy Player -17
    Rollator -21
    Hearing Aid - 226
    MSIED KIT - 98
    Artificial Limbs & Callipers – 17

  • Centre launched online delivery-based gas trading platform, Indian Gas Exchange
    The Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas & Steel Dharmendra Pradhan launched the Indian Gas Exchange (IGX) in an e-ceremony on 15 June. It will be the first nationwide online delivery-based gas trading platform.

    Indian Gas Exchange (IGX):
    IGX will act as a delivery-based trading platform to deliver natural gas.

    The launch of IGX aims to help the nation move towards free-market pricing of natural gas

    It is incorporated as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Indian Energy Exchange (IEX), India’s energy market platform.

    IGX will enable market participants to trade in standardized gas contracts.

    The fully automated platform is a web-based interface and it provides seamless trading experience to the customers.

    IGX is expected to play a bigger role in realizing a free market for gas.

    IGX, India's vision on mega investments on Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminals, gas pipelines, City-gas distribution (CGD) infrastructure, and permission for market-driven price mechanism will be materialized.

  • India joined GPAI to support the responsible and human-centric development and use of AI
    India has joined as a founding member and launched the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI or Gee-Pay). Under this move, India has joined along with the league of leading economies including Australia, the US, the UK, European Union (EU), Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Korea, Singapore.

    Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI):
    GPAI initiative aims to guide the responsible development and use of AI across the world.

    The first of its kind initiative aims to evolve a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities around AI using the experience and diversity of participating countries.

    The main objective of the initiative is to bridge the gap between theory and practice on AI by supporting cutting-edge research and applied activities on AI-related priorities.

    Under this initiative experts from civil society, governments, industry, and academia will collaborate to promote the responsible evolution of AI.

    They will evolve new methodologies through which AI can be leveraged to better respond to the present global crisis around COVID-19 pandemic.

    By joining GPAI as a founding member, India will now participate in the global development of AI, leveraging upon its experience around the use of digital technologies for inclusive growth.

    GPAI will be supported by a Secretariat. It will be hosted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris, and 2 Centers of Expertise- one in Montreal and the other in Paris.

  • Thaawarchand Gehlot to inaugurate CRC for persons with disabilities in Ranchi
    The Union Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment, Dr. Thaawarchand Gehlot is to inaugurate Composite Regional Centre (CRC) on 17 April through video conferencing amid COVID-19 pandemic. The Centre is located inside Namkum Block Office, Khijri, Ranchi.

    CRC-Ranchi:
    CRC-Ranchi will provide rehabilitation services including Physical medicine, Physiotherapy, Occupational therapy, Audiology and Speech Therapy, Psychology, Prosthetics & Orthotics, Special Education, Early intervention & treatment, etc., to persons with disabilities in Jharkhand and adjoining areas.

    CRC will implement various schemes of the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities including skill development programme for PwDs.

    The Centre aims to contribute towards the vision of “Sabkaa Saath, Sabkaa Vikaas, Sabkaa Vishwaas” of GoI.

    CWC is to distribute 46 numbers of wheelchairs, 80 nos. of tricycles, 64 nos. of crutches, 40 nos. of smartphones, 2 nos. of sewing machines, 2 nos. of laptops and 2 nos. of mobile repairing kits amongst Divyangjan following social distancing norms and provide necessary rehabilitation services to needy Divyangjan.

    The centre will operate as an extended arm of Swami Vivekanand National Institute of Rehabilitation Training & Research, Cuttack, Odisha.

  • Sanitary Napkins available for Rs.1 per pad at Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Kendras
    Jan Aushadhi Suvidhi Sanitary Napkin is made available in more than 6300 Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushdhi Pariyojna, PMBJP Kendras across the country at a minimum price of Rs.1 per pad.

    The market price of the similar Sanitary Napkins is around Rs.3 to Rs.8 per pad. over 3.43 Crore pads have been sold till 10 June 2020 at Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Kendras. The social drive comes in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Background:
    From 4 June 2018 to 10 June 2020 over 4.61 crore Sanitary Napkins has been sold at Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Kendras. After the revision in the prices on 27 August 2019, over 3.43 Crore pads have been sold till 10 June 2020 at Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Kendras.

    It should be noticed that menstruation and menstrual practices still face some social, cultural, and religious restrictions which are a big barrier in the path of the menstrual hygiene management.

    In rural areas, girls and women do not have access to sanitary products or they do not opt for them as most of these items available in the market are a bit costly.

    This step has ensured ‘Swachhta, Swasthya and Suvidha’ for the underprivileged Women of India. This step was taken by the Union Department of Pharmaceuticals to ensure "Affordable and Quality Healthcare for All."

  • Jal Jeevan Mission
    Recently, the Jal Shakti Ministry has announced that the labourers returning to their home states due to covid-19, will be deployed for the Jal Jeevan Mission.

    The Jal Jeevan Mission aims for providing piped drinking water to all rural households by 2024.

    The Jal Shakti Ministry is the nodal ministry for the implementation of the scheme.

    Key Points
    The Jal Shakti Ministry has directed various States that returning labour, especially those working in the construction sector (skilled, unskilled and semi-skilled), may be deployed to expedite the completion of works under the scheme.

    Significance:
    It is an arrangement that could provide employment to the currently unemployed workers.

    The mission is being used as a way to ameliorate some of the effects of the mass migration of inter-State workers back to their home States in the wake of the Covid -19 pandemic.

    Need:
    Huge Demand for Work: It has been created because of workers returning to their home states from different parts of the country.

    It is clear from the fact that allocations under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) have already been hiked by ?40,000 crore over and above the ?60,000 crore already allocated.

    While the MGNREGA is an old programme, the new Jal Jeevan Mission also has funds.

    Tap Water Connections: There is a need for tap water connections in several households under the mission.

    A revalidation exercise of households and status of tap water found that out of 19.04 crore rural households in the country, 3.23 crore households had tap connections and 15.81 crore households have to be provided functional tap connections.

    Apart from the ?11,000 crore in the budget, ?12,000 crore has been allocated from extra budgetary allowances, and 50% of the ?60,750 crore allocated by the 15th Finance Commission for rural local bodies is tied to grants for water bodies and sanitation.

    Construction Sector: Skill mapping by various State governments has shown that a majority of inter-State workers returning home are from the construction sector.

    In Uttar Pradesh alone, 16 lakh out of the 18 lakh migrant labour mapped till now are from this sector.

    The State has assured funding of ?3,382 crore under the Jal Jeevan Mission which would be utilised in providing employment in rural areas to returning migrants.

  • Kerala Government started a virtual class initiative called ‘First Bell’
    Recently, the Kerala Government has started a virtual class initiative called ‘First Bell’.

    The virtual classes for state school students are being organised so that education is imparted amid Covid-19 crisis.

    Key Points
    Classes are being streamed on a free, public-run television channel available on cable networks, direct-to-home services and over the internet.

    The government is using KITE VICTERS channel.

    Further, almost all villages in Kerala have at least one common centre, be it anganwadi, a reading room or sports club, for the education department to set up a classroom.

    The Kerala Infrastructure and Technology for Education (KITE) has brought out the timetable for conducting the classes.

    The modules for different classes have been prepared by agencies under the General Education Department such as the State Council of Educational Research and Training, KITE, Samagra Shiksha Kerala (SSK), and the State Institute of Educational Technology.

    Challenges: The classes were started on trial mode from 1st June, 2020. The online classes brought to focus the digital divide in the state.

    Kerala has around 45 lakh students following state board syllabus. However, a survey revealed that 2.61 lakh students don’t have access to TV or smartphone, making them out of the network of online classes. Such students were in most destitute families mainly in remote villages and tribal areas.

    Interventions: With the government and civil society interventions, the 2.61 lakh number has reduced to 1.20 lakh.

    Local businessman provided TV sets as part of a ‘TV challenge’ launched by the State’s Industries department.

    MLAs were allowed to use their local development fund to buy TVs and laptops for students.

  • Sustainable Gastronomy Day is observed on 18 June
    Sustainable Gastronomy Day is observed on 18 June. The day focuses on the world's attention on the role that sustainable gastronomy can play. The day also aims to reaffirm that all cultures and civilizations are contributors and crucial enablers of sustainable development.

    Sustainable Gastronomy:
    Gastronomy is sometimes referred to as the art of food. It refers to a style of cooking from a particular region or local food and cuisine.

    Sustainability is the idea that something like agriculture, fishing, or even preparation of food is done in a way that is not wasteful of our natural resources and can be continued into the future without being detrimental to our environment or health.

    Sustainable gastronomy means cuisine that considers where the ingredients are from, how the food is grown and how it gets to markets every day, and how it lands on the plates.

    History:
    On 21 December 2016, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) adopted its resolution A/RES/71/246 and designated 18 June as an international observance, Sustainable Gastronomy Day.

    The aim is to acknowledge gastronomy as a cultural expression related to natural and cultural diversity. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic across the globe, sustainable gastronomy aims to celebrate seasonal ingredients and producers, preserving wildlife, and the culinary traditions are more relevant than ever.

  • Axone: Ethnic Cuisine of Northeast India
    Recently, Axone or fermented soya bean has become popular, which is eaten by many tribal communities in different parts of Northeast India especially in Nagaland.

    Key Points
    Axone — also called as akhuni — is a fermented soya bean of Nagaland, known for its distinctive flavour and smell.

    It is a condiment (a spice, sauce, or preparation that is added to food) used to make pickles, chutney or curries.

    It is prepared and eaten across Nagaland mainly by the Sumi (also Sema) tribe.

    It belongs to the broader phenomena of fermentation necessary for food preservation in certain ecological contexts.

    Fermentation gives it a distinct smell and taste.

    Fermented soya bean is known by different names in different parts of Northeast India, including Meghalaya and Mizoram, Sikkim, Manipur as well in other South, Southeast and East Asian countries of Nepal, Bhutan, Japan, Korea, China, Myanmar, Vietnam and Indonesia.

    It is the one food that connects the Eastern Himalayas as a culturally cross-cutting cuisine.

  • KVIC taps with Indian Palm Industry to boost employment opportunities
    The Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) launched a unique project at Dahanu in Palghar district of Maharashtra, a state with more than 50 lakh palm trees. Under the project, Neera and Palmgur will be produced in India. Neera and Palmgur have huge potential to create employment in the country.

    Aim:
    The project aims to promote Neera as a substitute to soft drinks. It is aimed to generate self-employment to Adivasis and traditional trappers.

    Highlights:
    KVIC has distributed tool kits for extraction of Neera and making palmgur to 200 local artisans who were given 7 days of training by KVIC.

    A tool kit of cost Rs.15,000 that comprises perforated moulds, canteen burners, food-grade stainless steel Kadhai, and other equipment like knives, rope, and axes for extraction of Neera will be provided.

    The project aims to provide direct employment to 400 local traditional trappers.

    India has abundant palm fields in many states like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Goa, Daman and Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar.

  • Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan
    The Government of India has decided to launch a rural public works scheme ‘Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan’ through video-conferencing from village Telihar in Khagaria district of Bihar on 20th June 2020.

    Key Points
    Beneficiaries: The scheme will empower and provide livelihood opportunities to the returnee migrant workers and rural citizens who have returned to their home states due to the Covid-19 induced lockdown.

    Duration and Outlay: This campaign will work in mission mode for 125 days with an outlay of Rs. 50,000 crore.

    Coverage: A total of 116 districts across six states, namely Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Odisha (where maximum migrant workers have returned) have been chosen for the campaign.

    These districts are estimated to cover about 2/3 of such migrant workers.

    The chosen districts include 27 Aspirational Districts.

    Aspirational Districts are those districts in India which are affected by poor socio-economic indicators. These are aspirational in the context, that improvement in these districts can lead to the overall improvement in human development in India. It is a NITI Aayog’s Programme.

    Implementation: It will involve intensified and focused implementation of 25 different types of works to provide employment to the migrant workers on one hand and create infrastructure in the rural regions of the country on the other hand.

    The workers will help build gram panchayat bhawans and anganwadi centres, national highway works, railway works and water conservation projects, among others across six states.

    Participants: 12 different Ministries/Departments, namely, Rural Development, Panchayati Raj, Road Transport and Highways, Mines, Drinking Water and Sanitation, Environment, Railways, etc. will be coordinating for the implementation of the scheme.

    Connectivity: The villages will join this programme through the Common Service Centres (CSCs) and Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) maintaining the norms of social distancing in the wake of the pandemic.

  • Kodumanal Excavation
    Recently, the State Department of Archaeology, Chennai has identified 250 cairn-circles from the Kodumanal excavation site in Erode district of Tamil Nadu.

    Cairn-circles are the prehistoric stone row which is a linear arrangement of parallel megalithic standing stones.

    A megalith is a large prehistoric stone that has been used to construct a structure or monument, either alone or together with other stones.

    Key Points
    This is for the first time that 10 pots and bowls were discovered from the site, instead of the usual three or four pots, placed outside three-chambered burial cists and inside the cairn-circle.

    More numbers and bigger size of boulders suggests that the grave could be of a village head or the head of the community.

    It also suggests burial rituals and the concept of afterlife in megalithic culture. Believing that the deceased person will get a new life after death, pots and bowls filled with grains were placed outside the chambers.

    The rectangular chambered cists (a small stone-built coffin-like box) are made of stone slabs, and the entire grave is surrounded by boulders that form a circle.

    Findings from the site also include an animal skull, beads, copper smelting units, the mud walls of a workshop, potteries, and Tamil Brahmi script.

    Previous Excavations:
    The earlier excavations of Kodumanal revealed that multi-ethnic groups lived in the village.

    It also revealed that the site served as a trade-cum-industrial centre from 5th century Before Common Era (BCE) to 1st century BCE.

  • Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) in India
    For advancing online dispute resolution in India, NITI Aayog, in association with Agami and Omidyar Network India, brought together key stakeholders in a virtual meeting on 6 th June 2020.

    The common theme was a multi-stakeholder agreement to work collaboratively to ensure efforts are taken to scale online dispute resolution in India. Covid-19 has instilled an urgent need for ODR that requires decisive action, with the likelihood of a spurt in disputes before the courts—most notably in lending, credit, property, commerce, and retail.In the coming months, ODR could be the mechanism that helps with achieving expedient resolution.

    Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) is the resolution of disputes, particularly small- and medium-value cases, using digital technology and techniques of alternate dispute resolution (ADR), such as negotiation, mediation, and arbitration.

    While courts are becoming digitized through the efforts of the judiciary, more effective, scalable, and collaborative mechanisms of containment and resolution are urgently needed.

    ODR can help resolve disputes efficiently and affordably.

    Status of Online Dispute Resolution in India
    Online dispute resolution (ODR) in India is in its infancy stage and it is gaining prominence day by day.

    With the enactment of Information Technology Act, 2000 in India, e-commerce and e-governance have been given a formal and legal recognition in India.

    Even the traditional arbitration law of India has been reformulated and now India has Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 in place that is satisfying the harmonized standards of UNCITRAL Model.

    Further, the amendment made in the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 by introducing section 89 was made to provide methods of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in India.

  • President promulgates 2 Ordinances to boost rural India and agriculture
    The President of India Ram NathKovind has promulgated the two Ordinances namely the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion & Facilitation) Ordinance 2020 and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance 2020.

    The move comes after the announcement of the landmark decisions by the Government of India for reforms in the agricultural sector for raising the income of the farmers as part of the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan,

    The ordinance aims to boost rural India for farmers engaged in agriculture and allied activities.

    The two ordinances will enable barrier-free trade in agriculture produce, and also empower the farmers to engage with sponsors of his choice.

    It provides the freedom to the farmers, which is of paramount importance.

    The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion & Facilitation) Ordinance 2020:
    The ordinance will support the farmers and traders relating to the sale and purchase of farmers' produce which facilitates remunerative prices through competitive alternative trading channels.

    It will promote transparent, efficient, and barrier-free inter-State and intra-State trade and commerce of farmers’ produce that are produced outside the deemed markets notified under various State agricultural produce market legislations.

    Also, the Ordinance will provide a facilitative framework for electronic trading and matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

    The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance 2020:
    The ordinance will provide for a national framework on farming agreements.

    It will protect and empower farmers to engage with agri-business firms, wholesalers, exporters, or large retailers.

    The ordinance will enhance farm services and sale of future farming produce at a mutually agreed remunerative price framework and transparent manner.

  • Draft Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Rules, 2020
    Recently, the Ministry of Civil Aviation has notified the draft Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Rules, 2020.

    The draft rules have been issued at a time when the use of drones has increased due to a coronavirus lockdown, for purposes like surveillance, disinfection and videography.

    Earlier, the government had issued drone regulations 1.0 and the drone regulations 2.0. The government has also finalized National Counter Rogue Drone Guidelines for handling the threats from Unmanned Aircraft Systems.

    Key Points
    Aims:
    A set of rules notified by the government aims to regulate the production, import, trade, ownership, establishment of the drone ports (airports for drones) and operation of unmanned aircraft systems.

    It also seeks to create a framework for drones use by businesses.

    Draft Rules:
    Approval by DGCA:
    An authorized manufacturer or importer of drones can sell its devices only to an individual or entity approved by the aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

    Only Nano class drones will be allowed to operate in India in general and only a qualified remote pilot will be permitted to operate heavier drones.

    The DGCA will have the powers to inspect a UAS manufacturing or maintenance facility before granting any authoriation under these rules.

    No UAS shall operate in India unless there is in existence a valid third party insurance policy to cover the liability that may arise on account of a mishap involving such UAS.

    Carrying Payload:
    No UAS should carry any payload except as permitted by the DGCA.

    No person shall drop or project or permit to be dropped from a UAS in motion any object except when specified.

    Ownership:
    For owning and using a drone, one has to be at least 18 years old.

    In the case of companies, the requirement is that their main place of business has to be in India and the chairman and at least two thirds of directors have to be Indian citizens.

    Also, businesses operating drones have to be substantially owned and effectively controlled by Indian nationals.

  • Healthy and Energy Efficient Buildings’ Initiative
    The Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), in partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) MAITREE program, launched the “Healthy and Energy Efficient Buildings” initiative that will pioneer ways to make workplaces healthier and greener.

    Key Points
    The initiative was launched on the occasion of the World Environment day (5th June).

    This initiative is to address the challenges of retrofitting existing buildings and air conditioning systems so that they are both healthy and energy efficient.

    The initiative, implemented by the EESL in its office, will pave the way for other buildings to take appropriate steps to be healthy and energy efficient.

    This will help in developing specifications for future use in other buildings throughout the country, as well as aid in evaluating the effectiveness and cost benefits of various technologies and their short and long-term impacts on air quality, comfort, and energy use.

    Need:
    Poor air quality has been a concern in India for quite some time and has become more important in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

    As people return to their offices and public spaces, maintaining good indoor air quality is essential for occupant comfort, well-being, productivity and the overall public health.

    Most buildings in India are not equipped to establish and maintain healthy indoor air quality and need to be upgraded. Such retrofit measures, like increasing outside air and additional filtration in the air conditioning system, typically come at the cost of occupant comfort and increased energy use.

    Further, there are no standardized approaches to retrofitting.

  • Power Ministry launched iCommit initiative
    Union Minister of Power R. K. Singh launched the #iCommit initiative for building an energy resilient future on 5 June 2020. A campaign was also launched to encourage all stakeholders and individuals to continue moving towards energy efficiency.

    #iCommit initiative:
    The #iCommit initiative will function under the administration of the Ministry of Power.

    It is headed by Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL).

    The campaign will include officials from governments, corporates, multilateral and bilateral organizations, and individuals.

    The initiative aims to bring together a diverse spectrum of government and private players to build a new energy future for India.

    #iCommit initiative will promote the flagship scheme of GoI including:

    National Electric Mobility Mission 2020
    FAME 1 and 2

    DeenDayalUpadhyaya Gram JyotiYojana

    Saubhagya Scheme

    Ujwala DISCOM Assurance Yojna (UDAY)

    Atal Distribution system Improvement Yojna (AJAY)

    Smart Meter Natinal Programme

    PradhanmantriKisanUrjaSurakshaevamUtthanMahaabhiya (KUSUM)

    Solar Parks

    Grid Connected Rooftop

    UnnatJyoti by Affordable LED for All (UJALA)

    AtalJyotiYojna (AJAY)

  • Gadkari launched Prevention of Human and Animal Mortality on Highways Campaign
    Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways and MSME NitinGadkari has launched the UNDP national awareness campaign on ‘Prevention of Human and Animal Mortality on Highways’ on 5 June.

    The campaign aims to generate awareness and education for the masses at large towards reducing or eliminating mortality on the roads of both human beings and animals.

    As per the official data, India witnesses nearly 5 lakh road accidents every year, in which about 1.5 lakh lives are lost.

    The move aims to bring down these figures by 20-25% by the coming 31st March. So far, the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MoRTH) has identified over 5,000 black spots. The Ministry has also taken measures to process for their rectification including temporary and permanent measures is being carried out on an urgent basis.

    SOPs to rectify black spots for taking up short-term and long-term permanent measures have already been issued.

    Road safety measures include:
    rectification of Black Spots

    traffic calming measures

    Crash Barriers

    Repairing

    rehabilitation

    reconstruction of dilapidated and narrow bridges

    Road Safety Audit

    Reduction of fatalities on vulnerable roads

    Highway Patrolling

    Safety during Construction

  • India, China held high-level military talks amid stand-off in Ladakh
    India and China held high-level talks on 6 June. The talk was initiated by India and was held at the Border Personnel Meeting Point in Maldo on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh. The talks were held amid the border stand-off between the militaries of the two countries near eastern Ladakh.

    Highlights:
    The Indian delegation was led by Lt. Gen. Harinder Singh, Commander of 14 Corps, and the Chinese side was headed by the Commander of the Tibet Military District.

    Indian and Chinese officials held talks through the established military and diplomatic channels to address the current situation in the India-China border areas.

    Indian side reported that the Chinese military is hindering normal patrolling by its troops along the LAC in Ladakh and Sikkim.

    It strongly refutes China's contention that the escalating tension between both the armies was triggered by the trespassing of Indian forces across the Chinese side.

    The trigger is due to China's stiff opposition to India to lay a key road around the PangongTso Lake and the construction of another road connecting the Darbuk-Shayok-Daulat Beg Oldie road in Galwan Valley.

  • IAF inducts Indigenous Airborne Rescue Pod for Isolated Transportation
    The Indian Air Force (IAF) has designed developed and inducted an Airborne Rescue Pod for Isolated Transportation (ARPIT). This pod will be utilized for the evacuation of critical patients with infectious diseases including the COVID-19 from high altitude areas, isolated and remote places.

    Highlight:
    The first prototype was developed at 3 BRD AF.

    ARPIT has undergone various modifications.

    The prototype is in line with Atmanirbhar Bharat and hence only indigenous materials have been used to fabricate this pod.

    The cost of ARPIT is Rs.60,000 only, which is very less as compared to the imported systems costing up to Rs.60 lakh.

    The system has been developed as a lightweight isolation system made from aviation certified material.

    It has a transparent and durable cast Perspex for enhanced patient visibility which is larger, higher, and wider than the existing models.

    The isolation system caters for a suitable number of air exchanges, integration of medical monitoring instruments, and ventilation to an intubated patient.

    ARPIT generates high constant negative pressure in the isolation chamber for the prevention of infection risk to aircrew, ground crew, and health care workers involved in air transportation.

    It utilizes High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) H-13 class filters and supports invasive ventilation using Transport Ventilator.

    Currently, the IAF is inducting a total of 7 ARPITs.

    Design requirements are based on the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), National Accreditation Board for Hospitals & Healthcare Providers (NABH), and Centre for Disease Control (CDC), USA.

  • Odisha plans mega educational complexes for tribal students
    The Odisha Government is coming up with three mega educational complexes exclusively for tribal students, where both academic and sporting skills will be harnessed.

    Background:
    Odisha’s tribal population:
    According to the 2011 Census, Odisha’s tribal population constitutes 9.17% of the country’s tribal population. In Odisha, tribal population is 22.85% of the state’s total population.

    With 62 tribal communities, Odisha has the most diverse tribes in India. In terms of tribal population, Odisha occupies the third position in India.

    Out of a total of 75 particularly vulnerable tribal groups in India, 13 reside in Odisha.

    Details:
    The proposed educational complexes will be established in tribal dominated districts such as Keonjhar, Sundargarh and Mayurbhanj.

    Santal and Bhuyan are two dominant tribal groups living in Keonjhar, Mayurbhanj and Sundargarh districts.

    The campuses will have state-of-the-art facilities to improve educational and sporting skills of tribal students from Standard I to XII. Skill development centres will be an integral part of the projects.

    Funds required for the project will be sourced from Odisha Mineral Bearing Areas Development Corporation (OMBADC), which was formed for focused development of mineral rich districts. Incidentally, most mineral rich districts are tribal-dominated.

    Keonjhar, where other tribes such as Sounti, Ho, Juang, Kharwar, Mahali, OraonKolha and Kora reside, is the most mined district of the State.

    Keonjhar district itself contains more than 70% of the iron ore reserves of Odisha.

  • 36th Anniversary of Operation Blue Star
    Recently, the 36th anniversary of Operation Blue Star was observed by the country.

    Key Points
    Operation Blue Star:
    It is a code name given to an Indian Military Operation to remove the separatists who were hidden inside the Golden Temple at Amritsar on 5th June 1984.

    The operation was ordered by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, primarily to take control of the Harmandir Sahib Complex in Amritsar (popularly known as the Golden Temple).

    The Indian military entered into the premises of the temple to drive out the Sikh extremist religious leader, Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and his armed followers.

    The operation had two components to it, Operation Metal which was the invasion on the temple complex and Operation Shop which was confined to the countryside of the state.

    This Operation helped in eliminating Khalistani terrorism.

    Background:
    Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale wanted the Indian government to pass the Anandpur Resolution, and thereby agree to the formation of a separate state of Khalistan for Sikhs.

    Since 1982, this radical leader of Sikhism had managed to gain enough support for his cause and by mid-1983 had set up a base inside the Golden Temple complex, with ammunition and his followers.

    Hence, Operation Blue Star was launched between 1st June and 6th June 1984, with the aim of getting rid of Bhindranwale and his demands.

    The operation resulted in the death of Bhindranwale.

  • MoRTH mandates distinct colour band for BS-IV vehicles
    Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has mandated a strip of green colour for BS-VI vehicles of any fuel type. Centre has previously mandate BS-VI emission standards with effect from 1st April 2020.

    Highlights:
    Centre has mandated colour band for number plate sticker for BS-6 four-wheel vehicles.

    Green strip of 1cm thickness for BS-VI vehicles for the sticker of registration details being stuck on windshields of BS-VI four-wheeler vehicles.

    Until now, the petrol or Compressed natural gas (CNG) type vehicles had a light blue colour sticker and a diesel vehicle had an orange colour.

    These stickers will now have a green strip of 1 cm on top for BS-VI, as mandated.

    The BS-VI emission standards provided in the country for stricter and cleaner emission norms and are at par with the emission standards being followed across the world.

  • Karnataka to provide tap connections to all rural households under Jal Jeevan Mission by 2022-23
    Centre approved Karnataka State government's Annual Action Plan for implementation of Jal Jeevan Mission.

    The state govt submitted the plan to the Ministry of Jal Shakti. The move comes as the Ministry of Jal Shakti is working with the States to prepare a roadmap to implement the Prime Minister's flagship programme Jal Jeevan Mission.

    The mission aims to provide 55 litres of potable water per person per day to every rural household of the country by 2024.

    Highlights:
    GoI has approved a fund of Rs.1,189.40 Crore for the implementation of Jal Jeevan Mission in Karnataka in 2020-21. This amount is a considerable increase from Rs.546.06 crore in 2019-20.

    Karnataka state is planning to provide tap connections to 100% household coverage by 2022-23.

    Out of 89 lakh rural households in Karnataka, 24.50 lakh households have been provided with Functional Household Tap Connections (FHTCs).

    In the year 2019-20, only 22,127 tap connections were provided in the state.

    Currently, the State is planning for 100% coverage of 1 district, 5 blocks, and 8,157 villages during 2020-21.

    It aims to enable 23.57 lakh households with tap water connections by the year 2020-21.

    Karnataka state will provide 23.57 lakh tap connections by way of retrofitting and augmentation of 3,139 existing piped water supply systems during 2020.

    Karnataka State will focus on universal coverage of quality-affected habitations, water-scarce areas, SC/ ST dominated villages, and villages under Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana.

  • Centre constitutes task force headed by Jaya Jaitly
    Centre has constituted a task force to examine issues related to Infant Mortality Rate, Maternal Mortality Rate, Total Fertility Rate, Sex Ratio at Birth, Child Sex Ratio (CSR), and any other issue that pertains to health as well as nutrition. The task force has been set up by the Ministry of Women and Child Development. The task force will be headed by Jaya Jaitly.

    Highlights:
    The task force will review the correlation of age of marriage and motherhood along with health, medical well being, and nutritional status of mother and child, during pregnancy & birth.

    It will suggest measures to promote higher education among women.

    The task force will also suggest suitable legislation and amendments in existing laws.

    The committee has been asked to prepare a tailed roll-out plan with timelines to implement these recommendations.

    The task force will submit the analysis report by 31 July.

  • JNCASR signed MoU with Breathe to scale up technology to reduce CO2 to methanol and other useful chemicals
    Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), an autonomous institute of the Department of Science and Technology (DST) signed an MoU with Breathe Applied Sciences, a company incubated at JNCASR for transfer of technology based on lab-scale research on reducing CO2 to methanol and other useful chemicals and fuels.

    Highlights:
    The MOU aims for a smooth translation of the research in the area of CO2 reduction to useful chemicals and fuels from the laboratory scale to pilot scale economically.

    It will highlight the scientific contribution of a research institute translating to the industry to solve the problems associated with renewable energy and environmental pollution.

    It will also help in developing an indigenous technology in line with government policy.

    The MoU is important as the conversion of CO2 to clean fuels such as methanol and other useful chemicals on the scale with cost-effectiveness is a needed measure to address sustainable development, environmental, and climate.

  • Water Dispute between Telangana and Andhra Pradesh
    The Union government has decided to take the stock of water utilisation from the Krishna and Godavari rivers following the filing of complaints against each other by Telangana and Andhra Pradesh governments.

    Key Points
    Water Dispute:
    Telangana and Andhra Pradesh share stretches of the Krishna and the Godavari and own their tributaries.

    Both states have proposed several new projects without getting clearance from the river boards, the Central Water Commission and the Apex Council, as mandated by the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014.

    The Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014 mandates for constitution of an Apex Council by Central Government for the supervision of the functioning of the Godavari River Management Board and Krishna River Management Board.

    The Apex Council comprises the Union Water Resources Minister and the Chief Ministers of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

    The Andhra Pradesh government’s proposal to increase the utilisation of the Krishna water from a section of the river above the Srisailam Reservoir led to the Telangana government filing a complaint against Andhra Pradesh.

    The Srisailam reservoir is constructed across the Krishna River in Andhra Pradesh. It is located in the Nallamala hills.

    The Andhra Pradesh government retaliated with its own complaints saying that Palamuru-Rangareddy, Dindi Lift Irrigation Schemes on the Krishna river and Kaleshwaram, Tupakulagudem schemes and a few barrages proposed across the Godavari are all new projects.

    BACKGROUND
    Krishna Water Dispute Tribunal:
    Two tribunals have been constituted to resolve the disputes of the Krishna water.

    Andhra Pradesh has countered the second Krishna Water Dispute Tribunal (KWDT) order issued by Justice Brijesh Kumar in 2010.

    The Brijesh Kumar Tribunal has allocated 81 thousand million cubic feet (tmcft) of surplus water to Maharashtra, 177 tmcft to Karnataka and only 196 tmcft to Andhra Pradesh.

    After the creation of Telangana as a separate state in 2014, Andhra Pradesh is asking to include Telangana as a separate party at the KWDT and that the allocation of Krishna waters be reworked among four states, instead of three.

    It has challenged the order of the Brijesh Kumar Tribunal in the Supreme Court.

    Godavari Water Dispute Tribunal:
    The Godavari Water Dispute Tribunal headed by Justice Bachawat was constituted by the Government in April, 1969.

    The tribunal was tasked to look after the dispute over Godavari river between Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, and Karnataka over the sharing of the Godavari river water.

    The Bachawat Tribunal gave its final award in 1980.

    Accordingly, each State was free to utilise the flow in Godavari and its tributaries up to a certain level.

    Thus, Andhra Pradesh decided to divert 80 tmcft of Godavari water from Polavaram to Krishna river, upstream of Vijayawada, so that it could be shared with Karnataka and Maharashtra.

    Once Telangana came into existence in 2014, the Godavari water and, more specifically, the Polavaram project became the bone of contention between Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

    While the project will take care of the irrigation needs of the Godavari districts of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana fears it would submerge many villages in its Khammam district.

    Odisha too has expressed its reservations over the Polavaram dam's design.

    Union Government’s Move:
    It has asked the Krishna and Godavari River Management Boards to procure the details of the irrigation projects on these rivers, including from Maharashtra and Karnataka and submit them to the Centre in a month.

    The main objective of the exercise appears to be to assess whether surplus water will be available for the new projects in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, in the light of the disputes.

  • Vamsadhara River Water Dispute
    The Chief Ministers of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha will hold talks to clear out all differences with regard to the sharing of Vamsadhara river waters.

    Andhra Pradesh wants to build the Neradi bridge across the river which will be possible only after Odisha’s consent.

    Key Points
    Andhra Pradesh also wants to complete the inter-linking of its Nagavali river with the Vamsadhara and expand the Madduvalasa Reservoir project soon.

    Madduvalasa Project is a Medium Irrigation Project with a reservoir across Suvarnamukhi river, a tributary of Nagavali river.

    Agriculture is the only assured economic activity for the people living in the backward region and in the absence of rapid industrialisation, there is a need to concentrate on irrigation projects to make agriculture a viable activity.

    Background:
    In February 2006, Odisha sent a complaint to the Central Government under Section 3 of the Inter-State River Water Disputes (ISRWD) Act, 1956 regarding its water disputes with Andhra Pradesh pertaining to Inter-State River Vamsadhara. It demanded for the constitution of an Inter-State Water Disputes Tribunal for adjudication.

    Grievances of Orissa:
    Adverse effect of undertaking the construction of a canal (called a flood flow canal at Katragada, Andhra Pradesh) taking off from the river Vamsadhara.

    The flood flow canal would result in drying up the existing river bed and consequent shifting of the river affecting the groundwater table.

    Failure of Andhra Pradesh to implement the terms of the inter-state agreement relating to use, distribution and control of waters of vamsadhara and its valley.

    Odisha also raised the issue of scientific assessment of available water in Vamsadhara at Katragada and Gotta Barrage, Andhra Pradesh and the basis for sharing the available water.

  • QS World University Rankings 2021
    Recently, QS World University Rankings 2021 shows a decline in the rankings of the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc).

    Only the newer IITs in Guwahati and Hyderabad have shown some improvement.

    Key Points
    Only three educational institutes from India, the IIT Bombay (172), IISc Bengaluru (185) and IIT Delhi (193) feature in the top 200 list.

    Despite the Centre's flagship Institutes of Eminence (IoE) scheme to boost the Indian presence in these global rankings, the total number of Indian institutions in the top 1,000 global list has fallen from 24 to 21.

    In private universities, BITS Pilani and the Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT) have dropped out of the top 1,000 list, but OP Jindal Global University has climbed to the 650-700 band in the rankings.

    Out of the six parameters, Indian institutions get zero scores on the ratio of international faculty and students while scoring well on research impact, measured through citations per faculty.

    India also scores poorly on faculty-student ratio because of counting only full-time faculty whereas American universities include PhD students who are teaching or are research assistants.

    Indian academics have focused on that if a parameter comparing the cost of education to students is introduced, Indian institutions would be among the world’s top 50.

    Earlier in 2020, IITs jointly decided to boycott the World University Rankings released by the Times Higher Education (THE) questioning its methodology and transparency.

    One of the reasons for a drop in Indian universities’ rank is lack of sufficient efforts.

    Other universities across the world are making increasingly-intense efforts to enhance their educational offerings.

    A committee of IIT directors has been formed to see how Indian institutes can improve the perception about them abroad and also make efforts to enhance the quality of standards within the country.

  • Production of Saffron and Heeng in India
    The Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology (CSIR-IHBT) and the Government of Himachal Pradesh, have jointly decided to increase the production of the two spices namely, Saffron and Heeng (asafoetida).

    Under this plan, IHBT will be introducing new varieties of saffron and heeng from the exporting countries and will be standardized under Indian conditions.

    IHBT is the only laboratory of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in Himachal Pradesh.

    Key Points
    Saffron Production in India:
    In India, the annual demand for Saffron spice is 100 tons per year but its average production is about 6-7 tons per year. Hence a large amount of Saffron is being imported.

    At present, about 2825 hectares of land is under cultivation of Saffron in Jammu and Kashmir.

    Recently, the Kashmir saffron got Geographical Indication (GI) tag status.

    Pampore Saffron Heritage of Kashmir is one of the Globally Important Agricultural Heritage systems (GIAHS) recognised sites in India.

    GIAHS recognised sites are traditional agricultural systems that represent models of sustainable agricultural production. The other two sites in India are Kuttanad Below Sea Level Farming of Kerala and Koraput Traditional Agriculture of Odisha.

    IHBT has also introduced its cultivation in non-traditional areas of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

    The Institute has also developed tissue-culture protocol for the production of disease-free corms.

    Heeng Imports in India:
    Heeng is a perennial plant and it produces resin from the roots after five years of plantation.

    It can be grown in unutilized sloppy land of cold desert regions.

    There is no production of heeng in India and currently about 1200 tons of raw heeng worth Rs 600 crore is being imported from Afghanistan, Iran, and Uzbekistan.

    Benefits:
    The introduction of IHBT developed crops of heeng and saffron is expected to reduce the import of these spices.

    It also targets to cover a total of 750 acres of land under these crops in the Himachal Pradesh in the next five years which will create livelihoods for the farmers in the state.

    CSIR-IHBT is also expected to provide transfer of innovations by means of capacity building, skill development, impart training to state agriculture department officers and farmers, and set up seed production centres of Saffron and heeng in the state.

  • GRSE delivered ICGS Kanaklata Barua to Indian Coast Guard
    Warship builder Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Ltd (GRSE) delivered the 'ICGS Kanaklata Barua' on 9 June. It is the fifth and final ship in the series of Fast Patrol Vessels (FPV) for the Indian Coast Guard (ICG). Also, it is the 105th vessel delivered by the Defence PSU shipyard based on the banks of the river Hooghly.

    Highlights:
    The fast patrol vessels have been entirely designed by GRSEs Central Design Office.

    The FPVs achieve speeds exceeding 34 knots with an endurance of more than 1,500 nautical miles.

    These ships are fuel-efficient and powerful platforms.

    They are designed and developed in a way that they are well suited for operations like patrolling, anti-poaching and rescue, and anti-smuggling.

    The ship is fitted with a 40/60 mm gun as the main armament, these ships have improved habitability features with fully air-conditioned modular accommodation for 35 personnel.

    Previously, GRSE had made deliveries of FPVs ICGS Priyadarshini, ICGS Annie Besant, and ICGS Amrit Kaur in this series to ICG.

    The fourth ship in the FPV series is earmarked for export delivery to the Seychelles Coast Guard. It will be delivered shortly after completing the related formalities.

  • Genetically Modified Seeds
    Recently, Shetkari Sanghatana, a Maharashtra based farmers’ union body has announced agitation for use of unapproved genetically modified seeds of cotton, maize, rice, mustard, soybean and brinjal.

    Shetkari Sanghatana is a big supporter of GM seeds. Its main aim is to provide farmers, freedom of access to markets and technology.

    Last year its members had broken the law by planting Herbicide Tolerant Bt cotton seeds. This year too it's members are planning to repeat the same.

    Key Points
    Conventional plant breeding involves crossing species of the same genus to provide the offspring with the desired traits of both parents.

    Genus is a class of items such as a group of animals or plants with similar traits, qualities or features.

    Genetic modification aims to transcend the genus barrier by introducing an alien gene in the seeds to get the desired effects. The alien gene could be from a plant, an animal or even a soil bacterium.

    Bt cotton is the only Genetically Modified (GM) crop that is allowed in India. It has alien genes from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) that allows the crop to develop a protein toxic to the common pest pink bollworm.

    Herbicide Tolerant Bt (Ht Bt) cotton, on the other hand is derived with the insertion of an additional gene, from another soil bacterium, which allows the plant to resist the common herbicide glyphosate.

    In Bt brinjal, a gene allows the plant to resist attacks of fruit and shoot borers.

    In DMH-11 mustard, genetic modification allows cross-pollination in a crop that self-pollinates in nature.

  • Reservation Not a Fundamental Right: Supreme Court
    Recently, the Supreme Court of India has said that reservation of seats provided to certain communities is not a fundamental right.

    Key Points
    All political parties from Tamil Nadu had filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court seeking direction to the Centre to implement 50% Other Backward Class (OBC) reservation in the all-India NEET seats surrendered by the state.

    They have accused the Centre of “violating the right of the people to have a fair education” by neither implementing the 50% quota for OBC in Tamil Nadu nor providing 27% reservation for OBC candidates in other states for the All India Quota seats.

    However, the Supreme Court pointed that a writ petition under Article 32 of the Constitution can be filed only in case of violation of fundamental rights.

    The Court observed that the Right to Reservation is not a fundamental right.

    Earlier, the Court had ruled that reservation in promotion is not a fundamental right.

    The fundamental rights have been classified under the six categories- Right to Freedom, Right to Equality, Right against Exploitation, Right to Freedom of Religion, Cultural and Educational rights and Right to constitutional remedies.

    They are mentioned in Part III (Articles 12 to 35) of the Indian Constitution.

  • IFLOWS-Mumbai: Flood Warning System
    Recently, an integrated flood warning system - known as IFLOWS-Mumbai was launched making Mumbai the second city in India after Chennai to have such a system.

    Key Points
    Developed by: It is developed by the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), in coordination with the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM).

    Working/Features: The IFLOWS-Mumbai comprises seven modules, namely data assimilation, flood, inundation, vulnerability, risk, dissemination and decision support system.

    It incorporates weather models from National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF), India Meteorological Department (IMD) and field data from the rain gauge network stations.

    This Geographic Information System (GIS)- based decision support system has all relevant details - such as land topography, land use, infrastructure, population, lakes, creeks and data on river bathymetry (study of the beds or floors of water bodies) of all rivers namely Mithi, Dahisar, Oshiwara, Poisar and Ulhas.

    The system has provisions to capture the urban drainage within the city and predict the areas of flooding in advance so that the civic body can issue alerts in advance.

    Benefits: This will boost the city’s resilience by providing early warning for flooding specially during high rainfall events and cyclones. Bengaluru and Kolkata may also get such a system by 2021.

    Need
    Mumbai has the history of flooding during extreme rainfall events. It had faced massive floods in July 2005, and recently in 2017.

    Rise in extreme rainfall events in India that are driven by warming temperatures and changes in the monsoon due to climate change.

    According to the Global Report on Internal Displacement 2020, nearly five million people were displaced in India in 2019 because of disasters related to Southwest Monsoon and Cyclones.

    According to the ‘State of India's Environment 2020 in Figures' the internal displacements in India caused by disasters and extreme weather conditions were the highest in the world in 2019.

  • Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle Complex inaugurated in Vizag
    The Indian Navy has inducted the Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle (DSRV) Complex to provide rescue cover to submarines on the east and west coast of India. The DSRV complex was inaugurated by Vice Admiral Atul Kumar Jain, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Eastern Naval Command (ENC) in Visakhapatnam on 10 June.

    Highlights:
    DSRV Complex was equipped with state-of-the-art facilities.

    It has been designed to accommodate the newly inducted submarine rescue system and store the DSRV assets in the rescue-ready state.

    The system consists of a submarine rescue vessel, a remote operations vehicle, and side-scan sonar and associated equipment.

    It has hyperbaric medical equipment and diver decompression chambers to decompress submariners after the submarines are rescued from sunken submarines.

    DSRV complex can be mobilized by air or road to facilitate submarine rescue operations even at distant locations.

    The Indian Navy has inducted two such systems to provide rescue cover to submarines.

    At present, there are about 40 nations that operate submarines.

    The 3rd generation submarine rescue capability of the Indian Navy can be sought by the other navies for assistance during contingencies in the Indian Ocean Region.

  • Centre approved Rs.1,829 crore for the implementation of Jal Jeevan Mission in Maharashtra in 2020-21
    Centre approved Maharashtra's Annual Action Plan for implementation of Jal Jeevan Mission in the State. The State government has planned to provide 100% tap connections to all the households in the State by 2023-24.

    In Maharashtra, out of 1.42 crore rural households, 53.11 lakh households have already got tap connections. The government of India has approved Rs.1,828.92 crore for the implementation of JJM in the State during 2020-21.

    Highlights:
    The State is planning to provide tap connections to 31.30 lakh households in 2020-21.

    Maharashtra State has planned for retrofitting and augmentation of existing 8,268 piped water supply schemes, it aims to make provision of 22.35 lakh household tap connections during 2020 and the remaining 9 lakhs from new schemes.

    State has been directed to take up all these works in campaign mode, that the remaining households belonging to poor and marginalized sections of the society get tap connections immediately.

    The State has prepared a roadmap to cover 100% of its quality-affected habitations by 31 December 2020.

    The plan includes an universal coverage of households, priority is given to water scarce areas, quality-affected areas, SC/ ST dominated habitations/ villages, aspirational districts, SansadAdarshGraminYojana villages, particularly vulnerable tribal groups.

  • Instant PAN through Aadhaar based e-KYC launched
    The Union Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman formally launched a facility for instant allotment of online PAN (permanent account number) card (on near to real time basis) on furnishing of Aadhaar details.

    BACKGROUND:
    This Instant PAN facility is now available for those Permanent Account Number (PAN) applicants who possess a valid Aadhaar number and have a mobile number registered with Aadhaar.The allotment process is paperless and an electronic PAN (e-PAN) is issued to the applicants free of cost.

    In the Union Budget, 2020, Finance Minister had announced that in order to ease the process of allotment of PAN, she will soon launch a system under which PAN shall be “instantly allotted online on the basis of Aadhaar without any requirement for filling up of detailed application form.”

  • Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat Programme
    Union HRD Ministry has taken the decision to take forward the Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat (EBSB) programme by using innovative ways in view of the prevailing conditions of COVID 19.

    BACKGROUND:
    It has planned to move towards digital mediums for the carrying on the activities under Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat by each participating Ministry/ Department.

    Further it has also planned to organise webinars on Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat themes for their wide dissemination.

    A common repository for the Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat digital resources that can be used by every Ministry, hosted on a common portal, is also been included in the actionable plans.

    Key facts to be remembered about Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat Programme
    “Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat” Programme was announced by Hon’ble Prime Minister on 31st October, 2015 on the occasion of the 140th birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. Subsequently, the Finance Minister announced the initiative in his Budget Speech for 2016-17.

    All States and UTs will be covered under the programme.

    There will be pairing of States/UTs at national level and these pairings will be in effect for one year, or till the next round of pairings.

    The State/UT level pairings would be utilized for state level activities.

    District level pairings would be independent of the State level pairings.

    The Ministry of Human Resource Development has been designated Nodal Ministry for co-ordination of the programme.


  • “AGNEEPRASTHA” Missile Park
    Recently, the foundation stone for a Missile Park was laid at INS Kalinga. The Missile Park is named as “Agneeprastha”.

    Key Details about Agneeprastha
    Once completed, the Missile Park would be dedicated to all the officers, sailors and the support staff of INS Kalinga who have served in the operation support base since its establishment in 1981.

    The park also commemorates the award of the prestigious Unit Citation to INS Kalinga for the year 2018-19.Further, the park aims to capture glimpse of missile history of INS Kalinga since 1981 till date.

    The Missile Park has been set up with a replica of missiles and Ground Support Equipment (GSE) that showcase the evolution of missiles handled by the unit.

    The main attraction of the newly proposed Missile Park is P-70 ‘Ametist’ which is an underwater launched anti-ship missile from the arsenal of the old ‘Chakra’ (Charlie-1 submarine) which was in service with Indian Navy during the period of 1988-91.


  • National Career Service Project
    The Ministry of Labour and Employment has started offering free online career skills training through its National Career Service (NCS) project for job-seekers registered with it.

    The training will assist the learners in enhancing personality development with modules on corporate etiquette, improving interpersonal skills, making impactful presentations including other necessary soft skills demanded by the industry today.

    The training module is available in Hindi and English on this portal.

    The course has been launched in partnership with TCS iON( a unit of Tata Consultancy Services).

    Key Details about National Career Service Project
    NCS Project is a Five Year Mission Mode Project launched by the Prime Minister on 20th July, 2015. It is within the umbrella of the e-governance plan.

    It is a one-stop solution that provides a wide array of employment and career related services to the citizens of India.

    The National Career Service Project is implemented by Directorate General of Employment, Ministry of Labour & Employment.

    The National Career Service Project reaches out to the people of this country through its three essential pillars i.e.

    A well designed ICT based portal which is NCS portal,

    Country wide set up of Model Career Centers and

    Interlinkage with all the states through employment exchanges.



  • Centre approves Annual action plan for Bihar under Jal Jeevan mission
    Centre has approved the Bihar State's Jal Jeevan Mission Annual Action Plan. As per the plan, the State has provided 100% coverage of all households with functional tap water connections by 2020-21. The plan was approved by the Ministry of Jal Shakti.

    Highlights:
    Bihar State is planning to provide tap connections to the remaining 1.50 Crore households in 2020-21.

    The government of India has allocated Rs.1832.66 Crore for this during 2020-21.

    The State Government is all set with the roadmap to implement the target.

    A proper plan is in place for 100% coverage of all 38 districts during 2020-21 has been prepared by the State government.

    Bihar Government is giving special attention to providing 100% of Functional Household Tap Connections (FHTCs) in Aspirational districts, quality-affected habitations, and SC/ST villages.

    The move initiated by the state is due to the abundance of groundwater and surface water in Bihar.


  • Kerala to launch free internet project K-FON in December
    The Kerala State government has announced the Kerala Fibre Optic Network (K-FON) project will be commissioned by December 2020. The project aims to provide free internet access to the poor in the State. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan informed the decision after a meeting with the heads of companies of the consortium.

    K-FON Project:
    The estimated cost of the K-FON Project is Rs.1,500crore

    Kerala is the first state to declare the internet as a fundamental right of the citizen. No other state across the country has implemented such a scheme.

    The project aims to provide quality internet free of cost to the poor and at affordable rates to others.

    The project will be completed by December 2020.

    The consortium comprises of the public sector companies including Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and Railtel, and private companies such as SRIT and LS Cables.


  • Kerala issues data security guidelines
    Data Security guidelines by the Kerala state government.

    Background:
    The government had contracted with Sprinklr, a U.S.-based data analytics firm, to crunch the health data of citizens to understand how the pandemic would behave in the State.

    The Opposition had approached the Kerala High Court, accusing the Kerala Government of having used the outbreak as a cover to allow the U.S.-based firm to “harvest and monetise” the medical information of the State’s population.

    The High Court had considered the Opposition’s plea.


  • National Ai Portal of India
    Union Minister for Electronics and IT, Law and Justice and Communications Ravi Shankar Prasad launched India’s national Artificial Intelligence Portal called www.ai.gov.in

    The Portal has been launched to mark the occasion of first anniversary of the second tenure of the government.

    Key Highlights of National AI Portal of India
    This portal has been jointly developed by the Ministry of Electronics and IT and IT Industry.

    National e-Governance Division of Ministry of Electronics and IT and NASSCOM from the IT industry will jointly run this portal.

    This portal shall work as a one stop digital platform for AI related developments in India, sharing of resources such as articles, startups, investment funds in AI, resources, companies and educational institutions related to AI in India.

    The portal will also share documents, case studies, research reports etc. It has section about learning and new job roles related to AI.


  • Assam to provide functional tap connections to 13 lakh rural households in 2020-21 year
    Assam State government presented the Annual Action Plan for consideration and approval of the Ministry of Jal Shakti. Government of India (GoI) approved Rs.1,407 crore for 2020-21 under Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM).

    Assam plans to provide tap connections to 13 lakh households out of a total of 63 lakhs in 2020-21.

    Highlights:
    Achieving the target of Jal Jeevan Mission in Assam is not difficult because of the abundant water resources in the State, which is both groundwater and surface water.

    Assam is giving emphasis on capitalizing on 'low-hanging fruits' in the villages/ habitations where piped water supply schemes already exist in order to yield the desired results.

    The state plans to immediately provide household tap connections to all remaining households belonging to weaker and marginalized sections on priority.

    The state government has also defined roadmap for the effective implementation of the Village Action Plan (VAP) with the active participation of the rural community.

    The aim is to strengthen the existing drinking water sources for the long-term sustainability of drinking water supply systems through the convergence of various programmes like MGNREGS, SBM (G), 15th Finance Commission Grants to PRIs, District Mineral Development Fund, CAMPA, Local Area Development Fund, etc. at village level is planned for judicious use of all available resources.

    With the implementation of Jal Jeevan Mission, people in rural areas now aspire to get tap connections in their household premises.


  • Statehood Day of Goa Celebrated
    Recently, the Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi has greeted the people of Goa on the occasion of their Statehood Day of Goa.

    On 19 December 1961, Operation Vijay was launched by the Indian Army which ultimately resulted in the annexation of Goa.

    On 30 May 1987, this combined union territory was split, and Goa was made India’s 25th state, with Daman and Diu remaining a union territory.

    FEW ONE-LINER FACTS ABOUT GOA
    Goa is basically an Indian state which is located on the southwestern coast of India within the region known as the Konkan. It is geographically separated from the Deccan highlands by the Western Ghats.

    BORDERING AREAS: It is surrounded by Maharashtra to the north and Karnataka to the east and south, with the Arabian Sea forming its western coast.

    It is India’s smallest state by area and the fourth-smallest by population.

    Goa has the highest GDP per capita among all Indian states which is two and a half times that of the country.

    It was ranked the best-placed state by the 11th Finance Commission for its infrastructure

    It was also ranked on top for the best quality of life in India by the National Commission on Population based on the 12 Indicators.

    Currently, there are 16 planned SEZs in Goa. However, the government of the state has recently decided to not allow any more Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in Goa after strong opposition to them by political parties and the powerful Goa Catholic Church.

    The state is second in India after Kerala to achieve a 100% automatic telephone system with a solid network of telephone exchanges.

    Goa is also one of the few states in India to achieve 100% rural electrification.

    Goa is the state with highest proportion of urban population with 62.17% of the population living in urban areas.

    It is also the state with lowest proportion of Scheduled Tribes at 0.04%.

    Konkani is spoken as a native language by about 66.11% of the people in the state and is sole official language of Goa.

    According to the 2011 census, Goa has 66.1% Hindu, 25.1% Christian, 8.3% Muslim and 0.1% Sikh.

    Goa stands 6th in the Top 10 Nightlife cities in the world in National Geographic Travel.

    Patnem beach in Palolem stood third in CNN Travel’s Top 20 Beaches in Asia.

    Goa has two World Heritage Sites:
    Bom Jesus Basilica

    Churches and convents of Old Goa.

    The GomantVibhushan Award, the highest civilian honour of the State of Goa.

    Traditional Goan art forms are Dekhnni, Fugdi, Corridinho, Mando, Dulpod and Fado.

    Goa, along with West Bengal and Kerala is the locus of football in India.


  • SPIC MACAY (Society for the Promotion of Indian Classical Music and Culture Amongst Youth)
    Recently, the Prime Minister of India addressed the SPIC MACAY's International Convention via video conference.

    He appreciated the new elements in the SPIC MACAY convention this year like nature walk, heritage walk, literature and holistic food along with Yoga and Naad Yoga.

    He also stated that music is strengthening the ideal of ‘Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat’.

    Key Points
    SPIC MACAY (Society for the Promotion of Indian Classical Music And Culture Amongst Youth) is a non-political, nationwide, voluntary movement founded in 1977 by Dr Kiran Seth.

    He was awarded the Padma Shri for his contribution to the arts in 2009.

    It is a participatory student movement registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860.

    In 2011, it was awarded the Rajiv Gandhi Sadbhavana award in recognition of its contribution to youth development.

    Its intention is to enrich the quality of formal education by increasing awareness about different aspects of Indian heritage and inspiring the young mind to imbibe the values embedded in it.

    It is supported nationally by the Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, and the Ministry of Human Resource Development.

    It has been organising national and international conventions for the last 35 years.

    Anubhav, a week-long online project, seeks to help youngsters indulge in mystical and diverse aspects of Indian art, culture and heritage. It is expected to reduce the stress triggered by Covid-19.

    The movement has a central executive body in New Delhi and organises its programmes through a worldwide network of schools, colleges and educational institutions.


  • Cyclone Nisarga
    A fast-moving depression in the Arabian Sea is predicted to be intensified into a severe cyclone named ‘Nisarga’.

    The name ‘Nisarga’ has been suggested by Bangladesh.

    Key Points
    As per the India Meteorological Department, the impact of the cyclone is likely to be felt in Maharashtra and Gujarat.

    There is a concern about the impact of the cyclonic storm on the battle against Covid-19, as the rain and flooding may set back social distancing and other necessary measures at evacuation centres, and even at some Covid-19 facilities located in low-lying areas.

    Few days back, super cyclone Amphan - one of the strongest cyclones the country has seen in the last few decades - hit West Bengal, Odisha and Bangladesh.

    Cyclone Nisarga is expected to be weaker than Cyclone Amphan in strength and intensity.

    However in case of both the cyclones, the exceptional warm ocean temperatures seem to be behind the intense storms.


  • PM SVANidhi: Micro Credit Scheme for Street Vendors
    The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) has launched Pradhan Mantri Street Vendor's Atma Nirbhar Nidhi (PM SVANidhi), for providing affordable loans to street vendors.

    Earlier, the Scheme was announced as a part of the Economic Stimulus-II under the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan.

    The scheme would benefit vendors, hawkers, thelewale and people involved in goods and services related to textiles, apparel, artisan products, barbers shops, laundry services etc. in different areas.

    Key Points
    Loan facility:
    The vendors can avail a working capital loan of up to Rs. 10,000, which is repayable in monthly instalments within a year. The loans would be without collateral.

    It is for the first time that Microfinance Institutions, Non-Banking Financial Company, Self Help Groups have been allowed in a scheme for the urban poor due to their ground level presence and proximity to the urban poor including the street vendors.

    There will be no penalty on early repayment of loan.

    Early repayment (or resettlement) is a clearance of debt or loan before the scheduled time. Many banks and lenders charge penalties for repaying loans early.

    Those who were vending till 24th March, 2020 can avail the benefits of the scheme.

    This is for the first time that street vendors from peri- urban/rural areas have become beneficiaries of an urban livelihood programme.

    The scheme is valid until March 2022.


  • PM-CARES Not Under RTI
    The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has clarified that the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund (PM-CARES Fund) is not a public authority under the ambit of the Right To Act (RTI), 2005.

    PM-CARES Fund was set to accept donations and provide relief during the Covid-19 pandemic, and other similar emergencies.

    The PMO’s response came in the backdrop of the RTI query filed to know the Fund’s trust deed and all government orders, notifications and circulars relating to its creation and operation.

    Key Points
    PM-CARES Not a Public Authority:
    It has been stated that the PM-CARES Fund is not a Public Authority under the ambit of Section 2(h) of the RTI Act, 2005.

    However, relevant information in respect of PM-CARES Fund may be seen on the website pmcares.gov.in.

    Ambiguous Nature of PMNRF Under RTI:
    There is ambiguity regarding whether the PMNRF (Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund) is subject to the RTI Act.

    The Central Information Commission (CIC) has directed PMNRF to disclose information as a result of the Delhi High Court’s split opinion on the question of whether PMNRF is a public authority under the Act.

    The split opinion signifies that some Justices from the Delhi High Court Bench held PMNRF as a public authority, whereas some Justices held that PMNRF is not a public authority.

    Audit of PM-CARES and PMNRF:
    Earlier, the Comptroller and Auditor General’s (CAG) office had clarified that it wouldn’t audit the PM-CARES Fund as it is ‘a charitable organisation’ and is also based on donations from individuals and organisations.

    The PMNRF too is not audited by CAG but it is audited by an independent auditor outside of the government.


  • Telangana State Formation Day celebrated on 2 June
    Telangana Day is celebrated on 2nd June each year from 2014. The day marks the state's bifurcation from Andhra Pradesh. Telangana State Formation Day 2020 marks the sixth Telangana State Formation Day. It is the 29th state of India after the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act was passed in the Parliament.

    Highlights:
    The bill was introduced on 5 December 2013 in the Legislative Assembly of Andhra Pradesh.

    The Bill Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014 was passed in the Parliament of India in February 2014.

    The bill was given assent by the President and published in the Gazette on 1 March 2014.

    Telangana state was formed officially on 2 June 2014.


  • India ranked 23rd in the 2020 Startup Ecosystem Rankings Report
    StartupBlink has released the Startup Ecosystem Rankings Report 2020. India ranked 23rd in the report. The report ranks 1,000 cities and 100 countries worldwide, based on their startup ecosystem strength and activity level.

    StartupBlink is a global startup ecosystem map and research center.

    Highlights:
    India has dropped 6 places to be ranked at the 23rd spot in the latest ranking. India scored 5.698. In 2019, India ranked at the 17th spot.

    The Startup Ecosystem Rankings Report 2020 was topped by the United States with a score of 123.167.

    The ranking is based upon three primary parameters:
    Quantity
    Quality
    Business Environment

    In terms of cities, only 4 Indian cities made a place in the top 100, compared to 7 cities in 2019.

    India's Silicon Valley Bengaluru is the top Indian city with the best startup ecosystem ranking, ranked 14th in the list.

    Delhi ranked 15th rank, Mumbai ranked 22nd and Hyderabad ranked 96th.

    Globally, the top three cities with the best startup ecosystems are:
    San Francisco Bay, United States
    New York, United States
    London, United Kingdom

    Top 5 countries:
    1. United States
    2. United Kingdom
    3. Israel
    4. Canada
    5. Germany


  • Cabinet approved to rename Kolkata Port as Syama Prasad Mookerjee Port
    The Union Cabinet chaired by PM Narendra Modi approved to rename Kolkata Port as Syama Prasad Mookerjee Port. The decision was made by the Board of Trustees of Kolkata Port Trust in its Meeting held on 25 February 2020. The Board also passed a Resolution to rename Kolkata Port as Syama Prasad Mookerjee Port.

    Dr.Syama Prasad Mookerjee was an eminent jurist, academician, thinker, leader of the masses, and a front-runner in national integration, dreamer of Bengal's development, the inspiration for industrialization.

    Background:
    The Kolkata Port is the first Major Port and the only riverine port of the country. The port features at Serial Number 1 in The First Schedule, Part I-Major Ports of the Indian Ports Act, 1908. It is governed by the Major Port Trusts Act, 1963.

    Kolkata Port has been India's gateway to trade, commerce, and economic development. The port has witnessed historic events including India's struggle for independence, World Wars l & II, and socio-cultural changes taking place in the country, especially in Eastern India.

    Generally, the Major Ports in India are named after the city or the town in which they are situated. Some ports have been re-named after great national leaders in the past. Few renamed ports are listed below:

    NhavaSheva Port Trust was renamed as Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust by the Government in the year 1989

    Tuticorin Port Trust was renamed as V.O. Chidambaranar Port Trust in the year 2011.

    Ennore Port Limited has been re-named as Kamarajar Port Limited in the honour of Shri K Kamarajar, eminent freedom fighter and former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.

    In 2017 Kandla Port was re-named as Deendayal Port.


  • Science Technology and Innovation Policy
    Recently, the Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India (Office of PSA) and the Department of Science and Technology (DST) have jointly initiated the formulation of a new national Science Technology and Innovation Policy (STIP 2020).

    Key Points
    It will be the 5th STIP of India and is being formulated at a crucial juncture when India and the world are tackling the Covid-19.

    It will integrate the lessons of the pandemic including the building of an Atmanirbhar Bharat by leveraging India’s strengths in research and development, design, science and technology workforce and institutions, huge markets, demographic dividend, diversity and data.

    The STIP 2020 formulation process will be six-months long and has been organised into 4 highly interlinked tracks:

    Track I: It involves an extensive public and expert consultation process through Science Policy Forum, a dedicated platform for soliciting inputs from larger public and expert pools during and after the policy drafting process.

    Track II: It comprises experts-driven thematic consultations to feed evidence-informed recommendations into the policy drafting process. 21 focused thematic groups have been constituted for this purpose.

    Track III: It involves extensive intra-state and intra-department consultation with Ministries and States.

    Track IV: It constitutes an apex level multi-stakeholder consultation.


  • J&K Media Policy-2020
    Recently, the Jammu and Kashmir administration has approved a Media Policy-2020.

    The policy seeks to create a sustained narrative on the functioning of the government in the media and promote the highest standard of journalism in the Union Territory.

    Key Points
    Standard Operating Procedure: The media policy aims to put in place a Standard Operating Procedure for reaching out to the people in situations of crisis like health issues and natural disasters.

    It lays down a solid foundation to use all forms of media to build public trust, pay attention to grievances of people projected by the media and strengthen the relationship between the various stakeholders.

    Control misinformation: It seeks to prevent misinformation, fake news and develop a mechanism that will raise alarm against any attempt to use the media to vitiate public peace, sovereignty and integrity of the country.

    The policy comes in the backdrop of J&K Police filing FIRs against two journalists and summoning several others for their reporting and social media posts.

    Establishment of Media Academy: It includes establishment of a media academy/institute in reputable national institutes in Jammu and Kashmir such as IIMC, IIM that will promote the highest standard of journalism, and coordinate study and research in the field.

    It also includes the institution of media awards to be given each year to two outstanding media or communication professionals.

    Media and Administration: It lays down the guidelines for empanelment of audio-visual and electronic media such as FM, radio, satellite and cable TV channels so as to streamline their interface with the Department of Information & Public Relations (DIPR).

    Nodal Officer: The policy envisages that all government departments will nominate a nodal officer to liaise with DIPR.

    Social Media Cell: To ensure healthy interaction with the public online and on social media, the policy lays down setting up of a Social Media Cell in all the government departments.

    The Director of Information and Public Relations has been designated as chairperson of the Empanelment Committee and the administrative head of the Information Department will chair the Review Committee constituted under the policy.


  • MoD places order on OFB for supply of 156 upgraded ICVs worth Rs.1,094 crore
    Ministry of Defence (MoD) has placed an order worth Rs.1,094 to Ordnance Factory Board (OFB). The aim is to boost to Make in India initiative. It was approved by the Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. The supply includes 156 BMP 2/2k Infantry Combat Vehicles (ICV) with upgraded features for use of the Mechanised Forces of the Indian Army.

    Highlights:
    Under this, the combat vehicles will be manufactured by Ordnance Factory, Medak in Telangana.

    The vehicles are aimed to enhance the combat capability of the Army.

    The BMP-2/2K ICVs will be powered by 285 horsepower (HP) engines and are lower in weight which will make them highly mobile to meet all tactical requirements of mobility on the battlefield.

    These ICVs will reach a speed of 65 kilometres per hour (kmph) with easy steering ability in cross country terrain.

    The ICVs will have amphibious capabilities to travel at 7 kmph in water.

    These special vehicles are designed to overcome the slope of up to 35° cross obstacles of 0.7 metre and have lethal firepower capability.

    The vehicles are planned to be completed by the year 2023.

    With the induction of these 156 BMP 2/2K ICVs, the existing deficiency in the Mechanised Infantry Battalions will be mitigated.


  • Puducherry plans to provide tap connections to all rural households by 2020-21 year
    GoI approved the Annual Action Plan of Puducherry for Financial Year 2020-21. The plan was approved by National Jal Jeevan Mission. Puducherry Union Territory plans to provide household tap connections to remaining households in 2020-21.

    Highlights:
    To implement the plan, village-level planning has involved the local community despite COVID-19. Gram Sabhas are conducted in villages maintaining social distancing.

    As per the plan, the local community will play a pivotal role in the planning, implementation, management, operation, and maintenance of water supply systems in villages to ensure long-term sustainability.

    Local communities have been directed to provide due care also on greywater treatment and re-use.

    Under JalJeevan Mission, water quality testing laboratories at different levels are being established in the UT.

    The UT has been advised to focus on 24*7 service delivery in rural areas so that the villages can act as ‘utilities’ with a focus on ‘service delivery’.

    It has been also planned to conduct Internet of Things (IoT) based sensor monitoring for water supply in villages.

    It also aims to provide a livelihood to the migrant workers who have returned to their native villages by providing jobs related to water supply especially water conservation works in every village that will ensure sufficient groundwater availability leading to water security, water availability for agriculture and most importantly will help in the provision of drinking water to every rural household.


  • Cabinet approved establishment of PCIMH as Subordinate Office under Ministry of AYUSH
    Union Cabinet led by Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi approved the re-establishment of the Pharmacopoeia Commission for Indian Medicine & Homoeopathy (PCIM&H) as Subordinate Office under Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH).

    The commission will be formed by merging Homoeopathic Pharmacopoeia Laboratory (HPL) and Pharmacopoeia Laboratory for Indian Medicine (PLIM).

    Highlights:
    Pharmacopoeia Commission for Indian Medicine & Homoeopathy (PCIM&H) functions under the Ministry of AYUSH. It was established in 2010.

    The merger will optimize infrastructural facilities, technical manpower, and financial resources of the three organizations.

    It will enhance the standardization outcomes of Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani, and Homoeopathy drugs towards effective regulation and quality control.

    The merger will facilitate the focused and cohesive development of standards of AYUSH drugs and the publication of pharmacopeias and formularies.

    The move will also accord legal status to PCIM&H and its laboratory by virtue of making the necessary amendment.

    It will also enable provisions in the Drugs & Cosmetics Rules, 1945.

    The merger will have an adequate administrative structure to augment the capacity and outcomes of pharmacopoeial work.

    It will achieve harmonization of pharmacopoeial standards of Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and Homoeopathy drugs, to prevent duplication and overlapping of drug standardization work and optimal utilization of resources in an effective manner.


  • Pan-India Real Time Market for Electricity
    Recently, the government has launched a pan-India real-time market of electricity to enable the buyers and sellers pan-India to meet their energy requirement closer to real time of operation.

    It is expected that shorter bidding time, faster scheduling, and defined processes will enable the participants to access resources throughout the all India grid, promoting competition.

    Key Points
    Description:
    The real time market of electricity is an organized market platform which will bring required flexibility to provide real time balance while ensuring optimal utilization of the available surplus capacity in the system.

    The real-time market would open for 30 minutes in a day, and buyers and sellers would have the option of placing buy or sell bids for each 15-minute time block.

    It will also help manage diversity in the demand pattern in the country with a market at national level.

    Benefits:
    Penetration of Renewable Energy:

    The Government of India’s target of 175 GW RE Capacity by 2022 is driving accelerated renewable penetration pan-India.

    The real time market would help to mitigate challenges of grid management and help to integrate higher amounts of renewable energy resources into the grid.

    Discoms:
    It would provide an alternate mechanism for Discoms to access larger markets at competitive prices.

    These are also expected to manage their power purchase portfolio more optimally with this market and likely to result in cost optimisation of power purchase.

    Consumers:
    It would lead to cost optimization of power purchase and serving the consumers with reliable supply as any last minute requirement of power can easily be bought from the Real Time market.

    Earlier regime of managing the grid by load shedding due last minute changes will be avoided.





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