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May 2020 National News



  • Union Minister Harsh Vardhan launched AYUSH Sanjivani App
    Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Health & Family Welfare Minister launched the mobile application 'AYUSH Sanjivani' App and two AYUSH based studies related to COVID-19 situation.

    The app was developed by the Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) and Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY).

    AYUSH Sanjivani App:
    The AYUSH Sanjivani mobile app will help to generate data on acceptance and usage of AYUSH advocacies and measures among the population and its impact on the prevention of COVID-19.

    It is expected to reach out to a target of 50 lakh people.

    The COVID-19 management has provided a potent platform for the alliance between MoHFW, MoAYUSH, and technology organizations such as CSIR, ICMR, and UGC to not only develop AYUSH interventions and solutions but also help in promoting AYUSH knowledge for the larger good of the global community.

    These organizations are partnering with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) for this regard.

    ICMR and DCGI will support and guide AYUSH in propagating the wholesomeness and holistic health benefits of the age-old traditional medicinal knowledge of Ayurveda.



  • Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated Dharchula-Lipulekh road link
    Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated the road link from Dharchula (Uttarakhand) to Lipulekh (China Border) on 8 May. He flagged off a convoy of vehicles from Pithoragarh to Gunji through video conferencing. The road link was constructed by Border Roads Organisation (BRO) engineers and personnel.

    Highlights:
    The crucial Dharchula-Lipulekh road link is expected to increase the local trade and economic growth in the region. It will boost the operationalization of this roadway.

    Dharchula-Lipulekh is an 80 km road. The altitude rises from 6,000 to 17,060 feet.

    The road link will make the Kailash-Manasarovar pilgrimage easy. Currently, the travel to Kailash-Mansarovar takes around two to three weeks through Sikkim or Nepal routes. The arduous trek will now be entailed approximately 20% of land journeys on Indian roads and 80% of land journeys in China.



  • “Sweet Revolution and Atmanirbhar Bharat“
    A webinar had been organised by the National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC) on the theme “Sweet Revolution and Atmanirbhar Bharat.”

    Key Details :
    The webinar was conducted by the National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC) on the theme “Sweet Revolution and AtmaNirbhar Bharat” in partnership with the National Bee Board, the Government of West Bengal, the Government of Uttarakhand and the Sher-e- Kashmir University of Agriculture Sciences and Technology, Kashmir.

    The objective was to popularize scientific beekeeping as source of livelihood for landless rural poor, small and marginal famers to supplement agricultural income, as also as tool to enhance agriculture and horticulture production.

    National Beekeeping & Honey Mission (NBHM)?
    A new Central Sector Scheme “National Beekeeping and Honey Mission (NBHM)” for overall promotion & development of scientific beekeeping and production of quality honey & other beehive products was approved by the Govt. of India keeping in mind the vision of “Sweet Revolution.”

    The scheme will be implemented through National Bee Board as a Central Sector Scheme (100% funded by Central Govt.).

    The NBHM will have following sub-schemes/ three Mini Missions:
    Mini Mission-I: Under this Mission, thrust will be given on production & productivity improvement of various crops through pollination assisted by adoption of scientific beekeeping;

    Mini Mission-II: This Mission will concentrate on post harvest management of beekeeping/ beehive products including collection, processing, storage, marketing, value addition, etc. with a thrust to develop requisite infrastructural facilities for these activities; and

    Mini Mission-III: This Mission will concentrate on Research & Technology generation for different Regions/ States/ Agro-Climatic and Socio-Economic conditions.

    The National Bee Board under the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation & Farmers Welfare, will be a National Level Nodal Agency for overall holistic development and promotion of beekeeping sector at National level under NBHM for implementation of activities.

    National Beekeeping & Honey Mission (NBHM) will be implemented through National Bee Board (NBB) as a Central Sector (100% funded by Central Government) component under the existing vertical “Mission on Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH)”, as a part of the Centrally Sponsored Scheme “Green Revolution”.



  • Placebo effect in Mumbai
    Homeopathy drug, Arsenicum Album 30, which is untested for efficacy against COVID-19 is being widely distributed in Mumbai as a feel-good factor for constituents.

    According to the experts, there is no data exists which reflects the efficacy of this drug against COVID-19.

    What is Placebo Effect?
    A placebo is anything that seems to be a “real” medical treatment — but isn’t. It could be a pill, a shot, or some other type of “fake” treatment. What all placebos have in common is that they do not contain an active substance meant to affect health.

    Researchers use placebos during studies to help them understand what effect a new drug or some other treatment might have on a particular condition.

    Sometimes a person can have a response to a placebo. The response can be positive or negative. For instance, the person’s symptoms may improve. Or the person may have what appears to be side effects from the treatment. These responses are known as the “Placebo effect.”

    There are some conditions in which a placebo can produce results even when people know they are taking a placebo. These includes depression, pain, sleep disorders, irritable bowel syndrome and menopause.

    According to the research on the placebo effect, it is found that it focused on the relationship of mind and body. One of the most common theories is that the placebo effect is due to a person’s expectations.

    If a person expects a pill to do something, then it’s possible that the body’s own chemistry can cause effects similar to what a medication might have caused.



  • ReStart Programme for MSMEs by Andhra Pradesh
    In a recent move, Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh has launched “ReStart Programme” for MSMEs to support the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) sector in the State.

    What you need to know about the ReStart Program for MSMEs?
    As part of the package, the government will spend Rs. 1,100 crore on revival of the sector which is expected to benefit 98,000 units that provide employment to more than 10 lakh people.

    Apart from above, a special fund of Rs.200 crore will provide input capital loan to the firms at low interest rates.

    As part of the Scheme, the minimum power demand charges of the MSMEs for the months of April, May and June, amounting to Rs. 188 crore to be waived off.

    Further, the government will purchase around 360 products from the MSMEs, and payments towards it would be cleared in 45 days. Of the total purchases,

    Almost 25% would be done from the micro and small enterprises.

    4% from the SC/ST community enterprises.

    3% from women entrepreneurs.

    Skills required by the industries (MSMEs) will be imparted through Skill Development Colleges.



  • UN lists khudol of Manipur as one of top 10 global initiatives to fight COVID-19 pandemic
    The United Nations (UN) has listed Manipur’s "khudol" (gift) among the top 10 global initiatives for an inclusive fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. It was listed by the United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth.

    Khudol:
    Khudol is a crowd funded initiative of Ya_All,.

    The initiative aims to ensure food supplies and health services for the people living with HIV, daily-wage earners, LGBTQI+ community, children, and adolescents.

    Under the initiative network of 100 volunteers has been mobilized.

    The volunteers have, so far, provided around 2,000 families and individuals with over 1,000 health kits, 6,500 sanitary pads, and 1,500 condoms.



  • Centre directs Jal Shakti Ministry, NITI Aayog to study the feasibility of drinking water project for Udayagiri in AP
    Government of India directed the Jal Shakti Ministry and NITI Aayog to study the feasibility of drinking water project for Udayagiri in Andhra Pradesh. The decision was made in a meeting held by the Vice President of India Venkiah Naidu with Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog and ParameswaranIyer, Secretary, Drinking Water & Sanitation, and Shri U.P. Singh, Secretary, Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation.

    Highlights:
    The officials discussed various possible ways to meet the drinking water and irrigation needs of the drought-prone Udayagiri area, Nellore district, Andhra Pradesh.

    The officials of Jal Shakti Ministry and NITI Aayog have been directed to explore various options in consultation with the Government of Andhra Pradesh and look for the most feasible option.

    The Vice President advised Secretary, Water Resources to discuss with Central Water Commission and find out about the technical feasibility.

    GoI suggested that the Detailed Project Report (DPR) and the various ongoing efforts of the State Government to mitigate the water crisis including through the Water Grid project could be studied.

    The officials will visit the area and interact with the concerned stakeholders to understand the ground reality and suggest a way forward.



  • NSO data says ESIC Social Security Scheme witnessed 8.21 lakh enrolments in 2020 March
    The data released by the National Statistical Office (NSO) in a report titled 'Payroll Reporting in India: An Employment Perspective-March 2020' stated that around 8.21 lakh new members joined the ESIC-run social security scheme in March 2020, against 11.83 lakh in February 2020. The NSO data included the payroll data of the Employees' State Insurance Corporation (ESIC).

    Highlights:
    The data highlighted that the subscribers to the scheme in 2018-19 were 1.49 crore. This count increased to 3.83 crore in March 2020.

    It stated that during fiscal 2019-20, the number of net new subscribers increased to 78.58 lakh as compared to 61.12 lakh recorded by the EPFO in 2018-19.



  • HIL INDIA to provide locust control Pesticide to Iran
    Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers announced that HIL INDIA, a PSU under the Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals, is to produce and supply the pesticides for the farming community, amid the COVID-19 lockdown.

    HIL is to supply 25 MT Malathion Technical for supply to locust control programme to Iran under Government to Government arrangement. Recently, the Credit rating of HIL INDIA was upgraded to BBB from BB. The rating marks a stable investment grade.

    Other measures of HIL India:
    HIL signed an agreement with the Ministry of Agriculture and Famers Welfare for the supply of Malathion Technical to Rajasthan and Gujarat for the Locust Control Programme. So far, the company has manufactured and supplied 67 MT of Malathion Technical.

    HIL supplied to malathion Technical to municipal corporations for dengue and chikungunya control program.

    HIL India has exported 10 MT of fungicide 'Mancozeb' to Peru and another 12 MT is to be exported.

    It also supplied 314 MT of DDT 50% wdp to various states like Rajasthan, Punjab, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, etc was executed as per the supply order placed by the Ministry of family welfares, NVBDCP programmes.

    During the lockdown period, HIL produced 120 MT of Malathion Technical, 120.40 MT of DDT Technical, 288 MT of DDT 50%, 21 MT of HILGOLD (Water Soluble Fertilizer), 12 MT of Mancozeb Fungicide for Exports and 35 MT of different agrochemical formulations.



  • IAF to operationalize its No.18 Squadron at Coimbatore, TN
    The Indian Air Force (IAF) is to operationalize its No.18 Squadron at Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu on 27 May. IAF chief, Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria is expected to operationalize the squadron "Flying Bullets" at the Sulur Air Force Station near Coimbatore, TN.

    Highlights:
    No.18 Squadron is equipped with the fourth generation LCA Tejas FOC (final operation clearance) aircraft. It will be the second IAF Squadron to fly Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas.

    LCA Tejas aircraft is equipped with a fly-by-wire flight control system, integrated digital avionics, multimode radar, and its structure is made of composite material.

    No.18 Squadron was formed in 1965. The motto is "TeevraaurNirbhaya" (meaning "Swift and Fearless") was earlier flying MiG 27 aircraft.



  • Nitin Gadkari inaugurated Chamba Tunnel under Chardham Pariyojana
    Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways and MSMEs Nitin Gadkari inaugurated the Chamba Tunnel in Uttarakhand under Chardham Pariyojana through video conference mode on 26 May 2020. The tunnel was constructed by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Highlights:
    The major milestone was achieved by BRO by digging up a 440 m long Tunnel below the busy Chamba town on Rishikesh-Dharasu road Highway (NH 94), Uttarakhand.

    The tunnel will ease out congestion through the Chamba town and reduce the distance by one kilometer. The journey through the town will take only 10 minutes as compared to 30 minutes earlier.

    The project was completed ahead of the deadline, which was earlier set as October 2020.

    BRO began the work on the North Portal of this tunnel in January 2019.

    The tunnel is a Horseshoe type tunnel with a 10 metre carriageway width and 5.5 metre vertical clearance.

    Other ongoing projects of BRO are:
    Dharasu- Gangotri Highway (NH-108) KM 110-123 by June 2020.

    Rishikesh- DharasuHighway (NH-94) Km28-59 by July 2020.

    Rishikesh- Dharasu Highway (NH-94) Km 59-65 including Chamba Tunnel by October 2020.

    Chinialisaur bye-pass on Rishikesh- Dharasu Highway (NH-94) by October 2020.



  • REC Ltd partners with TajSATS to provide nutritious meals to frontline healthcare workers
    REC Foundation, the CSR arm of REC Limited, has tied up with TajSATS, a joint venture of IHCL and SATS Ltd, to distribute specially-made nutritious meal packets for medical staff in Safdarjung Hospital, New Delhi.

    Highlights:
    Under this tie-up, every day, 300 food packets are being delivered to the frontline healthcare warriors of New Delhi.

    Over 18,000 meals will be delivered in New Delhi through this initiative.

    REC Limited is spearheading the mission to feed the medical staff in key government hospitals as well as poor daily wage labourers across the nation, through collaborative efforts.

    REC Limited:
    REC Limited, formerly Rural Electrification Corporation Limited, was established in 1969. The NBFC is focusing on Power Sector Financing and Development across India. It provides financial assistance across the power sector value chain. Apart from this, REC is the nodal agency for the Government of India flagship schemes in the Power sector like DeendayalUpadhyaya Gram JyotiYojana (DDUGJY), Saubhagya, etc.



  • PFC signs MoU with NBPCL to fund 225 MW hydro-electric projects, Multipurpose projects in MP
    Power Finance Corporation (PFC), the central PSU under the Ministry of Power and India's leading NBFC, signed an agreement with Narmada Basin Projects Company Ltd. (NBPCL), a wholly-owned company of Government of Madhya Pradesh on 26 May 2020.

    The move aims to fund projects worth Rs.22,000crore for 225 MW hydro-electric projects & multipurpose projects in the State of Madhya Pradesh.

    Highlights:
    As per the agreement, the funds will be deployed by NBPCL for setting up hydroelectric projects of 225 MW and power components of 12 major multipurpose projects in Madhya Pradesh.

    The Government of Madhya Pradesh has conducted the pre-feasibility study of these projects and has provided approval for their execution.

    The disbursal of the amount will be linked to the execution of the projects.

    Under the MoU, PFC will actively partner with NBPCL and provide finance for hydro-electric plants totaling 225 MW along with power components of multipurpose projects as part of the state government’s endeavor to implement twelve major multipurpose projects.

    The major multipurpose projects that will be financed under the MoU are Chinki Boras Multipurpose Project NarsinghpurRaisenHoshangabad, Basaniya Multipurpose Project Dindori, SakkarPench Link NarsinghpurChhindwara, Dudhi Project ChhindwaraHoshangabad, etc.



  • Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana aims to enhance fish production in the country
    The Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY) has announced its plan to enhance fish production to 220 lakh metric tons (MT) by 2024-25 from 137.58 lakh MT in 2018-19 at an average annual growth rate of about 9%.

    The announcement was made by the Union Minister for Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying Giriraj Singh.

    Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana:
    The scheme will bring about Blue Revolution through the sustainable and responsible development of the fisheries sector in India.

    PMMSY scheme will be implemented over a period of 5 years from FY 2020-21 to FY 2024-25 in all States/Union Territories.

    The scheme aims to double export earnings to Rs.1,00,000crore.

    It also aims to generate about 55 lakh direct and indirect employment opportunities in the fisheries sector.

    The scheme is dedicated to aiding the fishers, fish farmers, fish workers, fish vendors, and other stakeholders associated with the fisheries sector.

    The scheme will envisage an estimated investment of Rs.20,050crores comprising a Central share of Rs.9,407 crore, the State share of Rs.4,880 crore, and Beneficiaries contribution of Rs.5,763 crore.

    The PMMSY aims to infuse new and emerging technologies like Re-circulatory Aquaculture Systems, Biofloc, Aquaponics, Cage Cultivation, etc. to enhance production and productivity, productive utilization of wastelands and water for Aquaculture.



  • CoAST India Platform | A GIS-Based Dashboard
    Indian Observatory, which is basically an open source database, has developed CoAST India Platform, a GIS-enabled dashboard to trace the migrant workers during their long journey.

    What you need to know about CoAST India Platform?
    CoAST India is short for “Collaboration/Covid Action Support Group” is a GIS-enabled dashboard which includes an India map reflecting the movement of migrants in real time on their long journeys, often on foot, along with facilities and relief organisations on their routes.

    The platform is a collaboration of Indian Observatory with Anand-based Forest Ecological Security (FES) which acts as its main nodal point.

    The CoAST India Platform draws information from 55 organisations on the ground, which is mostly located in villages, and aims to make such data available so that it would enable governments and small local civil society groups to be of assistance.

    The map matches “time and spatial data, on administrative facilities in the area, transportation and healthcare facilities of an area and summaries, on the fly, in real time of people passing by.”

    The map is available free in 12 different languages.



  • Modified PM Vaya Vandana Yojana. 
    This plan will be available for sale commencing from May 26 for 3 financial years – up to March 31, 2023.

    LIC is solely authorised to operate this scheme, which works as a Non-Linked, Non-Participating, Pension Scheme subsidised by the Centre.

    Modified PM Vaya Vandana Yojana (Modified-2020) Scheme?
    Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) announced the launch of the Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana (Modified- 2020) Scheme. This plan will be available for sale commencing from May 26 for 3 financial years – up to March 31, 2023.

    This scheme can be purchased offline as well as online from LIC of India.

    The Union Cabinet had earlier this month extended the PMVVY or PradhanMantriVayaVandanaYojana, which is a social security scheme for senior citizens.

    LIC is solely authorised to operate this scheme, which works as a Non-Linked, Non-Participating, Pension Scheme subsidised by the Centre.

    The policy term is of 10 years and for policies sold during the first financial year — up to March 31, 2021, the scheme will provide an assured rate of return of 7.40 per cent per annum payable monthly (which is equivalent to 7.66 per cent per annum) for the entire duration of 10 years.

    Benefits Under the Scheme
    Initially the scheme will provide an assured rate of return of 7.40 % per annum for the year 2020-21 per annum and thereafter to be reset every year.

    Pension is payable at the end of each period, during the policy term of 10 years, as per the frequency of monthly/ quarterly/ half-yearly/ yearly as chosen by the pensioner at the time of purchase.

    The scheme is exempted from GST.

    On survival of the pensioner to the end of the policy term of 10 years, purchase price along with final pension installment shall be payable.

    Loan upto 75% of Purchase Price shall be allowed after 3 policy years (to meet the liquidity needs).

    Loan interest shall be recovered from the pension installments and loan to be recovered from claim proceeds.

    The scheme also allows for premature exit for the treatment of any critical/ terminal illness of self or spouse. On such premature exit, 98% of the Purchase Price shall be refunded.

    On death of the pensioner during the policy term of 10 years, the Purchase Price shall be paid to the beneficiary.

    The ceiling of maximum pension is for a family as a whole, the family will comprise of pensioner, his/her spouse and dependants.

    The shortfall owing to the difference between the interest guaranteed and the actual interest earned and the expenses relating to administration shall be subsidized by the Government of India and reimbursed to the Corporation.

    Eligibility under the Scheme
    Minimum Entry Age: 60 years (completed)
    Maximum Entry Age: No limit
    Policy Term : 10 years
    Investment limit : Rs 15 lakh per senior citizen
    Minimum Pension: Rs. 1,000/- per month
    Rs. 3,000/- per quarter
    Rs.6,000/- per half-year
    Rs.12,000/- per year.
    Maximum Pension: Rs. 12,000/- per month
    Rs. 30,000/- per quarter
    Rs. 60,000/- per half-year
    Rs. 1,20,000/- per year



  • Van Dhan Webinar: Learning for post COVID-19
    A Webinar under Know Your Scheme-Lecture Series on “Van Dhan Yojana : Learning For Post Covid-19” was organized by the Department of Science and Technology, Government of Rajasthan in association with Trifed, Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Government of India.

    Key Takeaways
    The tribal gatherers can be one of the worst affected in these trying times, since this is the peak season for harvesting Non Timber Forest Produce (NTFP) in many regions.

    The biggest challenge for tribal artisans, however, is to market their products effectively and make more people aware of the top quality items they develop.

    The webinar organized by the Department of Science and Technology, Government of Rajasthan in association with TRIFED, Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Government of India, addressed the various initiatives taken by the TRIFED for tribals in the country.

    BACKGROUND:
    The webinar conducted addressed the various initiatives taken by the TRIFED for tribals in the country. These includes:

    TRIBES India: TRIFED (under Ministry of Tribal Affairs) has been playing an instrumental role in this regard by procuring tribal-made products and selling them to the masses in India and worldwide under the banner of TRIBES India.

    #GoTribal Campaign: It have launched a #GoTribal campaign and are growing from strength to strength via opening up of over 120 permanent outlets aross the country (including airports), ecommerce platforms.

    Aadi Mahotsav: Organizing grand ‘Aadi Mahotsavs and entering into tie-ups for providing training to the artisans for further capcity building, quality improvement and market alignment are other important activities by TRIFED.

    ‘Tech for Tribals’: TRIFED is also going forward with ‘Tech for Tribals’ initiative by partnering with leading IITs and IIMs of the country along with the Ministry of MSME to form an Entrepreneurship Skill Development Program.

    #iStandWithHumanity Initiative: TRIFED has collaborated with the Art of Living Foundation’s #iStandWithHumanity Initiative through a Stand With Tribal Families component in providing much needed Ration Kits for survival of the tribal community.

    Ration Kits have already been distributed across various regions of Kashmir, Telangana, Maharashtra, Karnataka and distribution is being planned for other parts of the country as well.

    Van Dhan Samajik Doori Jagrookta Abhiyaan: TRIFED also initiated Van Dhan Samajik Doori Jagrookta Abhiyaan in association with UNICEF, under which tribals are being provided with crucial information regarding COVID-19 with several guidelines, nationwide and state-specific webinars and instructions on safety measures to be followed.

    Minimum Support Prices of Non Timber Forest Produce (NTFP) items: The Ministry of Tribal Affairs has also revised the Minimum Support Prices of NTFP items to provide much needed relief to forest gatherers in these trying times.



  • Shiv Linga unearthed by Archaeological Survey of India
    Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) unearthed a Shiv Linga or representation of the Hindu deity Shiva dating back to the 9th century at Cham temple complex in Vietnam during restoration work.

    The development underscored the “civilisational connect” between the two countries and was also a “great cultural example of India’s development partnership.”

    Excavation of Shiv Linga
    The Shiv Linga or the Representation of the Hindu Deity “SHIVA” has been unearthed by the Archaeological Survey of India at Cham temple complex, Vietnam.

    The Cham Temple complex is a part of the UNESCO world heritage site of My Son in Quang Nam province of Vietnam.

    It was built in the 9th century AD during the reign of King Indravarman II, who was also responsible for the famous Dong Duong Buddhist monastery in the same region.

    French experts discovered the temple complex in a dilapidated condition in 1903-04.

    During excavations at that time, French archaeologists had described the presence of a Shiv Linga in the group of temples that is currently being renovated.

    However, due to limited excavation capabilities in those days, this Shiv Linga could not be recovered.

    Subsequently, political disturbances and wars in Vietnam led to destruction of the temple complex.

    The external affairs ministry created a new Development Partnership Division (DPA-IV) in January to coordinate and undertake culture and heritage conservation projects abroad.



  • The Delimitation Commission of India held its second meeting on 28th May, 2020, to review the progress of direction given by the Commission in its first meeting held on 29th April,2020.

    Earlier there was slight delay in organizing the first meeting due to ongoing lock down because of Covid 19 pandemic.

    What is Delimitation?
    Delimitation refers to the act or process by which limits or boundaries of territorial constituencies are fixed in a country to represent changes in the population.

    Why the procedure of Delimitation is practiced?
    The Delimitation process is followed to provide equal representation to equal segments of a population.

    With the help of delimitation, fair division of geographical areas can take place which in turn ensure that one political party doesn’t have an advantage over others in an election.

    Apart from above, delimitation ensures the compliance of the principle of “One Vote One Value”.

    BACKGROUND:
    As per the Indian Constitution, under Article 82, the Parliament enacts a Delimitation Act after every Census.

    Further, as per Article 170, States also get divided into territorial constituencies as per Delimitation Act after every Census.

    Once the Delimitation Act is in force, the Union government sets up a Delimitation Commission of India.

    The first delimitation exercise was carried out by the President (with the help of the Election Commission) in 1950-51. The Delimitation Commission Act was enacted in 1952.

    Delimitation Commissions have been set up four times — 1952, 1963, 1973 and 2002 under the Acts of 1952, 1962, 1972 and 2002.

    There was no delimitation after the 1981 and 1991 Censuses.



  • Asian Development Bank $177 million Loan to India. 
    The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of India signed a $177 million loan to upgrade 450 kilometers (km) of state highways and major district roads in the state of Maharashtra.



  • CIPET is renamed as Central Institute of Petrochemicals Engineering and Technology
    Centre has been renamed the Central Institute of Plastics Engineering & Technology (CIPET), a premier national institution under the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers, as Central Institute of Petrochemicals Engineering & Technology (CIPET). The announcement was made by the Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers DV Sadananda Gowda.

    Highlights:
    The name change has been registered under the Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act 1975, that is, Tamil Nadu Act 27 of 1975.

    CIPET will support the growth of the entire petrochemical sector with a focus on Academics, Skilling, Technology Support, and Research.

    The primary objective of the Institute is to contribute towards the growth of the plastics industry through a combined program of education and research.

    The Institute, so far, has created closer ties with industries with an aim to create innovative plastic-based solutions that are resource-efficient and marketable.



  • NDMA develops National Migrant Information System to facilitate movement of migrant workers
    National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) developed an online Dashboard-National Migrant Information System (NMIS). The central online repository aims to capture the information regarding the movement of migrants and facilitate the smooth movement of stranded persons across States.

    NMIS was developed after the Government of India allowed the movement of migrant workers by buses and Shramik special trains to enable them to travel to their native places.

    National Migrant Information System (NMIS):
    The online portal will maintain a central repository on migrant workers and help in speedy inter-State communication/co-ordination to facilitate their smooth movement to native places.

    NMIS has additional advantages like contact tracing, which may be useful in overall COVID-19 response work.

    The key data pertaining to the persons migrating has been standardized for uploading such as name, age, mobile number, originating and destination district, date of travel, etc., which States are already collecting.

    States will be able to visualize how many people are going out from where and how many are reaching destination States.

    The mobile numbers of people can be used for contact tracing and movement monitoring during COVID-19.



  • e-NAM reaches milestone of 1000 Mandis across 18 States, 3 UTs
    On 15 May, 38 new mandis were integrated with the e-NAM platform. With this move, the pan-India electronic agriculture trading portal, e-NAM has reached the milestone of 1,000 Mandis across 18 States and 3 Union Territories (UTS). The information was announced by the Agriculture Ministry.

    Highlights:
    The 38 new Mandis include 19 Mandis from Madhya Pradesh, 10 Mandis from Telangana, 4 from Maharashtra and one each in Gujarat, Haryana, Punjab, Kerala and Jammu, and Kashmir.

    e-NAM has become a tool for social distancing during the COVID-19 lockdown. States/UTs are promoting virtual trading platform like e-NAM thereby reducing human intervention in the handling the produce and trading ensured through online mode.

    e-NAM:
    E-NAM was launched in 2016. It aims to network all the existing Mandis on a common online market platform as 'One Nation, One Market' for agricultural commodities in the country.

    It also aims at reducing transaction costs, bridging information asymmetries, and helping the expansion of market access for farmers and other stakeholders. So far, e-NAM has registered a user base of 1.66 crore farmers, 1,31,000 traders, and more than 1,000 Farmers Producers Organizations.



  • HRD Minister launched set of 7 titles on “Psycho-Social impact of pandemic and lockdown and how to Cope With”
    Union Minister of Human Resource and Development Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank' launched a set of seven titles on "Psycho-Social impact of pandemic & lockdown and how to Cope With" by NBT, India.

    The titles are placed under the corona studies series of NBT. NBT brought out a remarkable and unparalleled set of books that will serve as guides to the mental well-being of people at large.

    Highlights:
    The Corona Studies Series was prepared by National Book Trust (NBT) to document and provide relevant reading materials for all age-groups for the post-Corona readership needs.

    The first-sub series of books focused on the Psycho-Social Impact of Pandemic and how one should cope up with the current situation prepared by a Study Group comprising of seven psychologists and counsellors constituted by NBT.

    The titles were launched ater a complete Study at the various aspects of Psycho-social impact on seven different segments of the society. The study was done through personal interviews, case studies and community perceptions that are based on the response to the on-line questionnaire floated through the website and other social media handles of NBT, India.



  • GoI, AIIB signed a loan agreement for a USD 145 million project to improve irrigation services
    Government of India (GoI), West Bengal state government, and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) signed a loan agreement for a $145 million project. The main objective is to improve flood management and irrigation services in the Damodar Valley Command Area (DVCA) in West Bengal state.

    Highlight:
    The West Bengal Major Irrigation and Flood Management Project aims to benefit about 2.7 million farmers from five districts of West Bengal. It will benefit over 393,964 ha area with better irrigation services and improved protection against annual flooding.

    The project will improve irrigation and agriculture in the area by optimizing the use of surface and groundwater. It will also strengthen flood management, which will, in turn, boost agricultural productivity and increase incomes in rural areas.

    The key challenges faced by the area is the degradation of infrastructure and inadequate irrigation management, including poor quality of service delivery, inefficient irrigation, and the failure to serve the middle and tail parts. The Lower Damodar basin area is historically flood-prone. The downstream part of the project area lacks the infrastructure to protect against recurrent flooding.



  • Chhattisgarh to launch Rajiv Gandhi Kisan Nyay Yojana
    Chhattisgarh State government is to launch Rajiv Gandhi Kisan Nyay Yojana on 21 May on the commemoration of the death anniversary of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. The scheme is aimed to stimulate the rural economy in the state, amid the slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Rajiv Gandhi Kisan Nyay Yojana:
    Under the scheme, the state government will inject Rs.5100 crore into the state's rural economy by directly transferring the grant amount through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) into the accounts of farmers.

    For this scheme, the state had made the provision for the scheme in the Budget 2020-21.

    The farmers would be paid Rs.10,000 per acre for paddy, corn, and sugarcane crops, based on the registered and procured area for the Kharif season.

    The scheme will benefit over 1.87 million farmers.

    The state government also plans to provide a fixed amount per acre based on the registered and notified areas for pulses and oil seed crops.



  • GoI, World Bank signs USD 750 million to Protect Indias Poorest from COVID-19 pandemic
    The Government of India (GoI) and the World Bank signed a $750 million of $1 billion proposed for Accelerating India's COVID-19 Social Protection Response Programme. The agreement aims to support India's efforts at providing social assistance to the poor and vulnerable households, severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Highlights:
    In April 2020, the World Bank announced $1 billion support towards immediate support to India's health sector. With this, the total fund committed from the Bank towards emergency COVID-19 response in India to $2 billion.

    The support by the World Bank will be funded in two phases. In the first phase, there will an immediate allocation of $750 million for the fiscal year 2020. In the second phase, a sum of $250 million second tranche will be made available for the fiscal year 2021.

    This programme aims to expand the impact and coverage of India's social protection system by helping vulnerable groups access more social benefits directly and across the country.

    The project will help India to move from 460 plus fragmented social protection schemes to an integrated system that is fast and more flexible, acknowledging the diversity of needs across states

    It also aims to enable geographic portability of social protection benefits that can be accessed from anywhere in the country. It will ensure food, social insurance, and cash-support for all, including for migrants and the urban poor.



  • Defence Minister approves Rs.400 crore Defence Testing Infrastructure Scheme
    Defence Minister Rajnath Singh approved the launch of the Defence Testing Infrastructure Scheme (DTIS) with an outlay of Rs.400 crore. The aim is to create a state of the art testing infrastructure for the defence sector and to boost domestic defence and aerospace manufacturing.

    Defence Testing Infrastructure Scheme:
    DTID Scheme will run for a duration of 5 years. Unser the scheme, the MoD set up 6-8 new test facilities in partnership with the private industry.

    The scheme will facilitate indigenous defence production, consequently, reduce imports of military equipment and help make the country self-reliant.

    The projects will be provided with up to 75% of government funding in the form of 'Grant-in-Aid'. The other 25% of the project cost will be borne by the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), whose constituents will be Indian private entities and State Governments.

    The SPVs will be registered under the Companies Act 2013.

    It will operate and maintain all assets under the Scheme, in a self-sustainable manner by collecting user charges. The systems that are tested will be certified as per appropriate accreditation.

    The majority of test facilities are expected to come up in the two Defence Industrial Corridors (DICs). The Scheme is not limited to setting up Test Facilities in the DICs only.



  • Defence Testing Infrastructure Scheme (DTIS) :
    In order to give a boost to domestic defence and aerospace manufacturing, the government has approved the launch of Defence Testing Infrastructure Scheme (DTIS) with an outlay of Rs 400 crore.

    USAID to fund Ventilators for India
    According to an official statement, India will take delivery of 200 ventilators donated by the United States within the next month.

    USAID aid to India
    According to the sources, the ventilators, which would be paid for by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), will arrive in May and June in two instalments, and a final schedule of delivery will be notified next week.

    While the government has not commented on the total value of the donation from the U.S., it is likely to be funded by an additional grant of $3 million that USAID had made last month.

    The ventilators, which were originally built for use in the United States, that has seen more than 1.5 million cases of COVID-19, are being “repurposed” for donations to several countries, including India.



  • MoHUA announced results of Star rating of garbage-free cities. 
    Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs (MoHUA) announced results of the Star rating of garbage-free cities for the assessment year 2019-2020. A total of six cities have been certified as 5-Star, 65 cities as 3-Star, and 70 cities as 1-Star.

    The results were announced by Hardeep S, Puri, Minister of State (I/C) for Housing and Urban Affairs. The revised protocol for the Star Rating Framework was also launched.

    Highlights:
    The Star Rating Protocol was launched by MoHUA in January 2018. The aim is to institutionalize a mechanism for cities to achieve Garbage Free status and motivate cities to achieve higher degrees of cleanliness.

    The 6 5-star rated cities are Ambikapur, Rajkot, Surat, Mysuru, Indore, and Navi Mumbai.

    The rating acknowledges the clean status of Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) and strengthened Solid Waste Management (SWM) systems.

    The performance of the cities under the Star Rating Protocol is crucial as it carries significant weightage when it comes to their final assessment in Swachh Survekshan.

    The 5-start rating protocol has been devised to include components such as the cleanliness of drains & water bodies, plastic waste management, managing construction & demolition waste, etc.

    Over 1435 cities applied for the Star Rating Assessment. It was based on 1.19 crore citizen feedbacks and over 10 lakh geo-tagged pictures were collected and 5175 solid waste processing plants were visited by 1210 field assessors. A total of 141 cities have been certified with Star Rating during field assessment.

    The low number of certifications signifies the rigorous and robust certification mechanism of the protocol.



  • Madhya Pradesh launched Charan Paduka initiative for migrant labourers
    Madhya Pradesh state government launched the Charan Paduka initiative. The first of its kind of initiative is for the migrant labourers passing through the Madhya Pradesh.

    Charan Paduka Initiative:
    Under the Charan Paduka campaign, the migrant labourers who are heading back to their native land will be provided shoes and slippers to reduce their pain.

    The campaign is being conducted by the police in most places. It aims to send the labourers to their homes respectfully amid COVID-19.

    The Charan Paduka campaign started from the Rau Police Station of Indore.

    The new initiative to support migrant labourers has spread in many cities of Madhya Pradesh including Damoh, Umaria, and Sagar.



  • Development of Museums and Cultural Spaces hosted a webinar on Revitalising Museums and Cultural Spaces
    Development of Museums and Cultural Spaces, Ministry of Culture, Government of India hosted a webinar on "Revitalising Museums and Cultural Spaces" on 18 May. The webinar aimed to celebrate the International Museum Day and kick start conversations around creating sustainable cultural organizations in post-pandemic India.

    Highlights:
    The webinar featured some of the best experts in the museum and cultural spaces domain including Founder Trustee of Museum of Art and Photography (MAP), Bengaluru Shri Abhishek Poddar, President of Kochi Biennale Foundation Shri Bose Krishnamachari, Founder and CEO of Cuseum Shri Brendan Ciecko, Managing Director of Teamwork Arts Shri Sanjoy K Roy and CEO of Museums and Cultural Spaces, Ministry of Culture, GoI (Moderator) Shri Raghvendra Singh.

    The objective aims to identify the possible policy actions that will help alleviate the short and long term effects of the crisis on museums, cultural spaces, and their broader ecosystems.

    Discussion on impact, innovations, and post-COVID-19 crisis planning in the context of Museums and cultural spaces were held.

    The cultural spaces were reimaged to introduce innovative ideas to maximize the social and economic value of cultural heritage and to build capacity in order to engage with local audiences and tourists.

    The discussion aimed to prepare policy paper and get agreement on whatever is practical and feasible.



  • India participated in 73rd WHA
    India participated in the 73rd World Health Assembly (WHA) on 18 May. India was represented by Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare through video conference. WHA addressed Global Vaccine Plan, polio eradication, and neglected tropical diseases other than COVID-19.

    Highlights:
    On this platform, the health leaders committed to fighting COVID-19 pandemic together, in unity, in solidarity.

    Australia initiated the COVID-19 investigation during the conference. China showed its opposition to investigate.

    The committee decided to work on the transmission routes of the virus to find out the possible host and look for solutions to prevent such outbreaks in the future.



  • GoI to implement Shekatkar Committee recommendations related to creating border infrastructure
    Government has decided to implement three important recommendations of the Shekatkar Committee of Experts (CoE). The CoE is headed by the Chairmanship of Lt General D B Shekatkar (Retd). The recommendations are related to border Infrastructure like speeding up road construction, leading to socio-economic development in the border areas.

    Highlights:
    GoI has implemented the recommendation of CoE to outsource road construction work beyond the optimal capacity of the Border Roads Organisation (BRO). As per the recommendation, Centre has made it mandatory to adopt Engineering Procurement Contract (EPC) mode for execution of all works costing more than Rs.100 crore.

    GoI has decided to introduce modern construction equipment, plants, and machinery that have been implemented by delegating enhanced procurement powers from Rs.7.5 crore to Rs.100 crore to BRO, for domestic and foreign procurements.

    BRO has been directed to use new technology like blasting technology for precision blasting, use of Geo-Textiles for soil stabilization, the cementitious base for pavements, plastic-coated aggregates for surfacing, to enhance the pace of construction.

    It has also approved the land acquisition and all statutory clearances like forest and environmental clearance which are part of the approval of the Detailed Project Report (DPR).

    Background:
    The 11-member Shekatkar Committee was appointed by the late Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar in 2016. The Shekatkar Committee had made a total of 99 recommendations. The implementation of the recommendation of the committee is expected to save Rs.25,000 crores. In 2017, around 65 were approved by the Ministry of Defence.



  • Cabinet approves extension for the welfare of Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana
    The Union Cabinet led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved the extension for the welfare of Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana (PMVVY). It aims to enable old age income security for Senior Citizens:

    Highlights:
    As per the approval, the scheme is extended up to 31 March 2023 for a further period of three years beyond 31 March 2020.

    It also allowed initially an assured rate of return of 7.40% per annum for the year 2020-21 per annum and thereafter to be reset every year.

    Annual reset of the assured rate of interest with effect from 1 April of the financial year in line with the revised rate of returns of Senior Citizens Saving Scheme (SCSS) up to a ceiling of 7.75% with a fresh appraisal of the scheme on breach of this threshold at any point.

    It also approved the expenditure to be incurred on account of the difference between the market rate of return generated by LIC (net of expenses) and the guaranteed rate of return under the scheme.

    The extension also includes capping Management expenses at 0.5% p.a. of funds of the scheme for the first year of scheme in respect of new policies issued and thereafter 0.3% p.a. for the second year onwards for the next 9 years.



  • Cabinet approves Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana
    The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved the implementation of the Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY) on 20th May 2020. The scheme aims to boost investments in the fisheries sector and increase of competitiveness of fish and fisheries products.

    Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana:
    The Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana scheme aims to bring about Blue Revolution through sustainable and responsible development of the fisheries sector in India under two components namely, Central Sector Scheme (CS) and Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS).

    The total estimated investment for the scheme is Rs.20,050 crore comprising of the Central government share of Rs.9,407 crore, State government share of Rs.4,880 crore, and Beneficiaries' share of Rs.5,763 crore.

    PMMSY Scheme will be implemented during a period of 5 years from FY 2020-21 to FY 2024-25.

    The scheme aims to address the critical gaps in the fisheries sector and realize its potential.

    The main objective of the scheme is the doubling of fishers, fish farmers, and fish workers' incomes by 2024.

    It will ensure the availability of certified quality fish seed and feed, traceability in fish, and including effective aquatic health management.



  • Ayushman Bharat beneficiaries touch 1 crore
    Ayushman Bharat beneficiaries set a milestone by touching 1 crore count across the country. The scheme is meant only for poor and economically-deprived people in India. The eligible families to avail the benefits of the scheme are fixed based on the Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC).

    Ayushman Bharat:
    Ayushman Bharat or the National Health Protection Mission (AB-NHPM) was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in September 2018 in Ranchi, Jharkhand. The mission is popularly known as Modicare. The flagship health insurance programme of GoI aims to provide Rs.5 lakh hospitalization cover to up to 107.4 million poor and vulnerable families.

    Under the mission, over 1.5 lakh sub-centres were converted into wellness centres with an aim to cater to the majority of services such as detection and treatment of cardiovascular diseases, screening for common cancers, mental health, care of the elderly, eye care, etc. The wellness centres under the mission also offer a set of services including mental health services, maternal and child health services, and vaccinations against selected communicable diseases.



  • MHRD launched National Test Abhyas App
    Union Minister of Human Resource and Development has recently launched a new mobile application named, “National Test Abhyas”.

    National Test Abhyas:
    The App has been developed by National Testing Agency (NTA) to enable candidates to take mock tests for upcoming exams such as JEE Main, NEET under the NTA’s purview.

    The app has been launched to facilitate candidates’ access to high quality mock tests in the safety and comfort of their homes since there was a demand for making up the loss to students due to closure of educational institutions and NTA’s Test-Practice Centers (TPCs) due to the continuing lockdown.

    Students across the country can use the App to access high quality tests, free of cost, in a bid to be fully prepared for the upcoming JEE, NEET and other competitive exams.

    The app will make available practice tests on smartphones or computers for all students in India irrespective of their level of access to devices and quality of network.

    The app also has an offline mode where students, on downloading the mock tests, can attempt the test without the internet.

    The app works on Android-based smartphones and tablets and can be downloaded from Google Play Store.

    The app will be soon available on iOS.

    NTA plans to release one new mock test on the app everyday, which students can then download and attempt offline. Once the test is completed, students can go online again to submit the test and view their test report.

    In addition to that NTA has developed extensive support system at http://nta.ac.in/abhyas/help.



  • GoI launches scheme to solarise entire Konark Temple
    GoI has launched a scheme for the solarisation of Konark Sun Temple and Konark town in Odisha. The announcement was made by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy. The main objective of the scheme is to develop the historical Sun temple town of Konark in Odisha as 'Surya Nagri'.

    Highlights:
    Under the scheme, the Centre aims to set up the 10-MW grid-connected solar project and various solar off-grid applications such as solar drinking water kiosks, solar trees, and off-grid solar power plants with battery storage.

    It will be set up with a 100% central financial assistance (CFA) support of around Rs.25 crore from the Government of India through the MNRE.

    The implementation of the project will be done by the Odisha Renewable Energy Development Agency (OREDA).

    The scheme is expected to meet all the energy requirements of Konark town with solar energy.



  • The 21st Dekho Apna Desh Webinar Series was recently conducted by the Ministry of Toursim as part of its Dekho Apna Desh Scheme.

    The Dekho Apna Desh Webinar Series is presented with support of National e-Governance Division (NeGD) of Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY).

    Key Highlights of 21st Dekho Apna Desh Webinar Series
    The 21st edition of the Dekho Apna Desh webinar series showcased the Tradition, Culture and Tourism of Bhopal, the capital city of Madhya Pradesh more commonly known as ‘The Heart of Incredible India.’

    TITLE: ‘Photowalking Bhopal : Tradition, Culture and Tourism’

    A number of experiences were showcased by the presenters about Bhopal which include ‘Paan’ ‘ Sulemani Chai,’ the embroidery work on silk, the Jeeps and much more. .

    Several historical places including the Minto Hall (architectural marvel in Bhopal constructed by NawabSultan Jahan Begum) were listed during the session.



  • Union Cabinet has given its approval for “Scheme for formalization of Micro Food Processing Enterprises (FME)”, a Centrally Sponsored Scheme for the unorganized sector.

    Key Objectives of the Scheme :
    To increase in access to finance by micro food processing units.

    Further increase in revenues of target enterprises.

    To ensure enhanced compliance with food quality and safety standards.

    Strengthening capacities of support systems.

    To ensure a transition from the unorganized sector to the formal sector.

    Provide a special focus on women entrepreneurs and Aspirational districts.

    To encourage Waste to Wealth activities.

    To enlarge its focus on minor forest produce in Tribal Districts.



  • Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS)
    The Union Cabinet has given its approval for the Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS) to enable additional funding of up to Rs. 3 lakh crore to eligible MSMEs.

    Key Highlights
    The Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS) has been formulated as a specific response to the unprecedented situation caused by COVID-19 and the consequent lockdown, which has severely impacted manufacturing and other activities in the MSME sector.

    AIM
    The Scheme aims at mitigating the economic distress being faced by MSMEs by providing them additional funding of up to Rs. 3 lakh crore in the form of a fully guaranteed emergency credit line.

    OBJECTIVES
    The main objective of the Scheme is to provide an incentive to Member Lending Institutions (MLIs), i.e., Banks, Financial Institutions (FIs) and Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs) to increase access to, and enable availability of additional funding facility to MSME borrowers, in view of the economic distress caused by the COVID-19 crisis.

    This is planned to be done by providing them 100 % guarantee for any losses suffered by them due to non-repayment of the Guaranteed Emergency Credit Line (GECL) funding by borrowers.



  • MoD approves 26 Defence items from local suppliers to boost Make in India
    Ministry of Defence (MoD) has approved the procurement of 26 defence items only from local suppliers to boost the "Make in India" initiative. GoI has issued Public Procurement (Preference to Make in India) Order 2017 to promote the manufacturing and production of goods and services in India.

    Highlights:
    MoD has notified 127 items where purchase preference is given to local suppliers as per PPP-MII 2017.

    It also aims to encourage procurement from local suppliers. The procuring entities shall procure these items only from local suppliers, irrespective of the purchase value, provided that the local suppliers meet the Minimum Local Content (MLC) as prescribed for each item.

    MoD has already procured 26 out of 127 items from the local suppliers. The 26 items include helo landing grids, inflatable boats, oil pumps, high-temperature gasket among others.



  • National Anti-Terrorism Day is observed on 21 May
    National Anti-Terrorism Day is observed on 21 May every year in India. The day aims to raise awareness about the anti-social act of terrorism and its impact on human suffering and lives.

    The day marks the death anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi, the Former Prime Minister of India. The day also aims to spread the message of peace and humanity and to promote unity among people.

    Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the day has been decided to be observed with precautions. Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has advised that 'Anti-Terrorism Pledge' may be taken solemnly by the Officials in their rooms/offices itself.

    History:
    The seventh Prime Minister of India Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated on 21 May 1991. He was killed in Tamil Nadu in a campaign by the terrorist. Following this tragedy, under the V.P. Singh government, the Centre has decided to observe 21 May as Anti Terrorism Day.



  • J&K Civil Services (Decentralization and Recruitment) Act 2010
    Union Cabinet has given its approval for the Jammu & Kashmir (Adaptation of State Laws) Second Order, 2020 issued under section 96 of Jammu & Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019.

    This order has further modified the applicability of Domicile conditions to all level of jobs in the Union territory of Jammu & Kashmir under the Jammu & Kashmir Civil Services (Decentralisation and Recruitment) Act, 2010.

    What you need to know about Jammu & Kashmir Reorganization Order (2020)?
    Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Order would allow citizens from other states to become permanent residents of the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir. Previously, Article 370 reserved lands and jobs only for ‘permanent residents’, the definition of which has been altered to domiciles through the approval of the new order.

    Under this new law, any person or children of a parent who has resided in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir for at least 15 years or who has studied for a period of seven years and appeared in class 10 or 12 examinations in an educational institution located in the territory will be eligible to become a permanent resident.

    Furthermore, central government officials who have served in the region for at least 10 years will also be provided domicile status along with their children.

    A migrant registered by the Relief and Rehabilitation Commissioner of the Union Territory will also be eligible to be domicile.

    This notification was issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs in exercise of the powers provided by section 14 under section 96 of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, referred to as the J&K Civil Services (Decentralization and Recruitment Act).

    This law would allow people with a domicile status to apply for gazetted or non-gazetted jobs.

    Initially, the Home Ministry issued an order that provided protection to domiciles in “Group D and entry-level non gazetted government posts,” i.e. a post carrying a pay-scale of not more than level 4. However, political parties in Kashmir showed discontent to this new law stating it was discriminatory towards the citizens of the state.

    Hence, on April 3, 2020, a fresh order was issued that would reserve any post in the government for the domiciles including senior positions in the group A and B categories.



  • Coir Geotextiles in Road Constructions under PMGSY
    Under the third phase of PM Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) i.e., PMGSY-III, coir geotextiles are to be used for the construction of roads.

    This was announced by the National Rural Infrastructure Development Agency under Union Ministry of Rural Development, Govt. of India.

    The decision will give a big boost to the coir industry especially in these difficult times of COVID-19 pandemic.

    PMGSY new technology guidelines :
    According to the PMGSY new technology guidelines for road construction, 15% length in each batch of proposals, is to be constructed using new technologies.

    Out of this 5% roads are to be constructed using IRC accredited technology.

    The IRC has now accredited coir Geo textiles for construction of rural roads.

    As per these instructions, 5% length of the rural roads under PMGSY-III will be constructed using Coir Geo textiles.

    Accordingly road will be constructed using coir geo textiles in following 7 states of the country namely,
    164 km in Andhra Pradesh
    151 km in Gujarat
    71 km in Kerala
    328 km in Maharashtra
    470 km in Odisha
    369 km in Tamil Nadu
    121 km in Telengana.

    Thus, 1674 km road will be constructed using Coir Geo textiles for which there will be a requirement of 1 Crore Sq. meter of coir Geo-textiles, estimated cost of which would come to Rs.70 Crore.

    Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana
    The Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) is a nationwide plan in India to provide good all-weather road connectivity to unconnected villages. This Centrally Sponsored Scheme was introduced in 2000 by the then-prime minister of India Late Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

    The PMGSY is under the authority of the Ministry of Rural Development and was begun on 25 December 2000. It is fully funded by the central government.

    During November 2015, following the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission, the Sub-Group of Chief Ministers on Rationalization of Centrally Sponsored Schemes, it was announced that the project will be funded by both the central government (60%) and states (40%).



  • NSafe mask-Reusable Antimicrobial Mask
    IIT-Delhi startup named Nanosafe Solutions has launched an antimicrobial and washable face mask that can be reused up to 50 launderings. The move comes with the increasing demand for face masks to contain transmission of coronavirus.

    Washable face mask:
    NSafe mask is a three-layered product. It consists of an inner hydrophilic layer for comfort, the middle layer having antimicrobial activity, and the outermost layer having water and oil repellent behaviour.

    NSafe is the first fabric-based antimicrobial face mask launched in India.

    NSafe mask has 99.2% bacterial filtration efficiency (at 3 microns) and has very high Bacterial Filtration Efficiency, as tested according to ASTM standards.

    The mask is engineered to have very good breathability and comfort

    It has been designed to maximize durability and dimensional stability. The mask can be reused 50 times.

    Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, effective reusability is an important factor as single-use masks cause huge disposal issues.

    The mask provides extreme comfortability and breathability. Elastic band in the chin region and wire in the nose region provides an adequate fit of the mask to the wearer.



  • TRIFED, Art of Living Foundation collaborates to provide Free Ration Kits to needy tribes India artisans
    Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India (TRIFED) under the Ministry of Tribal Affairs signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Art of Living Foundation (AOL) to help the needy tribes India artisans amid COVID-19 pandemic.

    Highlights:
    The agreement aims to collaborate in respective programmes of each organization for promoting Tribal Enterprises.

    Under this, the Art of Living Foundation has agreed to provide Free Ration Kits to Needy Tribes India Artisans.

    TRIFED Regional Offices have compiled the list of needy tribal artisans and have identified 9,409 needy tribal artisans located across the country for distribution of ration kits under #iStandWithHumanity campaign of Art Of Living.

    The move will be coordinated with the AOL offices in all States.



  • Massive exercise to supply free food grains, pulses to 80 crore people under PM-GKAY
    Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution reported that the Food Corporation of India (FCI) has supplied a total number of 2641 rakes, including Wheat and Rice. The announcement was made by Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Ram Vilas Paswan.

    Measures to help poor:
    PM-GKAY aims to ensure no poor vulnerable family/person suffers on account of the non-availability of foodgrains due to disruptions in the next three months amid lockdown.

    Under the initiative, 21 States/UT have completed more than 90% distribution for the month of April under PM-GKAY. It covered nearly 41.35 crore beneficiaries in these States/UTs.

    Some states/UTs namely, Andaman Nicobar Island, D&NH and Daman & Diu, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Puducherry, Himachal Pradesh, etc. are distributing foodgrains for two months in one go under PM-GKAY.

    So far, 17 States/UTs are covered under the 'One Nation One Ration Card'.

    National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED) provided free pulses for 3 months to about 19.50 crore households for three months in the country.

    Also, the Department of Food & Public Distribution has constituted a Task Force to assess the situation arising out of shortage of jute bags/bales for the packaging of food grains due to the COVID19 lockdown. The Ministry also relaxed guidelines for packaging of foodgrains in used gunny bags and HDPE/PPE bags.



  • Giriraj Singh awards Startup India-Animal Husbandry Grand Challenge winners
    Union Minister for Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, Giriraj Singh awarded the winners of "Startup India-Animal Husbandry Grand Challenge" on 8 May. The Animal Husbandry Startup Grand Challenge was launched by the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying, in partnership with Startup India.

    Animal Husbandry Startup Grand Challenge:
    Animal Husbandry Startup Grand Challenge was launched by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi on 11 September 2019 at a national animal disease control programme in Mathura.

    The challenge aimed to scout for innovative and commercially viable solutions to address the problems faced by the Animal Husbandry and Dairy sector.

    The challenge was to provide unique solutions for six problems namely Value-added products, Single-use plastic alternatives, eliminate milk adulteration, Breed improvement and animal nutrition, E-commerce solutions, and Product traceability.

    2 Startups per problem statement have been selected to receive cash grants and incubation. The winner will be granted Rs.10 lakh and the runner will be awarded Rs.7 lakh.



  • MoD signs with Tata Power SED for Modernisation of Air Field Infrastructure
    Ministry of Defence (MoD) signed a contract with M/s Tata Power SED (TPSED) for Modernisation of Air Field Infrastructure (MAFI) of 37 airfields for the Indian Air Force(IAF), Indian Navy (IN) and Indian Coast Guard (ICG) on 8 May.

    The cost of the contract is worth around Rs.1,200crore. The proposal regarding the contract was approved by the Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. The contract will boost the domestic industry amid the COVID-19 situation.

    Project Highlights:
    The MAFI Phase-II is a follow-on programme that is based on MAFI Phase-I.

    In Phase-I, the project included the upgradation of 30 airfields of IAF. The airfields modernized under MAFI Phase-I have been of immense benefit to both military and civil users.

    The Phase-II of the project includes installation and commissioning of modern airfield equipment like Cat-II Instrument Landing System (ILS); and Cat-II Air Field Lighting System (AFLS), etc. The system around the airfield will be directly connected to Air Traffic Control (ATC), thereby providing excellent control of the airfield systems to the air traffic controllers.

    The upgradation of infrastructure and navigational aids under the project will enhance the operational capability by facilitating air operations of military and civil aircraft even in poor visibility and adverse weather conditions. It will also enhance aerospace safety.

    The project will give a boost to over 250 Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSME) which will be directly benefited from being involved in the execution of various activities of this project.

    The contract will help to infuse the much-needed capital in the market and boost employment generation in such fields as communications, avionics, information technology, apart from civil and electrical equipment and construction.



  • Registration Committee recommends the ban use of TB drug on crops
    The Registration Committee (RC) under the Central Insecticides Board and Registration Committee (CIBRC) recommended a complete ban on the use of antibiotics streptomycin and tetracycline on crops with immediate effect.

    It suggested that other options were available for bacterial disease control. The decision was made at the 414th meeting of the RC held on 1 May 2020. The report will be shared with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and the Department of Agriculture Cooperation for necessary action on suggesting alternatives.

    Highlights:
    The report recommended that streptomycin and tetracycline use be phased by 2022-end for crops for which no alternatives were available. It directed the antibiotics to be used on crops strictly as per the label claim.

    It also suggested measures to contain this malpractice and regulate it.

    The assessment was carried out in the agricultural farms of Delhi, Punjab, and Haryana. It was found that streptocycline, a 90:10 combination of streptomycin and tetracycline. But it was observed that it is being routinely and indiscriminately used by farmers in high doses in crops.

    Streptomycin:
    The World Health Organization (WHO) recognized streptomycin as a critically important medicine for human use. It is used to treat tuberculosis (TB) patients in India. It is also used in multidrug-resistant TB patients and in certain cases of TB meningitis (brain TB).



  • Registrar General of India released Birth rate, death rate, IMR data
    Data released by the Registrar General of India stated that India's infant mortality rate (IMR) has improved very marginally from 33 per 1,000 live births in 2017 to 32 in 2018.

    Report Highlights:
    The report stated that Madhya Pradesh has the worst IMR in the country at 48 and Nagaland stands the best at 4. In 2017, Madhya Pradesh's IMR stood at 47.

    Among large states, Kerala has performed best with an IMR in single digits at 7. Also, only Kerala state has now achieved the United Nations' sustainable development goal in this regard.

    The report stated that the largest decline in IMR has been registered by Mizoram, with a decline from 15 to 5. Undivided Jammu and Kashmir has shown a decline and is at 22, well below the national average of 32.

    Child and infant mortality stands as a massive problem in India despite improvements over the years. In 2018, an estimated 8,82,000 children under the age of 5 died in India.

    Registrar General of India also released data for death and birth rates. India’s birth rate stood at 20. The death rate was 6.2. Chhattisgarh has the highest death rate in the country at 8 whereas Delhi has the lowest at 3.

    Birth rate in India has declined from 36 in 1971 to 20 now. The death rate in 1971 was 14.9.



  • Centre launched Mission Sagar for assistance to Indian Ocean nations amid COVID-19 crisis
    Government of India launched "Mission Sagar" on 10 May. The aim is to provide assistance to Indian Ocean Region Nations amid the coronavirus crisis. The operation is being progressed in coordination with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). The mission is in line with the Prime Minister's vision of SAGAR.

    Mission Sagar:
    The mission is a part of the Government of India outreach amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Under the mission, Indian Naval Ship (INS) Kesari has departed for Maldives, Mauritius, Seychelles, Madagascar, and Comoros, to provide Food Items, COVID related Medicines including HCQ Tablets and Special Ayurvedic Medicines with Medical Assistance Teams.

    The Ship will deliver consignments of COVID related essential medicines including Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) tablets, to Mauritius, Madagascar, Comoros and Seychelles and about 600 tonnes of food items to the Maldives.

    SAGAR Vision:
    In 2015, GoI introduced its vision of the Indian Ocean called Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR). The aim is to seek economic and security cooperation with India's neighbours, especially maritime neighbours, under the vision. Under this vision, India would cooperate on the exchange of information, the building of infrastructure, coastal surveillance, and strengthening mutual capabilities with its neighbour countries.



  • National Fertilizers Ltd. sale rose to 71 percent in April 2020 despited COVID-19 lockdown
    Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers reported that National Fertilizers Ltd, a PSU under GoI, registered a 71% growth in fertilizer sales in April 2020. The stringent restrictions in April due to COVID-19 lockdown Company recorded fertilizer sale of 3.62 Lakh MT in April 2020 compared to 2.12 Lakh MT in the same period 2019.

    Highlights:
    National Fertilizers Ltd made fertilizers available to farmers during this crucial period. It has achieved the highest-ever growth in sales in the month of April 2020.

    NFL produced urea at its five plants located at Nangal and Bathinda in Punjab, Panipat in Haryana, and two plants at Vijaipur in Madhya Pradesh. Though the company has a production capacity of 35.68 Lakh MT of urea.

    With all these products, the company has recorded the highest-ever sale of 57 Lakh MT in 2019-20, continuously for the fifth time in a row.

    Maintaining optimum operations of these plants in difficult times is a big success story especially towards fulfilling the Government's commitment to the farming community of the country.



  • Indian Railways operates Shramik Special trains across the country amid lockdown
    Indian Railways has decided to operate "Shramik Special" trains. The operation of the trains aims to help the migrant workers, pilgrims, tourists, students, and other people who are stranded at different places due to lockdown.
    As of 10 May 2020, a total of 366 Shramik Special trains have been operationalized from various states across the country amid lockdown.



  • National Technology Day is observed on 11 May. The day highlights the importance of science in daily life. It also encourages youngsters to get into the field for their career options.

    Events:
    Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Science and Technology (DBT) is conducting a session on YouTube. Digital Conference will focus on RE-START 'Reboot the Economy through Science, Technology and Research Translations.' It will focus on rebooting the economy through Science and Technology.

    The conference aims to bring together Scientists, Technocrats, Diplomats, World Health Organization (WHO) officials and dignitaries from national and international Industries, Research Institutions, and Academic Institutions.

    History:
    The observance of the National Technology Day was coined by late Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The day has been designated to commemorate the major technological breakthroughs, achievements, and contributions of Indian scientists and engineers.

    On 11 May 1998, India tested the nuclear tests at Pokhran. Also, on that day India conducted its nuclear missile Shakti, also known as Operation Shakti. The day aims to recognize the country's technological advancements.



  • ICMR, NCDC to begin serosurvey to monitor COVID-19 prevalence at district level
    The Union Health Ministry announced that the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has initiated a population-based serosurvey to monitor the trend in the prevalence of the infection at the district level.

    Highlights:
    The two government research bodies will collaborate with key stakeholders for the survey at 10 health facilities, of which 6 are public and 4 are private.

    The serosurvey involves testing of blood serum of a group of individuals to determine the presence of antibodies against that infection.

    It is also planning to establish systematic surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 infection in all districts of the country.

    The surveillance will be in addition to the routine testing as per current testing guidelines. The survey will include 200 samples per week and 800 samples per month.

    A minimum of 100 samples per week and 400 per month of healthcare workers from selected districts would be tested.

    Among the high-risk population, outpatient attendees (non-ILI patients) and pregnant women among the low-risk group, and health care workers will be tested.

    Data on demographic characteristics will be collected on a specifically designed standard data collection form.

    The collected data will be analyzed locally for action using standard indicator formats. Indicators will be made for person, place, time, and trend analysis.



  • Ministry of MSME launches CHAMPIONS Portal
    Union Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) has launched the CHAMPIONS portal, a Technology-driven Control Room-Cum-Management Information System.

    The CHAMPIONS stands here for the Creation and Harmonious Application of Modern Processes for Increasing the Output and National Strength.

    CHAMPIONS:
    CHAMPIONS portal aims to make the smaller units big by solving their grievances, encouraging, supporting, helping, and handholding.

    It has been developed as a real one-stop-shop solution of MSME Ministry. It is a technology-packed control room-cum-management information system.

    The system is enabled by Artificial Intelligence (AI), Data Analytics, and Machine Learning in addition to ICT tools including telephone, internet, and video conference.

    As part of the system, a network of control rooms is created in a Hub & Spoke Model. So far, 66 state-level control rooms are created as part of the system.



  • Department of Consumer Affairs partners with Safejob, Seekify for Suraksha Store initiative
    The Department of Consumer Affairs has launched the Suraksha Store initiative. Under the initiative, the department has partnered with tech start-ups Safejob and Seekify to use technology to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at the local Kirana store level.

    Suraksha Store initiative:
    The primary objective of the project is to educate Kirana store owners across the country about the COVID-19 safety guidelines and protocols that are to be followed while running their businesses.

    The protocols were prepared by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). It included norms around social distancing and hygiene at all retail outlets.

    The main objective of the initiative was to allow consumers to use the AarogyaSetu app to find a Suraksha Store near them and shop.

    Currently, more than 7 lakh retailers have enrolled for this training and over 70K Kirana employees have completed the awareness training.



  • Bengaluru launched Pranavayu programme to create awareness about examining respiratory health
    The Bengaluru city corporation, Karnataka has launched Pranavayu programme to create awareness on the need to self examine the respiratory health for the city people.

    Pranavayu programme:
    Pranavayu programme aims to create awareness through advertisements in media about the need to carry out self examination for early detection of any ailment that could aggravate the situation if contracted with the viral infection.

    The initiative will allow them to monitor blood oxygen levels and heart rates of patients showing influenza-like illnesses (ILI) in fever clinics.

    Several deaths due to COVID-19 are reported due to Severe Acute Respiratory illness (SARI).

    Pranavayu awareness programme is an attempt to help people with low oxygen level in their blood to get themselves checked early before their ailments become fatal.

    So far, Bengaluru Urban district in Karnataka reported 175 confirmed COVID-19 positive cases and 6 people have died due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 84 persons have recovered and discharged. There are 21 containment zones in the city.



  • New 177 mandis integrated with e-NAM platform
    The Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Narendra Singh Tomar launched the integration of 177 new mandis with the National Agriculture Market (e-NAM) on 11 May. The move is to strengthen agriculture marketing and facilitate farmers to sell their harvested produce through the online portal.

    e-NAM platform:
    The 177 new mandis are from 10 States and Union Territories (UTs).

    The mandis integrated are as follows: Gujarat (17), Haryana (26), J&K (1), Kerala (5), Maharashtra (54), Odisha (15), Punjab (17), Rajasthan (25), Tamil Nadu (13) and West Bengal (1).

    With the launch of 177 additional mandis, the total number of e-NAM mandis across the country is 962.

    Earlier, 785 mandis were integrated with e-NAM across 17 States and 2 UTs, with a user base of 1.66 crore Farmers, 1.30 lakh traders, and 71,911 Commission Agents.

    Currently, 150 commodities, including food grains, oilseeds, fibers, vegetables, and fruits, are being traded on e-NAM.

    More than 1,005 Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) have been registered on the e-NAM platform and have traded 2900 MT of agri-produce worth Rs.7.92 Crores.

    e-NAM:
    National Agriculture Market (e-NAM) is an electronic trading portal across India. The objective of the portal is to integrate the existing Mandis to "One Nation One Market" for agricultural commodities in India. e-NAM was launched on 14 April 2016 by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

    Small Farmers Agribusiness Consortium (SFAC) is the lead agency for implementing e-NAM. The portal functions under the aegis of the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare, GoI.

    The NAM Portal provides a single-window service for all Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) related information and services which includes commodity arrivals, quality & prices, provision to respond to trade offers, and electronic payment settlement directly into farmers' accounts and helping them for better market access.



  • Madhya Pradesh launched first-ever FIR Aapke Dwar Yojana
    Madhya Pradesh state government launched FIR Aapke Dwar Yojana 11 May in Bhopal. With this, Madhya Pradesh has become the first state in the country to implement such an innovative scheme. It was launched by the Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Dr. Narottam Mishra.

    FIR Aapke Dwar Scheme:
    Under the scheme, the people would not be required to visit the police station to lodge an FIR.

    The scheme has been started as a pilot project in 23 Police Stations including one urban and one rural Police Station at 11 Divisional Headquarters.

    Under the scheme, the Dial 100 vehicle will have trained Head Constables to lodge FIR.

    FIRs in complaints of general nature will be lodged on the spot. In case of serious complaints, guidance will be sought from senior officers.

    The Minister also launched helpline 'Dial 112'. It will facilitate the immediate availability of ambulance, police, and fire fighting services wherever needed.



  • Technology Centres to manufacture critical parts of Real-Time Quantitative Micro PCR System
    Technology Centres, Bhubaneswar, Jamshedpur and Kolkata of the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) are now manufacturing critical parts of Real-Time Quantitative Micro PCR System for AMTZ, Visakhapatnam.

    Highlights:
    The machine can give the COVID-19 Test result in less than one hour. Generally, the normal test result takes a minimum of 24 hours.

    These machines are compact and may be taken for testing anywhere, anytime, in real-time.

    The teams of the Technology Centers are working in 2/3 shifts to supply components for 600 Testing machines.

    150 Testing Machine components have already been supplied to AMTZ.

    The stainless steel components with an accuracy of 5 microns are being manufactured on the best machines of the world.

    The Corona Testing Device will be helpful to carry out testing at an affordable cost. The manufacture of the machine was made possible with active collaboration and support by the Technology Centres of the Ministry of MSME located at Bhubaneswar, Jamshedpur, and Kolkata.



  • PM Modi announces Rs.20-lakh-crore package for ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a Rs.20-lakh-crore special economic package, which is almost equal to 10 per cent of the country’s GDP.

    Meanwhile, he indicated that the lockdown will continue beyond May 17 but in a totally different form.

    “This package will lay emphasis on land, labour, liquidity and laws,” Modi said, in his fourth televised address to the nation in the last two months.

    The package included the first tranche of the stimulus amounting to Rs.1.70-lakh crore on March 26 and multiple policy measures including the Rs.3.74-lakh-crore liquidity infusion by the Reserve Bank of India.

    From Wednesday, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will start providing details of various measures proposed to address the concerns of all sections of the economy including migrant labourers, small vendors, farmers and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

    Titled ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’ (Self Reliant India Campaign), the package will focus on supply chain in the farm sector, taxation, simple and clear rules/regulations, sound infrastructure, competent and efficient labour force and a strong financial system.

    These reforms will promote business, attract investment, and further strengthen ‘Make in India’.

    5 Pillars:
    The 5 pillars announced by the PM are:
    1) The Economical changes that will not only bring incremental change but help in quantum jump.
    2) Infrastructures that will become symbol of modern India.
    3) Technology-driven system will help fulfill the dreams of the 21st century.
    4) The demography of India is the source and strength of self-reliant India.
    5) The supply cycle and demand will be focused to make sure the country harnesses its complete potential.



  • Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan ranks among biggest in world
    Government of India allocated total spending of Rs.20 lakh crore under "Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan or Self-reliant India Mission" to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

    This is among the largest economic stimulus package announced by nations across the world. The allocated fund is about 10% of India's GDP in 2019-20. With this move, India would rank behind Japan, the US, Sweden, Australia, and Germany.

    Highlights:

    The relief package includes Rs.1.7 lakh crore package the government had announced in March and the steps were taken by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) such as liquidity enhancing measures and interest rate cuts.

    The Rs.20 lakh crore package includes:
    In March, India committed Rs.1.7 lakh crore ($22.6 billion) in COVID-19 related relief measures that included free foodgrains to poor and some cash to poor senior citizens and women.

    IN March, the RBI announced Rs.3.7 lakh crore of liquidity support and another Rs.2 lakh crore in April.

    The RBI had also said its measures provided support equivalent to 3.5% of the GDP.

    Other countries:
    Japan has announced a package equivalent to 21.1% of its GDP.

    The US measures work out at an estimated 13% of GDP.

    Sweden has announced a stimulus equal to 12% of its GDP

    Australia allocated 10.8% of GDP to tackle COVID-19.

    Germany has announced spending of around $815 billion, equal to 10.7% of its GDP.



  • Delhi Police launched Thermal Corona Combat Headgear to enhance social distancing
    Delhi Police launched Thermal Corona Combat Gear (TCCH) through which police personnel will be able to detect the temperature of a large number of people from a distance of 10-15 metres. The initiative was launched by the police in collaboration with Indian Robotics Solution (IRS).

    Highlights:
    The first of its kind of equipment will ensure the safety of the frontline warriors and enforce social distancing.

    The wearer of the headgear will be able to scan the elevated body temperature-EBT. It will help in thermally scanning individuals from a safe distance of 10m to 15m.

    With the help of this equipment, live imagery can be sent to a centralized control centre. Frontline workers can scan people without coming in close contact with them in public areas such as hospitals, supermarkets, and crowded areas.

    Thermal Corona Combat Drone-(TCCD):
    The Delhi Police has also launched a 'Thermal Corona Combat Drone-(TCCD)' in tow with the same startup. The drone is fitted with a day-vision camera that can see the real image of the personnel, a disinfectant tank to sanitize an area when a suspected person is taken away for further tests, a spotlight with a night utility camera, a loudspeaker for giving instructions and a medical box to carry essentials like medicines or portable coronavirus testing kits. The drone has been successfully tested at Majnu ka Tila Basti, three slums in Noida Sector 15 and 16, and Gurugram where over more than 150 people were screened effectively as a sample size.



  • IIT-G, Duke-NUS carry out data-driven assessment of COVID-19 situation in India
    Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati (IIT-Guwahati) and the Duke-NUS Medical School, Singapore have partnered and used data science models to analyze and predict the total number of infected people for different States in India in the next 30 days.

    Highlights:
    The researchers used the Susceptible Infectious Susceptible (SIS) models, along with the model-free daily infection-rate and analyzed factors in the exponential, the logistic model.

    The report is based on the growth of recent active cases, along with the daily infection-rate (DIR) values for each State.

    A state is labelled as 'severe' if there is a non-decreasing trend in DIR values over the last two weeks along with a near exponential growth in active infected cases.

    A state is labelled 'moderate' if an almost decreasing trend in DIR values is observed over the last two weeks along with neither increasing nor decreasing growth in active infected cases.

    A state is labelled 'controlled' if a decreasing trend in the last two weeks' DIR values is observed along with a decreasing growth in active infected cases.

    The researchers recommended that this composite prediction will be used for assessment purposes for each State. States that are in a severe category are expected to take serious preventive measures immediately to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.



  • NDB provides USD 1 billion loan to India to fight COVID-19 pandemic
    The Shanghai-based New Development Bank of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) countries have fully disbursed $1 billion emergency assistance loan to India to help it contain the spread of COVID-19 and reduce human, social and economic losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The 'Emergency Assistance Program Loan' to India was approved by the NDB Board of Directors on 30 April.

    Highlights:
    The move aims to mobilize resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS countries and other emerging economies and developing nations, complementing the existing efforts of multilateral and regional financial institutions for global growth and development.

    It is aimed to support the Indian government to contain the spread of COVID-19 and reduce human, social and economic losses caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

    The programme includes Healthcare Sector Emergency Response and Strengthening Social Safety Net for expenditures already incurred since 1 January 2020.

    It aims to prevent, detect, and respond to the threat posed by the COVID-19, funding critical healthcare expenditure that will enhance healthcare capacity in India and strengthen national health systems preparedness and provide immediate economic assistance to the vulnerable and affected groups. It will facilitate economic and social recovery.



  • Anunta won VMware 2020 Regional Partner of the Year Award
    Anunta received the VMware 2020 Regional Partner of the Year Award for the Services Excellence category. Anunta was recognized for its demonstrable achievements using its skills and services capabilities, including consulting, managed, and subscription services, to help customers maximize the value received from their VMware investments.

    Highlights:
    Anunta was honoured under the Services Excellence category.

    Anunta's innovative solutions work on the next generation users including cloud based-desktop services was recognized.

    The VMware Partner of the Year Awards various categories including Services Excellence, Partner Value, Partner Social Impact, Digital Transformation, Cloud Platform Transformation, Partner Trailblazer, and the Global Partner for Technology Innovation Award.



  • Study states that Indias under-5 mortality rate since 2000 dropped by 49 percent
    Two scientific papers of India on child survival by the State-Level Disease Burden Initiative stated that the under-5 Mortality Rate in India has dropped by 49% since 2000. Also, there is a six-fold variation in the rate between states and an 11-fold variation between various districts.

    Highlights:
    The study highlighted that there were 1.04 million under-5 deaths in 2017, down from 2.24 million in 2000. Neonatal deaths were reduced from 1.02 million in 2000 to 0.57 million in 2017.

    Neonatal Mortality Rate (NMR) was reduced by 38% since 2000. There is a 5-fold variation in the rate between the states and 8-fold variation between the districts of India.

    It also highlighted the child mortality and child growth failure indicators have improved substantially across India from 2000 to 2017. Also, inequality between districts has increased.

    It highlighted that over 68% of under-5 deaths in India are attributable to the child and maternal malnutrition.

    It also reported the largest contributors within this risk factor are low birth weight and short gestation of 46% and child growth failure of 21%.

    11% of under-5 deaths are attributable to unsafe water and sanitation and 9% to air pollution. Meanwhile, 83% of the neonatal deaths are attributable to low birth weight and shorter gestation.

    The study stated that leading causes of under-5 deaths in India are lower respiratory infections of 17.9%, preterm birth of 15.6%, diarrhoeal diseases of 9.9%, and birth asphyxia and trauma of 8.1%. The death rate for all the major causes decreased between 2000 and 2017.



  • India ranked 74th on the global Energy Transition Index
    As per the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual rankings, India has secured the 74th position on the global Energy Transition Index (ETI). In the previous year, India ranked 76th.

    Key findings:
    India showed improvements in all key parameters of economic growth, energy security, and environmental sustainability.

    In WEF rankings, Sweden topped for a third consecutive year in the ETI. It is followed by Switzerland and Finland in the second and third positions respectively.

    The 2020 results showed that 75% of countries have improved their environmental sustainability.

    India has gained from a government-mandated renewable energy expansion programme, which has now extended to 275 GW by 2027.

    As per the report, India has made significant strides in energy efficiency through bulk procurement of LED bulbs, smart meters, and programs for labelling of appliances. India is also experimenting with similar measures to drive down the costs of electric vehicles (EV).

    India's improvement has come in economic development and growth, energy access and security, and environmental sustainability.



  • KVIC issues revised guidelines to implement Vocal for Local initiative
    The Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) issued revised guidelines to expedite the implementation of projects under the flagship programme Prime Minister's Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP) to hand-hold local production. The move comes after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "vocal for local" appeal.

    Revised guidelines:
    KVIC instructed the agencies concerned to scrutinize the applications under PMEGP and forward it to banks for disbursal of funds within 26 days.

    The commission aims to bring down this time-frame to 15 days.

    It also made it mandatory for implementing agencies to guide and hand-hold the applicants for the formulation of proposals and assist them till sanction of loan. KVIC instructed all its agencies to follow up with banks for the early sanction of loans.

    As per the revised guidelines, the Monitoring Cell at KVIC, Mumbai will monitor the application process on a daily basis. Also, it will give feedback to the implementing agencies every fortnight. The progress report will be placed for the perusal of the CEO and Chairman of KVIC.

    As per the guidelines, the implementing agencies must ensure that the applicant has secured at least 60 marks out of 100 in the scorecard, at the time of scrutiny.

    Similarly, technical feasibility like availability of raw material, manpower, access to transport, and electricity must be examined so as to reduce rejections at the bank level.

    The implementing agencies of KVIC should examine the market study, assessment of demand for the proposed product, similar projects in the vicinity, and the market strategy.

    The agencies should also ensure that the proposal falls under the selected bank's jurisdiction to avoid rejection on that ground.



  • Finance Minister announced measures for relief and credit support related to businesses
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a Special economic and comprehensive package of Rs.20 lakh crores on 13 May 2020, equivalent to 10% of India's GDP, for relief and credit support related to businesses, especially Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), to support Indian Economy's fight against COVID-19 pandemic. The Union Minister of Finance & Corporate Affairs Nirmala Sitharaman announced several measures of the Economic Package called Aatma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyaanor Self-Reliant India Movement.

    Highlights:
    Several measures included in the economic package are:
    For businesses, including MSMEs, Rs.3 lakh crore emergency Working Capital Facility has been allocated

    Rs.20,000crore Subordinate Debt for stressed MSMEs

    Rs.50,000crore equity has been planned to be infused through MSME Fund of Funds

    New Definition of MSME and other Measures for MSME

    No Global tenders for Government tenders of up to Rs.200 crore

    Extending the Employees Provident Fund Support for business and organized workers for another 3 months for salary months of June, July and August 2020

    EPF Contribution to be reduced for Employers and Employees for 3 months to 10% from 12% for all establishments covered by EPFO for the next 3 months

    Rs.30,000crore Special Liquidity Scheme for NBFC/HFC/MFIs

    Rs.45,000 crore Partial credit guarantee Scheme 2.0 for Liabilities of Non-Banking Financial Company (NBFCs)/Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs).

    Rs.90,000crore Liquidity Injection for power distribution companies (discoms).

    Relief to Contractors given by extension of up to 6 months for completion of contractual obligations, including in respect of EPC and concession agreements

    Relief to Real Estate Projects the registration and completion date for all registered projects will be extended up to six months.

    Tax relief to business as pending income tax refunds to charitable trusts and non-corporate businesses and professions to be issued immediately

    Reduction in Rates of 'Tax Deduction at Source' and 'Tax Collected at Source' by 25% for the remaining period of FY 20-21

    Due Dates for various tax-related compliances have been extended.



  • Sohrai Khovar painting, Telia Rumal gets GI Tag
    Sohrai Khovar painting and Telia Rumal were given the Geographical Indication (GI) tag by the Geographical Indications Registry headquartered in Chennai.

    Sohrai Khovar painting:
    Jharkhand's Sohrai Khovar painting is a traditional and ritualistic mural art. It is practised by local tribal women during local harvest and marriage seasons. The art is drawn using the local, naturally available soils of different colours in the area of the Hazaribagh district of Jharkhand.

    The art is traditionally painted on the walls of mud houses. It is now seen on other surfaces, too.

    The style features a profusion of lines, dots, animal figures, and plants, often representing religious iconography.

    Telia Rumal:
    Telia Rumals are offered at the Ajmer Sharif dargah in Rajasthan. The cloth is worn as a veil by princesses at the erstwhile court of the Nizam of Hyderabad and as a turban cloth by Arabs in the Middle East.

    Telangana's Telia Rumal cloth involves intricate handmade work with cotton loom displaying a variety of designs and motifs in three particular colours namely red, black and white.

    The cloth can only be created using the traditional handloom process and not by any other mechanical means. If not, it will lose the very quality of the Rumal.



  • Foodgrains production in India to touch record 295.67 MT in 2019-20 crop year
    Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers' Welfare stated that India's foodgrain production has been estimated to touch a record of 295.67 million tonnes (MT) in the 2019-20 crop year. The Ministry released the third advance estimate.

    Highlights:
    As per the data provided by the Agriculture Ministry, it is the fourth consecutive year that the country has witnessed record production buoyed by good rains.

    This data showed an increase of 10.46 MT from 285.21 MT achieved in the 2018-19 crop year.

    Record output is estimated in rice, wheat, coarse cereals, oilseeds, and cotton during the 2019-20 crop year (July-June).

    Rice and wheat production is estimated to set a record with 117.94 MT and 107.18 MT, respectively this year.



  • Harsh Vardhan dedicated COBAS 6800 testing machine
    Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare Dr. Harsh Vardhan dedicated the COBAS 6800, first of its kind, testing machine at the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to the nation on 14 May.

    GoI has procured such testing machines for testing of COVID-19 cases for the first time. It is installed at NCDC.

    COBAS 6800:
    COBAS 6800 is a fully automated, high-end machine that performs real-time PCR testing COVID-19 in the service of the nation.

    The device will provide high quality, high-volume testing with a high throughput of around 1200 samples in 24 hours. It will largely increase the testing capacity with the reduction in pendency.

    The machine is enabled with robotics that will minimize the chance of contamination and the risk of infection to the health care workers as it can be operated remotely with limited human intervention.

    The machine requires a minimum BSL2+ containment level for testing and hence it cannot be placed at just any facility.

    COBAS 6800 can also detect other pathogens like HIV, Papilloma, CMV, Chlamydia, Viral Hepatitis B & C, MTb (both rifampicin and isoniazide resistance), Neiserreia, etc.

    GoI has developed the capacity to conduct 1,00,000 tests per day. As of 14 May, nearly 20 lakh tests for COVID-19 have been tested in India at more than 500 laboratories including 359 Government laboratories and 145 private laboratories in the country.



  • Rajnath Singh commissioned Indian Coast Guard ships
    Defence Minister Rajnath Singh commissioned Indian Coast Guard Ship (ICGS) Sachet and two interceptor boats (IBs) C-450 and C-451 in Goa through video conferencing from Delhi on 15 May. The ships are indigenously designed and built in the line of the Prime Minister's 'Make in India' vision.

    Highlights:
    Commissioning of these ships is an important milestone in India's coastal capability building process. The move is in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision 'Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR)'.

    ICGS Sachet:
    The ICGS Sachet, the first in the series of five offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) has been designed and built indigenously by Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL). It is fitted with state-of-the-art navigation and communication equipment.

    Sachet is 105 metre long. It displaces approximately 2,350 tons and is propelled by two 9,100 KW diesel engines designed to attain a maximum speed of 26 knots, with an endurance of 6,000 nautical miles.

    The ship has been designed to carry a twin-engine helicopter and four high-speed boats and one inflatable boat for swift boarding and search and rescue operations.

    The ship can carry limited pollution response equipment to undertake oil spill pollution response at sea.

    IBs C-450 and C-451:
    The IBs C-450 and C-451 are indigenously designed and built by Larsen & Toubro Shipyard Hazira. It is fitted with the latest navigation and communication equipment.

    The 30 metre longboats are capable of achieving speeds in excess of 45 knots and designed for the high-speed interception, close coast patrol, and low-intensity maritime operations.

    The quick response capability of the IBs makes it an ideal platform to respond and thwart any emerging maritime situation.

    IBs have about 70% of indigenous content, thus providing the necessary fillip to the Indian shipbuilding industry.

    The ships will join the Coast Guard fleet. It will be deployed extensively for Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) surveillance, coastal security, and other duties as enshrined in the Coast Guard charter of duties, to safeguard the maritime interests of the Nation.



  • Tribal Affairs Ministry, FB launched Goal programme for Digital Skilling of Tribal Youth across India
    Union Minister for Tribal Affairs Arjun Munda launched the "Going Online As Leaders (GOAL) programme" of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA) in partnership with Facebook at a Webinar in New Delhi on 15 May. The programme is in line with the vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

    GOAL programme:
    The GOAL programme has been designed to provide mentorship to tribal youth through digital mode.

    The digitally-enabled program envisages acting as a catalyst to explore the hidden talents of the tribal youth, which will help in their personal development and contribute to all-round upliftment of their society.

    Digital literacy has gained importance in view of challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The program intends to upskill and empower 5,000 tribal youths in the current phase to harness the full potential of digital platforms and tools to learn new ways of doing business, explore and connect with domestic and international markets. The digital skilling and technology will integrate them into the mainstream.

    The programme has been designed with a long term vision to develop the potential of tribal youth and women to help them acquire skills and knowledge through mentorship in various sectors including horticulture, food processing, bee keeping, tribal art and culture, medicinal herbs, entrepreneurship among others.

    It will enable Scheduled Tribe (ST) youth in remote areas to use digital platforms for sharing their aspirations, dreams, and talent with their mentors.

    The programme also aims to create awareness amongst tribal beneficiaries about various schemes initiated by Central and State Governments for welfare of STs as well as their fundamental duties.



  • Gujarat to implement sensor-based service delivery monitoring system under Jal Jeevan Mission
    Gujarat state government is to implement a sensor-based service delivery monitoring system in the rural drinking water sector under the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM). The pilot project is already underway in two districts of the state.

    The state is primarily a water-stressed state. It has dealt with the crisis with a very strategic approach so far. The state has good community involvement in drinking water supply management, which began in 2002 through Water and Sanitation Management Organisation (WASMO).

    The state recovers around 70% of annual O&M expenditure from the community in the form of water service charges.

    Highlights:
    The project aims to monitor the functionality of water supply, which is potable water in adequate quantity and of prescribed quality being provided to every rural household on regularly on a long-term basis.

    The Department of Drinking Water & Sanitation finalized the Annual Action Plan for providing household tap connections to rural households for the FY 2020-21. The state also has set up plans to face the difficulties in achieving the Functional Household Tap Connections (FHTCs).

    Out of 93.6 lakh rural households in the State, 65 lakh, over 70%, are already having household tap connections.

    The state govt. plans to provide 11.15 lakh household tap connections in rural areas in 2020-21.

    Gujarat state has set the target year of 100% coverage by the year September 2022.



  • MHRD launched e-Governance platform, SAMARTH
    Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has developed an e-Governance platform, SAMARTH Enterprises Resource Planning (ERP), under the National Mission of Education in Information and Communication Technology Scheme (NMEICT).

    Aim:
    The aim of the e-Governance platform, SAMARTH, is to provide quality education to students across all Universities & Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). The objective of this initiative is to automate the processes of the Institute. This initiative will also enhance productivity through better information management in the institute by seamless access to information, and its utilization for various purposes.

    SAMARTH:
    SAMARTH is an Open Standard Open Source Architecture, Secure, Scalable, and Evolutionary Process Automation Engine for Universities and Higher Educational Institutions.

    It caters to faculty, students and staff at a University/Higher Educational Institutions.

    The platform has been implemented at the National Institute of Technology (NIT), Kurukshetra, a participating unit under the World Bank-supported Technical Education Quality Improvement Program (TEQIP).



  • CAIT to launch Bharatmarket, national e-commerce marketplace for retail traders
    Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) has announced to launch 'Bharatmarket', a national e-commerce marketplace. It will be used for all retail traders in collaboration with several technology partners.

    Bharatmarket:
    Bharatmarket will integrate the capabilities of various technology companies to provide end-to-end services in the logistics and supply chains from manufacturers to end consumers, including deliveries at home.

    The e-commerce portal will include nationwide participation by retailers and aims to bring 95%of retail traders onboard the platform, who would exclusively run the portal.

    The initiative has had active support and guidance of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, as they see this as an effective way to get essential commodities to consumers during the lockdown period and within containment zones.

    CAIT enrolls about one crore retailers on this e-marketplace in 2020 and makes it the world's largest and most-unique e-marketplace ever.



  • Environment Ministry approves the construction of new Parliament
    The Expert Appraisal Committee of the Environment Ministry has approved the construction of the new Parliament building at a cost of Rs.922 crore. The committee cleared the controversial project in its April 22-24 meeting. The Central Vista committee has also approved the new plan.

    Issues:
    The plan was opposed by civil society organizations. The expert panel of the environment ministry has said the clearance for the project to build a new Parliament is subject to the decision of the Supreme court. The apex court, earlier, refused to stay the Central Vista Redevelopment project.

    Project Highlights:
    The project aims to build a triangular parliament building. It will revamp the 3-km long Raj Path from Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate.

    The proposed Parliament Building will carry out Legislative functions, which is separate from Executive Functions to be carried out in other office buildings. Hence, it will not be considered as an integrated and inter-related project vis-à-vis the other proposed central vista buildings for the simple reason that it can definitely operate independently of the other structures.



  • Ministry of Culture released Prof B.B. Lal -India Rediscovered on the 100th birth anniversary of Prof Lal
    Union Culture Minister Shri Prahlad Singh Patel released an e-book "Prof B.B. Lal -India Rediscovered" on 2 May on the occasion of the centenary year of great archaeologist Professor B. B. Lal.

    The book is a tribute from the Ministry of Culture for his immense contribution to the field of archaeology. The book is a centenary special edition that has been prepared by the Ministry of culture in collaboration with Prof B BLal Centenary Celebration Committee.



  • Ministry of Shipping launched new website
    Ministry of Shipping has revamped its website and launched its new version on 30 April 2020. The new website is based on open source technology and is deployed on NIC cloud Meghraj.

    The website of the Shipping Ministry is http://shipmin.gov.in/

    The website has been designed as per Guidelines for Indian Government Websites (GIGW) issued by the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances, Government of India.

    The new website has a well designed and dynamic Homepage. Social Media Integration with a better video uploading facility is a new feature on this website.



  • Narendra Singh Tomar launched The Saras Collection on GeM portal
    The Union Minister for Rural Development and Panchayati Raj and Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare Narendra Singh Tomar launched “The Saras Collection” on the Government e-Marketplace (GeM) portal at Krishi Bhavan in New Delhi on 4 May 2020.

    The Saras Collection:
    It is a, unique initiative of GeM and the Deen Dayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM), Ministry of Rural Development.

    The Saras Collection will showcase daily utility products made by rural self-help groups (SHGs). It aims to provide SHGs in rural areas with market access to Central and State Government buyers.

    Under this initiative, the SHG sellers will be able to list their products in 5 product categories, namely handicrafts, handloom and textiles, office accessories, grocery and pantry, and personal care and hygiene. In Phase-1, 913 SHGs from 11 States have already registered as sellers and 442 products have been on-boarded.

    GeM has developed an API based integration mechanism with the NRLM database. GeM will collaborate with State functionaries to address the capacity building and training needs of SHGs and build up their competencies required for order packaging, catalogue management, and logistics.



  • Kashmiri saffron received GI tag
    Kashmiri saffron received a Geographical Indication (GI) tag. The Certificate was granted to the Department of Agriculture Kashmir.

    Kashmir Saffron:
    Kashmir saffron has a unique identity and superior quality as compared to saffron grown across the world. It is famous and unique as it is grown at an altitude of 1,600 m.

    The spice is derived from the crocus flower. The Kashmir Saffron is long, thick, and has a natural deep red colour. The deep red colour of the saffron is due to the high quantity of crocin. It has a rich flavour because of the safranal and the bitterness is due to the presence of picrocrocin.

    The Saffron cultivated in Kashmir has a high aroma and is processed without adding any chemical. Saffron is used extensively in medicines and cooking in Kashmir with some claiming that saffron is an aphrodisiac.



  • India ranks 3rd in scientific publication
    The National Science and Technology Management Information (NSTMIS), Department of Science and Technology (DST), has conducted a survey on Research and Development (R & D) Statistics and Indicators 2019-20. As per the survey India ranks 3rd among countries in a scientific publication.

    Parameters of the Survey:
    The survey included more than 6800 S&T Institutions spread across varied sectors like central government, state governments, higher education, public sector industry, and private sector industry in the country. A response rate of more than 90% was achieved.

    Report Highlights:
    The report on R&D indicators for the nation is an extraordinarily important document for evidence-based policymaking and planning in higher education, R&D activities and support, intellectual property, and industrial competitiveness.

    The report captured the R&D landscape of the country through various Input-Output S&T Indicators in the form of Tables and graphs.

    It pertains to Investments in national R&D, R&D investments by Government and Private sector; R&D relationship with the economy (GDP), Enrolment of S&T personnel, Manpower engaged in R&D, Outrun of S&T personnel, papers published, patents and their international S&T comparisons.

    As per the report, India spent 0.7% of its GDP on R&D in 2017-18, while the same among other developing BRICS countries were Brazil 1.3%, Russia 1.1%, China 2.1%, and South Africa 0.8%. In 2018, India was ranked 3rd, 5th, and 9th in scientific publication output as per the NSF, SCOPUS, and SCI database respectively.

    During 2011-2016, India's growth rate of scientific publication as per the SCOPUS and SCI database was 8.4% and 6.4% as against the world average of 1.9% and 3.7%, respectively. The report has also highlighted that India's share in global research publication output has increased over the years as reflected in publication databases.



  • PM attended virtual summit of Non-Aligned Movement
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi participated in a virtual summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) on 4 May. The summit aimed to enhance the coordination of the member states in their fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar also participated in the summit.

    Highlights:
    The summit is conducted under the Presidency of Azerbaijan, who is the president of the NAM till 2022. The summit is convened by President Ilham Aliyev.

    The summit identified measures for enhanced coordination among NAM members in their common fight against COVID-19.

    The online session concluded with a political declaration of the movement “uniting against COVID-19."

    The summit-level meeting witnessed the participation from representatives of international organizations such as the United Nations Secretary-General and Director-General of WHO.



  • Jal Shakti Ministry launched IDEAthon
    On 2 May 2020, the National Mission for Clean Ganga operating (NMCG) under Ministry of Jal Shakti and National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) launched "IDEAthon" titled "The future of River Management" to explore how the COVID-19 crisis can shape River Management strategies for the future. The move focuses on creating awareness about the ecological importance and economic potential of the rivers to help the cities.

    IDEAthon:
    IDEAthon had created a framework called River Management in a city's Urban river management plan.It examined how the social angle of rivers can be leveraged to address other crises.

    An international webinar was to bring together close to 500 participants. The expert panelists were from different countries and international organizations.The IDEAthon sought to brainstorm the learnings from COVID-19 pandemic, the following lockdown, and its impact on river management.

    It also aims to mainstream River Management in a city's Urban Planning framework. NMCG has developed a template for an Urban River Management Plan with the National Institute of Urban Affairs. Interactive discussion on various aspects of river management was held during the event.



  • BDL partners with IIT-Kanpur to manufacture ventilators for COVID-19 treatment
    Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL), a defence Public Sector Undertaking (PSU), has signed an MoU NOCCA Robotics, an incubated start-up of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur for the large-scale manufacturing of ventilators.

    Highlights:
    The MoU will give a big boost to the development of affordable ventilators for COVID-19 treatment.

    BDL partnered with IIT Kanpur's incubator Foundation for Innovation and Research in Science and Technology (FIRST) and NOCCA Robotics Private Limited (NRPL) to manufacture ventilators.

    It aims to develop an affordable ventilator which will be able to scale up the production. The device will be in line with the Make in India initiative.

    For the project, the team has received inputs from the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Directorate General of Mines Safety (DGMS).



  • Civil Aviation Ministry launches GARUD portal to fast-track approval to COVID-19 related drone operations
    Civil Aviation Ministry and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) have launched the Government Authorisation for Relief Using Drones (GARUD) portal.

    GARUD portal:
    The portal aims to provide fast track conditional exemptions to government agencies for COVID-19 related drone operations.

    The move will help the government entities in addressing the challenges posed by COVID-19 and will remain in force until further orders.

    Civil Aviation Ministry also said that any violation of provisions will make the conditional exemption null and void and will lead to penal action.



  • Centre to introduce Agro MSME Policy to focus on entrepreneurship development
    Centre is to introduce an Agro MSME Policy that will focus on entrepreneurship development in rural, tribal, agricultural, and forest areas for manufacturing products using local raw material.

    The information was announced by the Union Minister for Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) and Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari.

    Agro MSME Policy:
    The move focuses on export enhancement and import substitution to replace foreign imports with domestic production.

    It also focuses on innovation, entrepreneurship, science and technology, research skill and experiences to convert the knowledge into wealth.

    The policy will also focus on further extension of the moratorium, payment of salaries to workers during lockdown from their ESI and Provident Fund, a helpline for MSMEs, strengthening access to finance, etc.

    Also, the Ministry of MSME has signed anMoU with AYUSH Ministry to promote the AYUSH sector through various schemes of Ministry of MSMEs in the areas of training, skilling, handholding, and entrepreneurship development.

    The MSME sector needs to be ensured by industries that necessary preventive measures are taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19. He emphasized on the usage of PPE (Masks, sanitizer, etc.) and advised to maintain social distancing norms during business operations.



  • Centre completed integration of Cold Chain Projects
    The Union Minister of Food Processing Industries Harsimrat Kaur Badal held a video conference with the promoters of the completed Integrated Cold Chain Projects on 4 May. The promoters of 38 cold chain projects participated in the Video Conference.

    Highlights:
    The projects are supported by the Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MoFPI) in Maharashtra.

    The promoters shared the experience gained and the problems faced in completing the projects.

    The promoters shared the challenges faced in running the cold chain projects during the lockdown period.

    The conference emphasized the need to leverage the collective strength of the Integrated Cold Chain network to cope up with the COVID-19 crisis that has posed a serious challenge to the existing supply chain of food products.

    They discussed issues such as piling stocks of frozen vegetables and processed dairy products not finding their traditional markets like restaurants, banquets, hotels, etc. amidst the lockdown and further, the difficulty in exporting these products.

    The promoters shared that a higher number of working hours is required as businesses are operating with 1/3rd or half of labour Force. This has increased the cost of production rendering products less competitive.

    They discussed following major issues including Raw material availability and its high cost; Impact of lockdown on operations; Labour and Logistics issues; High inventory costs; and Liquidity crisis as payments have to be made to farmers.



  • Lt Gen Raj Shukla assumed command of ARTRAC
    Lieutenant General Raj Shukla assumed command of the Army Training Command (ARTRAC) on 1 May 2020.

    Lieutenant General Raj Shukla:
    Lieutenant General Raj Shukla is a graduate of the National Defence Academy (NDA), Khadakwasla and the Indian Military Academy (IMA), Dehradun. He was commissioned into the Regiment of Artillery in December 1982.

    He has a career spanning over four decades and has seen extensive service in the field. He commanded a Medium Regiment in the Eastern and Desert Theatres, an Infantry Brigade in Counter Insurgency Operations, an Infantry Division along the Line of Control in the Valley, and a Corps along the Western Borders.

    Lt Gen Raj Shukla is an alumni of the Defence Services Staff College Wellington, the College of Defence Management Secunderabad, and the National Defence College New Delhi.

    He has served two tenures at the Military Operations Directorate and as the Director-General, Perspective Planning at Army HQ. He has also been Commandant of the Indian Army War College.



  • PM Narendra Modi participated at the online Summit of NAM Contact Group
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi participated in the online Summit of Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Contact Group was held on 4 May 2020 to discuss the response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic crisis.

    The summit commemorated the International Day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace.

    Highlight:
    The theme of the online NAM Contact Group Summit was 'United against COVID-19.'

    The summit was hosted by the current Chairman of NAM, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan HE IlhamAliyev.

    The Summit aimed to promote international solidarity in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and to mobilize efforts of States and international organizations to address the pandemic.

    Over 30 other Heads of State and Government and other leaders, including from member States in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean, and Europe participated in the event.

    The Summit was addressed by the President of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) Prof Tijjani Muhammed Bande, UN Secretary-General Mr. Antonio Guterres, African Union (AU) Chairperson Musa Faki Mahamat, European Union (EU) High Representative, Josep Borrell, and Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus.

    The leaders also discussed the creation of a 'Task Force' to identify the needs and requirements of Member States through the establishment of a common database that reflects the basic medical, social, and humanitarian needs in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic.



  • CMIE data reports India’s unemployment rate climbed to 27.1 percent
    Centre for Monitoring of Indian Economy (CMIE) data stated that the unemployment rate in India has climbed to a staggering 27.1% as of 3 May 2020.

    It also stated that over 121.5 million Indian's were out of jobs in April due to the continuous nationwide lockdown to contain COVID-19.

    Highlights:
    The report stated that 91.3 million workers including daily wagers and those working with small traders were out of jobs in April followed by 18.2 million employment loss of entrepreneurs, and 17.8 million among the salaried class.

    It showed that around 5.8 million farmers went back to work as farming activity picked up after 20 April due to a staggered easing of lockdown in parts of India.

    The jobless rate increased to 27.1% as of 3 May.

    The urban unemployment rate climbed almost 8% point in the above time period over the week ended 26 April, the rural unemployment jumped to 26.16%, up from 20.88%.

    India's overall weekly unemployment rate increased from 6.74% on 15 March to 26.19% on 19 April. Unemployment decreased to 21.05% in late April.

    India's economy has already slowed down due to persistent financial sector weaknesses. It also reported, post the lockdown, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, economic activity has caused massive job loss and wage loss.



  • Himachal Pradesh to launch Nigah Scheme
    Himachal Pradesh State Government is to launch the "Nigah" Scheme to properly sensitize and educate family members of people coming from other states so that social distancing is effectively maintained. The announcement was made by Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur.

    Nigah Scheme:
    Under the scheme, a team of ASHA workers, health workers, and Anganwadi workers would visit the family members of persons arriving from other states. The will educate them about the importance of social distancing so that they could be saved from any possible infection.

    The state government also ordered to mark the people who have come from other states.

    Also, the govt. stated that strict action would be taken against those jumping home quarantine as this would not only harm their family members but also society as a whole.

    The persons entering the state have been asked to download AarogyaSetu App and must also be provided with Information Education Communication (IEC) material regarding the importance of social distancing.



  • UP launched Ayush Kavach app to boost immunity through Ayurveda
    Uttar Pradesh state government unveiled the Ayush Kavach app that will provide health-related tips and information about ayurvedic medicines amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The app was launched by the UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on 5 May.

    AyushKavach app:
    Ayush Kavach mobile app will help people access prescriptions to strengthen their resistance through the ancient mode of Yoga and Ayurveda of India.

    Ayurveda and the ancient traditions of India. It is expected to boost immunity through Ayurveda which will help in fighting these types of viruses.

    There was a need for such an app that could easily deliver information about Ayurveda and traditional medicines and prescriptions in simple language with ease among the masses.

    The mobile app Ayush Kavach was developed by the Ayush Department of Uttar Pradesh in view of the COVID-19 health crisis.



  • Scientists to culture novel coronavirus in human lung epithelial cell
    Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad has partnered with a Bengaluru-based company, Eyestem Research Private Limited, to take up research activities on COVID-19.

    Highlights:
    The collaboration aims to grow novel coronavirus in human cell lines, which will enable in vitro testing of potential drugs and vaccines against the COVID-19.

    Eyestem's human lung epithelial cell culture system will be used as part of its Anti-COVID Screening (ACS) platform to understand the molecular and pathological characteristics of the novel coronavirus.

    The research will overcome the issues faced to culture the virus outside the human host.

    CSIR-CCMB is known for its cutting-edge research work on cellular and molecular biology. Eyestem Research Private Limited is a cell therapy start-up incubated at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms (C-CAMP), Bengaluru.

    C-CAMP is an initiative of the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology.

    Eyestem is working to democratize access to cell therapy and disease modeling platforms and bring their benefit to a large section of humanity.



  • Indian Navy launched Operation SamudraSetu
    Indian Navy launched Operation SamudraSetu, meaning Sea Bridge, as a part of a national effort to repatriate Indian citizens from overseas. Indian Naval Ships (INS) Jalashwa and Magar are presently en route to the port of Malè, the Republic of Maldives to commence evacuation operations from 8 May 2020 as part of Phase-1.

    Operation SamudraSetu:
    The operation aims to evacuate personnel who repatriate Indian citizens from overseas.

    GoI is monitoring the situation with respect to the effect of COVID-19 pandemic on the citizens abroad. The Indian Navy has been directed to make suitable preparations for their evacuation by sea.

    The Indian Mission in the Republic of Maldives is preparing a list of Indian nationals to be evacuated by Naval ships and will facilitate their embarkation after the requisite medical screening.

    Under the operation, a total of 1000 persons are planned to be evacuated during the first trip, catering for COVID-related social distancing norms vis-a-vis the carrying capacity and medical facilities available onboard.

    The ships are provisioned for the evacuation operation. The evacuated personnel will be provided the basic amenities and medical facilities during the sea-passage.

    Stringent protocols have been stipulated due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The evacuated personnel will be disembarked at Kochi, Kerala. They will be entrusted to the care of State authorities.

    This operation is done by the Ministries of Defence, External Affairs, Home Affairs, Health, and various other agencies of Central/State governments.



  • GoI begins evacuation exercise Vande Bharat Mission to bring Indians stranded abroad
    The Government of India is to conduct one of the largest evacuation exercises named the Vande Bharat Mission with an aim to bring Indians stranded abroad due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    Vande Bharat Mission:
    Under the mission, the government will operate 64 flights from 7-13 May to bring home nearly 14,800 Indian nationals stranded abroad due to the coronavirus lockdown.

    The 64 flights include 10 flights from the UAE, 2 from Qatar, 5 from Saudi Arabia, 5 from Singapore, 7 from the United Kingdom, 7 from the United States, 5 from the Philippines, 7 from Bangladesh, 2 from Bahrain, 7 from Malaysia, 5 from Kuwait and 2 flights from Oman.

    Preparations for the operation have commenced and also urged the stranded individuals to stay in touch with the Indian embassies in their countries.

    The lights will bring back people to Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Maharashtra, Telangana, and Gujarat.

    Under the mission, the maximum number of flights will bring back citizens from the Gulf countries.

    Meanwhile, the Indian Navy has also sent 3 ships under Operation Samudra Setu to get back stranded citizens from Maldives and UAE.



  • IMD subtly includes PoK, Gilgit-Baltistan in its weather forecasts
    The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has started to include Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh, Gilgit-Baltistan, and Muzaffarabad in its meteorological sub-division of Jammu & Kashmir. The daily region-wise forecasts are for the entire sub-division, and not for any specific areas within. The first such forecast for Gilgit was uploaded on 6 May.

    Highlights:
    The move by IMD reflects the changed status of Ladakh as a separate Union Territory (UT).

    The shift can be perceived as subtle diplomacy in claiming India's rights over Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK).

    India protest against Pakistan court's order:
    The IMD's move comes just days after Pakistan's Supreme Court allowed that country's government to conduct elections in the Gilgit-Baltistan region. In response, India told Pakistan that it has no locus standi in Gilgit-Baltistan and asked Islamabad to vacate PoK, which is an integral part of India. It was clearly conveyed that the entire UT of J&K and Ladakh, including the areas of Gilgit and Baltistan, are an integral part of India by virtue of its fully legal and irrevocable accession.



  • Aarogya Setu Interactive Voice Response System implemented
    Aarogya Setu Interactive Voice Response System (IVRS) the feature has been implemented in the Aarogya Setu mobile application. The new feature of the app aims to include the citizens with feature phones and landlines under the protection of Aarogya Setu. The service is available across the country.

    Aarogya Setu IVRS:
    Aarogya Setu IVRS is a toll-free service. The citizens are asked to give a missed call to the number 1921 and they will get a call back requesting for inputs regarding their health.

    The questions asked will be aligned with the Aarogya Setu App, and based on the responses given, citizens will also get an SMS indicating their health status and also will get further alerts for their health moving forward.

    So far, the service is implemented in 11 regional languages similar to the mobile application.

    The input provided by the user or citizen will be made part of the Aarogya Setu database. The information will be processed to send alerts to the citizen on the action to be taken to ensure their safety.

    Visit: https://www.mohfw.gov.in/. to get the authentic information.

    Technical queries related to COVID-19 may be emailed at technicalquery.covid19@gov.in and other queries on ncov2019@gov.in and via tweets to @CovidIndiaSeva.

    Also, call at the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare helpline no.: 11-23978046 or 1075 (Toll-free).



  • Centre to set up farmers movement on integrated soil nutrient management based on Soil Health Card
    Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare has announced the setting up of integrated soil nutrient management a farmers' movement. The announcement was announced by the Union Minister for Agriculture & Farmers' Welfare Narendra Singh Tomar. During 2020-21, the major focus of the Soil Health Programme would be on a mass awareness programme for farmers in over 1 lakh villages covering all districts of the country.

    Highlights:
    The mission mode awareness of the Soil Health Programme to increase the use of bio and organic fertilizers and reducing chemical fertilizers strictly based on recommendations of Soil Health Card.

    The Department of Agriculture, Cooperation, and Farmers' Welfare is to launch a comprehensive campaign on soil test based rational application of fertilizers. It also promotes organic farming including Bhartiya Prakritik Krishi Padhati (BPKP) for safe nutritious food in association with the Departments of Panchayat Raj, Rural Development and Drinking Water and Sanitation.

    Under the SHC scheme, Soil Health Cards are provided to all farmers at an interval of 2 years.

    Soil Health Card will provide two sets of fertilizer recommendations for 6 crops including recommendations of organic manures.

    Farmers will be given recommendations for additional crops on demand. They can also print the card as their own from the SHC portal.

    SHC portal has a farmers database of both the cycles. It is available in 21 languages for the benefit of the farmers.



  • Ministry of AYUSH to formally launch studies on AYUSH interventions for COVID-19 situation
    AYUSH Minister Shripad Yesso Naik and Health Minister Harsh Vardhan will jointly launch three AYUSH based studies related to COVID-19 situation at New Delhi on 7 May.

    Highlights:
    The initiatives are taken to address the COVID-19 pandemic problem in the country through clinical studies including prophylactic and add-on interventions, of AYUSH systems.

    The AYUSH Ministry also studies the impacts of AYUSH based prophylactic interventions in a high-risk population and AYUSH advocacies and AYUSH measures for prevention of COVID 19.

    Ministry of AYUSH has set up an Interdisciplinary Ayush R&D Task Force with a group of experts under the chairmanship of Dr. Bhushan Patvardhan, Vice-Chairman, University Grant Commission (UGC) to formulate and develop strategies for this initiative.

    The studies include:
    Clinical research studies on Ayurveda interventions as prophylaxis and as an add-on to standard care to COVID-19

    Population-based interventional studies on the impact of AYUSH based prophylactic interventions

    Ayush Sanjivani application-based study for impact assessment of acceptance and usage of AYUSH advisories in its role in the prevention of COVID-19.



  • Union Minister Nitin Gadkari sets road construction target for next two years at Rs.15 lakh crore
    Ministry of Road Transport & Highways has announced its target to construct roads worth Rs.15 lakh crore in the next two years.

    The announcement was made by the Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways and MSMEs Nitin Gadkari. The Ministry is working overtime to clear all arbitration cases with concessionaires.

    Highlights:
    It will focus on enhancing liquidity in the business. The industry also focuses more on innovation, technology, and research skill to become competitive in the global market.

    The Ministry has announced that it is working overtime to clear all arbitration cases with concessionaires.

    The Centre also assured all possible help at the appropriate level in the govt and other departments.

    The Ministry is to finalize the auto scrapping policy quickly and will go a long way in cost reduction.



  • Coir Board signed MoU with IIT-Madras for setting up Centre of Excellence for coir applications
    Coir Board signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Indian Institute of Technology- Madras (IIT-Madras) on 7th May. The aim was to establish a Centre of Excellence (CoE) for the application of Coir exclusively or in combination with other natural fibres.

    Highlights:
    Under the MoU, Coir Geo-Textiles (CGT) can be successfully used to prevent soil erosion in slopes/embankments, river embankments, mine slope dumps stabilization, etc. CGT can be used in the low volume rural roads as a re-enforcement material.

    CoE will extend the research work, which is done so far, in the coir sector with the support of IIT-Madras.

    IIT-Madras will provide support to the development of relevant technology and evolve standards for production & processing through specific projects and monitor research projects and mentor of Coir Board’s research institutes/laboratories.

    CoE will also assist in generating the Intellectual Property Rights and technology transfer.

    Coir Board will provide financial assistance of Rs.5 crores initially for a period of two years for the establishment and running of the Centre of Excellence.

    So far, 27 areas of R&D needs of the Coir industry have been identified, to be taken up by this Centre of Excellence, in addition to 10 in-house projects of IIT-M, in machinery development and road projects.



  • Indian Navys PPE clears certification by INMAS
    Indian Navy recently designed and produced Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). The PPE was tested and approved by the Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences (INMAS), Delhi which is a DRDO organization tasked with the testing and certification of PPE. It is certified to be mass-produced and used in clinical COVID-19 situations.

    Highlights:
    The PPE was passed with 6/6 Synthetic blood penetration resistance test pressure. GoI mandated a minimum 3/6 and above level as per ISO 16603 standard and is thus certified to be mass-produced and used in clinical COVID-19 situations.

    The outstanding features of the PPE are simple, innovative, and cost-effective design. It can be manufactured by basic gown manufacturing facilities.

    The PPE is noteworthy for the innovative choice of fabric used, which gives the PPE its breathability and penetration resistance rendering it both comfortable and safe for the user.

    The cost for the approved PPE is significantly lower than those commercially available.


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