Friday, 6 July 2018

Important Top Analysis for Civil Services | 1 June – 30 June 2018



Polity& Governance

1.   National Sports University Ordinance, 2018 (Relevant for GS Prelims, GS Mains paper II; Polity & Governance)


National Sports University with headquarters at Manipur
National Sports University Ordinance, 2018 has come into force as the President of India has given his assent to the Union Cabinets decision to promulgate the said Ordinance. Earlier, the Union Cabinet, in its meeting held on 23rd May, 2018, had decided to approve the proposal of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports to promulgate the National Sports University Ordinance, 2018, by which the National Sports University will be established with headquarters at Manipur.

National Sports University Ordinance, 2018 (the Ordinance) will be on the lines of the National Sports University Bill, 2017, introduced in Lok Sabha on 10.08.2017. This will be a specialized University, first of its kind, to promote sports education in the areas of sports sciences, sports technology, sports management and sports coaching besides functioning as the national training centre for select sports disciplines by adopting the best international practices.

Background

The proposal was formally announced by the Finance Minister in his Budget speech of 2014-15 on 10.07.2014. For setting up the University, 325.90 acres of land has been made available by the Government of Manipur in Koutruk, West Imphal district of Manipur. The University would provide a boost to sports activities in the country, and also improve the countrys sports performance at the national and international levels. The proposed University has also considerable employment generation potential.

(Adapted from PIB)

2.   Krishi Kalyan Abhiyan being implemented in 25 villages in each of the 111 Aspirational Districts (Relevant for GS Prelims, GS Mains Paper II; Polity & Governance)


Where will be the plan launched?
The Ministry of Agriculture and farmers welfare has launched the Krishi kalyan Abhiyaan from 1st June, 2018 till 31st July, 2018 so as to aid, assist and advice farmers on how to improve their farming techniques and raise their incomes. The Krishi kalyan Abhiyaan will be undertaken in 25 Villages with more than 1000 population each in Aspirational Districts identified in consultation with Ministry of Rural Development as per directions of NITI Ayog. In districts where number of villages (with more than 1000 population) is less than 25, all villages will be covered.

Who will launch the plan?

An Action Plan comprising specifically identified activities under various departments of the ministry namely, Department of Agriculture, Cooperation & Farmers Welfare

(DAC&FW), Animal Husbandry Dairying & Fisheries (DAHD&F) and Department of Agricultural Research & Education (DARE-ICAR) will be implemented to saturate these 25 villages in each district with these activities.

The overall coordination and implementation in the 25 villages of a district is being done by Krishi Vigyan Kendra of that district. 111 officers have also been made in-charge of one district each for overall coordination and field level monitoring. These officers have been selected from subordinate/attached/autonomous organizations/PSUs etc. of Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare.

What will the plan cover?

Various activities to promote best practices and enhance agriculture income are being undertaken under this plan such as:-

·         Distribution of Soil Health Cards to all farmers

·         100% coverage of bovine vaccination for Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) in each village

·         100% coverage of Sheep and Goat for eradication of Peste des Petits ruminants (PPR)

·         Distribution of Mini Kits of pulses and oilseeds to all

·         Distribution of Horticulture/Agro Forestry/Bamboo plant @ 5 per family (location appropriate)

·         Making 100 NADAP Pits in each village

·         Artificial insemination saturation

·         Demonstration programmes on Micro- irrigation

·         Demonstrations of integrated cropping practice

In addition, demonstration programmes on Micro Irrigation and Integrated Cropping Practice will also take place so as to familiarize farmers with the latest techniques and how they can be incorporated at the grass root level.

Training programmes are being conducted in each of the villages by ICAR/KVSs for Bee Keeping, Mushroom cultivation and Kitchen garden. Women participants and farmers will be given preference for the training program.

(Adapted from PIB)


3.   WCD proposes amendments to widen the scope of Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act (IRWA), 1986 (Relevant for GS Prelims, GS Mains Paper II; Polity & Governance)


Based on the observations made by Parliamentary Standing Committee and recommendation made by the National Commission for Women on the basis of consultation with civil society groups and likeminded individuals, WCD has proposed amendments in IRWA keeping in mind the recent technological advancement in the field of communications such as social media platforms, over the top services etc.

The reformulated Bill proposes following amendments in the parent Act:

·         Amendment in definition of term advertisement to include digital form or electronic form or hoardings, or through SMS, MMS etc.

·         Amendment in definition of distribution to include publication, license or uploading using computer resource, or communication device or in

·         Insertion of a new definition to define the term publish

·         Amendment in section 4 to include that No person shall publish or distribute or cause to be published or cause to be distributed by any means any material which contains indecent representation of women in any form:

·         Penalty similar to that provided under the Information Technology Act, 2000

·         Creation of a Centralized Authority under the aegis of National Commission of Women (NCW). This Authority will be headed by Member Secretary, NCW, having representatives from Advertising Standards Council of India, Press Council of India, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and one member having experience of working on women issues.

·         This Centralized Authority will be authorized to receive complaints or grievances regarding any programme or advertisement broadcasted or publication and investigate/ examine all matters relating to the indecent representation of women.

The Government of India has enacted the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act (IRWA), 1986 to prohibit indecent representation of women through advertisements, publications, writings, paintings, figures or in any other manner. Since the enactment of the Act, technological revolution has resulted in the development of new forms of communication, such as internet, multi-media messaging, cable television, over-the-top (OTT) services and applications e.g. Skype, Viber, WhatsApp, Chat On, Snapchat, Instagram etc.

Keeping in mind these technological advancements, it has been decided to widen the scope of the law so as to cover such forms of media on one hand and to strengthen the existing safeguards to prevent indecent representation of women through any media form on the

other. Hence, the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Amendment Bill, 2012 was introduced in Rajya Sabha December 2012 which referred the Bill to Department related Parliament Standing Committee for consideration.

(Adapted from PIB)

4. Geo-Intelligence Asia 2018(Relevant for GS Prelims, Polity & Governance)


The Eleventh edition of GeoIntelligence Asia 2018 organised by GeoSpatial Media and Communication with Directorate General of Information System as Knowledge Partners and Military Survey as Co-organisers, took place at Manekshaw Centre, New Delhi on 04-05 June 2018.

About the meet

The theme of Seminar was GeoSpatial: A Force Multiplier for Defence and Industrial Security. The seminar brought together the military, security officials including BSF and Police Forces, Government and industry together to examine the latest technology solutions and on the critical role of geospatial technology in military and security applications.

What is the importance of Geospatial data?

Gen Bipin Rawat, Chief of the Army Staff, during his Keynote address, said that the Armed Forces are the repository of big data and there is a need to record and institutionalize the information and carry out predictive analytics using AI. He stressed on the need for collaboration with industry and academia to automate the Indian Army and emphasized the need to leverage the various technologies available in the Geo Spatial field to find solutions for the challenges faced by the Indian Army.

Lt Gen Anil Kapoor, Director General, Information System, brought out the fact that data is being treated as the next oil. He mentioned that Indian Army is in the process of redefining and refining legacy applications into state of the art softwares by using contemporary technologies.

After the inaugural session, Chief of the Army Staff inaugurated the exhibition comprising stalls of various technological firms dealing with geospatial technologies. The Sessions during the seminar covered crucial subjects including Enhanced Situational Awareness for Combat, Smart Cantonments, GIS and Logistics, Cyber Security and LIDAR. The Seminar witnessed learned speakers putting forth their views during the thought provoking sessions. The latest advancements in Geospatial Technologies discussed during the sessions and the exhibits in the stalls were widely appreciated by all participants.

(Adapted from PIB)


5. Successes of Indian Institutions in QS World Ranking (Relevant for GS Prelims, GS Mains Paper II; Polity & Governance)


The Minister of Human Resource Development, Mr. Prakash Javadekarhas said that the successes registered by Indian Institutions in QS World Best Universities Ranking 2019 released today is the result of relentless work in the premier institutions and various initiatives of HRD Ministry under the guidance and dynamic leadership of Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi.

Indias performance

In the QS World Best Universities Ranking, 9 Indian institutions have been individually ranked in the top-500 as against 6 last year. Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bangalore, rises 20 places to 170th ; 17 of Indias 24 ranked universities improved their rank for Academic Reputation, while 13 improved their rank for Employer Reputation.

About QS World University Rankings

QS World University Rankings is an annual publication of university rankings by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS).

The QS system now comprises the global overall and subject rankings (which name the world's top universities for the study of 48 different subjects and five composite faculty areas), alongside five independent regional tables (Asia, Latin America, Emerging Europe and Central Asia, the Arab Region, and BRICS).

(Adapted from PIB)


6. Revised Guidelines for Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Trophy (Relevant for GS Prelims, GS Mains Paper II; Polity & Governance)


With a view to rationalize and simplify the selection of top performing university in sports for award of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad (MAKA) Trophy, Minister of Youth Affairs & Sports Col. Rajyavardhan Rathore has approved the revised guidelines for MAKA Trophy.

What are the revised guidelines?

Under the revised guidelines, the applications from the universities, which were hitherto used to be invited and scrutinized by the Association of Indian Universities (AIU), will now be invited by the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports/Sports Authority of India. Scrutiny of

applications will also be done by the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports/Sports Authority of India.

Criteria for calculation of marks for selection of universities for MAKA Trophy has been revised in which the performances of the students of the universities in Olympic Games/ Paralympic Games, World Cup/World Championships, Asian Games, Asian Cup/Asian Championships, Commonwealth Games, Commonwealth Championships, World University Games, World University Championships, National University Games, Khelo India University Games, Inter Zonal Championships and Intra Zonal University

Games/Championships has been included. Tournaments which are held more than once a year will not be considered for computation of marks.

The amount of award money for the overall all winner university has been enhanced from Rs. 10 lakh to Rs. 15 lakh and for 1st Runner-up and 2nd Runner-up universities, the amount of award money has been enhanced from Rs. 5 lakh to Rs. 7.5 lakh and Rs. 3 lakh to Rs. 4.5 lakh respectively.

(Adapted from PIB)


7.  Cabinet approves Repositioning of North Eastern Council (Relevant for GS Prelims, GS Mains Paper II; Governance)


The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the proposal of Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) for the nomination of the Union Home Minister as ex-officio Chairman of North Eastern Council (NEC) - a statutory body with Governors and Chief Ministers of all the eight North Eastern States as its Member. The Cabinet also approved that Minister of State (Independent Charge), Ministry of DoNER would serve as Vice Chairman of the Council.

Impact:

-   NEC implements various projects through the State and Central agencies. Under the new arrangement with Home Minister as Chairman and Minister of DoNER as Vice Chairman, NEC and all the Governors and Chief Ministers of North Eastern States as Member would provide a forum for discussing inter-state matters more comprehensively and also consider common approaches to be taken in future.

-  NEC can now also perform the tasks undertaken by the various Zonal Councils to discuss such inter-State issues as drug trafficking, smuggling of arms and ammunition, boundary disputes etc.

-This repositioning of NEC will help it to become a more effective body for the North Eastern Region.

-  The Council shall, from time to time, review the implementation of the projects/schemes included in the project; recommend effective measures for coordination among the state Governments for these projectsetc. The Council shall have such powers as may be delegated to it by the Central Government.

Background:

NEC was established under the North Eastern Council Act, 1971 as an apex level body for securing balanced and coordinated development and facilitating coordination with the States. Subsequent to the Amendment of 2002, NEC has been mandated to function as a

regional planning body for the North EasternArea and while formulating a regional plan for this area, shall give priority to the schemes and projects benefiting two or more states

provided that in the case of Sikkim, the Council shall formulate specific projects and schemes for that State.

(Adapted from PIB)


8. Release of the Report on the Composite Water Management Index (Relevant for GS Prelims, GS Mains Paper II; Polity & Governance)


In pursuit of cooperative and competitive federalism, NITI Aayog has been laying emphasis on developing indicators on various social sectors. In February 2018, NITI Aayog had released a report on Healthy States, Progressive Indiawhich covered the ranking of States/ UTs in various health parameters. As a step further in direction and keeping in view the criticality of water for life, NITI Aayog has prepared a report on Composite Water Management Index (CWMI).

About the report

The Report was launched today by Shri Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Minister for Road Transport & Highways, Shipping and Water Resources and Dr. Rajiv Kumar, Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog. Shri Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog and Secretaries/ senior officials of Ministry of Water Resources, Drinking Water & Sanitation and Rural Development were also present at the launch event.

The CWMI is an important tool to assess and improve the performance of States/ Union Territories in efficient management of water resources. This has been done through a first of its kind water data collection exercise in partnership with Ministry of Water Resources, Ministry of Drinking Water & Sanitation and all the States/ Union Territories. The index would provide useful information for the States and also for the concerned Central Ministries/Departments enabling them to formulate and implement suitable strategies for better management of water resources. Simultaneously a web portal on the subject has also been launched.

The report released today ranks Gujarat as number one in the reference year (2016-17), followed by Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra. In North Eastern and Himalayan States, Tripura has been adjudged number 1 in 2016-17 followed by Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Assam. In terms of incremental change in index (over 2015-16 level), Rajasthan holds number one position in general States and Tripura ranks at first position amongst North Eastern and Himalayan States. NITI Aayog proposes to publish these ranks on an annual basis in future.

About Composite Water Management Index (CWMI)


CWMI has been developed by NITI Aayog comprising 9 broad sectors with 28 different indicators covering various aspects of ground water, restoration of water bodies, irrigation,

farm practices, drinking water, policy and governance. For the purposes of analysis, the reporting states were divided into two special groups North Eastern and Himalayan

states and Other States, to account for the different hydrological conditions across these groups.

(Adapted from PIB)


9. National Health Profile-2018 (Relevant for GS Prelims, GS Mains Paper II; Polity & Governance)


What is National Health Profile?
Shri J P Nadda, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare released the National Health Profile (NHP)-2018 prepared by the Central Bureau of Health Intelligence (CBHI). The E- book (digital version) of the annual document was also released. The National Health Profile covers demographic, socio-economic, health status and health finance indicators, along with comprehensive information on health infrastructure and human resources in health.

What is the need of National Health Profile?

Speaking at the function, Shri Nadda stated that the Health Profile is a very important tool as it has helped in designing various programmes. He cited the examples of initiatives like Free Drugs and Diagnostics and Mission Parivar Vikas that have benefitted from the Health Profiles.

What is National Health Repository?

Shri J P Nadda also launched the National Health Resource Repository (NHRR) - Countrys first ever national healthcare facility registry of authentic, standardized and updated geo- spatial data of all public and private healthcare establishments.

What is the need of National Health Repository?

The vision of the NHRR Project is to strengthen evidence-based decision making and develop a platform for citizen and provider-centric services by creating a robust, standardized and secured IT-enabled repository of Indias healthcare resources. NHRR will be the ultimate platform for comprehensive information of both, Private and Public healthcare establishments including Railways, ESIC, Defense and Petroleum healthcare establishments. Under the Collection of Statistics Act 2008, over 20 lakh healthcare establishments like hospitals, doctors, clinics, diagnostic labs, pharmacies and nursing homes would be enumerated under this census capturing data on over 1,400 variables.

(Adapted from PIB)

10. Government approves draft Act for setting up of Higher Education Commission of India by repealing UGC Act (Relevant for GS Prelims, GS Mains Paper II; Polity & Governance)


The draft Act is in accordance with the commitment of Government for reforming the regulatory systems that provide for more autonomy and facilitate holistic growth of the education system which provides greater opportunities to the Indian students at more affordable cost. The transformation of the regulatory set up is guided by the following principles:

1.  Less Government and more Governance:

Downsizing the scope of the Regulator. No more interference in the management issues of the educational institutions.

2. Separation of grant functions:

The grant functions would be carried out by the HRD Ministry, and the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) would focus only on academic matters.

3. End of Inspection Raj:

Regulation is done through transparent public disclosures, merit-based decision making on matters regarding standards and quality in higher education.

4. Focus on academic quality:

HECI is tasked with the mandate of improving academic standards with specific focus on learning outcomes, evaluation of academic performance by institutions, mentoring of institutions, training of teachers, promote use of educational technology etc. It will develop norms for setting standards for opening and closure of institutions, provide for greater flexibility and autonomy to institutions, lay standards for appointments to critical leadership positions at the institutional level irrespective of University started under any Law (including State Law).

5. Powers to enforce :

The Regulator will have powers to enforce compliance to the academic quality standards and will have the power to order closure of sub-standard and bogus institutions. Non- compliance could result in fines or jail sentence.

Highlights of the Higher Education Commission of India (Repeal of University Grants Commission Act) Bill 2018


1.          The focus of the Commission will be on improving academic standards and quality of higher education, specifying norms for learning outcomes, lay down standards of teaching/research etc.

2.       It will provide a roadmap for mentoring of institutions found failing in maintaining the required academic standards.

3.      It shall have the power to enforce its decisions through legal provisions in the Act,

4.        The Commission shall have the power to grant authorization for starting of academic operations on the basis of their compliance with norms of academic quality.


5.          It will also have the powers to revoke authorization granting to a higher education institution where there is a case of wilful or continuous default in compliance with the norms / regulations.

6.      It will also have the power to recommend closure of institutions which fail to adhere to minimum standards without affecting students interest.

7.      The Commission will encourage higher education institutions to formulate a Code of Good Practices covering promotion of research, teaching and learning.

8.      The constitution of the Commission is strengthened by the cooption of Chairpersons of regulatory bodies in higher education, namely the AICTE and the NCTE. Moreover the Chairpersons/Vice-Chairpersons and members will be scholars of eminence and standing in the field of academics and research, possessing leadership qualities, proven capacities for institution building and deep understanding of issues of higher education policy and practice.

9.      The Bill also provides for the penal provisions, which albeit graded in nature, will cover withdrawal of power to grant degrees/ diplomas or direction to cease academic operations and in cases of wilful non-compliance, may result in prosecution sanction as per the Criminal Procedure Code with a punishment of imprisonment for a term which may extend up to 3 years.

10.            There will be an Advisory Council to render advice to the Commission on matters concerning coordination and determination of standards in the country. This will be represented by the Chairpersons / Vice-Chairpersons of State Councils for Higher Education and chaired by the Union Minister for HRD.

11.             The Commission will also specify norms and processes for fixing of fee chargeable by higher education institutions and advice the Central Government or the State Governments, as the case may be, regarding steps to be taken for making education affordable to all.

12.           The Commission will monitor, through a national data base, all matters covering the development of emerging fields of knowledge and balanced growth of higher education institutions in all spheres and specially in promotion of academic quality in higher education.

(Adapted from PIB)


International Organizations and Relations

1.  Declaration by the Government of Republic of India relating to Article II and III of the Appendix to the Paris Act (1971) (Relevant for GS Prelims and GS Mains; IOBR)


On March 28, 2018, the World Intellectual Property Organization has notified a declaration referring to the deposit by India, on October 7, 1974, of its instrument of ratification on the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works of September 9, 1886, as revised at Paris on July 24, 1971

India has availed itself of the faculties provided for the Article II and III of the Appendix to the Berne Convention during the 10 years period that will expire, on October 10, 2024. The said declaration shall enter into force, with respect to the territory of the Republic of India, on March 28, 2018.

What are the provisions of Article II?

The Article II of the Appendix would enable India to substitute for the exclusive right of translation of a work, which has been published in printed or analogous forms of reproduction, granted by the competent authority, only for the purpose of teaching, scholarship or research.

What are the provisions of Article III?

The Article III of the Appendix would enable India to Substitute for the exclusive right of reproduction of a work, which has been published either in printed or analogous forms of reproduction, or in audio-visual form of lawfully made audio-visual fixations, to publish an edition which has not been distributed / on sale for a period of six months, except when either the translations is not published by the owner of the right of translation or with his authorization, or when the translation is not in a language general in use in India.

Continuation of existing position

India has been the Member of Berne Convention since 28th April, 1928 and has been submitting the declaration as per Article II & III of the Appendix from time to time. The present notification is in continuation of Indias earlier positon.

(Adapted from PIB)


2.   Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) concludes its 3rd Annual Meeting (Relevant for GS Prelims, GS Mains Paper II; IOBR)


Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) concluded its third Annual Meeting in Mumbai today , on a high note to improve connectivity within the region and in turn enable citizens in the region to reach their potential and enjoy prosperity and security.

Earlier in the day, the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi called upon the need to deepen Indias engagement with AIIB. In his speech, Prime Minister called upon Asian

Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) to increase its lending to US$40 billion by 2020 and US$100 billion by 2025 from US$4 billion now.

The Third Annual Meeting of AIIB was attended by over 3,000 delegates from 86 member countries. The Meeting also had several concurrent sessions that discussed critical issues pertaining to environment, low carbon emissions, connectivity through railway network across borders among several others.

About AIIB

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is a multilateral development bank with a mission to improve social and economic outcomes in Asia and beyond. Headquartered in Beijing, we commenced operations in January 2016 and have now grown to 86 approved members from around the world. By investing in sustainable infrastructure and other productive sectors today, we will better connect people, services and markets that over time will impact the lives of billions and build a better future.

(Adapted from PIB)


Economics

1.   International Conference on the TRIPS CBD Linkage (Relevant for GS Prelims, GS Mains Paper III; Economics)


India has taken the lead in seeking to revive WTO discussions on issues related to preventing theft of traditional knowledge. Government of India, along with the Centre for WTO Studies, Indian Institute of Foreign Trade and the South Centre (an inter- governmental organisation based in Geneva), are organising an International Conference on TRIPS- CBD (Conference on biodiversity) Linkage in Geneva on 7-8 June 2018.

What will happen at conference?

Brazil and South Africa are some of the other countries that have joined hands with India on this crucial initiative. The international conference will bring together indigenous people/local communities in developing and developed countries, internationally acclaimed academicians working on the subject, Geneva-based negotiators and capital- based experts. They will brainstorm on the options for energising negotiations on this subject in the WTO.

What is CBD?

The Convention on Biological Diversity is a multilateral agreement on sustainable development and fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resource. It has membership of 196 countries.

History of examining relationship between TRIPS and CBD

The Doha Ministerial Declaration in 2001 had tasked the TRIPS Council of the WTO to examine the relationship between the TRIPS Agreement and the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the protection of traditional knowledge and folklore. It also mandated that while doing so, the Council should be guided by the objectives and principles set out in the TRIPS Agreement and should fully take into account the development dimension. While there has been considerable debate and deliberations on the subject no common understanding has yet been reached at the WTO.

Importance of TRIPS CBD linkage for India

TRIPS CBD Linkage is important for India and other developing countries because it seeks to address bio-piracy. It has been a long-standing demand that patents should not be granted for existing traditional knowledge and associated genetic resources. Further, it has also been argued that where traditional knowledge forms a basis for further scientific developments that are sought to be patented, there should be a mechanism to ensure disclosure of information in this regard.

This is considered essential not only from the point of view of addressing information asymmetry at the patent office but in also enabling better assessment of the inventive step involved. The developing countries seek an amendment in the TRIPS Agreement to make disclosure of source or origin of genetic resource by patent applicants, submission of

evidence of prior informed consent of local communities and evidence of fair and equitable sharing of benefits under the relevant national regimes mandatory.

International efforts

In 2008, developing countries garnered the support of the European Union to form a coalition of 109 countries (which included the African and Caribbean and Pacific Countries) for the above proposal seeking amendment of the TRIPS Agreement to enable mandatory disclosures in patent applications. The last major proposal along similar lines but incorporating the mechanism agreed to under the Nagoya Protocol to the Convention on Biological Diversity was submitted by India, Brazil along with other like-minded countries in 2011. After this, the discussions appear to have lost steam.

The Nagoya Protocol to the Convention on Biological Diversity on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits arising from their utilization came into effect in 2014. The protocol provides a legal framework for the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources for research and commercialization purpose. At present, more than 100 countries have acceded to the protocol. This makes its mandatory for them to set down an access and benefit regime in compliance with the protocol.

(Adapted from PIB)


2.   Government introduces new scheme SevaBhojYojna(Relevant for GS prelims; Economics)


The Ministry of Culture, Government of India has introduced a new scheme namely SevaBhojYojna with a total outlay of Rs. 325.00 Crores for Financial Years 2018-19 and 2019-20.

What is the scheme for?

The scheme envisages to reimburse the Central Government share of Central Goods and Services Tax (CGST) and Integrated Goods and Service Tax (IGST) on purchase of raw items such as ghee, edible oil, atta/maida/rava/flour , rice pulses, sugar, burra/jiggery etc which go into preparation of food/Prasad/langar/bhandara offered free of cost by religious institutions. The objective of the scheme is to lessen the financial burden of such Charitable Religious Institutions who provide Food/Prasad/Langar (Community Kitchen)/Bhandara free of cost without any discrimination to Public/Devotees.

(Adapted from PIB)


3.   New Benami Transactions Informants Reward Scheme, 2018 launched by the Income Tax Department (Relevant for GS Prelims, GS Mains Paper III; Economics)


Need for Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act, 2016

It was found in many cases that black money was invested in properties in the names of others, even though benefits were enjoyed by the investor concealing his beneficial ownership in his tax returns. The Government had earlier amended Benami Property Transactions Act, 1988, by Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act, 2016 to make the law stronger.

Need for people participation

With the objective of obtaining peoples participation in the Income Tax Departments efforts to unearth black money and to reduce tax evasion, a new reward scheme titled Benami Transactions Informants Reward Scheme, 2018, has been issued by the Income Tax Department. This reward scheme is aimed at encouraging people to give information about benami transactions and properties as well as income earned on such properties by such hidden investors and beneficial owners.

Provisions of Benami Transactions Informants Reward Scheme, 2018

1.           Under the Benami Transactions Informants Reward Scheme, 2018, a person can get reward up to Rs. One crore for giving specific information in prescribed manner to the Joint or Additional Commissioners of Benami Prohibition Units (BPUs) in Investigation Directorates of Income Tax Department about benami transactions and properties as well as proceeds from such properties which are actionable under Benami Property Transactions Act, 1988, as amended by Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act, 2016.

2.            Foreigners will also be eligible for such reward. Identity of the persons giving information will not be disclosed and strict confidentiality shall be maintained.

3.          Details of the reward scheme are available in the Benami Transactions Informants Reward Scheme, 2018, copy of which is available in Income Tax offices and on the official website of Income Tax Department www.incometaxindia.gov.in.

(Adapted from PIB)


4.        Achievements of Power Ministry during last 4 years (Relevant for GS Prelims, GS Mains Paper III; Economics)


(i) Generation capacity-
   1 Lakh MW generation capacity added. (2,43,029 MW in March 2014 to 3,44,002 MW in March 2018)

   India emerges as net exporter of electricity. 7203 MU supplied to Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar in FY 2017-18.

   Energy deficit reduced from 4.2 per cent (in FY 2013-14) to 0.7 per cent (in FY 2017-18)

(ii)    One Grid One Nation-

   Expansion of transmission grid by 1 lakh km


(iii)  DeenDayalUpadhyaya Gram JyotiYojana (DDUGKY)

   100 per cent of village electrification

(viii) Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS)

   Outlay of Rs. 65,424 crore

   1376 towns IT enabled

(vii) UDAY

   More than Rs 20,000 crore interest cost saved by DISCOMs under UDAY

   Indias rank improved to 29 in 2018 from 111 in 2014on World Banks Ease of Getting Electricity Ranking.

(vi) SAUBHAGYA

   Launched for universal electrification

   Camps organised at village level. Minimum documentation required

   Special drive for economically weaker sections under Gram Swaraj Abhiyan

   60.34 lakh housholds electrified since 11th Oct, 2017

(ix)   Power for All 24*7

   Joint initiative of Govt of India and State Govts.

    Roadmap for 24*7 power supply prepared. States ready to ensure 24*7 Power for All from 1st April, 2019.

(x)   Focus on North-East region-

   Electrification of 5855 villages and intensive electrification of 9004 villages completed.

(iv) UJALA

   107 crore LED bulbs distributed

(v)   4376 MW hydel capacity addition (FY 2014-18) Innovations and Initiatives-

Electric vehicles
   No licence required for charging stations

   Procurement of 10,000 e-vehicles for Government institutions

Smart Metering-

   Procurement of 50 lakh smart meters done.


   1 crore prepaid meters under procurement

Energy efficiency-

   Star labelling program saved energy worth Rs. 22,500 crore.

   Energy efficiency measures through PAT in large industries saved energy worth Rs. 9500 crore

   Energy Conservation Building Code for energy efficient buildings launched in June, 2017

Digital initiatives-

   e-Bidding and e-Reverse Auction for short and medium-term procurement of power.

    Enabling payments through NPCI platforms such as BHIM, BBPS, Bharat QR etc. More than 24 crore digital transactions in FY 2017-18 for electricity bill payments.

To bring transparency and to disseminate information to public at large following Apps are launched by the Ministry of Power:


1.       SAUBHAGYA App for tracking household electrification.

2.      VidyutPravah The Mobile/Web App provides real time information of current demand met, shortages if any, surplus power available and the prices in Power Exchange.

3.      UJALA (UnnatJyoti by Affordable LED`S for All) App provides real time updates on the LED distribution happening across the country.

4.      UrjaMitra monitoring of power availability and sending power cut information through SMS

5.      MERITinformation pertaining to marginal variable cost and source wise purchase of electricity.

6.      UDAY- Allows people to compare DISCOMs on the basis of 26 major performance parameters.

7.      URJA (Urban JyotiAbhiyaan) It is an informative App for Urban Distribution Sector. It captures Consumer centric parameters from the IT systems created under IPDS.

8.     TARANG (Transmission App for real time monitoring & Growth) It is an IT Web/mobile based platform to provide status of both inter and intra state Transmission Projects in the country. This platform also shows the prospective inter state as well as intra state Transmission Projects.

9.      DEEP e-bidding (Discovery of Efficient Electricity Price) The portal will provide a common e-bidding platform with e-reverse auction facility to facilitate nation-wide power procurement through a wider network so as to bring uniformity and transparency in the process of power procurement.

10.  Ash Track- linking fly ash users and power plants for better ash utilisation.

(Adapted from PIB)


5. Four Years Achievements & Initiatives of the Ministry of Coal (Relevant for GS Prelims, GS Mains Paper III; Economics)


1.  Coal production increase
Shri Goyal informed that the Coal Production of Coal India Ltd. (CIL) has increased from 462 MT in 2013-14 to 567 MT in 2017-18. This 105 MT increase in production in four years took almost seven years to achieve before 2013-14.

2. Coal quality check

The Minister also talked about how the Ministry has worked for ensuring superior coal quality. Third party sampling procedure have been put in a place. UTTAM App has been launched for ensuring transparency and efficiency in coal quality monitoring process. Re- gradation of all the mines of Coal India Ltd and Singareni Collieries Company Ltd. (SCCL) has been done by Coal Controllers Organization (CCO).

3. Transparency in allocation

Scheme for Harnessing and Allocating Koyala Transparently in India (SHAKTI), for auction and allotment of coal linkages, will lead to affordable power and transparency in allocation of coal.

(Adapted from PIB)


6. Shri J P Nadda highlights the achievements of the Health Ministry (Relevant for GS Prelims, GS Mains Paper III; Economics)


1.  Reduction in MMR
We are saving nearly 12,000 mothers in 2015 (mid-year) as compared to 2012. Compared to 44,000 earlier annual maternal deaths, now there are 32,000 maternal deaths only. Shri Nadda further said that India has registered a record 22% reduction in MMR since 2013.

India has met the MDG target for MMR of 139/lakh live births by achieving 130 by 2015. At this rate, we shallachieve SDG target of 70 by 2022, ahead of target timeline of 2030.

2. New AIIMS

The Health Minister also stated that Cabinet has approved 8 new AIIMS atMangalagiri (Andhra Pradesh), Nagpur (Maharashtra), Kalyani (West Bengal), Gorakhpur (Uttar Pradesh), Bathinda (Punjab), Guwahati (Assam) and Bilaspur (Himachal Pradesh).


(Adapted from PIB)


7. Four-Year Achievements & Initiatives of the Ministry of Railways (Relevant for GS Prelims, GS Mains Paper III; Economics)

1.  Safety first
Safety has reigned supreme with consequential train accidents reduced to 62% from 118 in 2013-14 to 73 in 2017-18. Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh (RRSK) fund of Rs. 1 Lakh Cr has been allocated for safety expenditure over 5 years. Addressing the issue of unsafe crossings on a war footing, 5,479 Unmanned Level Crossings have been eliminated in the last four years. 1.1 lakh safety posts are also being filled-up through recruitment amongst other measures to improve safety.

2. Services

Railways is improving passenger services including a complete makeover of Stations by installing modern facilities including escalators, lifts, free wifi etc. while instilling local art and culture in the design. 68 stations are slated for improvement by March 2019.

Government has improved trains and coaches including launching the Tejas, Antyodaya and Humsafar trains.

3. Rail University

Indias First National Rail & Transportation University in Vadodara is set to open in August 2018.

(Adapted from PIB)


8.  Solar Charkha Mission to be launched soon in 50 clusters (Relevant for GS Prelims, GS Mains Paper III; Economics)


The Solar Charkha Mission of the Ministry of Micro Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME), will be launched by the President, Ram Nath Kovind on June 27, 2018 in New Delhi. The Mission will cover 50 clusters and every cluster will employ 400 to 2000 artisans. The Mission has been approved by the Government of India and will disburse subsidy of Rs. 550 crore to the artisans.

The Minister further informed that 15 new state-of-the-art technology centers are being set up all over the country including North-East, of which 10 centers will become operational by March 2019. Each center is being built at a cost of around Rs. 150 crore. The 10 centers which will become operational soon are located in Durg (Chhattisgarh), Bhiwadi (Rajasthan), Rohtak (Haryana), Visakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh), Bengaluru (Karnataka), Sitarganj (Uttarakhand), Baddi (Himachal Pradesh), Bhopal (M.P.), Kanpur (U.P.) and Puducherry.

What are Solar charkha?

The Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) has finalised a project to introduce solar "charkhas" (spinning wheels) across the country and produce "green clothes".
Khadi is essentially hand-spun, hand-woven cloth and will now have technological help to assist the production with solar power. The project involves introduction of 100,000 such "charkhas", each costing around Rs 20,000, every year.

Generally, one spins the "charkha" wheel with the hand. In the new model, there are solar panels, which would draw solar power. The solar panels are connected to a battery, which stores power.

Rhe solar 'charkhas' would help not only to spin effortlessly but the spinners can also earn double their present earnings, from Rs 60 per day to Rs 150 per day.

(Adapted from PIB)


9.    Ministry of Women & Child Development receives the Best Performing Social Sector Ministry SKOCH Award for its Achievements and Initiatives (Relevant for GS Prelims, GS Mains Paper III; Economics)


Why the Ministry of Women and Child Development has been conferred award? Lauding the achievements of the Ministry of Women and Child Development in delivering the promises made and for its significant achievements and initiatives from the last 4 years, SKOCH has conferred the Best performing Social Sector Ministry award on the Ministry of Women and Child Development.

ABOUT SKOCH GROUP

Skoch Group is a think tank dealing with socio-economic issues with a focus on inclusive growth since 1997. The group companies include a consulting wing, a media wing and a charitable foundation. Skoch Group is able to bring an Indian felt-needs context to strategies and engages with fortune-500 companies, state owned enterprises, government to SMEs and community-based organisations with equal ease. The repertoire of services include field interventions, consultancy, research reports, impact assesments, policy briefs, books, journals, workshops and conferences. Skoch Group has instituted Indias highest independent civilian honours in the field of governance, finance, technology, economics and social sector.

(Adapted from PIB)


10.       India is the largest borrower from Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (Relevant for GS Prelims, GS Mains Paper III; Economics)


What is the size of Indias borrowings from AIIB?

With the total project portfolios of US$4.4 Billion, India has been the largest borrower of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) lending since the time the Bank started its operations.

Unlike most other multilateral development banks set up by advanced economies, AIIB is the first major multilateral development bank where principal contributors are the borrowing members themselves.

Third Annual Meeting of AIIB

The third Annual Meeting of AIIB is being organized by Government of India, in collaboration with Government of Maharashtra at Mumbai during 25-26 June 2018.

The third Annual Meeting of the bank focuses on infrastructure, with the theme of innovation and collaboration. The Annual Meeting will see participation from 86 members, and member countries will deliberate upon the strategies to mobilize financing for infrastructure.

While 75% of the capital is from Asia, several non-Asian regions like Europe, North America, some East African and Latin American countries have also joined the bank as members.

About AIIB

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is a multilateral development bank with a mission to improve social and economic outcomes in Asia and beyond. Headquartered in Beijing, we commenced operations in January 2016 and have now grown to 86 approved members from around the world. By investing in sustainable infrastructure and other productive sectors today, we will better connect people, services and markets that over time will impact the lives of billions and build a better future.

(Adapted from PIB)


11.    Government proposes to set up 3000 Van Dhan Kendras involving 30,000 SHGs across the country (Relevant for GS Prelims, GS Mains Paper III; Economics)


When was scheme launched?
The Government proposes to set up 3000 Van Dhan Kendras involving 30,000 SHGs across the country under the Van Dhan Scheme of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs. In a new game changing initiative, the Prime Minister launched the Van Dhan Scheme of Ministry of Tribal Affairs and TRIFED on 14th April, 2018 during the celebrations of Ambedkar Jayanti at Bijapur Chattisgarh.

Emphasizing the important role of value addition in increasing tribal incomes, the Prime Minister stated that Van Dhan, Jandhan and Goverdhan Schemes had the potential to change the tribal-rural economic system. All these three schemes in tandem need to be promoted for this purpose by the State Governments.


What are Van Dhan Kendras?

Under Van Dhan Scheme, 10 Self Help Groups of 30 Tribal gatherers each have been constituted at Bijapur, Chhattisgarh. They are then trained and provided with working capital to add value to the products, which they collect from the Jungle. Working under the leadership of Collector, these groups can then market their products not only within the States but also outside the States. Training and technical support is provided by TRIFED.

Van Dhan Mission is an initiative for targeting livelihood generation for tribals by harnessing non-timber forest produces, the true wealth of forest i.e. Van Dhan with an estimated value: Rs.2 Lakh Cr. per year. It shall promote and leverage the collective strength of tribals (through SHGs) to achieve scale. It also aims at build upon the traditional knowledge & skill sets of tribals by adding technology & IT for value addition. Further it is to set-up tribal community owned Van Dhan Vikas Kendras (the Kendra) in predominantly forested tribal districts. A Kendra shall constitute of 10 tribal SHGs, each comprising of upto 30 tribal NTFP gatherers or artisans i.e. about 300 beneficiaries per Kendra.

What is the logic behind scheme?

Value addition assumes critical importance in ensuring remunerative prices to the tribals in this approach. Three stage value addition would be the corner stone for enhancing incomes of the tribals under the scheme. The grass root level procurement is proposed to be undertaken through SHGs associated with Implementing Agencies. Convergence and Networking with other Govt. departments/scheme shall be undertaken to utilise the services of existing SHGs like Ajeevika, etc. These SHGs shall be appropriately trained on sustainable harvesting/collection, primary processing & value addition and be formed into clusters so as to aggregate their stock in tradable quantity and linking them with facility of primary processing in a Van Dhan Vikas Kendra.

(Adapted from PIB)


12.    Cabinet approves a Corpus to National Export Insurance Account Trust (Relevant for GS Prelims; Economics)


The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved contribution of Grant-in-Aid (Corpus) of Rs.1,040 crore to National Export Insurance Account Trust (NEIA).

The Corpus is to be utilised during three years from 2017-18 to 2019-20. An amount of Rs.440 crore has already been received for the year 2017-18. Rs.300 crore each will be given to NEIA for the years 2018-19 and 2019-20.

The Corpus would strengthen NEIA to support project exports from the country that are of strategic and national importance.

What is National Export Insurance Account Trust ?


National Export Insurance Account (NEIA) is a fund set up in year 2006. NEIA promotes exports from India by providing insurance to exports. NEIA is maintained and operated by a Public Trust set up jointly Department of Commerce and Export Credit Guarantee Council.

(Adapted from PIB)

13.    DISHA initiative (Relevant for GS Prelims, GS Mains Paper III; Economics)


District Development Coordination & Monitoring Committee (DISHA)
DISHA initiative enables data regarding various schemes of the government at one dashboard and therefore it makes it easy to identify which districts are lagging behind scheme wise and accordingly corrective action can be taken.

One Stop DISHA Dashboardcreated bythe Rural Development Ministry has been designed to facilitate data driven decision making. Real time data from 18 schemes of 9 ministries have been integrated with the Dashboard and other 12 schemes of 8 Ministries are in the process of integration. One Time Passwords or OTPs are being provided to all MPs to ensure that such key data indicators remain protected from misuse.

(Adapted from PIB)


Environment

1. Cabinet approves proposal for enactment of Dam Safety Bill, 2018 (Relevant for GS Prelims, GS Mains Paper III; Disaster management)


The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the proposal for introduction of Dam Safety Bill, 2018 in the Parliament.

Benefits:

It will help all the States and Union Territories of India to adopt uniform dam safety procedures which shall ensure safety of dams and safeguard benefits from such dams. This shall also help in safeguarding human life, livestock and property.

The draft Bill has been finalised after wide consultation with leading Indian experts and international experts.

Details:

-   The Bill provides for proper surveillance, inspection, operation and maintenance of all specified dams in the country to ensure their safe functioning.

-   The Bill provides for constitution of a National Committee on Dam Safety which shall evolve dam safety policies and recommend necessary regulations as may be required for the purpose.

-  The Bill provides for establishment of National Dam Safety Authority as a regulatory body which shall discharge functions to implement the policy, guidelines and standards for dam safety in the country.

-     The Bill provides for constitution of a State Committee on Dam Safety by State Government.

National Dam Safety Authority

-  It shall maintain liaison with the State Dam Safety Organisations and the owners of dams for standardisation of dam safety related data and practices;

-  It shall provide the technical and managerial assistance to the States and State Dam Safety Organisations;

-   It shall maintain a national level data-base of all dams in the country and the records of major dam failures;
-  It shall examine the cause of any major dam failure;

-    It shall publish and update the standard guidelines and check-lists for the routine inspection and detailed investigations of dams and appurtenances;

-   It shall accord recognition or accreditations to the organisations that can be entrusted with the works of investigation, design or construction of new dams;

-  It will also look into unresolved points of issue between the State Dam Safety Organisation of two states, or between the State Dam Safety Organisation of a State and the owner of a dam in that State, for proper solution;

-   Further, in certain cases, such as dams of one State falling under the territory of another State, the National Authority shall also perform the role of State Dam Safety Organization thereby eliminating potential causes for inter-state conflicts.

State Committee on Dam Safety

It will ensure proper surveillance, inspection, operation and maintenance of all specified dams in that State and ensure their safe functioning. It further provides that every State shall establish a "State Dam Safety Organisation", which will be manned by officers from the field dam safety preferably from the areas of dam-designs, hydro-mechanical engineering, hydrology, geo-technical investigation, instrumentation and dam- rehabilitation.

Background:

There are over 5200 large dams in India and about 450 are under construction. Plus there are thousands of medium and small dams. Due to lack of legal and institutional architecture for dam safety in India, dam safety is an issue of concern. Unsafe dams are a hazard and dam break may cause disasters, leading to huge loss of life and property.

The Dam Safety Bill, 2018 address all issues concerning dam safety including regular inspection of dams, Emergency Action Plan, comprehensive dam safety review, adequate repair and maintenance funds for dam safety, Instrumentation and Safety Manuals. It lays onus of dam safety on the dam owner and provides for penal provisions for commission and omission of certain acts.

(Adapted from PIB)


Science & Technology

1.    Methanol Economy (Relevant for GS Prelims, GS Mains Paper III; Science & Technology)


Potential Uses of Methanol
Methanol is a clean burning drop in fuel which can replace both petrol & diesel in transportation & LPG, Wood, Kerosene in cooking fuel. It can also replace diesel in Railways, Marine Sector, Gensets, Power Generation and Methanol based reformers could be an ideal complement to Hybrid and Electric Mobility.

Why Methanol is so sought after?

Methanol Economy is the Bridgeto the dream of a complete Hydrogen based fuel systems. Methanol is a scalable and sustainable fuel, that can be produced from a variety of feedstocks like Natural Gas, Coal (Indian High Ash Coal), Bio-mass, Municipal Solid waste and most importantly from CO2. The Concept of Methanol Economyis being actively pursued by China, Italy, Sweden, Israel, US, Australia, Japan and many other European countries. 10% of fuel in China in transport Sector is Methanol.

Methanol burns efficiently in all internal combustion engines, produces no particulate matter, no soot, almost nil SOX and NOX emissions (NEAR ZERO POLLUTION). The gaseous version of Methanol DME can blended with LPG and can be excellent substitute for diesel in Large buses and trucks. To adopt Methanol as a transport fuel, it requires minimal infrastructure modifications and capital both in vehicles and in terminal and distribution infrastructure. Methanol 15 % blend (M15) in petrol will reduce pollution by 33% & diesel replacement by methanol will reduce by more than 80%. Urban Transport contributes to close to 40% towards urban air pollution. Annually 400000 deaths take place in India due to air pollution. Field trials are under way for India to adopt M15 program in transportation sector. The notification of fuels for M15 & M100 are already complete. Methanol 100% engine will look to replace diesel in its totality.

One of the reasons why Methanol has the potential to be an enduring solution to human energy needs is because the beltched out C02 (greenhouse gas emission) both from using Methanol and while producing Methanol can be tapped back to produce Methanol. Thereby a seamless loop of CO2 sequestration cycle is created to perpetually burn fuels without polluting the environment at all. C02 from steel plants, Thermal Power plants, Cement Plants etc. can be tapped in large quantities to produce Methanol. The Technology has acquired commercial maturity and countries like Iceland are producing in meaningful quantities already.

NITI Aayog plan for Methanol Economy

NITI Aayog has drawn out a comprehensive plan to replace 20% of crude imports from Methanol alone. Adopting Methanol in this scale would bring down pollution in the country by more than 40% and not to forget the benefits from import substitution.

Over a period of time of time diesel can completely be done away with. Indian Railways alone burns three billion litres of diesel every year. Plans are in place to convert 6000 diesel railway engines to work on 100% Methanol and make railways a carbon neutral organisation. The other sector where Methanol is becoming the fuel of choice because of emission benefits is the Marine Sector. IMO Regulations on sulphur particulates and NOX (0.50% m/m on and after 1 January 2020) will make it compulsive to switch to a clean fuel.

Project is underway convert Ro/RO (Roll on & Roll Off) vessels in to Methanol, which will run on the National Waterways for Inland waterways-based transportation. 500 barges will be converted to run on 100% Methanol replacing heavy oil or bunker oil. All this will result in a massive reduction of pollutants into our seas and rivers.

Other major area where methanol can reduce pollution is the Energy sector. India has an installed capacity of 22000 MW on HFO (Heavy fuel oil) alone. HFO is one of the dirtiest fuel and most countries of the world have abandoned it. The entire HFO usage can be replaced by Methanol. Power Modules of Mobile Towers (about 750000) in India can fully be replaced by Methanol Reformer / Fuel Cell based platforms in the next two years. Diesel industrial Gensets, Gas Turbines running on Naptha, LFOI (Light Fuel Oil) and other dirty fuels can also be fully replaced. Industrial boilers which are running on diesel will also be replaced with Methanol.

India by adopting Methanol can have its own indigenous fuel at the cost of approximately Rs. 19 per litre at least 30% cheaper than any available fuel. Methanol fuel can result in great environmental benefits and can be the answer to the burning urban pollution issue. At least 20% diesel consumption can be reduced in next 5-7 years and will result in a savings of Rs. 26,000 crore annually. Rs. 6000 crore can be annually saved from reduced bill in LPG in the next 3 years itself. The Methanol blending program with petrol will further reduce our fuel bill by at least Rs. 5000 crore annually in next 3 years.

Methanol Economy, if adopted by India can be one of the best ways to mitigate the Environmental hazards of a growing economy. NITI Aayog is preparing a road map for a full-scale implementation in the near future.

(Adapted from PIB)


2.   National Digital Library of India (Relecant for GS Prelims, GS Mains Paper III; Science & Technology)


The Union Human Resource Development Minister, Shri Prakash Javadekar launched the new digital initiative of HRD Ministry National Digital Library.

Who has launched NDL?

This National Digital Library of India (NDLI) is a project of the Ministry of Human Resource Development under the aegis of National Mission on Education through Information and

Communication Technology (NMEICT). The objective of NDL is to make digital educational resources available to all citizens of the country to empower, inspire and encourage learning. National Digital Library of India is developed by IIT Kharagpur.

What is NDL?

NDL is the Single Window Platform that collects and collates metadata from premier learning institutions in India and abroad, as well as other relevant sources. It is a digital repository containing textbooks, articles, videos, audio books, lectures, simulations, fiction and all other kinds of learning media.

National Digital Library is a 24x7 ubiquitous knowledge resource that is accessible to anyone with internet access and it is built to enable the rise of Digital India. The Minister said that anybody can access the digital library anytime and anywhere absolutely-free of cost.

What are the available resources on NDL?

NDLI is a digital library that makes quality learning resources available to all learners and has 1.7 Crore content from more than 160 sources, in over 200 languages, everywhere and 30 lakh users are registered on NDL as on date and our target is to increase the users 10 times in a year. NDLI platform is collaborative in nature and extended his regards to contributing institutions which have made available their digital repositories for integration with NDLI.

Apart from website, NDL is also available on the Mobile app. NDLI Mobile app is enabling access to rich digital content of libraries across the country and even foreign repositories to users even in the remotest of areas. Users can search for content using various parameters like subject matter, source, content type and more. Right now the app is available in three languages English, Hindi and Bengali.

(Adapted from PIB)


3. Oxytocin formulations ban to come into effect from 1st July 2018 (Relevant for GS Prelims, GS Mains Paper III; Science & Technology)


Decision of government
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has restricted the manufacture of Oxytocin formulations for domestic use to public sector only from 1st July 2018. It has also banned the import of Oxytocin and its formulations.

From 1st July 2018, no private manufacturer will be allowed to manufacture the drug for domestic use. Only Karnataka Antibiotics & Pharmaceuticals Ltd (KAPL), a public sector company, would be manufacturing this drug for domestic use from that date. The Oxytocin formulations meant for domestic consumption will be supplied by the manufacturer, i.e.

KAPL, to the registered hospitals and clinics in public and private sector directly . Oxytocin in any form or name will not be allowed to be sold through retail Chemist.

What Is Oxytocin?

Oxytocin is a hormone known to trigger a wide variety of physical and psychological effects and is commonly used to facilitate childbirth.

Misuse of Oxytocin

The drug is used by dairy owners and farmers to boost milk production and make vegetables look bigger and fresher.

Ban on Retail Sale

The Government of India banned retail sale of the hormone in 2014 after it was found that indiscriminate use of Oxytocin in milch animals and farms was causing irreversible hormone damage.

(Adapted from PIB and Background from PrepMate-Cengage Science & Technology, Page 211)


Miscellaneous

1.        SURYA KIRAN-XIII (Relevant for GS Prelims)


Exercise SURYA KIRAN
The 13th edition of bilateral annual military Exercise SURYA KIRAN, between India and Nepal Army commenced today at Pithoragarh. The aim of exercise is joint training of troops in counter insurgency/ counter terrorism operations in both jungle & mountainous terrain and disaster management. Exercise SURYA KIRAN can be termed as the facade of long standing strategic ties between India and Nepal.

As part of the exercise important lectures, demonstrations and drills related to counter insurgency, counter terrorism operations and disaster management will be conducted. Both the Armies will also share their valuable experiences in countering such situations as also refined drills and procedures for joint operation wherever the need so arises.

The culmination of exercise will be done with a 72 hours joint exercise which will show the joint skills of soldiers while conducting any counter terrorist operation.

(Adapted from PIB)


2.          India makes unprecedented progress in coconut cultivation from mid 2014 to 2018 & becomes the leading country in coconut production and productivity (Relevant for GS Prelims)


India has made unprecedented progress in coconut cultivation from mid 2014 to 2018 and now it has become the leading country in coconut production and productivity.

Productivity levels of coconut

Productivity increased to 11516 fruits per hectare in 2017-18 as compared to 10122 in 2013-14.

Exports of coconut

Owing to an increase in production of coconut, India has been exporting coconut oil to Malaysia, Indonesia and Sri Lanka since April 2017. Till March 2017, India was importing coconut oil. Also, for the first time India has been exporting dry coconut in large quantities to the U.S and European countries. In 2017-18, India exported coconut worth Rs 1602.38 crore while imports stood at Rs 259.70 crore.

(Adapted from PIB)


3.             JANAUSHADHI SUVIDHA Oxo-biodegradable Sanitary Napkin under the Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP) (Relevant for GS Prelims)


Union Minister of State for Chemicals & Fertilizers, Road Transport & Highways, Shipping, Shri Mansukh L. Mandaviya, launched the JANAUSHADHI SUVIDHA, the Oxo- biodegradable Sanitary Napkin, under the Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP), here today.

What is the special about the napkins?

Napkins are unique product that would ensure Affordability, Hygiene as well as Ease of use and disposal for them.

The average price of sanitary napkins available in the market today is around Rs. 8 per pad, whereas now with the launch of the SUVIDHA napkins at Rs. 2.50 per pad.

Why it is important to use napkin?

It is one of the most important requirement in ensuring the Health Security to that section of Women in India who still use unhygienic aids during menstrual period due to non- affordability of some of the popular brands of sanitary napkins available in the market today. Such unhygienic aids cause fungal infections, Reproductive Tract Infection, Urinary Tract Infection, Cervical cancer and also make women vulnerable to infertility.

According to the National Family Health Survey 2015-16, about 58 percent of women aged between 15 to 24 years use locally prepared napkins, sanitary napkins and tampons. Further, about 78 percent women in urban areas use hygienic methods of protection during menstrual period; only 48 percent women in rural areas have access to clean sanitary napkins.

(Adapted from PIB)



4.        Rural sanitation coverage under Swachh Bharat crosses the 85% mark (Relevant for GS Prelims)


What are the achievements?
Under the Swachh Bharat Mission, the largest behavior change programme in the world, the rural sanitation coverage of India has now risen to 85%. Through mobilization of rural communities, 7.4 crore toilets have been built across rural India, and as an outcome, over
3.8 lakh villages and 391 districts have been declared Open Defecation Free (ODF).

This is significant because, under the Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen), sanitation coverage has increased to more than double the coverage at the time of the launch of the Mission.

How has the data been gathered?

A recent survey conducted by an Independent Verification Agency across 90,000 households in over 6000 villages has found the usage of toilets in rural India to be 93.4%. Two independent surveys conducted in the past by the Quality Council of India in 2017, and National Sample Survey Organization in 2016, have pegged the usage of these toilets at

91% and 95% respectively. This success has been achieved due to the difference in approach to sanitation adopted by the Swachh Bharat Mission in comparison to previous sanitation programmes in the country.

Swachh Bharat Mission

The Swachh Bharat Mission is the first sanitation programme in the country to measure outcomes (ODF) instead of output (toilets) alone. The SBM's emphasis on behavior change in rural sanitation at the grassroots also leads to rigorous verification and sustainability of the benefits accrued to rural communities under the progress made. The SBM is a people's movement, a true jan andolan, and it is this people's participation that has led to the success being witnessed under the Mission. The Mission is on track to achieve an ODF India by October 2019.

(Adapted from The PIB)


5.    Appointment of Vigilance Commissioner (Relevant for GS Prelims)


Shri Sharad Kumar (Indian Police Service, Retd.,) has been appointed as the Vigilance Commissioner in the Central Vigilance Commission, New Delhi for a term of four years from the date on which he enters upon his office, or till he attains the age of sixty-five years, whichever is earlier.

Background

The CVC is a multi-member body consisting of a Central Vigilance Commissioner (chairperson) and not more than two vigilance commissioners. They are appointed by the President on the recommendation of a three-member committee consisting of the Prime Minister as its head, the Union minister of home affairs, and the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha. They hold office for a term of four years or until they attain the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier.

CVC appoints the commissioners for departmental inquiries (CDIs) who function as inquiry officers to conduct oral inquiries in departmental proceedings initiated against public servants. They also review the working of officials and report the departmental inquiries to CVC.


6.       India-Nepal Joint Ex SURYA KIRAN-XIII (Relevant for GS Prelims)


Exercise SURYA KIRAN-XIII, a joint military training exercise between India & Nepal culminated today at Pithoragarh, wherein the troops of both Armies participated in 14-day long joint training based on counter terrorist operations.

Besides training, both the contingents also participated in a number of extra-curricular activities including friendly Football, Basketball, Volleyball matches and a cultural event on the final day to increase the bonhomie between troops. The joint training was undoubtedly, an unprecedented success. Besides promoting understanding and inter-operability between the two armies, it further helped in cementing ties between both the nations.

(Adapted from PIB)


7.             NITI Aayog to launch Composite Water Management Index (Relevant for GS Prelims)

What is Composite Water Management Index?
NITI Aayog has come up with the Composite Water Management Index as a useful tool to assess and improve the performance in efficient management of water resources. This index is an attempt to inspire States and UTs towards efficient and optimal utilization of water, and recycling thereof with a sense of urgency.

In view of limitations on availability of water resources and rising demand for water, sustainable management of water resources has acquired critical importance. The index can be utilised to formulate and implement suitable strategies for better management of water resources. It has been finalized after an elaborate exercise including seeking feedback from the States and consultation with reputed experts.

The index would provide useful information for the States and also for the concerned Central Ministries/Departments enabling them to formulate and implement suitable strategies for better management of water resources.

(Adapted from PIB)


8.          Discovery of a Sub-Saturn like Planet around a Sun-like star (Relevant for GS Prelims)

What is the discovery?
A Team of scientists and engineers led by Prof. Abhijit Chakraborty of Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), Ahmedabad, discovered a sub-Saturn or super-neputune size planet (mass of about 27 Earth Mass and size of 6 Earth Radii) around a Sun-like star. The planet will be known as EPIC 211945201b or K2-236b.

Which technology was used?

The discovery was made by measuring the mass of the planet using the indigenously designed PRL Advance Radial-velocity Abu-sky Search(PARAS) spectrograph integrated with 1.2m Telescope at PRL's Gurushikhar Observatory in Mount Abu, India. Only 23 such planetary systems (including this discovery) are known to this date with masses between 10 and 70 Earth mass and size of 4 to 8 Earth radii with such precise measurement of mass.


Why is discovery important?

This discovery is very important for understanding the formation mechanism of such super-Neptune or sub-Saturn kind of planets, that are too close to the host star and as well as planet formations around Sun-like stars.

A boost to Indias position

With this discovery, India has joined a handful of countries, which have discovered planets around stars beyond our solar system. Further, PARAS is the first of its kind spectrograph in Asia, which can measure the mass of a planet going around a star. Very few spectrographs exist around the world that can do such precise measurements.

(Adapted from PIB)


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