October 3, 2018

October 2018

21-22 october 2018

One lakh benefitted under Ayushman Bharat in one month of its launch: JP Nadda

One lakh benefitted under Ayushman Bharat in one month of its launch: JP Nadda

Union Health Minister JP Nadda on October 21, 2018 announced that nearly a month after the roll out of the health insurance scheme ‘Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY)’ (Ayushman Bharat), one lakh people have availed of the ambitious programme.

The Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana, considered as the world’s largest health insurance programme, was launched pan-India by Prime Minister Narendra Modi from Jharkhand on September 23, 2018.

Earlier, on October 5, Indu Bhushan, CEO of the National Health Agency, announced that around 38000 people have availed of the scheme within two weeks of launch of the PMJAY.

Over 9000 hospitals have been empanelled for the scheme, and 32 states and Union territories have signed MoUs with the Centre to implement the programme.

Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (Ayushman Bharat or AB-NHPM)

What?

• Ayushman Bharat, the government-sponsored health insurance scheme, will provide free coverage of up to Rs 5 lakh per family per year in any government or even empanelled private hospitals all over India.

• The Ayushman Bharat programme will be funded with 60 percent contribution from the Centre and the remaining from the states.

• The benefit cover will also include pre and post-hospitalisation expenses. All pre-existing conditions will be covered from day one of the policy.

• A defined transport allowance per hospitalisation will also be paid to the beneficiary.

• The payment for treatment will be done on package rate which will be defined by the Government in advance basis. The package rates will include all the costs associated with treatment. The States and UTs will have the flexibility to modify these rates within a limited bandwidth.

• For beneficiaries, it will be a cashless and paper less transaction.

Why?

• Launched with an aim to help the poor and the economically deprived, the scheme will be available for 10.74 crore beneficiary families and about 50 crore Indian citizens.

• This scheme will strengthen the healthcare services in India. Around 13000 hospitals in the country have been coordinated for the implementation of the scheme.

• The scheme aims to target poor and vulnerable population of the country, based on the Socio Economic and Caste Census 2011 (SECC) database. There will be no cap on family size and age in the scheme.

• The scheme allows the beneficiary to take cashless benefits from any public or private empanelled hospitals across the country.

Who?

• The scheme will work in partnership with NITI Aayog to operationalise a robust, modular and interoperable IT platform which will involve a paperless and cashless transaction.

• The National Health Agency (NHA), the apex body implementing the scheme, has launched a website (mera.pmjay.gov.in).

Government notifies special courts for trial of benami transaction cases

Representative Image

The Union Government has issued a notification stating that sessions courts in 34 states and union territories, will act as special courts for the trial of offences under the benami transaction law.

Key Highlights

The Union Ministry of Finance stated in its notification that the sessions courts were notified of the same after consultation with Chief Justices of High Courts under the Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act, 1988 for the trial of offences punishable under the provision of the Act.

In the case of the National Capital Territory of Delhi, the courts of additional session’s judge in each district have been designated as the special court.

Further, under the Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act, every trial should be conducted as expeditiously as possible.

The law also prescribes that every endeavour should be made by the special court to conclude the trial within six months from the date of filing of the complaint.

What is Benami transaction?

Benami transaction refers to transactions made in a fictitious name, or the owner is not aware of the ownership of the property, or the person paying for the property is not traceable.

Background

• The Indian Parliament passed the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act in August 2016 to curb the menace of black money. The bill sought to amend the Benami Transactions Act, 1988.

 The rules and all the provisions of the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act came into force on November 1, 2016.

 After coming into effect, the existing Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 1988 was renamed as the Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions (PBPT) Act, 1988.

 The new legislation provided for seven years imprisonment and fine for those indulging in illegal transactions. The previous Act provided for up to three years of imprisonment or fine or both. It stated that the properties held as Benami are liable for confiscation by the government without payment of compensation.

• The act has amended the definition of benami transactions and establishes adjudicating authorities and an Appellate Tribunal to deal with benami transactions.

 Further, the act defines benami transactions, prohibits them and provides that violation of the PBPT Act is punishable with imprisonment and fine.

• It also prohibits recovery of the property held benami from benamidar by the real owner. The properties held benami are liable for confiscation by the Government without payment of compensation.

19-20 october 2018

Sajjan Jindal elected as Treasurer of World Steel Association

Sajjan Jindal elected as Treasurer of World Steel Association

JSW Steel CMD Sajjan Jindal was on October 18, 2018 elected as the Treasurer of the World Steel Association (worldsteel). The association has also appointed Tata Steel MD TV Narendran and ArcelorMittal Chief LN Mittal as its members.

The appointments were made during the worldsteel General Assembly in Toyko, Japan during which the Board of Directors elected new officers for 2018-19 at the. The new officers were elected for a one-year period.

Here are the other appointments made by the board:

Name Post at worldsteel Profession
Andre Johannpeter Chairman Executive Vice Chairman of Gerdau S.A.
Yu Yong Vice Chairman Chairman of HBIS Group Co. Ltd.
Kosei Shindo  Vice Chairman President & Representative Director of Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metal Corporation
Liberty Speciality Steel  Associate members Represented by Jonathan Bolton
Mughal Iron & Steel Industries Limited Associate members Represented by Fahad Javaid
Members of 2018-19 Executive Committee
Wolfgang Eder of voestalpine AG John Ferriola of Nucor Corporation
Sajjan Jindal of JSW Steel Limited Andre Johannpeter of Gerdau S.A.
Koji Kakigi of JFE Steel Corporation Lakshmi Mittal of ArcelorMittal
Alexey Mordashov of Severstal (PAO) Thachat Viswanath Narendran of Tata Steel Limited
Roger Newport of AK Steel Corporation Paolo Rocca of Techint Group
Kosei Shindo of Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation Yu Yong of HBIS Group Co. Ltd.
Edwin Basson of World Steel Association  

About World Steel Association

• The World Steel Association (worldsteel) is a non-profit organisation with headquarters in Brussels, Belgium and its second office in Beijing, China.

• It was founded as the International Iron and Steel Institute in July 1967. It changed its name to the World Steel Association in October 2008.

• It represents over 160 steel producers (including 9 of the world’s 10 largest steel companies), national and regional steel industry associations, and steel research institutes.

• The worldsteel members cover around 85 percent of world steel production.

• The association celebrated its 50th year anniversary in 2017.

Union HRD Ministry releases revised CBSE affiliation bye-laws for smooth functioning

Union HRD Ministry releases revised CBSE affiliation bye-laws for smooth functioning

The Union Minister for Human Resource Development, Prakash Javadekar on October 18, 2018 released the revised CBSE Affiliation Bye Laws to ensure speed, transparency, hassle-free procedures and ease of doing business with the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE).

The revised affiliation byelaws indicate a major shift from the highly complex procedures to a simplified system based on preventing duplication of processes.

Earlier this year, the HRD Ministry had directed the Board to completely revisit its affiliation bye laws to make the system more robust and quality driven.

Note
CBSE is a national level Board conducting examinations for Classes X and XII. It affiliates schools across India and abroad upon fulfilment of various conditions as prescribed in its Affiliation Bye Laws.At present, 20783 schools are affiliated with the Board. The Affiliation Byelaws were first made in the year 1988 and were last modified in the year 2012.

Objective: To prevent duplication of affiliation process

For issuing recognition under RTE Act and NOC, the state education administration verifies various certificates to be obtained from local bodies, revenue department, cooperatives department, etc.

The CBSE re-verifies them after applications are received. This is very long process. Therefore, to prevent this duplication, schools will now be required to submit only two documents at the time of applying for affiliation, instead of 12-14 documents being submitted earlier.

One document would be vetted by the head of district education administration validating all aspects such as building safety, sanitation, land ownership, etc; and another document would be a self-affidavit where the school would certify its adherence to fee norms, infrastructure norms, etc.

Key highlights of the revised affiliation byelaws

• The Board shall not revisit any of the aspects evaluated by the state during inspection; and the delay due to scrutiny and non-compliance of deficiencies in these documents shall be drastically curtailed.

• Inspection of schools will now be outcome-based and more academic and quality oriented, rather than focussing only on school infrastructure.

• The inspection will focus on academic excellence and progress of students over time, innovations and quality of pedagogy, capacity of teachers and teacher training, inclusive practises in school, quality of co-scholastic activities, whether curricular load is as per norms.

• This will not only help the Board and the school to track students’ progress over time, but will also identify areas that would need further efforts.

• Regarding fee, the provisions include full fee disclosure to be made and no hidden charges to be levied by schools in the garb of fees.

• The byelaws clearly state that fee is to be charged as per the regulation of the appropriate government and fee revision shall be subject to laws, regulations and directions of the appropriate government.

• Also, for the first time, the byelaws encourage schools to promote environmental conservation through harnessing solar energy, rain water harvesting, greening of campus, recycling and segregation of waste, Swachhata on campus, etc.

The Process
  • In the new byelaws, the school inspection will be done as soon as applications are received.
  • On satisfactory inspection report, the Board will issue a Letter of Intent to the school, indicating its intention to affiliate the school.
  • The school will then be expected to fulfil all the conditions laid down under the Post-Affiliation process, such as recruitment of qualified teachers, special educator, wellness counsellor, salaries through digital payment, etc.
  • On complying with all these conditions, the school will submit an online commencement certificate latest by 31 March of the given year.
  • Based on the certificate, the Board shall confirm affiliation of the school. Only then, the schools will be able to start new academic session under CBSE.

Significance

The new affiliation bye laws aim on achieving academic excellence through mandatory teacher training. Even the Principals and Vice Principals of every school are expected to undergo two days mandatory training.

The revised bye laws will positively impact the existing and future schools by easing procedures and redirecting their focus towards improving the quality of education.

12th Asia-Europe Meeting Summit begins; Vice President Venkaiah Naidu leads Indian delegation

12th Asia-Europe Meeting Summit begins; Vice President Venkaiah Naidu leads Indian delegation

The 12th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit began on October 18, 2018 in Brussels, Belgium. Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu led the Indian delegation at the two-day summit.

Theme 2018: The theme of 12th Asia-Europe Meeting was ‘Global Partners for Global Challenges‘.

The 12th Asia-Europe Meeting brought together Heads of state of 30 European and 21 Asian countries, besides top representatives of the European Union and Secretary General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The summit prioritised issues related to connectivity, trade and investment, sustainable development, climate change, terrorism, migration, maritime security and cyberspace.

Venkaiah Naidu’s schedule at the 12th Asia-Europe Meeting
  • Naidu is likely to seek cooperation to strengthen bilateral relations and also to deal with the global challenges through Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM) platform.
  • Apart from the opening ceremony, Naidu will participate in the plenary session of the Summit and have interactions with various stakeholders.
  • He will also have bilateral meetings with the Heads of State of various countries on the sidelines of the summit.
  • On the first day itself, Naidu held one to one meeting with the King of Belgians, King Phillipe at Presidential Palace in Brussels.
  • He will also hold a meeting with prominent Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) and CEOs of Belgium. He will address the Indian Diaspora at the Jain Culture Centre in Wilrijk, Antwerp.
  • He will also pay floral tributes at the monument of Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi located at the Governorate of Antwerp.

12th ASEM Summit

• The 12th ASEM Summit (ASEM12) was held during October 18-19, 2018 in Brussels, Belgium.

• European Council President Donald TUSK chaired the summit. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini represented the EU.

• The ASEM summit brought together Heads of state of 51 European and Asian countries, representatives of the European Union and the Secretary General of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Current Affairs in Short

Former Uttarakhand Chief Minister ND Tiwari passes away

• Former Uttarakhand Chief Minister ND Tiwari, who suffered multiple organ failure in July 2018, passes away on October 18, 2018 on his 93rd birthday at Delhi’s Max Hospital, where he had been admitted since September 2017. He was 93.
• Tiwari joined the Congress in 1963 and was the only Indian politician to have served as Chief Minister of two states, Uttar Pradesh and later Uttarakhand.
• While in power, he helped lead the Congress to victory in the state elections held months after Indira Gandhi’s assassination. However, Rajiv Gandhi replaced him within months of the victory.
• Tiwari was elected to both Houses of Parliament during his days in the Congress. In 1980, he was elected to the 7th Lok Sabha.
• Tiwari also served as Governor of Andhra Pradesh between 2007 and 2009.

RBI issues guidelines to facilitate payments among PPI

• The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) released operational guidelines to facilitate payments among prepaid instruments (PPI) such as mobile wallets.
• The guidelines elaborate on requirements for achieving inter-operability for mobile wallets and cards, and norms for customer protection and grievance redressal.
• Inter-operability among mobile wallets, and between bank account and e-wallet would be enabled through the UPI system.
• The inter-operability shall be facilitated to all KYC-compliant PPI accounts and entire acceptance infrastructure.
• The inter-operability would be achieved in a phased manner.
• Paytm, MobiKwik, Oxigen and Ola Money are some of the popular mobile wallets in the country.
• Currently, a mobile wallet does not allow customers to send or receive money from a wallet run by another company.

Prasar Bharti CEO Shashi Shekhar Vempati distributes Rajbhasha awards

• Prasar Bharti CEO Shashi Shekhar Vempati distributed Rajbhasha awards to Prasar Bharti employees in New Delhi.
• The awards were given for the various competitions held during Hindi Pakhwada organized by Prashar Bharti Secretariat.
• Vempati asked employees to increase the use of Hindi in day-to-day work.
• He also said that common Hindi words should be used instead of difficult words.

Vice President leaves for Belgium to attend 12th ASEM Summit

• Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu left for Belgium to attend the two-day 12th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Brussels.
• The theme of the ASEM Summit is ‘Global Partners for Global Challenges’.
• The bi-annual event is considered the highest platform for dialogue and cooperation between Asia and Europe in the areas of trade, investment, security and tourism.
• As many as 51 Heads of States or Heads of Government are expected to participate in the Summit where a wide range of issues from climate change to terrorism are expected to be discussed.
• This will be the first multi-lateral summit the Vice President will be attending after taking office in August 2017.
• The Vice President will also participate in the Plenary Session and have interactions with various stakeholders.
• The Vice President will also address the Indian Diaspora at the Jain Culture Centre in Wilrijk, Antwerp and pay respects and offer floral tribute at a sculpture of Mahatma Gandhi located in the Governorate at Antwerp.

Indian Navy augments Submarine Rescue capability

• The Western Naval Command of Indian Navy successfully concluded the maiden trials of the Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle (DSRV).
• The DSRV, which is operated by a crew of three, can rescue 14 personnel from a disabled submarine at one time.
• On October 15, 2018, the DSRV carried out under water mating with a bottomed submarine at over 300 feet depth. On successful mating the DSRV opened its hatches and carried out transfer of personnel from the submarine to the DSRV.
• These sea trials prove DSRV’s ability to undertake rescue operations from disabled submarines at sea and have provided the Indian Navy with a critical capability.
• During the trials the DSRV also dived successfully up to 666 m. This is a record for deepest submergence by a ‘manned vessel’ in Indian waters.
• The DSRV crew has also carried out ROV operations at over 750 metres and Side Scan Sonar operations at over 650 metres, which are all ‘firsts’ for the Indian Navy.

CSIR develops affordable Water Disinfection System “OneerTM”

• The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research – Indian Institute of Toxicology Research (CSIR-IITR) of Lucknow developed an innovative technology for “Drinking Water Disinfection System” with Trade name “OneerTM” which was transferred to Bluebird Water Purifiers.
• OneerTM is useful for continuous treatment of water and eliminates all disease causing pathogens such as virus, bacteria, fungi, protozoa and cyst to provide safe drinking water as per National and International standards prescribed for potable water.
• Infection through drinking water results in an increase in morbidity and mortality particularly amongst children and Oneer developed by CSIR-IITR will provide access to safe and clean drinking water at a cost of just 2 paise per litre.
• It is of 450 LPH capacity which can be scaled up to 5000 to 1 lakh litre per day and is also maintenance and membrane free.
• The technology will be helpful especially for rural people since it can be solar powered and this development is in line with the ‘Make in India’ initiative.

Not a single mobile phone faces disconnect threat: Department of Telecommunications

Not a single mobile phone faces disconnect threat: Department of Telecommunications

The Department of Telecommunications (DOT) and Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) on October 18, 2018 clarified in a joint statement that a few news reports stating that 50 crore mobile numbers are at the risk of disconnection are completely untrue and imaginary.

These news reports try to create unnecessary panic among mobile users by claiming that there are prospects of disconnection, “if SIM cards procured on the basis of Aadhaar verification are not backed up by a fresh identification”.

The Clarification

The joint statement clarifies that the Supreme Court in its judgement in Aadhaar case has nowhere directed that the mobile number which has been issued through Aadhaar eKYC has to be disconnected. Therefore, there is no reason for panic or fear at all.

The Court has also not asked to delete all the eKYC data of telecom customers after 6 months. However, the apex Court has asked that UIDAI should not keep authentication log for more than 6 months. The restriction is on UIDAI and not on the telecom companies.

The Supreme Court prohibited the issue of new SIM cards through Aadhaar eKYC authentication process. There is no direction to deactivate the old mobile phones.

Therefore, there is no need for telecom companies to delete authentication logs. If anybody wishes to get Aadhaar eKYC replaced by the fresh KYC, he or she can request the service providers for delinking of Aadhaar as per earlier DOT Circulars on mobile KYC.

Digital process for issuing new SIM cards
  • The Department of Telecom and UIDAI are in a process to bring out a completely hassle-free and digital process for issuing new SIM cards through a mobile App which will be fully compliant of the Supreme Court judgement in Aadhaar Case.
  • In the new digital process, live photograph of the person with latitude, longitude, and time stamp will be captured.
  • The photo of ID such as Aadhaar card, voter ID, etc., will also be captured.
  • The SIM card agent will be authenticated through OTP; and the SIM card will be issued.

Aadhaar Verdict: Supreme Court upheld constitutional validity of Aadhaar Act

The five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court on September 26, 2018 upheld most of the provisions of the Aadhaar Act by 4:1 Majority while hearing the petitions challenging the constitutional validity of Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other. Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016.

 Majority of judges upheld the validity of Aadhaar, Justice Chandrachud dissented.

 Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act, allowing private entities to use Aadhaar for verification purpose, struck down.

– Aadhaar – PAN Linkage mandatory.

 No need of Aadhaar for CBSE, NEET, UGC and school admissions.

 No need of Aadhaar for mobile connections and for opening bank accounts.

18 october 2018

WEF’s Global Competitiveness Index 2018: US tops; India ranked 58th

WEF’s Global Competitiveness Index 2018: US tops; India ranked 58th

The World Economic Forum (WEF) on October 16, 2018 released the Global Competitiveness Report 2018. The report publishes the Global Competitiveness Index, ranking 140 countries on the basis of 98 indicators organised into 12 pillars.

These 12 pillars are Institutions; Infrastructure; ICT adoption; Macroeconomic stability; Health; Skills; Product market; Labour market; Financial system; Market size; Business dynamism; and Innovation capability.

India’s rank on the Global Competitiveness Index 4.0
  • India was ranked as the 58th most competitive economy with a score of 62.0 on the Global Competitiveness Index 2018. India jumped five spots from 2017, the largest gain among G20 economies.
  • As per the report, India leads the region in all other areas of competitiveness except for health, education and skills. As per the report, India’s greatest competitive advantages include its market size and innovation.
  • India ranked highest among South Asian countries. Sri Lanka was ranked 86th, Bangladesh 103rd, Pakistan 107th and Nepal 109th.

Key Highlights

• The report states that the global economy is projected to grow nearly 4 percent in 2018 and 2019.

• On the list of 140 economies, the United States topped the list with a score of 85.6, followed by Singapore and Germany at the second and the third positions respectively.

• Other countries in the top 10 include Switzerland (4th), Japan (5th), Netherlands (6th), Hong Kong (7th), United Kingdom (8th), Sweden (9th) and Denmark (10th).

• In Europe, Sweden is ranked the highest among the Nordic economies at 9th position, while France (17th) is among the top 20. Countries such as Germany and Switzerland set the global standards for innovation.

• Chile (33rd) leads the Latin America and the Caribbean region by a wide margin, ahead of Mexico (46th) and Uruguay (53rd). Insecurity and weak institutions are two of the biggest challenges for most countries in the region.

• Competitiveness performance in the Middle East and North Africa remains diverse, with Israel (20th) and the United Arab Emirates (27th), leading the way in their respective regions.

• 17of the 34 sub-Saharan African economies are among the bottom 20. Mauritius (49th) leads the region, ahead of South Africa and nearly 91 places ahead of Chad (140th).

• India remained the “South Asia‘s main driving force” with 58th rank.

• Among the BRICS economies, China topped the list at 28th place with a score of 72.6, followed by Russia, India, South Africa and Brazil respectively.

Global Competitiveness Index 4.0

The 2018 edition of the Global Competitiveness Report introduced the new Global Competitiveness Index 4.0 (GCI 4.0). The new index sheds light on an emerging set of drivers of productivity and long-term growth in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The GCI 4.0 provides novel insights on four factors that will grow in significance as the Fourth Industrial Revolution gathers pace. These four factors are human capital, innovation, resilience and agility.

Irish Author Anna Burns wins Man Booker Prize 2018 for her novel ‘Milkman’

Irish Author Anna Burns wins Man Booker Prize 2018 for her novel ‘Milkman’

Irish Author Anna Burns on October 16, 2018 won the Britain’s renowned Man Booker Prize 2018 for her third novel ‘Milkman’. Burns received the award from Prince Charles’ wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, as well as 50000 pounds (USD 65900) as the prize money.

Note
With this, Burns became the first writer from Northern Ireland to win the Booker Prize. The previous Irish winners were John Banville, Anne Enright and Roddy Doyle. She is also the first woman to win the award since 2013, when Eleanor Catton took the award for ‘The Luminaries’.

The judges of the annual award praised Anna Burns’ work as utterly distinctive. Burns was born in the Northern Irish capital Belfast in 1962 and now lives in southern England. She had previously authored two novels – ‘No Bones’ and ‘Little Constructions’.

‘Milkman’

• Milkman is an exploration of Northern Ireland’s three decades of violence told through the voice of a young woman.

• The novel chronicles the struggles of a middle sister in a family as she confronts rumour, social pressures and politics amid violent sectarian divisions in her community.

• It is a story of brutality, sexual encroachment and resistance threaded with mordant humour.

• In an interview posted by the Booker Prize foundation, Burns said that “Milkman was inspired by her own experience… I grew up in a place that was rife with violence, distrust and paranoia, and peopled by individuals trying to navigate and survive in that world as best as they could.”

Finalists
The finalists competing for the 2018 Man Booker Prize were:

  • Esi Edugyan for her novel “Washington Black” which is about a young slave who escapes from a plantation in Barbados by hot-air balloon
  • Daisy Johnson for “Everything Under”, a modern-day retelling of a classical myth that imagines Oedipus as a female lexicographer. It will be published soon in the United States by Graywolf Press in Minneapolis.
  • Rachel Kushner for “The Mars Room”, telling the story of a woman imprisoned for killing an abusive man who was stalking her.
  • Richard Powers for “The Overstory”, a multi-part story about trees and people who dedicate their lives to saving them.
  • Robin Robertson for “The Long Take,” a book that mixes poetry and prose to tell the story of a traumatised World War II veteran who has left his home in Nova Scotia to see America. It will be published in the United States in November by Knopf.

Man Booker Prize

• Established in 1969, the Man Booker Prize recognises the judges choice of “the best original novel written in English and published in the UK”.

• Initially, Man Booker Prize was only open to writers from Britain, Ireland and the Commonwealth nations until it began permitting authors from other English-speaking countries in 2014.

• Last year’s Booker Prize went to “Lincoln in the Bardo,” by American writer George Saunders.

ESA to send spacecraft to Mercury in a first-of-its-kind mission

ESA to send spacecraft to Mercury in a first-of-its-kind mission

In a first-of-its-kind mission, a UK-built spacecraft will set off for Mercury to determine whether the plant, which is the closest to the Sun, contains water.

The European Space Agency’s (ESA) BepiColombo mission will send two orbiters to explore the planet where the surface temperatures reach about 450 degrees Celsius.

Significance

Through the mission, the space agency hopes to get answers to the questions raised by the previous missions such as whether the planet holds water.

Key Highlights

 ESA to send spacecraft to Mercury in a first-of-its-kind mission

• The spacecraft will launch from the European Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, on October 20 and will take seven years to reach Mercury, arriving in 2025.

• During its 5.2 billion miles journey, the spacecraft will make a complex series of fly-bys of Earth, Venus and Mercury to help it slow down enough to avoid the huge gravitational pull of the Sun.

 The mission is aimed at expanding the existing knowledge surrounding Mercury.

• Despite being the nearest to the Sun, the tilt of the planet signifies that some of its areas are permanently in shade and temperatures can fall to minus 180 degrees Celsius, allowing ice to form on the planet.

• Through the mission, the researchers also look to learn more about Mercury’s magnetic field.

• While it was thought that the planet was solid all the way through, some of the previous missions discovered a magnetic field suggesting that it may have a molten interior.

Background

Only two spacecraft have been to Mercury until now. The first one was NASA’s ‘Mariner 10’, which flew past the planet in 1974 and 1975 and second was US space agency’s ‘Messenger’, which orbited the planet between 2011 and 2015.

Though the spacecraft sent home a great deal of information, they also raised more questions.

#MeToo movement: Union Minister MJ Akbar resigns from his post over sexual harassment charges

#MeToo movement: Union Minister MJ Akbar resigns from his post over sexual harassment charges

Union Minister of State for External Affairs, MJ Akbar resigned from his post on October 17, 2018 over sexual harassment charges levelled against him by several women journalists in the wake of #MeToo movement.

President Ram Nath Kovind accepted Akbar’s resignation from the Union Council of Ministers with immediate effect.

Reaction of NCW
The National Commission for Women (NCW) welcomed MJ Akbar’s resignation. NCW chairperson Rekha Sharma said, “Finally, the government has listened to the voice of women and acted accordingly. NCW welcomes the move”.

#MeToo allegations against Akbar by over 20 women
Akbar’s resignation came two days after he filed a criminal defamation complaint in a Delhi’s Patiala House Court against journalist Priya Ramani, who was the first to put #MeToo allegations against Akbar.Following Ramani’s complaint, as many as 20 women came out in support of Priya Ramani, accusing Akbar of sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour when he worked as an Editor in ‘The Asian Age’ newspaper.

The journalists urged the court to hear their testimonies against Akbar, claiming that some of them suffered sexual harassment by the minister and others have been a witness to it.

Who are these women?

These women are Meenal Baghel, Manisha Pande, Tushita Patel, Kanika Gahlaut, Suparna Sharma, Ramola Talwar Badam, Hoihnu Hauzel, Aisha Khan, Kushalrani Gulab, Kaniza Gazari, Malavika Banerjee, A T Jayanthi, Hamida Parkar, Jonali Buragohain, Meenakshi Kumar, Sujata Dutta Sachdeva, Reshmi Chakraborty, Kiran Manral, Christina Francis and Sanjari Chatterjee.

#MeToo movement in India

• The #MeToo campaign first began as a hashtag on Twitter in 2017, when Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein was accused of sexual harassment by over 70 women.

• Almost after an year, the movement has now arrived in the Bollywood, Indian film industry; and is spreading through India.

• The #MeToo movement started after former Bollywood actress Tanushree Dutta alleged that Nana Patekar sexually harassed her on a movie set in 2008. However, Patekar has rejected Dutta’s allegations and said he made the same denial 10 years ago.

• The movement has recently gained momentum in India as more women have begun sharing their experiences of sexual harassment on social media.

• To name a few, these brave women are actress Kangana Ranaut, actress Sandhya Mridul, writer-director-producer Vinta Nanda, singer Sona Mohapatra, journalist Avantika Mehta, writer Mahima Kukreja, reporter Anoo Bhuyan, journalist Sandhya Menon, and many more.

• Many well-known comedians, journalists, and actors have been named and shamed on social media as allegations of sexual misconduct continue to burst out.

Lady Irwin College, Ministry of Rural Development sign MoU for establishing ROSHNI

Lady Irwin College, Ministry of Rural Development sign MoU for establishing ROSHNI

The Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana – National Rural Livelihood Mission (DAY-NRLM), under the Union Ministry of Rural Development signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Lady Irwin College for establishing ROSHNI – Centre of Women Collectives led Social Action.

ROSHNI is technically and financially supported by UNICEF India that also serves as a technical support unit at national level for DAY-NRLM and is embedded in the Department of Development Communication and Extension, Lady Irwin College, New Delhi.

Why ROSHNI?

• Though India has made significant strides in improving maternal survival, many challenges still persist for women to achieve their development and economic potential.

• Almost one in 10 girls marry too young, every fifth woman of reproductive age group is undernourished and every second woman is anaemic.

• A model that brings the much needed focus on women’s nutrition and that demonstrates layering of of Food, Health, Nutrition and WASH (FHNW) interventions on DAY-NRLM platforms is Swabhimaan.

• Swabhimaan makes the last mile delivery of FHNW interventions, which has been considered a voluntary function for field mobilisers for too long.

• Launched in 2016, Swabhimaan is a collaborative initiative of DAY- NRLM and UNICEF India in five poorest DAY-NRLM resource blocks in four districts of three Indian states Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Odisha.

• Roshni aims to work with women collectives for social action on FHNW interventions for supporting implementation of convergent action plan under POSHAN Abhiyaan.

• Roshni will learn from Swabhimaan and similar models, and extend support to DAY-NRLM for expanding the scope of FHNW interventions.

• The Centre will lead knowledge creation, capacity building for scale-up of convergent action plan, learning and re- learning in Swabhimaan sites and provide policy guidance to DAY-NRLM on POSHAN Abhiyaan initiatives.

Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana – National Rural Livelihood Mission (DAY-NRLM)

• The Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana – National Rural Livelihood Mission was launched as the Aajeevika – National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM) in 2011.

• DAY-NRLM aims to reach out to 8-10 crore rural poor households (based on SECC 2011) in a time bound manner, and, stay engaged with them till they come out of miserable poverty.

• It envisions breaking the cycle of malnutrition-illness- out of pocket expenditure for treating poverty through its savings and enterprise approach and layering of Food, Health, Nutrition and WASH (FHNW) interventions through Self-help groups (SHG) and their federations.

• Since the launch of DAY-NRLM, 5.39 crore women have been mobilised for SHGs and over 47 lakh SHGs have been created.

• DAY-NRLM is also nodal agency of Ministry of Rural Development for implementation of the convergent action plan under the POSHAN Abhiyaan.

• The four areas of convergence under the POSHAN Abhiyaan are – mobilisation for fixed day health, nutrition and WASH camps (Village Health Sanitation and Nutrition Day), convergence through behaviour change communication, convergence through common use of infrastructure and promotion of nutri-based livelihoods for women collectives.

NITI Aayog launches guidelines for public-private partnership in treatment of NCDs

NITI Aayog launches guidelines for public-private partnership in treatment of NCDs

NITI Aayog on October 17, 2018 launched the model guidelines for Public-Private partnership in Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs).

Under the guidelines, the private partner will invest in upgrading, building and deploying human resources. They will be responsible for operational management and service delivery.

Key Highlights

 The model guidelines suggest that the state governments will provide the required physical space.

 They also suggest that the tariff structure for the services offered under the NCD care facility may be linked to the existing state and central government health insurance scheme.

 Further, in case a government health insurance scheme is introduced in a state after the adoption of CGHS tariff, the tariff rates would be revised in accordance with the newly introduced scheme in the state.

 Besides, all the services in the NCD care facility will be offered by a single entity, be it a trust, company and consortium under the PPP arrangement.

• All categories including trusts, companies will also be allowed to bid for the project and no restrictions will be imposed on any of these categories.

Significance

The newly issued guidelines will help streamline private participation and encourage world-class infrastructure and patient care in the health sector.

Background

The model guidelines have been framed by NITI Aayog keeping in mind the fact that the contribution of non-communicable diseases (NCD) to the overall disease burden in the country has increased over the years.

In the past, many district hospitals in the country focused mainly on communicable diseases and reproductive and child health. As a result of this, the capacity for handling NCD cases has not been adequately developed.

Hence, NITI Aayog and the Union Healthy Ministry worked along with the state governments and representatives from the healthcare industry to develop the Model Concessionaire Agreements (MCA) to supplement efforts for the provision of prevention and treatment services for non-communicable diseases (Cardiac Sciences, Oncology, and Pulmonary Sciences) at the district hospitals particularly especially in tier 2 & 3 cities.

After Uruguay, Canada becomes second country to legalises use of cannabis

 

Canada becomes second country to legalises use of cannabis

Canada on October 17, 2018 legalised the possession and use of recreational cannabis. After Uruguay, it has become the second country and the largest country to do so.

The Canadian government will also pardon the Canadians convicted of possession of marijuana. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would pardon individuals convicted in the past for possession of up to 30 grams of marijuana.

It means it would also ease their travelling to the US. Earlier, many Canadians who have a criminal record of possessing cannabis for recreational use mean they cannot enter the US. A conviction for possession of marijuana allows US Border Patrol agents to prevent Canadian residents from entering their country since Ottawa shares that database with Washington.

It is expected that lakhs of people could benefit from the measure.

What is Cannabis?Cannabis is derived from the cannabis plant (cannabis sativa). It is also known as marijuana among other names. It is used as a psychoactive drug for medical or recreational purposes. Cannabis has mental and physical effects such as creating a “high” or “stoned” feeling, a general change in perception, heightened mood, and an increase in appetite.

Execution of sale

The Government of Canada is preparing to send the mail to 15 million households, through which new cannabis laws will be explained and public awareness campaigns will take off.

However, the government is concerned about the readiness of the police to tackle drug-impaired driving.

Canadian provinces and municipalities have been preparing for months for the end of cannabis prohibition. They are also preparing out the details of places where recreational marijuana can be bought and consumed.

This has created a patchwork of legislation across the country as jurisdictions choose more or less restrictive frameworks for selling and using cannabis.

Legality of cannabisUruguay and Canada are the only countries that have fully legalized the consumption and sale of recreational cannabis nationwide. In the United States, nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized sales and consumption although it remains federally illegal. Court rulings in Georgia and South Africa have led to the legalization of personal cultivation and consumption of cannabis, but not legal sales.

Countries that have legalized the medical use of cannabis include Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Sri Lanka and the United Kingdom (effective November 1, 2018).

Others have more restrictive laws that only allow the use of certain cannabinoid drugs, such as Sativex or Marinol.

In the United States, 31 states and the District of Columbia have legalized the medical use of cannabis, but at the federal level, its use remains prohibited for any purpose.

The recreational use of marijuana is legal in nine US states, as well as in Washington DC.

However, a number of analysts showing concerns regarding the shortage of the recreational marijuana in the first year of legalisation as production and licensing would continue to be ramped up to meet the demand, with the marketplace still in its infancy.

17 october 2018

RBI approves appointment of Sandeep Bakshi as MD & CEO of ICICI Bank

 
 

RBI approves appointment of Sandeep Bakshi as MD & CEO of ICICI Bank

Private sector lender ICICI Bank on October 16, 2018 announced that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) approved the appointment of Sandeep Bakshi as the Managing Director (MD) and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of ICICI Bank for three years.

Earlier on October 4, 2018, the board of ICICI Bank elevated Chief Operating Officer Bakhshi as the bank’s new Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer after resignation of Chanda Kochhar.

Sandeep Bakshi

• Sandeep Bakshi started his professional career in 1983 at a computer marketing company ORG Systems.

• He joined the ICICI group in the year 1986.

• He was appointed as the MD and CEO of ICICI Prudential Life Insurance Company on August 1, 2010.

• He was appointed as the bank’s COO in June 2018.

• In his 32 years at ICICI, he has looked after the insurance, corporate and lending businesses of the group.

• Under his leadership, the company redesigned various products, re-engineered the distribution architecture and made significant improvement in productivity.

Enquiry on Chanda Kochhar: Timeline
2008: Deepak Kochhar, in partnership with Videocon group chairman Venugopal Dhoot, sets up NuPower Renewables.
May 2009: Chanda Kochhar joins ICICI Bank.
2012: NuPower Renewables gets a loan of Rs 3,250 crore from the ICICI Bank. Prior to sanctioning of loan, Venugopal Dhoot transfers a controlling stake in NuPower to Mahesh Chandra, who sells the stake further to Deepak Kochhar for a mere Rs 9 lakh.
2016: Whistleblower Arvind Gupta wrote to PM Narendra Modi and Finance Minster Arun Jaitley alleging that Chanda Kochhar was a part of the credit committee which sanctioned a loan to Videocon Group.
March 2018: Arvind Gupta’s letter got published, revealing that Kochhar was also a shareholder in NuPower Renewables.
March 2018: Indian Express reported details of many suspicious financial transactions between Deepak Kochhar’s NuPower Renewables Pvt Ltd and many of Venugopal Dhoot’s companies. Kochaar was charged of nepotism and conflict of interest.
March 2018: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) filed an initial enquiry and began investigating whether Chanda’s husband Deepak Kochhar’s company NuPower Renewables received an investment from a Videocon group company as a quid pro quo from the bank as a loan.
April 2018: Kochhar is accused of not disclosing that her brother-in-law Rajiv Kochhar helped ICICI Bank’s debtors restructure their foreign loans. However, the bank denied any wrongdoing.
May 2018: The Securities and Exchange board of India (SEBI) initiates an inquiry against Kochhar and the bank for not making adequate disclosures.
June 2018: Kochhar goes on her annual planned leave from June 1, 2018.
June 2018: Former Supreme Court Judge B N Srikrishna was appointed to lead the independent investigation into the whistleblower’s complaint.
September 2018: SEBI begins adjudication proceedings against ICICI Bank and Chanda Kochhar. They questioned her for alleged violations to the disclosure requirements under the securities law.
September 2018: ICICI Bank held its first Annual General Meeting (AGM) after the charges against Kochhar came to light.
October 2018: Chanda Kochhar had quit the bank on 4 October, six months before her current tenure was about to end. She also resigned from all subsidiaries of the bank, including ICICI Securities where she had sought reappointment as the Chairperson.

International Day for Eradication of Poverty observed globally

International Day for the Eradication of Poverty observed globally

17 October : International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty was observed across the world on October 17, 2018. This year’s theme of the day is ‘coming together with those furthest behind to build an inclusive world of universal respect for human rights and dignity.’

Significance

The year 2018 marks the 25th anniversary of the declaration of the day by the UN General Assembly, in its resolution dated December 22, 1992.

The year also marks the 30th anniversary of the Call to Action by Father Joseph Wresinski, which inspired the observance of October 17 as the World Day for Overcoming Extreme Poverty and the recognition by the United Nations of the day as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

The year also marks the 70th anniversary of the proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. There is a fundamental connection between extreme poverty and human rights and the people living in poverty are disproportionately affected by many human rights violations.

Objective

The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty aims to ensure that the active participation of people living in extreme poverty and those furthest behind is a driving force in all efforts made to overcome poverty, including in the design and implementation of programmes and policies which affect them.

The day highlights that only by creating and nurturing a genuine partnership with people living with poverty will it be possible to build an inclusive world where all people can enjoy their full human rights and lead lives with dignity.

 

Human Rights and Extreme Poverty

Joseph Wresinski was one of the first persons to highlight the direct link between human rights and extreme poverty.

In February 1987, he appealed to the Human Rights Commission to examine the question of extreme poverty and human rights.

He observed that wherever men and women are condemned to live in extreme poverty, human rights are violated. He said that to come together to ensure that these rights be respected is our solemn duty.

Key Highlights

The commemoration of October 17 each year demonstrates how the society can achieve greater social inclusion by enabling people from all walks of life to come together to respect the human rights and dignity of people living in poverty.

It underscores the importance of reaching out to people living in poverty and building an alliance around their priorities with citizens from all backgrounds to end extreme poverty.

The government policies alone cannot create the social inclusion that is fundamental to reaching those left furthest behind and overcoming poverty in all its dimensions.

The commemoration also recognises the important mutual roles and relationships that people have with each other based on common and equal dignity.

Background

 The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty was established by the UN General Assembly on October 17, 1987.

 On that day, over a hundred thousand people gathered at the Trocadéro in Paris , where the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed in 1948, to honour the victims of extreme poverty, violence and hunger.

• They proclaimed that poverty is a violation of human rights and affirmed the need to come together to ensure that these rights are respected.

• Since then, people of all backgrounds, beliefs and social origins have gathered every year on October 17 to renew their commitment and show their solidarity with the poor.

 The day presents an opportunity to acknowledge the effort and struggle of people living in poverty, a chance for them to make their concerns heard and a moment to recognise that poor people are the first ones to fight against poverty.

• The commemoration also reflects the willingness of people living in poverty to use their expertise to contribute to the eradication of poverty.

Central Warehouse set up to facilitate distribution of Jan Aushadhi medicines

Central Warehouse set up to facilitate distribution of Jan Aushadhi medicines

The Union Minister of State for Chemicals & Fertilizers, Mansukh Mandaviya on October 16, 2018 inaugurated the hi-tech Central Warehouse of Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP) at Bilaspur, Gurugram.

The warehouse, setup by the Bureau of Pharma PSUs of India (BPPI), would facilitate seamless distribution of Jan Aushadhi generic medicines to all PMBJP Kendra functional across the country.

Key Milestones achieved under PMBJP

• 
Currently, there are more than 4200 PMBJP Kendra functional in 34 states and union territories across India.

• 
As a result, over 700 medicines and 154 surgical and consumables are available in the basket for sale. Shortly the basket will be enhanced to 1000 medicines.

• The central warehouse has been established as per WHO guidelines for ensuring better quality storage and logistics services.

 Further, a distribution network of one central warehouse, four regional warehouse and 53 distributors spread over different states has been made functional.

• IT-enabled (SAP based) end-to-end supply chain management system has been implemented.

• The ‘point of sale’ software application at all the PMBJP Kendra has also been implemented.

• Around 638 districts have been covered and the remaining 81 will be covered on priority basis under the healthcare scheme.

• Further, all financial transactions are being done in digital mode upholding the concept of “Digital India”.

Digital Cash Management System

MoS Mansukh Mandaviya also inaugurated the Digital Cash Management System for the healthcare scheme, which will be implemented as a partnership between BPPI and Bank of Baroda.

The system will be implemented at all PMBJP Kendras for purchasing medicines and cashless payment system with BPPI. The Bank of Baroda will also provide a loan to all PMBJP Kendras for purchasing medicines.

The cashless transactions will be done only through unique virtual accounts opened by Bank of Baroda for each and every PMBJP Kendra, across the country.

Besides, the Minister also released the first edition of e-magazine of PMBJP “Jan Aushadhi Samvad” (September 2018 edition). On the occasion, the Minister said that it is important to have open communications with all stakeholders and publication of the e-magazine is a positive step in the direction.

 

About Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana

The scheme aims to bring down the healthcare budget for all Indian citizens, particularly the poor and disadvantaged, by providing quality generic medicines at affordable prices.

It further aims to:

  • Create awareness among public regarding generic medicines.
  • Create demand for generic medicines through medical practioners.
  • Create awareness through education and awareness program that high price need not be synonymous with high quality.
  • Provide all the commonly used generic medicines covering all the therapeutic groups.

 https://www.jagranjosh.com/imported/images/E/Others/Jan_Aushadhi_Pariyojana.jpg

Jan Aushadhi Campaign

The PMBJP scheme aims to make all commonly used generic drugs available at Jan Aushadhi Stores.

‘Jan Aushadhi’ is a project launched by the Union Government in 2008 to provide quality medicines at affordable prices for all.

The campaign was undertaken through sale of generic medicines through exclusive outlets by the name ‘Jan Aushadhi Medical Store’ in various districts of the country.

The first ‘Jan Aushadhi Medical Store’ was opened on November 25, 2008 at Amritsar in Punjab.

ICFRE signs two MoUs to spread awareness on forests and environment

ICFRE signs two MoUs to spread awareness on forests and environment

The Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE), Dehradun on October 15, 2018 signed two Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti (NVS) and Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS).

The agreements were signed to launch ‘Prakriti’ programme, which aims to promote awareness about forests and environment and stimulate interest among the students of NVS and KVS in maintaining a balanced environment and for acquiring skills that reflect care and protection towards forests, environment and society.

Objective

The main objective behind the agreements is to provide a platform for the school children to learn practical skills towards sustainable use of the resources.

Key Highlights 

• 
The two agreements have been signed for a period of 10 years. They aim to make the Indian youth more sensitive towards national and global issues of environment and thus, help them become responsible citizens.

• The agreements also aim to mobilise a cadre of youth for raising a peoples’ movement, which is committed to the conservation of forest and environment.

 The collaboration will enable transfer of knowledge to students and teachers of NVS and KVS on environment, forest, environmental services and contemporary areas of forestry research through lectures and interactive sessions by ICFRE scientists.

• Under the agreement, visits of students and teachers of NVS and KVS schools will also be arranged to the field and laboratories of ICFRE institutes for a first-hand experience.

About ICFRE

The Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE) is an autonomous council under the Union Environment Ministry.

The council mainly guides, promotes and coordinates forestry research, extension and education at the national level through its nine institutes and five centres located across the country.

Presently, the council’s activities are focussed on contemporary issues of national and international importance particularly in the areas of climate change, forest productivity, biodiversity conservation and skill development.

Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti (NVS)

The Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti is an autonomous organisation established under the Department of School Education and Literacy in the Ministry of Human Resource Development.

The organisation was established to provide modern quality education to talented children, predominantly from rural areas, without regard to their family’s socio-economic condition.

Currently, there are 660 functional residential schools under the Samiti.

Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS).

The Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan was established in 1963 to provide uninterrupted education to the children of the transferable central government employees.

The KVS established Kendriya Vidyalayas all over the country to impart quality education, promotion of national integration, adventure activities and physical education.

The Sangathan has one of the world’s largest chains of schools. It runs around 1,183 schools in India and three abroad.

Union Government launches Award Scheme under ‘Saubhagya’

 

Union Government launches Award Scheme under ‘Saubhagya’

Minister of State for Power and Renewable Energy RK Singh on October 15, 2018 launched an award scheme under the umbrella Saubhagya Scheme, also known as Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana.

The Saubhagya award scheme will felicitate the power distribution companies (DISCOMs) and Power Department of the States and their employees for achieving 100 percent household electrification.

Eight States which have already achieved more than 99 percent household electrification prior to launch of Saubhagya scheme are ineligible for participation under the award scheme. These eight states are Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Goa, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Punjab and Tamil Nadu.

All the remaining States and their Discoms are eligible for the award.

Three categories of Saubhagya award scheme
Award will be given in three categories. These categories are:(i) DISCOMs / Power Departments of Special Category States (Seven North Eastern States, Sikkim, J&K and Uttarakhand)

(ii) DISCOMs / Power Departments of  Non-Special Category States having more than 5 Lakh un-electrified households (Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, Telengana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal)

(iii) DISCOMs / Power Departments of other than Special Category States having less than 5 Lakh un-electrified households

Two quantum of award

• There will be two quantum of award in each of the three categories.

• Under first quantum of award, the 1st DISCOM or Power Department that achieves 100 percent household electrification by November 30, 2018 would be provided cash award of Rs 50 Lakh.

• The Principal Secretary (Power) of the State will distribute this cash prize amongst employees of the concerned DISCOM / Power Department.

• From this amount, Rs. 20 Lakh will be given to the division of DISCOM/Power Department with highest number of households electrified.

• Certificate of appreciation would be given to five officials of concerned DISCOM of any level from managing Director to Lineman.

• The second quantum of award includes cash award of Rs 100 crore as grant to the concerned DISCOM to be spent in distribution infrastructure development in their area of operation.

• Other DISCOMs or Power Department of the States that achieves 100 percent household electrification by December 31, 2018 would be provided certificate of appreciation for five officials of any level from Managing Director to Lineman.

Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana (Saubhagya)

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched Rs 16320-Crore ‘Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana’- Saubhagya on September 25, 2017 to mark the birth anniversary of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya.

• The scheme aims to achieve the goal of universal household electrification in the country by March 31, 2019.

• The scheme envisages providing last mile connectivity and electricity connections to all remaining households in rural as well as urban areas.

• With the support of State Power Departments and DISCOMs, more than 1.65 crore households have already been connected since the launch of scheme.

• The Eligibility for free electricity will be identified through Caste Census of 2011 and on the basis of Socio-Economic.

• The Households that do not fall under the free criteria of this scheme will be provided electricity at a sum of Rs 500.

• To identify and register beneficiaries under the Saubhagya scheme, a mobile app will be used.

• Households in remote areas like hilly or tribal areas where providing electricity is not feasibile, will be provided with solar power packs of 200 to 300 Wp (Watt peak).

• The Rural Electrification Corporation Limited (REC) has been appointed as the nodal agency for the implementation of the Saubhagya scheme.

UP Cabinet approves changing name of Allahabad to ‘Prayagraj’

UP Cabinet approves changing name of Allahabad to Prayagraj

The Uttar Cabinet on October 16, 2018 approved the proposal of the state government to rename the city of ‘Allahabad’ as ‘Prayagraj’. The decision has been vehemently opposed by the opposition parties.

The move, however, fulfils the long-standing demand of seers before the Ardh Kumbh Mela in January 2019. Speaking ahead of the cabinet meeting, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath had said that there was a proposal from the Akhara Parishad to rename Allahabad as Prayagraj ahead of 2019 Kumbh.

The state’s governor had already given his approval on the matter.

Why Akbar renamed Prayag as Allahabad?

The city of Allahabad was originally known as Prayag in ancient times. Between 1574 and 1583, the 16th-century Mughal emperor Akbar founded a fort near the confluence of the Ganga and the Yamuna, known as Sangam, as he was impressed with its strategic position.

In fact, Akbarnama states that, “For a long time [Akbar’s] desire was to found a great city in the town of Piyag, where the rivers Ganges and Jamna join, which is regarded by the people of India with great reverence and which is a place of pilgrimage for the ascetics of the country and to build a choice fort there.”

Hence, Akbar named the fort and its neighbourhood as Ilahabad, which meant the “Abode of God”, inspired by the religion he had founded, Din-i-Illahi. In the later years, Akbar’s grandson Shah Jahan renamed the entire city as Allahabad.

However, the area near the Sangam, which is the site of the Kumbh Mela, continued to be called Prayag.

Significance of the name Prayag

The city’s original name Prayag, which means a “place of offerings”, comes from its position at the Sangam of the rivers Ganga and Yamuna and the mythical river, Saraswati. The place plays a central role in the Hindu scriptures.

The city is also mentioned in the Veda as the location where Lord Brahma attended his first ritual sacrifice.

It is also the site for historic Kumbh Mela, which is held once in every 12 years and it is also believed to be the same place where the drops of holy nectar fell.

 UP Cabinet approves changing name of Allahabad to Prayagraj

Why Prayagraj?

UP CM Yogi Adityanath while explaining the reason behind keeping the name Prayagraj said, “the confluence of two rivers is a ‘prayag’ and in Allahabad, three rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati meet. Hence, it is the king of ‘prayags’. That is why it is ‘Prayagraj’.”

What critics say!

There have been mixed reactions to the rechristening with critics saying that there have been quite a few name changes over the past few years.

According to the opposition, when there is already an area called ‘Prayag’, there was no need to rename ‘Allahabad’ as ‘Prayagraj’.

The opposition claims that the change would diminish the importance that Allahabad had in the country’s freedom movement.

They also claim that the decision is an attempt to disturb and toy with the history of the nation and a political gimmick ahead of the Lok Sabha assembly polls, which are scheduled to be held in 2019.

Other major name changes

The ruling government of Uttar Pradesh had earlier changed the name of ‘Mughalsarai Junction’ to ‘Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay Junction’.

The Government had also previously re-named ‘Mughalsarai’ as ‘Pt Deen Dayal Upadhyay Nagar’ and ‘Ardh Kumbh’ as ‘Kumbh’.

Background

In 2017, seers belonging to different akharas had met CM Yogi in Lucknow and had urged him to change the name of Allahabad to Prayagraj ahead of the 2019 Ardh Kumbh fair to be held in the holy city.

The Akhara Parishad in the meeting of Margdarshak Mandal had put forward the proposal to rename the city.

16 october 2018

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen dies of cancer at 65

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen dies at 65

Paul Gardner Allen, the billionaire co-founder of Microsoft, an investor, entrepreneur and philanthropist, passed away on October 15, 2018. He was 65.

He died in Seattle from complications related to Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, the less-common Hodgkin’s disease, is a cancer of the lymphatic system.

Apart from his role in Microsoft, Allen influenced many aspects of modern life from technology and science to sports and music and invested in conservation, space travel, arts and culture and professional sports.

Paul Allen’s career at Microsoft and beyond
  • Paul Allen co-founded Microsoft with his childhood friend Bill Gates in 1975 before becoming a billionaire philanthropist.

  • They founded the Microsoft in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and their first product was a computer language for the Altair hobby-kit personal computer.
  • Microsoft’s big break came in 1980, when IBM Corporation decided to move into personal computers and asked Microsoft to provide the operating system.
  • The first versions of two classic Microsoft products, Microsoft Word and the Windows operating system, were released in 1983.
  • Allen served as Microsoft’s Executive Vice President of Research and New Product Development until 1983, when he resigned after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
  • However, Allen stayed on Microsoft’s Board of Directors for several years until 2000 while establishing his own philanthropic foundation, along with his investment firm ‘Vulcan’, which managed his business and philanthropic interests.
Sports

He bought two professional sports teams, namely, the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers and the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks. He was involved with both until his death.

Space Travel and Science

He also founded several organizations, including the space transportation company Stratolaunch, the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence and another Allen Institute that focuses on bioscience.

Music

Allen was also fond of music. In 2013, during an interview with Guitar Player, Allen revealed that “Are You Experienced” song by the Jimi Hendrix prompted him to start playing guitar. Allen even loaned money to Hendrix’s family during a legal battle in 1995 to regain rights to the guitarist’s image.

He also funded a USD 100 million museum for music and pop culture in Seattle, now called the Museum of Pop Culture.

Charity and Adventure
  • In his later years, Paul Allen took up a number of other projects from the charitable to the adventurous.
  • In 2014, he pledged USD 100 million to help fight the Ebola virus. In 2017, he donated USD 30 million to house Seattle’s homeless.
  • Worth around USD 20.3 billion at the time of his death (Forbes estimates), Allen donated more than USD 2 billion to charity.
  • In March 2018, a team of explorers led by him discovered wreckage from the USS Juneau, a World War II cruiser sunk by a Japanese torpedo in 1942.
  • He owned one of the world’s biggest yachts, the 400-foot (122 meters) ‘Octopus’, which was the venue for many lavish parties and the base for scuba expeditions.
  • He spent millions more on a collection of vintage warplanes and funded the first non-government rocket to make it into space.

Transport Ministry launches youth road safety learners licence programme

Transport Ministry launches youth road safety learners licence programme

The Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways, Mansukh L Mandaviya, launched the Youth Road Safety Learners Licence programme in New Delhi on October 15, 2018.

The first-of-its-kind training programme is a PPP initiative to be run in collaboration with Diageo India and the Institute of Road Traffic Education (IRTE) and attempts to bring a formal and structured training program for the young, first-time drivers as they apply for learner’s license.

Significance

The programme is a part of the Union Government’s efforts to emphasise on the importance of road safety, as recent times have seen an alarming rise in road fatalities especially among the youth.

The programme will help the government achieve its target of reducing road accidents by 50 percent by 2020.

Some of the major factors resulting in high road accidents include rash driving, drunken driving and the lack of adequate safety measures like not wearing helmets.

Key Highlights

 The youth road safety learners licence programme is an immersive and interactive module led by senior faculty members of IRTE covering varied aspects of responsible driving including defensive driving, ill effects of driving under the influence of alcohol, speeding and wearing of helmets spread over two days.

 It will help improve road safety awareness amongst the young adults by inculcating behavioural change and creating awareness about responsible driving habits.

 This programme adopts the means of creating awareness amongst youth so that they become defensive road users.

• 
In the first year, the programme will cover 20 universities with a total of 400 programmes across the country.

Other Details

India’s Institute of Road Traffic Education (IRTE) has been successfully running its ‘Road to Safety’ initiative to provide capacity building training to traffic police officials and educate commercial drivers such as truckers and bus drivers and university students on the dangers of drunken driving.

The programme has trained over 4624 traffic officials in road safety capacity-building, 6,000 commercial vehicle drivers and over 5,000 university students in more than 64 cities of 17 states.

Background

India accounts for 12.5 per cent (over 1.45 lakh fatalities a year) of global road accidents, with one road accident occurring every four minutes.

Alarmingly, 72 per cent victims involved in such road mishaps are between the age groups of 15-44 years with speeding, reckless and drunk driving being the top reason accounting for 1.5 per cent of road traffic accidents and 4.6 per cent of fatalities.

Government lays foundation stone for Prime Ministers’ Museum at Teen Murti Estate

Museum on Prime Ministers of India to be set up in Delhi

Minister of state for culture, Mahesh Sharma and Union Minister for Housing and Urban Affairs, Hardeep Singh Puri on October 15, 2018 jointly laid the foundation stone for proposed Museum on Prime Ministers of India at Teen Murti Estate, New Delhi.

The new museum will incorporate the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML) at the Teen Murti Estate, the official residence of India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

The proposed Museum will be constructed at a cost of Rs. 271 crore.

Museum on Prime Ministers of India

• The Teen Murti Estate has a total area of 25.50 acres out of which, Nehru Memorial Museum Building occupies an area of 4286 sq meter and the Library Building has an area of 4552 sq meter. Put together, both the areas occupy roughly around 2 acres.

• The Government has decided to set up the “Museum on Prime Ministers of India” in the remaining area of 23 acres of Teen Murti Estate which is under the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.

• The Museum Building Complex will be constructed with a built up area of 10975.36 sq meters comprising of basement, ground and first floor with galleries at all the three levels.

• The proposed Museum will include an orientation space, souvenir shop, space for organising talks and discussions, seminar halls, auditorium, workshop areas, library, documentation room, laboratory and archive areas.

• The design of the proposed Museum shall be symbolic of an emergent and rising India, shaped over the years by its eminent leaders and would focus on collecting, documenting, researching and disseminating information in respect of all the Prime Ministers of India.

Significance
  • The proposed Museum is dedicated to all the Prime Ministers of India and is envisaged to give visitors a holistic understanding of the continued thread of leadership.
  • It would be a single institution where the visitors can learn about the Prime Minister’s Office, its evolution, role and centrality to governance at the Union level.
  • It will depict Modern India through collections relating to each of the Prime Ministers of India, their lives, works and significant contributions made towards nation building.
  • It will bring India’s democratic experience alive to the visitors.
  • It will encourage curiosity and research about the role of PM and his office.
  • It will provide an interactive and informative experience to the visitors and youth of India through state of the art audio-visual technology and effective modes of communication.

Congress’ objection against the construction of Museum

The construction of the proposed museum has been disputed and opposed by Congress leaders and few members of the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML) society, opining that the museum would stain Nehru’s legacy.

Moreover, Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, asking the government to leave NMML “undisturbed”. He said that the present museum respected both history and heritage

About Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML)
• The Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML), a memorial to Jawaharlal Nehru, is housed in the historic Teen Murti House, the official residence of the first Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru.

• The Teen Murti House or Teen Murti Estate was designed by Robert Tor Russel and built in 1929-30 as part of Edwin Lutyens’ imperial capital.

• Teen Murti House has four major constituents namely, a Memorial Museum, a Library on modern India, a Centre for Contemporary Studies and Nehru Planetarium.

• Under the supervision of the NMML Society, which has the Prime Minister as its Head, the NMML council manages the overall affairs of the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library.

International Day of Rural Women observed globally

International Day of Rural Women observed globally

15 October: International Day of Rural Women

The International Day of Rural Women was observed globally on October 15, 2018 with the theme, “Sustainable infrastructure, services and social protection for gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls”.

The theme places empowerment of rural women at the heart of fulfilling the vision of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Objective

The day aims to recognise the critical role and contribution of rural women, including indigenous women, in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security and eradicating rural poverty.

Significance

The day aims to highlight the invaluable contribution of rural women to development and the crucial role they play in ensuring the sustainability of rural households and communities, improving rural livelihoods and overall wellbeing.

Women account for a substantial proportion of the agricultural labour force, including informal work, and perform the bulk of unpaid care and domestic work within families and households in rural areas.

Thus, they make significant contributions to agricultural production, food security and nutrition, land and natural resource management, and building climate resilience.

However, the women and girls in rural areas suffer disproportionately from multi-dimensional poverty. While extreme poverty has declined globally, the world’s 1 billion people who continue to live in unacceptable conditions of poverty are heavily concentrated in rural areas.

The poverty rates in rural areas across most regions are higher than those in urban areas, yet smallholder agriculture produces nearly 80 per cent of food in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa and supports the livelihoods of some 2.5 billion people.

Though the women farmers may be as productive and enterprising as their male counterparts, they are less able to access land, credit, agricultural inputs, markets and high-value agrifood chains and obtain lower prices for their crops.

Structural barriers and discrimination

The structural barriers and discriminatory social norms constrain women’s decision-making power and political participation in rural households and communities.

Women and girls in rural areas lack equal access to productive resources and assets, public services, such as education and healthcare, and infrastructure, including water and sanitation, while much of their labour remains invisible and unpaid, even as their workloads become increasingly heavy due to the out-migration of men.

Globally, with few exceptions, every gender and development indicator for which data are available reveals that rural women fare worse than rural men and urban women and that they disproportionately experience poverty, exclusion and the effects of climate change.

The impacts of climate change, including on access to productive and natural resources, amplify the existing gender inequalities in rural areas.

The climate change affects women’s and men’s assets and well-being differently in terms of agricultural production, food security, health, water and energy resources, climate-induced migration and conflict and climate-related natural disasters.

Indian Observance of the Day

• The Union Government of India declared October 15 as Mahila Kisan Diwas or the Day of Women Agriculturists.

 The day is being organised in association with the Ministry of Women and Child Development.

• It aims to recognise the contribution of women in agriculture as 80 per cent independent women in India were associated with the farm sector, while women lead 18 per cent of all agricultural households.

 The Indian theme for the day was decided as – ‘Sashakt Mahila, Sashakt Bharat’ (empowered women, empowered India).

Contribution of women in farming in India

Women play a crucial role in sustaining rural households and communities, improving rural livelihoods and overall wellbeing.

 International Day of Rural Women observed globally

They significantly contribute to agro-biodiversity conservation and agricultural production, food security and nutrition, land and natural resource management, building climate resilience, family incomes, health and education leading to improved quality of life.

Women also account for a substantial proportion of the agricultural labour force.

The 2011 Census data shows that 65.1 per cent of female workers depends on agriculture, either as labourers or cultivators as opposed to 49.8 per cent of male workers.

Despite this, the significant presence of women in agriculture, women’s role and contribution remain unrecognised.

The non-recognition means that women remain largely invisible in agricultural policies, schemes, programmes and budgets and as compared to their male counterparts, they lack equal access over land tenure, wages, agricultural inputs, credit, markets, appropriate technologies and infrastructure.

Women also continue to suffer disproportionately due to poverty, structural barriers and discriminatory social norms and remain largely excluded from decision making and political processes in rural households and communities.

Background

The first International Day of Rural Women was observed on October 15, 2008.

The day was established by the UN General Assembly through a resolution on December 18, 2007.

The day aims to recognize the critical role and contribution of rural women, including indigenous women, in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security and eradicating rural poverty.

Government launches air quality warning system in Delhi to combat air pollution

Government launches air quality warning system in Delhi to combat air pollution

The Union Environment Minister Harshvardhan on October 15, 2018 unveiled an air quality early warning system for the Delhi region. The system has been designed with the help of American and Finnish models to predict extreme air pollution levels.

Speaking on the occasion, the Environment Minister said that with the early information on bad air quality, people can be educated to get well prepared in advance. Talking about stubble burning, the Minister said that there has been a decrease in detection of fire incidents as per satellite mapping in Haryana and Punjab. He said that instructions have been issued to monitor stubble burning in these areas on priority.

Objective

The system has been launched by the Union Government in Delhi, keeping in view the city’s deteriorating air quality. An associated website has also been launched along with it.

The system will help combat air pollution in the National Capital by getting information 2-5 days in advance. It will also give signs for necessary actions.

Key Highlights

 The system called – Air Quality Early Warning System – will have an in-built web-based dissemination tool to inform public and enforcement agencies about episodic high pollution events in advance. Such information may be helpful for the general public in planning their outdoor activities.

• The system will also make it easier for government’s pollution watchdogs to alert stakeholders and the general public about air quality 48 hours in advance. The move will give them adequate time to take precautionary measures.

• The system has been jointly developed by the scientists of the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) Pune, National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting, Noida and India Meteorological Department (IMD).

 Besides this, the Central Pollution Control Board has constituted a 41 member-team, which will continuously monitor the air pollution levels and report to the board.

Air Quality Index in Delhi

The air quality in New Delhi was 204 on October 14, 2018. The city’s air quality usually breaches the ‘severe’ zone, when the AQI reading shoots up to five times above the safe limit, in November.

On November 9, 2017, AQI shot up to 486 on a scale of 0-500, underscoring conditions that prompted the Delhi government to declare a public health emergency and describe Delhi as a ‘gas chamber’.

 

 Government launches air quality warning system to combat air pollution in Delhi

Measures taken to reduce air pollution in Delhi

 According to the Union Government, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPBC) is proactively doing research in adjoining areas and sending reports of affected places to the concerned department. The government is also taking steps to reduce emission from vehicles.

 The Delhi Government also rolled out its emergency action plan – Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) for the second year in a row on October 15.

• The plan, which was first implemented in 2017, aims to fight ‘very poor’ and ‘severe’ air pollution level.

• Under the emergency action plan, stringent measures will be implemented such as a ban on diesel generator (DG) sets in Delhi.

 If the air quality deteriorates further and reaches the ‘severe’ or ‘emergency’ categories, other stringent measures including the ban on construction activities, ban on stone crushers and hot mix plants, enhancing parking fees and rolling out the odd-even road rationing scheme will be implemented.

 The measures listed under GRAP to control ‘moderate’ and ‘poor’ levels of pollution are generally enforced in the summer and monsoon months and measures to control ‘very poor’ and ‘severe’ categories of pollution will be enforced from October 15 to March 15 of the following year.

• The move comes at a time when the city has already encountered nine days of ‘poor’ air quality in the first two weeks of October.

 In November 2017, schools were shut when air quality turned ‘severe’ for more than a week.

Background

In May, Delhi was declared the world’s most polluted city, according to the air quality data compiled by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for megacities with a population of 14 million or more.

While Greater Cairo in Egypt was adjudged the second most polluted city, Bangladesh‘s capital Dhaka was placed third, Mumbai fourth and Beijing fifth.

However, new measures including the installation of the early warning system in the capital have helped it become better equipped to fight air pollution in 2018.

Union Government releases Analytical Report of National Health Profile 2018

Union Government releases Analytical Report of National Health Profile 2018

Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, on October 13, 2018 released an Analytical Report of the National Health Profile 2018. This is the 12th edition of the health profile.

The report was prepared by the Central Bureau of Health Intelligence (CBHI), under the aegis of the Directorate General of Health Services. CBHI has been publishing National Health Profile every year since 2005.

The National Health Profile 2018 covers demographic, socio-economic, health status and health finance indicators, along with comprehensive information on health infrastructure and human resources in health.

National Health Resource Repository (NHRR)

• The National Health Resource Repository is the country’s first ever national healthcare facility registry of authentic, standardised and updated geo-spatial data of all public and private healthcare establishments.

• It provides understanding the health indicators of the country and an opportunity to monitor the situation. It indicates that significant progress has been made in the country for various health outcomes.

• 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 and secured IT-enabled repository.

• 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 hospitals, doctors, clinics, diagnostic labs, pharmacies and nursing homes would be listed under the NHRR on over 1400 variables.

• This repository will enable advanced research towards ongoing and forthcoming healthcare challenges arising from diseases, environment, etc.

• Approximately 4000 trained professionals are working to approach every healthcare establishment for information collection.

Note
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is the project technology partner adhering to paramount Data Security.

Objective

• The aim of the project is to develop a comprehensive platform for over 25 lakh healthcare establishments.

• The platform will be very useful for all key stakeholders – government, private health establishments and the public.

• NHRR will cohesively work with Ayushman Bharat – National Health Protection Mission (AB-NHPM) and Central TB Division (CTD) on an integrated plan for the larger benefit of ensuing Hospital empanelment and private sector engagement.

National census for all healthcare facilities
  • The NHRR project involves conducting a national census for all public and private healthcare facilities including hospitals, doctors, clinics, blood banks, pharmacies, diagnostic labs etc.
  • Each healthcare establishment shall be visited by field operational teams from IQVIA Consulting & Information Services India Pvt Ltd (formerly IMS Health), the implementation partner for the NHRR project.
  • The information collected in the national census will be kept confidential and shall be used for statistical purposes only.

Expected outcomes

• The key expected outcomes of the NHRR project are to provide comprehensive data on all health resources including private doctors, health facilities, chemists, and diagnostics labs.

• It will establish a National Health Resource Repository for evidence based decision making, aligned with the Digital India mission.

• It will enhance the coordination between central and state government for optimisation of health resources and improving accessibility of data at all levels, including State HODs.

• It will create a reliable, unified registry of country’s healthcare resources showing the distribution pattern of health facilities and services between cities and rural areas.

• It will generate real-world intelligence to identify gaps in health and service ratios, and ensure judicious health resource allocation and management.

• It will identify key areas of improvement by upgrading existing health facilities or establishing new health facilities keeping in view the population density, nature, health condition, distance, etc.

• It will enhance center and state government coordination to ensure intelligent use of health resources to ensure superior health access, service delivery and improve accountability for effective centre-to-state funding.

• It will improve the visibility of Private providers to enable Public-Private Partnerships.

14-15 october 2018

Asian Para Games 2018: India records best-ever show with 72 medals

 
 

Asian Para Games 2018: India records best-ever show with 72 medals

India on October 13, 2018 concluded its campaign at the 2018 Asian Para Games in Jakarta, Indonesia with a record medal haul, winning a total of 72 medals that included 15 gold, 24 silver and 33 bronze medals. India was placed ninth in the overall tally.

In the last edition in 2014, India had won 33 medals including 3 gold, 14 silver, 16 bronze medals.

Key Highlights

 India recorded its best-ever show in the Asian Para Games by bagging 72 medals, including 15 gold. On the concluding day of the competition, Indian shuttlers added two gold and 3 bronze medals.

 With a total of 15 gold, 24 silver and 33 bronze medals, India was placed ninth in the overall tally. This was India’s best-ever performance at the Asian Para Games, as in the last edition at Incheon it had won 33 medals including 3 gold, 14 silver, 16 bronze medals.

 China finished at the top with 319 medals including 172 gold, 88 silver and 59 bronze, followed by South Korea at the second place with 53 gold, 25 silver and 47 bronze and then Iran with 51 gold, 42 silver and 43 bronze.

 India won around half of its medals in Para-athletics with the tally reading 36 medals including 7 gold, 13 silver and 16 bronze.

 While the sporting categories of Badminton and chess contributed nine medals each to India’s medal tally, para-swimming contributed eight medals.

Asian Para Games 2018 Medal Tally

Rank

Country

Gold

Silver

Bronze

Total

1

China

172

88

59

319

2

Republic of Korea

53

45

46

144

3

Iran

51

42

43

136

4

Japan

45

70

83

198

5

Indonesia

37

47

51

135

6

Uzbekistan

35

24

18

77

7

Thailand

23

33

50

106

8

Malaysia

17

26

25

68

9

India

15

24

33

72

10

Hongkong

11

16

21

48

 Asian Para Games 2018: India records best-ever show with 72 medals

Indian Medal Tally

Sport

Gold

Silver

Bronze

Total

 
Para Athletics

7

13

16

3

 
Badminton

3

 

6

9

 
Chess

2

5

2

9

 
Para Swimming

1

2

5

8

 
Shooting Para Sport

1

1

1

3

 
Archery

1

   

1

 
Para Powerlifting  

2

2

4

 
Table Tennis  

1

 

1

 
Cycling    

1

1

 
Total

15

24

33

72

 

Key Wins for India

 Asian Para Games 2018: India records best-ever show with 72 medals

 In men’s singles SL3 class badminton, Pramod Bhagat defeated Ukun Rukaendi of Indonesia 21-19 15-21 21-14 to clinch the gold medal.

• In men’s singles SL4 class, Tarun Dhillon beat Yuyang Gao of China 21-16 21-6 to win gold.

• On the previous day, Rio Paralympics silver-medallist Deepa Malik bagged her second bronze in the women’s F51/52/53s discus throw event. Malik had earlier won a bronze in women’s F 53/54 javelin throw event.

 In the women’s club throw event, India’s Ekta Bhyan clinched gold, after she produced her best throw in her fourth attempt, 16.02m, winning the F32/51 event ahead of UAE’s Alkaabi Thekra, who threw 15.75m.

 Another Indian, K Jennitha Anto clinched the gold in women’s individual rapid P1 chess event after beating Manurung Roslinda of Indonesia 1-0 in the final round,

• Kishan Gangolli got the better of Majid Bagheri in the men’s individual rapid VI – B2/B3 event to claim the top spot.

 In para-badminton, Parul Parmar notched up a 21-9 21-5 victory over Wandee Kamtam of Thailand to win the gold medal in the women’s singles SL3 event.

 In swimming, Swapnil Patil clinched silver in the men’s 100m backstroke in the S10 category. Patil earlier won a bronze in the men’s 400m freestyle.

• India also won a bronze medal in the men’s C4 Individual Pursuit 4000m cycling event with Gurlal Singh claiming the third position. The event was for athletes with a below the knee amputation and a prosthesis on one leg.

• In the women’s discus throw F11 category, Nidhi Mishra claimed a bronze covering a personal distance of 21.82m.

Impairment Categories

SL3 Category

Athletes in the SL3 category generally have impairment in one or both lower limbs and poor walking or running balance.

Under the category, athletes with cerebral palsy, bilateral polio or loss of both legs below the knee compete in half-court (lenghtwise) to minimise the impact of their impairment.

Athletes in this class have impairment in one or both lower limbs and poor walking/running balance but they play in standing positions.

SL4 Class

The SL4 class athletes have a lesser impairment compared to SL 3 and play full-court.

The players that fall under the category include those with impairment in one or both lower limbs, unilateral polio or mild cerebral palsy.

Rapid P1 event

The event is for physically impaired athletes while rapid VI – B2/B3 event features partially blind competitors.

S10 Category

The S10 swimming classification covers physical impairment. The swimmers in this class tend to have minimal weakness affecting their legs, missing feet, a missing leg below the knee or problems with their hips.

The impairment category includes a number of different disabilities including people with amputations and cerebral palsy.

F51/52/53 Category

The classification is for disability athletics. The athletes in this category have full power and movements in their arms, but none in their abdominal muscles and typically no sitting balance. They compete in seated positions.

The class includes people with a number of different types of disabilities including spinal cord injuries.

F11 Classification

The classification covers visual impairment.  The athletes under this category have a very low visual acuity or no light perception.

F32/51 Category

The class features athletes with significant impairment in hand function. The athletes under this category have moderate to severe hypertonia, ataxia or athetosis affecting all four limbs and trunk, usually with slightly more function on one side of the body or in the legs.

The athletes with F51 category disability use the slightly decreased to full muscle power at the shoulders, elbow flexors and wrist extensors for throwing an implement. Their triceps muscles are non-functional and may be absent. The muscle power in the trunk is also absent.

Hence, the grip of the implements is difficult due to non-functional finger flexors. The non-throwing hand usually requires strapping to the support bar.

Asian Para Games 2018

The third Asian Para Games, which took place in Indonesia from October 6-13, 2018, saw participation from around 3000 athletes from 43 countries around the world.

The Games included 15 Paralympic and three non-Paralympic sports.

The official mascot of the Games was a Bondol eagle named Momo, which was chosen to represent motivation and mobility.

Sikkim wins FAO’s Future Policy Award 2018 for being world’s first 100 percent organic state

Sikkim wins FAO’s Future Policy Award 2018 for being world’s first 100 percent organic state

North-eastern state Sikkim on October 12, 2018 won the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) Future Policy Award 2018 for being the world’s first 100 percent organic state.

Sikkim defeated 51 nominated policies from 25 countries, winning the Gold Prize of the Future Policy Award 2018, also known as “Oscar for Best Policies”.

As per the press release, “Sikkim is the first organic state in the world. All of its farmland is certified organic… Embedded in its design are socioeconomic aspects such as consumption and market expansion, cultural aspects as well as health, education, rural development and sustainable tourism.

Moreover, Future Policy Award’s Silver Prize 2018 was awarded to the policies from Brazil, Denmark and Quito (Ecuador).

All the winners received the awards in a ceremony on October 15, 2018 at FAO headquarters during the celebrations of the World Food Week in Rome.

Sikkim’s policy and achievement

  • Sikkim implemented a phase out policy of chemical fertilisers and pesticides, and achieved a total ban on sale and use of chemical pesticides in the state.
  • The transition benefitted more than 66000 farming families.
  • Sikkim tourism sector got benefitted greatly from the state’s transition to 100 percent organic as the number of tourists increased by over 50 percent between 2014 and 2017.

Future Policy Award’s Silver Prize 2018

• Brazil’s National Policy for Agroecology and Organic Production (PNAPO, 2012) helped 5300 municipalities to invest 30 percent or more of their school feeding budgets in organic and agroecological products purchased from family farmers.

• Denmark’s Organic Action Plan (2011-2020, updated in 2015) has helped Denmark in having the highest market share of organic products in the world, with almost 80 percent of Danes purchasing organic food.

• Quito’s Participatory Urban Agriculture Programme
 (AGRUPAR, 2002) led to the growth of over 3 600 urban gardens on 32 hectares. More than 21000 people got trained under the programme.

Other awards

The Vision Award 2018 of the FAO was conferred upon the TEEBAgriFood, an initiative of “The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity” (TEEB) by UN Environment. TEEBAgriFood developed a comprehensive evaluation framework for food systems to value food more accurately.

The three Honourable Mentions of the Future Policy Award 2018 went to the Good Food Purchasing Policy of Los Angeles, USA (2012); the Agriculture Development Programme of Ndiob, Senegal (2017); and to the From Arms to Farms Programme of Kauswagan, the Philippines (2011).

The Future Policy Award 2018: Topic and Organisers

• Every year, the World Future Council chooses a topic for the Future Policy Award on which policy progress is particularly urgent.

 The world’s best laws and policies promoting agroecology were awarded the 2018 Future Policy Award.

• The 2018 Award highlighted policies that scale up agroecology to contribute to the protection of life of small-scale food producers, ensure sustainable food production systems and implement climate resilient agricultural practices.

• This year’s award was co-organised by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Future Council (WFC) and IFOAM – Organics International.

• The award was supported by Green Cross International; DO-IT – Dutch Organic International Trade, Sekem Group, Egypt; and EcorNaturaSi, Italy.

Indian Navy inducts first deep submergence rescue vessel to rescue distressed submarines

Indian Navy inducts first deep submergence rescue vessel to rescue distressed submarines

The Indian Navy on October 13, 2018 inducted its first Deep Submergence Rescue Vessel (DSRV) at its base in Mumbai, enhancing its operational capabilities. The second DSRV would be added to its base in Vishakhapatnam by 2019.

With the move, India joined a select list of international navies with the ability to search, locate and provide assistance to downed or disaster-struck submarines at high sea.

Key Highlights

• The DSRV can reportedly be deployed at short notice for providing assistance to submarines in distress.

• The rescue vessel, complete with an associated kit in fly away configuration, can be crucial in quickly locating submarines through the vast expanse of sea and can be mobilised by air and water for rapid rescue.

 Some DSRV vessels are air transportable in very large military cargo.

• The DSRV that was inducted by India can be mobilised from the naval base in Mumbai to nearest mounting port by air, land and sea.

• The second DSRV is expected to be inducted at Visakhapatnam in 2019.

Significance

  • The vessels have played a significant role in saving lives as well as submarines during emergencies.
  • Most of these are capable of rescuing 24 people at depths of up to 600m in one go.
  • Besides for rescue operation, the vessels are also deployed for various other missions including to lay cables on the sea bed.

Which countries presently have DSRVs?

The countries that currently have DSRVs in their naval fleet include Singapore, United States, China, Russia, Japan, South Korea, UK, Sweden and Australia.

Each of these countries have their own version of DSRVs based on their specific needs and the requirements of their respective naval fleets.

Background

The induction of the DSRV is a part of the Indian Navy’s efforts to enhance its operational capabilities, at a time when China is ramping up its maritime presence in critical sea lanes that are of strategic importance to India.

Last year, the Indian Navy operationalised a new concept of deployment of warships in the Indian Ocean region to effectively counter China’s growing presence in the strategically key waters.

The “new mission-based deployment” involves deploying mission-ready ships and aircraft along critical sea lanes of communications.

SC Collegium recommends names of chief justices for 5 high courts

SC Collegium recommends names of chief justices for 5 high courts

The Supreme Court Collegium headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi has recommended the appointment of five Chief Justices to the High Courts of Bombay, Calcutta, Uttarakhand, Gauhati and Sikkim.

The resolutions recommending the Chief Justices to the five High Courts were passed by the SC Collegium on October 9. Besides the CJI, the Collegium included Justices Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph.

SC Collegium Recommendations

Justice NH Patil: The judge, who is currently functioning as the Acting Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court, has been recommended to be appointed as the Chief Justice of the court. The post has been vacant since the retirement of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur in December 2017. Justice N.H. Patil is due to retire in April 2019.

In this connection, the Collegium invoked the provision of the Memorandum of Procedure which provides for elevation of a puisne Judge as Chief Justice in his own High Court if he has one year or less to retire.

Justice DK Gupta: The justice, who has been working as Acting Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court, has been recommended to be appointed as the next Chief Justice, replacing Chief Justice Jyotirmay Bhattacharya who retired recently. Justice Gupta is due to retire in December 2018.

Justice Ramesh Ranganathan: The senior-most judge of the High Court of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana at Hyderabad has been recommended to be appointed as Chief Justice of the Uttarakhand High Court. The post has been lying vacant ever since Chief Justice KM Joseph was elevated to the Supreme Court earlier in 2018.

Justice AS Bopanna: The senior judge from the Karnataka High Court has been recommended to be appointed as the next Chief
Justice of the Gauhati High Court. He will replace Chief Justice Ajit Singh who recently retired.

Justice Vijai Kumar Bist: The senior-most judge of the Uttarakhand High Court has been recommended to be appointed as the next Chief Justice of the Sikkim High Court. The post was vacant since the retirement of Chief Justice SK Agnihotri.

India-Azerbaijan sign protocol on trade, economic cooperation

India-Azerbaijan sign protocol on trade, economic cooperation

India and Azerbaijan signed a protocol on trade and economic, science and technology cooperation on October 12, 2018, during the 5th meeting of India-Azerbaijan Inter-Governmental Commission on Trade and Economic, Science and Technology Cooperation (IA-IGC) that was held from October 11-12, 2018 in New Delhi.

The meeting was co-chaired by Union Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu and Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources of the Government of Republic of Azerbaijan, Mukhtar Babayev.

Key Highlights

 During the meeting, both India and Azerbaijan exchanged views on current economic situation and reviewed the current status of bilateral trade, investment and their cooperation in the fields of trade, economy, science and technology.

 The nations emphasised to further strengthen and expand their cooperation in trade and investment, transportation, energy and hydro-carbons, SMEs, agriculture, food safety and environmental protection, tourism, culture, health and pharmaceuticals, space technology, education and scientific research, chemicals and petrochemicals and mining.

 The trade turnover between India and Azerbaijan in January-August 2018 was USD 657.9 million.

• The two nations felt that the bilateral trade was far below the potential and there was a need to step up the cooperation to enlarge the trade basket and increase bilateral trade and investment.

• 
The two nations also agreed to take measures to enhance trade relations and expand business relations between the two countries.

 The nations also decided to send trade delegations to raise awareness regarding economic developments and reforms in the two countries and have regular exchange of information about trade exhibitions, fairs, conferences and other business events.

• 
They also agreed to convene the next meeting of the India-Azerbaijan Inter-Governmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Science and Technology co-operation in Baku.

 The dates for the meeting will be mutually agreed through diplomatic channels.

India-Azerbaijan Relations

India and Azerbaijan have age-old historical relations and shared traditions.

India’s diplomatic relations with Azerbaijan were established on February 28, 1992. The Indian resident mission was opened in Baku in March 1999 and Azerbaijan opened its first resident mission in New Delhi in October, 2004.

Agreements signed

An agreement on economic and technical cooperation was signed in June, 1998.

Air service agreement and a protocol of intergovernmental commission were signed in April 2012.

Agreements on Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) in civil and  commercial matters, MLAT in criminal matters and extradition treaty were signed in April 2013.

A protocol on cooperation between the foreign ministries of India and Azerbaijan was signed in May 2013.

Besides, agreements on visa exemption regime for diplomatic, official and service passport holders, bilateral investments, double taxation avoidance, cultural, tourism and educational cooperation are under discussions.

Trade

  • India’s bilateral trade with Azerbaijan has been growing steadily in recent years. India’s pharmaceutical sector is well known in Azerbaijan and many Indian pharmaceutical companies are represented in Azerbaijan either through their own representative offices or through tie ups with local dealers.
  • The main items of direct and indirect export from India include clothes and textiles, tea, meat, food processing equipment, electronic cards, boilers and other plant equipment. The primary import of India from Azerbaijan is crude oil.
  • A few Indian manufactured automobiles and mobile telephone handsets made their debut into Azerbaijan in 2010.
  • Azerbaijan has proven natural gas reserves of about 2.55 billion cubic meters, while proven oil reserves was estimated at 2 billion tones.
  • In 2012, Indian software development companies were given contracts by Azerbaijani banks and insurance companies. Some engineering consultancy companies have bagged projects in the cement and power sector respectively.
  • Coming to the Indian Diaspora in Azerbaijan, there are about 400 Indian residents in the nation.

India elected to UN Human Rights Council with highest votes

 

India elected to UN Human Rights Council with highest votes

India was on October 12, 2018 elected to the United Nations’ Human Rights Council ‘ for a period of three years beginning January 1, 2019.

India secured 188 votes in the Asia-Pacific category, the highest number of votes among all candidates. Following the election, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin said that India’s win with the highest number of votes reflects the country’s standing in the international community.

Key Highlights

• The 193-member UN General Assembly held elections for new members to the UN Human Rights Council.

• The countries needed a minimum of 97 votes to get elected to the Council.

• 18 new members were elected to UNHRC by absolute majority through a secret ballot.

• India got the highest number of votes among all 18 countries in the five regional categories.

• In the Asia Pacific category, India got 188 votes followed by Fiji with 187 and Bangladesh 178 votes.

• The new members will serve a term of three years beginning January 1, 2019.

Background

India had been looking to win the seat at the UNHRC in the Asia Pacific category.

India had previously been elected to the Geneva-based Human Rights Council for the 2011-2014 and 2014-2017. Its last term had ended on December 31, 2017 and in accordance with the rules, it was not eligible for immediate re-election since it had already served two consecutive terms.

Along with India, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Fiji and Philippines had also staked a claim in the same regional group.

So in total, there were five nations vying for five seats in the Asia Pacific category. India’s election to the Council was hence, all but certain.

About UNHRC

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) was established by the UN General Assembly in March 2006 as its principal body dealing with human rights.

The body’s main mission is to promote and protect human rights around the world.

The UNHRC comprises 47 elected members states. The states are elected for a three-year term on a regional group basis.

On the basis of equitable geographical distribution, the council seats are allocated to the five regional groups as follows:

1.  African States: 13 seats

2. Asia-Pacific States: 13 seats

3. Eastern European States: 6 seats

4. Latin American and Caribbean States: 8 seats

5. Western European and other States: 7 seats

All five of the General Assembly’s regional groups had submitted competition-free slates, meaning that all candidates, regardless of their rights records, were virtually assured seats on the council.

Former President of Chile Michelle Bachelet assumed the role of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in September this year, succeeding Jordanian diplomat Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, who had in June this year released a first-ever report on Kashmir that was rejected by India.

13 october 2018

International Day for Disaster Reduction 2018 observed globally

 
 

International Day for Disaster Reduction 2018 observed globally

13 October: International Day for Disaster Reduction

The International Day for Disaster Reduction was observed across the world on October 13, 2018 to promote a global culture of risk-awareness and disaster reduction.

The day celebrated how people and communities around the world are reducing their exposure to disasters and raising awareness about the risks associated with them.

Theme

The theme of the 2018 International Day for Disaster Reduction was ‘Reducing Disaster Economic Losses’.

The 2018 theme continues as part of the “Sendai Seven” campaign, centred on the seven targets of the Sendai Framework. This year focuses on Target C of the Sendai Framework, which is, ‘reducing disaster economic losses in relation to global GDP by 2030’.

Sendai Seven Campaign
In 2016, the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) launched the Sendai Seven campaign, which was centred on the seven targets of the Sendai Framework.The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 is the first major agreement of the post-2015 development agenda, with seven targets and four priorities for action.

The campaign seeks to create a wave of awareness about actions taken to reduce mortality around the world.

The campaign is an opportunity for all, including governments, local governments, international organisations, the private sector and the UN family to promote best practices at the international, regional and national level across all sectors, in order to reduce disaster risk and disaster losses.

Seven targets of Sendai Framework

1) Substantially reduce global disaster mortality by 2030

2) Substantially reduce the number of affected people globally by 2030

3) Reduce direct disaster economic loss in relation to global gross domestic product (GDP) by 2030

4) Substantially reduce disaster damage to critical infrastructure and disruption of basic services by 2030

5) Substantially increase the number of countries with disaster risk reduction strategies by 2020

6) Substantially enhance international cooperation to developing countries by 2030

7) Substantially increase the availability of and access to multi-hazard early warning systems by 2030

When was the day proclaimed?

• In 1989, the UN General Assembly through a resolution had designated the second Wednesday of October as International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction.

 Later on December 21, 2009, the Assembly adopted a new resolution on in which it designated 13 October as the date to commemorate the Day and it also changed the day’s name to International Day for Disaster Reduction.

• The main objective of the observance is to raise awareness of how people are taking action to reduce their risk to disasters.

WCD Ministry to set up panel to look into all #MeToo cases

WCD Ministry to set up panel to look into all #MeToo cases

The Union Minister for Women and Child Development, Maneka Gandhi announced on October 12, 2018 that her ministry will be setting up a four-member committee to examine all the #MeToo cases.

The WCD Minister stated through a tweet that she believes in the pain and trauma behind every single complaint and reiterated that cases of sexual harassment at work must be dealt with a policy of zero tolerance.

 WCD Ministry to set up panel to look into all #MeToo cases

Key Highlights

 WCD Ministry to set up panel to look into all #MeToo cases

The four-member committee will comprise senior judicial and legal persons.

It will be tasked with the responsibility of examining all the recent cases that have come up in the past few days under the #MeToo campaign.

The committee will look into the legal and institutional framework that is in place for handling complaints of sexual harassment, including some of the complaints if required and advise the ministry on how to strengthen these.

Background

The #MeToo campaign first began as a hashtag on Twitter in 2017, when Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein was accused of sexual harassment by over 70 women.

The campaign broke out in India after Bollywood actress Tanushree Dutta accused veteran actor Nana Patekar of sexual harassment in September 2018.

Following her, many women came out with their horrific experiences of sexual exploitation at their workplaces and elsewhere through their social media accounts.

The movement has thrown out the names of many prominent people who have been accused of sexual harassment; some of them are very well known film and media personalities.

States, UTs set free over 900 prisoners under special remission scheme

States, UTs set free over 900 prisoners under special remission scheme

The Indian states and union territories released over 900 prisoners in the first phase of the centre’s scheme for grant of special remission to specific categories of prisoners. The move was undertaken as a part of the commemoration of the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

The decision to give special remission to a specific category of prisoners was taken by the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on July 18, 2018. The prisoners will be released from prisons in three phases- on October 2, 2018, April 6, 2019 and October 2, 2019.

Key Highlights

• In the week-long first phase of special remission to prisoners, the States and UTs, after obtaining the approval of the competent authority in their jurisdictions, released over 900 prisoners.

• In the second and third phase, prisoners will be released on April 6, 2019 and October 2, 2019 respectively.

• The states and union territories have been advised to hold weeklong special functions in all prison premises based on the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi before the dates specified for the release of prisoners.

 At the time of their release, the prisoners will be taken to garland the statue of Mahatma Gandhi.

• They will also be gifted with books relating to Mahatma Gandhi and will also be provided with suitable counselling.

Prisoners eligible for special remission

1. Women convicts of 55 years of age and above, who have completed 50 per cent of their actual sentence period.

2. Transgender convicts of 55 years of age and above, who have completed 50 per cent of their actual sentence period.

3. Male convicts of 60 years of age and above, who have completed 50 per cent of their actual sentence period.

4. Physically challenged or disabled convicts with 70 per cent disability and more who have completed 50 per cent of their actual sentence period.

5. Terminally ill convicts.

6. Convicted prisoners who have completed two-thirds or 66 per cent of their actual sentence period.

Prisoners not eligible for special remission

The special remission scheme is not available to prisoners who have been convicted for an offence for which the sentence awarded is death or where the death sentence has been commuted to life imprisonment.

The cases of convicts involved in serious and heinous crimes like dowry death, rape, human trafficking and those convicted under  POTA, UAPA, TADA, FICN, POCSO Act, Money Laundering, FEMA, NDPS and Prevention of Corruption Act also do not fall under the scheme.

Draft National Policy on Electronics 2018 released; aims $400 billion manufacturing industry by 2025

 

Draft National Policy on Electronics 2018 released

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) on October 10, 2018 released the draft of the National Policy on Electronics 2018, aiming for a turnover of USD 400 billion in domestic electronics manufacturing industry by 2025.

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology will coordinate with the concerned ministries and departments to provide incentives to industry for robust expansion of electronics hardware manufacturing. MeitY will work out the details and facilitate decisions by the government.

Highlights of the Draft National Policy on Electronics 2018

• The policy targets production of one billion mobile handsets by 2025, valued at USD 190 billion (about Rs 13 lakh crore).

• It is targeted to export 600 million mobile handsets valued at USD 110 billion (about Rs 7 lakh crore).

• 20 greenfield and three brownfield electronic manufacturing cluster projects have been sanctioned with the project outlay of Rs 3898 crore, including Rs 1577 crore from the Government of India.

• It promotes a forward looking and stable tax regime, including advance intimation to the industry to plan investments in the form of Phased Manufacturing Programme (PMP) in various segments of electronics, with a sunset clause should be promoted.

• It mentions that government would levy cess on identified electronic goods to be considered to generate resources for promotion of certain critical sub-sectors of electronics manufacturing such as semiconductor wafer fabrication and display fabrication units.

Objective of Draft National Electronics Policy 2018
  • The draft policy also aims to promote ease of doing business for the entire Electronic System Design and Manufacturing (ESDM) sector.
  • It aims to encourage industry-led research and development and innovation in all sub-sectors of electronics.
  • The policy aims to also push the startup ecosystem in emerging technology areas such as 5G, Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and machine learning, and their applications in areas such as defence, agriculture, health, smart cities and automation.
  • It involves development of core competencies in all the sub-sectors of electronics, including electronic components and semiconductors, telecommunication equipment, medical electronics, defence electronics, automotive electronics, industrial electronics, strategic electronics, etc.

Measures proposed

• Promotion of manufacturing of electronic goods covered under the Information Technology Agreement (ITA-1) of the World Trade Organization

• Exempting the import duty on equipment not being manufactured in the country to reduce capital expenditure for setting up of a unit or for expansion of existing units

• Replacing the M-SIPS (Modified Special Incentive Package Scheme) with schemes that are easier to implement such as interest subsidy and credit default guarantee to encourage expansion in electronics manufacturing sector

First National Policy on Electronics

• The first National Policy on Electronics (NPE) was rolled out in 2012.

• The NPE 2012 provided the road map for the development of Electronics System Design and Manufacturing (ESDM) sector in the country.

• Implementation of the Schemes/ Programmes under the aegis of NPE 2012 successfully consolidated the foundation for a competitive Indian ESDM value chain.

• The Government now seeks to build on that foundation to propel the growth of ESDM industry in the country.

 

World Egg Day observed

• The World Egg Day was observed across the world on October 12, 2018. The day’s 2018 theme is “Protein for Life”.
• The day was established at the International Egg Commission, Vienna 1996 conference when it was decided to celebrate World Egg Day on the second Friday in October each year.
• The day aims to help raise awareness of the benefits of eggs and their importance in human nutrition.
• The proteins contained within eggs are considered highly important in the development of the brain and muscles, have a key role to play in disease prevention and contribute to general well being.

Global Hunger Index 2018: India ranks 103rd out of 119 countries

Global Hunger Index 2018: India ranks 103rd out of 119 countries

As per the 2018 Global Hunger Index (GHI), published on October 10, 2018, the level of hunger and undernutrition worldwide fell to 20.9, down from 29.2 in the year 2000.
As per the index, India was ranked 103rd out of 119 qualifying countries. The Global Hunger Index 2018 report was prepared jointly by global NGOs namely, Concern Worldwide (Ireland) and Welthungerhilfe (Germany).

Key facts and figures of Global Hunger Index 2018
  • In the countries included in the GHI, the share of the undernourished population stood at 12.3 percent in 2015–2017, down from 17.6 percent in 1999–2001.
  • 27.9 percent children under five years of age were stunted based on data from 2013–2017, down from 37.1 percent in 1998–2002.
  • 9.3 percent children under-5 years were wasted, slightly down from 9.7 percent in 1998–2002.
  • The under-five mortality rate was 4.2 percent as of 2016, down from 8.1 percent in 2000.

Top 15 countries

The 15 countries with 2018 GHI scores of less than 5 are not assigned individual ranks, but rather are collectively ranked 1–15. These 15 countries are:

Rank Country
1 Belarus
1 Cuba
1 Estonia
1 Kuwait
1 Latvia
1 Croatia
1 Montenegro
1 Romania
1 Turkey
1 Ukraine
1 Uruguay
1 Costa Rica
1 Chile
1 Lithuania
1 Bosnia & Herzegovina

Country-wise findings

 GHI projections show that at the pace of hunger reduction observed since 2000, approximately 50 countries will fail to reach low hunger levels by 2030; at present, 79 countries have failed to reach that designation according to the 2018 GHI.

 Zimbabwe, Somalia, and CAR have the highest rates of undernourishment, ranging between 46.6 and 61.8 percent.

• Timor-Leste, Eritrea, and Burundi have the highest stunting rates with at least half of the children suffering from stunting in each country.

 Child Wasting is most prevalent in Djibouti (16.7 percent), India (21.0 percent), and South Sudan (28.6 percent).

 The highest under-five mortality rates are in Somalia (13.3 percent), Chad (12.7 percent), and CAR (12.4 percent).

 The six countries with alarming levels of hunger are Chad, Haiti, Madagascar, Sierra Leone, Yemen, and Zambia.

 One country suffering from an extremely alarming level of hunger is the Central African Republic (CAR), which has the highest 2018 GHI score of 53.7 and has been suffering from instability, sectarian violence, and civil war since 2012.

• In Burundi, Congo, Eritrea, Libya, Somalia, South Sudan, and Syria, violent conflict, political unrest, and extreme poverty have prompted forced migration, which is closely associated with food insecurity.

 However, this year’s GHI includes 27 countries with moderate levels of hunger and 40 countries with low levels of hunger.

• Few countries have made improvement since 2000. Angola, Ethiopia and Rwanda, which had extremely alarming hunger levels in 2000, have seen reductions in their GHI scores of 20 points or more.

India’s rank in 2018 GHI
 

In the 2018 Global Hunger Index, India was ranked 103rd out of 119 qualifying countries. With a score of 31.1, India suffers from a serious level of hunger.

Region-wise findings

• At the regional level, the 2018 GHI scores for South Asia and Africa south of the Sahara, at 30.5 and 29.4, respectively, are dramatically higher than those of other regions, indicating serious levels of hunger.

 The GHI scores for East and Southeast Asia, the Near East and North Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Eastern Europe, and the Commonwealth of Independent States range from 7.3 to 13.2, indicating low or moderate hunger levels.

• Even regions with low or moderate GHI scores include countries where hunger and undernutrition are tremendously high.

 In Latin America and the Caribbean (GHI score of just 9.0), the Caribbean island nation of Haiti is one of just seven countries with GHI scores that are considered alarming or extremely alarming and nother country among these seven countries is Yemen of the East and North Africa region (GHI score of 13.2).

 In South Asia and Africa south of the Sahara, the rates of undernourishment, child stunting, child wasting and child mortality are unacceptably high.

 South Asia has the highest child stunting and child wasting rates of any region, followed by Africa south of the Sahara. In terms of undernourishment and child mortality, Africa south of the Sahara has the highest rates, followed by South Asia.

 South Asia’s child wasting rate constitutes a critical public health emergency. The child wasting rate for the region is amplified by India, which has the region’s largest population and highest level of child wasting at 21 percent.

 Child stunting in South Asia is also very high. Since 2000, the rate of stunting in the region has fallen from approximately half of all children to over a third, but this still constitutes the highest regional child stunting rate worldwide.

 In Africa south of the Sahara, the 2015–2017 undernourishment rate, at 22 percent, increased marginally since 2009–2011 and is the highest regional rate of all regions in the report.

• The under-five mortality rate in the Africa south of the Sahara is also high. The 10 countries with the world’s highest under-five mortality rates are all located in this region.

Insufficient progress to reach Sustainable Development Goals

Despite these improvements, the question remains whether the world will achieve United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2, which aims to end hunger, ensure food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture by 2030.

As per the index, the world is still far from a world without malnutrition. The index covers four indicators of stunting, wasting, severe wasting and overweight among children under 5, and reveal insufficient progress to reach the World Health Assembly targets for 2025 and the Sustainable Development Goals set for 2030.

Accelerated progress will be needed to achieve SDG targets in child survival.

Global Hunger Index and how it is calculated?

• The Global Hunger Index (GHI) is a tool designed to comprehensively measure and track hunger at global, regional, and national levels.

• GHI scores are calculated each year to assess progress and setbacks in combating hunger.

 GHI scores are calculated using a three-step process.

   – Firstly, values are determined for each country in four indicators- Undernourishment, Child Wasting, Child Stunting and Child Mortality.
– Secondly, each of the four component indicators is given a standardised score on a 100-point scale based on the highest observed level for the indicator.
– Thirdly, standardised scores are aggregated to calculate the GHI score for each country, with each of the three dimensions (inadequate food supply; child       mortality; and child undernutrition.

Malaysian government decides to abolish capital punishment

Representative Image

The Malaysian Cabinet on October 11, 2018 decided to abolish the death penalty for all crimes and halt all pending executions. The decision is a rare move against capital punishment in Asia.
The government has taken the decision to scrap capital punishment following strong domestic opposition to the practice. The amendments to the laws with capital punishment are expected to be tabled in the Parliament on October 15.
Applauding the government’s decision, the Malaysian human rights group ‘Lawyers for Liberty’ said that the death penalty is barbarous, unimaginably cruel and pointless, as it has never been proven to deter serious crimes. It further said that once the sentence is scrapped, Malaysia will have the moral authority to fight for the lives of Malaysians facing death sentences abroad.

Key Highlights 
• Capital punishment is currently mandatory in Malaysia for a wide range of crimes including murder, drug trafficking, treason, kidnapping, possession of firearms and acts of terror.
 The sentence is carried out in the nation by hanging, a legacy which has lived on since the British colonial rule.
• The decision will have a huge effect on those on a death row, such as the two women accused of assassinating the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in 2017.
• A Malaysian court had ruled last year that the case could proceed against Indonesian national Siti Aisyah and Doan Thi Huong of Vietnam after Kim Jong-Nam’s murder at Kuala Lumpur Airport.
• The International Human Rights group, Amnesty International, labelled the Malaysian government’s decision to abolish capital punishment as an encouraging sign.
• In April 2017, the Amnesty International had ranked Malaysia at the 10th spot in the use of the death penalty among the 23 countries that carried out capital punishment in 2016. Between 2007 and 2017, 35 individuals were hanged in the nation.
• Overall, a total of 1267 prisoners are currently on a death row, making up 2.7 per cent of the 60,000-strong prison population.

Impact

According to Amnesty International, the move would be a major advance. It said that the death penalty has been a “terrible stain” on Malaysia’s human rights record and death row prisoners often have to wait years for their appeals to be processed.

The international body urged the Malaysian government to “completely abolish the death penalty for all crimes, with no exceptions.”

The Current Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad’s alliance won a stunning election upset on May 9, ousting a scandal-tainted coalition in the first change of government since independence from Britain in 1957. The new government’s promises included eradicating corruption and bolstering human rights.

Rest of the World on Capital Punishment
 Around 142 countries across the world have rejected capital punishment as a form of punishment for crimes.
• Only 23 countries retain the death penalty. However, in Asia, many nations including India, China, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam still impose capital punishment.
• According to Amnesty International’s report on capital punishment in 2017, China is believed to be the ‘world’s top executioner’.
 Overall, 993 executions were recorded in 2017 in 23 countries. However, Amnesty says that these numbers do not include the “thousands” that it says are believed to have been executed in China, which classifies this information as a state secret.
 Excluding China, Amnesty says Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Pakistan, in that order, carried out 84 per cent of all executions in 2017.
• In Southeast Asia, Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand have death penalty laws.

Capital Punishment in India

India does not have a mandatory death penalty. Though murder is punishable by death under Article 302 of the Penal Code, in Mithu v. State of Punjab, the Supreme Court of India had ruled that the mandatory death penalty is unconstitutional.

In Bachan Singh v. State of Punjab, the Supreme Court had held that the death penalty was constitutional only when applied as an exceptional penalty in ‘the rarest of the rare’ cases.

The crimes punishable by death in India include murder, terrorism-related offenses, rape, kidnapping, drug trafficking, treason and military offences.

Recent Executions in India

Yakub Memon: The last execution to take place in India was the July 30, 2015 hanging of Yakub Memon, whowas convicted of financing the 1993 Mumbai bombings.

Afzal Guru: On February 9, 2013, Muhammad Afzal, also known as Afzal Guru, was executed by hanging. He was convicted for the December 2001 attack on India’s Parliament, in which five gunmen armed with grenades, guns and explosives opened fire, killing nine people.

Ajmal Kasab: On November 21, 2012, the sole surviving gunman of the 2008 Mumbai attacks Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab was hanged for several crimes, including waging war against India, murder and terrorist acts.

Dhananjoy Chatterjee: The hanging of Dhananjoy Chatterjee was carried out in 2004. He was given the death sentence for the murder and rape of a 14-year old girl. This was the country’s first execution since 1995.

The following offenders are excluded from the death penalty in India:

Individuals below age 18 at time of crime: According to the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000, individuals who were under the age of 18 at the time of the crime cannot be executed.

Pregnant Women: According to a 2009 amendment, a pregnant woman sentenced to death must be granted clemency.

Intellectually Disabled: According to the Indian Penal Code, individuals who were mentally ill at the time of the crime and who did not understand the nature of the act or know that the act was wrong or against the law cannot be held criminally liable.

Mentally ill: According to the Indian Penal Code, individuals who were mentally ill at the time of the crime and who did not understand the nature of the act or know that the act was wrong or against the law cannot be held criminally liable.

 

12 october 2018

World Bank launches first Human Capital Index, Singapore tops list

World Bank launches first Human Capital Index, Singapore tops rankings

The World Bank launched its first Human Capital Index (HCI) in Bali, Indonesia on October 11, 2018, as part of the World Development Report 2019. The index ranks countries based on their success in developing human capital.

The index ranks 157 countries based on their education and health outcomes and the impact they are having on productivity. While Singapore tops the rankings, African countries occupying the bottom spots.

About Human Capital Index

Objective

The human capital index, which has been modeled on the World Bank’s existing doing business index that assesses national business conditions, aims to create a similar ranking for countries based on how well they look after their people.

The index claims to seek to measure the amount of human capital that a child born today can expect to attain by age 18.

The HCI index values are contended to convey the productivity of the next generation of workers, compared to a benchmark of complete standard education and full health.

The four key indicators of the index include:

1. Under‐5 mortality rates

2. Expected years of Quality-Adjusted School

3. Adult survival rates

4. Rate of stunting for children aged below five years

World Banks’s Human Capital Index

UN’s Human Development Index

HCI uses survival rates and stunting rate as measure of health HDI uses life expectancy as measure of health
HCI uses quality-adjusted learning as measure of education HDI uses years of schooling as measure of education
HCI excludes per capita income HDI includes per capita income
HCI excludes income component HDI includes income component

Significance

The index draws attention to the fact that human capital is connected to productivity, it’s connected to economic growth and it’s more highly correlated than other kinds of infrastructure investment that heads of state and ministers of finance are much likely to go for because of the sooner visible outcomes.

Key Highlights

• The index measures the Index outcomes for each country as a fraction of maximum value of 1.

• It also measures the mortality rate for children under five, early childhood stunting rates due to malnutrition and other factors and health outcomes based on the proportion of 15-year-olds who survive until age 60.

• Further, it measures a country’s educational achievement based on the years of schooling a child can expect to obtain by age 18, combined with a country’s relative performance on international student achievement tests.

• 
Overall, the index found that on an average 56 percent of children born today will forego more than half their potential lifetime earnings because governments were not investing adequately to ensure their people are healthy, educated and ready for an evolving workplace.

Top Findings

The index found that advanced economies such as North America and Europe mostly have HCI value of above 0.75, while South Asia and Sub Saharan Africa have the lowest HCI among the regions.

Singapore topped the rankings list, followed by South Korea, Japan and Hong Kong. On the other hand, African countries with high childhood stunting rates and low access to formal education fared the worst in the rankings, with Chad and South Sudan taking up the two lowest spots. The United States was ranked 24th on the list, while the United Kingdom was ranked 15th.

The World Bank predicts that in the lowest country ranked on the list, Chad, productivity and earnings potential would be only about 29 percent of what their potential would be under ideal conditions.

In top-ranked Singapore, the earnings potential was 88 percent of potential, while in the United States, ranked 24th between Israel and Macau, productivity and earnings were measured at 76 percent of potential.

The HCI for India was estimated at 0.44. The quality-adjusted learning was measured in the case of India by using the data as old as 2009.

Besides, there were 28 countries, from Indonesia to Lesotho to Ukraine, who signed on as “early adopters” of the index to work with the World Bank to devise plans to improve their investment in health and education.

Further, the index showed that a country ranked at 50 percent, such as Morocco and El Salvador, would lose 1.4 percentage points of annual GDP growth compared to its potential under ideal health and education conditions.

The bank has warned that a wave of automation and artificial intelligence will eliminate many low-skilled jobs in the coming years, making it harder for people with low levels of education and poor health to compete for work.

HCI Observations for India

The children born in India today will be only 44 per cent as productive when they grow up as they could be if they enjoyed complete education and full health.

There has also been a marked improvement in the HCI components in India over the last five years:

Probability of survival to age 5: 96 out of 100 children born in India survive to age 5

Expected years of school: In India, children who start school at the age 4 can be expected to complete 10.2 years of school by their 18th birthday

Harmonised test scores: Students in India score 355 on a scale where 625 represents advanced attainment and 300 represents minimum attainment.

Learning-adjusted years of school: Factoring in what children actually learn, expected years of school is only 5.8 years.

Adult Survival Rate: Across India, 83 per cent of 15-year olds are expected to survive until the age of 60 years.

Healthy Growth (Not Stunted Rate): 62 out of 100 children are not stunted. 38 out of 100 children are stunted and so at risk of cognitive and physical limitations that can last a lifetime.

Gender Differences: The HCI in India is marginally better for females in comparison to that for males.

Conclusion

The index concludes that for 56 per cent of the world’s population the HCI is at or below 0.50 and for 92 per cent it is at or below 0.75.

Hence, only 8 per cent of the population can expect to be 75 per cent as productive as they could be.

Singapore’s high score of 0.88 out of a maximum possible score of 1 was driven by a strong focus on quality education and an innovative health insurance system delivered by spending a relatively modest 4 per cent of gross domestic product on health care.

World Development Report (WDR)

The main theme of the World Development Report (WDR) 2018 is “The Changing Nature of Work”.

As part of this report, the World Bank has launched a Human Capital Project (HCP).

The HCP programme is claimed to be a program of advocacy, measurement and analytical work to raise awareness and increase demand for interventions to build human capital.

The three main components of HCP include:

1. Cross-country human capital measurement metric called the Human Capital Index (HCI)

2. Programme of measurement and research to inform policy action

3. Programme of support for country strategies to accelerate investment in human capital

 

Central University of Jammu, ISRO sign MoU to set up Space Applications Center

Central University of Jammu, ISRO sign MoU to set up Space Applications Center

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on October 11, 2018 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Central University of Jammu (CUJ) for setting up of the Satish Dhawan Center for Space Science in the University.

On the same occasion, another MoU was signed between CUJ and the Central Scientific Instruments Organization (CSIR-CSIO).

A two day workshop was also inaugurated at the CUJ campus to create awareness about space research and to motivate young minds to take up research related to space, astronomy, geology, atmospheric sciences and related fields.

Satish Dhawan Center for Space Science at Central University of Jammu

• The Center will help in tapping potential of Space Applications for Jammu & Kashmir in various fields like disaster management, health, education, communication, weather forecasting, land use planning, etc.

• This will provide opportunity to the youth of the region to contribute to the field of space science as well as to the nation.

 It will have facilities for Geospatial Data analysis that will help in sustainable use of natural resources and planning land-use pattern.

 It will have ground-based observations for Atmospheric Studies, research lab for astrophysics, Atmospheric Sensing and Glacier studies Lab for better use of large quantity of water stored in the form of seasonal snow, ice and glaciers in the rivers of North India.

• Apart from this, Disaster Management Center will also be set up there to take up research in the area of different disasters like flood, Landslides, forest fires, drought and climate change.

• The Materials Sciences Lab for space applications will be established as a part of the Satish Dhawan Center for Space Science at CUJ with special focus to synthesise and design new sensors and materials for space applications.

• This is the first of its kind institute coming up in Jammu and Kashmir and the building is proposed in an area of about 1150 sq. meter.

Note
Space Sciences is a multidisciplinary subject which involves basic sciences such as physics, chemistry, biology, astronomy, geology, planetary science, mathematics, atmospheric sciences, geography, space engineering and even space law.

Need of Space Applications Center

The area of space applications is of particular interest to J&K and the larger Himalayan region as its economy and habitations are affected by vegetation cover, forest area, snow, landslides, avalanches, ground water, cloud cover, atmospheric conditions etc.

These conditions can be easily monitored from space through remote sensing. Considering the recurring natural calamities in the region, requirement of strengthening ground-based observational capabilities for weather and atmospheric research is also imperative.

The setting up of this Center will take care of the emerging Geospatial and Space Technology requirements for the development of the region.

 

No original certificates needed while submitting admission form: UGC Notification

No original certificates needed while submitting admission form: UGC Notification

Union Minister for Human Resource Development, Prakash Javadekar on October 10, 2018 held a press conference to inform that the University Grants Commission (UGC) will soon issue a Notification on refund of fees and non retention of original certificates by institutions to facilitate smooth admissions.

From now on, no student will be required to submit any original academic and personal certificates at the time of submission of admission form and students will get refund of fee from the institution if they withdraw their admission from the programme.

This notification shall be applicable to Under Graduate, Post Graduate and Research Programmes run by Universities included under Section 2(f) of the UGC Act; Colleges; and Institutions declared as Deemed to be Universities under Section 3 of the UGC Act.

Why was there a need of such notification?

The decision came after the Ministry noticed that the students were facing several problems during admissions, due to coercive and profiteering institutional practices being adopted by some institutions.

For the facilitation of the students, the ‘University Grants Commission Notification on Refund of Fees and Non Retention of Original Certificates’ will be brought out.

Process of the admission
The Notification will aid the students in seeking admission to Higher Educational Institutions in the following manner:The Higher Education Information (HEI) systems can charge fees in advance only for the semester/ year in which a student wants to engage in academic activities. Collecting advance fees for the entire programme of study is strictly prohibited.
Refund of fees
The institute will be required to refund the fees, in case a student withdraws from the programme. The process of refund of fees is:

  • 100 percent Refund: In case a student decides to withdraw 15 days or more before the formally notified last date of admission, he will be given 100 percent refund. Not more than 5 percent of the fees paid by the student, subject to a maximum of Rs 5000, will be deducted as processing charges.
  • 90 percent Refund: In case a student decides to withdraw within 15 days before the formally notified last date of admission, he will be given 90 percent refund.
  • 80 percent Refund: In case a student decides to withdraw within 15 days after the formally notified last date of admission, he will be given 80 percent Refund.
  • 50 percent Refund: In case a student decides to withdraw between 16 days and 30 days after the formally notified last date of admission, he will be given 50 percent Refund.
  • NIL: In case a student decides to withdraw after 30 days of the formally notified last date of admission, there will be no refund.
  • The entire caution money and security deposit, which are not part of the fees chargeable, shall be refunded in full.
  • Refund of fees shall be made by the HEIs within 15 days of receipt of a written application from a student.

Other highlights of the UGC Notification

 No student will be required to submit any original academic and personal certificates like marksheets, school leaving certificates, etc. at the time of submission of admission form.

• In case required, the institution concerned will only ensure verification of the same with the original certificates and these certificates shall be returned to the students immediately.

• No institution can take any original certificate into their custody.

• No HEI can make it mandatory for applicants to purchase the institutional prospectus at any time during the course of the time of study.

 All HEIs will be required to disclose on their website and prospectus the information regarding the status of the institutions, its affiliation, amenities, course-wise sanctioned intake of students, various types of fees, total fees, last date of admission, details of faculty, members of Governing Bodies and any other information.

 All HEIs will be mandatorily required to have a Grievance Redressal Mechanism (GRM), according to the provisions of the UGC (Grievance Redressal) Regulations, 2012. This GRM shall be available on HEI website and all grievances received have to be addressed within 30 days.

Strict punitive actions by the Commission against defaulting HEIs

• Withdrawal of declaration of fitness to receive grants from UGC

• Withholding of grants allocated to the HEI

 Declaration of HEI as ineligible to receive any assistance from UGC for General or Special Programmes.

• Display of notice in newspapers and media and on the website of the Commission regarding non compliance by the HEI to ensure that the general public is well informed.

 Recommending to the affiliating university for withdrawal of affiliation, in case of a College/ Institute.

 Recommending to the Central Government for withdrawal of ‘Deemed to be University declaration’, in case of an Institution Deemed to be University.

 Recommending to the appropriate State Government for appropriate necessary action in case of University established or incorporated under a State Act.

International Day of the Girl Child observe

International Day of the Girl Child observed

11 October: International Day of the Girl Child

The International Day of the Girl Child was observed across the world on October 11, 2018. The day aims to highlight and address the needs and challenges faced by girl children while promoting their empowerment and the fulfilment of their human rights.

 

Theme

The 2018 theme of the International day is ‘With Her: A Skilled GirlForce’.

Under the theme, the International Day will mark the beginning of a year-long effort to bring together partners and stakeholders to advocate for and draw attention and investments to the most pressing needs and opportunities for girls to attain skills for employability.

Why do we need the Day?

In the next decade, around 600 million adolescent girls are estimated to enter a world of work transformed by innovation and automation.

Among them, more than 90% of those living in developing countries will work in the informal sector, where low or no pay, abuse and exploitation are common. They will be faced with multiple barriers including systematic discrimination, biases and lack of training.

According to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the negative gender stereotypes related to girls’ education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics begin as early as primary school and have a devastating effect of making them doubt their own potential.

Though the number of girls attending school is the highest ever, many still not get the necessary skills for lifelong success.

The biggest challenges faced by girls include obtaining quality secondary and higher education, avoiding child marriage, receiving information and services related to puberty and reproductive health, and protecting themselves against unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted disease and gender-based violence.

Hence, the girls need to be equipped with transferable and lifelong skills such as critical thinking, creativity and digital awareness.

Background

The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution on December 19, 2011 to declare October 11 as the International Day of the Girl Child, to recognise girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world.

The day was established with the aim of ensuring that adolescent girls have the right to a safe, educated, and healthy life, not only during their critical formative years but also as they mature into women.

Over the last 15 years, however, the global community has made significant progress in improving the lives of girls during early childhood.

The United Nations recently launched Youth2030 to help empower young people. It is a strategy that aims to work with the youth especially young girls and understand their needs and help put their ideas into action.

In India, Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi said that in the four years since its inception, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao has progressed tremendously by bringing about a change in people’s mindset. The Minister reaffirmed the government’s commitment to providing every girl child with an environment that will enable the girl child to reach her full potential.

NITI Aayog, IBM India jointly design Student Internship Programme

NITI Aayog, IBM India jointly design Student Internship Programme

The Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) of the NITI Aayog and the IBM India Private Limited on October 11, 2018 announced a first-of-its-kind Student Internship Programme for students selected under the mission.

The IBM internship program is focussed on enhancing the skills of the students via various innovative activities like design thinking approach, developing prototypes and solution for community issues.

Student Internship Programme

• Under the internship programme, 38 students will receive a two-week paid internship and 14 teachers from Atal Tinkering Labs (ATL) across the length and breadth of the country to ideate, collaborate and innovate.

• These students will be equipped with the skills for new collar careers in areas like artificial intelligence, Internet-of-Things, cybersecurity, cloud computing and blockchain.

• Apart from being trained in emerging technologies, students will also be coached in critical workplace skills.

• As part of the program, selected teachers from ATLs will also be trained by IBM volunteers and mentors to become innovation coaches.

• The two-week program is designed so that students can experience the corporate environment and gain exposure to new technologies.

• To scale the programme, top-performing students will be selected for industry exposure to strengthen their technical skills and prepare them for future jobs.

Atal Tinkering Marathon 

The Atal Innovation Mission conducted the Atal Tinkering Marathon in 2017 where Top 30 innovations across five focus areas were identified. These fiver focus areas were agritech, healthcare, smart mobility, clean energy, waste management and water management.

Students from the Top 30 teams have since been offered various opportunities like the Student Innovator Programme, the ATL Bootcamp with industry partners, opportunity to participate in global innovation contests like World Robot Olympiad (WRO), and an internship opportunity with IBM India.

Atal Innovation Mission (AIM)

• Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) is Union Government’s flagship initiative to promote a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in the country.

• AIM is mandated to create an umbrella structure to oversee innovation ecosystem of the country.

• AIM envisions the creation of a collaborative ecosystem, where students, teachers, mentors and industry partners work to facilitate innovation, foster scientific temper and an entrepreneurial spirit.

• Atal Tinkering Laboratories (ATLs), Atal Incubation Centre and Established Incubation Centre will take the innovations to the market and a network of incubators will help create enterprises around these innovations.

• So far, AIM has already announced selection of 2441 schools across India to establish ATLs covering 93 percent of the total districts in India and 98 percent of the upcoming smart cities.

 

NITI Aayog organises workshop on Best Practices in International Arbitration

 

NITI Aayog organises workshop on Best Practices in International Arbitration

The inaugural ‘Workshop on Best Practices in International Arbitration’ was organised by NITI Aayog and the ICC International Court of Arbitration in New Delhi on October 10, 2018.

The workshop was inaugurated by the chief guest, Justice AK Sikri, who is a judge at the Supreme Court of India and was presided over by PP Chaudhary, MoS in the Law Ministry. NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant was also present on the occasion.

Objective

The workshop is a part of the on-going efforts to institutionalise and streamline dispute resolution to make India a hub for doing business.

It aims to encourage and highlight the need for understanding and implementing arbitration across the spectrum of commercial contracts.

The workshop follows up on the international conference on arbitration held in 2016 and the National Law Day conference in 2017.

Key Highlights

 The workshop was attended by over 200 senior officers from central and state governments and public sector undertakings.

 It covered the basic concepts of international arbitration and included best practices on drafting of arbitration agreements and the factors to consider when deciding on the seat, venue, institution and governing law.

• It also covered topics related to the selection of arbitrators, enforcement of arbitral awards and the role of courts before, during and after the arbitration.

• The topics of the information sharing session were delivered by world-class faculty and practitioners from the United Kingdom, Singapore, Paris and India.

Significance

The training and brainstorming workshop is an integral part of the on-going effort of the NITI Aayog in a co-operative setting to skill and prepare senior officers for best global practices and give them the opportunity to gain expertise in enhancing their ability to understand, review, revise and draft arbitration related aspects of contracts.

The initiative is significant, as it is important for investors, both domestic and international, to have faith in the dispute resolution mechanism in India, especially with the government’s increased focus on ‘Make in India’.

A well-drafted dispute resolution mechanism and a comprehensive understanding of best practices and procedures would complement the initiative and give the much-needed impetus to effective and timely enforcement of contracts.

Background

NITI Aayog first highlighted the importance of Arbitration by organising a successful two-day conference on international arbitration in 2016, which had over 1400 participants and was presided over by the President and Prime Minister of India and saw participation from the Chief Justices of all SAARC countries.

The conference explored the vitality of commercial arbitration, both domestic and international, as the preferred method of resolving disputes between parties.

Following this, NITI Aayog also organised the two-day National Law Day Conference in 2017, with the Law Commission of India, which explored a new ground with debates and discussions on a multitude of legal aspects, including dispute resolution.

The conference also had over 1400 participants on each day of the event and was presided over by the President, Prime Minister, Chief Justice of Supreme Court, Union Cabinet Ministers and other eminent personalities.

Tushar Mehta appointed as Solicitor General of India

Tushar Mehta appointed as Solicitor General of India

Senior Advocate Tushar Mehta was on October 10, 2018 appointed as the Solicitor General of India with effect from the date of assumption of charge of the office for a period till June 30, 2020 or until further orders.

His appointment was approved by the Appointment Committee of Cabinet. Presently, Mehta is serving as the Additional Solicitor General (ASG) of India. He was appointed ASG in 2014 after the Modi government came to power.

The post of the Solicitor General of India has been lying vacant for the last 11 months after Senior Advocate Ranjith Kumar resigned on October 20, 2017. The Solicitor General is the second highest ranking law officer of the Union Government after the Attorney General.

About Tushar Mehta

• Tushar Mehta was serving as the Gujarat Advocate General when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was then the Chief Minister of the state.

• He moved to Delhi after the Narendra Modi government named him the Additional Solicitor General.

• Mehta has handled several controversial cases including Justice BH Loya’s death and the arrest of the five activists by the Maharashtra police.

• He is also representing the UP government in the Ayodhya land dispute case pending before a three-judge SC bench.

• He was recently named special prosecutor to handle the 2G spectrum case.

 

Home Ministry clarifies that Gorkhas in Assam are not ‘foreigners

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The Union Ministry of Home Affairs has issued a clarification to the Assam state government regarding the citizenship status of the members of the Gorkha community living in the state.

The clarification follows a representation from the All Assam Gorkha Students’ Union to the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh after some cases of members of the Gorkha community living in Assam were referred to the Foreigners’ Tribunal.

Home Ministry’s statement on Gorkhas

The members of the Gorkha community who were Indian citizens at the time of commencement of the Constitution, or who are Indian citizens by birth, or those who have acquired Indian citizenship by registration or naturalisation in accordance with the provisions of the Citizenship Act, 1955 are not ‘foreigners’ as per the section 2 (a) of the Foreigners Act, 1946, as well as the Registration of Foreigners Act, 1939 and therefore, such cases, will not be referred to the Foreigners’ Tribunal.

Clarification on the status of Gorkhas holding Nepalese nationality

Any member of the Gorkha community holding Nepalese nationality, who arrived in India by land or through the air over the Nepal border without a passport or visa and is staying in India for any length of time shall also not be treated as an illegal migrant if the member is in possession of any of the identity documents.

The required identify documents, in this case, include the Nepalese Passport, Nepalese Citizenship Certificate, voter Identification card issued by the Election Commission of Nepal and limited validity photo-identity certificate issued by Nepalese Mission in India.

The required documents for children between the age group of 10-18 years include just the photo ID issued by the principal of the school if they are accompanied by parents having valid travel documents.

However, no such document is required for children below the age group of 10 years. The communication is in line with the provisions of the India-Nepal Treaty, which was signed in 1950.

Conclusion

The communication clarified that the cases of Gorkha community members falling within the mentioned parameters should not be referred to the Foreigners’ Tribunal for an opinion as to whether the person is a ‘foreigner’ within the meaning of The Foreigners Act, 1946.

It stated that cases of only those individuals, who came to Assam from specified territories such as Bangladesh immediately before commencement of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 1985, and are not Indian citizens, can be referred to the Foreigners’ Tribunal.

Background

The Assam government had released its second and final draft of the state’s National Register of Citizens (NRC) on July 30, 2018. The list incorporates names of 2.89 crore people out of 3.29 crore applicants.

The National Register of Citizens (NRC) is a list that contains names of Indian citizens of Assam. It was last prepared after Census in 1951. It is being compiled under the orders of the Supreme Court to identify illegal foreigners residing in Assam.

The recently updated draft of the NRC includes the names of Indian citizens who have been residing in Assam before March 25, 1971.

Those whose names don’t feature in the NRC of Assam face the prospect of being declared illegal and sent out.

However, the names of those left out from the list will not be referred to the Foreigners’ Tribunal or taken to the detention centre until they exhaust all forms of appeal.

11 october 2018

#MeToo movement in India: NCW asks sexual abuse survivors to lodge formal complaint

#MeToo movement in India: NCW asks sexual abuse survivors to lodge formal complaints

As the #MeToo movement gets bigger in India, the National Commission for Women (NCW) on October 10, 2018 urged the victims of sexual abuse to register their written complaints with authorities concerned, including with the National Commission for Women.

The commission took note of the #MeToo accusations and noticed that in many such cases of sexual harassment, the victims do not want to go beyond naming and shaming the alleged offenders and lodge a formal complaint.

The commission appreciated the bravery shown by those who have spoken out and came forward to help punish the persons responsible for such incidents. It condemned any act of invasion of private space of women.

Taking a serious note of the instances of sexual harassment of women that have been figured in the media recently, the commission is of the considered view that such violation infringes the constitutional rights of women and the perpetrators of such violence need to be penalised as per law.

#MeToo movement gathers force in India

• Almost a year after the #MeToo movement took flight in the Hollywood with the Harvey Weinstein expose, the movement has now arrived in the Bollywood, Indian film industry; and is spreading through India.

• The #MeToo movement started after former Bollywood actress Tanushree Dutta alleged that Nana Patekar sexually harassed her on a movie set in 2008. However, Patekar has rejected Dutta’s allegations and said he made the same denial 10 years ago.

• The movement has recently gained momentum in India as more women have begun sharing their experiences of sexual harassment on social media.

• To name a few, these brave women are actress Kangana Ranaut, actress Sandhya Mridul, writer-director-producer Vinta Nanda, singer Sona Mohapatra, journalist Avantika Mehta, writer Mahima Kukreja, reporter Anoo Bhuyan, journalist Sandhya Menon, and many more.

• Many well-known comedians, journalists, and actors have been named and shamed on social media as allegations of sexual misconduct continue to burst out.

#MeToo movement of Hollywood
The #MeToo movement began as a hashtag on Twitter in 2017 amid the Harvey Weinstein incident. Created by Alyssa Milano, the movement soon found support with noted Hollywood actors Gwyneth Paltrow, Ashley Judd, Jennifer Lawrence, and Uma Thurman.

The movement was chosen as the Person of the Year by the Time magazine. It also gave birth to the more militant Time’s Up campaign.

Before it became a hashtag, the Me Too Movement had been around for over 10 years. It was launched in 2006 by Tarana Burke, an activist from Harlem, to help underprivileged women of colour affected by sexual abuse.

Cabinet approves merger of NCVT, NSDA to form National Council for Vocational Education & Training

 

Cabinet approves merger of NCVT, NSDA to form National Council for Vocational Education & Training

The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on October 10, 2018 approved the merger of the National Council for Vocational Training (NCVT) and the National Skill Development Agency (NSDA) to establish the National Council for Vocational Education and Training (NCVET).

Once formed, the NCVET will regulate the functioning of entities engaged in vocational education and training, both long-term and short-term. It will establish minimum standards for the functioning of such entities.

Functions of NCVET
The primary functions of NCVET will include –

  • Recognition and regulation of awarding bodies, assessment bodies and skill related information providers
  • Approval of qualifications developed by awarding bodies and Sector Skill Councils (SSCS)
  • Indirect regulation of vocational training institutes through awarding bodies and assessment agencies
  • Research and information dissemination
  • Grievance redressal

National Council for Vocational Education and Training

• The Council will be headed by a Chairperson and will have Executive and Non-Executive Members.

• Since NCVET is proposed to be set up through merger of two existing bodies, the existing infrastructure and resources will be utilised for the most part.

• A few more posts will be created for its smooth functioning.

• It will follow the best practices of regulatory processes, which will help ensure that it performs its functions professionally and as per the applicable laws.

• NCVET is envisaged as an institution which will perform the regulatory functions so far vested in NCVT and NSDA.

• Regulatory functions currently being carried out by the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) through the Sector Skill Councils (SSCs) will also be housed in the NCVET.

Significance

This merger of existing regulatory institutions in the skills space will lead to improvement in quality and market relevance of skill development programs, lending credibility to vocational education and training.

This in turn will help achieve the twin objectives of enhancing aspirational value of vocational education, and increasing skilled manpower furthering the Prime Minister’s agenda of making India the skill capital of the world.

NCVET will have a positive impact on each individual who is a part of vocational education and training in the country. This is also expected to facilitate the ease of doing business by providing a steady supply of skilled workforce to the industry and services.

 

Top Cabinet Approvals: 10 October 2018

Top Cabinet Approvals: 10 October 2018

Union Cabinet approves MoU between India, Lebanon for cooperation in the field of agriculture

• The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Lebanon for cooperation in the field of agriculture and allied sectors.
• The bilateral cooperation in the field of agriculture will be mutually beneficial to both the countries, as the agreement will promote understanding of best agricultural practices in the two countries and will help in better productivity at farmer fields as well as an improved global market.
• It will also help increase agricultural production and productivity by opening access to best practices and market worldwide.

Cabinet approves productivity linked bonus for railway employees

• The Union Cabinet has approved the payment of Productivity Linked Bonus (PLB) equivalent to 78 days’ wages for the financial year 2017-18 for all eligible non-gazetted Railway employees (excluding RPF/RPSF personnel).
• The financial implication of payment of 78 days’ PLB to railway employees has been estimated to be Rs 2044.31 crore.
• The wage calculation ceiling prescribed for payment of PLB to the eligible non-gazetted railway employees is Rs.7000 per month.  The maximum amount payable per eligible railway employee is Rs 17,951 for 78 days.
• About 11.91 lakh non-gazetted Railway employees are likely to benefit from the decision.

Cabinet approves closure of National Jute Manufactures Corporation and its subsidiary Birds Jute & Exports Ltd

• The Union Cabinet has approved the closure of National Jute Manufactures Corporation Ltd. (NJMC) and its subsidiary Birds Jute & Exports Ltd. (BJEL).
• The disposal of fixed assets, as well as current assets, will be in accordance with the guidelines of Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) and the proceeds from the sale of assets, after meeting the liabilities, will be deposited in Consolidated Fund of India.
• The decision will benefit the Government exchequer in reducing recurring expenditure incurred in operating both the sick CPSEs in running their activities.
• It will also help in closing loss-making companies and ensuring the release of valuable assets for productive use, or for generating financial resources for developmental progress.
• The available land with both the CPSEs will be put up for public use, other government use for the overall development of society.

Cabinet approves MoU between India, Romania in the field of tourism

• The Union Cabinet has given its ex-post facto approval to the Memorandum of Understanding signed between India and Romania in the field of tourism.  The MoU was signed in September 2018 during the visit of the Vice-President of India to Romania.
• The main objectives of the agreement include expanding bilateral cooperation in the tourism sector, exchanging information and data related to tourism and encouraging cooperation between tourism stakeholders including hotels and tour operators.
• It also aims to expand investment in the tourism and hospitality sectors and enable the exchange of experiences in the areas of promotion, marketing, destination development and management.
• It further aims to foster bilateral cooperation through film tourism for promoting the two countries as attractive tourism destinations and promote safe, honourable and sustainable tourism.
• Romania is a potential tourism market for India, as approximately 11844 tourists arrived in India from Romania in 2017.

Cabinet approves MoC between India, Finland on environmental cooperation

• The Union Cabinet has approved Memorandum of Cooperation between India and Finland on Environmental Cooperation.
• The agreement will enable establishment and promotion of closer and long-term cooperation between the two countries in the field of environment protection and management of natural resources on the basis of equity, reciprocity and mutual benefits, taking into account the applicable laws and legal provisions in each country.
• It is also expected to bring in the latest technologies and best practices suited for bringing about better environmental protection, better conservation, and better management of climate change and wildlife protection and conservation.
• The key areas of cooperation under the MoC shall include air and water pollution prevention and purification, remediation of contaminated soils, waste management including hazardous wastes and waste-to-energy technologies.
• It will also include promotion of circular economy, climate change, low-carbon solutions, sustainable management of natural resources including forests and conservation of marine and coastal resources.

Cabinet approves establishment of permanent campuses of IISERs at Tirupati and Berhampur

• The Union Cabinet has approved the establishment and operationalistion of permanent campuses of the two new Indian Institutes of Science Education & Research (IISERs) at Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh and Berhampur in Odisha.
• The total cost likely to be incurred is Rs 3074.12 crore, which comprises non-recurring cost of Rs 2366.48 crore and recurring cost of Rs 707.64 crore.
• Both the IISERs will be constructed on an area of 1, 17,000 sqm, which will have complete infrastructural facilities for 1855 students.
• The construction of permanent campuses of these institutes shall be completed by December 2021.

Cabinet approves closure of Biecco Lawrie Limited

• The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the proposal for closure of the Biecco Lawrie Limited (BLL) including giving Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS)/ Voluntary Separation Scheme (VSS) to the employees of the Company.
• The idling assets of BLL will be subsequently put into productive use after meeting all the liabilities in accordance with the extant guidelines of the government.
• The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas has taken various steps for the revival of the company from time to time. However, there appeared no further possibility of revival of the company considering the competitive business environment as well as huge capital requirement.
• The continued losses had made further operations of the company not only unviable but also resulted in substantial distress to officials and staff due to an uncertain future.

Indian Air Force launches its first mobile health app ‘MedWatch’

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The Indian Air Force launched an innovative mobile health application called ‘MedWatch’ on October 8, 2018, on the occasion of its 86th anniversary. It was launched by Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa, Chief of the Air Staff.

The app has been conceived by the doctors of IAF and developed in-house by the Directorate of Information Technology (DIT) with zero financial outlay.

Key Functions of the App

 The app ‘MedWatch’ will provide correct, scientific and authentic health information to air warriors and citizens of India.

• It comprises a host of features including information on basic first aid, health topics and nutritional facts.

 It also contains reminders for timely medical review, vaccination and utility tools like health record card, BMI calculator, helpline numbers and web links.

• It has been made available on the website – www.apps.mgov.gov.in.

Significance

‘MedWatch’ is the first such health app to be built by any of the three armed forces. It is an initiative of the Indian Air Force.

Before its launch, it was displayed and showcased to the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi.

Air Force Day

The Air Force Day is celebrated every year on October 8 to pay rich tribute to the untiring efforts and supreme sacrifice made by veterans, who laid a strong foundation for the service.

It was celebrated for the first time on October 8, 1932. The day was observed to increase the awareness about the importance of Indian Air Force in any organisation of the national security.

The Indian Air Force has been involved in various operations and wars including World War II, Indo-Pakistani War of 1947, Sino-India War, Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, Operation Cactus, Operation Vijay, Kargil War, Congo Crisis, Operation Poomalai and Operation Pawan.

World Mental Health Day 2018 observed globally

World Mental Health Day 2018 observed globally

10 October: World Mental Health Day

The World Mental Health Day was observed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on October 10, 2018 with an aim to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilising efforts in support of mental health.

Theme 2018
The theme of 2018 World Mental Health Day was ‘Young People and Mental Health in a Changing World’.The age of adolescence and the early years of adulthood are a time of life when many changes take place. These can also be the times of stress and anxiety. If not managed and handled well, these feelings can lead to mental illness.

Half of all mental illness begins by the age of 14, but most cases go undetected and untreated. Luckily, there is a growing recognition of the importance of helping young people build mental resilience in order to cope with the challenges of today’s world.

Adolescents and young adults can be helped in building mental resilience from an early age to prevent mental distress and illness among. Prevention begins with being aware of and understanding the early warning signs and symptoms of mental illness.

Key facts on Adolescent mental health

• 
One in six people are aged 10–19 years.

• The mental health conditions account for 16 percent of the global burden of disease and injury in people aged between 10-19 years.

 Half of all mental health conditions start by 14 years of age but most cases are undetected and untreated.

 Globally, depression is one of the leading causes of illness and disability among adolescents.

 Suicide is the third leading cause of death in 15-19 year olds.

Background

• The Day was first celebrated in the year 1992 at the initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health, a global mental health organisation with members and contacts in more than 150 countries.

 The Day provides an opportunity for all stakeholders working on mental health issues to talk about their work.

 Globally, more than 300 million people suffer from depression and more than 260 million are living with anxiety disorders.

• A recent WHO-led study estimated that depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy USD 1 trillion each year in lost productivity.

President Ram Nath Kovind inaugurates 29th Accountants General conference

 

President Ram Nath Kovind inaugurates 29th Accountants General conference

The 29th Accountants General conference was inaugurated by President Ram Nath Kovind in New Delhi on October 10, 2018.  The two-day conference is being organised by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India.

The meet will be held at the new building of CAG located at Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg. It will be attended by Accountants General from all over the country.

Key Highlights

• The conference will involve deliberations on adopting most modern audit techniques to further improve audit effectiveness and enhance accountability in public spending.

• Besides CAG of India Rajiv Mehrishi, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Chairman Mallikarjun Kharge will take part in the deliberations.

 Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will address the officers on the second day of the conference.

• Mainly, the conference will comprise four brainstorming sessions on Audit Planning, audit execution and accounting in a digital environment, among others.

About CAG

 The Comptroller and Auditor General is an authority established by Article 148 of the Indian Constitution.

 The constitutional body is mandated to keep a watch on the system of governance in the country to ensure the best use to taxpayer’s money.

 It audits all receipts and expenditure of the Union Government and the state governments, including those of bodies and authorities substantially financed by the government.

• The CAG is also the external auditor of Government-owned corporations and conducts the supplementary audit of government companies including any non-banking, Non-insurance Company in which Union Government has an equity share of at least 51 per cent or subsidiary companies of existing government companies.

• The reports of the CAG are taken into consideration by the Public Accounts Committees (PACs) and Committees on Public Undertakings (COPUs), which are special committees in the Parliament of India and the state legislatures.

• The CAG is also the head of the Indian Audit and Accounts Department, which is managed by the officers of Indian Audit and Accounts Service and has over 58,000 employees across the country.

 The Comptroller and Auditor General of India enjoys the same status as a judge of the Supreme Court of India. The current CAG of India is Rajiv Mehrishi, who assumed office as the 13th CAG on September 25 2017.

Nikki Haley resigns as US Ambassador to United Nations

Nikki Haley resigns as US Ambassador to United Nations

Indian-American Nikki Haley on October 9, 2018 resigned as the United States Ambassador to the United Nations.

President Donald Trump made the formal announcement of her resignation and applauded her work. He cited that Haley wanted to take a break.

Haley, former South Carolina governor, gave no reasons for her exit, however, dismissed speculations that she was planning to run for Presidential bid in 2020. Rather, she said she would be campaigning for Trump’s re-election in two years from now.

Her resignation just ahead of the crucial mid-term elections in November 2018 came as a shock and surprise to the American foreign policy and national security experts who believe it is a big loss to the Trump Administration.

Nikki Haley: Key highlights of her career
  • UN ambassador Nikki Haley, one of the most high-profile women in the US Cabinet, has done much to protect the United Nations from Donald Trump’s anti-globalist approach.
  • She supported cutting off the US funding for the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency and defended the Trump administration’s decision to move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
  • She was also instrumental in pressuring China to support a tough sanctions regime against North Korea.
  • She was the one who announced the US withdrawal from the Human Rights Council of the UN. Haley attacked the council for a “disproportionate focus and unending hostility toward Israel”. The Human Rights Council had passed five resolutions against Israel, more than the number passed against North Korea, Iran and Syria combined.
  • She was a loud critic of Russia and Syria at the UN.

About Nikki Haley

• Nikki Haley was born as Nimrata Randhawa to Indian immigrant parents; she was raised as a Sikh in Bamberg, South Carolina and later converted to Christianity.

• She began her career as a bookkeeper for her family’s clothing store at the age of 13 years.

 In 2010, she became South Carolina’s first minority governor and was re-elected in 2014.

 

Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Nestle found to be worst plastic polluters: Break Free From Plastic Movement

Over 187,000 pieces of plastic trash were audited, identifying thousands of brands which package their products in the single-use plastics that pollute oceans and waterways globally.

IMF predicts India to grow at 7.3 per cent in 2018-19

If the projections are true, then India will regain the tag of the fastest growing major economies of the world, crossing China with more than 0.7 percentage point in 2018 and an impressive 1.2 percentage point growth lead in 2019.

Government sets up Strategic Policy Group to assist National Security Council

The Members of the SPG will include Vice Chairman of NITI Aayog, Cabinet Secretary, Chiefs of the three defence services, RBI Governor, Foreign Secretary, Home Secretary, Finance Secretary, and Defence Secretary.

Global temperature could exceed 1.5°C in just 12 years: UN report

The special report titled ‘Global Warming of 1.5°C’ traces the impact of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways. It states that going past 1.5°C is dicing with the planet’s liveability and the temperature could be exceeded in just 12 years, by 2030.

Government launches Sovereign Gold Bond Scheme 2018 -19

The Sovereign Gold Bonds will be issued every month from October 2018 to February 2019 through banks, Stock Holding Corporation of India Limited (SHCIL), designated post offices, and recognised stock exchanges such as the National Stock Exchange and Bombay Stock Exchange.

ESIC wins ISSA good practice award for Asia, Pacific region

The Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) has won the ‘ISSA Good Practice Award’ for an administrative solution for coverage extension at the ‘Regional Social Security Forum for Asia and the Pacific’ held recently at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Nitin Gadkari to lay the foundation stone for development of Ghagra River as National Waterway

The waterway will stretch from Manjhighat at Ganga-Gaghra river confluence to Faizabad or Ayodhya along Gaghra River for a length of 354 km. This stretch was declared as National Waterway (NW)-40 during the year 2016, as part of Government’s renewed push to develop inland waterways sector in the country.

Government’s crop insurance scheme to cover crop loss in wild animal attacks

The Union Government has decided to cover damages done to crops in case of wild animal attacks under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna in select districts on an experimental basis. The scheme did not previously cover the damages.

Indian Air Force observes 86th Air Force Day

The Air Force Day was officially celebrated for the first time on October 8, 1932 as an auxiliary air force of Indian Empire. The day was observed to increase the awareness about the importance of Indian Air Force in any organisation of the national security.

Odisha launches ‘Nirman Kusuma’ scheme to assist children of construction workers

The Chief Minister of Odisha, Naveen Patnaik has launched ‘Nirman Kusuma’ programme to provide financial assistance to the children of the construction workers for their technical education in the state. In total, around 1878 students are expected to be benefited from the programme.

CII, UN Environment sign MoU for environmental cooperation

The Confederation of Indian Industry has signed a MoU with the UN Environment for coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development. The agreement aims to provide a framework of cooperation and facilitate cooperation in areas including environment, climate change, renewable energy, energy efficiency, resource conservation and management.

ECI announces election schedule for legislative assemblies of Chhattisgarh, MP, Rajasthan, Mizoram & Telangana

The Model Code of Conduct came into effect immediately from October 6, 2018 onwards in these five assemblies. All the provisions of the Model Code will be applicable to all candidates, political parties and the State Government of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Mizoram and Telangana.

Indian Railways sign two agreements with Russia

The Union Ministry of Railways has signed a MoU with Russia’s Ministry of Transport for the development of cooperation in transport education. The main objective of the agreement is to provide organisational and methodological support to the higher educational institutions implementing joint projects in the field of transport education in the two countries.

India-Japan bilateral maritime exercise ‘JIMEX 18’ begins at Visakhapatnam

The conduct of JIMEX-18 after five long years is indicative of resurgence of the Indo-Japanese defence relations and the continued efforts of both Governments to work closely to enhance safety and security in keeping with ‘rule based order’.

Denis Mukwege, Nadia Murad win 2018 Nobel Peace Prize

Both Mukwege and Murad made a crucial contribution to focus attention on combating war crimes. Both of them have helped to give greater visibility to war-time sexual violence, so that the perpetrators can be held accountable for their actions.

India, ADB sign USD 110 million loan agreement to improve rural connectivity in Madhya Pradesh

The tranche 2 of the project will provide continued assistance to the PMGSY by upgrading rural roads in Madhya Pradesh that will support the Government’s long term goal to achieve inclusive economic growth in rural India.

RBI releases Fourth Bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement 2018-19; keeps Repo Rate unchanged at 6.5 percent

The decision of the MPC was consistent with the monetary policy in consonance with the objective of achieving the medium-term target for Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation of 4 percent within a band of +/- 2 percent. Five of the six panel members voted to leave the rate unchanged.

19th India-Russia Annual Bilateral Summit: India signs deal with Russia to buy S-400 Triumf Missiles

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin met on October 4-5 2018 for the 19th Annual Bilateral Summit in New Delhi. Following the Summit, both the sides jointly released the India-Russia Joint Statement.

World Teachers’ Day 2018 observed globally

The World Teachers’ Day was observed across the world on October 5, 2018. The Day commemorates the anniversary of the adoption of the ‘1966 ILO/UNESCO Recommendation’ concerning the Status of Teachers. The 2018 theme of the Day was ‘The right to education means the right to a qualified teacher’. This theme was chosen to mark the 70th anniversary of the ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ (1948), which recognises education as a key fundamental right, a right that cannot be fulfilled without qualified teachers.

21 IORA Countries adopt Delhi Declaration on Renewable Energy

The declaration calls for promotion of technology development and transfer, strengthening of public private partnerships in renewable energy and collaboration among IORA member states and the member nations of the International Solar Alliance (ISA).

PM Narendra Modi confers Swachh Survekshan Grameen Awards 2018

The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation commissioned “Swachh Survekshan Grameen-2018” (SSG 2018) through an independent survey agency to develop ranking of all districts of India on the basis of quantitative and qualitative sanitation parameters.

 

Union Cabinet approves creation of smart railway stations

The Union Cabinet has approved the redevelopment of railway stations through simplified procedures. The development paves the way for large-scale modernisation and will ensure world-class rail infrastructure.

Aung San Suu Kyi becomes first person to lose honorary Canadian citizenship

Suu Kyi, the Burmese State Counsellor, has been widely criticised for turning a blind eye to the violence and military crackdown in Myanmar’s Rakhine state that forced more than 700000 Rohingya Muslims to seek refuge in Bangladesh, creating one of the world’s biggest refugee crisis.

Chanda Kochhar quits as ICICI Bank CEO, MD

The ICCI Bank CEO and MD, Chanda Kochhar quit her position with immediate effect on October 4, 2018. The announcement came after her plea for early retirement was accepted by the bank.

Frances H. Arnold, George P. Smith, Sir Gregory P. Winter win 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

All three of them harnessed the power of evolution which is revealed through the diversity of life. They took control of evolution and used it for purposes that bring the greatest benefit to humankind. The laureates used the same principles of genetic change and selection to develop proteins that solve mankind’s chemical problems.

SIDBI launches Udyam Abhilasha campaign in 115 aspirational districts

The Small Industries Development Bank of India has launched a National Level Entrepreneurship Awareness Campaign ‘Udyam Abhilasha’ in 115 aspirational districts identified by NITI Aayog. The main aim behind the initiative is to contribute to the transformation mission unleashed for these districts.

PM Narendra Modi inaugurates first assembly of International Solar Alliance

International Solar Alliance (ISA) is an alliance of 121 solar resource rich countries, lying fully or partially between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. ISA was jointly launched by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and the then President of France, Francois Hollande on November 30, 2015 in Paris.

Gita Gopinath becomes first woman Chief Economist at IMF

India-born Gita Gopinath was appointed as the Chief Economist of the International Monetary Fund on October 3, 2018, becoming the first woman to hold the position. She is also the second Indian to hold the position after former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan.

PM Modi receives UN’s Champions of the Earth award

Prime Minister Narendra Modi received the UN Champions of the Earth award, the highest environmental honour of the United Nations on October 3, 2018. The award was presented by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres at a special ceremony in New Delhi.

National Khadi Festival 2018 held in Mumbai

The Khadi and Village Industries Commission has organised a National Khadi festival with an aim to further popularise khadi products in the country and generate employment in the sector.

Odisha launches food security scheme to cover those left out from NFSA

The state government of Odisha has launched its own food security scheme to benefit the 25 lakh poor people who were left out of the National Food Security Act (NFSA). The scheme will benefit 25 lakh vulnerable populace.

International Day of Non-Violence observed globally

The International Day of Non-Violence was observed across the world on October 2, 2018, on the occasion of the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, the leader of Indian independence movement and pioneer of the philosophy and strategy of non-violence.

Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth year celebrations begin in India

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 15, 2018 launched the mega countrywide campaign- Swachhata hi Seva Campaign 2018. The culmination of Swachhata hi Seva Campaign and Mahatma Gandhi International Sanitation Convention marked the start of the 150th birth year celebrations of Mahatma Gandhi.

James P. Allison, Tasuku Honjo jointly win 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Cancer kills millions of people every year and is one of humanity’s greatest health challenges. The laureates James P. Allison and Tasuku Honjo successfully established an entirely new principle for cancer therapy by stimulating the ability of immune system to attack tumour cells.

US and Canada sign trade deal replacing NAFTA

Canada on September 30, 2018 agreed to sign a trade deal with the United States and Mexico, revamping the North American Free Trade Agreement after almost a year of negotiations. The new deal has been named the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

Uttarakhand HC directs state to provide reservation to transgenders in educational institutions

The Uttarakhand High Court has the state government to provide reservation to transgender in educational institutions and public appointments. The direction is a part of a slew of directions issued by the court for the welfare of transgender persons in the state.

World Habitat Day 2018 observed globally

The World Habitat Day was observed across the world on October 1, 2018, that is the first Monday of October 2018, to reflect the present state of the world’s towns and cities, and emphasise the basic right of all to receive adequate shelter. The main aim behind the observance of this year’s World Habitat Day is to address the municipal solid waste management challenge with a slogan ‘Waste-Wise Cities’.

Assam to launch wage compensation scheme for pregnant women in tea gardens

Oct 1, 2018

Assam Government has become the first Indian state to offer a Wage Compensation Scheme for pregnant women working in the tea gardens of the state. The path-breaking decision was taken by the state after contemplating the issues faced by women during pregnancy.

Government constitutes Competition Law Review Committee to review Competition Act

Oct 1, 2018

The Committee will review the Competition Act and its rules and regulations to change business environment and bring necessary changes, if required. It will look into international best practices in the competition fields, especially anti-trust laws, merger guidelines and handling cross border competition issues