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PRELIMS

  1. Samwad with Students
  • As part of the enhanced outreach programme of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), a new platform named “Samwad with Students” (SwS) was launched
  • Through the SwS initiative, ISRO aims to constantly engage youngsters across India to capture their scientific temperament.
  • The new conversation mission will inspire students cutting across schools and colleges.
  1. Agri Export Zone
  • Agri Export Zone (AEZ) was introduced in 2001, through EXIM Policy 1997-2001, to take a comprehensive look at a particular produce/product located in a contiguous area for the purpose of developing and sourcing the raw materials, their processing/packaging, leading to final exports.
  • The concept hinged primarily on convergence of existing Central and State Government schemes to take care of financial interventions required at various stages of value chain; partnership among various stakeholders viz. Central Government, State Government, farmer, processor, exporter etc.; and focus on targeted products and areas to identify required policy interventions. All these activities did take place in certain respects in the notified Agri Export Zones.
  • In December 2004, an internal peer review conducted by Department of Commerce concluded that the notified AEZs had not been able to achieve the intended objectives. It was decided that there will be no creation of new AEZs, unless there were strong and compelling reasons. No new AEZs have been set up after 2004. All the notified AEZs have completed their intended span of 5 years and have been discontinued.
  1. Restructuring of National Health Agency as “National Health Authority” for better implementation of Pradhan Mantri – Jan Arogya Yojana
  • With this approval, the existing society “National Health Agency” has been dissolved and will be replaced by National Health Authority as an attached office to Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.
  • The existing multi-tier decision making structure has been replaced with the Governing Board chaired by the Minister of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India which will enable the decision making at a faster pace, required for smooth implementation of the scheme. The composition of the Governing Board is broad based with due representations from the Government, domain experts, etc. Besides, the States shall also be represented in the Governing Board on rotational basis.
  • No new funds have been approved. Existing budget that was approved earlier by the Cabinet for The National Health Agency, including costs related to IT, human resources, infrastructure, operational costs etc. would be utilized by the proposed National Health Authority.
  • It is envisaged that the National Health Authority shall have full accountability, authority and mandate to implement PM-JAY through an efficient, effective and transparent decision-making process.
  1. Umbrella scheme for “Family Welfare and Other Health Interventions

In News

Cabinet has given its approval for continuation of five schemes under the “Umbrella Scheme for Family Welfare and Other Health Interventions” during the Fourteenth Finance Commission period 2017-18 to 2019-20.

Impact:

The five schemes listed in the proposal are crucial to attaining the goals and objectives laid out in National Health Policy (NHP) 2017, and international commitments in the form of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SNA scheme has a very ambitious target of improving health seeking behaviour of the population through increased awareness and enhanced uptake of health services. The other components as HSHR would assist in keeping a tab on the progress of entire set of health programmes/schemes run by Government of India, assisting in timely course corrections. The free and social marketing of contraceptives will enable better child and mother health, besides population stabilisation.

Implementation strategy and targets:

The target is to support the key goals of the National Health Policy 2017 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to which India is a signatory. The attempt through Media / IEC outreach is to move from care for sickness to the concept of wellness by using 360 degree approach in conventional and social media. The target of the free distribution and social marketing of contraceptives is to improve the Modern Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (mCPR), help Family Planning and reach population stabilization. The target for NFHS is to provide reliable data on all health indicators.

All the five schemes are Central Sector Schemes with 100% funding from Central Government.  These are as follows:

  • SwasthaNagrikAbhiyan(SNA): For dissemination of information on health issues to create awareness among citizens of India of ail age/sex/locations and appropriately influence their health seeking behavior to encourage healthy lifestyles and empower the citizens. SNA has been approved, with an estimated outlay of Rs. 1030.15 crore for three years.
  • Free Supply of Contraceptives: For providing free supply of contraceptivesincluding   condoms,  Oral    Contraceptive    Pills,    Pregnancy    Test    Kits,    othercontraceptives, etc. to States with a view to improve Maternal and Child Health andachieving population stabilization.
  • MIS Scheme now proposed as Health Surveys and Health Research (HSHR): For sourcing of data on population, health and nutrition for India and its States including through periodically conducted National Family Health Survey, which is one of the largest surveys of its kind worldwide. The NFHS provides valuable data for policy and programmes right up to the district level.
  • Social Marketing of Contraceptives: For branding, attractively packaging, marketing arid selling of products and services related to Family Planning for low-income groups at affordable prices.
  • Population Research Centres (PRCs): For third party evaluation of the scheme on PRCs and specially of those centres which are being considered for continuation will be carried out.
  1. Reducing Carbon Emission by Altering the Method of Farming

Initiative have been taken to make agriculture more adaptive and resilient to climate variability and in the process to reduce carbon emission.  Important initiatives in this regard include crop diversification programme under Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY), National Food Security Mission (NFSM) and Bringing Green Revolution to Eastern India (BGREI).  Other supporting programmes viz.  Soil Health Card (SHC), Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY), Mission Organic for Value Chain Development for North East (MOVCD), Rainfed Area Development (RAD), Sub-Mission on Agroforestry (SMAF) and National Bamboo Mission (NBM) are also being implemented under the National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA), which is one of the eight Mission under the National Action Plan for Climatic Change (NAPCC).

Soil, water and crop management practices that reduce carbon emission include:

  • Increasing the area under System of Rice Intensification (SRI) as an alternative to transplanted paddy.
  • Deployment of zero tillage drill machines and other residue management equipment which enable planting of rabi crop in the standing residue of rice crop to avoid its burning.
  • Alternate wetting and drying, direct seeded rice system of rice cultivation, use of slow release nitrogen fertilizers, integrated nutrient management practices, leaf colour chart-based nitrogen application, use of urea super granules etc.
  • Mandatory Neem coating of urea.
  • Promotion of micro irrigation under Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY)-Per Drop More Crop.
  • Planting of trees under National Food Security Mission (NFSM), Bringing Green Revolution to Eastern India (BGREI), Sub-Mission on Agro Forestry (SMAF) and National Bamboo Mission (NBM).
  • 45 models of Integrated Farming System (IFS) have been developed for replication in Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) and in the States for enabling climate resilient agriculture.
  • Climate resilient villages have been developed by Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), one in each of 151 districts. Climate Vulnerability Atlas has been prepared under National Innovations in Climate Resilient Agriculture (NICRA).  District Agriculture Contingency Plans have been developed for 633 districts in order to give real time agro advisories for overcoming climate risks
  1. Green – Ag: Transforming Indian Agriculture for global environment benefits and the conservation of critical biodiversity and forest landscapes

The government has launched a Global Environment Facility (GEF) assisted project namely, “Green – Ag: Transforming Indian Agriculture for global environment benefits and the conservation of critical biodiversity and forest landscapes” in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) during September, 2018 in high-conservation-value landscapes of five States namely

  • (i) Madhya Pradesh : Chambal Landscape,
  • (ii) Mizoram: Dampa Landscape,
  • (iii) Odisha: Similipal Landscape,
  • (iv) Rajasthan: Desert National Park Landscape and
  • (v) Uttarakhand: Corbett-Rajaji Landscape.

The project seeks to mainstream biodiversity, climate change and sustainable land management objectives and practices into Indian agriculture. The overall objective of the project is to catalyze transformative change of India’s agricultural sector to support achievement of national and global environmental benefits and conservation of critical biodiversity and forest landscapes. The project will support harmonization between India’s agricultural and environmental sector priorities and investments so that the achievement of national and global environmental benefits can be fully realized without compromising India’s ability to strengthen rural livelihoods and meet its food and nutrition security.

  1. Skill Development for Minorities

The major initiatives undertaken by Government of India for skill development of minorities include Nai Roshni; Seekho or Kamao; Nai Manzil; Upgrading the Skills and Training in Traditional Arts/Crafts for Development (USSTAD).

  1. Integration of Mandis With e-NAM
  • 585 wholesale regulated markets/ Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) Markets have been so far integrated with e-market (e-NAM) platform in 16 States and 2 Union Territories (UTs), who have carried out requisite reforms in their State Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee Act (APMC Act).
  • States desirous of linking their mandis with e-NAM are required to carry out 3 marketing reforms in their APMC Act i.e. Single point levy of mandi fee, Unified trade license valid across all mandis of State and Provision of e-auction.  After carrying out reforms, States are required to propose their wholesale regulated markets for integration with e-NAM platform based on States priorities, which are then considered by Government of India for integration.
  1. Paint Your Toilet
  • In an effort to promote ownership and sustained usage of toilets and also provide a facelift to the crores of toilets built under the Swachh Bharat Mission, the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation has launched a month-long campaign, “Swachh Sundar Shauchalaya”that commenced on 1st January.
  • The campaign comprises a unique Contest, under which, households are being mobilised to paint and decorate their toilets. It will be spearheaded by Gram Panchayats and coordinated by district administrations. The campaign will involve rural communities in the 2.5 lakh Gram Panchayats across the country. Individual households, Gram Panchayats and Districts will be awarded on the basis of number of toilets painted and the quality and creativity of their work.
  • Through the month, each household owner shall be motivated to beautify their toilets by freshly painting and decorating it creatively, including Swachh Bharat logos and safe sanitation messaging. The campaign has been rolled out across rural India and the Ministry is monitoring the progress through a specially designed portal. This campaign is one more innovative step by the Government to reinforce Swachh Bharat
  1. Pradhan Mantri Rojgar Protsahan Yojana
  • Pradhan Mantri Rojgar Protsahan Yojana (PMRPY) was launched on 9th August, 2016 with the objective to incentivise employers for creation of employment.
  • Under the scheme, Government of India is paying Employer’s full contribution i.e. 12% towards EPF and EPS both (as admissible from time to time) w.e.f. 01.04.2018 for a period of three years to the new employees and to the existing beneficiaries for their remaining period of three years through EPFO.
  1. Skill Development Scheme

Two new Skill Development Schemes have been approved namely (i) Skills Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood (SANKALP); and (ii) Skills Strengthening for Industrial Value Enhancement (STRIVE). The details of the two schemes are as under:

(i)  Skills Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood (SANKALP)

  • The Skills Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood (SANKALP) is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme with a project of total size US Dollar 675 million, including World Bank assistance of US Dollar 500 million, in two tranches of US Dollar 250 million each, with a six-year implementation schedule.

The main objectives of the project are:

(a)  Creating convergence among all skill training activities, both State-led and Government of India funded, at the state level;

(b)Improving quality of skill development programs through enablers such as building a pool of quality trainers and assessors, developing model curriculum and content, and standardizing assessment and certification;

(c) Establishing robust monitoring and evaluation system for skill training programs;

(d)  Providing access to skill training opportunities to the disadvantaged sections; and

(e) Creating industry led and demand driven skill training capacity.

(ii)   Skills Strengthening for Industrial Value Enhancement (STRIVE)

Skills Strengthening for Industrial Value Enhancement (STRIVE) project is a World Bank assisted-Government of India project with the objective of improving the relevance and efficiency of skills training provided through Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) and apprenticeships.:

  • Improved performance of ITI.
  • Increased Capacities of State Governments to support ITIs and Apprenticeship Training
  • Improved Teaching and Learning.
  • Improved and Broadened Apprenticeship Training.
  1. Machine to Machine/ Internet of Things
  • M2M/IOT communication involves a bunch of evolving, and at times disruptive, technologies. The conference covered important topics such as IoT enabling Smart Infrastructure Verticals, different technologies and related use cases, Role of IoT in Smart Cities design and planning, various aspects related to Standardization in M2M/IoT, and Challenges in Security, Testing and Certification of Smart devices/equipment.
  • M2M/IoT is being used in a large number of applications, across a number of verticals – such as Automotives(e.g. Intelligent Transport System), Power(e.g. Smart Metering, Smart Grid), Remote Health-Care, Safety & Surveillance, Smart Homes, Waste Management,and Water Management. Each of these verticals is relevant to the design and planning of Smart Cities.
  1. National Anti-Profiteering Authority (NAA)

National Anti-Profiteering Authority (NAA) has been constituted under Section 171 of the Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017 to ensure that the reduction in rate of tax or the benefit of input tax credit is passed on to the recipient by way of commensurate reduction in prices. Further, the following steps have been taken by the NAA to ensure that customers get the full benefit of tax cuts:

  • Holding regular meetings with the Zonal Screening Committees and the Chief Commissioners of Central Tax to stress upon consumer awareness programmes;
  • Launching a helpline to resolve the queries of citizens regarding registration of complaints against profiteering.
  • Receiving complaints through email and NAA portal.
  • Working with consumer welfare organizations in order to facilitate outreach activities.

14.Gangajal Project

Gangajal project, which will provide Agra with better and more assured water supply, at an estimated cost of Rs.2880 crores. Gangajal project aims to bring 140 cusecs of Ganga water to Agra. This will help meet the drinking water demands in the city

  1. National Clean Air Programme (NCAP)
  • NCAP will be a mid-term, five-year action plan with 2019 as the first year. However, the international experiences and national studies indicate that significant outcome in terms of air pollution initiatives are visible only in the long-term, and hence the programme may be further extended to a longer time horizon after a mid-term review of the outcomes.
  • The approach for NCAP includes collaborative, multi-scale and cross-sectoral coordination between the relevant central ministries, state governments and local bodies. Dovetailing of the existing policies and programmes including the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) and other initiatives of Government of India in reference to climate change will be done while execution of NCAP.
  • There will be use of the Smart Cities program to launch the NCAP in the 43 smart cities falling in the list of the 102 non-attainment cities.
  • The NCAP is envisaged to be dynamic and will continue to evolve based on the additional scientific and technical information as they emerge.
  • The NCAP will be institutionalized by respective ministries and will be organized through inter-sectoral groups, which include, Ministry of Road Transport and Highway, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Ministry of Heavy Industry, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Health, NITI Aayog, CPCB, experts from the industry, academia, and civil society. The program will partner with multilateral and bilateral international organizations, and philanthropic foundations and leading technical institutions to achieve its outcomes.
  • City specific action plans are being formulated for 102 non-attainment cities identified for implementing mitigation actions under NCAP. Cities have already prepared action plans in consultation with CPCB. Institutional Framework at Centre and State Level comprising of Apex Committee at the Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change in the Centre and at Chief Secretary Level in the States are to be constituted.
  • In addition, sectoral working groups, national level Project Monitoring Unit, Project Implementation Unit, state level project monitoring unit, city level review committee under the Municipal Commissioner and DM level Committee in the Districts are to be constituted under NCAP for effective implementation and success of the Programme.

 

Other features of NCAP include, increasing number of monitoring stations in the country including rural monitoring stations, technology support, emphasis on awareness and capacity building initiatives, setting up of certification agencies for monitoring equipment, source apportionment studies, emphasis on enforcement, specific sectoral interventions etc.

  1. Schemes of MHRD
  2. a) Samagra Shiksha – An Integrated Scheme for School Education
  • The Department of School Education & Literacy, Ministry of Human Resource Development has launched an Integrated Scheme for School Education – Samagra Shiksha from 2018-19. Samagra Shiksha envisages ‘school’ as a continuum from pre-school, primary, upper primary, secondary to senior secondary levels.
  1. b) Operation Digital Board
  • Operation Digital Board (ODB) would provide Smart Classroom facility to all 101580 schools with secondary and senior secondary classes, over the next five years. All class rooms in these schools will have the facility, thereby enhancing digital penetration and aiding digital learning among students.
  1. C) Participation of India in Programme for International Students Assessment (PISA)

The Programme for International Students Assessment (PISA) will be conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 2021. PISA was launched by OECD in 1997, first administered in 2000 and now covers approximately 80 countries. The key features of PISA are as under:

  • PISA is a triennial international survey (every three years) which aims to evaluate the education system worldwide by testing the skills and knowledge of 15-year-old students.
  • Students were assessed in reading, mathematics, science and collaborative problem-solving.
  • Within the country (or specific geography to be covered), PISA covers a sample of 15-year-old students representing all forms of schooling i.e. public, private, private aided etc i.e. sample is derived from the entire population of 15-year-old school going children.
  • PISA, unlike content-based assessment, measures the extent to which students have acquired key competencies that are essential for full participation in modern societies.
  • Participation in PISA allows benchmarking performance against a wide range of countries.
  • PISA uses test items aligned with international benchmarks. Test items are adapted to the local context and language, pilot tested and validated before being used for the test.

India will participate in PISA 2021 through schools run by Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS), Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti (NVS) and the UT of Chandigarh. It was decided after due consideration that the computer-based testing mode would not be suitable for Indian students at this point in time and as of now the mode of testing would be paper-based. The preparations for PISA 2021 have been initiated. An International Treaty will be signed between MHRD and OECD for this purpose. The World Bank will be providing technical support as well as financial assistance to the tune of USD 5.6 million for all activities related to PISA.

  1. d) UDISE+ (UDISE plus)

The Unified District Information on School Education (UDISE) collects data on all schools in the country. From 2018-19, it has been decided to update the UDISE and introduce new features. The process of data collection will start in January, 2019.

The UDISE+ (i.e., UDISE Plus) application will be online and will gradually move towards collecting real-time data. UDISE+ application, in addition to data collection, will have the following features:

  • A Dashboard with data analytics and data visualization will be developed. It will include time series data to study the trend over years and monitor growth. Progress in Key Performance indicators will be tracked.
  • The system will be linked to GIS mapping and School Report Cards will be generated.
  • To ensure data quality, a separate module for third party verification will be developed including a mobile app.
  1. e) Performance Grading Index (PGI)

The PGI is for the purpose of grading States and UTs on their performance across 70 indicators on school education.

  • The Index will grade States and UTS thus allowing for more than one State/UT to occupy the same grade, and therefore all 36 States and UTS to ultimately reach the highest level. The PGI has been conceptualised as a tool to encourage States and UTS to adopt certain practices like online recruitment and transfer of Teachers, electronic attendance of Students & Teachers etc.
  • The PGI has seventy (70) indicators divided into two categories viz Outcomes and Governance processes. The first category is divided into four domains viz. Learning outcomes, Access outcomes, Infrastructure and Facilities and Equity outcomes; the second category is about Governance processes which covers attendance, teacher adequacy, administrative adequacy, training, accountability and transparency.

The total weightage under PGI is thousand points. Each indicator has been given either twenty or ten points. The data for the year 2017-18 has been received and compiled for all the State/UTs and final grading has been done after third party verification of data by UNICEF. The Index will be officially released shortly.

  1. f) Shagun Portal

The portal has two parts

  • Online Monitoringwill capture the progress in implementation. Regular updates of progress will be available through dashboards to the Ministry and States for internal monitoring. Some reports would also be available in the public domain.
  • SE Repositoryis a repository of innovative practices, success stories, evaluation reports, and interventions initiated across all the States and Union Territories in the area of Elementary Education.
  1. g) Kala Utsav
  • Kala Utsav is an initiative of DSE&L, MHRD to promote arts in education by nurturing and showcasing the artistic talent of school students of government and government aided schools at the secondary stage (Class IX-XII) of education in the country.
  • The event was organised at New Delhi from 12-14 December 2018. ‘Kala Utsav’ focuses on both performing and visual arts & crafts (dance, music, theatre, painting, sculpture and heritage crafts) at school,  district and State level, to enhance awareness of India’s cultural heritage and its vibrant diversity amongst students, teachers, teacher educators, administrators and other stakeholders and aims to promote networking of artists and artisans with school education
  1. h) Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA)
  • This is implemented under the initiative of “Revitalising Infrastructure & Systems in Education (RISE) by 2022
  • HEFA will provide Rs 1,00,000 crore in next 4 years
  • Till now about Rs.12700 crore of loan has already been sanctioned.
  • HEFA is also being used by Ministry of Health for funding of construction of four AIIMS.  Loanhave already been sanctioned to AIIMS Gorakhpur and AIIMS Bhatinda (Punjab).
  1. i) Scheme for Promotion of Research Collaboration (SPARC)
  • In order to facilitate research and academic collaboration with top academic institutions in the world, it has been decided that Government will fund such collaboration between Indian institutions which are  in top 100 of either subject specific NIRF ranking or aggregate NIRF ranking on one hand and with foreign institutions figuring in top 500 QS world ranking.
  1. j) STARS (Scheme for Transformational and Advanced Research in Sciences)
  • This scheme has been initiated for accelerating inter-disciplinary and transformative research in the field of science by allowing educational institutions in the hinterland to collaborate with established research centres in science. Coordinated by IISc
  • Bangalore, STARS aims at making available high end research funding in the field of science to researchers in small edcuational institutions. Rs.487 crore is earmarked for this.
  1. k) Innovation Cell and Atal Ranking of Institutions on Innovation Achievements (ARIIA)

 

  • Innovation cell is MHRD’s initiative and has been established at AICTE premises with a purpose to systematically foster the culture of Innovation in all Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) across the country.
  • For the real outcome there has to be some assessment of what is being done to promote innovation. Therefore, Atal Ranking of Institutions on Innovation Achievements (ARIIA) has also been launched. It will encourage healthy competiveness among Higher Educational Institutions.
  1. l) Unnat Bharat Abhiyan & Unnat Bharat Abhiyan 2.0
  • Every institution adopts 5 villages
  • Use of knowledge for social, economic growth
  • Technical institutions design technical solutions for local issues
  • Unnat Bharat Abhiyan (UBA) 2.0-a flagship program of MHRD, 688 institutions are selected on a Challenge Mode (426 technical and 262 non- technical) which are reputed Higher Educational Institutes (both public and private) of the country, which have adopted total no. of 3555 villages for their development through UBA
  1. m) Smart India Hackathon
  • A unique IT Initiative under which students are encouraged to apply knowledge to the real life situations and to find innovative solutions to the day to day problems
  • Smart India Hackathon 2018 (SIH 2018) was launched on 16th October 2017.  It includes 2 sub-editions – Software as well as Hardware:
  1. n) National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF)
  • 3rd successful year of competing excellence & ranking
  • Has become a benchmark of quality and creates competitive spirit among the institutes
  • A total of 2809 institutions have participated in 9 categories.
  • Collectively they have submitted 3954 distinct profiles, some in multiple disciplines/categories. This includes 301 Universities, 906 Engineering Institutions, 487 Management Institutions, 286 Pharmacy Institutions, 71 Law Institutions, 101 Medical Institutions, 59 Architecture Institutions and 1087 General Degree Colleges.69 top institutions in 9 categories were given awards.This year also saw the beginning of limited ranking of institutions in new areas like Medicine, Law and Architecture.
  1. o) Study in India

 

  • Government of India launched the Study in India program on 18th April, 2018 in New Delhi.
  • Students from 30 countries across South Asia,  Africa, CIS and Middle East can apply for different courses from 160 select Indian institutions (both public & private) which are high on NAAC and NIRF ranking
  • It will improve the global ranking of Indian Institutions
  • Study in India program has taken off well and nearly 2000 students have got admission in selected 100 top Indian Institutions for the first season.
  1. p) Impactful Policy Research in Social Sciences (IMPRESS)

Under the Scheme, 1500 research projects will be awarded for 2 years to support the social science research in the higher educational institutions and to enable research to guide policy making. The broad objectives of the scheme are:

  • To identify and fund research proposals in social sciences with maximum impact on the governance and society.
  • To focus research on (11) broad thematic areas such as : State and Democracy, Urban transformation, Media, Culture and Society, Employment, Skills and Rural transformation, Governance, Innovation and Public Policy, Growth, Macro-trade and Economic Policy, Agriculture and Rural Development, Health and Environment, Science and Education, Social Media and Technology, Politics, Law and Economics. The Sub-Theme areas will be decided on the basis of Expert Groups’ advice before notifying the scheme and calling for applications.
  • To ensure selection of projects through a transparent, competitive process on online mode.
  • To provide opportunity for social science researchers in any institution in the country, including all Universities (Central and State), private institutions with 12(B) status conferred by UGC.
  • ICSSR funded/recognised research institutes will also be eligible to submit research proposals on the given themes and sub-themes.

 

  1. q) SWAYAM  (Study Webs of Active Learning for Young Aspiring Minds)
  • The Ministry of HRD has embarked on a major and new initiative called ‘Study Webs of Active Learning for Young Aspiring Minds’ (SWAYAM), which will provide one integrated platform and portal for online courses, using information and communication technology (ICT) and covering all higher education subjects and skill sector courses.
  • Till date, more than 72 Lakhs learners have been enrolled in more than 16000+ MOOCs courses that have been run through SWAYAM.2 lakh persons have completed the courses.
  1. r) Leadership for Academicians Program (LEAP) and Annual Refresher Programme In Teaching (ARPIT) for higher education faculty

Ministry of Human Resource Development, launched two new initiatives; Leadership for Academicians Programme (LEAP) and Annual Refresher Programme In Teaching (ARPIT) on 13.11.2018 for Higher Education Faculty

  • Leadership for Academicians Programme (LEAP)is a three weeks Flagship leadership development training programme (2 weeks domestic and one week foreign training) for second level academic functionaries in public funded higher education institutions. The main objective is to prepare second tier academic heads who are potentially likely to assume leadership roles in the future.
  • Annual Refresher Programme in Teaching (ARPIT),a major and unique initiative of online professional development of 15 lakh higher education faculty using the MOOCs platform SWAYAM. For implementing ARPIT, 75 discipline-specific institutions have been identified and notified as National Resource Centres (NRCs) in the first phase, which are tasked to prepare online training material with focus on latest developments in the discipline, new & emerging trends, pedagogical improvements and methodologies for transacting revised curriculum.
  1. s) IMPRINT INDIA
  • IMPRINT initiative was launched by the President, Prime Minister and the Human Resource Development Minister in November, 2015 to channelize the research in premier institutions into areas that can have largest social and economic good for the country.
  • Under this initiative, research projects under 10 selected domains are jointly funded by MHRD and other participating Ministries/Departments.
  • These domains are: health care, energy, sustainable habitat, nano technology hardware, water resources and river systems, advanced materials, information and communication technology, manufacturing, security and defence, and environmental science and climate change.
  • 142 research projects with an outlay of Rs. 323.16 crore for 3 years with joint funding from MHRD and participating Ministries in the ratio of 50:50 have been approved and currently under execution under IMPRINT-I.
  • IMPRINT-II has now been launched as a corpus jointly set up by M/o HRD and Deptt. Science & Technology as well as contribution from various other ministries.
  1. t) UCHCHTAR AAVISHKAR ABHIYAAN
  • The scheme was launched to promote industry-specific need-based research so as to keep up the competitiveness of the Indian industry in the global market.
  • All the IITs have been encouraged to work with the industry to identify areas where innovation is required and come up with solutions that could be brought up to the commercialization level.
  1. u) Global Initiative for Academics Network (GIAN)
  • Global Initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN) in Higher Education was launched on 30th November, 2015.
  • The programme seeks to invite distinguished academicians, entrepreneurs, scientists, experts from premier institutions from across the world, to teach in the higher educational institutions in India
  1. Renukaji Multipurpose Dam Project
  • Renukaji Dam project is part of three storage projects which are proposed to be constructed on the river Yamuna and two of its tributaries – Tons and Giri in the hilly regions of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh of Upper Yamuna Basin.
  • The other two include Lakhwar project on River Yamuna and Kishau project on River Tons.
  1. First-ever Philip Kotler Presidential award presented to PM
  • The Award focuses on the triple bottom-line of People, Profit and Planet. It will be offered annually to the leader of a Nation.
  • Philip Kotler is a world renowned Professor of Marketing at Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management. Owing to his ill-health, he deputed Dr. Jagdish Sheth of EMORY University, Georgia, USA, to confer the award.

 

  1. Womaniya on Government e Marketplace
  • Government e Marketplace [GeM] has launched “Womaniya on GeM”, an initiative to enable women entrepreneurs and women self-help groups [WSHGs] to sell handicrafts and handloom, accessories, jute and coir products, home décor and office furnishings, directly to various Government ministries, departments and institutions.
  • The initiative seeks to develop women entrepreneurship on the margins of society to achieve gender-inclusive economic growth.
  • Womaniya on GeM will spur hyper-local economic opportunities for women entrepreneurs and address goals and objectives under United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

Government e-Market Palace

  • Government e Marketplace is a 100 percent government owned company setup under the aegis of Ministry of Commerce and Industry for procurement of common use goods and services by Government ministries, departments and CPSEs. GeM was setup in 2016 and has 731,431 product categories, with 180,862 registered sellers and 32,114 government buyers. Since inception, GeM has processed 1,171,761 orders worth Rs. 16,976 crores in gross merchandise value.
  1. Global Housing Technology Challenge (GHTC)
  • GHTC- India intends to get best globally available innovative construction technologies through a challenge process. It seeks to demonstrate and deliver ready to live-in houses in a shorter time, with lower cost and quality construction in a sustainable manner. It also seeks to promote future technologies, to foster an environment of research and development in the country.
  • GHTC-India has been conceptualized to enable the paradigm shift required in the construction sector in the country. GHTC-India will bring change, both in the perception as well as the manner in which construction of houses is done. The challenge has three components viz. i) Conduct of Grand Expo-cum-Conference, ii) Identifying Proven Demonstrable Technologies from across the world and iii) Promoting Potential Technologies through setting up incubation centers at selected IITs and organizing accelerator workshops under the Affordable Sustainable Housing Accelerators- India (ASHA-India) Program.
  1. Gandhi Peace Prize for 2015,2016,2017 and 2018 announced.

The Gandhi Peace Prize for the years 2015,2016,2017 and 2018 has been conferred on the following

  • Vivekananda Kendra, Kanyakumari for the year 2015 for their contribution in Rural Development, Education , Development of natural resources.
  • For 2016 jointly to AkshayaPatra Foundation for its contribution in providing mid-day meals to millions of children across India and Sulabh International for its contribution in improving the condition of sanitation in India and emancipation of manual scavengers.
  • EkalAbhiyan Trust for the year 2017 for their contribution in providing Education for Rural and Tribal Children in remote areas pan India, Rural Empowerment, Gender and Social Equality
  • Shri YoheiSasakawa for the year 2018 for his contribution in Leprosy Eradication in India and across the world.
  1. ‘SĀNJHI –MUJH MEIN KALĀKĀR
  • Sangeet Natak Akademi (SNA) the National Academy of Music, Dance and Drama will launched the second phase of the Web Campaign ‘SĀNJHI –MUJH MEIN KALĀKĀR’ an initiative to document and promote the Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) and diverse cultural traditions of the country by direct public-participation.
  • This is a unique talent search where the participant will showcase their talent in the fields of music, dance, drama, puppetry, folk and tribal arts, culinary skills, painting, sculpture etc. The literal meaning of the termSĀNJHI is “to share” and “to partner”, and the cultural traditions of our country has developed and prospered on the notions of harmony.
  • The second phase of this campaign, SĀNJHI –MUJH MEIN KALĀKĀR, has its main focus area- the folk, traditional, customary, socially events and ritualistic art forms- woven as a cultural fabric around the harvest festival season of January. It is celebrated all across the country, known as various nomenclatures like Makar Sankranti, Pongal, Lohri, Bhogali Bihu, Torgya, Uttarayan, Attukkal Pongal

It intends to bring forth such forms that are aligned with the domains of intangible cultural heritage as per the Convention of Safeguarding the ICH under UNESCO:

  • Oral traditions and expressions, including language as a vehicle of the intangible cultural heritage;
  • Performing arts;
  • Social practices, rituals and festive events;
  • Knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe;
  • Traditional craftsmanship

 

First Phase

The first phase of this campaign was earlier initiated in the month of November 2018 during the festival season of Diwali. There was mass participation and with great enthusiasm, people uploaded various audios and videos for music, dance, poetry recitation etc. and images for visual art forms like painting, craftwork, terracotta work, rangoli, written poetry, etc. More than 500 entries were received from various regions of the country. A Screening Committee, constituting of various Cultural Bodies and eminent artists availed the opportunity to witness the talent reservoir of the country and considered many as worthy for further promotion and commendation.

 What is Sangeet Natak Akademi

The Sangeet Natak Akademi (SNA) is the nodal agency of the Ministry of Culture, Govt. of India to coordinate the matters related to Intangible Cultural Heritage and various UNESCO Conventions addressing Cultural Diversity and promotion and dissemination of multifarious cultural traditions and expressions of the country.

  1. UNNATI– Unispace Nanosatellite Assembly & Training programme
  • UNNATI, a capacity building programme on Nanosatellite development, is an initiative by ISRO to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first United Nations conference on the exploration and peaceful uses of outer space (UNISPACE-50).
  • The programme provides opportunities to the participating developing countries to strengthen in assembling, integrating and testing of Nanosatellite. UNNATI programme is planned to be conducted for 3 years by U.R. Rao Satellite Centre of ISRO in 3 batches and will target to benefit officials of 45 countries

 

24.Initiatives of Ministry of Women & Child Development

(i) Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP)

  • Beti Bachao Beti Padhao is one the flagship programmes of the Government.
  • It is a tri-ministerial, convergent effort of Ministries of Women and Child Development, Health & Family Welfare and Human Resource Development with focus on Awareness and Advocacy Campaign; Multi-sectoral action in select 405 districts (low on CSR) and Alert Media & Advocacy outreach in 235 districts; Effective enforcement of Pre-Conception and Pre Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PC&PNDT) Act and Enabling girls’ education.
  • The scheme is envisaged to bring an improvement in Sex Ratio at Birth (SRB) in the short term while Child Sex Ratio (CSR) with manifestation of over-all development such as improved health & nutrition, gender parity in education, better sanitation, opportunities and removal of asymmetries between the genders is endeavored in the long term.

(ii) One Stop Centre

  • Many women who face violent crimes do not know where to go for support. For them, One Stop Centres (OSCs) have been set up across the country.
  • The scheme of One Stop Centres was initiated in March 2015 for facilitating access to an integrated range of services including police, medical, legal, psychological support and temporary shelter to women affected by violence. The Scheme is funded through Nirbhaya Fund.

(iii) Sexual Harassment at Workplace

  • The Sexual Harassment at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 covers all women, irrespective of their age or employment status and protects them against sexual harassment at all workplaces whether organized or unorganized. Students, apprentices, labourers, domestic workers and even women visiting an officer are included in the Act.
  • In order to ensure the effective implementation of the Act, MWCD has developed an online complaint management system titled Sexual Harassment electronic–Box (SHe-Box)for registering complaints related to sexual harassment at workplace. SHe-Box portal offers the facility of making online complaints of sexual harassment at workplace to all women employees in the country, including all government and private employees

(iv) WADHAR GREH

The Ministry has constructed a Home for Widows namely Krishna Kutir at Vrindavan, Distt. Mathura with a capacity of 1000 beds to provide safe and secure place of stay, health services, nutritious food, legal and counseling services to widows.

(v) UJJWALA SCHEME: A Comprehensive Scheme for Prevention of trafficking and Rescue, Rehabilitation and Re-integration of Victims of Trafficking and Commercial Sexual Exploitation

(vi) POSHAN Abhiyaan

  • POSHAN Abhiyaan PM’s Overarching Scheme for Holistic Nourishment was formally launched by Hon’ble Prime Minister on 8th March, 2018 from Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan.
  • POSHAN Abhiyaan aims to reduce mal-nutrition from the Country in a phased manner, through the life cycle concept, by adopting a synergised and result oriented approach. The Abhiyaan ensure mechanisms for timely service delivery and a robust monitoring as well as intervention infrastructure. Target of Abhiyaan is to bring down stunting of the children in the age group of 0-6 years from 38.4% to 25% by the year 2022. More than 10 crore people will be benefitted by this programme.
  • POSHAN Abhiyaan ensures convergence with various programmes i.e Anganwadi Services, Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana, Scheme for Adolescent Girls of WCD Ministry; Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY), National Health Mission (NHM) of Ministry of Health & Family Welfare; Swachh Bharat Mission of Ministry of Drinking Water & Sanitation (DW&S); Public Distribution System (PDS) of Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution (CAF&PD); Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) of Ministry of Rural Development (M/o RD); Drinking Water & Toilets with Ministry of Panchayati Raj and Urban Local Bodies through Ministry of Urban Development.

 

(vii) Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana

  • PMMVY is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme under which the grant-in-aid is being released to States/UTs in cost sharing ratio between the Centre and the States & UTs with Legislature 60:40, for North-Eastern States & Himalayan States it will be 90:10 and 100% for Union Territories without Legislature.
  • The Scheme envisages providing cash incentive amounting to ₹5,000/- directly to the Bank/Post Office Account of PW&LM in DBT Mode during pregnancy and lactation in response to individual fulfilling specific conditions as detailed below:
Cash Transfer Conditions Amount in

Rupees

First Installment ·         Early Registration of Pregnancy 1,000/-
Second Installment ·         Received at least one antenatal Check-up (after 6 months of pregnancy) 2,000/-
Second Installment ·         Child birth is registered

·         Child has received first cycle of BCG, OPV, DPT and Hepatitis-B or its equivalent / substitute

2,000/-

 

 

  • The eligible beneficiaries would receive the remaining cash incentive as per approved norms towards Maternity Benefit under Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY) after institutional delivery so that on an average, a women will get₹6,000/

(viii) Rashtriya Mahila Kosh

  • Rashtriya Mahila Kosh (RMK) is a society, registered under the Societies Registration Act 1860 and an apex micro-finance organization established in 1993 under the aegis of Ministry of Women & Child Development (MWCD) to meet the credit needs of poor and asset less women in the informal sector for various livelihood support and income generating activities at concessional terms in a client-friendly procedure to bring about their socio-economic development.
  • RMK’s Corpus is at Rs 284 crore as on 27th December, 2018 including reserves and surplus, utilized for extending micro credit at concessional rate of interest to women SHGs or individual women (the ultimate beneficiaries) through Intermediary Microfinancing Organizations (IMOs) /NGOs/ VOs.

 

 

 

 

  1. CERC:

The Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) had been established by the Government of India under the provisions of the Electricity Regulatory Commissions (ERC) Act, 1998. CERC is the Central Commission for the purposes of the Electricity Act, 2003 which has repealed the ERC Act, 1998. The Commission consists of a Chairperson and four other Members including Chairperson, Central Electricity Authority who is the ex-officio Member of the Commission. Major functions of CERC under the Act, inter-alia, are –

  • to regulate the tariff of generating companies owned or controlled by the Central Government,
  • to regulate the tariff of other generating companies having a composite scheme for generation and sale of electricity in more than one State,
  • to regulate the inter-State transmission of electricity and to determine tariff for such transmission of electricity, etc.

 

Under the Act, CERC shall also advise the Central Government on-

 

  • formulation of National Electricity Policy and Tariff Policy;
  • promotion of competition, efficiency and economy in activities of electricity industry;
  • promotion of investment in electricity industry; and
  • any other matter referred to the Central Commission by the Government.

 

 

  1. National Bench of the Goods and Services Tax Appellate Tribunal (GSTAT)
  • Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has approved the creation of National Bench of the Goods and Services Tax Appellate Tribunal (GSTAT).
  • The National Bench of the Appellate Tribunal shall be situated at New Delhi. GSTAT shall be presided over by its President and shall consist of one Technical Member (Centre) and one Technical Member (State).

Details:

  • Goods and Services Tax Appellate Tribunal is the forum of second appeal in GST laws and the first common forum of dispute resolution between Centre and States. The appeals against the orders in first appeals issued by the Appellate Authorities under the Central and State GST Acts lie before the GST Appellate Tribunal, which is common under the Central as well as State GST Acts. Being a common forum, GST Appellate Tribunal will ensure that there is uniformity in redressal of disputes arising under GST, and therefore, in implementation of GST across the country.
  • Chapter XVIII of the CGST Act provides for the Appeal and Review Mechanism for dispute resolution under the GST Regime. Section 109 of this Chapter under CGST Act empowers the Central Government to constitute, on the recommendation of Council, by notification, with effect from such date as may be specified therein, an Appellate Tribunal known as the Goods and Services Tax Appellate Tribunal for hearing appeals against the orders passed by the Appellate Authority or the Revisional Authority.

27.Sea-Vigil

  • The first coastal defence Exercise Sea Vigil, conducted by the Navy and Coast Guard, in close coordination with State Governments and Union Territories concluded today, 23 Jan 2019. It was the largest such exercise the country had ever witnessed in recent times and saw participation by more than 100 ships, aircraft and patrol boats manned and operated by various security agencies.
  1. PSLV-C44 successfully launches Microsat-R and Kalamsat-V2
  • India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C44) successfully injected Microsat-R and Kalamsat-V2 satellites into their designated orbits. The PSLV-C44 lifted off at 23:37 Hrs (IST) on January 24, 2019 from the First Launch Pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota in its 46thflight.
  • This flight marked the first mission of PSLV-DL, a new variant of PSLV with two strap-on motors.
  • In the previous PSLV launch on November 29, PSLV-C43 had successfully launched India’s HysIS as well as 30 customer satellites from abroad.
  1. UDAN 3.0

Following two successful rounds of bidding, the Ministry of Civil Aviation launched the largest bidding round under the highly successful UDAN Scheme, also integrating a number of iconic tourism sites in coordination with the Ministry of Tourism. Key Features of UDAN 3 included:

  • Inclusion of Tourism Routes under UDAN 3 in coordination with the Ministry of Tourism
  • Inclusion of Seaplanes for connecting Water Aerodromes, and
  • Bringing in a number of routes in the North-East Region under the ambit of UDAN

Progress of UDAN 1 and UDAN 2

  • The success of UDAN 3 has come on the back of strong performance of UDAN 1 and UDAN 2. Theconnectivity proposed under UDAN 1 has commenced and is stable. Currently, the focus on Ministry of Civil Aviation and Airports Authority of India is on expediting connectivity under UDAN 2.
  • Out of 21 proposalsremaining valid under UDAN 1, operations have commenced on 20 proposals. Airlines are currently in the process of commencing operations on proposals awarded in UDAN 2 and a number of airport development and licensing activities have been completed. Similarly, out of 46 Unserved Airports and 16 Underserved Airports awarded in UDAN 1 and UDAN 2, operations have commenced on 23 Unserved Airports and 15 Underserved Airports respectively. Also, a number of destinations (such as Hubli, Gwalior, Allahabad etc.) which were only connected to one city through air connectivity earlier, are now connected to multiple destinations.

 

  1. India and OECD sign agreement to enable India’s participation in Programme for International Students Assessment (PISA) to be held in 2021

Government of India has decided that India will participate in the Programme for International Students Assessment (PISA) to be conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 2021.

participation in PISA 2021 would indicate the health of the education system and would motivate other schools /states in the subsequent cycles. This will lead to improvement in the learning levels of the children and enhance the quality of education in the country.

 

Schools run by Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS), Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti (NVS) and schools in the UT of Chandigarh will participate.

  • Within the country (or specific geography to be covered in case of large countries), PISA covers a sample of 15-year-old students representing all forms of schooling i.e. public, private, private aided etc.
  • PISA is a competency based assessment which unlike content-based assessment, measures the extent to which students have acquired key competencies that are essential for full participation in modern societies. It would lead to recognition and acceptability of Indian students and prepare them for the global economy in the 21st century.
  • Learnings from participation in PISA will help to introduce competency based examination reforms in the school system and help move away from rote learning. The CBSE and NCERT will be part of the process and activities leading to the actual test.
  • More than 80 countries, including 44 middle-income countries, have participated in the assessment since the first round of testing in 2000.  Next round of PISA is going to be held in 2021.  The list of registered countries includes Brazil, China (certain areas like Shanghai and Beijing) and countries from South-East Asia like Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam.

What are the key features of PISA?

    1. PISA is a triennial international survey (every three years) which aims to evaluate the education system worldwide by testing the skills and knowledge of 15-year-old students.
    2. Students are assessed in reading, mathematics, science and collaborative problem-solving.
    3. Participation in PISA allows benchmarking performance against a wide range of countries.
    4. PISA uses test items aligned with international benchmarks. Test items are adapted to the local context and language, pilot tested and validated before being used for the test.
    5. OECD have agreed to contextualize the questions for Indian students.
  1. The Future of Rail” : IEA’s Report
  • The Future of Rail” the first-of-a-kind report analyses the current and future importance of rail around the world through the perspective of its energy and environmental implications. The report reviews the impact of existing plans and regulations on the future of rail, and explores the key policies that could help to realise an enhanced future rail.
  • This first ever global report has a focus on India, elaborating on the unique social and economic role of rail in India, together with its great enduring potential, to show how India can extend and update its networks to harness rail at a scope and scale that is unparalleled.

What is International Energy Agency  (IEA)

  • The IEA is an inter-governmental organisation that works to ensure reliable, affordable and clean energy for its 30 member countries and 8 association countries. Its mission is guided by four main areas of focus: energy security, economic development, environmental awareness and engagement worldwide.
  • India and the International Energy Agency (IEA) have benefited from a long, on-going bilateral relationship and cooperation in a broad range of area including energy security, statistics, energy efficiency, market analysis for oil, gas, electricity, renewables, system integration and implementation agreements for enhanced technologies.

 

  1. National Agricultural Higher Education Project (NAHEP)
  • ICAR has recently launched Rs 1100 crore ambitious National Agricultural Higher Education Project (NAHEP) to attract talent and strengthen higher agricultural education in the country.
  • This project will be funded by the World Bank and the Indian Government on a 50:50 basis. In addition, a four year degree in Agriculture, Horticulture, Fisheries and Forestry has been declared a professional degree.
  1. RDP INDIA 2019’
  • As a new initiative in sync with the Digital India campaign of the Government, Ministry of Defence had launched a mobile app ‘RDP India 2019’ on the Republic Day, with the intent of making available the highlights of the Republic Day event, not only to the spectators at Rajpath, but also to the general public all over theworld.
  • This app contains information about the Parade on Rajpath, New Delhi, including Order of the March, details of the tableaux presented by different States and Ministries, children cultural performances, fly past and names of recipients of Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskar 2019. It was extremely informative to the spectators witnessing the Parade and was widely appreciated. The app also hadthe provision for live streaming of the Parade.
  1. PSLV-C44 successfully launches Microsat-R and Kalamsat-V2
  • India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C44) successfully injected Microsat-R and Kalamsat-V2 satellites into their designated orbits.
  • The PSLV-C44 lifted off at 23:37 Hrs (IST) on January 24, 2019 from the First Launch Pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota in its 46thflight.
  • This flight marked the first mission of PSLV-DL, a new variant of PSLV with two strap-on motors.
  • In the previous PSLV launch on November 29, PSLV-C43 had successfully launched India’s HysIS as well as 30 customer satellites from abroad.

 

                                                                          

 

MAINS SPECIFIC

GS PAPER I

GS PAPER II

  1. Cabinet approves high level committee to implement Clause 6 of Assam Accord Several Longstanding demands of Bodos also approved

Cabinet approved the setting up of a High Level Committee for implementation of Clause 6 of the Assam Accord and measures envisaged in the Memorandum of Settlement, 2003 and other issues related to Bodo community.

What is Assam Accord

  • After Assam agitation of 1979-1985, Assam Accord was signed on 15th August, 1985. Clause 6 of the Assam Accord envisaged that appropriate constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards, shall be provided to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people.

However, it has been felt that Clause 6 of the Assam Accord has not been fully implemented even almost  35 years after the Accord was signed. The Cabinet, therefore, approved the setting up of a High Level Committee to suggest constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards as envisaged in Clause 6 of the Assam Accord. The Committee shall examine the effectiveness of actions since 1985 to implement Clause 6 of the Assam Accord.  The Committee will hold  discussions with all stakeholders and assess the required quantum of reservation of seats in Assam Legislative Assembly and local bodies for Assamese people. The Committee will also assess the requirement of measures to be taken to protect Assamese and other indigenous languages of Assam, quantum of reservation in employment under Government of Assam and other measures to protect, preserve and promote cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of Assamese people.

The Composition and Terms of Reference of the Committee will be issued separately by the Ministry of Home Affairs.  It is expected that the setting up of the Committee will pave the way for the implementation of the Assam Accord in letter and spirit and will help fulfil longstanding expectations of the Assamese people.

Measures Approved:

The Cabinet also approved a number of measures to fulfil the outstanding issues related to the Bodo community.  The Bodo Accord was signed in 2003 which resulted in the establishment of a Bodoland Territorial Council under Sixth Schedule of the Constitution of India. However, there have been representations from different organizations of Bodos to fulfil various outstanding demands.

The Cabinet today approved the establishment of a Bodo Musuem-cum-language and cultural study center, modernization of existing All India Radio Station and Doordarshan Kendra at Kokrajhar and naming a Superfast Train passing through BTAD as ARONAI Express. Relevant Ministries will take the required actions to implement these decisions.

The State Government will also take necessary measures related to appropriate land policy and land laws, besides setting up of Institutions for Research and Documentation of Customs, Traditions and Languages of indigenous communities.

  1. Voter Awareness Forums for promoting awareness on electoral process
  • Voter Awareness Forums will be set up in Ministries, Government Departments, Non-Government Departments and other Institutions to promote electoral awareness. Election Commission of India will be briefing the Nodal Officers of Ministries,
  • Voter Awareness Forums are informal Forums for generating awareness around electoral process through activities like discussions, quizzes, competitions and other engaging activities. All employees of the Organisation are expected to become members of the VAF with the Head of the Organisation acting as Chair of VAF
  • VAF is part of the Electoral Literacy Club programme of ECI. Launched on the 8th National Voters Day, 25th January 2018, the ELC programme envisages setting up of Electoral Literacy Club in every educational institution and Chunav Pathshala at every booth to cover those outside the formal education system.  Around 2.11 Lakh ELCs have already been established across the country in the first year of the launch of the programme.

 

 

GS PAPER II

  1. Benefit of RCEP
  • The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which is a proposed Free Trade Agreement between ten ASEAN member states and their six Free Trade Agreement (FTA) partners namely India, Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand and Republic of Korea
  • It is expected to provide market access for India’s goods and services exports and encourage greater investments and technology into India.
  • It would also facilitate India’s MSMEs to effectively integrate into the regional value and supply chains. On the other hand, India is not a member of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) which is a grouping of twenty-one countries in the Asia Pacific region with an aim to deepen and strengthen economic and technological cooperation amongst APEC member countries.

GS PAPER III

  1. first-ever three way merger in Indian Banking with amalgamation of Vijaya, Dena and Bank of Baroda
  • Cabinet approved the scheme of amalgamation for amalgamating Bank of Baroda, Vijaya Bank and Dena Bank, with Bank of Baroda as the transferee bank and Vijaya Bank and Dena Bank as transferor banks.
  • The amalgamation will be the first-ever three-way consolidation of banks in India, with the amalgamated bank being India’s second largest Public Sector Bank.
  • The amalgamation will help create a strong globally competitive bank with economies of scale and enable realisation of wide-ranging synergies. Leveraging of networks, low-cost deposits and subsidiaries of the three banks has the potential of yielding significant synergies for positioning the consolidated entity for substantial rise in customer base, market reach, operational efficiency, wider bouquet of products and services, and improved access for customers.

Some of the strengths of the envisaged amalgamated entity are-

  • The amalgamated bank will be better equipped in the changing environment to meet the credit needs of a growing economy, absorb shocks and capacity to raise resources. Economies of scale and wider scope would position it for improved profitability, wider product offerings, and adoption of technology and best practices across amalgamating entities for cost efficiency and improved risk management, and financial inclusion through wider reach.
  • It would also enable creation of a bank with scale comparable to global banks and capable of competing effectively in India and globally.
  • Strengths of individual banks – such as Dena Bank’s relatively higher access to low-cost CASA deposits, Vijaya Bank’s profitability and availability of capital for growth, and the extensive and global network and offerings of BoB will translate into advantages in terms of market reach, operational efficiencies and the ability to support a wider offering of product and services.
  • The amalgamated banks will have access to a wider talent pool, and a large database that may be leveraged through analytics for competitive advantage in a rapidly digitalising banking context. Benefits would also flow as a result of wider reach and distribution network and reduction in distribution costs for the products and services through subsidiaries.
  • Public at large shall benefit in terms of enhanced access to banking services through a stronger network, the ability to support a wider offering of product and services, and easy access to credit.

 

  1.  National Policy on Domestic Workers 

The salient features of the proposed draft National Policy on Domestic Workers are as under:-

  • Inclusion of Domestic Workers in the existing legislations
  • Domestic workers will have the right to register as unorganized   workers. Such registration will facilitate their access to rights & benefits.
  • Right to form their own associations/unions
  • Right to minimum wages, access to social security
  • Right to enhance their skills
  • Protection of Domestic Workers from abuse and exploitation
  • Domestic Workers to have access to courts, tribunals for grievance redressal
  • Establishment of a mechanism for regulation of private placement agencies.
  • Establishment of a grievance redressal system for domestic workers.
  1. Space Technology in Border Management

Following areas have been identified for use of space technology:

 

  • Island development
  • Border Security
  • Communication and Navigation
  • GIS and Operations Planning System
  • Border Infrastructure Development

 

  1. NITI Aayog pitches for transition to Resource Efficiency and Circular Economy as an Economic Paradigm for New India

Objective of the RE Strategy was to make recommendations for enhancing the resource-use efficiency in the Indian economy and industry, develop indicators for monitoring progress, and create an ecosystem for improving the resource security and minimizing environmental impacts. NITI had undertaken the role of a facilitator to mainstream the approaches and measures related in the direction of resource efficient and circular Indian Economy. This was also in line with the Government’s commitment to the goals of sustainability.

Notable actions for transformation of RE Ecosystem in India. These are:

  • Formulation of a National Policy on RE/CE,
  • Establishment of Bureau of Resource Efficiency (BRE),
  • Mainstreaming RE&CE in existing flagship missions,
  • A Modern Recycling Industry with level playing between primary and secondary producers,
  • R&D for development of scalable technologies for RE & CE, and
  • Development and promotion of skill and capacity building programmes for informal sector.

5.E-NAM

e-NAM platform has reached an inflection point by initiation of inter-state trade in January 2019. The start of online inter-state trade through the e-NAM portal this month is a landmark achievement in e-NAM history and its strengthening in future will definitely add a new chapter to Agricultural marketing in the Indian context. The first inter-State trade on e-Nam between Andhra Pradesh and Telangana has been carried out on 19.01.2019 between farmer from Gadwal mandi in Telangana State, who sold 8.46 quintal of groundnut to, a trader in Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh through the e-NAM portal. This has been followed by another trade between these two mandis across both States.

 

E-NAM portal has integrated 585 Regulated Markets on the common e-market platform in 16 States and 2 Union Territories with trading in 124 commodities. The e-NAM platform is a pan-India electronic trading (e-trading) portal to network the existing physical regulated wholesale market (known as APMC market) through a virtual platform to create a unified national market for agricultural commodities. e-NAM platform promotes better marketing opportunities for the farmers to sell their produce through online, competitive and transparent price discovery system and online payment facility. Already 2.29 crore MT trade with value of more than Rs.60,000 crore has been recorded on e-NAM platform.

 

Initially, trade on e-NAM started inside the individual e-NAM mandi, with involvement of farmers and traders of that mandi. After persuasive efforts by the Government of India, inter-mandi trade on e-NAM platform started within the State. Now inter-mandi trade within e-NAM States is happening in 10 States.

The next logical step in this process was the initiation of Inter-State trade and after coordination by Ministry of Agriculture, Govt. of India, the same has started between the farmers & traders of States of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand followed by that between Andhra Pradesh and Telengana. The very first Inter State transaction on e-NAM in India has been recorded between trader of Bareilly e-NAM APMC of Uttar Pradesh and farmer of Haldwani e-NAM APMC of Uttarakhand for trade in tomatoes. Similarly, the inter-State transactions in potatoes, brinjal, cauliflower, raddish, peas, carrot and cabbage etc. have been carried out successively between several e-NAM mandis of Uttarakhand & Uttar Pradesh. Inter-State trade can take place in all 124 commodities promoted on e-NAM platform which covers all major cereals, coarse cereals, pulses, oilseeds, spices, flowers, minor forest produce etc.  Now more States are planning to start inter-State trade on e-NAM platform.

To increase the network on online mandis, e-NAM project will be expanded to other regulated markets. The Government plans to integrate another 415 mandis by March 2020 with the e-NAM portal.

 

GS PAPER IV

Some Terms/ Quotation

  1. Only teachers can change education scenario of the country and make education more relevant by their innovative methods
  2. India should not be pulled back to the dark ages by abhorrent social practices such as caste discrimination, bigotry and prejudice
  3. Commitment to our constitutional values, to fellow human beings and to the unity and integrity of the nation is the essence of true nationalism and patriotism.
  4. Bring down walls that create differences among people.
  5. If we wish to educate and empower our citizens, we have to remove the barriers which they face in accessing information

6.Rural Development

  • Development of villages is an essential precondition to development of the nation
  • Development of rural areas should not erode their unique identities but must fortify their spirits
  • Educational institutions must re-orient their curricula to ensure that students spend time in rural areas
  1. 3 ‘D’s – Demography, Demand and Democracy are making the India of today outshine other countries in the world
  2. Plastics pose a developmental dilemma; We must use plastic responsibly and judiciously
  3. Re-orient education system to make students think rationally
  4. Family system is the best medicine to protect youngsters from slipping into depression
  5. India is changing because Indians have decided to change
  6. Be empathetic to the plight of the less fortunate and generous to the needy
  7. India is a vibrant democracy, firmly rooted in secularism and values of tolerance, acceptance and peace: Sarva Dharma Sama Bhawa is in every Indian’s DNA.
  8. Revisit education system to impart Indian values and ethos

 

 

 

MAINS SPECIFIC QUESTION (January)

  1. Q. 1 Development plans in india should be based on geo-economic zonal characteristics, instead of administrative-based state units, for maximum utilization of natural resources. Whether SEZ is the right strategy for this and if not, suggest an alternative strategy.

Q.2 Review and justify judicial activism and ultra Judicial activism in preservation and promotion of democratic values.

Q.3 In India though the governor is the constitutional head of a state as the president of the country, the former may be enjoying more powers than the latter.’ Do you agree? Give reasons.

Q.4 What is the geopolitical significance of Island Territories for India and how we can take advantage of these?

Q.5 “What Women need is the right to make their own childbearing decisions and to have the information and services to make these decisions wisely and well. If this truly happens, the ‘population’ question will take care of itself.” Critically examine w.r.to India