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Snippets, Breaking News for March 2019

Art and Culture

AP village yearn to revive historic temple

Villagers in Motupalli seek to revive a historic temple of Veerabhadraswamy located in the village.

Motupalli village is located in the coastal region of Andhra Pradesh in Chinnaganjam mandal of Prakasam district.

Veerabhadraswamy (form of Lord Shiva) temple was built during the reign of Chola dynasty.  It has inscriptions in Telugu and Tamil and also host Panchaloha idols. The temple remains closed after Archaeology Dept. took it over for conservation and preservation.

Motupalli has been an important port with flourishing trade with South Asian countries especially during the medieval period. The village is also referred to as ‘Mohanagiripuram’.

Motupalli is also referred in the accounts of Italian merchant Marco Polo who visited the Motupalli in the 13th century.

The prominence of Motupalli declined gradually with the advent of the Britishers on the East coast who focused their trading activities mostly from Machilipatnam (located in the present Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh)

Excavations taken up by the Archaeology Department had led to unearthing of Chinese ware and copper coins of the Ming dynasty, coins belonging to the Chola era and bronze articles and pottery in Motupalli.

Padmanabhaswamy Temple

Padmanabhaswamy Temple is located in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India. The temple is built in an intricate fusion of the indigenous Kerala style and the Tamil style (kovil) of architecture associated with the temples located in the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu, featuring high walls, and a 16th-century Gopuram.

While the Moolasthanam of the temple is the Ananthapuram Temple in Kumbala in Kasargod District, architecturally to some extent, the temple is a replica of the Adikesava Perumal temple located in Thiruvattar, Kanyakumari District.

A pertinent event in the long recorded history of the temple was the construction of a “granta-pura” (record-room) within the temple compound itself around 1425 A.D. by the then Venad King Veera Iravi Iravi Varma, to store the “Mathilakam” (within-the-walls) records, as the then existing temple records were known.

The Lord’s right hand is placed over a Shiva lingam. Sridevi-Lakshmi, the Goddess of Prosperity and Bhudevi the Goddess of Earth, two consorts of Vishnu are by his side.

There are many festivals related to this temple. The major festivals are bi-annual. The Alpashy festival which is in October/November and the Panguni festival which is in Tamil month Panguni, March/April, lasts for 10 days each.

The valuables are believed to have been accumulated in the temple over several thousand years, having been donated to the Deity (and subsequently stored there), by various Dynasties like the Cheras, the Pandyas, the Travancore Royal Family, the Kolathiris, the Pallavas, the Cholas and many other Kings in the recorded history of both South India and beyond, and from the rulers and traders of Mesopotamia, Jerusalem, Greece, Rome, and later, the various colonial powers from Europe, and other countries as well.

The temple and its assets belong to Lord Padmanabhaswamy, and were for a long time controlled by a trust, headed by the Travancore Royal family. However, for the present, the Supreme Court of India has divested the Travancore Royal Family from leading the management of the temple.

In June 2011, the Supreme Court directed the authorities from the archaeology department and the fire services, to open the secret chambers of the temple for inspection of the items kept inside.

The review of the temple’s underground vaults was undertaken by a seven-member panel appointed by the Supreme Court of India to generate an inventory, leading to the enumeration of a vast collection of articles that are traditionally kept under lock and key. A detailed inventory of the temple assets, consisting of gold, jewels, and other valuables is yet to be made.

This revelation has solidified the status of the Padmanabhaswamy Temple as the wealthiest place of worship in the world.

It is conservatively estimated that the value of the monumental items is close to ₹1.2 lakh crore or ₹1.2 trillion (US$17 billion). If the antique and cultural value were taken into account these assets could be worth ten times the current market price.

 

  • Amaranth yatra
  • The Amarnath temple is one of 18 Maha Shakti Peethas, or “Grand Shakti Peethas” – highly revered temples throughout South Asiathat commemorate the location of fallen body parts of the Hindu deity Sati.
  • Amarnath caveis a Hindu shrine located in Jammu and Kashmir. The shrine forms an important part of Hinduism and is considered to be one of the holiest shrines in Hinduism. The peak pilgrimage occurs when the iced stalagmite Shiv lingam reaches the apex of its waxing phase through the summer months.

 

  • Nyepi: Bali’s day of silence
  • The Indonesian island of Bali is observing “Nyepi,” or the day of silence.
  • Internet, mobile services and airports will be shut down as the Balinese dedicate themselves to a day of self-reflection.
  • The ritual of observing thoughts:- On “Nyepi,” which will begin at 6 am local time on Thursday, March 7, Balinese will stay indoors, covering windows and keeping lights off to observe a day of reflection and meditation. It is considered the most sacred day in Balinese Hinduism.
  • Offerings for the deity:- Balinese women wear the traditional “Kebaya,” or a top made of white lace, accompanied by the Balinese sarong and a sash around the waist. They give their offerings to the Hindu god Ganesh.
  • Purifying the soul:- Before Nyepi, or the day of silence, Hindus perform a ceremony called the “Melasti” to purify their souls. In this picture, a woman gestures as she lies in a trance.
  • Life with a pure heart:- Children stand in front of a giant effigy or the “ogoh-ogoh,” which represents evil spirits. For the Balinese, Nyepi is an opportunity to restart life with a pure heart.
  • Banishing evil spirits:- During the night before Nyepi, Hindus celebrate with noisy processions of the ogoh-ogoh, or evil spirits. Some of the effigies are burned afterwards to destroy the negative energy they represented.
  • The self-stabbing ritual:- A man stabs himself with traditional “Kris” daggers, considered to have magical powers. The “chosen” devotees are usually in a state of trance while trying to stab themselves. Fortunately, the daggers are not sharp enough to pierce through skin.
  • Ceremonial walk:- Balinese men walk on the beach during Melasti, the purification festival before the day of silence. The ceremony is intended to wash away impurities and cleanse the soul.

 

  • Excavation shed light on Early Harappan ritual
  • Archaeological excavations were undertaken by 47-member team of researchers and students of the University of Kerala,in Khatiya village, Kutch (Gujarat).Unearthed several skeletal remains from a cemetery-like burial site where 26 graves out of the nearly 300-odd ones were excavated.
  • The rectangular graves, each of varying dimensions and assembled using stones, contained skeletons that were placed in a specific manner.
  • They were oriented east-west with the heads positioned on the eastern side.
  • Next to the legs on the western side, the archaeologists found earthen pots and pottery shards and other artefacts, including conch-shell bangles, beads made of stones and terracotta, numerous lithic tools and grinding stones.
  • The skeletal remains of human beings in most of them were found to be disintegrated
  • The presence of animal skeletons along with those of humans was also recorded in a few graves.
  • The researchers found the mode of burial to be non-uniform.
  • Penkuttoo
  • Penkoottu, now a Statewide organisation, plans to bring the farcical situation before the authorities through the ‘Right to Sit’ campaign.
  • Penkoottu, an organisation of women working on SM Street, commercial hub of Kozhikode, has been in the forefront of the Right to Sit campaign as it was found that employees, mostly women, in many shops, especially textile shops, were not allowed to sit during their working hours.
  • Its relentless struggle resulted in the State government enacting an amendment to the Kerala Shops and Establishments Act in July 2018, which made it mandatory for employers to provide a chair or stool to the employees and also limit their working hours to eight.
  • The Right to Sit campaign had gained strength during the same period in 2014.
  • The campaign started on March 8, International Women’s Day, and end on May 1, Labour Day.
  • During the two months, Penkoottu volunteers will monitor shops to see if the norm is being implemented.

Science and Technology

 

  • Agent Orange
  • Agent Orange, a toxic herbicide that the US aircraft sprayed during the Vietnam War, continues to enter the Vietnamese food supply even 50 years later.
  • During the Vietnam War, US aircraft sprayed more than 20 million gallons of herbicides, including dioxin-contaminated Agent Orange, on the country’s rain forests, wetlands, and croplands.
  • The Vietnam government estimates that as many as 3 million people have suffered illnesses because of Agent Orange, and the Red Cross notes that over 1 million people were left disabled or suffering severe health issues due to exposure.
  • Agent Orange defoliated the thick jungle vegetation concealing Viet Cong fighters and destroyed a portion of the country’s food crops, but it was primarily the dioxin contaminant that harmed so many Vietnamese and US military personnel.
  • During production of Agent Orange, a toxic byproduct formed: dioxin TCDD, the most toxic of the dioxin family of chemicals.
  • Once dioxin TCDD gets into the environment, it can stick around for decades or even centuries.
  • The pathway begins with the US military spraying in the 1960s, absorption by tree and shrub leaves, leaf drop to the soil surface (along with some direct contact of the spray with the soil), then attachment of the dioxin TCDD to soil organic matter and clay particles of the soil.

 

 

 

  • CCR5- delta 32
  • Cysteine-cysteine chemokine receptor 5 (CCR5) is found in the cell membranes of many types of mammalian cells, including nerve cells and white blood cells.1,2The role of CCR5 is to allow entry of chemokines into the cell3—chemokines are involved in signaling the body’s inflammation response to injuries.

 

  • Defect Device/Cheat device in Vehicles
  • The National Green Tribunal has slapped a penalty of Rs 500 crore on Volkswagen for using “cheat device” in its diesel cars in India.
  • Earlier, a panel formed by the NGT had recommended a fine of Rs 171.34 crore over the damage emissions from Volkswagen cars had done.
  • A “cheat” or “defeat device” is software in diesel engines to manipulate emission tests by changing the performance of the cars.
  • Volkswagen refuted the allegations of violating BS-IV norms levelled against it. The company argued that the emission test results in question were based on “on road testing” of its cars and there were no prescribed standards for this.
  • In its tests conducted on some Volkswagen models, Pune-based Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) found that their on-road emissions were 1.1 times to 2.6 times higher than the permissible levels under BS-IV norms.
  • Following this, Volkswagen India had recalled around 3.23 lakh vehicles fitted with EA 189 diesel engines which were in alleged violation of emission norms to rejig the software.

 

  • NASA: ALL-FEMALE spacewalk
  • Astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch will lead spacewalk on March 29.
  • The outing will be the first ever all-female spacewalk.
  • It will also be supported by a team of female flight controllers on the ground.
  • If all goes as scheduled, Expedition 59 astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch will lead a roughly seven-hour spacewalk to attend tasks on the orbiting lab’s exterior, starting at 6:30 a.m. (ET).
  • It’s a routine outing, and the first of three planned for this particular series, but this one is special for reasons beyond the mission itself – it’s the first ever all-female spacewalk.

 

  • Monkey Fever

What is Monkey fever?

  • Money fever or Kyasanur forest disease (KFD) is a viral fever that is a tick-borne hemorrhafic fever and it is endemic to South Africa.
  • It is a virus fever, belonging to the family Flaviviridae, which also includes yellow fever and dengue fever. The disease is carried by ticks, rodents, birds, etc and it affects monkeys and human beings. It is a vector-borne disease.
  • The virus is transmitted to humans through the bite of nymphs of the tick or when humans come into contact with an infected animal.

Primary symptoms

– High fever, – Frontal headaches, – Haemorrhagic symptoms, such as bleeding from the nasal cavity, throat, and gums, as well as gastrointestinal bleeding

Secondary symptoms

– Vomiting, – Muscle stiffness, – Tremors, – Absent reflexes, – Mental disturbances

Recovery and cure

– Vaccination, – Proper Rest, – Rich protein diet

Precautions

– Protective clothing, – Tick control, – Mosquito control

  • Tyota, Japan plan moon mission
  • Toyota is teaming up with Japan’s space agency on a planned mission to the Moon, with the Japanese auto giant expected to develop a lunar rover.
  • Toyota also confirmed plans to announce a joint project with AXA “on mobility and a space probe”.
  • The mission is part of renewed global interest in the Moon, sometimes called the “eighth continent” of the Earth, and 50 years after American astronauts first walked on the lunar surface.
  • The car giant is expected to jointly develop a “mobility method” to be used on the lunar surface for the mission.
  • Before humans set foot on the lunar surface again, NASA aims to land an unmanned vehicle on the Moon by 2024.
  • So far, only Russia, the United States and China have made the 384,000-kilometre (239,000-mile) journey and landed and landed spacecraft on the Moon.

 

  • NASA THEMIS and ARTEMIS Mission
  • THEMIS is a mission within NASA’s MIDEX (Medium Explorer) program, approved in May 2004.
  • The goal of THEMIS is to fly five small spacecraft through explosive geomagnetic disturbances to solve the mystery of what triggers the colorful eruptions of the Northern and Southern lights. These violent “substorms” reflect major reconfigurations of near-Earth space and have significant implications for space weather, affecting satellites and terrestrial communications.
  • The overall objective is to study fundamental questions regarding the magnetospheric substorm instability, a dominant mechanism of transport and explosive release of solar wind energy within Geospace.
  • THEMIS will elucidate which magnetotail process is responsible for substorm onset at the region where substorm auroras map (~10 RE): i) a local disruption of the plasma sheet current or ii) that current’s interaction with the rapid influx of plasma emanating from lobe flux annihilation at ~25 RE. Correlative observations from long-baseline (2-25 RE) probe conjunctions, will delineate the causal relationship and macroscale interaction between the substorm components.
  • The five identical probes (P1, P2, P3, P4, P5) of THEMIS measure particles and fields on orbits which optimize tail-aligned conjunctions over North America. Ground observatories time auroral breakup onset. Three inner probes at ~10 REmonitor current disruption onset, while two outer probes, at 20 and 30 RE respectively, remotely monitor plasma acceleration due to lobe flux dissipation.
  • In addition to addressing its primary objective, THEMIS answers critical questions in radiation belt physics and solar wind – magnetosphere energy coupling. THEMIS’s probes use flight-proven instruments and subsystems, yet demonstrate spacecraft design strategies ideal for Constellation class missions.
  • THEMIS is complementary to NASA’s MMS (Magnetosphere Multistage) program and a science and a technology pathfinder for future STP (Solar Terrestrial Probe) missions.

 

Ecology and Environment

  • Fifteen of the 20 most polluted cities in the world are in India
  • According to an analysis of air quality in several cities around the world, fifteen of the top 20 most polluted cities in the world are located in India.
  • Gurugram, in Haryana, topped the list with an average annual particulate matter (PM 2.5) quality of 135 g/m3 (micrograms/cubic metre), in 2018.
  • Delhi — a frequent fixture on global pollution hotspots — was only the 11th most noxious city behind Lahore, Pakistan (10th) and Hotan, China (8th).
  • The other cities in India that made the list of 20 were Ghaziabad, Faridabad, Bhiwadi, Noida, Patna, Lucknow, Jodhpur, Muzaffarpur, Varanasi, Moradabad, Agra, Gaya and Jind.
  • When ranked by country, Bangladesh emerged as the most polluted followed by Pakistan and India respectively.
  • Of the cities analysed, 64% exceeded the WHO’s annual exposure guideline (10g/m3) for fine particulate matter, also known as PM2.5. India’s annual guidelines range from 40-60 g/m3, depending on whether they are residential or industrial areas.
  • Every single one of measured cities with data in the Middle East and Africa exceeded the WHO guideline, while 99% of cities in South Asia, 95% of cities in Southeast Asia and 89% of cities in East Asia breached this level.
  • The ranking — a one of its kind study that relies on ground-based sensors located in 3,000 cities from 73 countries — was compiled by IQAir Group, a manufacturer of air-monitoring sensors as well as purifiers and environmentalist group Greenpeace.

Pollution hubs

  • Jakarta and Hanoi emerged as Southeast Asia’s two most polluted cities and average concentrations in the cities in China fell by 12% from 2017 to 2018.
  • Beijing ranks now as the 122nd most polluted city in the world in 2018 and China, the 12th most polluted country in the world.
  • Of the countries analysed, Iceland emerged as the one with the cleanest air.
  • Green crackers
  • CSIR scientists have developed Less Polluting Firecrackers which are not only environment friendly but 15-20 % cheaper than the conventional ones.
  • These crackers have been named as safe water releaser (SWAS), safe minimal aluminium (SAFAL) and safe thermite cracker (STAR).
  • The commonly used pollution-causing chemicals – aluminium, barium, potassium nitrate and carbon – have either been removed or sharply reduced in the green crackers to reduce emissions by 15-30%.
  • Green crackers cause minimal toxicity and minimal fumes, according to the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research’s National Environmental Engineering Research Institute.
  • Rare brown mongoose found in tiger reserve
  • The brown mongoose – a small carnivore species was spotted for the first time in Biligiri Rangana Hills Tiger Reserve (BRT) outside of their known territory—Virajpet in Kodagu district.
  • The animal has a dark brown coat with fine stripes and black legs unlike its cousin the common grey mongoose which is greyish in colour. The brown mongoose also has a very bushy, conical tapering tail that distinguishes it from other mongooses.
  • The animal is found only in Southern Western Ghats and Sri Lanka. In India other than Karnataka, they are spotted rarely in wet, evergreen forests of Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
  • IUCN status: Least concerned

 

  • Recommendations for changes in Forest Survey Report
  • A high-power committee constituted by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has recommended that forest surveys — the biennial exercise by the government to estimate forest cover — explicitly demarcate trees grown in forests from those grown outside, that is, in plantations and private lands.
  • Currently, the government counts both towards estimating the portion of India’s geographical area covered by forest.
  • India posted a marginal 0.21% rise in the area under forest between 2015 and 2017, according to the India State of Forest Report (SFR) 2017, which was made public in February 2018.
  • India has about 7,08,273 sq. km. of forest, which is 21.53% of the geographic area of the country (32,87,569 sq. km.).
  • Various editions of the SFR have over the years reported the area under forests as hovering around 21%. So the government also includes substantial patches of trees outside areas designated as forests, such as plantations or greenlands, in its assessment.

 

  • Wood snake
  • A species of wood snake has resurfaced in a survey conducted by scientists in the Meghamalai Wildlife Sanctuary,  that wasn’t seen for 140 years .
  • The species is endemic to the Meghamalai forests and the Periyar Tiger Reserve
  • The snake is a ‘point endemic’ found only in Meghamalai.
  • The local population of wood snakes was last spotted and recorded by British military officer and naturalist Colonel Richard Henry Beddome in 1878.

 

  • New beetle species
  • Scientists have discovered 103 beetle species in Indonesia which are new to science, and named one of them after the Star Wars character Yoda while a group of three species were named after Asterix, Obelix and Idefix — the main characters in The Adventures of Asterix.
  • The names of four of the newly described beetles pay tribute to renowned biologists, including Charles Darwin, Paul D N Hebert, who implemented DNA barcoding as a tool in species identification, and Francis H C Crick and James D Watson, the discoverers of the structure of DNA.
  • The Indonesian island of Sulawesi has been long known for its enigmatic fauna, including the deer-pig and the midget buffalo, Sulawesi is geologically complex and many areas have never been searched for these small beetles.

Economy News

 

  • GDP Growth to 6.6%
  • The Govt. revised downwards its estimate for GDP growth in the 2018-19 financial year to 7% from the 7.2% estimated in the first estimate for the year released in January.
  • Data showed that the GDP growth slowed for the third consecutive quarter in the Dec 2018 to 6.6%.
  • A six quarter low from 7% in the second quarter and 8% in the first quarter of this financial year.
  • The slowdown in 2018-19 is due to a lowering in the growth estimate of the agriculture sector, to 2.7% as per the latest data compared with the 3.8% estimated earlier.
  • The manufacturing sector, too, is estimated to grow at a marginally lower 8.1% compared with the previously predicated 8.3%.
  • The two notable divergence between the second estimate and the first are that private final consumption expenditure growth has been revised upwards to 8.3% from 6.4% and investment growth was revised lower to 10% from the earlier estimate of 12.2%.

 

 

  • Development scheme for knitwear sector
  • A comprehensive scheme for Development of Knitting and Knitwear Sector under PowerTex India was launched. knitting and knitwear sector is predominantly MSME in size and mainly located in decentralized sector and is one of the major employment generator sector.
  • It also has a significant contribution on the exports of textiles. Knitting is a major segment in the entire textile value chain.
  • Knitted fabrics contribute to 27% of the total fabric production in India and 15% of knitted fabric is being exported.
  • The main components of the scheme are:
  • Creation of new service centers on Public Private Partnership (PPP) model by industry and association in the knitting and knitwear clusters.
  • Modernization and upgradation of existing power loom service Centers (PSCs) and institution run by Textile Research Associations (TRAs) and Export Promotion Councils (EPCs) Association in knitting and knitwear clusters.
  • Group work shed scheme.
  • Yarn bank scheme.
  • Common facility center scheme.
  • Pradhan mantra Credit Scheme.
  • Solar Energy Scheme.
  • Facilitation, IT, awareness,studies, surveys, market development and publicity for knitting and knitwear units.
  • FAME – II[ Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles]
  • The Union Cabinet has approved the implementation of second phase of the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles or FAME.
  • The main objective of the scheme is to encourage faster adoption of electric and hybrid vehicles by way of offering upfront incentives on purchase of such vehicles as well as by establishing necessary charging Infrastructure.
  • While for three wheelers and four-wheelers, incentives will be applicable mainly to vehicles used for public transport or commercial purposes, in the two-wheeler segment the focus will be on the private vehicles.
  • The benefits of incentives will be extended to only those vehicles which are fitted with advance battery like a lithium Ion battery and other new technology batteries.
  • The scheme also proposes for setting up 2,700 charging stations.

National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP) 2020

  • It aims to achieve national fuel security by promoting hybrid and electric vehicles in the country. There is an ambitious target to achieve 6-7 million sales of hybrid and electric vehicles year on year from 2020 onwards.
  • Government aims to provide fiscal and monetary incentives to kick start this nascent technology.
  • With the support from the Government, the cumulative sale is expected to reach 15-16 Million by 2020. It is expected to save 9500 Million Liters of crude oil equivalent to Rs. 62000 Cr. savings.

 

  • One Nation One Card
  • Indigenously-developed National Common Mobility Card (NCMC) has been launched, to enable people to pay multiple kinds of transport charges, including metro services and toll tax, across the country.
  • Dubbed as ‘One Nation One Card’, the inter-operable transport card would allow the holders to pay for their bus travel, toll taxes, parking charges, retail shopping and even withdraw money.
  • This card runs on RuPay card and it will eliminate all your travel related problems. People can also withdraw money using this Common Mobility Card. This RuPay card can be used for travelling in metros in any part of the country. Simply put, RuPay card has been merged with the mobility card.

 

  • Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan-Dhan Yojna (PM-SYM) Scheme
  • PM-SYM is a Central government scheme administered by the Ministry of Labour and Employment and implemented through Life Insurance Corporation of India and CSC e-Governance Services India Limited (CSC SPV).
  • LIC will be the Pension Fund Manager and responsible for Pension pay out.
  • The amount collected under PM-SYM pension scheme shall be invested as per the investment pattern specified by Government of India.
  • PM-SYM is a voluntary and contribution based scheme under which the subscriber gets an assured minimum monthly pension of 3,000 from the age of 60 years onwards.
  • The contribution of a subscriber ranges from 55- Rs. 200 per month depending on his entry age which is 18 to 40. Under the scheme, the Central Government will also give matching contribution towards beneficiary’s pension account. Further, it has unique feature that in case of exit, subscriber would be returned his entire contribution.
  • The PM-SYM scheme is for unorganised workers.
  • The subscribers should not be covered under New Pension Scheme (NPS), Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) scheme or Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO). Further, he/she should not be an income tax payer.
  • Premature withdrawals and exits can be made from the scheme and in case a subscriber withdraws from the scheme within a period of less than 10 years, the beneficiary’s share of contribution only will be returned to him with savings bank interest rate.
  • The PM-SYM scheme can be subscribed by individuals at the branch offices of LIC, the offices of ESIC/EPFO and all labour offices of central and state governments.
  • The enrolment will be carried out by all the Common Services Centres (CSC).

 

 

  • Cane Growers get a sweet deal
  • In a bid to boost sugar mills ethanol-production capacity and help them pay off mounting arrears to cane farmers, the Union government has approved Rup-3355 crore in incentives.
  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) as approved Rup-2790 crore for bank loan interest subvention to mills, and 565 crore for loan interest subvention to the molassesbased standalone distilleries.
  • Banks will be able to extend soft loans worth Rup-15,500 crore to mills and distilleries under the scheme.
  • This is likely benefit 268 mills and create an additional 300-400 crore litres of ethanol capacity, according to industry estimates.
  • Record harvests and sugar recovery have caused a gult in sugar production and brought the price down.
  • The enhancement of ethanol capacity could help divert surplus cane from sugar production, thus reducing inventories and bringing in revenue to mills. Improved liquidity would help them pay off their dues.

 

 

 

  • Scheme to rebate embedded taxes for garments gets nod
  • The Union Cabinet has approved a scheme to rebate State and Central Embedded Taxes for apparels and made-ups exports.
  • This will enable the Government to take various measures for making exports of apparels and made-ups zero-rated.
  • The government has a Rebate of State Levies (ROSL) for these two segments. However, some taxes were not covered under the scheme.
  • The Cabinet decision is to rebate all embedded taxes of the Central and State Governments.
  • It is applicable for apparel and made-ups now and will be extended to yarn in the future.
  • This ROSL for apparel and made-ups will amount to ₹6,300 crore revenue foregone per Annum.
  • According to the Cotton Textiles Export Promotion Council, reimbursement of all the duties will help the value-added industry a lot and will take care of the issues related to competitiveness of Indian products in the global market.
  • The Confederation of Indian Textile Industry appealed to the government to include yarn and fabric in the scheme.
  • Reducing the hank yarn obligation to 30% from the existing 40%, with effect from January this year.
  • Textile mills that pack yarn for the domestic market had to ensure that 40% was in hank form. This has been reduced to 30%.
  • The Southern India Mills’ Association has said this was one of the long-pending demands of the textile mills and it would make ease of doing business easier for the units.

Polity and governance

  • Cabinet clears voluntary use of Aadhar
  • The Cabinet approved the promulgation of an Ordinance to allow voluntary use of Aadhaar as identity proof for opening bank account and procuring mobile phone connection.
  • The Ordinance will now give the effect to the changes in the Aadhaar Act such as giving a child an option to exit from the biometric ID programme on attaining 18 years of age
  • Cabinet has approved the promulgation of an Ordinance to give effect to the Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill
  • The amendment provides for stiff penalties for violation of norms set for the use of Aadhaar and violation of privacy. It bans storing of core biometric information as well as Aadhaar number by service providers in cases of individuals who have voluntarily offered the national ID as a means of authentication.

What is Aadhaar?

  • Aadhaar is a 12 digit unique-identity number issued to all Indian residents based on their biometric and demographic data. It is issued by Unique Identification Authority of India or UIDAI.

 

  • IRDAI, NHA form joint working group on Ayushman Bharat
  • A joint working group (JWG) comprising senior officials from IRDAI and National Health Authority (NHA) has been formed to recommend measures to help improve the implementation of the Centre’s Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY) or the health insurance scheme for the poor.
  • The 11-member group, with NHA Deputy CEO Dinesh Arora as the chair and lRDAl Executive Director Suresh Mathur as the co-chair, would submit a report on various aspects pertaining to network hospitals’ management; data standardisation and exchange; fraud abuse and control; and common IT infrastructure for health insurance claims management.

Terms of reference

  • Spelling out the terms of reference and timelines the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) said under network hospitals’ management, the group had 12 months to submit its report on a national repository of empanelled hospitals under insurance/government schemes. with defined standards for quality and package rates and codes.
  • The JWG would define hospital infrastructure and facility audits to understand capacity of hospitals as well as specialists availability and chalk out a roadmap for one common list of accredited verified hospitals for the entire industry, including ROHINl, NHRR, NIN and PMJAY databases. It would undertake a comparative study of packages and their rates and mapping to uniform codes; and define standards and indicators for safe and quality healthcare.
  • In three months, the group will submit a report on data standardisation and exchange from a perspective of creating standard data formats across health insurance payers for analysis and policy making; developing standardised data tables to capture and report data, identifying data elements common with IRDAI and PMJAY; and setting up a framework for capturing and exchanging data.
  • Under the fraud and abuse control component, the JWG would make recommendations in six months to help detect and deter frauds through a common repository and capacity-building.

 

  • National Annual Rural Sanitation Survey (NARSS)
  • The National Annual Rural Sanitation Survey (NARSS) 2018-19, conducted by an Independent Verification Agency (IVA) under the World Bank support project to the Swachh Bharat Mission Grameen (SBM-G), has found that 96.5% of the households in rural India who have access to a toilet use it.
  • The NARSS also re-confirmed the Open Defecation Free (ODF) status of 90.7% of villages which were previously declared and verified as ODF by various districts/States.
  • The survey was conducted between November 2018 and February 2019 and covered 92040 households in 6136 villages across States and UTs of India.
  • The key findings of NARSS 2018-19 are as follows:
  • 1% of households were found to have access to toilets during the survey period (the corresponding figure as per the SBMG MIS in November 2018 was 96%)
  • 5% of the people who had access to toilets used them
  • 7% of villages which were previously declared and verified as ODF were confirmed to be ODF. The remaining villages also had sanitation coverage of about 93%
  • 4% of the villages surveyed found to have minimal litter and minimal stagnant water
  • The IVA presented their findings to the Expert Working Group (EWG) constituted for oversight of NARSS, comprising representatives from organizations including the World Bank, UNICEF, Water Aid, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, India Sanitation Coalition, NITI Aayog, and Ministry of Statistics and Program Implementation. The EWG noted the satisfactory completion of the survey round 2 (for 2018-19, after last year’s NARSS 2017-18). Following this, the IVA submitted their provisional summary results report and raw data to the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, and the same have been uploaded and made publicly accessible on the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation website (mdws.nic.in).
  • The survey used the PPS (Probability Proportion to Size) sampling methodology, which yields results within a confidence interval of 95%. Data was collected using the Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI) platform. The survey also covered schools, anganwadis and public/community toilets in these villages.
  • Since its launch in October 2014, the SBM, the world’s largest sanitation program, has changed the behaviour of hundreds of millions of people with respect to toilet access and usage. 500 million people have stopped defecating in the open since the SBM began, down from 550 million at the beginning of the programme to less than 50 million today. Over 9 crore toilets have been built across rural India under the Mission. Over 5.5 lakh villages and 615 districts have been declared ODF, along with 30 ODF States and Union Territories.

 

  • Rajasthan cuts Lokayuktas tenure to 5 years
  • The Rajasthan government has reduced the tenure of the Lokayukta to five years from eight years.
  • The Lokayukta(also Lok Ayukta)  is an anti-corruption ombudsman organization in the Indian states.Once appointed, Lokayukta cannot be dismissed nor transferred by the government, and can only be removed by passing an impeachment motion by the state assembly.
  • The Lokayukta, along with the Income Tax Department and the Anti Corruption Bureau, mainly helps people publicise corruption among the Politicians and Government Officials.

About Lokayukta

  • The Lokayukta is an anti-corruption authority constituted at the state level. It investigates allegations of corruption and mal-administration against public servants and is tasked with speedy redressal of public grievances.
  • The origin of the Lokayukta can be traced to the Ombudsmen in Scandinavian countries. The Administrative Reforms Commission, (1966-70), had recommended the creation of the Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayukta in the states. The Centre is yet to get a Lokpal.
  • The Lokayukta is created as a statutory authority with a fixed tenure to enable it to discharge its functions independently and impartially. The person appointed is usually a former High Court Chief Justice or former Supreme Court judge.
  • Members of the public can directly approach the Lokayukta with complaints of corruption, nepotism or any other form of mal-administration against any government official.
  • The range of powers vary. In, say, Delhi, the Lokayukta inquires into allegations of corruption, misuse of authority and wrong doings of public functionaries including Chief Minister, Ministers and MLAs. And civil servants/bureaucrats, judiciary, police and the Delhi Development Authority are excluded from its ambit.
  • In Karnataka, which in the 1980s was the first state to move to get a Lokayukta and where there has been much controversy over the teeth that the office has, the new powers promised to the Lokayukta keep the Chief Minister, ministers, MPS and MLAs out of the purview.

 

  • Pradhan Mantri Jl-VAN yojana

Government of India launched Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) programme in 2003 for undertaking blending of ethanol in Petrol to address environmental concerns due to fossil fuel burning, provide remuneration to farmers, subsidize crude imports and achieve forex savings. Presently, EBP is being run in 21 States and 4 UTs of the country. Under EBP programme, OMCs are to blend upto 10% of ethanol in Petrol. The present policy allows procurement of ethanol produced from molasses and non-food feed stock like celluloses and lignocelluloses material including petrochemical route.

Hence Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the “Pradhan Mantri JI-VAN (Jaiv Indhan- Vatavaran Anukool fasal awashesh Nivaran) Yojana” for providing financial support to Integrated Bioethanol Projects using lignocellulosic biomass and other renewable feedstock.

Financial Implications:

The JI-VAN Yojana will be supported with total financial outlay of Rs.1969.50 crore for the period from 2018-19 to 2023-24.  Out of scheme fund of Rs.1969.50 crore, Rs.1800 crore has been allocated for supporting 12 Commercial projects, Rs.150 crore has been allocated for supporting 10 demonstration Projects and remaining Rs.9.50 crore will be provided to Centre for High Technology (CHT) as administrative charges.

Details:

Under this Yojana, 12 Commercial Scale and 10 demonstration scale Second Generation (2G) ethanol Projects will be provided a Viability Gap Funding (VGF) support in two phases:

  1. a)       Phase-I  (2018-19  to  2022-23):  wherein  six  commercial  projects  and five demonstration projects will be supported.
  2. b)       Phase-II (2020-21 to 2023-24): wherein remaining six commercial projects and five demonstration projects will be supported.

The scheme focuses to incentivise 2G Ethanol sector and support this nascent industry by creating a suitable ecosystem for setting up commercial projects and increasing Research & Development in this area.

Benefits

Apart from supplementing the targets envisaged by the Government under EBP programme, the scheme will also have the following benefits:

  1. a)       Meeting Government of India vision of reducing import dependence by way of substituting fossil fuels with Biofuels.
  2. b)       Achieving the GHG emissions reduction targets through progressive blending/ substitution of fossil fuels.
  3. c)       Addressing environment concerns caused due to burning of biomass/ crop residues & improve health of citizens.
  4. d)       Improving farmer income by providing them remunerative income for their otherwise waste agriculture residues.
  5. e)       Creating rural & urban employment opportunities in 2G Ethanol projects and Biomass supply chain.
  6. f)       Contributing to Swacch Bharat Mission by supporting the aggregation of non­food biofuel feedstocks such as waste biomass and urban waste.
  7. g)      Indigenizing of Second Generation Biomass to Ethanol technologies.

The ethanol produced by the scheme beneficiaries will be mandatorily supplied to Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) to further enhance the blending percentage under EBP Programme.

Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas has targeted to achieve 10% blending percentage of Ethanol in petrol by 2022. Despite efforts of the Government such as higher ethanol prices and simplification of ethanol purchase system, the highest ever ethanol procurement stands around 150 crore litres during Ethanol supply year 2017-18 which is sufficient for around 4.22% blending on Pan India basis. Therefore, an alternate route viz. Second Generation (2G) Ethanol from biomass and other wastes is being explored by MoP&NG to bridge the supply gap for EBP programme. In this direction, “Pradhan Mantri JI-VAN Yojana” is being launched as a tool to create 2G Ethanol capacity in the country and attract investments in this new sector.

Centre for High Technology (CHT), a technical body under the aegis of MoP&NG, will be the implementation Agency for the scheme. The Project developers interested in availing benefits of the scheme, shall be submitting their proposal for review by Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) of MoP&NG. Projects recommended by SAC shall be approved by Steering Committee of MoP&NG under the chairmanship of Secretary, MoP&NG.

 

Internal security

  • Smart fencing in Dhubri
  • To curb infiltration attempts from across the border, Border Security Force (BSF) has started the project to construct the hi-tech Comprehensive Integrated Border Management System (CIBMS) in the Dhubri.
  • The project is known as BOLD-QIT (Border Electronically Dominated QRT Interception Technique)
  • The smart fencing has hi-tech gadget to prevent infiltration attempts and alert the troops on duty if militants try to sneak through. It will have optical fiber system under the ground, Sonar system with sensors in it for the waterways along with high resolution cameras connected with which intruders are automatically tracked from camera to camera.
  • The CIBMS ensures infiltration attempts do not go undetected. It is a combination of surveillance devices, data backbone, communication network and command control centre and multiplies human surveillance by sensor-based surveillance.
  • After the completion of the smart fencing, it will completely seal the borders which were open for quite a long time now. This would make infiltrators find extremely difficult, if not impossible, to breach.

 

 

 

 

  • ISRO, French space agency seal agreement on maritime security
  • National space agency ISRO and its French counterpart CNES on sealed an agreement to set up a joint maritime surveillance system in the country in May.
  • The two nations will explore putting up a constellation of low-Earth orbiting satellites that will identify and track movement of ships globally – and in particular those moving in the Indian Ocean region where France has its Reunion Islands.
  • They will initially share data from their present space systems and develop new algorithms to analyse them, according to the Paris based National Centre for Space Studies.
  • The CNES-ISRO agreed to
    • supply an operational system for detecting, identifying and tracking ships in the Indian Ocean.
    • sharing of capacity to process existing satellite data and joint development of associated algorithms
  • For the next phase of the programme, studies for an orbital infrastructure to be operated jointly by the two countries are ongoing. CNES is working with its industry partners and with ISRO to devise the most appropriate technical solution.
  • The relationship between the two countries in space extends to space science, technology and applications, including sounding rocket development, liquid engine development, hosting of payloads, joint satellite realization, training programmes, satellite communication experiment and satellite launches. The space agencies of the two countries have jointly realised two world-class space missions.
  • The two agencies have put up two climate and ocean weather monitoring satellites Megha-Tropiques (of 2011) and SARAL-AltiKa (2013) that are considered a model.
  • Exercise Sampriti
  • Exercise Sampriti-2019 is an important bilateral defence cooperation endeavour between India and Bangladesh and this will be the eighth edition of the exercise which is hosted alternately by both countries.
  • The exercise is aimed to strengthen and broaden the aspects of interoperability and cooperation between the Indian and Bangladesh Armies.
  • The exercise will involve tactical level operations in a counter insurgency and counter terrorism environment under the UN mandate.

 

  • AL NAGAH 2019:
  • Exercise Al Nagah III, third in the series of bilateral joint exercise between India and Omanis scheduled to be held from 12 to 25 March 2019 at Jabel Al Akhdar Mountains in Oman.
  • The exercise will see both the armies exchanging expertise and experience in tactics, weapon handling and firing, with an aim to enhance interoperability in counterterrorist operations in semi urban mountainous terrain.

 

International Affairs

  • India – Russia nuclear submarine deal
  • India is set to sign a $3-billion deal with Russia this week to lease another nuclear attack submarine that will be customised and fitted with indigenous communications systems and sensors.
  • The deal for the Akula class submarine — dubbed Chakra III after the first two similar vessels India obtained from Russia — will be the biggest signed with Moscow since the $5.5-billion contract for the S-400 air defence system was finalised last year.
  • The intergovernmental agreement for the submarine lease is likely to be inked on March 7 and that the vessel will be ready by 2025 after an extensive building programme on mothballed hulls at a Russian shipyard.
  • CHAKRA II LEASE MAY BE EXTENDED :- The Chakra III will be in service for at least 10 years and will replace the Chakra II that was obtained under similar conditions in 2012. It is believed that the lease of the Chakra II, which is to expire in 2022, could be extended for a fiveyear period till the new vessel gets built and tested.
  • Operating a nuclear attack submarine or SSN — it’s powered by a nuclear reactor but armed with conventional weapons — gives India significant strike capability in the region.
  • These vessels can remain underwater for months, making them almost impossible to detect and are a big deterrence for enemy vessels in the region.
  • Indian personnel involved in the project are likely to get significant expertise on working on such submarines that will come in handy for the indigenous nuclear attack submarine programme that has been approved. Design work on a new class of Indian SSNs has commenced but there is no clarity about when it will be completed. The build process started at a domestic shipyard.
  • Talks on the Chakra III lease have been on since 2013 but were given a boost in 2015 when both sides initiated technical and price discussions to specify what will go into the inter-governmental agreement.
  • This will be the third Russian nuclear submarine to be operated by India, starting from 1988 when the original INS Chakra was taken on a three-year lease. The second was inducted in 2012 after a prolonged refit that saw a time delay. The Akula submarines are considered to be next only to newer US nuclear submarines when it comes to stealth and attack capabilities.

Miscellaneous

  • Shanti Swarap Award
  • The Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize is among the most sought after multidisciplinary awards in the fields of science and technology in the country, given by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) since 1958.
  • Given out in seven disciplines – Biological, Engineering, Medical, Chemical, Physical, Mathematical, as well as Earth, Atmosphere, Ocean and Plenary Sciences.
  • The awards were given out on February 28, the National Science Day, which marks the 1928 discovery of the Raman Effect by India’s first Nobel Laureate in science, CV Raman.
  • The awards were presented for the years 2016, 2017, and 2018, with a total of 34 winners.
  • A skewed gender-ratio was clearly visible – there was only one woman among the awardees.

Winners are:

  • Aditi Sen, who works with the Harish Chandra Research Institute in Allahabad, was awarded in the physics category for her work in “quantum information and communication, including the formulation of a computable entanglement measure and a novel density-matrix recursion method”.
  • Designing models and algorithms to solve online problems and problems of clustering, scheduling and network design (Amit Kumar of IIT-Delhi).
  • The development of end-to-end carrier-class networking solutions and carrier Ethernet switch routers used in the national infrastructure (Ashwin Anil Gumatse of IIT-Bombay)
  • Molecular mechanisms for red cell invasion as highly potent targets for malaria vaccine targets (Deepak Gaur of JNU, New Delhi).

 

  • Jamaat-e-Islam
  • The Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan is a Muslim religious, political party in Pakistan.
  • It was founded on 26 August 1941 in Lahore by Muslim theologian Maulana Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi.
  • It is the oldest religious party in Pakistan.
  • Founded during British rule in India, the Jamaat moved its organisation after the Partition of India to the newly-created Muslim state of Pakistan.
  • The members who remained in India regrouped to form an independent organization.
  • The group split into separate independent organisations in India and Pakistan—Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan and Jamaat-e-Islami Hind—following the Partition of India in 1947. Other groups related to or inspired by Jamaat-e-Islami developed in Bangladesh, Kashmir, Britain, and Afghanistan.
  • The Jamaat-e-Islami parties maintain ties internationally with other Muslim groups.
  • Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan, based in Pakistan. In 1947, Jamaat-e-Islami moved its operations to West-Pakistan after Independence.
  • Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, based in India. Founded by Jamaat-e-Islami Members who remained in India after 1947 independence.
  • Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, based in Bangladesh, legalized 1975. During the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War, Jamaat-e-Islami opposed the independence of Bangladesh, and was banned after independence was achieved. It was made legal after Maj. Gen. Ziaur Rahman staged a coup in 1975.
  • Jamaat-e-Islami Kashmir, in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. It was formed in 1953 after the pro-plebiscite chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir was arrested by the Indian government.
  • Jamiat-e Islami, based in Afghanistan. Founded in 1972 by Burhanuddin Rabbani, it was also said to be inspired by Abul A’la Maududi and the Jamaat-e-Islami party.
  • Hezbi Islami, also based in Afghanistan, broke away from Jamiat-e Islami in 1975–76.Led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, its ethnic make-up was overwhelmingly Ghilzai Pashtun. It’s less moderate stance won it the backing of Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan (and Saudi Arabia and Pakistan president Zia ul-Haq) during the jihad against the Soviet military.
  • UK Islamic Mission was founded by members of the East London Mosque in 1962.Also “inspired by the Jamaat-e-Islami party in Pakistan” and the “Islamic revivalist teachings of Abul A’la Maududi and others.”
  • Janibili drinking water project
  • Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik inaugurated the much-awaited Janibili Mega Project, the first integrated water supply system in Berhampur Mega built at a whopping cost of Rs 431 crore.
  • The project comes as a relief to the Southern Odisha’s prime commercial city which has been battling with drinking water woes since many years.
  • The project, first phase of which was launched, will benefit more than 5,00,000 people in both rural and urban areas of Ganjam district through better access to drinking water.
  • Apart from Berhampur, the project would cater to the water needs of 53 villages in 16 gram panchayats between Janibili and Berhampur. It is estimated that the project would supply 300 lakh litres of water on a daily basis through a pipeline network of 232 km.
  • A massive water reservoir has been built at Dharakote block’s Janibili. Water from this reservoir will be treated at a purification plant in Jagadalpur in Kukudahandi block and supplied to Berhampur city.

 

  • Meiteis
  • Meitei, also spelled Meeteior Meithei, also called Manipuri, dominant population of Manipur in northeastern India. The area was once inhabited entirely by peoples resembling such hill tribes as the Naga and the Mizo. I
  • ntermarriage and the political dominance of the strongest tribes led to a gradual merging of ethnic groups and the formation finally of the Meitei, numbering about 1.5 million in the early 21st century. They are divided into clans, the members of which do not intermarry.
  • Although they speak a Tibeto-Burman language, they differ culturally from the surrounding hill tribes by following Hindu customs. Before their conversion to Hinduism, they ate meat, sacrificed cattle, and practiced headhunting, but now they abstain from meat (though they eat fish), do not drink alcohol, observe rigid rules against ritual pollution, and revere the cow.
  • They claim high-caste status. The worship of Hindu gods, with special devotion to Krishna, has not precluded the worship of many pre-Hindu indigenousdeities and spirits.

 

 

 

  • Matua community
  • Matuas trace their ancestry to East Bengal, and many of them entered West Bengal after Partition and after the formation of Bangladesh — the Prime Minister flagged the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill during his speech.
  • Matuas are Namasudras, a Scheduled Caste group with a presence in at least six parliamentary seats.
  • The Matua Mahasangha, a religious reforms movement and a sect, was formed by Harichand Thakur in East Bengal in the mid-1800s. Harichand’s grandson P R Thakur established West Bengal’s Thakurnagar as headquarters of the sect after 1947.
  • Boro Ma belongs to the same family, which still wields influence on the community.

 

  • Somya Swaminathan
  • The World Health Organization appointed Soumya Swaminathan the chief scientist who will head a new division created to strengthen the body’s work and ensure that quality standards are met. She will work out of Geneva in Switzerland.
  • As Deputy Director-General Programmes (DDP), she was one of the three DDGs assisting WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
  • Swaminathan has more than 30 years of experience in clinical care, research and translating those findings into programmes.
  • She was one of the three deputy director-generals assisting the WHO director-general in monitoring the programmes.
  • She was the first Indian to hold the post.
  • She had joined the WHO in October 2017. She will be replaced by Zsuzsanna Jakab, who is currently the regional director of the organisation in Europe.
  • Her appointment to the new division is part of the WHO’s reforms to “modernise and strengthen the institution to play its role more effectively and efficiently as the world’s leading authority on public health”.
  • The reforms are to ensure that the organisation meets its “triple billion” targets in the next five years.
  • WHO’s targets are “one billion more people benefitting from universal health coverage, one billion more people better protected from health emergencies and one billion more people enjoying better health and well-being”.
  • Soumya Swaminathan is a well known medical researcher and health policy expert. She is a researcher on HIV and tuberculosis.
  • The chief scientist is the daughter of MS Swaminathan, considered to be the father of India’s Green Revolution, and educationalist Mina Swaminathan.

 

  • Swachh Survekshan 2019 Awards 
  • Cleanest City
    1. Indore
    2. Ambikapur
    3. Mysuru
  • ‘Cleanest Big City’: Ahmedabad
  • Cleanest Medium city: Ujjain
  • Cleanest Small city: New Delhi Municipal Council
  • Best Ganga Town: Gauchar
  • ‘Fastest Moving Big City’: Raipur
  • ‘Fastest Moving Medium Cities’: Mathura-Vrindavan

 

47) Chameli Devi award

  • Journalist Priyanka Dubey, who works as a bilingual journalist with BBC at its Delhi bureau, will be honoured with the Chameli Devi Jain Award for Outstanding Woman Journalist in the year 2018.
  • Dubey, according to a statement issued by The Media Foundation, was chosen for her “multi-faceted, investigative and interrogative reportage”.
  • Her news reports take up the burning and complex social and political issues of our times, helping uncover the reality underlying them, showing them to be layered, complex, and variegated.
  • The Chameli Devi Jain Award awards women journalists for their exceptional contribution to the cause of journalism upholding standards of excellence through a sustained body of work.
  • The Chameli Devi Award named after the freedom fighter, Chameli Devi Jain who held demonstrations against the foreign goods on the call of Gandhiji and got arrested. She was Gandhian and spun chakra. She would attend meeting with other women on matters of community reform, like widow remarriage.

 

  • Release of Dictionary of Martyrs of India’s Freedom Struggle (1857-1947)
  • The project for compilation of “Dictionary of Martyrs” of India’s Freedom Struggle was commissioned by the Ministry of Culture, to the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) to commemorate the 150th anniversary of uprising of 1857.
  • In this dictionary a martyr has been defined as a person who died or who was killed in action or in detention, or was awarded capital punishment while participating in the national movement for emancipation of India.
  • It includes ex-INA or ex-military personnel who died fighting the British.
  • It includes the martyrs of 1857 Uprising, Jallianwala Bagh Massacre (1919), Non-Cooperation Movement (1920-22), Civil Disobedience Movement (1930-34), Quit India Movement (1942-44), Revolutionary Movements (1915-34), Kissan Movements, Tribal Movements, Agitation for Responsible Government in the Princely States (Prajamandal), Indian National Army (INA, 1943-45), Royal Indian Navy Upsurge (RIN, 1946), etc. Information of about 13,500 martyrs has been recorded in these volumes.

The publication has been brought out in five volumes (zone wise) as given below

  • “Dictionary of Martyrs: India’s Freedom Struggle (1857-1947)”, Volume 1, Parts I & II. In this volume, more than 4400 martyrs of Delhi, Haryana, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh have been listed.
  • “Dictionary of Martyrs: India’s Freedom Struggle (1857-1947)”, Volume 2, Parts I & II. In this volume more than 3500 martyrs of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Jammu & Kashmir have been listed.
  • “Dictionary of Martyrs: India’s Freedom Struggle (1857-1947)”, Volume 3. The number of martyrs covered in this volume is more than 1400. This volume covers the martyrs of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Sind.
  • “Dictionary of Martyrs: India’s Freedom Struggle (1857-1947)”, Volume 4. The numbers of martyrs covered in this volume is more than 3300. This volume covers the martyrs of Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura.
  • “Dictionary of Martyrs: India’s Freedom Struggle (1857-1947)”, Volume 5. The number of martyrs covered in this volume is more than 1450. This volume covers the martyrs of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

 

 

  • National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA)
  • National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) was constituted vide Government of India Resolution dated 29th August, 1997 as an attached office of the Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP).
  • Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers as an independent Regulator for pricing of drugs and to ensure availability and accessibility of medicines at affordable prices.

Functions of NPPA

  • To implement and enforce the provisions of the Drugs (Prices Control) Order in accordance with the powers delegated to it.
  • To deal with all legal matters arising out of the decisions of the Authority.
  • To monitor the availability of drugs, identify shortages, if any, and to take remedial steps.
  • To collect/ maintain data on production, exports and imports, market share of individual companies, profitability of companies etc, for bulk drugs and formulations.
  • To undertake and/ or sponsor relevant studies in respect of pricing of drugs/ pharmaceuticals.
  • To recruit/ appoint the officers and other staff members of the Authority, as per rules and procedures laid down by the Government.
  • To render advice to the Central Government on changes/ revisions in the drug policy.
  • To render assistance to the Central Government in the parliamentary matters relating to the drug pricing.

 

 

  • India ranks 11th in gold holding
  • According to data provided by the World Gold Council(WGC), India has the 11th largest gold reserve and the current holding pegged at 607 tonnes.
  • The Netherlands holds the 10th 
  • The top spot is occupied by USgold reserves, followed by
  • International Monetary Fund (IMF) ranks third on the list with total gold reserves.