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IASbaba Press Information Bureau (PIB)- 31st Oct to 6th Nov, 2016

  • IASbaba
  • November 9, 2016
  • 3
IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis, IASbaba's Daily News Analysis
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GS-2

International Forum on Adopting an ICT Perspective to Education and Learning 

(Topic: Human resource and development)

About- International Bureau of Education (IBE), UNESCO in partnership with Google and in collaboration with the UNESCO International Institute of Technology for Education (IITE) in Moscow the National Council for Education Research and Training (NCERT) in New Delhi and the Ministry of Human Resource Development of the Government of India (MHRD-GOI) is organizing an International Forum on Adopting an ICT Perspective to Education and Learning.

IBE-

  • IBE supports countries efforts both through direct technical assistance but also by proving platform to share experiences and best practices from around the world and build country capacity to harness technology to strengthen education systems for sustained improvement of education quality, equity and inclusion.
  • IBE partner Google is contributing significantly not only India a group of officials/faculty representing RMSA, SCERTs, School Teachers, and National ICT Awardee.
  • The forum targets mainly countries which are implementing the UNESCO developed General Education Quality Analysis Framework (GEQAF).

Participating countries include

  • Azerbaijan, Botswana, Egypt, Gabon, India, Lithuania, Oman, Seychelles, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Swaziland. Experts from Brazil, Mauritius and the United State are also participating.
  • NCERT and senior officials from MHRD-GOI and Autonomous bodies under MHRD-GOI are likely to participate.

Key Highlights-

  • The International Forum is designed differently than the common practice of conferences and workshop characterized by extensive presentations and with very little interaction and hands-on activities
  • For adopting an ICT Perspective to Education and Learning experiential learning is very essential. Therefore, the sessions of the forum are designed to be interactive and to build on concrete cases of ICT integration and inclusion thought practical hands-on activities. Best practice cases from countries like India, Lithuania, Mauritius, Oman and South Africa will be presented in innovating and engaging ways.

 

Kerala declared Open Defecation Free 

(Topic: Drinking water and sanitation)        

 

About- The State of Kerala became the third State overall and the largest State so far to be declared Open Defecation Free (ODF) under the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) (Gramin).


Kerala ODF Statistic-

  • With this, all 14 districts, 152 blocks, 940 Gram Panchayats and 2117 villages of the State have been declared free from open defecation.
  • Kerala, with a rural population of approximately 3.5 crores, is also the largest State so far to have achieved the ODF Status.

Which states are on the first and second position????

  • Sikkim (~6 lakhs of rural population) and Himachal Pradesh (~70 lakhs rural population)}

Outcome-

Freedom from open defecation has been proven to lead to– Significant health benefits in terms of incidences of water-borne diseases, especially in children, and provide safety and dignity for all, especially women and senior citizens.

Textiles Minister to Inaugurate National Handicrafts Fair at Dilli Haat

(Topic: Indian Textile industry)

About- Minister of Textile will inaugurate a fortnight long Exhibition cum sale of Handicrafts developed by Artisans of Clusters at Dilli Haat on 2nd November 2016

Fair is promoted and marketed by- Council of Handicrafts Development Corporations (COHANDS), with financial assistance from the office of Development Commissioner (Handicrafts).

Schedule and Participants- It will remain open for public till 15th of November 2016. Cluster Artisans from all over India will participate in the fair during this programme.

Fair has been conceptualized with a view to provide-

  • Direct marketing platform for innovative products developed by 120 Artisans of Handicrafts Clusters supported and promoted by Office of the Development Commissioner Handicrafts covering different crafts like-> leather, embroidery, zari and chikankari, Madhubani painting, artificial jewellery, metal ware, paper machei etc.
  • About 22 types of craft are on display with live demonstration during this period. The event will showcase the best of Indian Handicrafts in quality, design and versatility from all over the country. This programme is being organized as an exclusive fair for Handicraft products in India at a grand scale to increase visibility of the products in domestic market.

Outcome-

  • Programme will benefit the artisans from Clusters who are unable to participate in the International Fairs due to high cost.
  • Space rental and infrastructure shall be provided free of cost to these participants.
  • A Thematic Display at Dilli Haat for the benefit of Cluster Artisans, a Craft Awareness Programme with a view to support the local level awareness that targets general public and spread awareness about our crafts and a cultural programme representing the folk art/dance covering cultural heritage of the country covering east to west and north to south is also being organized on the occasion.

 

Prime Minister to inaugurate AMCDRR

(Topic: Important International organisations)

 

About- Prime Minister will inaugurate the Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (AMCDRR) 2016. This is the first major inter-governmental event after the adoption of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR).

Conference will pave the way towards-

  • Implementation of this Framework in the Asian region.
  • It will also devise a mechanism for monitoring its progress.

Let’s come on to Sendai Framework now-

  • Adopted at the third UN World Conference in Sendai, Japan in March, 2015, is the first major agreement of the post-2015 development agenda and identifies targets and priority action areas towards reducing disaster risk.
  • Framework is for 15 years, 2015-2030.
  • It is a voluntary and non-binding agreement which recognizes that the State has the primary role to reduce disaster risk but responsibility should be shared with other stakeholders including local government, the private sector and other stakeholders.
  • Framework is the successor instrument to the Hygo Framework for Action (HFA) 2005-2050: Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disaster.

India’s Commitment-

  • India is committed to address issues concerning DRR and strengthen resilience to disasters. To realise this, launched India’s first National Disaster Management Plan, designed in line with the priorities defined in the Sendai Framework, earlier this year. The hosting of the AMCDRR 2016 reaffirms India’s commitment to the cause of DRR.

AMCDRR

  • Established in 2005, AMCDRR is a biennial conference.
  • Jointly organized by different Asian countries and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR).
  • So far, six AMCDRR conferences have been organised. India had also hosted the second AMCDRR in New Delhi in 2007.

Key Highlights of the Event-

  • The Conference will discuss issues related to DRR in 6 technical, 22 thematic and 3 featured sessions during the Conference.
  • Technical events will be broadly based on themes related to Risk Sensitive Development for Community Resilience.
  • All the three featured events –
  • Risk Resilient Infrastructure for Sustainable Development,
  • Application of Science and Technology for prevention of new risks
  • Regional Cooperation – will be chaired by India.
  • Led by governments as well as NGOs, academics and other stakeholders, the thematic sessions will be held in parallel on 3rd and 4th November. These sessions will dwell on issues such as Gender sensitive DRR, Child-centered DRR etc., at length.
  • Various DRR-centric activities will be organised during the Conference to spread awareness about disaster risk reduction and its role in safeguarding lives, livelihoods and infrastructure.
  • Various Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs), government and UN bodies are participating in the DRR exhibition. With a thematic focus on ‘Make in India’, the exhibition will showcase good practices in Disaster Risk Management.
  • The commemoration of the first World Tsunami Awareness Day, to spread awareness about the dangers of tsunami and the importance of early warning systems in mitigating its impact, will also be held on 5th
  • Conference will adopt the New Delhi Declaration, a political commitment of participating governments towards preventing and reducing disaster risk. It will also adopt the ‘Asian Regional Plan for Implementation of the Sendai Framework’. Voluntary statements of action of stakeholder groups towards a ‘shared responsibility’ approach in implementation of the SFDRR would also be adopted.

About ‘New Delhi Declaration’-

  • The ‘New Delhi Declaration’ is a political statement spelling out the commitment of participating governments towards –
  • Preventing and reducing disaster risk
  • Strengthening the resilience of communities, nations and the Asian region.
  • Recognising the need to accelerate the implementation of global frameworks, it commits to a people-centred and whole-of-society approach towards DRR. It also emphasises the need to enhance the capacity of communities and ensure participation of all stakeholder groups towards achieving resilience.

About ‘Asian Regional Plan’-

  • The ‘Asian Regional Plan for Implementation of the Sendai Framework’ focuses on ‘How to’ reduce disaster risk at national and local levels.
  • It has arrived at a longer term road map of cooperation and collaboration, spanning the 15-year horizon of the Sendai Framework, as well as a two-year action plan to further disaster risk reduction with specific, actionable activities.

 

India, UNISDR sign Statement of Cooperation on Sendai Framework

(Topic: Important International organisations)

About- India and United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction signed a Statement of Cooperation during the second day of the Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (AMCDRR) 2016

Cooperation aims to ensure-

  • Effective implementation and monitoring of the Sendai Framework through Training and capacity building for Asian countries
  • Promoting international and regional cooperation to reinforce political commitment
  • Facilitate knowledge sharing and strengthen the capacity of UNISDR for monitoring and review of the Sendai Framework.

Statement underlined

  • Guiding principles, objectives and areas of cooperation between India and UNISDR towards the effective implementation and monitoring of the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR), which was adopted at the Third World Conference on DRR at Sendai in Japan in March, 2015

India and UNISDR-

  • India will partner with UNISDR to work towards strengthening the capacity of Asian countries in ensuring risk resilient development.
  • It will also facilitate the sharing of knowledge and experiences, and collaborative efforts towards addressing critical regional challenges.

 

ASEAN renews efforts for collective response to disasters in and outside the region

(Topic: Important International organisations)

About- The ASEAN Secretariat, in partnership with Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) launched the ASEAN Declaration “One ASEAN, One Response: ASEAN Responding to Disasters as One in the Region and Outside the Region”

Declaration is a commitment from ten ASEAN Member States to provide faster and collective response to disasters in and outside the region.

Aim-

  • To achieve faster response, mobilise greater resources and establish stronger coordination to ensure ASEAN’s collective response to disasters.
  • It also emphasises the role of ASEAN in rendering support and sharing accumulated expertise in disaster management to other parts of the world.

ASEAN-

  • “ASEAN, as one community, will share experience and expertise gained from its disaster responses in the region to friends and partners in the global community.
  • It is also committed to working closely with regional and international disaster management and humanitarian players to provide the much needed assistance to affected communities to quickly alleviate their sufferings after any disaster
  • Between 2004 and 2014, the ASEAN region recorded more than 50% of the total global disaster fatalities or 3, 54, 000 of the 7, 00, 000 deaths in disasters worldwide. The total economic loss was estimated at US$91 billion.
  • In the last decade, the region suffered from two high-impact, large-scale disasters that captured the attention of the world namely the 2008 Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar and the 2013 Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.
  • Prone to disasters, ASEAN considers disaster management and humanitarian assistance one of its top priorities. Community that stands ready to provide relief and recovery efforts to the population affected by disasters, ASEAN has appointed its Secretary-General as the ASEAN Humanitarian Assistance Coordinator to be activated in times of severe calamity.
  • It also formed a voluntary pool of ASEAN-Emergency Response and Assessment Team and established the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance (AHA Centre) as the primary ASEAN regional coordinating agency on disaster management and emergency response.
  • In peacetime, ASEAN continues its collective efforts to build a robust disaster planning and preparedness through the implementation of the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response.

 

India to host Seventh Session of the Conference of Parties (COP7) Health Minister to inaugurate it on 7th Nov

(Topic: Important International organisations)

 

About- Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India is hosting the Seventh Session of the Conference of Parties (COP7) to WHO FCTC during 7-12 November, 2016.

Key Highlights-

  • It is the first occasion that a Conference of Parties (COP) meeting is being held in India and signals a strong commitment of the Government of India to increase international co-operation and awareness of the WHO FCTC globally and especially in the WHO South-East Asia Region.

Participants- Approx. 1500 delegates are expected to participate in the conference from around 180 countries along with other Observers in Official Relations with the WHO FCTC Secretariat, Geneva.

What is WHO FCTC?

  • The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) is the first global evidence-based public health treaty that recognises the right of all people to the highest standard of health.
  • Treaty was developed by countries in response to the globalization of the tobacco epidemic. There are currently 180 Parties to the Convention.

India and FCTC-

  • India has been the forerunner in ratification of this public health treaty and was the 7thCountry to ratify the Convention in 2004.
  • India provided a leadership role in the negotiations of FCTC and was also the Regional Coordinator for the South-East Asia Region.
  • India ratified the treaty on 27thFebruary 2005 and is therefore obligated to comply with the treaty provisions and its guidelines to reduce tobacco consumption globally.

COP 

  • The Conference of the Parties (COP) is the Governing Body of the WHO FCTC and is comprised of all Parties to the Convention.
  • It keeps under regular review the implementation of the Convention and takes the decisions necessary to promote its effective implementation, and may also adopt protocols, annexes and amendments to the Convention.
  • The regular sessions of COP are held at two yearly intervals and therefore, this time, the Seventh Session of Conference of Parties (COP7) is being hosted by Government of India in partnership with the WHO FCTC Secretariat, which is based at the WHO Headquarters in Geneva.

Steps taken by India-

  • India has taken significant steps to implement decisions of previous COP sessions.
  • As per the decisions taken during the Sixth Session of Conference of Parties (COP6), Government of India has set up a Global Knowledge Hub on Smokeless Tobacco at National Institute of Cancer Prevention and Research (NICPR). This hub serves as a repository of knowledge related to smokeless tobacco.

 

FSSAI Strengthens the Food Testing Infrastructure in the Country

(Topic:  Food safety and Standards)

About- The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has rolled out a major scheme for strengthening of Food Testing Infrastructure in the country at an estimated cost of Rs. 482-crore, in the light of the recent observations by Hon’ble High Court, Mumbai regarding the urgent need to upgrade Food Testing Laboratories in India.

Steps taken for implementation of Scheme-

  • The Empowered Committee constituted for implementing this scheme held its first Meeting on November 2, 2016 in New Delhi, which was chaired by Chairperson, FSSAI.
  • Representatives from various Ministries such as Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Ministry of Food Processing Industries, Export Inspection Council, NABL and seven States/UTs were present. Proposals from 7 States/UTs, namely, Goa, Delhi, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Punjab were considered for strengthening their food Testing infrastructure.
  • Two proposals, from Chandigarh (Punjab) and Calicut (Kerala), were approved in principle. The other States were requested to revise and resubmit their proposals according to the scheme guidelines with mentorship support from FSSAI.
  • Committee also approved the proposal for strengthening the Referral Food Laboratory at Central Food Technology Research Institute (CFTRI) through provision of state-of-the-art equipment and facilities Introduction of these equipment facilities would significantly enhance the testing capability of CFTRI for adulteration of honey and pesticide and antibiotic residues in food samples.

About the scheme-

  • Under this scheme, 45 State/UT Food Testing labs (at least one in each State/UT with a provision of two labs in larger states) and 14 Referral Food Testing labs will be upgraded to enable them to obtain NABL accreditation.
  • 62 Mobile Testing labs will also be established across all States/UTs. There are currently 4 Mobile food Testing labs in Punjab, Gujarat, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, which will serve as a model for these Mobile Testing labs.
  • Capacity building of the Food Testing labs is also an important component of this scheme.
  • In addition, a School Food and Hygiene Programme has been envisaged under which basic Food Testing labs will be set up in 1500 schools/colleges across the country to promote a culture of safe and whole some food.

 

ECI launches online survey to assess level of awareness among Overseas Indian voters

(Topic: Election commission)

About- ECI has initiated an online survey for Overseas Indian Citizens.

It is for- In order to assess level of awareness about the registration and voting process.

Objective- To study and determine the registration and participation rates among overseas electors.

Unique survey launched by ECI in collaboration with– Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) will help in gathering opinions and voting preferences of Overseas Indians.

Benefit-

  • The survey shall help in not only identifying information gaps but also in finding the preferred methods of voting which can subsequently be shared with the Government and Legislators.

An Online competition-

  • Apart from the survey, ECI has also launched an online competition, as a part of the initiative, to engage with the target population and seek their contribution to the cause – ‘Every Indian Vote counts’.
  • Under the competition, participants can upload their original entries in categories like Slogans, Songs, Posters, Photographs, Essays and Short Film and Audio Visual formats.
  • The winning entries will get round trip to India and a lifetime chance to be honored by the Election Commission of India on National Voters’ Day, 25th January 2017 in New Delhi.

Background-

  • The provisions of the Representation of the People Act, 1950 was amended in 2011to make special provisions for citizens of India residing outside the country to get enrolled as an elector in the constituency in which his/her place of residence in India as mentioned in his passport is located.
  • Despite there being 11.4 million non-resident Indians across the world, at present only around 16000 of them are registered on the electoral roll as Overseas Indian electors.
  • Election Commission of India is now taking up steps to reach out to the overseas Indians so that they get enrolled and also vote in elections in their respective constituencies.

 

Union Home Minister to inaugurate 11th Annual Convention of CIC on 7th November

(Topic: Government initiatives)

About- Union Home Minister will inaugurate the two-day 11th  Annual Convention of Central Information Commission (CIC).

Highlights-

  • During the inauguration, the Home Minister will launch the e-Court software which is under implementation in the Commission with the help of National Informatics Centre. Also release a book on RTI success stories. The book has been prepared for the Commission by Yashwantrao Chavan Academy of Development Administration.

E-court System-

  • Aimed at- Enabling speedy disposal of Appeals/Complaints by using digital technology.
  • System will allow online filing of appeals/complaints and case disposals using latest technology.
  • Working-The system will generate a unique number which can be used by the applicant for tracking the status of a case filed with the Commission.
  • As soon as a case is filed online or offline, the system will generate SMS/email alert to the applicant. Alerts will also be generated to inform the applicant at the stage of Registration, issue of Facilitation Memo, scheduling of the case hearing and also at the stage of decision uploading.
  • The system will offer an online search facility which allows a user to search for Dak, File, Hearing Notice and Decision etc.

CIC

  • The Central Information Commission was constituted in 2005 for dealing with second appeals/complaints filed under the Right to Information Act, 2005.
  • Commission has till now heard and disposed off about 2 lakh cases. For convenience of the information seekers, the Commission encourages hearings through Video Conference.
  • Since 1st April, 2015, the Commission has heard almost 19,000 cases through Video Conferencing.
  • In all 25,960 cases were registered with CIC in 2015-16 and during the same period 28,188 cases were disposed off. During April-October, 2016 about 12,780 cases were registered and 15,993 cases have been disposed off by the Commission.

 

NITI Aayog launches the first ever Agricultural Marketing & Farm Friendly Reforms Index. Maharashtra ranks first

(Topic: NITI Aayog)

Issue- The low levels of productivity, growth and incomes ailing the farm sector in India and causing immense agrarian distress is well known. Without undertaking radical reform it is impossible to transform agriculture and double farmers’ income. However, state governments have been extremely lax in implementing much needed reforms to modernize agriculture and create a favourable policy and market environment for farmers

Three key areas for reform

  • Agricultural market reforms
  • Land lease reforms
  • Reforms related to forestry on private land – felling and transit of trees

Agriculture Marketing-

 

Why needed?

  • Today, marketing is extremely crucial and almost every sector has embraced marketing principles to ensure best possible outcomes.
  • However, agricultural development in India has entirely ignored the potential of marketing and has continued to follow its old trajectory. Therefore, the benefits that can be accrued from agriculture are largely untapped.
  • Productivity is some states is regrettably low and there is a vast disconnect between prices received by farmers and the prices paid by consumers.
  • Moreover, private capital and modernization have completely evaded agriculture, resulting in barely any addition to the value chain. The poor state of reforms in the sector is also the primary reason for the non-performance of agricultural food processing industry in India.
  • This, despite very favourable demand-side factors spread across the country. Much of the potential that post-harvest value addition can bring to agriculture has been ignored.
  • Reforms in this area can bring out an enormous increase in employment by create jobs in cleaning, processing and marketing of grain directly by the farmer. This will also resolve underemployment encountered in agriculture.

Then what should be done to overcome the hurdles? –

  • First is the immediate need to amend existing regulations in order to liberalize markets.
  • Farmer to should be given the freedom to decide to whom, where and how he wants to sell his produce.
  • Seven indicators have been developed by NITI in this regard. The reforms also suggest special treatment of fruits and vegetables from other farm produce as they are perishable and produced in small quantities.
  • Importantly, the recommended reforms place importance on IT in marketing for the creation of a ‘national market’ for agriculture, so that farmers across the country may benefit from interconnected markets, through the use of appropriate technology.
  • This important reform has so far eluded the country due to strong lobbies of middlemen and the reluctance of political class to take favourable steps.
  • Taking note of increasing incidents of leasing in and out of land and suboptimal use of land with lesser number of cultivators, NITI has reformed the land leasing law to recognize the tenant and safeguard interest of land owners. The reforms also lay stress on the untapped scope of agro forestry in supplementing farmers’ income.

NITI Aayog has launched an index to rank States and UTs

  • Based on implementation of seven provisions proposed under model APMC Act, joining e NAM initiative, special treatment to fruits and vegetables for marketing and level of taxes in mandis.

How indicators are helpful?

  • These indicators reveal ease of doing agribusiness as well as opportunities for farmers to benefit from modern trade and commerce and have wider option for sale of her/his produce.
  • These indicators also represent competitiveness, efficiency and transparency in agri markets.
  • The second area of reforms included in the index is relaxation in restrictions related to lease in and lease out agricultural land and change in law to recognise tenant and safeguard land owners liberalisation.
  • The third area included in the index represent freedom given to farmers for felling and transit of trees grown on private land. This represents opportunity to diversify farm business.

Index and Ranking-

  • Index is named as “Agricultural Marketing and Farmer Friendly Reforms Index” and it has a score which can have minimum value “0” implying no reforms and maximum value “100” implying complete reforms in the selected areas. States and UTs have been ranked in terms of the score of the index.
  • The state of Maharashtra achieved first rank in implementation of various reforms. The state has implemented most of the marketing reforms and it offers best environment for doing agribusiness among all the states and UTs.
  • Gujarat ranks second with a score of 71.5 out of 100, closely followed by Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Almost two third states could not reach even halfway mark of reforms score. Major states like U.P., Punjab, West Bengal, Assam, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu and J&K are in this group.

 

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Setting up Waste Management Plants Under e-Nam Scheme

(Topic: Agriculture)

About- Cleaning drives were undertaken in 271 Agricultural Mandis under Swachta Pakhawad. Swachhta Action Plan has been prepared in which it was decided to make provision of Rs.10 lakh for each mandi for setting up waste management plants under e-Nam scheme.

Further steps taken under this-

  • It was also decided that under one flagship scheme, namely RKVY, managed by DAC&FW one percent funds will be spent on Solid and Waste Management.
  • Besides this, various offices under the three Departments were cleaned involving, inter alia, installation of sensors in toilets, installation of motorized grinder and weeding out of unwanted records, removing encroachments and all junk lying in the offices.
  • Centres of All India Soil & Land Use Survey of India (SLUSI), a subordinate office under DAC&FW, involved local MPs/ public representatives in the Swachhta Activities.
  • Further, a Compost pit has been inaugurated in SLUSI, Kolkata. Compost Machines are being installed in the Mandis in coordination with States.

 

First-ever International Agrobiodiversity Congress to be held in New Delhi from 6-9 November, 2016 

(Topic: Agriculture)

About- The 1st International Agrobiodiversity Congress – IAC 2016 – will gather 900 delegates from 60 countries in New Delhi, India, from 6-9 November, 2016.

Co-organized by- The Indian Society of Plant Genetic Resources and Bioversity International, a CGIAR Research Center headquartered in Rome, Italy, International Agrobiodiversity Congress received support from many Indian and international organisations engaged in the conservation and use of genetic resources.

Agrobiodiversity-

  • Agricultural biodiversity – or agrobiodiversity – is the foundation of sustainable agricultural development and is an essential natural resource to ensure current and future food and nutrition security.

Why needed?

  • As the world faces challenges, such as global malnutrition, climate change, increasing agricultural productivity, reducing risk and increasing shrinking food security, we need everyone’s attention and concern for the conservation and use of these precious resources because they provide essential raw materials for our agricultural systems and peoples’ livelihoods.

Outcome from Congress-

This international Congress will initiate and encourage a dialogue among relevant stakeholders – including farmers – to better understand everyone’s role in agrobiodiversity management and the conservation of genetic resources.

India and Agrobiodiversity

  • India is the perfect venue for the first-ever International Agrobiodiversity Congress as it is one of the most diverse countries in the world.
  • It takes up only 2.4% of the world’s land area, and yet it harbours 7-8% of all recorded species, including over 45,000 species of plants and 91,000 species of animals (CBD, 2014).

International Agrobiodiversity Congress will provoke discussion and knowledge-sharing on issues for

  • The effective and efficient management of genebanks; science-led innovations in the field of genetic resources
  • Livelihood, food and nutrition security though crop diversification, including use of lesser known crops and the role of crop wild relatives in crop improvement
  • Issues relating to quarantine, biosafety and biosecurity
  • Intellectual Property Rights and Access and Benefit Sharing in the context of exchange of germplasm.
  • To deliberate on the role of all the stakeholders in effective management and use of agrobiodiversity, a Public Forum has also been planned during the Congress.

India Society of Plant Genetic Resources was founded in 1987 as a multidisciplinary scientific body to provide a forum to all those interested in plant genetic resources to express their views, publish their findings and interact with different stakeholder

Biodiversity International is a global research-for-development organization. Bioversity International delivers scientific evidence, management practices and policy options to use and safeguard agricultural and tree biodiversity to attain sustainable global food and nutrition security.

India – Sri Lanka Meeting on Fishermen issues (5 November 2016, New Delhi)

(Topic: Fishing)

India and Sri Lanka Mutual Agreement on Fishing-

  • Fishermen from India and Sri Lanka have been fishing over centuries in the Palk Bay area located between India and Sri Lanka. [Both the countries have mutually entered into agreement in 1974 and in 1976 to decide the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) in accordance with the international rules, and we have full respect to the same.]

Matter of Concern-

  • Given the proximity of the two countries in the sea, the incidents of straying of fishermen and crossing the IMBL are common, especially in the Palk-Strait and Gulf of Mannar. These have often proved to be risky for them.
  • The instances of arrest of fishermen from Tamil Nadu (while fishing in Sri Lankan waters), seizure of their boats and attack by the Sri Lankan Navy are of great concern to the Indian government.

Possible outcome-

  • Both the countries should agree upon a real and practical arrangement to address the issue of crossing the IMBL by fishermen. Issues related to the custody of fishermen should settle on ‘humanitarian grounds’ which may only be possible through mutual consent between both the countries.
  • Government of India is committed to find a permanent solution to this problem. During the India-Sri Lanka Joint Commission meeting held in Colombo in February 2016, both the sides have understood the complexity of the fishermen’s issues and consented on the need of moving forward in finding a permanent solution of this problem.
  • Concerns expressed by Sri Lankan fishermen during meeting between Fishermen’s Associations of India and Sri Lanka held on 2ndNovember, 2016. Their demand for ban on bottom trawling or other destructive fishing methods, which cause harm to the marine environment and biodiversity in the Palk Bay, seems to be genuine. In order to ensure availability of natural resources to future generation while meeting the livelihood needs of the present, have to make conscious and collective efforts.
  • Take forward the bilateral mechanisms of Joint Working Group (JWG) between India and Sri Lanka for cooperation in Fisheries and issues related to early release of fishermen and related matters.

Steps taken by state and Central Government-

  • State Govt. of Tamil Nadu and also the Union Government have taken a few effective measures to help Indian fishermen earn their livelihood in Palk bay area peacefully and stop bottom trawling in a phased manner.
  • In order to reduce fishing pressure in the coastal areas and to encourage the Deep-sea fishing the Government of India is considering the modalities for implementation of a Scheme, in which it is proposed to incentivize the traditional fishermen for Deep- Sea Fishing.
  • Traditional Fishermen from Coastal states including fishers from Tamil Nadu will be empowered under the proposed scheme for ‘Deep-sea fishing’.
  • Fishermen from the coastal areas will be encouraged to move for Deep Sea Fishing through introduction of this scheme.
  • A ‘Special Package’ is being considered for encouraging the fishermen of Tamil Nadu to undertake deep sea fishing by diversifying their bottom trawlers into Tuna long liners.
  • DADF/MoAFW has permitted for construction of fishing harbour at Mukaiyur, which is being executed by the State Government. At the same time, efforts are also being made regarding construction of fishing harbours at Rameshvaram and Ennore in Tamil Nadu.

All these efforts may be useful in solving the fishermen issues between India and Sri Lanka. Besides, efforts are also being made to introduce modern technical information to the fishermen and to train them.

DRDO Signs MoU With IIT Delhi to Establish JATC

(Topic: Defence)

About- Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi to establish a ‘Joint Advanced Technology Centre’ (JATC) at a function held in IIT, Delhi.  JATC will be located in the campus of IIT Delhi at the upcoming Science and Technology Park (Mini-Science Park ‘MSP’).

Objective for creation of JATC is

  • To undertake and facilitate multi-disciplinary directed basic and applied research in the jointly identified research verticals.
  • The researchers will get the opportunity to work in advanced areas of research namely Advanced Materials for Ballistic Protection, Advanced Mathematical Modelling and Simulation, Advanced Electromagnetic Devices and Terahertz Technologies, Smart & Intelligent Textile Technologies, Brain Computer Interface & Brain Machine Intelligence besides Photonic Technologies, Plasmonics and Quantum Photonics, etc.
  • The focused research efforts at the centre will lead to realization of indigenous technologies in these critical areas, which will be used for speedy self-reliance.

 

MoU

  • DRDO will support JATC in equipping it with advanced and unique research facilities that will enable the faculty and scholars to conduct advanced research and transform the JATC as Centre of Excellence.
  • DRDO scientists and engineers will work with the academic research faculty and scholars in addressing scientific problems to find an innovative solution.  DRDO will facilitate towards advanced research to utilize technology outcome in the futuristic applications.
  • Faculties and researchers in various Engineering and Science departments of IIT Delhi will participate in the research programme/projects of the Centre. JATC may also involve other premier institutions in the region, based on their research strengths.

 

India-Bangladesh joint military exercise SAMPRITI-2016 to commence from 05 Nov

(Topic: Defence)

About- As part of the ongoing India Bangladesh defence cooperation, a joint military training exercise SAMPRITI 2016 is being conducted at Tangail, Dhaka, Bangladesh from 05 to 18 November 2016.

SAMPRITI-

  • Exercise SAMPRITI is an important bilateral defence cooperation endeavour between India and Bangladesh and will be the sixth edition of the exercise which is hosted alternately by both countries
  • The joint exercise SAMPRITI 2016 will simulate a scenario where both nations are working together in a Counter Insurgency and Counter Terrorism environment under the UN Charter.
  • The exercise curriculum is progressively planned where the participants will initially get familiar with each other’s organizational structure and tactical drills.
  • Subsequently, the training will advance to joint tactical exercises wherein the battle drills of both the armies will be practiced.
  • The training will culminate with a final validation exercise in which troops of both armies will jointly practice a Counter Terrorist Operation in a controlled and simulated environment.

 

Monitoring Committee to Review Control of Avian Influenza: Report

(Topic: Health issues and Environmental concerns)

About- The Monitoring Committee constituted by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change to oversee the outbreak of H5N8 avian influenza, reviewed the control and containment of the avian influenza situation today.

Action taken

  • Surveillance continues and the zoo is being screened regularly for any dead bird.
  • Bio-security measures being strictly enforced.
  • Disinfection by spraying anti-virus and other solutions is being undertaken regularly
  • Delhi Zoo remained closed for the safety of visitors and control of the disease
  • Activities of other birds in the zoos appear to be normal.
  • Sample of one Muniya has also been sent to the National Institute for High Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD), Bhopal.
  • Sample of all 27 species of birds have been collected and sent for examination in the Gandhi Zoological Park, Gwalior.

 

International Conference on Decarbonization of Indian Railways- Mission Electrification

(Topic: Railways)

About- Ministry of Railways through Institution of Railways Electrical Engineer (IREE) in partnership with ASSOCHAM India is organising the International Conference on Decarbonisation of Indian Railways- Mission Electrification in New Delhi.

Conference aims at- Bringing various stakeholders on a common platform for exchange of ideas and to deliberate on implementable technological solutions and financing options to significantly increase pace of electrification and achieve the target for setting up of renewable energy installations with total capacity of 1000MW by 2020.

About Conference-

  • An International Conference on “Decarbonization of Indian Railways – Mission Electrification” is being organizedin New Delhi on 3rd’16.
  • Conference will also project Indian Railways as an attractive investment destination considering its plans for huge investment in next 5 years towards modernization of its electrified network and use of renewable energy.
  • Conference shall cover aspects relating to policy, technological modernization, mechanization, innovations and financing models for railway electrification and de-carbonization.
  • National Transport Development Policy Committee (NTDPC), in its report, has identified electrification of railway tracks as a means to reduce fuel consumption.
  • The report has recommended for taking up electrification on priority through systematically tackling the bottlenecks in progress of electrification projects.
  • It has also suggested that electrification should be viewed as a means of making rail transport independent of imported fossil energy, while also provide a choice in sourcing energy.
  • Moreover, electric traction allows regeneration of power while braking/coasting and feeding the network, thereby reducing overall consumption of energy and carbon emissions.
  • Reducing the Carbon Foot prints through use of sustainable and green sources of energy is also a key focus area.

In line with this vision, following action plan has been planned-

  • Electrification of Railway Tracks
  • Harnessing Renewable Energy on IR to reduce energy cost and carbon footprints
  • Indian Railways targets to harness 1 GW solar and 500 MW wind power as announced in Rail Budget 2015-’16
  • 500 MW of solar units on roof tops through Central Finance Assistance (CFA) from MNRE and balance 500 MW on land.
  • Introduction of Energy Efficient Rolling Stock
  • Acquisition/ Introduction of new energy efficient Rolling Stock has been initiated through the following projects
  • Electric Loco Manufacturing Factory at Madhepura in Bihar
  • Project awarded to Madhepura Electric Locomotive Private Limited (MELPL), a JV company of Ministry of Railways and Alstom Manufacturing India Limited, to manufacture, supply and maintain the state of art 12,000 HP energy efficient locomotives.
  • Production of Energy Efficient High Horsepower Locomotives
  • Last year, CLWachieved highest ever out turn of 280 locomotives, out of which 215 were energy efficient three-phase electric locomotives.
  • CLW has completely switched over to production of only energy efficient IGBT based High Horse Power three-phase locomotives from current year and has turned out 122 such locos till Sept.’16.
  • Head On Generation (HOG)
  • Indian Railways have introduced HOG system wherein the lighting, air-conditioning and other electrical loads of passenger coaches would be fed directly from electric power drawn by locomotive from grid.
  • This system will do away with the requirement of diesel power car for feeding electric supply to coaches and also enable in carrying additional passengers.
  • This system has already been introduced in NDLS-Mumbai Rajdhani Express saving around 3,000 liters of diesel in one round trip.
  • Electrical Multiple Units (EMUs)
  • All new EMUs produced will be energy efficient with three phase technology having regeneration capability. Around 200 energy efficient rakes have been introduced in Mumbai Suburban area having regenerative braking feature since 2007.
  • Manufacturing of energy efficient electric locos from DLW, Varanasi
  • In order to meet the increased requirement of electric locomotives resulting from accelerated electrification, it has been decided to manufacture electric locos from DLW, Varanasi also.
  • It is planned to manufacture two locos in the current financial year followed by ten locos next year and there on.

 

Ministry of Shipping sponsors safety training programme for ship recycling workers under Sagarmala

(Topic: Shipping)

Aims to provide- Health and safety training to the skilled and semi-skilled workers which is required while performing their work at ship recycling yards

About the initiative-

  • The safety training programme under Sagarmala has been specifically designed and conforms to the Common Norms for Skill Development Schemes under National Skill Qualification Framework notified by the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship in Gazette Notification dated 8th August, 2015.
  • A new module has been proposed which would impart comprehensive training to workers about Occupational Safety & Hazards at workplaces that are likely to cause injuries, death or chronic occupational diseases.
  • The initiative has been identified in the National Perspective Plan (NPP) of Sagarmala for the upliftment of the coastal community.
  • Due to the accident prone nature of the ship breaking activity, Gujarat Maritime Board has been running an indigenous Safety Training and Labour Welfare Institute at Alang and has trained about 1.10 lakh labors over the last 12 years.
  • However, with the increased volume of ship recycling over last decade and to bring the training standards at par with the international regulations like UN Body -International Maritime Organization, it is imperative to enhance the capacity build-up and upgrade the existing training standards.

Indian Scenario-

  • In India, ship recycling has emerged as an activity of sizeable volume, supplying raw material to steel industry for both re-rolling and re-melting.
  • The Alang Sosiya Recycling yard is the largest ship-recycling yard in Asia, which employs an average 15000,-25000 labourers at a time and generates about 35 lakh LDT (Light displacement) per annum. On an average 350 numbers of ships are recycled every year in which more than 3 million MT of steel is generated through recycling route.

 

India UK Joint Tech Summit

(Topic: Science and technology)

About- India-UK Tech Summit will be jointly inaugurated by the PM and the Prime Minister of United Kingdom, Theresa May, on 7th November, 2016 in New Delhi. It will highlight the visions of both the Prime Ministers to create a new era of bilateral economic relationship between the two countries.

Focus sectors at the Summit will be

  • Advanced Manufacturing & Robotics; Life Sciences & Healthcare and Smart Cities. The other tracks of the Summit will be Higher Education, Design, Intellectual Property, Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Highlights-

  • The Summit will witness the coming together of a host of ministers, government officials, prominent business leaders as well as renowned academic leaders from both UK and India, with expertise in the above sectors.
  • It will be critically important for showcasing India’s scientific and technological prowess at this prestigious platform and will reflect the two countries’ technological excellence, with a drive towards forging collaborations.
  • The Department of Science & Technology (DST), Government of India, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and British High Commission, New Delhi are co-organizers of the summit.

 

4th Session of India-Azerbaijan Inter-Governmental Commission on Trade and Economic, Scientific and Technological Cooperation

(Topic:

About- The 4th Session of India-Azerbaijan Inter-Governmental Commission on Trade and Economic, Scientific and Technological Cooperation (IA-IGC) was held on 25-26 October, 2016 in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Issues pertaining to Cooperation in the field of-

  • Increasing bilateral trade and enhancing bilateral investment, Cooperation in the field of small and medium enterprises, Transport, Energy, Agriculture and Animal products, Tourism and Culture, Pharmaceutical and Health, Information and Communication Technologies, Science and Education, Heavy Industry and Chemicals and Petrochemicals sector etc. were discussed and at the end of the deliberations, a protocol was signed by both sides.

 

Environment Ministry Reviews Ambient Air Quality Status of Delhi, Directs Neighbouring States to Effectively Enforce Ban on Stubble Burning

(Topic: Environment Conservation)

About- The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change reviewed the ambient air quality status of Delhi.

It has been observed that open burning of solid waste in and around Delhi, vehicular emissions in Delhi, dust by the roadside and around construction sites in Delhi and stubble burning of crop residue in neighbouring States of Delhi are major contributors to pollution in Delhi. The problem has been accentuated due to relatively low wind speeds and lower temperatures, resulting in reduced dispersion of pollutants in Delhi.

Therefore, it has been decided that CPCB will, under relevant statutory provisions available, direct –

  • Municipal local bodies in and around Delhi to forthwith take all possible measures to check open burning of solid waste.
  • Municipal local bodies in and around Delhi to strictly enforce rules related to prevention of fugitive emissions from construction activities
  • Punjab, Haryana and other NCR States to effectively enforce ban on stubble burning in agriculture fields. For this purpose, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has summoned the concerned Secretaries of NCR States on 4th November to review the situation and to further deliberate on the strategy to minimise occurrences of open burning in agriculture fields.
  • All public road owning agencies in Delhi to ensure that roadsides are watered periodically to arrest re-suspension of dust in ambient air.
  • Delhi Police to effectively ensure that movement of traffic at busy intersections in Delhi is streamlined to minimise pollution due to vehicular emissions.

 

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