President calls for Electoral Reforms
Points raised by President
- Need to avoid disruption of Parliamentary proceedings.
- Three Ds are essential in a parliamentary system of democracy i.e. Debate, Dissension and Decision the fourth D i.e. Disruption is totally unacceptable.
- Holding of frequent elections is a strain on both administrative and financial resources.
- Administrative and development work is adversely affected during elections since no new development projects can be taken up.
- During state elections, work related to Government of India in that state should not be affected. The Election Commission, State and Central Governments and political parties should sit together and discuss this issue.
- The period of elections tends to get very long as it is spread over phases.
- Having larger number of Lok Sabha seats for which a Constitutional amendment could be considered.
- Reservation of seats for women in Parliament and State Legislative Assemblies.
Summit of ‘laureates and leaders’ for children
(Topic: Social justice)
About- The Summit being organized by the Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation will deliberate on the way forward in building a strong moral platform for protecting children from violence, and ensuring a world where children are free to be just children.
Aim- to channelize in support of Nobel laureates, world leaders, thinkers, representatives of United Nations Agencies, award winning child/youth leaders and eminent persons from academia, business, cinema, sports and civil society to end violation against children.
Outcomes of the summit
- Assertion and commitment to the moral imperative to end violence against children and ensure access to a child friendly world.
- Laureates and Leaders brainstorm and commit to action in their respective fields to accelerate progress and achieve breakthroughs to benefit children, by signing a Declaration.
- Launching of the “100 million for 100 million” campaign, which aims to mobilise 100 million youth and children for 100 million underprivileged children across the world, to end child labour, child slavery, violence against children and promote the right of every child to be safe, free, and educated, over the next 5 years.
Global Education Monitoring Report, 2016, UNESCO
About- Global Education Monitoring Report, 2016, UNESCO has claimed that India will be half a century late in achieving its universal education goals.
Observations of report
- It has not involved the Ministry of Human Resource Development in this exercise.
- The report states that India will achieve universal primary education by 2050,
- Universal lower secondary education (Grades VI – VIII in case of India) by 2060 and
- Universal upper secondary education (Grades IX-XII in case of India) by 2085.
- Near universal access has been achieved at the elementary level of schooling and 97% and 96.6% habitations have been covered with primary and upper primary schools respectively.
- Overall there has been substantial growth in enrolment in secondary education (Grade IX-X) in the country.
- Total enrolment for Grades IX and X has increased from 30.7 million in 2009-10 to 38.3 million students in the academic year 2014-15.
Winter Fog Experiment (WIFEX 2016-17)
(Topic: Environmental pollution)
Objectives of WIFEX 2016-17
- To achieve better understanding of fog life cycle and ultimately improve capability in fog prediction.
- To develop better now-casting (next 6 hours) and forecasting of winter fog on various time and spatial scales.
- Help to reduce adverse impact on aviation, transportation and economy, and loss of human life due to accidents.
- Major in-situ sensors are deployed to measure—
- Surface micro meteorological conditions
- Radiation balance
- Thermo-dynamical structure of the surface layer
- Fog droplet and aerosol microphysics
- Aerosol optical properties
- Real time sky images, and aerosol and fog water chemistry to describe the complete environmental conditions in which fog develops.
What is fog?
- Fog consists of visible cloud water droplets or ice crystals suspended in the air at or near the Earth’s surface.
- Fog can be considered a type of low-lying cloud and is heavily influenced by nearby bodies of water, topography, and wind conditions. In turn, fog has affected many human activities, such as shipping, travel, and warfare.
What are the effects of fog?
- The presence of heavy and extended period fog in the northern regions of India is one of the major weather hazards
- Impacting aviation, road transportation, economy and public life in the world’s most densely populated region.
- Maximum fog occurrence over the Northwest India is about 48 days (visibility < 1000m) per year. Occurs mostly during the December-February time period.
- All India annual morning poor visibility days (PVD <4 km) has increased from 6.7 to 27.3 % days.
- During the past 10-15 years have prompted significant socio-economic concern due to increase in frequency, persistence and intensity of fog occurrence over the northern parts of the country.
- Land use changes and increasing pollution in the region are responsible for growing Fog occurrence.
Why fog prediction is difficult?
- The physical and chemical characteristics of fog, meteorological factors responsible for its genesis, sustenance, intensity and dissipation are poorly understood.
- Similarly, meteorological conditions like humidity, wind and synoptic conditions are also not well studied.
- Improved understanding on above aspects is required to develop reliable forecasting models and observational techniques for accurate prediction of Fog events.
Notification on Eco-Sensitive Zone in Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Mumbai
(Topic: Biodiversity and Environment)
Environment Ministry issues final notification on Eco-Sensitive Zone in Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Mumbai.
- The Eco-Sensitive Zone has a minimum extent of 100 metres and maximum extent of up to 4 km from the Park boundary.
- The objective of notifying Eco-Sensitive Zones is to create a buffer as further protection around Protected Areas (PAs) such as National Parks and Wildlife sanctuaries.
- The Notification also provides that in areas around Housing Societies and with high human habitation, and in view of the fact that the National Park has a large population of leopards, a high wall with fencing may be erected to ensure that man-animal conflict is avoided.
About Sanjay Gandhi National Park
- Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP), previously called Borivali National Park
- Sanjay Gandhi National Park is spread over three districts – Palgar, Thane and Mumbai Suburb.
- Home to a number of endangered species of flora and fauna and harbours approximately 800 species of flowering plants, 45 species of mammals, 43 species of reptiles, 38 species of snakes, 12 species of amphibians, 300 species of birds, 150 species of butterflies.
- Notable amongst them are large mammalian species such as leopard, wild boar, four-horned antelope, black-naped hare, wild cat, jackal and porcupine and many bird species such as Lesser grebe, Purple Heron, Smaller Egret, Lesser Whistling Teal, Pariah Kite.
- Many reptiles, including snakes as Indian Cobra and Viper are also found in the National Park.
India and Israel to step-up Science and Technology Cooperation
(Topic: Science and Technology)
About- India and Israel agreed to give boost to the bilateral cooperation in science and technology under the aegis of the S&T Agreement concluded between India and Israel in 1993. Next year (2017) will mark 25 years of diplomatic relationship between the two countries.
India-Israel research projects in various fields–
- Agricultural and Medical Biotechnology
- Human Genomics
- Advanced Materials & Nanotechnology
- Imaging Sensor & Robotics
- Solar Energy
- Communication & Information Technology
- Lasers & Electro-optics.
- recognition of the importance of promoting women in science
Dr. B.R Ambedkar’s birth day to be celebrated as Water Day
(Topic: Water resources)
About- Considering the contribution of Dr. B R Ambedkar in water resources management of the country, Ministry of Water Resources has announced that his birth day 14th April will be celebrated as “Water Day”.
Contributions of Dr. B.R Ambedkar in water management
- During his tenure as Member (Labour) of the Viceroy’s Executive Council (1942-1946), Dr. Ambedkar steered formation of a definite All-India Policy for the development of water resources in the country.
- He laid foundation of Central Waterways, Irrigation and Navigation Commission (CWINC) which was forerunner of the present day Central Water Commission (CWC).
- Ambedkar advocated the concept of River Valley Authority or corporation for integrated development of the rivers.
- He introduced the concept of multi-purpose development of river basin in the country and his efforts in this direction have culminated with multipurpose development of Damodar, Mahanadi and other rivers immediately after independence.
- He was instrumental in inclusion of Entry 56 of List 1 and introduction of article 262 regarding the adjudication of disputes related to waters of inter-state rivers or river valleys.
National Civil Aviation policy 2016
- To create an eco-system to make flying affordable for the masses
- To enable 30 crore domestic ticketing by 2022 and 50 crore by 2027, and international ticketing to increase to 20 crore by 2027.
- Cargo volumes should increase to 10 million tonnes by 2027.
- 5/20 rule scrapped— Now, the airlines can fly overseas if they have a fleet size of 20 aircrafts or 20% of the total seat capacity in term of average number of seats on all departures put together, whichever is higher for domestic operations. (5/20 rule–local airlines having a fleet of minimum 20 aircrafts with at least five years of operational experience are allowed to fly overseas )
- Regional connectivity scheme (RCS)
- The scheme seeks to connect unconnected towns with the help of Viability gap funding (VGF).
- The central government will fund 80% of the losses incurred by the airlines by flying on regional routes. The rest of the loss will be covered by the states.
“Pehchan”, an initiative to register and provide Identity Cards to Handicrafts Artisans
About- The Government implements a scheme named Direct benefits to Artisans under National Handicraft Development Programme [NHDP] for providing financial assistance as per norms for supply of tools, safety equipments.
- All the Handicrafts Artisans including minority, Scheduled Caste/ Scheduled Tribe and BPL artisans are eligible to get benefits under this scheme.
- “Pehchan”,an initiative to register and provide Identity Cards to Handicrafts Artisans under a national database.
- Under the scheme, “Guru Shishya Parampara”, only those artisans who are Padmashree/Shilpguru/National Awardee/State Awardee and other talented Craftsperson who have dedicated their career for upgrading a particular craft of their region are eligible for imparting such training program to artisans.
Organic farming on the Banks of Ganga River
About- to promote organic clusters on the banks of Ganga in 5 Ganga basin States namely Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal. It is proposed to cover 136 gram panchayats/villages under the programme.
- Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) programme components will be converged with Namami Ganga programme to implement the organic cluster in these Ganga basin States.
- Quality control: soil sample analysis, process documentation, inspection of fields of cluster members, residue analysis, PGS certification charges
- Conversion practices: transition from current practices to organic farming, which includes procurement of organic inputs, organic seeds and traditional organic input production units and biological nitrogen harvest planting etc.
- Integrated manure management: Procurement of Liquid Bio fertilizer, Neem cake, Phosphate Rich Organic Manure and Vermicompost.
- Custom hiring: to hire agricultural implements as per Sub Mission of Agricultural Mechanisation (SMAM) guidelines.
- Labeling and Packaging Assistance.
- Transport assistance and marketing through organic fairs
National Rail Plan, 2030
(Topic: Infrastructure Development)
About- NRP-2030 will endeavour to harmonise and integrate the rail network with other modes of transport and create synergy for achieving seamless multi-modal transportation network across the country.
- The Indian Railway Network is a key component of the Country’s Transport System.
- Transporting goods and passengers on a massive scale, the Indian Railways plays a critical role in India’s economic as well as social fabric.
- Pragmatic development of Indian Railway Network as part of the country’s overall multi-modal transport system is therefore, very important.
- The network plan shall take into account connectivity to backward region, Congestion in the existing network and futuristic development of Industrial corridors.
- National Rail Plan 2030 has been envisaged which not only take shall care of existing corridors but also the identification and development of new corridors & connections.
Finance Management System (PFMS) for the monitoring of the Central Government Schemes
About- The government has decided to universalise the use of Public Financial Management System (PFMS) for all transactions or payments under the Central Sector Schemes, as it looks to facilitate just-in-time releases and monitor the usage of funds including information on its ultimate utilization.
- Just-In-Time release of funds; and
- Complete monitoring of usage of funds upto the end beneficiaries including information on end use of funds.
MDG on Health Sector
(Topic: Health and Family Welfare)
About— Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 4, 5 and 6 pertain to health sector. Progress on MDGs 4, 5 and 6
MDG – 4: Reduce Child mortality
- The target is to reduce the Under Five Mortality Rate (U5MR) among children by two-third between 1990 and 2015.
- India achieved a goal of reducing U5MR from 126 per 1000 live births in 1990 to 42 in 2015.
- India has achieved U5MR of 45 per 1000 live births during 2014
MDG-5: Improve Maternal Health
- The target is to reduce Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) by three quarters between 1990 and 2015.
- India has achieved MMR of 167 per 1,00,000 live births during 2011-13
MDG-6: Combat HIV / AIDS, Malaria and Other Diseases
- The target is to halt by 2015 and begin to reverse the spread of HIV / AIDS and the incidence of malaria and other major diseases.
- Malaria Incidence has reduced by about 56%
- The Global Tuberculosis Report, 2015 published by the World Health Organisation mentions India having attained the Millennium Development Goal regarding Tuberculosis.
- AIDS related deaths have declined to 54% from 2007-2015.
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