(Topic: Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society)
- An agricultural festival mainly observed by people of Western Odisha in India
- Nuakhai is observed to welcome the new rice of the season
- This is the most important social festival of Western Odisha and adjoining areas of Simdega in Jharkhand
Digital Police Portal under CCTNS project launched
(Topic: e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential)
- Enable citizens to register FIRs online
- Offer seven Public Delivery Services in 34 States & UTs, like Person and Address Verification e.g. of employees, tenants, nurses etc., permission for hosting Public Events, Lost & Found Articles and Vehicle theft etc.
- Enable restricted access to law enforcement agencies on topics such as Antecedent Verification and make assessment of FIRs
Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems (CCTNS)
- Will provide investigator the complete record history of any criminal from anywhere across the country
- CCTNS portal will be a huge game changer, force multiplier and revolutionize the way Police works in the country
- CCTNS portal will form the backbone of the Criminal Justice System and this database will be subsequently linked with the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MORTH) database on vehicle registrations
Commission to examine the Sub-Categorization within OBCs
(Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies)
It has been set up under article 340 of the Constitution to examine the issue of sub-categorization of the Other Backward Classes (OBCs)
Proposed terms of references of the Commission:
- To examine the extent of inequitable distribution of benefits of reservation among the castes/communities included in the broad category of OBCs, with reference to the OBCs included in the Central list.
- To work out the mechanism, criteria, norms and parameters, in a scientific approach, for sub-categorization within such OBCs, and,
- To take up the exercise of identifying the respective castes/communities/ sub-castes/ synonyms in the Central List of OBCs and classifying them into their respective sub-categories.
Commissioning of Second Ship of Landing Craft Utility MK-IV ‘IN LCU L52’ (GRSE Yard 2093)
(Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation)
LCU L52 – Second Landing Craft Utility (LCU) Mk-IV class to be inducted into the Indian Navy
- The ship has been indigenously designed and built – another manifestation of the potential of the country’s indigenous design and ship building capability.
- An amphibious ship with the primary role to transport and deploy Main Battle Tanks, Armoured Vehicles, troops and equipment from ship to shore.
- Fitted with state-of-the-art equipment and advanced systems like Integrated Bridge System (IBS) and Integrated Platform Management System (IPMS)
- Will be deployed for multirole activities like beaching operations, search and rescue, disaster relief operations, supply and replenishment and evacuation from distant islands.
The induction of these ships will contribute to the nation’s maritime security needs and is in consonance with the ‘Make in India’ drive.
Regional Connectivity Scheme UDAN
(Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation)
UDAN – ‘Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik’; Key component of the National Civil Aviation Policy (NCAP) which was launched with the prime objective to facilitate / stimulate regional air connectivity by making it affordable for the masses
- Proposes that at least half the seats on every flight should have a fare cap of Rs2,500 per seat per hour of flying
- The government will provide subsidies to regional airlines to offer half the seats on a discounted rate. However, the subsidies will mainly be provided by taxing the air passengers on other domestic routes in the form of a ‘small’ levy.
- The subsidy to airlines will be provided through a reverse bidding process, which means if there is a demand from multiple airlines to fly on regional routes, the ones asking for the least financial support will get the subsidy.
- In routes where a proposal comes from only one airline, the government will give the subsidy based on normative pricing, meaning it will calculate the subsidy amount based on various parameters.
- India has highly untapped civil aviation opportunities. In the first round of bids, 11 new or existing airline operators pitched for more than 200 routes. The Centre has approved 27 proposals from five players, adding 128 routes to India’s aviation map. The estimate is that this will add 6.5 lakh new seats with a subsidy of Rs.200 crore.
- Of these, six proposals for 11 routes don’t seek any subsidy under the scheme, proving there is an untapped economic potential. The benefits for tourist hotspots such as Agra, Shimla, Diu, Pathankot, Mysuru and Jaisalmer would now be just a short flight away, replacing cumbersome road or rail journeys.
- The multiplier effects of aviation activity, including new investments and employment creation for the local economies of other destinations could be equally profound.
- If this model is sustainable and more regional flights come up under the scheme, it will support the capacity-constrained airports such as Mumbai. The second airport at Navi Mumbai may help ease congestion. However, it is still years away and so initiation to develop such airports has to begin soon.
- In cities where new airports have been developed, such as Bengaluru, abandoned old facilities could be revived as dedicated terminals for low-cost and regional flights.
- Separately, new no-frills airports must be encouraged where traffic is expected to hit saturation point in coming years.
- It is time to revisit provisions that offer existing private operators of large airports (burdened by debt) the right of first refusal on any new airport proposed within 150 km.
- The regional civil aviation development must start a rethink within the Indian Railways, as it could now ease traffic on some routes. Even if there is less of passenger traffic, the cargo traffic will keep the airports alive.
- There still needs to be creation of enabling conditions for RCS to be successful. One of it includes right size of aircrafts. Many of the airports (identified for RCS) do not have big runways, so they can’t take regular aircraft. Thus there need to be smaller aircraft for short runways for short takeoffs and landings. However, such kinds of aircrafts are not present in India.
- Such aircraft needs specialized crew. There is shortage of pilots and crew which demands urgent attention. Training to the aviation personnel takes time. For training, there requires adequate infrastructure, trained manpower and sufficient funds to turn out pilots and crew.
- Viability Gap Funding under the RCS need to be extended from the proposed three to five years or more as these airfields might take even longer to become financially sustainable.
- There are fears that a flight from an UDAN location will be low priority for air traffic controllers in big cities. This may not be favourable for air carriers as well as passengers.
India’s Exclusive Rights to Explore Polymetallic Nodules from Central Indian Ocean Seabed Basin Extended by Five Years
(Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate)
Exclusive rights are over – 75000 sq. km of area in international waters allocated by International Seabed Authority for developmental activities for polymetallic nodules.
The estimated polymetallic nodule resource potential is 380 million tonnes, containing –
- 7 million tonnes of nickel
- 29 million tonnes of copper
- 55 million tonnes of cobalt
- 59 million tonnes of manganese
- Known as manganese nodules, are rock concretions formed of concentric layers of iron and manganese hydroxides around a core
- Considered as the precipitates of hot fluids from upwelling hot magma from deep interior of the oceanic crust, discharged through mineralized paths
- Besides manganese and iron, they contain nickel, copper, cobalt, lead, molybdenum, cadmium, vanadium, titanium. Of these metals nickel, cobalt and copper are considered to be of economic and strategic importance
- First country to have received the status of a pioneer investor in 1987 and was allocated an exclusive area in Central Indian Ocean Basin by United Nations (UN) for exploration and utilization of nodules
- One among the top 8-countries/ contractors and is implementing a long–term programme on exploration and utilization of Polymetallic Nodules through Ministry of Earth Sciences. This includes survey and exploration, environmental studies, technology development in mining and extractive metallurgy, in which significant contributions have been made.
- Importance –
- Open up new horizons for resources of commercial and strategic value
- Enhanced presence in the Indian Ocean water where other major international players are also active
- Adopting blue economy strategies on par with international standards is a step in the right direction to balance economic development with environmental sustainability
- Open new doors for mining of oil and gas reservoirs which are potent for India’s energy security
International Seabed Authority (ISA)
- UN body established in 1994, under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, to regulate the exploration and exploitation of marine non-living resources of oceans in international waters.
- India actively contributes to the work of International Seabed Authority. Last year, India was re-elected as a member of Council of ISA.
United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)
- Also known as the Law of the Sea treaty or the Law of the Sea Convention
- It characterizes the rights and obligations of countries regarding their utilization of the world’s seas, setting up rules for organizations, the earth, and the administration of marine natural resources, and calls for innovation exchanges in the technological field from developed to undeveloped countries.
MoU between India and Nepal on Drug Demand Reduction and Prevention of Illicit Trafficking in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances
(Topic: India and its neighborhood- relations)
- On Drug Demand Reduction and Prevention of Illicit Trafficking in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances and precursor chemicals and related matters
- Lists out the areas of cooperation on drug matters between the two countries and indicates the mechanism of information exchange and the competent authorities in the two countries who are responsible for the implementation of the MoU and exchange of any information
The MoU provides that the Parties shall endeavour to: –
- Develop mutual cooperation with a view to effectively resolving the issue of illicit traffic in narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and their precursors, cooperate in drug demand reduction through prevention, awareness, education and community based programmes, treatment and rehabilitation; and
- Exchange information of operational, technical and general nature in drug matters, exchange literature on their existing laws, rules, procedures, best practices and methods of curbing illicit trafficking in narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and their precursors and any further amendments to the existing legislation.
In-principle approval for Public Sector Banks to amalgamate through an Alternative Mechanism (AM)
(Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment)
Aim: Facilitate the creation of strong and competitive banks in public sector space to meet the credit needs of a growing economy, absorb shocks and have the capacity to raise resources without depending unduly on the state exchequer
- The decision regarding creating strong and competitive banks would be solely based on commercial considerations.
- The proposal must start from the Boards of Banks.
- The proposals received from Banks for in-principle approval to formulate schemes of amalgamation shall be placed before the Alternative Mechanism (AM).
- After in-principle approval, the Banks will take steps in accordance with law and SEBI’s requirements.
- The final scheme will be notified by Central Government in consultation with the Reserve Bank of India.
Tariff based competitive bidding process for procurement of solar power
(Topic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways ,etc.)
- Enhance transparency and fairness in the procurement process
- Protect consumer interests through affordable power
- Provide standardisation and uniformity in processes
- Provide a risk-sharing framework between various stakeholders involved in the solar PV power procurement
- Help in reducing off-taker risk and thereby encourage investments, enhance bankability of the Projects and improve profitability for the investors
EESL to procure 50 lakh Smart Meters for realization of Smart Grids in India
(Topic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways, etc.)
- Help in reducing AT&C losses, power theft and also help in monitoring of round the clock power supply eventually leading to greater efficiency and 24X7 power, for all
- The meters are being procured for implementation of smart grid projects in the states of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh – these meters will help these states in not only significantly reducing their AT&C losses way of increased billing efficiency, but will completely change the way in which electrical energy is presently being consumed and paid for by the ordinary consumers.
- To make the entire project feasible and affordable, EESL has unbundled the Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) project into two parts viz. procurement of smart meter and arranging the system integrator.
- Installation of these smart meters along with its associated communication and IT infrastructure will enable the DISCOMs to obtain real time energy consumption data of each consumer for subsequent analysis and will pave the way for initiating various smart measures by DISCOMs like
- Time Of Day (TOD)/Time Of Use (TOU) billing
- Prediction and management of peak demand
- Providing real time energy consumption data to consumer
- Prepaid billing facility
- Remote connection and disconnection of load
- Accurate billing
- Obviate the need for the meter reader’s visit to each and every consumer
Ministry of Defence approves delegation of Powers to Border Roads Organisation
(Topic: Security challenges and their management in border areas)
In News: Administrative and financial powers have been delegated to the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) right upto the level of Chief Engineer and Task Force Commander
Reason: Revision of various powers of delegation will lead to improvement in the pace of road construction in border areas with the BRO being able to complete ongoing/new projects in compressed timelines
Border Roads Organisation
- Functions under the control of the Ministry of Defence since 2015
- Engaged in road construction to provide connectivity to difficult and inaccessible regions in the border areas of the country
- The Ministry of Defence intends to bring transformational changes in the organization in order to improve the pace of execution of works and to achieve the desired outcomes according to the requirement of the Armed Forces
Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana
(Topic: Food processing and related industries in India- scope and significance, location, upstream and downstream requirements, supply chain management)
SAMPADA (Scheme for Agro-Marine Processing and Development of Agro-Processing Clusters) has been renamed as “Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana (PMKSY)”
Objective: To supplement agriculture, modernize processing and decrease agri-waste
- Creation of modern infrastructure with efficient supply chain management from farm gate to retail outlet
- Provide a big boost to the growth of food processing sector in the country
- Help in providing better prices to farmers and is a big step towards doubling of farmers’ income
- Create huge employment opportunities especially in the rural areas
- Help in reducing wastage of agricultural produce, increasing the processing level, availability of safe and convenient processed foods at affordable price to consumers and enhancing the export of the processed foods
Food Processing Sector: Has emerged as an important segment of the Indian economy in terms of its contribution to GDP, employment and investment
- To provide impetus to investment in food processing and retail sector, govt. has allowed 100% FDI in trading including through e-commerce, in respect of food products manufactured and / or produced in India. This will benefit farmers immensely and will create back – end infrastructure and significant employment opportunities.
- Set up a Special Fund of Rs. 2000 crore in NABARD to make available affordable credit at concessional rate of interest to designated food parks and agro processing units in the designated food parks.
- Food and agro-based processing units and cold chain infrastructure have been brought under the ambit of Priority Sector Lending (PSL) to provide additional credit for food processing activities and infrastructure thereby, boosting food processing, reducing wastage, create employment and increasing farmers’ income.
- “Sankalp Se Sidhi” programme – Being organized across the country to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of Quit India Movement.
- Doklam standoff – Between India and China
- 3Ds on which today’s global engagements need to focus their energy upon –
- A common shared goal of De-carbonization of the energy space
- To look at more Decentralization of energy space
- More and more Digitalization of the energy space
- ‘Andhra Kesari’ – Tanguturi Parkasam, the first Chief Minister of Andhra State
- Mechi River – At Indo-Nepal border (Locate)
- National Sports Museum to be established at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi
- Rural Games or Grameen Khel Mahotsav will kick-start from Delhi
- NITI Aayog’s Three Year Action Agenda: Published to recommend policy changes and programmes for action from 2017-18 to 2019-20, the last three years of the Fourteenth Finance Commission – Download the document
- Right to Privacy is a fundamental right: SC verdict – Read in detail here: Link
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