PRESS INFORMATION BUREAU (PIB) IAS UPSC – 17th August to 23rd August – 2020

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  • August 25, 2020
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Press Information Bureau (PIB) IAS UPSC – 17th to 23rd August, 2020



Setting up of National Recruitment Agency

(Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment)

Cabinet approves creation of National Recruitment Agency (NRA), paving the way for a transformational reform in the recruitment process for central government jobs

NRA: A multi-agency body to encompass the first level test by the Staff Selection Commission (SSC), the Railway Recruitment Boards (RRBs) and the Institute of Banking Service Personnel (IBPS)

  • Common eligibility Test (CET) to screen candidates at the first level for SSC, RRBs and IBPS
  • A computer based online Common Eligibility Test (CET) for the Graduate, the Higher Secondary (12thpass) and the Matriculate (10th Pass) candidates as a path-breaking reform.
  • CET in Every District: Ease of Access to Rural youth, women and disadvantaged candidates
  • Multiplicity of exams will not be there
  • Robust use of ICT to eradicate malpractices
  • CET Score to be valid for three years, no bar on attempts

Recruitment Reform – a major boon for the youth

At present, candidates seeking government jobs have to appear for separate examinations conducted by multiple recruiting agencies for various posts, for which similar eligibility conditions have been prescribed. Candidates have to pay fee to multiple recruiting agencies and also have to travel long distances for appearing in various exams. These multiple recruitment examinations are a burden on the candidates, as also on the respective recruitment agencies, involving avoidable/repetitive expenditure, law and order/security related issues and venue related problems. On an average, 2.5 crore to 3 crore candidates appear in each of these examinations. A common eligibility Test would enable these candidates to appear once and apply to any or all of these recruitment agencies for the higher level of examination. This would indeed be a boon to all the candidates.

Boosting Toy manufacturing in India

(Topic: Economy)

Aim: To boost manufacturing and global imprint of Indian toys

India is home to several toy clusters and thousands of artisans who produce indigenous toys which not only have cultural connect but also helps in building life-skills and psychomotor skills among children at an early age. Such clusters should be promoted through innovative and creative methods.

Indian toy market has huge potential and can bring a transformative change in the industry by promoting ‘Vocal for Local’ under AatmaNirbhar Bharat campaign.

  • Focus should be on use of technology & innovation and towards manufacturing quality products that meet global standards
  • Toys aligned with Indian culture and ethos should be used as pedagogical tools across all Anganwadi Centres and Schools for all-round development of children
  • India should tap the huge potential in digital gaming arena by developing games that are inspired from Indian culture and folk tales

Measures to improve viability of sugar industry

(Topic: Economy)

Government has taken various measures to improve viability of sugar industry, thereby enabling sugar mills to make timely payment of cane dues of farmers. Going forward, diversion of excess sugarcane and sugar is the long term solution for addressing the problem of excess stock and improving viability of sugar industry. Ethanol is a green fuel & its blending with petrol also saves the country’s foreign exchange.

Tri-partite agreement (TPA): As producers of ethanol (sugar mills), buyers of ethanol (OMCs) and the lenders (banks) are willing to enter into a tri-partite agreement (TPA) about producing, buying and paying for the ethanol through an escrow account etc., the banks can consider giving loans to sugar mills even with weak balance sheets

  • Facilitate mills to avail loans from banks to set up new distilleries or to expand their existing distilleries, thereby enhancing the overall distillation capacity in the country and thus would help in achieving the blending target under Ethanol Blended with Petrol programme. 
  • It was assured by the States and industry that efforts would be made to increase supply of ethanol in the current as well as in ensuing ethanol supply years.

Divert excess sugarcane: To encourage sugar mills to divert excess sugarcane to produce ethanol for blending with petrol, the Government has allowed production of ethanol from B-Heavy Molasses, sugarcane juice, sugar syrup and sugar; and has also fixed the remunerative ex-mill price of ethanol derived from these feed-stocks. The State-wise targets for ethanol manufacture have also been fixed.

Reasons for Ethanol Blending:

  • It is estimated that a 5% blending can result in replacement of around 1.8 million Barrels of crude oil.
  • As the ethanol molecule contains oxygen, it allows the engine to more completely combust the fuel, resulting in fewer emissions and thereby reducing the occurrence of environmental pollution.
  • The renewable ethanol content, which is a by-product of the sugar industry, is expected to result in a net reduction in the emission of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrocarbons (HC).

Challenges in Ethanol Blending:

  • Less Production: Currently, domestic production of bioethanol is not sufficient to meet the demand for bio-ethanol for blending with petrol at Indian OMCs.
  • Sugar mills do not have the financial stability to invest in biofuel plants.
  • There are also concerns among investors on the uncertainty on the price of bioethanol in the future as the prices of both sugarcane and bio-ethanol are set by the central government.
  • Water Footprint: While India has become one of the top producers of ethanol but it lags top producers, the USA and Brazil, by a huge margin and remains inefficient in terms of water usage.
    • India’s water requirements for producing ethanol are not met through rainwater and the groundwater is used for drinking and other purposes.
    • Water footprint, that is water required to produce a litre of ethanol, includes rainwater at the root zone used by ethanol-producing plants such as sugarcane, and surface, ground water, and fresh water required to wash away pollutants.
  • Limited Sugarcane Availability: Sugarcane is another limited resource that affects the ethanol blending in the country. In order to achieve a 20% blend rate, almost one-tenth of the existing net sown area will have to be diverted for sugarcane production. Any such land requirement is likely to put a stress on other crops and has the potential to increase food prices.
  • India’s biofuel policy stipulates that fuel requirements must not compete with food requirements and that only surplus food crops should be used for fuel production, if at all.
  • Lack of Alternatives: Producing ethanol from crop residue can be a good alternative but the annual capacity of biorefinery is still not enough to meet the 5% petrol-ethanol blending requirement.
  • Other biofuels such as Jatropha have often proven to be commercially unviable.

Utilization in making alcohol-based hand-sanitizers and for blending in Petrol

Ethanol is considered an effective substance against a large spectrum of microorganisms which can linger on the skin.

  • A 2004 study published in the Clinical Microbiology Reviews journal says the best antimicrobial efficacy can be achieved with ethanol (60-85%), isopropanol (60- 80%) and n-propanol (60-80%). 
  • Alcohol attacks viruses and other disease-causing pathogens by damaging their cell structures. Some alcohols damage the layers that envelop the virus, while some just break down the cells. 
  • The novel coronavirus, for instance, is an enveloped virus surrounded by a fat layer. Lipid membrane viruses—like the coronavirus—can be killed using alcohol-based disinfectants and hand sanitizers. They simply break down the membrane or the layer of fat, leaving the virus unable to infect an individual.

Oral nanomedicine may bring relief for Kala-Azar & other neglected diseases

(Topic: New development in medicine)

Patients affected by Kala- Azar, scientifically called Visceral leishmaniasis (VL), one of the most neglected tropical diseases may soon find relief in an oral nanomedicine from India. The oral therapeutics could help in the control and elimination of VL, around 95 % of which is reported from Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Nepal, Somalia, South Sudan, and Sudan.

There has been a development of an oral nanomedicine with the help of surface-modified solid lipid nanoparticles based combinational cargo system for combating visceral leishmaniasis by the Institute of Nano Science & Technology (INST), Mohali.

This study by INST team may lead to product and process patent enhancing the role of our country for developing innovative therapy against neglected diseases. The usage of lower therapeutic dose of the purified drugs through nanomodifications will be a boon in reducing toxicity, which has been a major hindrance in the existing conventional treatment when administered orally.

Kala Azar (Visceral leishmaniasis)

  • Also called as black fever or dumdum fever
  • Disease caused by the protozoan parasites
  • This disease is second largest parasitic killer in the world (after Malaria)
  • The parasite migrates to internal organs such as liver, spleen (hence “visceral”) and bone marrow, and, if left untreated, will almost always result in the death of the host. Signs and symptoms include fever, weight loss, fatigue, anemia, and substantial swelling of the liver and spleen.

A Tattoo sensor for monitoring vital health parameters

(Topic: New development in medicine)

Wearable sensors that can retract information from human body using its largest organ, the skin

  • The sensor promises inconspicuous and continuous monitoring of vital health parameters of an individual, like pulse rate, respiration rate, and surface electromyography. 
  • The sensor serves as a single conduit for sensing respiration rate and pulse, dispensing with the need of mounting multiple sensors. 
  • Its remarkably high sensitivity with a gauge factor (GF) has been ascribed to the development of nano-cracks and their propagation through the film upon application of strain. 
  • The fast response and highly repeatable sensor follows easy fabrication steps and can be patterned into any shape and size using a laser.

The Need: Active research in the field of epidermal electronics has spawned an important class of wearable sensors that aim to deliver point of care diagnostics with comfortable and robust user experience. Conventional medical devices are bulky, rigid, and non-practical because they do not allow continuous monitoring of vital health parameters while continuing day to day life schedule. The soft and curvilinear shape of human body needs skin like sensors that can be tattooed on the body with an easy transfer process.

Prelims oriented News

The first Parkash Purab of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji

  • The first Prakash Purb marks the installation of Guru Granth Sahib in Harmandir Sahib, also known as Golden temple, in 1604.
  • Gatka: A traditional Sikh martial art

‘eSanjeevani’ telemedicine service: The digital platform of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has completed 2 lakh tele-consultations. 

  • eSanjeevani platform has enabled two types of telemedicine services viz. Doctor-to-Doctor (eSanjeevani) and Patient-to-Doctor (eSanjeevani OPD) Tele-consultations. The former is being implemented under the Ayushman Bharat Health and Wellness Centre (AB-HWC). It aims to implement tele-consultation in all the 1.5 lakh Health and Wellness Centres in conjunction with identified Medical College hospitals in a ‘Hub and Spoke’ model.
  • eSanjeevani has been implemented so far by 23 States and other States are in the process of rolling it out.

Swachh Survekshan-2020

  • Awards for Swachh Survekshan 2020 was recently announced. 
  • It is the fifth edition of the annual cleanliness urban survey. 
  • Conducted by: the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA). 
  • Cleanest City of India  (> 1 lakh population category):
    • Indore (1st)
    • Surat  (2nd)
    • Navi Mumbai (3rd) 
  • Indore has created record by winning title of cleanest city fourth time in a row.
  • Cleanest State of India (> 100 Urban Local Bodies category) : Chhattisgarh.
  • Cleanest State of India (<100 ULB category) : Jharkhand 
  • Cleanest town along the banks of river Ganga: Varanasi 
  • Cleanest capital city: New Delhi
  • Cleanest city with over 40 lakh population: Ahmedabad

Harit Path

  • A mobile app to monitor the plantations through geo-tagging and web-based GIS enabled monitoring tools.  
  • The app has been developed by NHAI to monitor location, growth, species details, maintenance activities, targets and achievements of each of its field units  for each and every plant under all plantation projects.

Nuakhai Juhar: Celebrating the hardwork of our farmers

  • Celebrated in: Western Odisha and adjoining areas of Simdega in Jharkhand.
  • It is observed to welcome the new rice of the season, on the fifth day of the lunar fortnight of the month of Bhadrapada or Bhaadra (August–September), the day after the Ganesh Chaturthi festival.
  • People offer the newly harvested crop called Nabanha to their respective presiding deities, as a part of the rituals
  • Also called Nuakhai Parab or Nuakahi Bhetghat

Atal Innovation Mission partners with India-Sweden Healthcare Innovation Centre to expand Start-up ecosystem

  • Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), NITI Aayog and Business Sweden on behalf of India Sweden Healthcare Innovation Centre are collaborating to promote the disruptive potential of Indian entrepreneurs, and, boost the vibrant start-up ecosystem across the country.
  • Through this collaboration, these initiatives are set to receive support by the means of conducting programs, awareness campaigns, various activities and events that would promote the overall innovation grid of both the countries through these programmes.

National Food Security Act 2013

  • Government of India enacted the National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA). 
  • The Act covers upto 75% of the rural population and upto 50% of the urban population. 
  • The targeted population shall receive subsidized foodgrains under Targeted Public Distribution System, thus covering about two-thirds of the population.
  • Ministry involved: Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution.

Jal Jeevan Mission

  • JJM aims at providing potable water at service level of 55 litre per capita per day (lpcd) to every rural household through Functional Household Tap Connection (FHTC) by 2024.
  • The fund sharing pattern between the Centre and states is 90:10 for Himalayan and North-Eastern States, 50:50 for other states, and 100% for Union Territories.
  • Every village will prepare a Village Action Plan (VAP) which will have three components:
    • Water source and its maintenance
    • Water supply and
    • Grey-water (domestic wastewater) management.

Kisan Credit Cards 

The Kisan Credit Card Scheme aims at providing adequate and timely credit support from the banking system under a single window with flexible and simplified procedure to the farmers to meet the short-term credit requirements for cultivation of crops, investment credit requirements for agriculture and allied activities and other needs. The KCC is necessary to procure good quality inputs to raise productivity and production.

In an effort to buffer the agricultural sector from the shock of COVID-19, a special saturation drive is underway to provide concessional credit to farmers through Kisan Credit Card (KCC). 1.22 crore KCCs have been sanctioned with credit limit of Rs. 1,02,065  crore. This will go a long way in reviving the rural economy and accelerating agricultural growth.

Launch of Tribal Health & Nutrition Portal – ‘Swasthya’

  • A first of its kind e-portal, providing all health and nutrition related information of the tribal population of India in a single platform. 
  • Swasthya will also curate innovative practices, research briefs, case studies, and best practices collected from different parts of India to facilitate the exchange of evidence, expertise and experiences.
  • The need: Although the public health standards have improved over time, the differences between tribal and non-tribal populations remain.

Going Online as Leaders (GOAL)’ Programme

  • By: Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA) in partnership with Facebook India to digitally skill and empower5000 youth from tribal communities to become leaders of tomorrow by leveraging the power of digital technology.
  • The digitally enabled program envisages to act as a catalyst to explore hidden talents of the tribal youth, which will help in their personal development as well as contribute to all-round upliftment of their society.
  • To upskill and empower 5,000 tribal youths in the current phase to harness the full potential of digital platforms and tools to learn new ways of doing business, explore and connect with domestic and international market.
  • Designed with a long term vision to develop the potential of tribal youth and women to help them acquire skills and knowledge through mentorship in various sectors including horticulture, food processing, bee keeping, tribal art and culture, medicinal herbs, entrepreneurship among others.
  • Demonstrates affirmative action which will go a long way to reduce the gap between tribal and non-tribal youth and will enlist participation of tribal youth in nation-building.

Project Lion

According to June 5, 2020 census, the number of Asiatic lions have now risen by 29% over five years to an estimated 674 in the Gir forest region and other areas of coastal Saurashtra, Gujarat. During 2015, their population was 523 lions. Geographically, distribution area has also increased by 36%.

  • Project Lion will entail habitat development, engage modern technologies in lion management and address the issues of disease in lion and its associated species through advanced world class research and veterinary care.
  • The project will also be addressing the Human-Wildlife conflict which will involve local communities living in the vicinity and will also provide livelihood opportunities. 
  • Using the latest technology, the focus will be on health management and holistically providing world standard care, addressing all that is required to conserve a species

Project Dolphin will aim at the protection and conservation of the Dolphins in the rivers and oceans of the country. 

  • The project will involve the conservation of aquatic habitat and Dolphins through the use of modern technology, especially in anti-poaching activities and enumeration.
  • Project Dolphin will engage the fishermen and other rivers and ocean dependent populations to improve the livelihood of the local communities.  
  • The conservation of Dolphin will also envisage activities which will also help in the mitigation of pollution in rivers and the oceans. 
  • This is also a centre of attraction for tourism. Will empower the stakeholders like the river-dependent population in reducing river pollution and allowing sustainable fishery and river-based other livelihood options through scientifically oriented conservation methods.

Pandit Jasraj

  • Known for his unique voice which had both depth and softness, Pandit Jasraj was one of a handful of remaining old school musical giants of the Indian classical world, alongside artists like Bhimsen Joshi and Kishori Amonkar. Incredibly, he was performing and teaching online until the end with a remarkably robust, age-defying voice.
  • Jasraj was a pioneering artist well known for his egalitarian approach. He incorporated Indian devotional music such as haveli sangeet and bhajans (devotional songs/hymns) into a classical milieu, transforming them into serious pieces; people loved his devotional music and he maintained mass appeal in a style where bhava (emotion) and devotion were paramount, yet all the while based on a very serious classical foundation.
  • Over time he evolved the Mewati gharana to its greatest heights of ornamentation and sophistication, and proved himself to be a gifted composer, adding many compositions to the Mewati canon.
  • Ornamentation like meend (sliding from one note to the next), kan swar (the use of grace notes), gamak (oscillation between notes), murkhi (a short cluster of notes) and laykari (rhythmic work), were all facets of the traditional classical way of singing which he emphasised in the Mewati style.

Read: National Sports Awards 2020

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