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PRESS INFORMATION BUREAU (PIB) IAS UPSC – 15th March to 20th March – 2021

  • IASbaba
  • March 26, 2021
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GS-1

Development of Nomadic Tribes

(Topic: Indian society)

To promote the socio-economic development of De-notified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Communities, the Development and Welfare Board for De-notified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Communities (DWBDNCs) has been constituted for a period of three years extendable up to 5 years with following terms of reference:-

  • To formulate and Implement Welfare and Development programme as required, for De-notified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Communities.
  • To identify the locations/areas where these communities are densely populated.
  • To assess and identify gaps in accessing existing programmes and entitlements and to collaborate with Ministries/Implementing agencies to ensure that ongoing programmes meet the special requirements of De-notified Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Communities.
  • To monitor and evaluate the progress of the schemes of Government of India and the States/UTs with reference to De-notified Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Communities.
  • Any other related work as may be assigned by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

In addition, the following schemes are being implemented by the Central Government through State Government/UT Administrations for the DNTs:-

  1. Pre and Post Matric Scholarships to DNT Students.
  2. Nanaji Deshmukh Scheme of Construction of Hostels for DNT Boys and Girls.

A Committee under the Chairmanship of Vice Chairman of NITI Aayog has taken up the task of identification of DNT communities which are yet to be formally classified.

NITI Aayog has assigned the task of ethnographic survey of 62 tribes to the Anthropological Survey of India (AnSI) to conduct the studies of these communities in different parts of India


Rajya Sabha passes The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2021

(Topic: Welfare of Women)

  • Enhancing the upper gestation limit from 20 to 24 weeks for special categories of women which will be defined in the amendments to the MTP Rules and would include survivors of rape, victims of incest and other vulnerable women (like differently-abled women, minors) etc.
  • Opinion of only one provider will be required up to 20 weeks of gestation and of two providers for termination of pregnancy of 20-24 weeks of gestation.
  • Upper gestation limit not to apply in cases of substantial foetal abnormalities diagnosed by Medical Board. The composition, functions and other details of Medical Board to be prescribed subsequently in Rules under the Act.
  • Name and other particulars of a woman whose pregnancy has been terminated shall not be revealed except to a person authorised in any law for the time being in force.
  • The ground of failure of contraceptive has been extended to women and her partner.

The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2021 is for expanding access of women to safe and legal abortion services on therapeutic, eugenic, humanitarian or social grounds. The amendments include substitution of certain sub-sections, insertion of certain new clauses under some sections in the existing Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, with a view to increase upper gestation limit for termination of pregnancy under certain conditions and to strengthen access to comprehensive abortion care, under strict conditions, without compromising service and quality of safe abortion.

It is a step towards safety and well-being of the women and many women will be benefitted by this. Recently several petitions were received by the Courts seeking permission for aborting pregnancies at a gestational age beyond the present permissible limit on grounds of foetal abnormalities or pregnancies due to sexual violence faced by women. The amendments will increase the ambit and access of women to safe abortion services and will ensure dignity, autonomy, confidentiality and justice for women who need to terminate pregnancy.


GS-2

ILO report on Indian Workers – Global Wage Report 2020-21: Wages and minimum wages in the time of COVID-19

(Topic: Labour and employment)

  • The Report inter-alia, comments on various issues including on Indian workers having low average wages, longer hours as well as that the workers in Asia and the Pacific enjoyed the highest real wage growth among all regions over the period 2006–19, with India leading the way along with other countries. 
  • Further, while comparing average wage, the report has taken into account the National Floor Level Minimum Wage which is Rs.176/- per day. However, actual wages are far higher. If the median of the minimum wages in different states is drawn, it would be Rs.269/- per day in the country.

The Code on Wages, 2019 which has been notified on 8th August, 2019 universalises and creates a statutory right of minimum wages for all workers whether in organized or unorganised sector. A new concept of statutory floor wage has also been introduced in the Code on Wages. The Code also provides that the minimum wages are to be ordinarily reviewed and revised by the appropriate Governments in intervals not exceeding five years.


Steps taken by the Government to use artificial intelligence for education transformation

(Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Education)

The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 has recommended introducing contemporary subjects like Artificial Intelligence in curriculum, at relevant stages. 

  • The National Council of Educational Research & Training (NCERT) has initiated the process for preparation of a new National Curriculum Framework for School Education in pursuance of the NEP, 2020 during which the possibility of introducing an introductory course on Artificial Intelligence (AI) at secondary level would also be explored.  
  • The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has introduced Artificial Intelligence as a subject in class IX from session 2019-2020 and in Class-XI from session 2020-2021 in their affiliated schools.  
  • All AICTE approved institutions have been suggested to offer Artificial Intelligence as an elective in B.Tech. courses and also start B.Tech course in Artificial Intelligence and Data Science to augment the human resource in Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics.  So far as the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) are concerned, their Acts and Statutes allow them to have their own curriculum, academic & research collaboration with Institutions and Universities across the world.

Steps taken by the Government for developing the linkage between educational institutions, Industries and R&D Institutions

(Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Education)

  • Impacting Research Innovation & Technology (IMPRINT): This initiative aims at providing solutions to the most relevant engineering challenges and translating knowledge into viable technology in 10 selected technology domains, viz. Health care, energy, sustainable habitat, nano technology hardware, water resources and river systems, advanced materials, Information and communication technology, manufacturing, security and defense, and environmental science and climate change. It is a pan IITs and IISc Joint Initiative seeking to develop a roadmap for research. During 2018-2019 Rs. 46.30 crore and during 2019-2020 Rs. 47.20 crore has been released.
  • Research Park: Research park at IIT Delhi, IIT Guwahati, IIT Kharagpur, IIT Kanpur, IIT Chennai, have been established which provide an interface between entrepreneurship and Industry to establish their R&D units in collaboration with students & faculty members of the IITs. In the year 2020-21 Rs. 144.50 crore has been released.
  • UchhatarAvishkarYojana (UAY): This initiative promotes innovation of a higher order that directly impacts the needs of the Industry and thereby improves the competitive edge of Indian manufacturing. The project envisages collaboration between the academia and industry – within or outside India.

In order to provide impetus to vocational education the allocation in 2021-22 for National Apprenticeship Training Scheme has been kept at Rs. 500 crore. Further, UGC has already issued guidelines for Apprenticeship/Internship Embedded Degree Program.


US India Artificial Intelligence (USIAI) Initiative launched

(Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation)

Research, technology in artificial intelligence is being promoted and implemented in the country through a network of 25 technology hubs working as a triple helix set up under the National Mission on Interdisciplinary Cyber-Physical Systems (NM-ICPS).

IUSSTF’s USIAI Initiative focuses on AI cooperation in critical areas that are priorities for both countries. USIAI will serve as a platform to discuss opportunities, challenges, and barriers for bilateral AI R&D collaboration, enable AI innovation, help share ideas for developing an AI workforce, and recommend modes and mechanisms for catalyzing partnerships.

The U.S.-India AI Initiative will provide an opportunity for key stakeholder groups to share experiences, identify new R&D areas and opportunities that would benefit from synergistic activities, discuss the emerging AI landscape, and address the challenges of developing an AI workforce.

The ambitious flagship initiative, USIAI, leverages IUSSTF’s unique ability to bring together key stakeholders from India and the United States to create synergies that address challenges and opportunities at the interface of science, technology, and society. Over the next year, IUSSTF will conduct a series of roundtables and workshops to gather input from different stakeholder communities and prepare White Papers that identify technical, research, infrastructure, and workforce opportunities and challenges, and domain-specific opportunities for R&D in healthcare, smart cities, materials, agriculture, energy, and manufacturing.


India-Finland Virtual Summit

(Topic: India and other countries)

  • Both leaders noted that the close relations between India and Finland were based on shared values of democracy, rule of law, equality, freedom of speech, and respect for human rights. They reaffirmed their strong commitment to work for multilateralism, a rules-based international order, sustainable development and combating climate change. 
  • The two leaders reviewed the ongoing bilateral engagements and expressed their desire to further expand and diversify the relationship across sectors such as trade and investment, innovation, education, emerging technologies including Artificial Intelligence, 5G/6G, and quantum computing. 
  • Prime Minister Modi appreciated Finland’s leading role in clean and green technologies, and noted the potential for Finnish companies to partner India’s drive towards sustainable development. In this context, he suggested enhanced cooperation in the areas like renewable and bio-energy, sustainability, edu-tech, pharma and digitization.
  • The leaders exchanged views on regional and global issues, including the India-EU partnership, cooperation in the Arctic region, WTO and UN reforms. Both sides noted the potential for India and Finland to cooperate in undertaking developmental activities in Africa.
  • Prime Minister Modi invited Finland to join the International Solar Alliance (ISA) and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI).
  • The two leaders also discussed the Covid-19 situation including their respective vaccination drives, and emphasized the importance of global efforts for urgent and affordable access to vaccines across all nations.
  • The two leaders looked forward to their forthcoming meetings during the India-EU Leaders’ Meeting in Porto and the India-Nordic Summit. 

Cabinet approves MoU between India and Maldives on Cooperation in Sports and Youth Affairs

  • Bilateral exchange programmes in the field of sports and youth affairs between India and Maldives will help in expanding knowledge and expertise in the area of sports science, sports medicine, coaching techniques, participation in youth festivals and camps which would result in improvement in performance of our sportspersons in international tournaments and strengthening of bilateral relations between India and Maldives. 
  • Benefits arising from bilateral cooperation in the field of sports and youth affairs with Maldives would be equally applicable to all sportspersons irrespective or their caste, creed, region, religion and gender.

The Sixth India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) Women’s Forum meeting

(Topic: International forums)

The India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) Trilateral Cooperation Forum is a unique platform which brings together India, Brazil and South Africa, three large democracies and major economies from three different continents. All three partners are developing pluralistic, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-lingual and multi-religious nations.

IBSA is committed to inclusive sustainable development, in pursuit of the well-being for their citizens and those from the other developing nations. The principles, norms and values underpinning the IBSA Dialogue Forum are participatory democracy, respect for human rights, the Rule of Law and the strengthening of multilateralism. IBSA lays efforts in the South-South cooperation beyond the conventional areas of exchange of experts and training.

During the consultation, the Forum discussed key issues that contribute towards the transformation of women’s lives; by highlighting initiatives, policies and best practices for gender inclusive economy for transformation as well as for  elimination of gender based discrimination and violence against women, which in the coming time will help not only in understanding each other’s’ systems and programmes but will also carve a strategic roadmap to promote gender equality agenda for achieving sustainable development goals. The Forum emphasized on the necessity to raise voice on various multilateral fora to highlight the development priorities of the associate countries and emphasized how gender equality makes sound economic sense.

The participating countries also lauded the efforts of Government of India in helping out other countries to overcome the challenges posed by COVID-19 pandemic by way of providing vaccines, masks, sanitizers, PPE Kits etc.


The third edition of the annual conference of the Coalition for Disaster resilient Infrastructure (CDRI)

(Topic: International forums)

PM Modi highlighted few key areas that need to be accorded priority:

First, CDRI must embody the central promise of the Sustainable Development Goals, that is, “leave no one behind”. This means that we have to put the concerns of the most vulnerable nations and communities first. In this regard, the Small Island Developing Nations that are already experiencing the impacts of worsening disasters must have easy access to all the technology, knowledge and assistance that they consider necessary. We must have the capability and support to adapt global solutions to the local context.

Second, we must take stock of the performance of some of the key infrastructure sectors – particularly health infrastructure and the digital infrastructure that played a central role during the pandemic. What are the lessons from these sectors? And how can we make them more resilient for the future?  At the national and sub-national level we have to invest in capabilities for integrated planning, structural design, availability of modern materials, and a large number of skilled personnel in all infrastructure sectors. There is need for Research and Development in all these areas.

Third, in our quest for resilience, no technological system should be considered too basic or too advanced. The CDRI must maximize the demonstration effect of the application of technology.In Gujarat, we built India’s first hospital with base isolation techniques. Now base isolators for earthquake safety are manufactured in India itself.In the current context, we have many more opportunities. We must harness the full potential of geo spatial technologies, space-based capabilities, data science, artificial intelligence, material sciences, and combine it with local knowledge to pursue resilience. 

And finally, the notion of “resilient infrastructure” must become a mass movement galvanizing the energies of not just the experts, and formal institutions but also communities, and particularly the youth. A social demand for resilient infrastructure will go a long way in improving compliance to standards. Investing in public awareness and education is a key aspect of this process. Our education system must enhance the awareness of locally specific hazards   and their possible impact on infrastructure.

Just as the fight against the pandemic mobilized the energies of the world’s seven billion people, our quest for resilience must build on the initiative and imagination of each and every individual on this planet.

Coalition for Disaster resilient Infrastructure (CDRI)

  • The CDRI is an international coalition of countries, UN agencies, multilateral development banks, the private sector, and academic institutions that aim to promote disaster-resilient infrastructure.
  • Objective: To promote research and knowledge sharing in the fields of infrastructure risk management, standards, financing, and recovery mechanisms.
  • Launched by: The Indian PM Narendra Modi at the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit in September 2019. (experience in dealing with the aftermath of the 2001 Gujarat earthquake led to this idea)
  • CDRI’s initial focus is on developing disaster-resilience in ecological, social, and economic infrastructure. It aims to achieve substantial changes in member countries’ policy frameworks and future infrastructure investments, along with a major decrease in the economic losses suffered due to disasters.
  • It was organized by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), in partnership with the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), the UN Development Programme, the World Bank, and the Global Commission on Adaptation.
  • The CDRI is the second major coalition launched by India outside of the UN, the first being the International Solar Alliance. Both of them are seen as India’s attempts to obtain a global leadership role in climate change matters and were termed as part of India’s stronger branding.

GS-3

India’s Trade Performance during COVID-19 Period

(Topic: Indian Economy)

India’s overall (merchandise and services) export was US$ 394.96 billion during 2020-21 (April-January) as compared to US$ 443.24 billion during 2019-20 (April-January), i.e. a negative growth of 10.89%. 

During 2020-21 (April-January), India’s overall import was US$ 400.84 billion as compared to US$ 514.57 billion during 2019-20 (April-January), i.e. a negative growth of 22.10%. 

India’s overall trade deficit was US$ 5.88 billion during 2020-21 (April-January) as compared to US$ 71.33 billion in 2019-20 (April-January), with a high reduction of trade deficit of US$ 65.45 billion.

In order to increase the production and exports of Pharma, Agriculture, Automobile, and Defence items and to re-energize India’s trade performance, some of the key steps taken are:          

  1. A comprehensive “Agriculture Export Policy” to provide an impetus to agricultural exports is under implementation.
  2. Product specific Export Promotion Forums (EPF) for eight high potential agri- products i.e. Grapes, Mango, Banana, Onion, Rice, Nutri-Cereals, Pomegranate, Floriculture and Plant material have been created to promote export of identified products in a focused manner.
  3. Subsidy is provided under Operation Greens scheme for transportation of fruits and vegetable through Kisan Rail.
  4. Trade Infrastructure for Export Scheme (TIES), Market Access Initiatives (MAI) Scheme and Transport and Marketing Assistance (TMA) have been launched to promote trade infrastructure and marketing.
  5. Assistance to the exporters of agricultural products is made available under the export promotion schemes of Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA), Tobacco Board, Tea Board, Coffee Board, Rubber Board and Spices Board.
  6. Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme for 13 sectors- 3 sectors in March, 2020 and 10 sectors in November, 2020 with an outlay of Rs 1.97 lakh crore has been launched to provide a major boost to manufacturing. These sectors are  (i) Automobiles and Auto Components, (ii) Pharmaceuticals Drugs, (iii) Specialty Steel, (iv) Telecom & Networking Products, (v) Electronic/Technology Products, (vi) White Goods (ACs and LEDs), (vii) Food Products, (viii) Textile Products: MMF segment and technical textiles, (ix) High efficiency solar PV modules, and (x) Advanced Chemistry Cell (ACC) Battery (xi) Medical devices (xii) Large scale electronics manufacturing  including mobile phones (xiii)  Critical Key Starting Materials (KSMs) /Drug intermediaries and Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API).
  7. Scheme for promotion of Bulk Drug Parks to provide grant-in-aid to 3 Bulk Drug Parks has been launched for creation of Common Infrastructure Facilities (CIF).
  8. Export authorisation procedures have been streamlined through introduction of online procedures and portals for promotion of exports of Indian defence products.
  9. A scheme for export promotion of Indian Defence Equipment manufactured in India has been rolled out.
  10. Subject to strategic considerations, domestically manufactured defence products are promoted through Lines of Credit/Funding; Defence Lines of Credit (LOCs) are extended to sovereign governments to enable buyers in those countries, to import goods and services from India.
  11. A new category of capital procurement “Buy (Indian-IDDM (Indigenously Designed, Developed and Manufactured))” has been introduced in Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) – 2016 to promote indigenous design and development of defence equipment.
  12. The ‘Make’ procedure of capital procurement has been simplified. There is a provision for funding of 90% of development cost by the Government to Indian industry under Make-I category. In addition, there are specific reservations for MSMEs under the ‘Make’ procedure. Separate procedure for ‘Make-II’ category (Industry funded) has been notified under Defence Procurement Procedure 2016 to encourage indigenous development and manufacture of defence equipment.
  13. The Government of India has enhanced FDI in Defence Sector up to 74% through the Automatic Route for companies seeking new defence industrial license and up to 100% by Government Route.
  14. Foreign Trade Policy (2015-20) has been extended by one year i.e. upto 31-3-2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic situation.
  15. Interest Equalization Scheme on pre and post shipment rupee export credit has also been extended by one year i.e. upto 31-3-2021.
  16. A new Scheme, Remission of Duties and Taxes on Exported Products (RoDTEP), has been launched.
  17. Common Digital Platform for Certificate of Origin has been launched to facilitate trade and increase FTA utilization by exporters.
  18. Promoting and diversifying services exports by pursuing specific action plans for the 12 Champion Services Sectors.
  19. Promoting districts as export hubs by identifying products with export potential in each district, addressing bottlenecks for exporting these products and supporting local exporters/manufacturers to generate employment in the district.
  20. Active role of Indian missions abroad towards promoting India’s trade, tourism, technology and investment goals has been enhanced.

Steps Taken To Enhance Capacity of Security Forces

(Topic: Security)

The Government has taken several policy initiatives and reforms to promote indigenous design, development and manufacture of defence equipment in the country and enable development or transfer of technologies in the country. 

  • Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP)-2016 has been revised as Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP) -2020, which is driven by the tenets of Defence Reforms announced as part of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’. 
  • Opened North & South Defence Industrial corridors to promote setting up of industries supporting defence equipment.
  • Permitted acceptance of “Suo Moto” proposals from industry for undertaking indigenous design & development for items needed for defence services.
  • Formulated the iDEX (Innovation in Defence Excellence) framework to provide an ecosystem for Startups/individual innovators/MSMEs to engage with Ministry of Defence/Academia and other such agencies for manufacture of defence related items.
  • Institutionalised the Technology Development Fund and its processes to facilitate the DRDO to engage with Indian industry for technology development needs.
  • Army Design Bureau (ADB):  Indian Army (IA) launched the ADB on 31st August, 2016.  The role of the ADB is to act as a facilitator for research & development efforts and procurement of indigenously developed weapons and equipment extensive outreach programme for industry, MSMEs, Startups and Academia across the country for promoting ‘Make in India’.  The outreach programmes, apart from generating awareness about the modernization requirements, will help to meet the technology needs of the IA from within the confines of domestic resources and talent
  • Army Technology Board (ATB):  The ATB enables indigenous Research and Development efforts in accordance with the operational needs of the IA. 
  • Technology Development Fund (TDF):  TDF has been launched by the Government to giving impetus to research and development projects beyond the proof of concept stage.  It has been provided with a budget of Rs. 100 crores.
  • The Indian Navy in coordination with Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) is pursuing the indigenous development and acquisition of a Twin Engine Deck Base Fighter (TEDBF).
  • Ministry of Defence has notified a ‘First Positive Indigenisation List’ of 101 items for which there would be an embargo on the import beyond the timeline indicated against them. This is a big step towards self-reliance in defence. This would offer a great opportunity to the Indian defence industry to manufacture these items using their own design and development capabilities to meet the requirements of the Armed Forces in the coming years. 

Modernisation, upgradation and sustenance of military equipment and weapons is a continuous process and constant endeavour to equip the Armed Forces with modern weapon systems/ equipment being carried out under various procurement provisions (DAP & DPM). Also in emergencies as in the prevailing situation, special procurement powers to enhance the operational capability are given to Service Headquarters. 

DRDO has played a major role in the development of state-of-the-art platforms, weapon systems and sensors and upgradation of defence equipment in the country which in turn has enhanced capacity of the Armed Forces to tackle the present security scenario of the country efficiently. 


New wearable sensors capable of monitoring biomarkers from sweat can obviate necessity of invasive tests for monitoring health

(Topic: Science and Technology)

Dr. Vinu Mohan A.M., scientist at CSIR-Central Electrochemical Research Institute (CECRI), Karaikudi, Tamil Nadu, has introduced a flexible low cost, wearable sensor that can track sweat for monitoring the health and physiological status of the human body. It can obviate the necessity of blood and other invasive tests.

The wearable microfluidic sensor, which does not need a clean room, can be used for in situ monitoring of biomarkers such as lactate, Sodium (Na+), Potassium (K+), and Alkaline/acidic nature (pH)  simultaneously from sweat samples. Using the INSPIRE Faculty fellowship, Dr. Vinu is improving upon the sensor to make it stretchable as well so that it can monitor the sweat during exercising and biking.

  • The sensor can analyse biomarkers from human sweat during exercise activities without transfer of signals. 
  • The high-throughput sweat sampling ability of the sensor facilitates continuous capture and transport of sweat over the surface of the device resulting in real-time analysis. 
  • The flexible sensor can be attached on the irregular skin surface and monitors the dynamic biomarker levels, and are important for clinical diagnosis and personalized point-of-care analysis.
  • Developing microfluidic sensors with rapid sweat sampling and multiplexed electrochemical recognition abilities are extremely important for accurate sweat biomarker analyses and continuous real-time monitoring of health.

He is also exploring other reliable biofluids such as saliva and fluid in tissues as they contain abundant chemical markers that could reflect the underlying physiology of the human body. They are also in-parallel focusing on developing wearable energy storage devices as they are essential for powering wearable electrochemical sensors. An all-printed solid-state flexible and stretchable supercapacitor having serpentine-shaped, interdigitated, freestanding interconnects was recently developed and used as energy buffering element for powering a wearable pulse rate sensor.


Possible origin of winds from black hole accretion discs probed

(Topic: Space)

As gas and dust fall toward a black hole, they form a disk around it. As material piles up in the disk, it heats up to temperatures in excess of millions of degrees. A fraction of this infalling matter is ejected in the form of winds.

Scientists have tracked the generation of this wind and how it is driven by the disc of diffused swirling materials around the black hole called an accretion disc.  Matter flowing out due to the wind should contaminate the environment play a major role in the evolution of the region harbouring these black holes. Therefore how such a process can be triggered need to be ascertained. Though these processes are still at the level of theoretical prediction, consensus has not been reached.

By blowing dense gas from the galactic nucleus and by halting inward flows from the galactic halo, the winds play a vital role in shaping the evolution of the black hole host galaxy. Hence the mechanism of generation of these winds and what drives them has intrigued scientists for a long as it helps them explore host galaxies.


New technology for High Electron Mobility Transistor will make India self-reliant in power transistor technology

(Topic: Science and Technology)

Scientists from Bangalore have developed a highly reliable, High Electron Mobility Transistor (HEMTs) that is a normally OFF device and can switch currents up to 4A and operates at 600V. This first-ever indigenous HEMT device made from gallium nitride (GaN) is useful in electric cars, locomotives, power transmission and other areas requiring high voltage and high-frequency switching would reduce the cost of importing such stable and efficient transistors required in power electronics.

Power electronic systems demand high blocking voltage in OFF-state and high current in ON-state for efficient switching performance. Specific transistors called HEMTs made of aluminium gallium nitride/ gallium nitride (AlGaN/GaN) provides an edge over silicon-based transistors as they allow the systems to operate at very high voltages, switch ON and OFF faster, and occupy less space. Commercially available AlGaN/GaN HEMTs use techniques to keep the transistor in normally OFF state, which affects the stability, performance and reliability of the device.

The developed technology is a first of its kind, which uses a type of chemical called ternary oxide (composed of two different metal ions combined in an oxide matrix or Al, Ti and O), which behaves like material having larger positive charge concentration (p-type material). It does away with intrinsic reliability and performance issues of the in-use industrial techniques for e-mode HEMTs, allowing the development of efficient power switching systems.

This device will now be taken up for the prototype development and field-testing level (TRL 5). The scientists used aluminium titanium oxide as the gate oxide, where the percentage of aluminium could be controlled during the fabrication process. Since aluminium titanium oxide is stable, it resulted in high reliability of the transistor.

The projected overall power device market is set to cross the 18 Billion $ mark by 2020, out of which the market for HEMTs is projected to cross the 5 Billion US$ market. So, GaN HEMTs will acquire a major share of the power device market. With a growing market for electric vehicles in India, such an indigenous development can make India self-reliant for transistor technology.


Artificial photosynthesis to provide solutions for carbon capture and conversion

(Topic: Science and Technology)

Scientists have found a method to mimic nature’s own process of reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, namely photosynthesis, to capture excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This artificial photosynthesis (AP) harnesses solar energy and converts the captured carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide (CO), which can be used as a fuel for internal combustion engines.

In artificial photosynthesis (AP), scientists are essentially conducting the same fundamental process in natural photosynthesis but with simpler nanostructures. However, there are plenty of hurdles to overcome as a successful catalyst to carry out AP.

A team of Scientists from Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, an autonomous institute of the Department of Science & Technology (DST), Government of India,designed and fabricated an integrated catalytic system based on a metal-organic framework (MOF-808) comprising of a photosensitizer (molecules which absorb light and transfer the electron from the incident light into another nearby molecule) that can harness solar power and a catalytic centre that can eventually reduce CO2.

The scientists have immobilized a photosensitizer, which is a chemical called ruthenium bipyridyl complex ([Ru(bpy)2Cl2]) and a catalytic part which is another chemical called rhenium carbonyl complex ([Re(CO)5Cl]), inside the nanospace of metal-organic framework for artificial photosynthesis. Both these molecular entities stay in close proximity in the confined nano-space of a porous metal-organic framework system resulting in excellent CO2 uptake capability at room temperature. This synthetic strategy empowers efficient solar light-driven photocatalysis.

The developed catalyst exhibited excellent visible-light-driven CO2 reduction to CO with more than 99% selectivity. The catalyst also oxidizes water to produce oxygen (O2). The photocatalytic assembly, when assessed for CO2 reduction under direct sunlight in a water medium without any additives, showed superior performance of CO production. Being heterogeneous, the integrated catalytic assembly can be reused for several catalytic cycles without losing its activity.


Researcher working on low-cost smart nano devices for detection of disease receives SERB Women Excellence Award

(Topic: Science and Technology)

Dr. Sonu Gandhi, a Scientist at the National Institute of Animal Biotechnology (NIAB), Hyderabad, who has recently developed a smart nanodevice for the detection of Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), cardiovascular disease (CVD), and Japanese encephalitis (JE), has been awarded the prestigious SERB Women Excellence Award.

The award instituted by Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB), Department of Science and Technology (DST), recognises and rewards outstanding research achievements of young women scientists in frontier areas of Science and Engineering.

The smart nanodevice developed by her group helped in detection of the biomarkers of the diseases using graphene functionalised with amine and conjugated with specific antibodies.

The developed sensor offers several key advantages, such as ultra-high sensitivity, ease of operation, and a short response time, that can be easily integrated into a chip for point-of-care testing. The developed sensor exhibited a clear advantage over conventional techniques, and it is highly sensitive. They can improve early diagnosis of the diseases, ensuring prompt, more effective, and less expensive treatment.

Her work is based on understanding the mechanism of interaction between nanomaterials and biomolecules on the surface of devices called transducers that receive energy from one system and transmit it for the development of a new generation of biosensors for clinical diagnosis of bacterial and viral disease, veterinary and agricultural applications, food analysis and environmental monitoring.

Prelims oriented News

Prime Minister of Finland: H.E. Ms. Sanna Marin

The second edition of Indo-Uzbekistan Joint Field Training Exercise: EXERCISE DUSTLIK-II 

World Leprosy Day: 30th January

GRAM UJALA in Bihar: A customized program for rural India, based uniquely and innovatively on carbon finance. LEDs will be available for only Rs 10 each for each household, in exchange for working condition old incandescent lamps. Each household will get up to 5 LEDs.

India-UK Cancer Research Initiative: To support high quality research to deliver innovative and translatable outputs that accelerate progress against cancer outcomes in both the countries, and which also have the potential to have major global impact.

Under the initiative, the core challenges have been identified and seven seed grants have been awarded. The seven seed grants awarded are to work on affordable approaches to improve early diagnosis of symptomatic cancers; affordable screening tools to improve early detection of cancer; risk factors to better understand regional variations in incidence, enabling new approaches to cancer prevention; computational approaches that can reduce the cost of cancer care delivery; affordability of effective cancer treatments; affordable screening tools to improve early detection of cancer; and affordability of effective cancer treatments.

SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium: The Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) was set up for genomic surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 in India. In INSACOG, 10 laboratories were designated in India for Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) with the objectives: to ascertain the current status of new variant of SARS COV-2 in the country; to establish a sentinel surveillance for early detection of genomic variants with public health implication; to determine the genomic variants in the unusual events/trends (super spreader events, high mortality/ morbidity trend areas etc).

Silk Samagra: An Integrated Scheme for Development of Silk Industry (ISDSI) for the overall development of Silk industry in the Country with an aim & objective to scale up production by improving the quality and productivity and to empower downtrodden, poor & backward families through various activities of sericulture in the country. The raw silk production in the country has shown increasing trend during last five years due to implementation of the “Silk Samagra” scheme and other initiatives of Government.

India TB Summit: Accorded high priority to eradicating Tuberculosis in India by 2025, five years ahead of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) target of 2030. The Government of India is committed to scale up access to free diagnosis through rapid molecular tests also providing information on drug resistance, free treatment for all people with TB, with best-quality drugs and regimens, financial and nutritional support to patients, use of digital technologies for notification and adherence and linking with interface non-governmental agencies to strengthen private sector engagement.

The National TB Elimination Programme’s ambitious National Strategic Plan (NSP) embraces bold strategies with commensurate resources to rapidly decline TB incidence and mortality. NTEP has instituted many innovations such as contracting of Patient Provider Support Agencies (PPSAs) to enhance engagement with the private sector, strengthening community engagement through TB Forums at the National, State and District levels, and integrating TB services across all levels in the Health System, including the Ayushman Bharat- Health & Wellness Centres, thereby, making TB an essential part of Comprehensive Primary Health Care.

The new initiatives taken at sub-national level to strengthen community level engagement and to make it a part of Comprehensive Primary Health Care:    

  • Through enhanced access to molecular diagnostics by decentralizing CBNAAT and TruNat services, India has enabled earlier detection of drug resistance.       
  • Through Active Case Finding, India has reached out to the unreached and vulnerable groups. Sub-national surveillance of TB and disease-free certification has been introduced, wherein States/Districts that have achieved significant reduction in incidence of TB from 2015 baselines were assessed and have been likewise awarded Bronze, Silver, Gold and even TB Free certifications.       
  • India has established TB Forums which provide a common platform to govt officials, physicians, civil society and representatives from patient groups to discuss all concerns pertaining to service delivery and patient care.

Depth of Himalayan Glaciers: A proposal has been initiated by National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR) Ministry of Earth Sciences to estimate thickness of Himalayan glaciers using innovative airborne radar surveys in collaboration with established Indian researchers in India and abroad. 

  • A pilot study is proposed in Lahaul-Spiti basin of Himachal Pradesh for customizing the technique and methods in initial phase followed by Airborne radar surveys across representative sub-basins of Indus, Ganga and Brahmaputra basins in the next phase.
  • Different techniques like geophysical techniques and Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) profiling have been employed for glacier depth assessment by Geological Survey of India (GSI). Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) carries out Research and Development study to estimate thickness of major Himalayan glaciers using remote sensing based methods.

DAE plans to rope in private agencies for Nuclear Medicine: A research reactor dedicated to medical isotope production is envisaged to be executed under Public Private Partnership. In this partnership, Government through the Department of Atomic Energy, plans to extend support to the investors for processing and production of radioisotopes and radiopharmaceuticals both for diagnosis and therapy of cancer as well as functional evaluation of organs.

Indigenously built Indian Naval Landing Craft Utility L58 Commissioned: at Port Blair

  • Will be deployed in a variety of roles such as Beaching, Search and Rescue, Disaster Relief, Coastal Patrol and Surveillance operations along the Andaman and Nicobar Group of Islands, Bay of Bengal and in the Indian Ocean. 
  • It will augment the Indian Navy’s mobility, reach and flexibility, furthering the Andaman and Nicobar Command’s motto, ‘Victory through Jointness’.

Policy on Liquefied Natural Gas: To promote the usage and distribution of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), the Government has put LNG imports under Open General Licensing (OGL) category and establishment of LNG infrastructure, including LNG terminals is also under 100% FDI (automatic route). 

  • The government is also promoting usage of natural gas in gaseous/liquid (LNG) through expansion of gas infrastructure including City Gas Distribution, gas grid network and development/retro fitment of LNG based vehicles etc.
  • As per American Petroleum Institute report on LNG operations and methodology, a typical LNG-fueled truck will have 90% lower NOx and PM emissions than diesel-fueled truck, 100% lower SOx emission, and 30% lower CO2 emissions.
  • LNG is imported under OGL on mutually agreed terms between buyer and sellers on techno-commercial basis.

Sub-Mission on Agroforestry (Har Medh Par Ped) Scheme: Launched in 2016-17 to encourage tree plantation on farm land along with crops/ cropping system to help the farmers get additional income and make their farming systems more climate resilient and adaptive.

  • Under the scheme, assistance to farmers is given through State Govt. for nursery development, boundary plantation and block plantation of prominent tree species to promote, inter-alia, fruits bearing tree borne oilseeds, medicinal & aromatic plants, silk & lac rearing host plants, in addition to timber species, so that farmers get early returns.

Manipur emerges as the model state for Van Dhan Vikas Yojana: The Van Dhan Vikas Yojana is a programme for value addition, branding & marketing of Minor Forest Produces by establishing Van Dhan Kendras to facilitate creation of sustainable livelihoods for the forest-based tribes. One major scheme that has contributed to increasing employment and income generation among the tribal population is the Van Dhan tribal start-ups programme, a component of the The ‘Mechanism for Marketing of Minor Forest Produce (MFP) through Minimum Support Price (MSP) & Development of Value Chain for MFP’ Scheme.

The focus of these initiatives is to make India self-reliant under the Atmanirbhar Abhiyan, with the motto, Go Vocal for Local Go Tribal – Mera Van Mera Dhan Mera Udyam. Manipur, in particular, which has emerged as the Champion state where the Van Dhan programme has emerged as a major source of employment for the local tribals

Pradhan Mantri Kisan Maan Dhan Yojna (PMKMY) Scheme aims to provide social security net for the Small and Marginal Farmers (SMF) by way of pension, as they have minimal or no savings to sustain their livelihood during their old age and to support them in the event of consequent loss of livelihood. Under this scheme, a minimum fixed pension of Rs.3,000/-per month will be provided to the eligible small and marginal farmers, subject to certain exclusion clauses, on attaining the age of 60 years. The Scheme is a voluntary and contributory pension scheme, with entry age of 18 to 40 years.

Scheme for Women Farmers: States and other Implementing Agencies to incur atleast 30% expenditure on women farmers. These schemes include Support to State Extension Programmes for Extension Reforms, National Food Security Mission, National Mission on Oilseed & Oil Palm, National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture, Sub-Mission for Seed and Planting Material, Sub-Mission on Agricultural Mechanization and Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture.

  • The Department of Rural Development, Ministry of Rural Development launched a specific scheme namely ‘Mahila Kisan Sashaktikaran Pariyojana (MKSP)’, as a subcomponent of DAY-NRLM (Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana — National Rural Livelihoods Mission). This scheme is being implemented since 2011 with the objective to empower women by making systematic investments to enhance their participation and productivity, as also create sustainable livelihoods of rural women. The program is implemented in project mode through State Rural Livelihoods Mission (SRLM) as Project Implementing Agencies.
  • DAY-NRLM and its sub-component MKSP is a demand driven programme. Accordingly, based on the demand from State Rural Livelihoods Mission for implementation of MKSP through project mode.
  • In order to familiarize women with the latest techniques in agriculture and allied sectors, trainings are being imparted to women farmers under schemes of Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare and Ministry of Rural Development.

PM Atma Nirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana: The main interventions under the scheme to be achieved by FY 25-26 are:

  1. Support for 17,788 rural Health and Wellness Centres in in 10 High Focus States
  2. Establishing 11,024 urban Health and Wellness Centres in all the States.
  3. Setting up of Integrated Public Health Labs in all districts and 3382 Block Public Health Units in11 High Focus states;
  4. Establishing Critical Care Hospital Blocks in 602 districts and 12 Central Institutions;
  5. Strengthening of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), its 5 regional branches and 20 metropolitan health surveillance units;
  6. Expansion of the Integrated Health Information Portal to all States/UTs to connect all public health labs;
  7. vii. Operationalisation of 17 new Public Health Units and strengthening of 33 existing Public Health Units at Points of Entry, that is at 32 Airports, 11 Seaports and 7 landcrossings;
    1. Setting up of 15 Health Emergency Operation Centres and 2 mobile hospitals; and
    2. Setting up of a national institution for One Health, a Regional Research Platform for WHO South East Asia Region, 9 Bio-Safety Level III laboratories and 4 regionalNational Institutes for Virology.

The measures under the scheme focus on developing capacities of health systems and institutions across the continuum of care at all levels viz. primary, secondary and tertiary and on preparing health systems in responding effectively to the current and future pandemics/disasters. The PMASBY targets to build an IT enabled disease surveillance system by developing a network of surveillance laboratories at block, district, regional and national levels, in Metropolitan areas & strengthening health units at the Points of Entry, for effectively detecting, investigating, preventing and combating Public Health Emergencies and Disease Outbreaks.

Rakhi Garhi Is Being Developed as One of The Five Identified Iconic Archaeological Sites

  • The ancient site of Rakhi-Khas and Rakhi-Shahpur are collectively known as Rakhigarhi, located on the right bank of now dried up Palaeo-channel of Drishadvati. Seven (07) mounds are located here. The site has yielded various stages of Harappan culture and is by far one of the largest Harappan sites in India. The site shows the sequential development of the Indus culture in the now dried up Saraswati basin.
  • For development of the sites and its environs, repairing of boundary wall, pathways, public amenities, solar lights, benches are being provided. Excavation is also proposed at the site to showcase the archaeological remains in a holistic manner. In the union budget of 2020 it was announced that Five iconic archaeological sites located across five states will be developed. One of which is Rakhigarhi located in Hissar district, Haryana.

Deep Ocean Mission: The Deep Ocean Mission is proposed as multi-ministerial multi-disciplinary programme with emphasis on development of deep sea technology, exploration of deep sea mineral resources and biodiversity, acquisition of a research vessel for exploration, deep sea observations, and capacity building. Ministry of Earth Sciences is the nodal agency for implementing the programme. The major objectives proposed under Deep Ocean Mission are as follows:

  1. Development of technologies for deep sea mining, underwater vehicles and underwater robotics;
  2. Development of ocean climate change advisory services;
  3. Technological innovations for exploration and conservation of deepsea biodiversity;
  4. Deep ocean survey and exploration;
  5. Proof of concept studies on energy and freshwater from the ocean; and
  6. Establishing advanced marine station for ocean biology

National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project (NCRMP): The overall objective of the Project is to undertake suitable structural and non-structural measures to mitigate the effects of cyclones in the coastal states and UTs of India. NDMA under the aegis of Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is implementing the Project in coordination with participating State Governments and the National Institute for Disaster Management (NIDM).The Project has identified 13 cyclone prone States and Union Territories (UTs), with varying levels of vulnerability.

The main objective of the NCRMP is to reduce vulnerability of coastal communities to cyclone and other hydro meteorological hazards through;

  • Improved early warning dissemination systems
  • Enhanced capacity of local communities to respond to disasters
  • Improved access to emergency shelter, evacuation, and protection against wind storms, flooding and storm surge in high areas
  • Strengthening DRM capacity at central, state and local levels in order to enable mainstreaming of risk mitigation measures into the overall development agenda

Gaganyaan programme envisages sending humans in space

  • Gaganyaan is the human space flight programme under which Indian astronauts will go into space by 2022.This will be done by using its own capabilities. 
  • A GSLV-Mk III launch vehicle will lift them to their orbit, which has the necessary payload capability to launch a three-member crew module in low earth orbit.
  • If successful, India would become the fourth nation to conduct a human space flight programme after USSR/Russia, USA and China. It is a ₹10,000-crore Indian human space flight scheduled for 2022. 
  • India has signed agreements with Russia and France for cooperation on the Gaganyaan mission.
  • DRDO signed MoUs with ISRO to offer technologies for the mission, including space food, survival kits for crew, radiation protection equipment and parachutes.

Schemes of Welfare Measures for Transgender Persons

The Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment has submitted a concept note for scheme of Welfare measures for Transgender Persons. The Ministry has given funds to National Backward Classes Finance & Development Corporation (NBCFDC)for conducting skill development of members of Transgender Community. So far, the corporation has sanctioned skill development training programmes for 330 members of transgender community to 7 Sector Skill Councils and Training Institutes. Funds have been also released to National Institute of Social Defence (NISD) for implementing various welfare programmes like setting up of pilot shelter homes, conducting workshops.

A composite scheme is being formulated for the welfare of Transgender Persons for which a concept note has already been submitted.Out of Rs 150.00 lakhs released to NBCFDC, Rs 118.05 lakhs has been used by Corporation, so far, for providing Subsistence Allowance/ration kits to 6,940 persons during Covid period.16 health camps were organised wherein 1,240 transgender persons undertook medical consultation. A COVID helpline was setup for providing counselling to distressed callers from the transgender community during lock-down. NBCFDC also disbursed subsistence allowance of Rs.1500/- per person directly into the account of the 5,711 Transgender Persons left without livelihood due to COVID-19 lockdown.

National Institute of Social Defence (NISD) is setting up of 13 pilots of Garima Greh (Shelter Homes) for Transgender Persons. One Garima Greh has already been inaugurated at Vadodara, Gujarat. NISD has also conducted awareness generation programs onDrug Abuse Prevention for Transgender Persons.

Early Detection of Drug Problems and Action Taken To Address Them

  • Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment implements the scheme of National Action Plan for Drug Demand Reduction under which financial assistance is provided to ‘NGOs/VOs for running and maintenance of Integrated Rehabilitation Centres for Addicts (lRCAs), Community based peer Led intervention (CPLI) for early Drug Use Prevention among Adolescents and Outreach and Drop In Centres (ODIC) and Addiction treatment facilities (ATFs) in Government Hospitals’.
  • The Ministry has launched Nasha Mukt Bharat Abhiyaan (NMBA) in 272 identified vulnerable districts with an aim to create awareness about ill effects of substance abuse among the youth, with special focus on higher education institutes, university campuses and schools and reaching out into the community and concerned States/ UTs have been directed to launch their NMBA.
  • Ministry has developed Navchetna Modulesto be followed in the schools for generating awareness among the children, teachers and parents about ill effect of substance abuse under the scheme of NAPDDR.
  • Under Community Based Peer-Led Intervention (CPLI), focus has been placed on vulnerable and at risk children and adolescents in the community. Under the project, children aged between 10 to 18 years, are enrolled as peer educators who would in turn engage children in the community in awareness generation and life skills activities.
  • The Outreach and Drop In Centres (ODICs) provide safe and secure drop-in space for substance users in the community. These centres have the provision of screening, assessment and counselling and thereafter provide referral and linkage to treatment and rehabilitation services for substance dependents.
  • Ministry is taking all measures and actions needed to strengthen the mechanism for demand reduction and control of use of substances. Under Nasha Mukt Bharat Abhiyaan, several awareness generation and sensitization programs are being conducted in the identified 272 districts of the country.

To analyse the extent of drug abuse in the country, Ministry of Social Justice and empowerment has conducted the first National Survey on Extent and Pattern of Substance Use in India through the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre (NDDTC) of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi during 2018. 

  • Alcohol is the most common psychoactive substance used by Indians followed by Cannabis and Opioids. 
  • About 16 Crore persons consume alcohol in the Country, 3.10 Crore individuals use cannabis products and 2.26 Crore use opioids. 
  • More than 5.70 Crore individuals are affected by harmful or dependent alcohol use and need help for their alcohol use problems, about 25 lakh suffer from cannabis dependence and approximately 77 lakh individuals are estimated to need help for their opioid use problems.

National Ayush Mission

Under NAM, Grant-in-aid is being provided to State/UT Governments for development and promotion of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) as per their proposed State Annual Action Plans (SAAPs).

Objectives

  • To provide cost effective AYUSH Services, with a universal access through upgrading AYUSH Hospitals and Dispensaries, co-location of AYUSH facilities at Primary Health Centres (PHCs), Community Health Centres (CHCs) and District Hospitals (DHs).
  • To strengthen institutional capacity at the state level through upgrading AYUSH educational institutions, State Government Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and Homoeopathy (ASU&H) Pharmacies, ASU & H Drug Testing Laboratories and enforcement mechanism.
  • Support cultivation of medicinal plants by adopting Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) so as to provide sustained supply of quality raw-materials and support certification mechanism for quality standards, Good Agricultural/Collection/Storage Practices.
  • Support setting up of clusters through convergence of cultivation, warehousing, value addition, marketing and development of infrastructure for entrepreneurs.

National Medicinal Plants Board: Government of India has enacted the Biological Diversity Act, 2002 to regulate the access to biological resources and / or associated knowledge for certain activities the user of the biological resources needs to share the benefits in fair and equitable manner with the provider of the biological resources. Ministry of AYUSH is presently implementing Centrally Sponsored Scheme of National AYUSH Mission (NAM).  Under ‘Medicinal Plants’ component of the NAM scheme supporting market driven cultivation of prioritized medicinal plants in identified cluster/zones with in selected districts of States and implemented in a mission mode throughout the country.  As per the scheme guidelines, the support is provided for:

  • Cultivation of prioritized medicinal plants on farmer’s land.
  • Establishment of nurseries with backward linkages for raising and supply of quality planting material.
  • Post-harvest management with forward linkages.
  • Primary processing, marketing infrastructure etc.

Conservation of Ancient Folk Cultures: To protect, preserve & promote various forms of folk art and ancient folk cultures throughout the country including Jharkhand, Bihar and Kerala, the Government of India has set up seven Zonal Cultural Centres (ZCCs).

  • Ancient folk cultures being preserved in Jharkhand are Faguwa Nritya, Turi Nritya, Faguwa Nritya, Turi Nritya, Paika Nritya, Hodopathy, Tribal dance (Karam Nritya).     
  • Ancient folk cultures being preserved in Bihar are Lok Gatha “Reshma Chuharmal” (Begusarai), Lok Gatha “Bihula Bishari” (Purnia), Lok Gatha “Naradi” (Begusarai), Bidesia Lok Natya (Bhojpur region), Godana Painting (Madhubani), Lok Natya “Hirni-Birni” (Magadh region), Panwaria, Domkach & Sohar Khilona folk dance (All regions of Bihar State), Domkach folk dance (All regions of Bihar State), Jharni & Jhinjhia folk dance (Mithilanchal Area), Bidesia (Bhojpur Area), Bihar Ke Paramparik Natya (All regions of Bihar State), Drupad Dhamar, Godna Geet, Sikki Kala, Tikuli Art and Madhubani Painting. 
  • Ancient folk cultures being preserved in Kerala are Poorakali, Malayankettu & Kannerpattu (Kannur), Daffumuttu (Malabar), Kanyarkali (Thrissur) and Arabanaumuttu (Kozhikode)

Demise of Guru Chemancheri Kunhiraman Nair: A Kathakali maestro

  • State: Originating from Kerala, Kathakali is one of the eight classical dances of India
  • Kathakali is a blend of dance, music and acting and dramatizes stories, which are mostly adapted from the Indian epics.
  • The dance-drama of Kerala, Kathakali which originated in the 17th century, literally means story-play. Kathakali is practiced by only male dancers, and showcases stories of two epics Ramayana and Mahabarata.
  • Aharya: Make-up is suited to character like Krishna and Rama wear special crowns decorated with peacock feathers.
  • Todayam: It is a devotional number performed where one or two characters invoke the blessings of the gods
  • Sopana sangeet: It is said to be the ritual singing of the Ashtapadis on the flight of steps leading to the sanctum sanctorum.
  • Costumes: Unlike other dance forms, the use of elaborate makeup and costumes are central to Kathakali. They used to differentiate between different characters in story telling such as a Noble, a Royalty, an evil etc.
  • Facial expressions: While most other dance forms like Bharatnatyam and Odissi focus on hand gestures and body postures, a Kathakali dancer emphasizes on their facial expressions instead to depict various emotions. Here body movements are specifically controlled.
  • Music: Heavy use of drums to create an overwhelming and loud environment to showcase the conflict between good and evil. Most other dance forms such Kathak or Kuchipudi are accompanied by soothing music.
  • The face of a Kathakali dancer: Logo of Kerala tourism 

Namami Gange

  • Aims at providing comprehensive and sustainable solutions for a cleaner ecosystem along the stretch of 97 towns and 4,465 villages on the Ganga stem.
  • Namami Gange is being implemented by the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), and its state counterparts—State Programme Management Groups.
  • The project covers eight states and seeks to fully connect all 1,632 Gram Panchayats along the Ganga to a sanitation system by 2022.

About National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) 

  • It is the implementation wing of the National Ganga Council. 
  • It was established in the year 2011 as a registered society.  
  • It is under the Ministry of Jal Shakti. 
  • It has a two-tier management structure. 
  • It comprises of Governing Council and Executive Committee. 

Objectives 

  • To ensure effective control of pollution and rejuvenation of the river Ganga by adopting a river basin approach.  
  • To maintain minimum ecological flows in the river Ganga with the aim of ensuring water quality and environmentally sustainable development.

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