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PRESS INFORMATION BUREAU (PIB) IAS UPSC – 7th March to 14th March – 2021

  • IASbaba
  • March 17, 2021
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GS-1

Preservation and Documentation of Threatened Tribal Languages

(Topic: Indian tribes)

Under the scheme of ‘Support to Tribal Research Institute (TRIs), Ministry of Tribal Affairs extends support to TRIs for carrying out various research & documentation activities including programs for documentation of tribal languages, dialects, art, culture, dance, music and development of bilingual Primers. Accordingly, TRIs are conducting documentation and preservation of endangered tribal languages through preparation of primers, dictionaries and organization of cultural programmes.

Mother Tongue Based Multi-Lingual Education (MTBMLE), an innovative pedagogic initiative which plays a key role in preserving tribal languages is adopted in Andhra Pradesh. This approach bridges gap between home and school languages which enable better learning.

Further, under the component “Financial Assistance for support to Centres of Excellence” of the scheme “Tribal Festival, Research, information and Mass Education“, financial assistance is provided to repute Institution for carrying out research study programmes including documentation of tribal languages. In this regard, Ministry has sanctioned  projects to Bhasha Research and Publication Centre during 2018-19 and 2019-20 which inter- alia covered activity of identification and documentation of threatened/dying languages. The organization has carried out documentation of Korku, Nihali, Kolami, Vadi, Halpati, Dungra Bhili, Dhavadi, Dhatti, Thali, Nahal and Seheriya languages.

The Ministry has also recently developed a digital document repository (repository.tribal.gov.in) where TRIs have now started uploading all the activities, document, research reports, publications, which is available in public domain.

International Women Day

A. Contribution of Women Farmers is pivotal in making Indian Agriculture Atmanirbhar

Women are the backbone of the rural economy, especially in developing countries. They make up almost half of the world’s farmers, and over the last few decades, they have broadened their involvement in agriculture.  The number of female-headed households has also increased as more men have migrated to cities. As the primary caregivers to families and communities, women provide food and nutrition; they are the human link between the farm and the table.

India’s agricultural industry, which employs 80 to 100 million women, cannot survive without their labour. From preparing the land, selecting seeds, preparing and sowing to transplanting the seedlings, applying manure/fertilisers/pesticides and then harvesting, winnowing and threshing, women work harder and longer than male farmers. Despite their hard labour in the field, women are not officially counted as farmers, and are either labelled “agricultural labourers” or “cultivators”.

Agriculture can be an important engine of growth and poverty reduction. But the sector is underperforming in many countries in part because women, who are often a crucial resource in agriculture and the rural economy, face constraints that reduce their productivity.

Critical Issues

Women and unpaid household responsibilities: Women are generally less able than men to participate in economic opportunities because they face a work burden that men do not. In most societies, women are responsible for most of the household and child-rearing activities as well rearing of small livestock, although norms differ by culture and over time. This additional work burden is unpaid and limits women’s capacity to engage in income-earning activities, which often require a minimum fixed time before being profitable. Furthermore, the nature of tasks, such as caring for children and elderly household members, requires women to stay near the home, thus limiting options to work for a wage.

Gender differences within Agriculture market: Intra-household inequality can also weaken a woman’s position also outside of the home (Kapadia, 1993 and 1995). Women are over-represented in jobs characterized by low wages, high job insecurity and generally poor labour standards. When women have limited decision-making ability within the household or low access to resources and household income, they are more likely to accept lower wages. Kantor (2008) notes that, for most women in northern India, labour market participation is a survival strategy for the household, not a means of improving standards of living or voice in the household.

Lack of ownership of land: As many as 87 per cent of women do not own their land; only 12.7 per cent of them do. There are two primary reasons for the alarmingly low number: One, land being a state subject is not governed by the constitution under a uniform law that applies equally to all citizens but rather is governed by personal religious laws, which tend to discriminate against women when it comes to land inheritance. Second, the cultural aspect of the deep-rooted biases that hinder women’s ownership of land in patriarchal societies cannot be discounted.

Women: Change Agents

As the global community works toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) — among them, SDG2, which aims to end hunger and malnutrition by 2030 — women can be the key agents of change in agriculture, nutrition and rural development.  With better access to information, training, and technology, women can alter food production and consumption so that land and resources are used sustainably.

The Way Forward

Gender-specific interventions for higher productivity: With growing rural to urban migration by men, there is ‘feminisation’ of agriculture sector, with increasing number of women in multiple roles as cultivators, entrepreneurs, and labourers. Women play a significant and crucial role in agricultural development and allied fields “is a fact long taken for granted.” 

  • Women farmers should have enhanced access to resources like land, water, credit, technology and training which warrants critical analysis in the context of India.
  • The entitlements of women farmers will be the key to improve agriculture productivity. The differential access of women to resources like land, credit, water, seeds and markets needs to be addressed.
  • Focus on women self-help group (SHG) to connect them to micro-credit through capacity building activities and to provide information and ensuring their representation in different decision-making bodies.
  • An ‘inclusive transformative agricultural policy’ should aim at gender-specific interventions to raise productivity of small farm holdings, integrate women as active agents in rural transformation, and engage men and women in extension services with gender expertise.
  • An increased work burden with lower compensation is a key factor responsible for their marginalisation. It is important to have gender-friendly tools and machinery for various farm operations. Most farm machinery is difficult for women to operate. Manufacturers should be incentivised to come up with better solutions. Farm machinery banks and custom hiring centres promoted by many State governments can be roped in to provide subsidised rental services to women farmers.
  • Equalising access to productive resources for female and male farmers could increase agricultural output in developing countries by as much as 2.5% to 4%. Krishi Vigyan Kendras in every district can be assigned an additional task to educate and train women farmers about innovative technology along with extension services.
  • Providing women with access to secure land is key to incentivising the majority of India’s women farmers. This, coupled with the need to make investments to improve harvests, will result in increased productivity and improve household food security and nutrition. Land-owning women’s offspring thus receive better nourishment and have better health indicators. Land-owning mothers also tend to invest in their children’s education. Ultimately, this is a win-win situation all around — for the farmer, her family and the larger ecosystem. With security of tenure, female farmers should be provided with the three critical driving factors — the incentive, the security, as well as the opportunity — to invest in the land they harvest. Security of land tenure also presents advantages for landlords by removing the fear of losing their land ownership.

Refer: Women Farmers

B. Women and Wildlife Conservation

Gender is a key component in shaping attitudes about conservation, and lack of attention to gender differences in perceptions can work against the aims of community-based conservation actions and initiatives. Women play an integral role in conservation, with countless pioneering female conservationists working globally to save endangered wildlife. Women need to be equally and actively involved in processes to conserve and sustainably use biodiversity because they play critical roles as primary land managers and resource users, and they face disproportionate impacts both from biodiversity loss and gender-blind conservation measures.

Beyond equity, enabling women’s full engagement in biodiversity decisions is critical to ensure that biodiversity conservation and sustainable use efforts are successful in the long term. Without the contributions and buy-in of women and girls, these efforts risk overlooking the root causes of biodiversity loss, as well as potential solutions, and may continue to perpetuate gender inequalities.   

The challenge of excluding women from Wildlife Conservation

The connections between gender and wildlife use are diverse and depend on particular economic, cultural and ethnic contexts. But women may not participate in conservation activities either because they are excluded from doing so by vested interests or because they do not feel empowered to speak out in their cultural contexts. This lack of understanding is highly problematic for conservation projects.

Also, women’s productive and reproductive unpaid work and their participation in decision-making have a direct impact in wildlife use by: 

1) Making male labour available to hunt or fish at times when seasonal demand for labour in agriculture peaks and 

2) Reducing monetary cost of family reproduction and generating alternative sources of income and supporting food production, all which might reduce pressure on wildlife. 

Women’s particular roles and responsibilities within the household, community, and society lead women to develop unique knowledge related to biodiversity, shaped by their specific needs and priorities. They are thereby in a unique position to bring different perspectives and new solutions to addressing biodiversity concerns.

The other side

Today, women around the world are changing the trajectory of conservation. As the fate of so many species and habitats hangs in the balance, women are rising to meet global challenges through collaboration, compassion, and courage. Research shows that conservation projects achieve better results when they involve women in decision-making. Yet, obstacles such as gender bias, discrimination, harassment, inequity in pay, cultural constraints, and violence remain prevalent. The overarching and adverse impacts of these gender-related challenges are only recently being studied and more openly spoken about in the conservation realm.

Although women are professionally expanding their presence in conservation, they are often underrepresented in higher positions of leadership across the conservation world. In local communities, women tend to have limited influence around management of natural resources and protected areas. And in science, less than 30 percent of the world’s researchers are women, and those women are publishing less and getting paid less.

Yet, women across the world are underrepresented in decision-making positions related to environmental and sustainable development issues. Women also fall well behind men in achieving paid employment in natural resource management sectors – notably agriculture, fisheries, and forestry – in both developing and developed countries.

Furthermore, according to the OECD’s Social Institutions & Gender Index, laws or customary practices of around 102 countries still restrict women’s rights to access land. Without equal access to land and other key resources, women’s opportunities and capacity to play an active role in biodiversity conservation is severely limited.   

The Way Forward

Measures are necessary to increase the representation of women in decision-making roles related to biodiversity and environmental governance at all levels.

  • We need to mitigate both cultural and logistical barriers to allow women to voice their needs, knowledge, priorities, and solutions in relation to sustainable development – at the same level as men. 
  • Equal rights and access to ownership and control over land are also critically important for women across the world, as reflected in the Sustainable Development Goals (targets 1.4, 2.3, 5.a).  
  • We must allocate our attention and resources to the local level, to ensure that projects and programmes are implemented in ways that address gender issues. 
  • We need to spread awareness among women and girls of proposed biodiversity-related actions that affect them, and we must build their knowledge about their rights and about their options for contributing to shaping those actions.
  • We also have to ignite the full engagement and support of men and boys to enable empowered participation of women and girls in biodiversity conservation. It is critical that men and boys understand and support measures for women’s empowerment, to ensure that these measures will be accepted in the community.

An inclusive approach would also contribute to addressing the root causes of inequalities, through creating awareness and promoting long-term beneficial action.

Note: An e-book titled: “The Green Queens of India – A nation’s pride” has been released which is a compilation of case studies, best practices and life experiences as shared by the woman officers themselves in what may truly be termed as a creative common collective.

C. Steps to enhance the safety and security of women in the country

A separate Women Safety Division has also been set up in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to sensitize the States/UTs on women safety related issues including timely completion of investigation of sexual assault cases.

Taking a tough stand against heinous incidents of sexual assaults, Government of India has made the punishment of rape more stringent through the Criminal Law Amendment Act 2018. To ensure the amendments in the law effectively translate at ground level various initiatives have been taken – Investigation Tracking System for Sexual Offences (ITSSO), National Database of Sexual Offenders” (NDSO), Cri-MAC (Crime Multi-Agency Center) and New citizen Services.

ITSSO and NDSO: Investigation Tracking System for Sexual Offences (ITSSO) is an online analytical tool launched to monitor and track timely completion of police investigations in sexual assault cases (currently two months as per Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2018). Where, National Database of Sexual Offenders” (NDSO) has been launched to identify repeat offenders and receive alerts on sex offenders, as also in the investigation.

An Adjournment Alert module has also been developed as a step towards facilitating States/UTs to ensure timely in disposal of criminal cases. As per this, whenever a Government Prosecutor seeks an adjournment in a criminal case more than twice, the system has a provision to send an alert to senior officers to prevent unavoidable delays.

Cri-MAC: Crime Multi Agency Center (Cri-MAC) has been introduced on 12 March 2020 for police stations and higher offices in all States/UTs to share information on heinous crimes and other issues related to coordination in cases of inter-state crime. It can be used to send alerts or related information on crime and inter-state criminals to the States/UTs via an email/SMS.

New citizen Services have been launched by National Crime Records Bureau on its portal digitalpolicecitizenservice.gov.in relevant for cases of Crimes against Women. These services include functionalities like ‘Missing Person Search’ that helps citizens find their missing kin from the national database of recovered unidentified found person/unidentified dead bodies. Another service is the ‘Proclaimed offenders’ functionality that helps to provide online information on proclaimed offenders to citizens.

Nirbhaya Fund projects fast-tracked: Projects funded by Nirbhaya Fund are also being fast-tracked by MHA to enhance the safety and security of women. ‘Emergency Response Support System (ERSS)’ is an example of such initiative. It is a pan-India, single, internationally recognized number, 112 for various emergencies. ERSS is currently operational in 34 States/UTs in the country and expected to be operational in other states/UTs by March 2021. 

Cyber Crime Prevention against Women & Children is also a key focus area for MHA. Currently, 14 States including Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Odisha, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand have set up Cyber Forensic Training Laboratory. 13295 Police personnel, Prosecutors, and Judicial Officers have been trained in identifying, detecting and resolving cyber-crimes against women and children. Ministry of Home Affairs has also launched a portal, www.cybercrime.gov.in wherein citizens can report obscene content and expect it to be blocked within 72 hours. 

Delhi Police recruited Social Workers & Counsellors to encourage women to step up and report crimes without fear or shame

Strengthening Forensic Science Laboratories: Another initiative by MHA to improve the administration of justice in India by strengthening of Forensic Science Laboratories. Forensic science is an important aspect of any criminal investigation, as it can allow the authorities in identifying suspect in a crime, determine the timeline and other details related to crime. To further improve the criminal investigation strengthening the Forensic Science facilities in the country is also funded by the Nirbhaya Fund. A state-of-the-art DNA Analysis facility has been inaugurated on 23rd December 2019 at Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL), Chandigarh. In order to ensure standardization and quality in the examination of evidence in sexual assault cases, the Directorate of Forensic Sciences Services has notified Guidelines for collection, handling and storage of forensic evidence in sexual assault cases. Along with this, a Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Kit has also been notified. Training of Investigation Officers/ Prosecution Officers/ Medical Officers on these guidelines and kits have been undertaken.

The Government has sanctioned Rs. 200 crore to States and Union Territories to set up Women Help Desks (WHDs) in police stations, and to set up/ strengthen Anti Human Trafficking Units (AHTU) in all districts of the country as also on vulnerable borders.  

D. All Major Schemes of WCD Ministry classified under 3 Umbrella Schemes viz. Mission Poshan 2.0, Mission Vatsalya and Mission Shakti

Women and Children constitute 67.7% of India’s population as per the 2011 census. Empowerment and protection of women and children and ensuring their wholesome development is crucial for sustainable and equitable development of the country. Ministry of Women and Child Development strives to ensure well-nourished and happy children growing in a safe and secure environment and empower women by providing them with an environment which is accessible, affordable, reliable and free from all forms of discrimination and violence. The prime objective of the Ministry is to address gaps in State action for women and children and to promote inter-ministerial and inter- sectoral convergence to create gender equitable and child centred legislation, policies and programmes.

The Constitution of the country has granted equal rights to women and men in terms of freedom and opportunity. To enable the woman to be the author of her destiny, a life-cycle continuum approach is being adopted that creates an ecosystem that addresses inherent biases and role plays, protects and upholds the rights and dignity of women and equips them with necessary skill sets and instills confidence in them to forge their way ahead. Women are key agents for achieving transformational economic, environmental and social changes required for sustainable development. To achieve this objective, continuation of existing schemes with suitable modifications is inevitable and necessary which can be achieved through Mission Shakti.

Children are the future of our country. Well-being of children is essential for the country’s development as they contribute to the future human resource of the country. To strengthen nutritional content, delivery, outreach, and outcomes, Government is merging the Supplementary Nutrition Programme and Poshan Abhiyan to launch Mission POSHAN 2.0. The Ministry of Women and Child Development has taken many initiatives to ensure safety and well-being of children. Mission VATSALYA will ensure the same going ahead.

S.No. Umbrella Scheme Schemes included Budget 2021-22

(Rs. In crores)

 

1. Saksham Anganwadi and POSHAN 2.0 Umbrella ICDS – Anganwadi Services, Poshan Abhiyan, Scheme for Adolescent Girls, National Creche Scheme 20,105.00
2. Mission VATSALYA Child Protection Services and Child Welfare Services 900.00
3. Mission Shakti (Mission for Protection and Empowerment for Women) SAMBAL (One Stop Centre, Mahila Police Volunteer, Women’s Helpline/Swadhar/Ujjawala/Widow Homes etc.)

 

SAMARTHYA (Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, Creche, Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana/ Gender Budgeting/Research/

3,109

 E. ‘Sports for women’ under Khelo India Scheme

The support is being provided in form of international standard sports infrastructure facilities, sports science backup, expert coaches and financial support to the athletes. Once the pandemic situation improves, it is being contemplated to start more leagues in the line of U-17 Khelo India Girls Football League.


GS-2

Cabinet approves creation of Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Nidhi

The major benefit will be: enhanced access to universal & affordable health care through availability of earmarked resources, while ensuring that the amount does not lapse at the end of financial year.

  • A non-lapsable reserve fund for Health in the Public Account;
  • Proceeds of share of health in the Health and Education Cess will be credited into PMSSN;
  • Accruals into the PMSSN will be utilized for the flagship schemes of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare namely,
  • Ayushman Bharat – Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY)
  • Ayushman Bharat – Health and Wellness Centres (AB-HWCs)
  • National Health Mission
  • Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY)
  • Emergency & disaster preparedness and responses during health emergencies
  • Any future programme/scheme that targets to achieve progress towards SDGs and the targets set out in the National Health Policy (NHP) 2017.
  • Administration and maintenance of the PMSSN is entrusted to Ministry of Health & Family Welfare; and
  • In any financial year, the expenditure on such schemes of the MoHFW would be initially incurred from the PMSSN and thereafter, from Gross Budgetary Support (GBS).

1st Meeting of the BRICS Contact Group on Economic and Trade Issues

(Topic: International forums)

Theme -“BRICS@15: Intra BRICS Cooperation for Continuity, Consolidation, and Consensus”

Chairship: India

The deliverables proposed are on 

(i) Action plan based on the document “Strategy for BRICS Economic Partnership 2025” adopted during Russian Presidency in 2020 

(ii) BRICS Cooperation on Multilateral Trading system including cooperation for the TRIPS Waiver proposal at WTO; 

(iii) Framework for Consumer Protection in E-Commerce; 

(iv) Non-Tariff Measures (NTM) Resolution Mechanism; 

(v) Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary (SPS) Working Mechanism; 

(vi) Co-operation framework for protection of Genetic Resources and Traditional Knowledge; 

(vii) BRICS Framework on Co-operation in Professional Services


GS-3

Promotion of Herbal Cultivation in the country

(Topic: Agriculture)

Ministry of AYUSH, Government of India is 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. As per the scheme guidelines, the support is provided for:

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

National Medicinal plants Board, Ministry of AYUSH, Government of India is also implementing Central Sector Scheme on “Conservation, Development and Sustainable Management of Medicinal Plants” wherein following activities are supported:

  • In-situ conservation / Ex-situ conservation
  • Livelihood linkages with Joint Forest Management Committees (JFMCs) / Panchayats / Van Panchayats / Biodiversity Management Committees (BMCs) / Self Help Groups (SHGs).
  • IEC activities like Training / workshops / Seminars/ Conferences etc.
  • Research & Development.
  • Promotion, marketing and trade of medicinal plants produce

Ministry of Finance has announced Rs. 4000 crore package under Atma Nirbhar Bharat for Promotion of Herbal Cultivation. The Ministry of AYUSH has prepared a draft scheme namely “Pradhan Mantri VRIKSH AYUSH Yojana” for cultivation and marketing of medicinal plants which is yet to be approved from Cabinet.


Water Crisis Due to Water Exploitation

(Topic: Climate change)

The average annual water availability of any region or country is largely dependent upon hydro-meteorological and geological factors, however, water availability per person is dependent on population of a country. The per capita water availability in the country is reducing due to increase in population. Also due to high temporal and spatial variation of precipitation, the water availability of many regions of the country is much below the national average and may result in water stress / scarce conditions.

Water being a State subject, steps for augmentation, conservation and efficient management of water resources are primarily undertaken by the respective State Governments. In order to supplement the efforts of the State Governments, Central Government provides technical and financial assistance to them through various schemes and programmes.

Command Area Development and Water Management (CADWM) Programme: Government of India is implementing Command Area Development and Water Management (CADWM) Programme which was brought under Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY) – Har Khet Ko Pani 2015-16 onwards. The main objectives of CADWM program are: 

(a) Utilize irrigation potential created (IPC) under the project soon after its creation; 

(b) Improve water use efficiency; 

(c) Increase agricultural productivity and production; and 

(d) Bring sustainability in the irrigated agriculture in a participatory environment.

Under CADWM Scheme operated by the Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, financial assistance is given to the States for creation of Micro irrigation infrastructure in the canal irrigated commands with an aim to improve water use efficiency and promote micro-irrigation.  

Department of Agriculture Cooperation and Farmers Welfare is implementing Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana – Per Drop More Crop (PMKSY-PDMC) which focuses on water use efficiency at farm level through precision/micro irrigation (Drip and Sprinkler Irrigation System) for promotion of better on-farm water management practices to optimize the use of available water resources. This component also supports micro level water storage or water conservation/management activities to supplement Micro Irrigation.

In order to check groundwater exploitation and create awareness among the citizens of the country, National Water Mission (NWM) has taken up campaigns like ‘Sahi Fasal’ Campaign, to nudge farmers in the water stressed areas to grow crops which are not water intensive, but use water very efficiently, to nudge all stakeholders to create Rain Water Harvesting Structures (RWHS) suitable to the climatic conditions and sub-soil strata to catch the rains with the peoples’ active participation. 


Monitoring Committee to Identify Polluted Rivers

(Topic: Conservation)

Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in collaboration with the State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs)/Pollution Control Committees (PCCs) is regularly monitoring the water quality of rivers & other water bodies in the country through a network of monitoring stations. As per CPCB report of September, 2018, 351 polluted river stretches have been identified on 323 rivers based on monitoring results in terms of Bio-chemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) levels, an indicator of organic pollution.

Cleaning and rejuvenation of rivers is a continuous process and Central Government is supplementing the efforts of the State Governments and Union Territories in addressing the challenges of pollution of rivers by providing financial and technical assistance through schemes like National River Conservation Plan (NRCP) and Namami Gange.

In addition, sewerage infrastructure is created under programs like Atal Mission for Rejuvenation & Urban Transformation (AMRUT) and Smart Cities Mission of Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs.

As per the Provisions of Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 and Water (Prevention & Control of Pollution), Act 1974, industrial units are required to install effluent treatment plants (ETPs) and treat their effluents to comply with stipulated environmental standards before discharging into rivers and water bodies. Accordingly, CPCB, SPCBs and PCCs monitor industries with respect to effluent discharge standards and take action for non-compliance under provisions of these Acts.

Steps taken by the Government to stop discharge of industrial effluents into rivers inter alia, include 

  • issuance of notification of specific  discharge standards, 
  • revision of the criteria for categorization of industries and issuing  directions to all State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs)/Pollution Control Committees (PCCs) to adopt the same,
  • issuance of consent to establish/consent to operate by the SPCBs/PCCs, based on Comprehensive Environment Pollution Index (CEPI) critically polluted areas are identified to take necessary measures through time-targeted Action Plans, 
  • regular inspections of Grossly Polluting Industries (GPIs) by CPCB for compliance verification,
  • Installation of Online Continuous Effluent Monitoring System (OCEMS) for assessment of effluent quality and compliance status. 
  • In addition, the industries are encouraged to reduce their waste water generation by technological advancement, reuse/recycle of wastewater and maintain Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD) where ever possible.

Bio-Chemical Oxygen Demand:

  • BOD is the amount of dissolved oxygen needed (i.e. demanded) by aerobic biological organisms to break down organic material.
  • BOD is a proxy for organic pollution. If BOD is higher, the worse is the river. The health of a river and the efficacy of water treatment measures by the States and municipal bodies are classified depending on BOD.
  • When BOD is greater than or equal to 30 mg/l, it is termed as ‘priority 1,’ while that between 3.1 & 6 mg/l is ‘priority 5.’ CPCB considers BOD less than 3 mg/l, an indicator of a healthy river.

Reasons behind the river being more polluted:

  • Rapid urbanisation is widening the gap, since infrastructure planning is not keeping pace with growth in housing.
  • There is poor infrastructure available in a large number of cities and towns located near rivers.
  • Managing sewage requires steady funding of treatment plants for all urban agglomerations that discharge their waste into rivers, and also a reliable power supply.
  • There is failure of several national programs run by the Centre for river conservation, wetland preservation and water quality monitoring.
  • The sewage and industrial effluents freely flow into the rivers in several cities.
  • Low priority is accorded to the enforcement of laws by SPCBs and pollution control committees.
  • River water at the barrage was diverted to treatment plants for water supply. Reports pointed out that 37 per cent of the sewage treatment plants (STPs) in Delhi were under-utilized as they did not receive sewage because of lack of drainage system in many areas.

Metal rich environment crucial for light giant planets, but not necessary for heavy giant ones

(Topic: Space and technology)

Far away from our little home in the solar system, planets called exo-planets orbit stars similar to the Sun, forming their own stellar system. Scientists studying exo-planets found that while a metal-rich environment of host stars is vital for the formation of Jupiter-type light, but giant planets; it is not necessary for the long orbit heavy giant planets. This study which explores connections between the planet and host star properties, can help in understanding how planets form and evolve at large orbital distances.

With more than 4300 planets discovered till date, it has become essential to characterize the exo-planets in terms of their various properties. Correlation between star and planet properties can provide vital clues about the possible formation and evolution scenarios. Stars are largely made of Hydrogen and Helium with a small fraction of other elements. In astronomical lingo, elements heavier than Hydrogen and Helium are collectively called as metals. Metal content is an important parameter of the star, and there is a consensus that planets (small or large) are more likely to occur around metal-rich stars. Although the stellar metallicity and planet occurrence rates for close-by systems have been investigated by many research groups, properties of stellar hosts of exo-planets, especially those located at large orbital distances, are not very well studied.

While earlier, scientists studying the short-orbit exo-planets had found that a host star with a metal-rich environment provides the favourable condition for formation of Jupiter-type low-mass giant planets, the new study published in the Astronomical Journal suggests that this is not necessarily the case for the long orbit high-mass giant planets discovered by the direct imaging technique. This finding seems consistent with an existing model called the core accretion model of planet formation. For planet mass greater than mass of Jupiter, the large scatter in metallicity distribution suggests that metallicity might not play a significant role in the formation of these celestial objects. This means there is no single dominating mechanism for planet formation at wider orbits. Planets in remote orbits could form either by core accretion process or gravitational instability.

Prelims-oriented News

International Women’s Day: 8th March

Exercise DUSTLIK: Indo-Uzbekistan

Conservation of Singorgarh Fort: in Damoh district (MP)

  • Is a hill-fort of Garha Kingdom, spread over the hills of a forested area
  • It was a magnificent fort and a residence of Rajgond rulers of Central India who spent part of each year there.
  • The fort was attacked in June, 1564 (under the reign of Mughal emperor Akbar)during the last war of the Garha Kingdom dynasty, under the rule of Rani Durgavati. At that time, Rani Durgavati, the ruling Queen of Gondwana, resided there; she later moved to Chouragarh Fort in Narsinghpur.

Note: 

  • Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh: Shivraj Singh Chouhan
  • Governor: Anandiben Patel.

First ever visit by Indian Naval Ships to the historic port city of Mongla, Bangladesh

Indian Naval Ships Sumedha, an indigenously build Offshore Patrol vessel  and Kulish, an indigenously built guided missile corvette, made a port call at the historic port town of Mongla in Bangladesh to commemorate the ongoing Swarnim Vijay Varsh and reiterating the historic Indo-Bangladeshi friendship.

This is the first time that any Indian Naval Ship is visiting the port of Mongla in Bangladesh and the visit is aimed at paying homage to the Bangladeshi and Indian combatants and citizens who laid down their lives during the Liberation War of 1971, and reiterate India’s firm resolve and commitment to maintain peace, stability and good order in the region, in line with SAGAR – Security and Growth for all in the Region

Maitri Setu: Between India and Bangladesh

  • Built over Feni river which flows between Indian boundary in Tripura State and Bangladesh.
  • The name ‘Maitri Setu’ symbolizes growing bilateral relations and friendly ties between India and Bangladesh.
  • The 1.9 Km long bridge joins Sabroom in India with Ramgarh in Bangladesh. 
  • Tripura is set to become the ‘Gateway of North East’ with access to Chittagong Port of Bangladesh, which is just 80 Kms from Sabroom.
  • It will help ease the movement of goods and passengers between the two countries, provide new market opportunities for products of North East states and assist seamless movement of passengers to and from India and Bangladesh.

Gender Advancement for Transforming Institutions (GATI): To bring about gender balance in the institutions, the Consolidation of University Research for Innovation and Excellence in Women Universities (CURIE) targets to improve infrastructure in women-only universities and the Indo-U.S. Fellowship for Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine (WISTEMM) exposes women to some of the best international scientific institutions for boosting their capability and enthusiasm. GATI was launched for mentoring of institutions for transforming them towards more inclusive and sensitive approach towards women and to promote gender equity in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Medicine (STEMM) domains.

Agriculture Voltage Technology: This technology can increase the income of farmers by generation of electricity and growing of cash crops simultaneously on the same piece of land. Under component-I of KUSUM (Kisan Urja Suraksha Utthan Mahabhiyan) scheme, there is a provision for installation of agri-voltaic system in farmers’ fields with a capacity ranging from 500 KW to 2 MW. Moreover, National Solar Energy Federation of India (NSEFI) has also documented 13 operational agri-voltaic systems in the country managed by different solar PV functionaries and public Institutes.

National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal: ‘Police’ and ‘Public Order’ are State subjects as per the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India. States/UTs are primarily responsible for the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of crimes through their Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs). Ministry of Home Affairs operationalized the National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal on 30th August 2019 to provide a centralized mechanism to the citizens for online reporting of all types of cybercrime incidents, with a special focus on cybercrimes against women and children. Incidents reported on this portal, their conversion into FIRs and subsequent action thereon are handled by the State/UT law enforcement agency concerned as per the provisions of the law.

Mobilising electric Vehicle financing in India 

  • A new report ‘Mobilising Electric Vehicle Financing in India’ was recently released.
  • Released by: NITI Aayog and Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) India 

Key takeaways 

  • It highlights the role of finance in India’s transition to electric vehicles (EVs). 
  • It has also analysed that the transition will require a capital investment of USD 266 billion in EVs, charging infrastructure, and batteries over the next decade.
  • Consumers currently face several challenges, such as high interest rates, high insurance rates, and low loan-to-value ratios.
  • 10 solutions have been identified to address these challenges.
  • Financial institutions such as banks and NBFCs, and the industry and government will be able to adopt solutions. 

Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP): Making quality medicines available at affordable prices for all, particularly the poor and disadvantaged, through exclusive outlets “Jan Aushadhi Medical Store”, so as to reduce out of pocket expenses in healthcare. Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Jan Aushadhi Kendra (PMBJK) have been set up to provide generic drugs, which are available at lesser prices but are equivalent in quality and efficacy as expensive branded drugs. 

  • Create awareness among the public regarding generic medicines. 
  • Create demand for generic medicines through medical practitioners 
  • Create awareness through education and awareness program that high price need not be synonymous with high quality 
  • Provide all the commonly used generic medicines covering all the therapeutic groups 
  • Provide all the related health care products too under the scheme

Rationale: It is a well-known fact that branded medicines are sold at significantly higher prices in India. Given the widespread poverty across the country, making available reasonably priced quality medicines in the market would benefit everyone, especially the poor and the disadvantaged.

By: Department of Pharmaceuticals, Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers

Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare signs MoU with Central Silk Board, Ministry of Textiles for promotion of Agroforestry in Silk Sector

  • Aims to incentivize the farmers to take up sericulture based Agroforestry models thereby contributing to the Make in India and Make for the World vision 
  • This linkage will add another dimension to agroforestry for faster returns to the growers as well as support the production of the range of silks that India is famous for. 

Under: Sub-Mission on Agroforestry (SMAF) Scheme

  • SMAF aims to encourage farmers to plant multi-purpose trees together with the agriculture crops for climate resilience and an additional source of income to the farmers, as well as enhanced feedstock to inter alia wood-based and herbal industry. Hence there is a concerted effort to include medicinal, fruits, fodder, tree-borne oilseeds, lac host etc. in addition to the longer rotation timber species. 
  • The initiative of formalizing the collaboration in the sericulture sector is especially targeted for augmentation of sericulture host plants e.g. Mulberry, Asan, Arjuna, Som, Soalu, Kesseru, BadaKesseru, Phanat, etc. to be cultivated both as block plantations and border or peripheral plantations on farmlands. 
  • Planting sericulture based tree species on the farm bunds and rearing silkworms has the potential of creating additional income opportunities for farmers besides their regular source of income from agriculture activities.

The Central Silk Board (CSB), Ministry of Textiles, Govt. of India will act as a catalyst to promote Agroforestry in the silk sector.

  • The Buniyaad Reeling Machine for Tussar Silk Yarn were distributed to some of the beneficiaries8000 women thigh reelers were identified for providing Buniyaad machines and 5000 women have already been supported under Silk Samagra Phase I

Release of 11 Volumes of Manuscript with commentaries by 21 scholars on shlokas of Srimad Bhagavad Gita: In general the practice with Srimad Bhagavadgita is to present the text with a single commentary. For the first time, many of the key commentaries by celebrated Indian scholars are being brought together for achieving a comprehensive and comparative appreciation of Srimad Bhagavadgita. The Manuscript, published by Dharmarth Trust, is written with extraordinary variety and nuance of Indian calligraphy ranging from Shankar Bhashya to Bhasanuvada

Steps to reduce border infiltration

The Indian Army has adopted a robust counter infiltration strategy which has an appropriate mix of technology and human resource put together to check infiltration effectively.  Innovative troops deployment, proactive use of surveillance and monitoring devices and the Anti Infiltration Obstacle System (AIOS) have enhanced the ability to detect and intercept terrorists attempting to infiltrate/exfiltrate.  On the basis of regular analysis of threat assessment and past infiltration attempts, drill and procedures are modified to counter emerging threats.  Some of the measures employed by Indian Army are as under:-

  • Appraisal and upgradation of intelligence gathering capabilities.
  • Reorientation of surveillance architecture to enmesh with counter infiltration deployment.
  • Augmentation of Anti Infiltration Obstacle System (AIOS) incorporating surveillance assets.
  • Enhanced incorporation of aerial platforms, night vision equipment, radars, underground sensors etc. to strengthen the surveillance architecture.
  • Maintenance of heightened alert in areas along the LC.

The Indian Army, along with Research & Development agencies, regularly upgrade the design of Anti Infiltration Obstacle System (AIOS) on the fence to incorporate ‘Smart’ components such as Border Surveillance System (BOSS), Laser Fence, Short Range Surveillance Equipment etc.

Aatmanirbhar Bharat Rozgar Yojna (ABRY) Scheme has been launched to incentivize employers for creation of new employment along with social security benefits and restoration of loss of employment during COVID-19 pandemic. This scheme being implemented through the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) reduces the financial burden of the employers of various sectors/industries including MSME and encourages them to hire more workers. Under ABRY, the Government of India is bearing for a period of two years, both the employees’ share (12% of wages) and employers’ share (12% of wages) of contribution payable or only the employees’ share, depending on employment strength of the EPFO registered establishments.

Under Pradhan Mantri Rojgar Protsahan Yojana (PMRPY) Government is incentivizing  employers for creation of new employment with social security benefits by paying Employer’s full contribution i.e. 12% towards EPF and EPS both (as admissible from time to time) for a period of three years to the new employees through EPFO. The terminal date for registration of beneficiary through establishment was 31st March 2019. The beneficiaries registered upto 31st March, 2019 will continue to receive the benefits for 3 years from the date of registration under the scheme.

Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY) has been initiated by Government inter alia, for facilitating self-employment. Under PMMY collateral free loans upto Rs. 10 lakh, are extended to micro/small business enterprises and to individuals to enable them to setup or expand their business activities.

Initiatives to Increase Production of Domestic Oil and Gas

1. Long Term Initiatives

  1. Policy for Relaxations, Extensions and Clarifications under Production Sharing Contract (PSC) regime for early monetization of hydrocarbon discoveries, 2014.
  2. Discovered Small Field Policy, 2015.
  3. Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy, 2016.
  4. Policy for Extension of Production Sharing Contracts, 2016 and 2017.
  5. Policy for early monetization of Coal Bed Methane 2017
  6. Setting up of National Data Repository, 2017.
  7. Appraisal of Unappraised areas in Sedimentary Basins 2017
  8. Re-assessment of Hydrocarbon Resources 2017
  9. Policy framework to streamline the working of Production Sharing Contracts in Pre-NELP and NELP Blocks, 2018.
  10. Policy to Promote and Incentivize Enhanced Recovery Methods for Oil and Gas, 2018.
  11. Policy framework for exploration and exploitation of Unconventional Hydrocarbons under existing Production Sharing Contracts, Coal Bed Methane contracts and Nomination fields, 2018.
  12. Policy framework for Exploration and exploitation of Coal Bed Methane (CBM) from areas under Coal Mining Lease allotted to Coal India Limited (CIL) and its subsidiaries 2018
  13. Reforms in Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy for enhancing domestic exploration and production of oil and gas 2019
  1. Short term initiatives
  1. Early Monetization of Existing Discoveries.
  2. Improving Recovery Factor through implementation of IOR and EOR techniques.
  3. Revival of sick wells.
  4. Infill Drilling of wells.
  5. Renewal of Facilities and other infrastructure.
  6. Monetization of small and marginal discoveries in onshore through service contract and outsourcing.
  7. Redevelopment of existing matured fields and development of new fields/marginal fields. 
  8. Induction of suitable technologies on selective fields.

Declaration Of World Heritage Sites By UNESCO: At present, India has 38 World Heritage Properties. All the sites under the Ministry are conserved as per ASI’s Conservation Policy and are in good shape.

  • Under Tentative List: Dholavira: A Harappan City, Santiniketan, India, Sacred Ensemble of Hoysalas
  • Under Protection of Archaeological Survey of India (22)
S.No.

 

Name of Site State

 

  1.  
Agra Fort (1983) Uttar Pradesh
2.   Ajanta Caves (1983) Maharashtra
3.   Ellora Caves (1983) Maharashtra
4.   Taj Mahal (1983) Uttar Pradesh
5.   Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram (1984) Tamil Nadu
6.   Sun Temple, Konark (1984) Odisha
7.   Churches and Convents of Goa (1986) Goa
8.   FatehpurSikri (1986) Uttar Pradesh
9.   Group of Monuments at Hampi (1986) Karnataka
10.   Khajuraho, Group of Temples (1986) Madhya Pradesh
11.   Elephanta Caves ( 1987) Maharashtra
12.   Great Living Chola Temples at Thanjavur, Gangaikondacholapuram and Darasuram (1987 & 2004) Tamil Nadu
13.   Group of Monuments at Pattadakal (1987) Karnataka
14.   Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi (1989) Madhya Pradesh
15.   Humayun’s Tomb, Delhi (1993) Delhi
16.   QutbMinar and its Monuments, Delhi (1993) Delhi
17.   Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka (2003) Madhya Pradesh
18.   Champaner-Pavagarh Archaeological Park (2004) Gujarat
19.   Red Fort Complex, Delhi (2007) Delhi
20.   Hill Forts of Rajasthan

  1. Kumbhalgarh, Jaisalmer and Ranthambhore, Amber and Gagron Forts) (2013)

(Amber and Gagron Forts are under protection of Rajasthan State Archaeology and Museums)

Rajasthan
21.   Rani-ki-Vav (The Queen’s Stepwell) at Patan (2014) Gujarat
22.   Archaeological Site of NalandaMahavihara(Nalanda University) at Nalanda (2016) Bihar

 

Under Protection of Ministry of Railways (2)

23. Mountain Railways of India Darjeeling,(1999), Nilgiri (2005), Kalka-Shimla (2008) West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh
24. ChhatrapatiShivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus) (2004) Maharashtra

 

Under Protection of Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee (1)

25 Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya, (2002) Bihar

 

Under Protection of Rajasthan State Archaeology and Museums (1)

26. The JantarMantar, Jaipur (2010) Rajasthan

 

Under Protection of Chandigarh Administration (1)

27. The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier, an Outstanding Contribution to the Modern Movement (2016) Chandigarh

 

Under Protection of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (1)

28. Historic City of Ahmedabad (2017) Gujarat

 

Under Protection of Bombay Municipal Corporation (1)

29. Victorian and Art Deco Ensemble of Mumbai (2018) Govt of Maharashtra

 

Under Protection of Jaipur Municipal Corporation (1)

30. Jaipur City, Rajasthan (2019) Govt of Rajasthan

 

NATURAL SITES: (7)

Under Protection of Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Changes

31. Kaziranga National Park (1985) Assam
32. Keoladeo National Park (1985) Rajasthan
33. Manas Wildlife Sanctuary (1985) Assam
34. Sunderbans National Park (1987) West Bengal
35. Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks (1988, 2005) Uttarakhand
36. Western Ghats (2012) Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra,Tamil Nadu
37 Great Himalayan National Park (2014) Himachal Pradesh

 

MIXED SITE: (1)

Under Protection of Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Changes

38. Khangchendzonga National Park (2016) Sikkim

 

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