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PRESS INFORMATION BUREAU (PIB) IAS UPSC – 1st June to 6th June – 2021

  • IASbaba
  • June 9, 2021
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GS-2

Union Education Minister approves the release of Performance Grading Index (PGI) 2019-20 for States and Union Territories

(Topic: Education)

The Government has introduced the Performance Grading Index with a set of 70 parameters to catalyse transformational change in the field of school education.

The PGI for States and Union Territories was first published in 2019 with reference year 2017-18. The PGI: States/UTs for 2019-20 is the third publication in this series. 

The PGI exercise envisages that the index would propel States and UTs towards undertaking multi-pronged interventions that will that will bring about the much-desired optimal education outcomes. The PGI helps the States/UTs to pinpoint the gaps and accordingly prioritise areas for intervention to ensure that the school education system is robust at every level.

  • Punjab, Chandigarh, Tamil Nadu, Andaman & Nicobar Islands and Kerala occupy the highest grade (Grade A++) for 2019-20.
  • Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Puducherry, Punjab and Tamil Nadu have improved overall PGI score by 10%, i.e., 100 or more points.
  • Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep and Punjab have shown improvement by 10% (8 points) or more in the PGI domain: Access.
  • Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Odisha have shown more than 10% improvement in the PGI domain: Equity.

Launch of SAGE ( Seniorcare Ageing Growth Engine) initiative

(Topic: Government schemes for vulnerable population)

Aim: To select, support and create a “one-stop access” of elderly care products and services by credible start-ups.

  • The start-ups will be selected on the basis of innovative products and services, which they should be able to provide across sectors such as health, housing, care centres, apart from technological access linked to finances, food and wealth management, and legal guidance.
  • The Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment will act as a facilitator, enabling the elderly to access the products through these identified start-ups. 

India’s elderly population is on the rise, and as per surveys, the share of elders, as a percentage of the total population in the country, is expected to increase from around 7.5% in 2001 to almost 12.5% by 2026, and surpass 19.5% by 2050. Accordingly, there is an urgent need to create a more robust elder care ecosystem in India, especially in the post-COVID phase.

NITI Aayog Releases SDG India Index and Dashboard 2020–21

Since its inaugural launch in 2018, the index has been comprehensively documenting and ranking the progress made by States and Union Territories towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Now in its third year, the index has become the primary tool for monitoring progress on the SDGs in the country and has simultaneously fostered competition among the States and Union Territories.

NITI Aayog has the twin mandate to oversee the adoption and monitoring of the SDGs in the country, and also promote competitive and cooperative federalism among States and UTs. The index represents the articulation of the comprehensive nature of the Global Goals under the 2030 Agenda while being attuned to the national priorities. The modular nature of the index has become a policy tool and a ready reckoner for gauging progress of States and UTs on the expansive nature of the Goals, including health, education, gender, economic growth, institutions, climate change and environment.

The SDG India Index 2020–21, developed in collaboration with the United Nations in India, tracks progress of all States and UTs on 115 indicators that are aligned to MoSPI’s National Indicator Framework (NIF). The initiative to refine and improve this important tool with each edition has been steered by the need to continuously benchmark performance and measure progress, and to account for the availability of latest SDG-related data on States and UTs. The process of selecting these 115 indicators included multipleconsultations with Union Ministries. Feedback was sought from all States and UTs and as the essential stakeholder and audience of this localisation tool, they played a crucial role in shaping the index by enriching the feedback process with localised insights and experience from the ground.

States and Union Territories are classified as below based on their SDG India Index score:

  • Aspirant: 0–49
  • Performer: 50–64
  • Front-Runner: 65–99
  • Achiever: 100

Key Highlights:

  • The country’s overall SDG score improved by 6 points—from 60 in 2019 to 66 in 2020–21. This positive stride towards achieving the targets is largely driven by exemplary country-wide performance in Goal 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation) and Goal 7(Affordable and Clean Energy), where the composite Goal scoresare 83 and 92, respectively.
  • Kerala retained its rank as the top state with a score of 75. Both Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu took the second spot with a score of 74. 
  • Bihar, Jharkhand and Assam were the worst performing states in this year’s index.  
  • Chandigarh maintained its top spot among the union territories (UTs) with a score of 79, followed by Delhi (68).  
  • Mizoram, Haryana and Uttarakhand were the top gainers in 2020-21 in terms of improvement in score from 2019, with an increase of 12, 10 and 8 points, respectively.  
  • Under the health sector goals, Gujarat and Delhi were the top performers among the states and the UTs, respectively.   
  • Under the goal of quality education, Kerala and Chandigarh were the top performers among the states and UTs, respectively.    
  • Under the goal of no poverty, Tamil Nadu and Delhi were the best performers among the states and UTs, respectively.
  • Under the goal of reduced inequalities, Meghalaya and Chandigarh (Achiever, with Index score of 100) emerged as the best performers among the states and UTs.     

India called for a strong and aligned international cooperation to combat the challenge of Fugitive Economic Offenders and Assets

(Topic: International relations)

India has made it clear that the world is presently combatting another serious emerging challenge of Fugitive Economic Offenders and Assets which flee across national jurisdictions. India’s Fugitive Economic Offenders Act 2018 law empowers authorities for non-conviction-based attachment and confiscation of proceeds of crime and properties and assets of a ‘fugitive economic offender’ –against whom a warrant for arrest in relation to a Scheduled Offence has been issued by any court in India and who has left the country to avoid criminal prosecution or judicial processes.

Addressing the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Special Session on Challenges and Measures to fight Corruption last night, Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh called for a strong and aligned international cooperation on the return of persons and assets sought for such offences, consistent with international obligations and domestic legal systems. As the accused take shelter in foreign countries and conceal the proceeds of crime in complex legal structures spread over different countries and jurisdictions, the gaps and weaknesses of international cooperation in this area are fully exploited by such fugitives to their advantage.

India provides Mutual Legal Assistance to widest possible extent and it has strengthened its domestic law and widened the scope for International Co-operation with Contracting States and International organizations.


ADB, India sign agreement to support preparation of road upgradation project in Sikkim

(Topic: India and International organisations)

The Asian Development Bank and the Government of India today signed a $2.5 million project readiness financing (PRF) loan to support project preparation and design activities to upgrade major district roads in Sikkim that will help improve connectivity to important towns, rural areas, and pilgrimage and tourist destinations in the northeastern state.

  • Aims to ensure implementation readiness through feasibility studies, preparing detailed engineering designs of selected subprojects and building capacity of state agencies so that the ensuing project gets completed in a timely manner
  • Support the state government’s priority in improving road connectivity in the hill state through planning and designing of major district and other roads and bridges that will help boost the state’s economy and improve accessibility for people in remote villages.

Cabinet approves 

1. Memorandum of Understanding between India and Maldives on cooperation in the field of sustainable urban development: The MoU will

  • Promote strong, deep and long-term bilateral cooperation in the field of Sustainable Urban Development between the two countries.
  • Create employment in the areas of sustainable urban development including Urban Planning, Smart Cities Development, Solid waste management, Affordable housing, Urban Green Mobility, Urban Mass Rapid Transport, Smart Cities Development.

2. Signing and Ratification of an Agreement on “Cooperation in the field of Mass Media” between all the Member States of Shanghai Cooperation Organization: The main areas of cooperation are following:

  • Creation of favorable conditions for wide and mutual distribution of information through the Mass Media in order to further deepen the knowledge about the lives of the peoples of their States
  • Cooperation among the Editorial Offices of the Mass Media of their States, as well as among the relevant Ministries, Agencies and Organizations working in the field of the Mass Media, specific conditions and forms of which shall be determined by the participants themselves, including through conclusion of separate agreements;
  • Promote equal and mutually beneficial cooperation among professional associations of journalists of the States of the Sides in order to study the available professional experience, as well as to hold meetings, seminars and conferences in the field of Mass Media;
  • Assist in broadcasting of television and radio programs and programs, distributed legally within the territory of the State of the other Side, the legal broadcasting by Editorial Offices of materials and information, if their distribution meets the requirements of the legislation of the States of the Sides;
  • Encourage the exchange of experience and specialists in the field of Mass Media, provide mutual assistance in training media professionals and encourage cooperation among the educational and scientific-research institutions and Organizations operating in this field.

3. Memorandum of Understanding between India and Argentine Republic on cooperation in the field of Mineral Resources:

  • Strengthen the activities involved like cooperation for encouraging minerals exploration and development, including extraction, mining and beneficiation of lithium; 
  • Possibilities of forming joint venture in the field of base metals, critical and strategic minerals for mutual benefit;  
  • Exchange of technical and scientific information and interchange of ideas and knowledge;
  • Training and capacity building; and p
  • Promotion of investment and development in the area of mining activities 

4. Memorandum of Cooperation between India and Japan in the field of sustainable urban development: The MoC will promote strong, deep and long-term bilateral cooperation in the field of Sustainable Urban Development between the two countries.

  • Create employment opportunities in the areas of sustainable urban development, including Urban Planning, Smart Cities Development, Affordable Housing, (including rental housing), Urban Flood Management, Sewerage and Waste Water Management, Urban Transport (including Intelligent Transport Management System, Transit-Oriented Development and Multimodal Integration) and Disaster Resilient development.

5. Model Tenancy Act for circulation to the States/Union Territories for adoption

Operational 

  • After the act is in force, no person shall let out or take on rent any premises except by an agreement in writing. 
  • It will be applicable prospectively and will not affect existing tenancies. 
  • The law seeks to cover urban and rural areas. 
  • Written agreement to be submitted to the rent authority; a digital platform will be set up in the local vernacular language. 
  • Seeks to avoid dispute by clarifying the roles and responsibilities of the landlord as well as the tenant.
  • Subletting of premises can only be with the prior consent of the landlord. 
  • No structural change in the premises by the tenant without the written consent of the landlord.

Monetary 

  • Rent and duration of tenancy to be fixed by mutual consent between the owner and the tenant through a written agreement; no monetary ceiling. 
  • The security deposit should be a maximum of two months’ rent in case of residential premises and up to six month’s rent in case of non-residential premises.

Dispute Redressal 

  • Time-bound and robust grievance redressal mechanism comprising the rent authority, the rent court, and the rent tribunal to provide fast-track resolution. 
  • Disposal of complaint/appeal by the rent court and the tribunal within 60 days. 
  • The tenant will continue to pay the rent even during the pendency of a dispute. 
  • No eviction of tenant during the tenancy period, except in accordance with provisions of the act. 
  • Jurisdiction of civil courts barred.

Force Majeure 

  • In case of a force majeure event, the landlord shall allow the tenant to continue in possession till a period of one month from the date of cessation of such disastrous event on the terms of the existing tenancy agreement.

Expected impact of Model Tenancy Act: The government says the Act will 

  • Facilitate unlocking of vacant houses for rental housing purposes
  • Expected to give a fillip to private participation in rental housing as a business model for addressing the huge housing shortage
  • Aims to bridge the trust deficit between tenants and landlords by clearly delineating their obligations
  • Help overhaul the legal framework with respect to rental housing across the country

GS-3

Sustainable and responsible development of fisheries sector in India

(Topic: Fisheries)

The sustainability and conservation of our aquatic ecosystem which constitutes of various freshwater habitats, with oceans and seas covering more than 70 percent of the Earth, has gained a lot of attention in recent times at national and international forums.  It also underpins key economic sectors, such as fisheries and tourism. However, today these habitats are constantly facing huge threats from various actors.

As predicted by eminent scientists and practitioners across the world, millions of tonnes of our plastic waste released into these habitats by humans are harming creatures, including seabirds, turtles, crabs and other species. To curb the impact caused to these habitats, it is imperative that more awareness be created amongst nations to take responsible actions, work towards conservation of environment and leverage existing resources to reverse and restore the planet Earth. However, at the same time one must understand that protecting and restoring the entire ecosystem is a massive task and needs to be taken up collectively by nations across the globe on priority and at a faster pace.

“Blue Revolution”, the flagship scheme of the Department, launched in the year 2015, aimed to achieve economic prosperity of the country and the fishers and fish farmers as well as contribute towards food and nutritional security through full potential utilization of water resources for fisheries development in a sustainable manner, keeping in view the bio-security and environmental concerns. 

  • Under Blue Revolution, total funds of Rs. 2573 crores were released as central assistance to various States and Union Territories and various organisations for sustainable and holistic development of fisheries and fishers’ welfare, along with promotion of environment friendly aquaculture practices.
  • As part of Blue Revolution scheme, various environment friendly technologies were adopted for safeguarding of our aquatic ecosystem. 
  • Recirculating Aquaculture Systems (RAS) were supported; RAS technology is eco-friendly, water efficient, and  is a highly productive intensive farming system, with zero environmental impact. 
  • Likewise, Sea Cages for marine fish culture were promoted and supported, Seaweed cultivation has also been promoted, fish lean/ban period have been implemented during the breeding season amongst many other initiatives. 
  • Solar panel units for producing energy to operate water pumps, aerators and carrying out other fisheries related activities were provided assistance under the Blue Revolution Scheme. This entailed providing one-time central assistance to beneficiaries for procurement and installation of solar power support system for fisheries. These initiatives amongst others have played a major role in protecting the land as well as the aquatic ecosystems.

To further build-on the achievements in the fisheries sector through implementation of the Blue Revolution Scheme and develop the sector in a sustainable and responsible manner, the Government of India launched a flagship scheme of “Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY)” in May 2020, with highest ever estimated investment of Rs. 20,050 crore under the Aatmanirbhar Bharat package.

PMMSY aims at sustainable and responsible development of fisheries sector with focus on infrastructure, species diversification, sustainable livelihoods, aquatic health management, robust database, innovations, collectivization, modernization of value chain, export promotion, establishing a robust fisheries management framework, with special focus on implementing technologies that ensure protection of habitats and fisheries wealth. In this context, the Department is taking up a range of activities including 

  • Implementation of bio-flocs, Recirculatory Aquaculture System (RAS) with special focus, Reservoir cage culture, open sea cage culture for conservation of marine fisheries and risk mitigation to marine fishers, s
  • Sea weed cultivation for supporting livelihood and ushering prosperity for coastal communities especially women in sustainable environment friendly manner alongwith providing livelihood and nutritional support for fishers’ families for conservation of fisheries resources during fishing ban/lean period. 
  • Furthermore, the Department is also actively promoting installation of Bio-toilets in fishing vessels to keep the marine environment clean and prevent contamination of marine resources.
  • PMMSY aims to promote sustainable fish production systems/methods with minimal environmental impacts to support more crop per drop.  
  • Integrated Modern Coastal Fishing Villages will be developed under PMMSY with investment of Rs. 750 crore to leverage Blue economy/Blue growth with an aim to maximize economic and social benefits to coastal fishers while minimizing environmental impact through sustainable fishing practices. 
  • Project proposal with total outlay of Rs. 2881.41 crore have been approved under PMMSY during 2020-21 for sustainable development of fisheries and fisheries related infrastructure including fishers’ welfare.

Alongside, the Fishery Survey of India (FSI) is also developing new fishing practices and gears that will help in minimizing the physical and biological degradation of marine ecosystem. The diversified fishing methods like trap fishing, hook and line, bottom set vertical longtime, tuna longline, mid water travel, pot fishing etc. have been introduced and successfully experimented with zero damage to the marine ecosystem.


Climate change research in India

(Topic: Climate Change)

Researchers from corners of India are tracing the impact of climate change on the country, finding new ways to track the global problem, improving the projection of climate, its impact as well as vulnerability to prepare for the future.

Key findings:

  • Small-sized glaciers in Sikkim are melting at a higher magnitude as compared to other Himalayan regions
  • Black carbon from agricultural burning & forest fire has alerted over the years may influence melting of Gangotri Glacier
  • Aerosols like black carbon and dust, which makes the Indo-Gangetic Plain one of the most polluted regions of the world, have led to increased incidents of high rainfall events in the foothills of the Himalayan Region
  • A planetary wave from the North Atlantic is capable of derailing the Indian monsoon on which the Indian economy is heavily dependent.

Climate Centres of excellence strengthen models: 

Centres of excellence in Climate Change in four Indian Institute of Technologies – Delhi, Bombay, Kharagpur and Madras, are working on improving climate projection models to make them more comprehensive and accurate.

IIT-Delhi: Contributed to significant improvements to the base model, moving towards development of the India Centric Climate Model (ICCM).

IIT Bombay: Underlined the need for representation of irrigation practices, farmer’s behavior, and vegetation- land and atmosphere interactions to improve model predictions and also develop agricultural vulnerability maps at the National level.

IIT Kharagpur: Historical climate data for the Indian Ocean region has been used to understand the temporal variability of wave height (SWH) over the Bay of Bengal (BoB) region for the period 1997-2015, which have been reputed international and national journals.

IIT Madras is developing suitable climate change adaptation measures for coastal infrastructure and utilization of water resources. A technique is known as “pseudo global warming method” has been adapted and successfully used for prognostic understanding of how cyclones originating in the Bay of Bengal would behave in the near future (2025) and in far future (2075) under different RCP scenarios (a greenhouse gas concentration trajectory adopted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). It is predicted that cyclone damage potential will increase significantly in future. This strategic knowledge is essential for all the studies related to adaptation of coastal infrastructure, water resources management in coastal areas and preparedness of coastal communities to extreme events in the future. 

DST-ICMR Centre of Excellence for Climate Change and Vector-borne Diseases, National Institute of Malaria Research: The temperature thresholds for survival of vectors of major Vector-borne diseases (VBDs) have been studied to set up a system for early warning of outbreaks for malaria and dengue. The impact of temperature on development and survival of vector of dengue (Aedesaegypti), Malaria (An. stephensi, An. culicifacies) on immature stages like eggs, larvae, pupae, and adults was studied. The most preferred breeding habitats of Japanese Encephalitis vectors were also identified in Gorakhpur.

High-risk areas have been identified by the DST-ICRISAT Center of Excellence on Climate Change Research for Plant Protection (CoE-CCRPP) for mapping the spatial and temporal distribution of diseases and insect-pests under changing climate scenarios and study host–insect-pest/pathogens interactions in relation to simulated climate variables. This will help develop adaptation strategies to minimize crop losses and weather-based plant protection advisory tools for the timely management of diseases and insect pests.

Building the next generation of climate experts

In order to build capacity in the area, over 1000 scientists, experts, and 200 institutions in the country trained research students to carry on the legacy of the work. International collaborations have helped enhance this capacity and helped in the exchange of expertise in the subject.

The Government of India and the Government of Switzerland established an Indo-Swiss Joint Committee for Scientific and Technological Cooperation. The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), through its Indian Himalayan Climate Adaptation Programme (IHCAP) programme, has been working as a knowledge partner of DST in providing technical support for undertaking vulnerability and risk assessment, stakeholder training and public awareness programme to the 12 State CC Cells established under NMSHE. As part of this cooperation, a detailed district-wise vulnerability assessment has been carried out for all the 12 Himalayan States.

An Indo-US Fulbright- Kalam fellowship scheme was initiated during 2015-16. During 2016-17 to 2018-19, three batches of six fellows (3 each in Doctoral and postdoctoral students) were awarded the fellowships through Indo-US Fulbright-Kalam Fellowships in Climate Change for research in the subject in US universities.


DBT-NII Receives Trademark for India’s First Indigenous Tumour Antigen SPAG9

(Topic: Science and Technology)

Cancer kills8.51 lakh people in India every year (International Agency for Research on Cancer, 2020,Globocan). As per World Health Organization (WHO), one in 10 Indians will develop cancer during their lifetime, and one in 15 will die of cancer. Therefore, it is all the more critical to make extraordinary breakthroughs and innovations for this deadly disease. 

To successfully implement innovation newer modalities for cancer treatment, researchers at the New Delhi-based National Institute of Immunology (NII), an Autonomous Institute of Department of Biotechnology (DBT),and clinicians at Cancer Institute, Adyar, Chennai have been working together to translate new scientific discoveries into improved care for cancer patients. Over the past two decades, this team has been engaged in translating breakthrough that promises to add a highly potent weapon to the armoury against cancer especially employing targeted cancer Immunotherapy. India’s first indigenous tumour antigen SPAG9 was discovered by Dr Anil Suri in 1998 who is heading the Cancer Research Program at NII. In a recent development, the SPAG9 antigen has received the trademark ASPAGNIITM. Currently, ASPAGNIITM is being used in dendritic cell (DC) based immunotherapy in cervical, ovarian cancer and will also be used in breast cancer.

Immunotherapy is a new approach that exploits the body’s inner capability to put up a fight against cancer. With this approach, either the immune system is given a boost, or the T cells are “trained’’ to identify recalcitrant cancer cells and kill them. In this personalised intervention,those patients expressing SPAG9 protein can be treated with DC-based vaccine approach. In DC-based vaccine, patient’s cells called monocytes from their blood are collected and modified into what are called dendritic cells. These dendritic cells are primed with ASPAGNIITM and are injected back to the patient to help the ‘fighter’ cells, or T-cells, in the body to kill the cancer cells. DC-based immunotherapy is safe, affordable and can promote antitumor immune responses and prolonged survival of cancer patients.

The ASPAGNIITM is a true example of translational cancer research and the Atmanirbhar Bharat spirit. It will eventually be helpful to patients in India and the world. This will be a real morale boost in affordable, personalised, and indigenous products for cancer treatment.


Anomalously large abundance of lithium in low mass red giants traced to He-flashing phase of 2 million years

(Topic: Science and Technology)

The discrepancy between the abundance of lithium as inferred from observations of stars and the theoretically predicted amount has intrigued astronomers for a long time.

Scientists from the Indian Institute of astrophysics have pinned down the mechanism behind the Lithium production in low mass red clump stars. Having found lithium excess to be common among the low mass red clump giants, they have now traced Helium (He)-flashing phase of the star’s evolution as the site for high lithium production. This transition phase lasts for about 2 million, during which RGB giants with inert He-core at the centre become red clump giants of He-core burning.

The researchers used asteroseismology (seismic study of stars using time-resolved photometry from Kepler space telescope) combined with spectroscopic abundances of elements to track the evolution of lithium in a sample of giant stars.  In addition to the evidence for Li production site, a first-of-its-kind correlation between the two independent observed quantities Li abundance and stellar oscillations (gravity mode period spacing) will serve to track the He-flashing phase of converting RGB giant of an inert, electron-degenerate He-core into a fully convective He-burning core by a series of core He-flashes, a theory developed in the 1960s. This work is published in the ‘Astrophysical Journal Letters’.

These results will be of great interest to a larger community of theoreticians and observers. This is because of lithium’s broader implications to cosmological models, which predict Big Bang lithium abundance, which is a factor of four less than the presently observed values in the interstellar medium or very young stars, indicating lithium is increasing. Identification of production sites is important for accounting for Li enhancement in the Universe and provides excellent insights into the internal working of stars.


Nanorod based oxygen sensor working at room temperature can save lives in places like underground mines, higher altitudes

(Topic: Science and Technology)

Indian Scientists have developed a nanorods-based oxygen sensor which works at room temperature with assistance of UV irradiation and can detect oxygen gas concentrations in places such as underground mines, at higher altitudes, inside aeroplanes and research labs.

Monitoring O2 concentration in very low ppm-level is of paramount importance, and a fast and selective oxygen sensor working at room temperature can save lives in places like underground mines, higher altitudes and improve the accuracy of numerous experiments being conducted in research labs.

The team showed that the sensor gives the best sensitivity with low power consumption and works at room temperature. The fabricated sensors exhibited response and recovery times of around 3 sec and 10 sec, respectively, at 1000 ppm. The sensor works in oxygen concentrations ranging from 25 ppm to 10 lakh ppm (100%) with good stability. The superior sensing property is attributed to the enhanced electrical conductivity, excitons (combination of an electron and a positive hole) created, and desorption of water molecules (released through surface) from the sensor surface by UV irradiation, facilitating increased interaction of oxygen molecules with chromium incorporated in titanium dioxide slanted nanorods array present in the sensor.

The CeNS team is further working on miniaturising the sensor and its electronics interfacing with other gas sensors to fabricate a suitable electronic nose.


Researchers track reason behind decline in star formation activity 8 billion years ago

(Topic: Science and Technology)

Astronomers tracking star formation activity of the young Universe billions of years ago have long been intrigued by the fact that star formation in galaxies which was at its  highest about 8-10 billion years ago, had declined steadily thereafter. Searching for the reason behind this, they have found that the likely cause for the decline is that galaxies were running out of fuel.

The fuel critical to hydrogen formation is atomic hydrogen gas content of galaxies. Two studies that measured the atomic hydrogen content 9 billion years ago and 8 billion years ago, respectively, have helped them come to this conclusion.

Galaxies 9 billion years ago were rich in an atomic gas, with nearly three times as much mass in atomic gas as in stars. This is very different from galaxies today like the Milky Way, where the gas mass is nearly ten times smaller than the mass in stars.

The star formation in these early galaxies was so intense that they would consume their atomic gas in just two billion years. And, if the galaxies could not acquire more gas, their star formation activity would decline and finally cease. It thus appears likely that the cause of the declining star- formation in the Universe is simply that galaxies were not able to replenish their gas reservoirs after some epoch, probably because there wasn’t enough gas available in their environments. 

Prelims-oriented News

Padma Vibhushan Sir Anerood Jugnauth: The architect of modern Mauritius

Largest Green Railways in the world with Zero Carbon Emission: Indian Railways

World Environment Day: 5th June; established by the UN General Assembly in 1972, to mark the opening of the Stockholm Conference on Humans interfering with the Environment.

To commemorate World Environment Day, Government of India is 

  • Releasing E-20 Notification directing Oil Companies to sell ethanol blended petrol with percentage of ethanol up to 20% from 1st April 2023
  • BIS Specifications for higher ethanol blends E12 & E15

These efforts will facilitate setting up of additional ethanol distillation capacities and will provide timelines for making blended fuel available across the country. This will also help increase consumption of ethanol in the ethanol producing states and the adjoining regions, before the year 2025.

World Milk Day: 1st June

  • Launch of a National Award, Gopal Ratna Award, for Dairy Sector. The award has three categories –  Best Dairy farmer, Best Artificial Insemination Technician (AIT) and Best Dairy Cooperative/ Milk producer Company/ FPO.
  • Integration of e- Gopala app with UMANG platform so that 3.1 Crore users of Umang platform will get access to App. e-GOPALA app (Generation of wealth through Productive Livestock), a comprehensive breed improvement marketplace and information portal for direct use of farmers
  • Milk production has increased at an average annual growth rate of 6.3% per year in the last 6 years
  • Dairy sector is the source of livelihood of more than 8 crore dairy farmers

FIRST Institution to be declared SDO under one “One Nation One Standard” mission on BIS (Bureau of Indian Standards): RDSO (Research Design & Standards Organization) – R&D Wing of Indian Railways

  • To attain “ Nation One Standard” vision of Govt. of India, Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), the National Standards Body, has launched a scheme which provides for “Recognition of SDO”.
  • Through this scheme, BIS aims at aggregating and integrating the existing capabilities and dedicated domain specific expertise available with various organizations in the country engaged in standards development in their specific sectors, and enable convergence of all standard development activities in the country resulting in “One National Standard for One Subject”.

India-Australia cooperation and collaboration in the field of Agriculture

  • The India – Australia Grains Partnership was a significant inclusion aiming to use Australia’s expertise in post harvest management to strengthen rural grain storage and supply chains so as to reduce losses and wastage.
  • National Institute of Agricultural Marketing will be the nodal organisation from India.
  • Australia has recently given market access for export of Indian pomegranates. There would be a joint strategy for deeper access for Indian mangoes and pomegranates in Australian markets led by the Indian High Commission in Canberra also. The Australian Minister assured to fast track the Indian requests for market access for okra and pomegranate arils.
  • On the issue of closer cooperation between India and Australia in multilateral fora like FAO and G20 – India is looking forward for closer dialogue between likeminded countries. Climate change is one area where there was great opportunity for India and Australia to work together since both countries have similar commitments. The flagship program of National Innovation for Climate Resilient Agriculture and said collaboration could be set up with the research organisations of Australia.

SATAT scheme: Union Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas launched a number of initiatives to provide major fillip to the SATAT initiative in a virtual ceremony.

  • Aim of SATAT scheme: To set up Compressed Bio-Gas (CBG) production plants and make CBG available in the market for use as a green fuel.
  • ‘SATAT’ aims to target production of 15 MMT of CBG from 5000 plants by 2023.
  • It has the potential to boost availability of affordable transport fuels, better use of agricultural residue, cattle dung and municipal solid waste. 
  • It will also provide an investment of 1.75 lakh crore, an additional revenue source to farmers, and 75,000 direct job opportunities and lakhs of indirect jobs.

Release of A Model Panchayat Citizens Charter: A Model Panchayat Citizens Charter/ framework for delivery of the services across the 29 sectors, aligning actions with localised Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as prepared by Ministry of Panchayati Raj (MoPR) in collaboration with National Institute of Rural Development & Panchayati Raj (NIRDPR) was released.

  • The Citizen Charter would ensure transparent and effective delivery of public services for sustainable development and enhanced citizen service experiences; deepening inclusive and accountable Local Self Governments by incorporating diverse views while designing and delivering services.
  • It is expected that the Panchayats will utilise this framework to draw up a Citizens Charter and adopt it through a resolution of the Gram Sabha by 15th August, 2021

Panchayats constitute the third tier of government in the rural areas and represents the first level of Government interaction for over 60 per cent of the Indian populace. Panchayats are responsible for delivery of basic services as enshrined under article 243G of the Constitution of India, specifically in the areas of Health & Sanitation, Education, Nutrition, Drinking Water.

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