PRESS INFORMATION BUREAU (PIB) IAS UPSC – 7th June to 13th June – 2021

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  • June 14, 2021
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Report of All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) 2019-20

(Topic: Education)

This Report provides key performance indicators on the current status of Higher education in the country. In the last five years from 2015-16 to 2019-20, there has been a growth of 11.4% in the student enrolment. 

  • The rise in female enrolment in higher education during the period is 18.2%.
  • Total Enrolment in Higher Education stands at 3.85 crorein 2019-20 as compared to 3.74 crore in 2018-19, registering a growth of 11.36 lakh (3.04 %). Total enrolment was 3.42 crore in 2014-15.
  • Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER), the percentage of students belonging to the eligible age group enrolled in Higher Education, in 2019-20 is 27.1% against 26.3% in 2018-19 and 24.3% in 2014-2015.
  • Gender Parity Index (GPI) in Higher Education in 2019-20 is 1.01 against 1.00 in 2018-19 indicating an improvement in the relative access to higher education for females of eligible age group compared to males.
  • Pupil Teacher Ratio in Higher Education in 2019-20 is 26.
  • 3.38 crore Students enrolled in programmes at under-graduate and post-graduate level.  Out of these, nearly 85% of the students (2.85 crore) were enrolled in the six major disciplines such as Humanities, Science, Commerce, Engineering & Technology, Medical Science and IT & Computer.
  • The number of students pursuing PhD in 2019-20 is 2.03 lakh against 1.17 lakh in 2014-15.
  • The Total Number of Teachers stands at 15,03,156 comprising of 57.5% male and 42.5% female.

India’s commitment to promote Renewable energy: Proposes to revamp the Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) Mechanism

(Topic: Government schemes and policies)

  1. Validity period of RECs; Floor & Forbearance Price
  • The REC validity period may be removed. Thus, the validity of REC would be perpetual ie till it is sold.
  • As RECs are perpetually valid then the floor and forbearance prices are not required to be specified as RECs holders would have the complete freedom to decide the timings to sell.
  • CERC will be required to have monitoring and the surveillance mechanism to ensure that there is no hording of the RECs and creation of artificial price rise in the REC market.  CERC may intervene if such case of malpractices is observed in the REC trading.
  1. Period for which the RECs are to be issued to RE generators: The RE generator, who is eligible for REC, will be eligible for issuance of RECs for 15 years from the date of commissioning of the projects.  The existing RE project that are eligible for REC would continue to get RECs for 25 years.
  2. Promotion of new and high cost technologies in RE and the provision of multiplier for issuance of RECs
  • The concept of multiplier can be introduced, under which less mature RE technologies can be promoted over other matured renewable technologies.
  • The concept of negative list and sunset clause may also be considered for various technologies depending upon their maturity level.
  • Any RE technologies which need to be promoted may be identified say 2 years in advance. For such RE projects at least 15 years policy visibility would be provided to attract investments and promotion of such technologies in the renewable energy.
  • Multiplier: A technology multiplier can be introduced for promotion of new and high priced RE technologies, which can be allocated in various baskets specific to technologies depending on maturity. The multiplier would also take care of vintage depending on the date of commissioning of the project.
  1. Incentivising Obligated Entities for procurement of RE Power beyond RPO.
  2. No REC to be issued to the beneficiary of the concessional charges or waiver of any other charges.
  3. The role of trader can be enhanced in the REC trading which will bring in two key advantages i.e. it will give long-term visibility to the buyers of the REC and they can easily fulfil the RPO. Further, the small buyers can bank on the traders for buying REC as an ease of purchase. This will ensure even the small buyers who find difficulty in trading in REC market will be able to fulfil his RPO.

47th G7 Summit

(Topic: International summits and India)

UK currently holds the Presidency of the G7 and has invited India, along with Australia, Republic of Korea and South Africa, as Guest Countries for the G7 Summit. The theme for the Summit is ‘Build Back Better’ and the UK has outlined four priority areas for its Presidency:

  • Leading the global recovery from coronavirus while strengthening resilience against future pandemics
  • Promoting future prosperity by championing free and fair trade
  • Tackling climate change and preserving the planet’s biodiversity
  • Championing shared values and open societies

During the session, Prime Minister Modi –

  • Expressed appreciation for the support extended by the G7 and other guest countries during the recent wave of COVID infections in India. 
  • Highlighted India’s ‘whole of society’ approach to fight the pandemic, synergising the efforts of all levels of the government, industry and civil society.   
  • Explained India’s successful use of open source digital tools for contact tracing and vaccine management, and conveyed India’s willingness to share its experience and expertise with other developing countries.
  • Committed India’s support for collective endeavours to improve global health governance
  • Sought the G7’s support for the proposal moved at the WTO by India and South Africa, for a TRIPS waiver on COVID related technologies. 
  • Calling for global unity, leadership, and solidarity to prevent future pandemics, he emphasized the special responsibility of democratic and transparent societies in this regard.
  • Recalled that democracy and freedom were a part of India’s civilizations ethos. He shared the concern expressed by several Leaders that open societies are particularly vulnerable to disinformation and cyber-attacks, and stressed the need to ensure that cyberspace remains an avenue for advancing democratic values and not of subverting it.
  • Highlighting the non-democratic and unequal nature of global governance institutions, PM called for the reform of the multilateral system as the best signal of commitment to the cause of Open Societies. The leaders adopted the ‘Open Societies Statement’ at the end of the meeting.
  • Highlighted that the planet’s atmosphere, biodiversity and oceans cannot be protected by countries acting in silos, and called for collective action on climate change. 
    • Speaking about India’s unwavering commitment to climate action, he mentioned the commitment by Indian Railways to achieve Net Zero Emissions by 2030. 
    • He stressed that India is the only G-20 country on track to meet its Paris commitments.
    • He also took note of the increasing effectiveness of the two major global initiatives nurtured by India i.e. the CDRI and the International Solar Alliance. 
    • Prime Minister stressed that developing countries need better access to climate finance, and called for a holistic approach towards climate change that covers all dimensions of the problem- mitigation, adaptation, technology transfer, climate financing, equity, climate justice and lifestyle change.  


Measures to save energy with an objective to reduce CO2 emission levels 

(Topic: Energy)

The Ministry of Power is implementing measures to save energy with an objective to reduce CO2 emission levels in the environment from industries, establishments and by using equipment/ appliances.

The Perform, Achieve and Trade (PAT) Scheme: The Perform, Achieve and Trade (PAT) Scheme is a programme launched by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) to reduce energy consumption and promote enhanced energy efficiency among specific energy intensive industries in the country.

  • Aims to enhance the cost-effectiveness of energy savings by upgrading technologies or by taking in-house actions to minimize energy consumption
  • Provides mandatory targets for the identified Large Units and the excess energy saved by them is issued as Energy Saving Certificate, which are tradable instruments. 
  • The different industries and establishments are assigned separate energy efficiency targets based on their levels of energy consumption and the potential for energy savings.

By the year 2020 the scheme coverage has been extended to 13 most  energy intensive sectors in the country including Cement, Iron and Steel, Fertilizer, Thermal Power Plants, Refineries, Petrochemicals, Railways and others. This initiative is currently leading to energy savings of about 17 MTOE (Million Tonnes of Oil Equivalent) and has resulted into mitigation of about 87 million tonnes of CO2, per year, a figure close to total CO2 emissions of country like Bangladesh.

Standards and Labeling (S&L) Program by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE): To provide the consumers, an informed choice about the energy savings potential and thereby the cost saving due to the products available in the market. 

  • The scheme includes display of energy performance labels on key energy consuming equipment & appliances, with stipulation for minimum energy performance standards. 
  • The scheme has now included 28 appliances till March 2021 and over 15000 models of energy efficient products have been awarded Star labels, a popular symbol among the consumers for endorsing energy savings. 

The impact of using a huge number of efficient products by the citizens have resulted into an estimated electricity savings of 56 Billion Units during 2020-21, worth over Rs. 30000 crore. This initiative has been effective in reducing the CO2 emissions of approx. 46 Million Tonnes every year. Such steps have become very effective and a simplified approach is considered more useful to promote energy efficiency globally. Many countries have followed this labeling programme, thereby reaping benefits of energy savings and also in reducing CO2 emissions.

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is the well-known greenhouse gas on our planet Earth. Rapid increase in its concentration in atmosphere is major cause of global temperature rise which in turn leads to many environmental and healthcare problems. The  ‘greenhouse effect’ works in case of CO2 when solar radiation hits the surface of the earth, part of the heat escapes the atmosphere while balance heat gets trapped which in turn, raises the earth’s temperature. This is a phenomenon popularly known as global warming. This primarily results in severe impact on  climate change, which has a ripple effect over all natural ecosystems, and by extension, all industries and people around the globe.

About BEE

The Government of India has set up the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) on 1st March 2002 under the provision of the Energy Conservation Act, 2001. The mission of the Bureau of Energy Efficiency is to assist in developing policies and strategies with a thrust on self-regulation and market principles with the primary objective of reducing energy intensity of the Indian economy within the overall framework of the Energy Conservation Act, 2001. This will be achieved with active participation and collaboration of all stakeholders, resulting in accelerated and sustained adoption of energy efficiency in all sectors. BEE’s span of Energy Conservation and Efficiency efforts covers areas such as Appliance, Buildings, Transport, key Demand Side Management programs in Agriculture and Municipalities and the Industry and other Establishments.

Department of Biotechnology supported First CAR-T cell therapy conducted at ACTREC, Tata Hospital in Mumbai

(Topic: Medical technology)

The Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-cell (CAR-T) therapy has emerged as a breakthrough in cancer treatment. Clinical trials conducted globally have shown promising results in end stage patients, especially in patients suffering from Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia. Though this technology has a remarkable therapeutic potential for cancer patients, at present this technology is not available in India. Each patient’s CAR-T cell therapy costs 3-4 crore (INR). The challenge therefore is to develop this technology in cost-effective manner and make it available for the patients.

The manufacturing complexity is a major reason for the therapy cost. In order to promote and support development of CAR-T cell technology against cancer and other diseases, BIRAC and DBT have taken initiatives and launched specialized calls to invite proposals in the last 2 years.

This is a ‘first in India’ gene therapy in early phase pilot clinical trial and the dedicated efforts and excellent collaboration between IIT Bombay and Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai. The central government’s National Biopharma Mission-BIRAC has approved 19.15 Cr crore to the team for conducting a first-in-human phase-1/2 clinical trial of the CAR-T cells.

National Biopharma Mission is also supporting the development of Lentiviral vector manufacturing facility for packaging plasmids used to transfer the modified T cell inside the body, cGMP facility for T-cell transduction and expansion for CAR T-cell manufacturing to two other organizations. The development of CAR-T cell technology for diseases including acute lymphocytic leukemia, multiple myeloma, glioblastoma, hepatocellular carcinoma and type-2 diabetes is supported through DBT.

DBT-ILS establishes Animal Challenge Study Platform

(Topic: Science and Technology)

COVID-19 is causing a major global pandemic. The scientific and clinical community are actively engaged to develop effective preventions and treatments. A key strategy to protect humans from this corona virus pandemic is the development of effective vaccines and therapeutics. While multiple clinical trials are currently underway, in parallel, preclinical research on in vitro and model organisms is also needed, both to understand the virus and to test therapeutic agents for safety and efficacy. 

Animal models that closely resemble the pathogenesis of SARS-CoV-2−induced disease in humans are essential for research on disease mechanisms and for the evaluation of potential vaccines and antiviral drugs. Small animals like mice and Syrian hamster are advantageous to study SARS-CoV-2, as they reproduce faster and faithfully reproduce COVID-19 pathology in humans. Among different available animal models, so far hamsters have been widely utilized in SARS-CoV-2 infection studies. Hamster model of COVID-19 mimics a mild pattern of human disease with full recovery.

The experimentation with these animals needs people with multiple expertise and specialised animal biosafety level 3 laboratories (ABSL3). Realising the importance of these requirements for developing antiviral and vaccine candidates for SARC-COV-2, scientists at the Institute of Life Sciences, Bhubaneswar (an autonomous research institute of Department of Biotechnology, Govt. of India) have established these animal models and a ABSL3 laboratory.

The COVID-19 research team of this institute has recently established and characterised hamster models of SARS-CoV-2 infection by using a local virus isolate cultured and characterized at ILS. The proteomic studies carried out at ILS shows the similarities between SARS-CoV-2 infection in humans and hamsters. This along with analysis of clinical parameters it has been observed that tissue samples show the pathophysiological manifestation of SARS‐CoV‐2 infection similar to that reported earlier in COVID‐19 patients. This provided strong molecular evidence that supports the clinical relevance of this model in COVID-19 research.

3-D seismic data can help apprehend precursors of marine geo-hazards from interactions between seabed & marine sediments

(Topic: Science and Technology)

Deep down in the ocean, marine sediments move over the base of the ocean, shaping the probability of geohazards. Scientists have now used 3D seismic data to understand the interaction between bottom surface of marine sediments and the seafloor in the northern Taranaki basin offshore New Zealand. This can help apprehend the precursors of marine geohazards.

Marine geohazards take place when the seafloor is unstable and is not able to withstand the transport processes of marine sediments from landwards deep into the ocean bottom. In such a situation, placement of drilling rigs becomes hazardous due to instability of the seabed.

While understanding marine sediments’ interaction during their flow over the seabed is crucial to detect triggers of marine hazards like landslides, associated morphological investigation is a very challenging task, and geophysical/seismic prospecting methods are essential for it.

With the help of 3D seismic data, the study offers a unique approach to comprehend the recurrent mass wasting processes and also understand how the seabed interacts with the bottom surface of marine sediments. 

The geological period between 23.03 and 2.5 Million years ago called Neogene succession preserves vertical stacks of mass transport deposits (MTDs) from the Miocene to Pliocene — different epochs that fall within the Neogene geological period. 

The Miocene (23.03 to 5.33 Mn years ago) is the first geological epoch of the Neogene period and towards the end of this epoch starts the Pliocene epoch (5.33 to 2.5 Mn years ago). 

  • The study shows that the mass transport deposits are characterized into blocky-MTDs consisting of moderate to high amplitude, variably deformed rafted blocks, and chaotic masses composed of slides and debris flow deposits indicating a disturbed marine environment.
  • The study will help understand different flow mechanisms associated with sediment movement over the seafloor. It will also shed light on several flow indicators that define the dynamics of the sediment mass movement or the dominant transport directions and mechanism of the mass flow. 
  • Understanding of these phenomena can help apprehend precursors of marine geohazards or the nature and physiography of the seafloor over which sediments can move.  According to WIHG team, similar geomorphological exercises can be extended to Indian and global marine sedimentary basins.

New waste water treatment technology can reduce costs for low and medium scale enterprises

(Topic: Science and Technology)

Soon automobile servicing industry, food industry, and other low and medium scale enterprises can have a smart, affordable electric field-assisted membrane separation device at their disposal for oily waste water treatment. Low-income group users mostly cannot afford the high cost of treatment technologies available for handling oily wastewater generated at their source points. As a result, large amount of untreated oily wastewater is discharged into the aquatic bodies without following the guidelines of the Pollution Control Board.

The technology developed by Dr Chiranjib Bhattacharjee, Professor at the Chemical Engineering Department in Jadavpur University, Kolkata, uses a combination of Electrocoagulation and Electroflotation Enhanced Membrane Module (ECEFMM) techniques for waste water treatment.  

  • Electrocoagulation is a waste water treatment technique that uses electrical charge for changing the particle surface charge, allowing suspended matter to form aggregates
  • Electroflotation is the separation of suspended particles from water using hydrogen and oxygen bubbles generated by passing electricity through water.

In the developed module, electrocoagulation and electrofloatation are adjoined with membrane in a single indigenous setup. 

  • The turbulence created because of the hydrogen bubbling through the feed medium or the waste-water resists the deposition of oil over the membrane. 
  • The synergistic effect of hydrogen bubbling and rotation of the membrane module creates substantial turbulence within the solution and on membrane surface. 
  • On application of electric field during membrane separation, membrane fouling is substantially reduced, and membrane longevity is also enhanced by restricting the membrane ageing for prolonged time period. Thus, it requires less frequent membrane replacement, thereby reducing the maintenance costs to a great extent.

The innovation being an economically feasible wastewater treatment technology (both in terms of capital and recurring investment) for low-scale and medium enterprises, has a good market potential. Moreover, unlike other conventional treatment, it can break the highly stable oil-water emulsion through electric discharge and simultaneously separates oil from water with high efficiency. Besides, by integrating the electrochemical process setup with the membrane module in a single hybrid ECEFMM setup, one process has been eliminated. This significantly lowers the initial capital investment expense along with the additional advantage of reduced installation area requirement.

The recovered spent oil after oily wastewater treatment can be further used as an industrial burner oil, furnace oil, mould oil, hydraulic oil and so on. Thus, it creates a huge revenue generation scope for low-income groups by selling this collected spent oil. In a zone of densely concentrated garages, installation of one setup will serve the purpose of wastewater treatment and thereby extend the opportunity towards other low-income group users to control the water pollution level within PCB regulations. It is aligned with the ‘Make in India’ initiative. The validation and testing of the prototype have been successfully accomplished, and the pilot-scale validation and testing is on the verge of completion.

A new study will help accurate estimation of black carbon over the Himalaya, a key contributor to global warming & improve weather & climate predictions

(Topic: Environment and climate change)

Accurate estimation of black carbon (BC), the second most important global warming pollutant after CO­2, will now be possible using optical instruments in the Himalayan region. 

The researchers have derived the values of MAC – an essential parameter which is used for obtaining Black Carbon mass concentrations. It is specific to the Himalayan region that scientists have estimated. 

Scientists have made extensive observations of black carbon and elemental carbon and estimated monthly and wavelength-dependent values of MAC over the central Himalayan region for the first time. It will also improve the performance of numerical weather prediction and climate models.

Aerosol particles below 3 nm which can reach sizes having climatic impacts, formed frequently in urban locations in India

(Topic: Environment and climate change)

Scientists tracing the concentration, size and evolution of aerosol particles smaller than 3 nanometres at an urban location in India have found frequent formation of sub-3nm aerosol particles in the atmosphere. This has critical importance as a major fraction of these newly formed particles can reach to sizes of cloud condensation nuclei where they have climatic impacts.

The formation of small molecular clusters of sub-3nm size is technically called aerosol nucleation, and subsequent growth of these newly formed clusters to the large sizes is called atmospheric new particle formation (NPF). NPF occurs everywhere in the terrestrial troposphere, and therefore it is a large source of aerosol numbers to the atmosphere. Though extensively studied globally using field observations, laboratory experiments and modelling approach, it is largely unexplored in India.

The research showed that a pool of sub-3nm particles is often present in the atmosphere, but how fast these clusters grow depends on various factors. The scientists observed that only half of these events showed newly formed molecular clusters growing past 10 nm size. Thus particle size distributions display a conventional banana-shaped aerosol growth, which is indicative of regional NPF event.

  • The team found a strong positive correlation between sub-3nm particle concentrations and sulphuric acid concentrations, confirming the potential role of sulfuric acid in the formation of sub-3nm particles. 
  • While NPF often starts with sulphuric acid in the atmosphere, sulphuric acid alone fails to explain observed particle formation and growth rates in the atmosphere. 
  • Other vapours such as ammonia, amines and organics play a crucial role in the growth of newly formed particles. 
  • Moreover, these newly formed particles did not always grow to large sizes, and the team hypothesized that the particle growth was limited by lower concentrations of condensable vapours such as organic compounds, calling for research using state-of-the-art instrumentation to understand the mechanisms driving NPF in diverse environments across India.  

E-booklet on 20 MoD reforms in 2020

(Topic: Defence)

The compilation provides a brief overview of defence reforms undertaken in the year 2020 by MoD to bring about greater cohesion and modernisation of the Armed Forces through policy changes, innovation and digital transformation.

  • On the ‘AatmaNirbhar Bharat’ initiative
  • Increased collaboration with the industry to boost defence exports
  • Measures to accelerate defence acquisitions with greater transparency
  • Digital transformation
  • Strengthening of border infrastructure
  • Increased participation of women in Armed Forces
  • Transformation in R&D to boost innovation
  • Expansion of NCC to remote locations
  • Aid extended to the civil administration in fight against COVID-19

Chief of Defence Staff & Department of Military Affairs: The post of CDS was created to increase efficiency & coordination among the Armed Forces and reduce duplication, while DMA was established to ensure improved civil-military integration. 

AatmaNirbharta in Defence: To promote ‘Make in India’ in defence sector, a list of 101 defence items was notified in August 2020, while Defence Acquisition Procedure 2020 was unveiled in September 2020. 

  • Rs 52,000 crore budget was earmarked for indigenously made defence equipment in 2020-21. Corporatisation of Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) was approved in May 2020 for greater efficiency and productivity. 
  • There was an unprecedented push towards new technology developments within India. Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) developed a ventilator in record time to meet Covid-19 requirements in May 2020. 
  • In November 2020, Quick Reaction Surface to Air Missile, indigenously designed & developed DRDO, hit bullseye at medium range and medium height, while indigenously built Pinaka rocket system cleared test of 45-60 km range.

Increased Defence Exports: The increased partnership with the private sector has led to a substantial rise in defence exports. The value of total defence exports rose from Rs 1,941 crore in 2014-15 to Rs 9,116 crore in 2019-20. Also, for the first time, India figured in the list of defence equipment exporting nations, as the exports expanded to more than 84 countries.

Modernisation & increased transparency in Defence Acquisition: In highest-ever thrust towards modernisation in last 10 years, there was 10 per cent budget increase in 2020-21 over the previous year. Policy reforms for increased transparency included launch of new Defence Acquisition Procedure in September 2020 and revision of DRDO Procurement Manual in October 2020. To encourage start-ups, a provision was introduced for procurement as Buy Indian-IDDM, while leasing for non-mission critical requirements was introduced for the first time.

Defence Acquisitions: First five Rafale fighter aircraft arrived in India in July 2020 and several more since then, adding firepower to the arsenal of the Indian Air Force. Despite the COVID-19 challenge, the aircraft were delivered timely and inducted into IAF.

Reforming Defence R&D: To promote innovation by young minds, five Young Scientists Laboratories of DRDO were launched in 2020 in Bengaluru, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Hyderabad. DRDO has joined hands with the private sector in design & development and identified 108 Systems & Subsystems for the industry to design, develop and manufacture.

Digital Transformation: For the first time, several organisations of Ministry of Defence went digital. Directorate General Quality Assurance (DGQA) started online Pre-Delivery inspection in May 2020 to address security threats, while Armed Forces Tribunal began digital hearing for the first time in August 2020. Defence Estates, Canteen Stores Department, services in Cantonment, MoD Pension and National Cadet Corps (NCC) also went online providing faster and transparent services.

Strengthening border infrastructure: Reforms of processes and workflows within Border Roads Organisation (BRO) enabled it to achieve targets ahead of schedule, in some instances.  World’s longest Atal tunnel above 10,000 feet, at Rohtang on the Leh-Manali Highway was inaugurated by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi in October 2020. It provides all weather connectivity to the northern borders. Zojila pass, situated on the Srinagar-Kargil-Leh National Highway, was opened almost a month ahead of schedule in April 2020.

Stree Shakti in Armed Forces: In 2020, Ministry of Defence took some historic decisions to increase participation of women in the Armed Forces. Ten streams of Indian Army were opened for giving Permanent Commission to Short Service Commission (SSC) Women officers, while women pilots of Indian Navy were operationalised for the first time. All Sainik Schools were thrown open for girl students from academic session 2020-21.

Reforms in NCC: Expanding the reach of NCC to remote locations was a major announcement. More than 1,075 schools/colleges in border and coastal areas were identified and the enrolment began in November 2020. In another decision, it was decided to give preference to NCC cadets in employment in Central Armed Police Forces from May 2020. Youth Exchange Programme Allowance for NCC cadets was increased from Rs 100 per day to Rs 750 and the number of countries was increased from 10 to 15.

Aid to civil administration during COVID-19: Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces have mobilised resources to aid the civil administration in fight against COVID-19. Armed Forces Medical Services (AFMS) provided all emergency support to tide over the situation. They have mobilised doctors, health professionals and set up Quarantine facilities at several locations across the country. DRDO has set up several hospitals to treat COVID patients across the states, passed on technology expertise to manufacture ventilators, oxygen plants, medicines, test kits and PPE kits to private sector for mass production.

Help beyond boundaries: The Armed Forces extended a helping hand to the countries in distress. Indian Navy mounted eight relief missions during 2020-21. Besides evacuating stranded Indians from Iran, Sri Lanka and Maldives under Vande Bharat Mission, Indian Naval ships provided Covid-19 medical relief, including medicines and doctors, to five countries. INS Airavat provided 270 MT food aid to Sudan, Djibouti and Eritrea struck by natural calamities. The Indian Coast Guard led the rescue operation to save Sri Lanka coast of its biggest oil spill. Indian Air Force carried out over 800 relief missions during 2020-21.

Prelims-oriented News

World Day Against Child Labour: 12 June

1st in the World for research: IISc Bengaluru

Devika River National Project: In Jammu & Kashmir

Type of fruits which are GI certified Khirsapati & Lakshmanbhog (West Bengal), Zardalu (Bihar): Mangoes

Three Indian universities achieve top-200 positions in QS World University Rankings 2022

  • IIT Bombay secured 177th position
  • IIT Delhi secured 185th rank
  • IISc Bengaluru secured 186th position 

India registered excellent growth in Agriculture Exports during 2020-21

  • Export of agriculture and allied products during 2020-21 jumped to USD 41.25 billion, indicating an increase of 17.34%
  • Organic exports registered a growth of 50.94%
  • Largest markets for India’s agriculture products are USA, China, Bangladesh, UAE, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Nepal, Iran and Malaysia. 
  • Exports to most of these destinations have registered growth, with highest growth being recorded for Indonesia (102.42%), Bangladesh (95.93%) and Nepal (50.49%).
  • Export of spices like ginger, pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric, saffron etc., which have known therapeutic qualities, has also grown substantially.

NITI Aayog & Piramal Foundation Launch Surakshit Hum Surakshit Tum Abhiyaan in 112 Aspirational Districts

  • Objective: To assist the administration in providing home care support to Covid-19 patients, who are either asymptomatic or have mild symptoms.
  • Most of these districts are in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Maharashtra.
  • The campaign is a part of a special initiative – Aspirational Districts Collaborative. Local leaders, civil societies and volunteers work with the district administrations to address emerging issues of the Aspirational Districts Programme.

Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana extended till Deepawali: Till November 2021, more than 80 crore people will continue to get decided amount of free food grain every month.

  • Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana is facilitating supply of free food grains to the beneficiaries amidst ongoing COVID pandemic and thus providing food security to the beneficiaries. 
  • The Government of India announced Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) to ameliorate the hardship faced by the poor due to economic disruption caused by Corona virus.
  • Under the scheme, free food grains @ 5 kg per person per month is being distributed to beneficiaries covered under NFSA.

New Analysis by NITI Aayog and RMI Highlights India’s Potential to Save 10 Gigatonnes of Cumulative C02 over the Next Three Decades: According to the report, India has the potential to:

  1. Reduce its logistics cost by 4% of GDP
  2. Achieve 10 gigatonnes of cumulative CO2 emissions savings between 2020 and 2050
  3. Reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) emissions by 35% and 28%, respectively, until 2050

As India’s freight activity grows five-fold by 2050 and about 400 million citizens move to cities, a wholesystem transformation can help uplift the freight sector. This transformation will be defined by tapping into opportunities such as efficient rail-based transport, the optimisation of logistics and supply chains, and shift to electric and other clean-fuel vehicles. These solutions can help India save ₹311 lakh crore cumulatively over the next three decades.

Sub-Mission on Agricultural Mechanization (SMAM) scheme: To empower the farmers through Sub-Mission on Agricultural Mechanization (SMAM) scheme, Government of India has released funds for various activities of Farm Mechanization like Establishment of Custom Hiring Centres, Farm Machinery Bank, High-tech Hubs and distribution of various agricultural machinery etc to different states.

Launched with the objective of increasing the reach of farm mechanization to small and marginal farmers and to the regions & difficult area where farm power availability is low. 

  • To boost up mechanization in the agriculture sector improved agricultural implements and machinery are essential inputs for modern agriculture that enhance the productivity of crops besides reducing human drudgery and cost of cultivation. 
  • Mechanization also helps in improving the utilization efficiency of other inputs therefore considered to be one of the most important segments of the agriculture sector to boost the income of farmers and growth of the agricultural economy. 
  • For strengthening of agricultural mechanization in the country and to bring more inclusiveness Sub-Mission on Agricultural Mechanization (SMAM) has been introduced with the main objectives: 
  • To promote ‘Custom Hiring Centres’ and ‘Hi-tech Hubs of High-Value Machines’ to offset the adverse economies of scale arising due to small and fragmented landholding and high cost of individual ownership
  • Creating awareness among stakeholders through demonstration and capacity building activities and ensuring performance testing and certification of agricultural machines at designated testing centres located all over the country.

‘eSanjeevani’, Govt. of India’s free Telemedicine service completes 60 Lakh consultations

  • It is a national telemedicine service that offers tele-consultations enabling patient to doctor consultations from the confines of their home, as well as doctor to doctor consultations. 
  • This eSanjeevani platform has enabled two types of telemedicine services viz. Doctor-to-Doctor (eSanjeevani) and Patient-to-Doctor (eSanjeevani OPD) Tele-consultations 
  • The former is being implemented under the Ayushman Bharat Health and Wellness Centre (AB-HWCs) programme. 
  • The telemedicine platform is hosting over 40 online OPDs, more than half of these are speciality OPDs which include Gynaecology, Psychiatry, Dermatology, ENT, Ophthalmology, antiretroviral therapy (ART) for the AIDS/HIV patients, Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) etc.

Personality in News

Demise of Kannada writer Dr. Siddalingaiah: Credited with starting the Dalit-Bandaya movement in Kannada and with starting the genre of Dalit writing. He is one of the founders of the Dalita Sangharsh Samiti along with B. Krishnappa.

Demise of Noted Economist and Environmentalist Prof Radhamohan: A former Odisha Information Commissioner and a retired professor of economics, he and one of his daughters were credited with transforming a piece of wasteland into a vast forest, home to rare produce, using organic techniques.

  • He was awarded the Padma Shri along with his daughter Sabarmatee in 2020 for their contribution to the agriculture sector.  Back in 1990, the father-daughter duo founded ‘Sambhav’, a social organisation aimed at educating farmers on organic and natural farming.
  • They transformed the 36 hectares of wasteland in Nayagarh district’s Odagaon using ecological waste to create fertile topsoil. That land now boasts of more than 1,000 plant species including rare ones such as clove bean and black rice. It also supports a bank of 700 indigenous seed varieties.

Shaheed  Ram Prasad Bismil 

  • An Indian revolutionary who participated in Mainpuri in conspiracy of 1918, and the Kakori conspiracy of 1925, and fought against British imperialism. 
  • Bismil was hanged on 19 December 1927 by the British for his revolutionary activities. 
  • As well as being a freedom fighter, he was a patriotic poet and wrote in Hindi and Urdu using the pen names Ram, Agyat and Bismil. But, he became popular with the last name “Bismil” only.
  • He was associated with Arya Samaj where he got inspiration from Satyarth Prakash, a book written by Swami Dayanand Saraswati. He also had a confidential connection with Lala Har Dayal through his guru Swami Somdev, a preacher of Arya Samaj. 
  • Bismil was one of the founding members of the revolutionary organization Hindustan Republican Association. Bhagat Singh praised him as a great poet-writer of Urdu and Hindi, who had also translated the books Catherine from English and Bolshevikon Ki Kartoot from Bengali.
  • He immortalised the poem Sarfaroshi Ki Tamanna as a war cry during the British Raj period in India. It was first published in journal “Sabah”, published from Delhi.

The Kakori Conspiracy (or Kakori train robbery or Kakori Case) 

It was a train robbery that took place between Kakori and, near Lucknow, on 9 August 1925 during the Indian Independence Movement against the British Indian Government. 

The robbery was organised by the Hindustan Republican Association (HRA). The robbery was conceived by RamPrasad Bismil and Ashfaqullah Khan who belonged to the HRA, which later became the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association. This organisation was established to carry out revolutionary activities against the British Empire in India with the objective of achieving independence. Since the organisation needed money for purchase of weaponry, Bismil and his party decided to plunder a train on one of the Northern Railway lines. 

It is believed that they looted that specific train because train was supposed to carry the money bags belonging to the British Government Treasury in the guard’s cabin. One passenger was killed by an accidental shot, making it a murder case. They looted only these bags containing some 8,000 rupees and escaped to Lucknow while not a single Indian was looted, because the targets of the mission were:

  • To get money for the organisation which was intended to be taken from the opponent, the British Administration itself
  • To get some public attention by creating a positive image of the HRA among Indians to overcome the bad image created by British Administration
  • To shake the British Administration by robbing money from them 

Following the incident, the British administration started an intense manhunt and arrested several of the revolutionaries involved in the HRA. Their leader, Ram Prasad Bismil, was arrested at Saharanpur on 26 September 1925, and his lieutenant, Ashfaqullah Khan, was arrested ten months later at Delhi.

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