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Press Information Bureau (PIB) IAS UPSC – 15th March to 23rd March – 2020
Published on March 24, 2020, 6:54 p.m.

Press Information Bureau (PIB) IAS UPSC – 15th to 23rd March, 2020

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GS-1

Central Sanskrit Universities Bill, 2020 stands passed in Parliament 

(Topic: Society, Culture)

This bill will convert 

(i) Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, New Delhi

(ii) Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth, New Delhi

(iii) Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth, Tirupati into Central Sanskrit Universities

The Central University status awarded to these 3 Universities will enhance the status of these Universities and will give boost to Post Graduate, Doctoral and Post-doctoral education and Research in the field of Sanskrit and Shastraic education. This will pave way for many people from abroad to learn Sanskrit and Shastraic lore from these prestigious Central Sanskrit Universities in our country.  

Universities will have more opportunities to spread the knowledge of Sanskrit language not only in India but also across the world in a better way.

This bill is dedicated to the nation and a small example of commitment of the government towards “Har Ek Kaam Desh Ke Naam”.


GS-2

Some important Bills, passed by Houses of Parliament 

(Topic: Government schemes and policies)

Social Justice and Educational Reforms – Certain Bills to further strengthen Social Justice and Educational Reforms in India were passed during this Session. 

  • The Constitution Scheduled Tribes Order (Amendment) Bill, 2020 amends Part VI of the Order which specifies the Scheduled Tribes in Karnataka. 
  • The Central Sanskrit Universities Bill, 2020 intends to upgrade the three Deemed to be Universities in Sanskrit, namely, Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, Delhi, Sri Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth, New Delhi and Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth, Triputi into Central Sanskrit Universities in order to give a boost to Post Graduate, Doctoral and Post Doctoral education and Research in the field of Sanskrit and Shastraic education. It would help in getting better faculty, attract foreign students, Sanskrit scholars, foreign faculty of international repute and help in international collaborations with global Universities across the world.

Economic Sector/Ease of doing Business measures – Some important legislations to address the economic sentiment in the country were passed during the current session. 

  • The Mineral Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020 intends to facilitate seamless transfer of all valid rights, approvals, clearances, licenses and the like for a period of two years to a new lessee in case of minerals other than coal, lignite and atomic minerals. 
  • The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Bill, 2020 intends 
    • to give the highest priority in repayment to last mile funding to corporate debtors to prevent insolvency, in case the company goes into corporate insolvency resolution process or liquidation
    • to prevent potential abuse of the Code by certain classes of financial creditors,
    • to provide immunity against prosecution of the corporate debtor and action against the property of the corporate debtor and the successful resolution applicant subject to fulfilment of certain conditions
    • to fill the critical gaps in the corporate insolvency framework. 
  • The Direct Tax Vivad Se Vishwas Bill, 2020 proposes for resolution of pending tax disputes by not only generating timely revenue for government but also the tax payers who will be able to deploy time, energy and resources saved by opting for such dispute resolution towards their business activities.

Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) for females in higher education is higher than the National Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER)

(Topic: Government schemes and policies)

As per All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) 2018-19, there are 39931 colleges in India, out of which 60.53% are located in rural areas. Further, majority of the colleges provide higher education to both males and females and 11.04% colleges are exclusively for females.

  • Females constitute 48.6% of the total enrolment in higher education
  • Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) for females in higher education at 26.4% is higher than the national GER of boys at 26.3%
  • Gender Parity Index (GPI) has increased during the last 5 years, from 0.92 in 2014-15 to 1 in 2018-19.

Unnat Bharat Abhiyan (UBA)

(Topic: Government schemes and policies)

Objectives:

  • To engage the faculty and students of Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs) in identifying development issues in rural areas and finding sustainable solutions for the same.
  • Identify & select existing innovative technologies, enable customisation of technologies, or devise implementation method for innovative solutions, as required by the people.
  • To allow HEIs to contribute to devising systems for smooth implementation of various Government programmes.

Unnat Bharat Abhiyan 2.0 is the upgraded version of Unnat Bharat Abhiyan 1.0.The scheme is extended to all educational institutes; however under Unnat Bharat Abhiyan 2.0, participating institutes are selected based on the fulfillment of certain criteria.

Unnat Bharat Abhiyan is inspired by the vision of transformational change in rural development processes by leveraging knowledge institutions to help build the architecture of an Inclusive India. Currently under the scheme UBA, 

  • 13072 villages have been adopted by 2474 Institutes
  • The technology interventions under the scheme Unnat Bharat Abhiyan has been able to transform the living conditions in villages. It covers different subjects broadly categorized like in the area of sustainable agriculture; water resource management; artisans, industries and livelihood; basic amenities (infrastructure & services) and rural energy system. 

‘Samagra Shiksha’ Scheme

(Topic: Government schemes and policies)

Samagra Shiksha - an Integrated Scheme for School Education subsumes the three erstwhile Centrally Sponsored Schemes of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) and Teacher Education (TE). 

It is an overarching programme for the school education sector extending from pre-school to class XII and aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education at all levels of school education. It envisages the ‘school’ as a continuum from pre-school, primary, upper primary, secondary to senior secondary levels.

The major interventions under the scheme are: 

(i) Universal Access including Infrastructure Development and Retention; 

(ii) Gender and Equity

(iii) Inclusive Education

(iv) Quality

(v) Financial support for Teacher Salary 

(vi) Digital initiatives

(vii) Entitlements under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009 including uniforms, textbooks etc.

(viii) Pre-school Education

(ix) Vocational Education

(x) Sports and Physical Education

(xi) Strengthening of Teacher Education and Training

(xii) Monitoring of the scheme


Posts Open for Women in Defence Forces

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

In pursuance of the Judgement dated 17th February, 2020 passed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court, the Government is committed to grant Permanent Commission to Short Service Commission (SSC) women officers in Indian Army as per their qualification, professional experience, specialization, if any and organizational requirement.

Women in Army: Background of the case

1992: Induction of Women officers into Army started. Women were commissioned for a period of five years in certain chosen streams through Women Special Entry Scheme (WSES)

WSES had a shorter pre-commission training period than their male counterparts who were commissioned under the Short Service Commission (SSC) scheme.

2003: PIL was filed before the Delhi High Court for grant of permanent commission (PC) to women SSC officers in the Army

2006: WSES scheme was replaced with the SSC scheme, which was extended to women officers. 

  • Women were commissioned for a period of 10 years, extendable up to 14 years
  • Women were however, restricted to roles in streams specified earlier — which excluded combat arms such as infantry and armoured corps.
  • While male SSC officers could opt for permanent commission at the end of 10 years of service, this option was not available to women officers

Impact of such a system: 

  • Women were kept out of any command appointment (they could only reach up to the level of Colonel)
  • Women could not qualify for government pension, which starts only after 20 years of service as an officer.

2008: Defence Ministry passed an order saying PC would be granted prospectively to SSC women officers in the Judge Advocate General (JAG) department and the Army Education Corps (AEC) (2 out of 10 streams in PC)

2010Delhi High Court Order: Women officers of the Air Force and Army on SSC who had sought permanent commission but were not granted that status, would be entitled to PC at par with male SSC officers.

This order was subsequently challenged by government in the Supreme Court and also did not implement the High Court order even though it was not stayed by the apex court.

August 15, 2018: Prime Minister Modi announced that permanent commission would be granted to serving women officers of the armed forces. However, it was not implemented on the ground which led the SC to pass the present judgement

Basis of arguments put forth by the government in the Apex Court while arguing against Women’s inclusion in Permanent Commission are:

  • Women were kept out of command posts on the reasoning that the largely rural rank and file will have problems with women as commanding officers. 
  • Limitations of judicial review on policy issues 
  • Occupational hazards
  • SSC is merely a support cadre
  • Biological arguments: Rationalization on physiological limitations for employment in staff appointments.
  • Deployment of women officers was not advisable in conflict zones where there was “minimal facility for habitat and hygiene. (Despite the fact that 30% of the total number of women officers are deputed to conflict areas)

Implications of Supreme Court ruling:

  • The court rejected all the above arguments of the government as discriminatory and against Article 14 of the Constitution
  • Women on a par with male officers: SC has done away with all discrimination for grant of PC in 10 non-combat wings in the army, bringing women on par with men.
  • Opening of command positions would necessarily kick-start a flurry on activities within the military. Military secretary’s branch will have to begin with reorganising cadre management to accommodate women officers
  • It has also removed the restriction of women officers only being allowed to serve in staff appointments, which is the most significant and far-reaching aspect of the judgment.

PM interacts with SAARC leaders to combat COVID-19 in the region

(Topic: International Affairs)

Prime Minister Modi reached out to the eight-member regional grouping and pitched for a video conference among the leaders of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation to chalk out a strong strategy to combat coronavirus outbreak. PM Modi's suggestion was backed by all member states of SAARC.

“We can respond best by coming together, not growing apart--collaboration not confusion, preparation not panic.”

Steps taken by India

Covid-19 emergency fund proposed by India: India has pledged $10 million toward a Covid-19 emergency fund

  • With this fund countries can contribute and meet the cost of immediate actions. 
  • Foreign secretaries, through embassies, can coordinate quickly to finalize the concept of this fund and its operations.

Medical Emergency Help:

  • India is also putting together a rapid response team of doctors and specialists for South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) nations
  • India has offered to also quickly arrange online training capsules for your emergency response teams. This will be based on the model we have used in our own country, to raise the capacity of all our emergency staff.
  • India has set up an Integrated Disease Surveillance Portal to better trace possible virus carriers and the people they contacted. The PM offered to share this technology with Saarc partners besides providing training on using it. 
  • Suggested that existing facilities, such as the Saarc Disaster Management Centre, could be used to pool best practices and suggested a common platform to coordinate research on controlling epidemics within South Asia. 
  • Offered Indian Council of Medical Research’s (ICMR) help to coordinate such exercises.

Other Suggestions:

  • Experts could brainstorm on the longer-term economic consequences of Covid-19 and how South Asia can insulate internal trade and local value chains from its impact. 
  • Suggested that common SAARC pandemic protocols could be drawn up and applied in such situations

The Corona Diplomacy

Pakistan: 

  • Pakistan has said it will participate in a video conference of SAARC member countries proposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to combat the fast-spreading coronavirus pandemic that has killed over 5,000 people globally. 
  • Pakistan acknowledged that coordinated efforts were needed to minimise the threat posed by the deadly coronavirus. 
  • Raised the Kashmir issue, saying the lockdown there should be ended to help fight the coronavirus outbreak. 
  • Islamabad also sought to get China involved in the SAARC initiative.
  • Mirza proposed that the SAARC secretariat be mandated to establish a working group of national authorities for health information, data exchange and coordination in real time. He proposed a SAARC’s health ministers’ conference and development of regional mechanisms to share disease surveillance data in real time.

Afghanistan: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani referred to challenges stemming from Afghanistan’s open border with Iran, where the outbreak has been severe, and suggested that the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) mechanism be used to help deal with the matter. He also proposed modelling diffusion patterns, creation of a common framework for telemedicine and greater cooperation.

Maldives: Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih cited the economic downturn in Maldives owing to the drop in tourists and sought a South Asian response to the crisis. Solih thanked the Indian government for medical assistance and for evacuating nine Maldivians from Wuhan.

Sri Lanka: The Sri Lankan President also referred to economic losses and mentioned steps taken by his government.

Bangladesh: Sheikh Hasina thanked Prime Minister Modi for bringing 23 Bangladeshi students back from Wuhan. She proposed continuance of the dialogue at technical level through video conference by health ministers and secretaries.

Bhutan: Prime Minister Lotay Tshering stated that the pandemic will affect the smaller and vulnerable economies disproportionately. The pandemic does-not follow geographical boundaries, hence it is all the more important for the nations to work together.


Agreement between India and Brunei for Exchange of Information notified

(Topic: India’s relation with other countries)

The Agreement between the Government of the Republic of India and the Government of Brunei Darussalam for the exchange of information and assistance in collection with respect of taxes (hereinafter referred to as the Agreement), was signed.

  • The Agreement enables exchange of information, including banking and ownership information, between the two countries for tax purposes. 
  • It is based on international standards of tax transparency and exchange of information and enables sharing of information on request as well as automatic exchange of information.
  • The Agreement also provides for representatives of one country to undertake tax examinations in the other country. Moreover, it provides for assistance in collection of tax claims.
  • The Agreement will enhance mutual co-operation between India and Brunei Darussalam by providing an effective framework for exchange of information in tax matters which will help curb tax evasion and tax avoidance.

Cabinet approves

Scheme for Promotion of manufacturing of Electronic Components and Semiconductors:

To offer financial incentive of 25% of capital expenditure for the manufacturing of goods that constitute the supply chain of an electronic product under the Scheme for Promotion of manufacturing of Electronic Components and Semiconductors (SPECS).The scheme will help offset the disability for domestic manufacturing of electronic components and semiconductors in order to strengthen the electronic manufacturing ecosystem in the country.

  • The proposal when implemented will lead to the development of electronic components manufacturing ecosystem in the country. Following are the expected outputs/outcomes in terms of measurable indicators for the scheme:
  • Development of electronic components manufacturing ecosystem in the country and deepening of Electronics value chain.
  • New investments in Electronics Sector to the tune of at leastRs. 20,000 crore.
  • Direct employment of approximately 1,50,000 is expected to be created in the manufacturing units supported under the scheme, including indirect employment of about three times of direct employment as per industry estimates. Thus, total employment potential of the scheme is approximately 6,00,000.
  • Reducing dependence on import of components by large scale domestic manufacturing that will also enhance the digital security of the nation.

Modified Electronics Manufacturing Clusters (EMC 2.0) Scheme

For development of world class infrastructure along with common facilities and amenities through Electronics Manufacturing Clusters (EMCs).  It is expected that these EMCs would aid the growth of the ESDM sector, help development of entrepreneurial ecosystem, drive innovation and catalyze the economic growth of the region by attracting investments in the sector, increasing employment opportunities and tax revenues.

The Modified Electronics Manufacturing Clusters (EMC 2.0) Scheme would support setting up of both Electronics Manufacturing Clusters (EMCs) and Common Facility Centers (CFCs).  For the purpose of this Scheme, an Electronics Manufacturing Cluster (EMC) would set up in geographical areas of certain minimum extent, preferably contiguous, where the focus is on development of basic infrastructure, amenities and other common facilities for the ESDM units.

The Scheme will create a robust infrastructure base for electronic industry to attract flow of investment in ESDM sector and lead to greater employment opportunities.  Following are the expected outputs/outcomes for the Scheme:

  1. Availability of ready infrastructure and Plug & Play facility for attracting investment in electronics sector:
  2. New investment in electronics sector
  3. Jobs created by the manufacturing units;
  4. Revenue in the form of taxes paid by the manufacturing units

Promotion of the Domestic Manufacturing of Medical Devices in country

  1. Promotion of Medical Device Parks
  2. Medical Device is a growing sector and its potential for growth is the highest among all sectors in the healthcare market. It is valued at Rs. 50,026 crore for 2018-19 and is expected to reach to Rs. 86,840 crore by 2021-22. India depends on imports up to an extent of 85% of total domestic demand of medical devices.
  3. The Scheme aims to promote Medical Device Parks in the country in partnership with the States. A maximum grant-in-aid of Rs.100 crore per park will be provided to the States.
  4. Production Linked Incentive Scheme
  5. The Medical Device sector suffers from a cost of manufacturing disability of around 12% to 15%, vis-a-vis competing economies, among other things, on account of lack of adequate infrastructure, domestic supply chain and logistics, high cost of finance, inadequate availability of quality power, limited design capabilities and low focus on R&D and skill development, etc. There is, thus, a need for a mechanism to compensate for the manufacturing disability.
  6. The Scheme aim to boost domestic manufacturing by attracting large investments in medical device sector. Under the Scheme, incentive @ 5% of incremental sales over base year 2019-20 will be provided on the segments of medical devices identified under the Scheme.

Signing and ratifying of the Extradition Treaty between India and Belgium

Obligation to Extradite: Each Party agrees to extradite to the other any person found in its territory, who is accused or convicted of an extraditable offence in the territory of the other Party.

Extraditable Offences: An extraditable offence means an offence punishable under the laws of both the Parties with imprisonment for a period of one year or more severe punishment.  Where extradition is sought in respect of a convicted person, the duration of the sentence remaining to be served must be at least six months at the time of making the request.  Offences relating to taxation, or revenue or is one of a fiscal character also fall within the scope of this Treaty.

Mandatory grounds for Refusal: Under the Treaty, extradition shall be refused if - 

  • The offence involved is a political offence.  However, the Treaty specifies certain offences, which will not be considered as political offences.
  • The offence for which extradition is requested is a military offence
  • The request for prosecution has been made for the purpose of prosecuting or punishing the person on account of his race, sex, religion, nationality or political opinion.
  • The prosecution of enforcement of sentence has become time barred.

Extradition of Nationals: Extradition of nationals is discretionary.  The nationality will be determined at the time the offence was committed.


GS-3

Impact of Climate Change on Farmers

(Topic: Agriculture, Climate Change)

National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA), one of the Missions under National Action Plan for Climate Change (NAPCC), includes programmatic interventions like Soil Health Card (SHC), Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY), Mission Organic Value Chain Development for North Eastern Region (MOVCDNER), Rainfed Area Development (RAD), National Bamboo Mission (NBM) and Sub-mission on Agro Forestry (SMAF). These and other programmes including Prime Minister Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) are ensuring judicious use of natural resources.

Under NMSA following ten deliverables are monitored:

  1. Area under organic farming
  2. Production of Bio-fertilizers,
  3. Precision Irrigation,
  4. SRI/ Direct Seeded Rice from Transplantation,
  5. Crop diversification,
  6. Additional Area under plantation in Arable land,
  7. Climate Resilient Varieties (CRV) Identified/ Released,
    1. Identification of genotypes of crops with enhanced CO2 fixation potential and less water consumption & Nutrients,
    2. Climate Resilient genotypes with greater adaptation to drought, flood, salinity and high temperature,
  8. Coverage of milch animals under ration balancing programme and
  9. Establishment of bypass protein feed making unit.

Efforts to Boost Defence Sector

(Topic: Defence)

Industrial licensing: Industrial licensing regime for Indian manufacturers in Defence sector has been liberalized.  Defence Products list requiring Industrial Licences has been rationalised and manufacture of most of the parts and components does not require Industrial Licence. The total number of Defence licences issued has more than doubled from 215 as on 31st March, 2014 to 460 till 31st December, 2019 covering total of 275 Companies.

FDI: FDI Policy has been revised and under the revised policy, foreign investment is allowed under automatic route up to 49% and above 49% through government route. Significant FDI inflows in Defence and Aerospace sectors have been witnessed.

  • Global companies having high-end technologies can be encouraged to set up their manufacturing base in India in collaboration with Indian companies, thereby resulting in creation of employment opportunities, saving of foreign exchange and increasing indigenization.  
  • FDI is one of the sources available for the industry to access some of the technologies required to indigenously design, develop and produce the equipments, weapon systems/platforms required for defence.
  • It has been the endeavour of the Government to put in place an enabling and investor friendly FDI policy.  The intent is to make the FDI policy more investor friendly and remove the policy bottlenecks that have been hindering investment inflows into the country.

Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP): Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) was revised in 2016 and specific provisions have been introduced for stimulating growth of the domestic defence industry. 

  • A new category of procurement ‘Buy {Indian-IDDM (Indigenously Designed, Developed and Manufactured)}’ has been introduced in DPP-2016 to promote indigenous design and development of defence equipments.  This category has been accorded top most priority for procurement of Capital equipment. 
  • Besides this, preference is being given to ‘Buy (Indian)’ and ‘Buy & Make (Indian)’ categories of capital acquisition over ‘Buy (Global)’ & ‘Buy & Make (Global)’ categories. 

“Make” Procedure: To promote industry participation in indigenous development of defence items 

‘Strategic Partnership (SP)’ Model envisages establishment of long-term strategic partnerships with Indian entities through a transparent and competitive process, wherein they would tie up with global Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to seek technology transfers to set up domestic manufacturing infrastructure and supply chains.

iDEX: Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) framework was launched with the aim to achieve self-reliance and to foster innovation and technology development in Defence and Aerospace Sector by engaging Industries including MSMEs, start-ups, individual innovators, R&D institutes and academia.

Indigenisation policy: Government has notified a Policy for indigenisation of components and spares used in Defence Platforms in March, 2019 with the objective to create an industry ecosystem which is able to indigenize the imported components (including alloys & special materials) and sub-assemblies for defence equipment and platforms manufactured in India.

Defence Corridors: Government has decided to establish two defence industrial corridors to serve as engines of economic development and growth of defence industrial base in the country. They span across Chennai, Hosur, Coimbatore, Salem and Tiruchirappalli in Tamil Nadu and Aligarh, Agra, Jhansi, Kanpur, Chitrakoot and Luchnow in Uttar Pradesh.

Testing facilities: The Test facilities/infrastructure available with various Government agencies have been made available to private sector with the objective to assist them in design and development of defence systems. An ‘SoP for allocation and utilization of Proof Ranges/Field Firing Ranges for Private Industry’ has also been notified.

The Ministry has instituted a new framework titled ‘Mission Raksha Gyan Shakti’ which aims to provide boost to the IPR culture in indigenous defence industry.

Defence Investor Cell has been created in the Ministry to provide all necessary information including addressing queries related to investment opportunities, procedures and regulatory requirements for investment in the sector.

The process for export clearance has been streamlined and made transparent & online.

Offset guidelines have been made flexible by allowing change of Indian Offset Partners (IOPs) and offset components, even in signed contracts.

Government has signed Agreements on Defence Cooperation with Argentina, Russia, Serbia, Myanmar, Indonesia, Comoros, Jordan, Madagascar, Uganda, Zambia, Saudi Arabia and Finland.


Coal Bed Methane Policy

(Topic: Energy)

The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas has brought out following policies/notifications after Coal Bed Methane (CBM) Policy 1997:

  • Policy for extension of exploration phases for exploration and production under CBM contracts in 2007.
  • Guidelines for pricing and commercial utilization of CBM in 2011.
  • Notification for grant of right to exploration and exploitation of Coal Bed Methane to Coal India Limited and its subsidiaries from all coal bearing areas for which they possess mining lease for coal in 2015.
  • Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy was introduced in 2016 wherein all types of hydrocarbon resources, both conventional and unconventional can be explored and exploited.
  • Policy framework for Early Monetisation of CBM in 2017.
  • Notification for consolidated terms and conditions for grant of right to exploration and exploitation of Coal Bed Methane to Coal India Limited and its subsidiaries from all coal bearing areas for which they possess mining lease for coal in 2018.
  • A policy framework for Exploration and exploitation of Unconventional hydrocarbons in existing acreages under existing Production Sharing Contracts, CBM contracts and Nomination fields was introduced in 2018.
  • A policy framework to promote and incentivize enhanced recovery methods for Oil and Gas was notified by the Government in 2018.

National Supercomputing Mission

(Topic: Development of new technology)

The mission was set up to provide the country with supercomputing infrastructure to meet the increasing computational demands of academia, researchers, MSMEs, and startups by creating the capability design, manufacturing, of supercomputers indigenously in India.

A first of its kind attempt to boost the country’s computing power, the National Super Computing Mission is steered jointly by the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) and Department of Science and Technology (DST) and implemented by the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), Pune and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru. 

The target of the mission was set to establish a network of supercomputers ranging from a few Tera Flops (TF) to Hundreds of Tera Flops (TF) and three systems with greater than or equal to 3 Peta Flops (PF) in academic and research institutions of National importance across the country by 2022. This network of Supercomputers envisaging a total of 15-20 PF was approved in 2015 and was later revised to a total of 45 PF (45000 TFs), a jump of 6 times more compute power within the same cost and capable of solving large and complex computational problems. 

With the revised plan in place, the first supercomputer assembled indigenously, called Param Shivay, was installed in IIT (BHU) and was inaugurated by the Prime Minister. Similar systems Param Shakti and Param Brahma were installed at IIT-Kharagpur and IISER, Pune. They are equipped with applications from domains like Weather and Climate, Computational Fluid Dynamics, Bioinformatics, and Material science.

Prelims oriented News:

World Tuberculosis Day: 24th March

Public Health and Hospitals: State subject

MSME SAMADHAAN portal: To facilitate online registration of references related to delayed payments

Pradhan Mantri YUVA (PM YUVA) Yojana: Towards creating an enabling ecosystem through entrepreneurship education, training, advocacy and easy access to entrepreneurship network. 

  • The scheme focuses on students/trainees and alumni coming out from skilling ecosystem {i.e. Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs), Polytechnics, Pradhan Mantri Kuashal Kendras (PMKKs) and Jan Sikshan Sansthans (JSS)}. 
  • Under the scheme, mobilisation campaigns are being organized to spread awareness about entrepreneurship as a career option among various potential target groups. 
  • Further, orientation workshops are being conducted on entrepreneurship in the project institutes for aspiring/potential entrepreneurs.

Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana: To provide the senior citizens, living below poverty line and suffering from any of the age related disability/ infirmity, with such assisted living devices which can restore near normalcy in their bodily functions, overcoming the disability/ infirmity manifested.

National Entrepreneurship Awards Scheme (NEAS): Set up with an aim to promote a culture of entrepreneurship among India’s youth and inspire them to set-up their own enterprise and create employment opportunities for others. Under the scheme, awards are conferred to the aspiring first generation entrepreneurs including women and those individuals/ organizations who are working as eco-system builder in the field of entrepreneurship development. The awards also seek to highlight model of excellence for others to emulate and improve upon.

Providing clean drinking water to people

To enable every rural household in the country to have potable water at service level of 55 litre per capita per day (lpcd) through Functional Household Tap Connection (FHTC) by 2024, Government of India, in partnership with the States, has launched Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) with an estimated cost of Rs. 3.60 lakh Crore.

Uranium Contamination in Ground Water

  • There is prevalence of Uranium concentration above 30 micro-gram per litre (World Health Organization (WHO) provisional guidelines) in some of the localized pockets of few States/UTs in the country. 
  • A report brought out by Duke University, USA in association with Central Ground Water Board and State Ground Water departments states that Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Jammu & Kashmir have localised occurrence of Uranium concentration.
  • Elevated uranium level in drinking water may affect human health. Health studies carried out elsewhere in the world suggest that elevated uranium level in drinking water may be associated with kidney toxicity.
  • The Indian Standard IS 10500: 2012 for Drinking Water specification has specified the maximum acceptable limits for radioactive residues as alpha and beta emitters, values in excess of which render the water not suitable. These requirements take into account all radioactive elements including uranium. No individual radioactive elements have been specifically identified.
  • Further, as per information provided by Bureau of Indian Standard (BIS), they are working to incorporate maximum permissible limit of Uranium as 0.03 mg/l (as per WHO provisional guidelines) in all drinking water standards after following due process.

Mission Solar Charkha

By: Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME)

  • To ensure inclusive growth by generation of employment, especially for women and youth and sustainable development through solar charkha cluster in rural areas.
  • To boost rural economy and help in arresting migration from rural to urban areas.
  • To leverage low-cost, innovative technologies and processes for substance.

Till date, 10 projects have been approved under Mission Solar Charkha. One Solar Charkha cluster has been identified in Andhra Pradesh. The scheme envisages to generate direct employment to nearly one lakh persons.

Steps to encourage BOT Road Projects

NHAI has taken several steps to rekindle the interest of private investors and lenders in the Build-Operate- Transfer (BOT) projects which include:

  1. Policy of one-time fund infusion to complete the projects.
  2. Policy of deferment of premium for financial stressed projects not able to meet subsistence revenue requirements.
  3. Policy of harmonious substitution for substitution of Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) in consultation with lenders and concessionaire subject to certain conditions.

Apart from above, a new mode “Hybrid Annuity Model (HAM)” has been introduced where part construction cost is funded by NHAI and post construction, return of investor is assured through Annuities paid by Authority.

Further, NHAI is also trying to revive the private investments in the highway projects by amending the Model Concession Agreement for BOT model.

Bharatmala Pariyojana” Phase–I 

Includes development of 

  • About 9,000 km length of Economic corridors, 
  • About 6,000 km length of Inter-corridor and feeder roads, 
  • About 5,000 km length of National Corridors Efficiency improvements, 
  • About 2,000 km length of Border and International connectivity roads, 
  • About 2,000 km length of Coastal and port connectivity roads, 
  • About 800 km length of Expressways
  • Balance length of about 10,000 km of roads under National Highways Development Project (NHDP)

The programme is targeted for completion in 2021-2022.

Mission Raksha Gyanshakti: Mission Raksha Gyanshakti was launched with the objective of creating greater Intellectual Property in Defence Production Ecosystem.

Artificial Intelligence in Defence: For greater thrust on Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Defence, formulation of an AI roadmap for each Defence PSU and OFB to develop AI-enable products and insertion of 3 percent points in MoU with Defence PSUs for AI products being developed.

Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX): The objective of iDEX is bringing start-ups to innovate, develop technology and solve problems related to defence and aerospace. 

Name of the Waterway and States

  1.River Barak (NW-16) in Assam
  2. River Gandak (NW-37) in Bihar
Waterways in Goa 3.  NW-27-Cumberjua 4.  NW-68 – Mandovi 5.  NW-111 – Zuari
  6. Alappuzha – Kottayam – Athirampuzha Canal (NW-9) in Kerala
  7.  River Rupnarayan (NW-86) in West Bengal
  8. Sunderbans Waterways (NW-97) in West Bengal

 

India has 38 World Heritage Sites

S. No   Name of Site State  
  •  
Agra Fort (1983) Uttar Pradesh
  •  
Ajanta Caves (1983) Maharashtra
  •  
Ellora Caves (1983) Maharashtra
  •  
Taj Mahal (1983) Uttar Pradesh
  •  
Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram (1984) Tamil Nadu
  •  
Sun Temple, Konarak (1984) Odisha
  •  
Churches and Convents of Goa (1986) Goa
  •  
Fatehpur Sikri (1986) Uttar Pradesh
  •  
Group of Monuments at Hampi (1986) Karnataka
  •  
Khajuraho, Group of Temples (1986) Madhya Pradesh
  •  
Elephanta Caves ( 1987) Maharashtra
  •  
Great Living Chola Temples at Thanjavur, Gangaikondacholapuram and Darasuram (1987 & 2004) Tamil Nadu
  •  
Group of Monuments at Pattadakal (1987) Karnataka
  •  
Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi (1989) Madhya Pradesh
  •  
Humayun’s  Tomb, Delhi (1993) Delhi
  •  
Qutb Minar and its Monuments, Delhi (1993) Delhi
  •  
Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka (2003) Madhya Pradesh
  •  
Champaner-Pavagarh Archaeological Park (2004) Gujarat
  •  
Red Fort Complex, Delhi (2007) Delhi
  •  
Hill Forts of Rajasthan  (Chittaurgarh, Kumbhalgarh, Jaisalmer and Ranthambhore, Amber and Gagron Forts)      (2013) (Amber and Gagron Forts are under protection of Rajasthan State Archaeology and Museums) Rajasthan
  •  
Rani-ki-Vav (The Queen’s Stepwell) at Patan (2014) Gujarat
  •  
Archaeological Site of Nalanda Mahavihara (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. Chhatrapati Shivaji 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 Jantar Mantar, 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

Person in News: Sheikh Mujibur Rahman

Father of Nation in Bangladesh

  • He served as the first President of Bangladesh and later as the Prime Minister of Bangladesh from 17 April 1971 until his assassination on 15 August 1975. 
  • He is considered to be the driving force behind the independence of Bangladesh. He is popularly dubbed with the title of "Bangabandhu" (Bôngobondhu "Friend of Bengal") by the people of Bangladesh. 
  • He became a leading figure in and eventually the leader of the Awami League, founded in 1949 as an East Pakistan-based political party in Pakistan. 
  • Mujib is credited as an important figure in efforts to gain political autonomy for East Pakistan and later as the central figure behind the Bangladesh Liberation Movement and the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971. Thus, he is regarded "Jatir Janak" or "Jatir Pita" (Jatir Jônok or Jatir Pita, both meaning "Father of the Nation") of Bangladesh. 
  • His daughter Sheikh Hasina is the current leader of the Awami League and also the Prime Minister of Bangladesh.