Polity & Governance
- SC grants pension to ‘fake freedom fighters’
- Online applications for homes under PM Awas Yojana starts
- Centre plans to develop National Data Registry
- PM launches ‘Saur Sujala Yojana’ in Chhattisgarh
- Duty drawback facility extended for textiles
Bilateral & International Relations
- PM to inaugurate Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction
Science & Technology
- Researchers aim to scoop out marine oil spills
Key Facts for Prelims
- Brand ambassador of Swachh Rail Mission
Polity & Governance
SC grants pension to ‘fake freedom fighters’
The Supreme Court (SC) has granted pension to the fake freedom fighters on humanitarian grounds.
- However, on the other hand, the court ordered inquiry into alleged forging of freedom fighter certificates to claim pension.
What’s the issue?
- In August 2005, SC appointed Justice A B Palkar Commission to examine the case of a large number of people claiming pension as freedom fighters by allegedly forging certificates in Beed district of Maharashtra.
- The court said that those falsely claiming to have participated in the freedom struggle should be dealt sternly as they were traitors. It directed the Palkar panel to complete the inquiry into claims of 354 people for freedom fighter pension and submit a report to the Maharashtra government.
- The panel had rejected the claims of 298 of 354 people and termed their documents bogus. After the cancellation, the elderly people moved the Bombay HC and pleaded that they all were senior citizens and are deprived of pensionary benefits. However, the HC refused to give relief.
- The case was further escalated to the SC before a bench of SC Judges which announced its decision in favour of the fake freedom fighters.
Online applications for homes under PM Awas Yojana starts
The Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation has inked MoU with Common Services Centre (CSC), a SPV (special purpose vehicle) of Ministry of Information Technology for enabling online submission of applications under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban).
Significance of the MoU:
- It will enable online submission of applications by the urban poor for affordable houses under PMAY (Urban).
- About 60 thousand CSCs located in urban areas will enable online submission of applications at a nominal cost of 25 rupees per application.
- CSCs will also facilitate printing of the acknowledgement receipt with beneficiary photograph which helps applicants in tracking application status.
About the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY):
- Union Government had launched Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) in June 2015 in line with its ambitious Housing for All by 2022 Mission.
- Under this scheme government plans to build two crore houses for the poor in urban areas by year 2022, which coincides with 75 years of Independence.
- The scheme has four basic components viz. slum rehabilitation, affordable housing, credit linked interest subsidy and beneficiary-led individual house construction or enhancement.
- Intended beneficiary will be poor people (BPL) and people living under EWS and LIG categories in urban establishments of the country.
- Under this scheme, the ownership of houses will be in the name of woman or jointly with husband.
Centre plans to develop National Data Registry
Union government is developing a National Data Registry that will require all agencies— state, private and academic — that collect and store geospatial data to share it with the registry.
- The registry will also serve as a source of “authenticated” information.
- The Department of Science and Technology (DST) will be the nodal coordinating agency of the registry.
What is the purpose of the committee?
- The purpose of such a registry is to create a “catalogue” that would “prevent duplication” of data sets and help users locate the right agencies to source information.
- The registry will be a ‘meta-data’ repository: it will not actually be a source of geospatial data but will only inform about the nature of the data a service provider has.
- It can operate across a wide range of formats and can source information automatically. Thus, Survey of India can vet it for accuracy and see whether it contains information that contravenes national security.
PM launches ‘Saur Sujala Yojana’ in Chhattisgarh
Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Saur Sujala Yojana in Chhattisgarh.
- The scheme aims at providing solar powered irrigation pumps to farmers at a subsidized price.
- With the launch of the scheme, Chhattisgarh becomes the first state to implement the scheme.
Key features of the scheme:
- Under the scheme, solar powered irrigation pumps of 3HP and 5HP capacity worth 3.5 lakh rupees and 4.5 lakh rupees respectively will be distributed to the farmers by 31 March 2019.
- The beneficiaries will also get the pumps at the subsidised price.
- Around 51000 farmers will be benefitted in the state with the launch of the scheme in next two years. The selection of the farmers will be done by the State Government’s organization, which looks after the development of renewable sources of energy.
- Priority will be given in those areas where electricity connection has not reached yet.
- The Chhattisgarh State Renewable Energy Development Agency (CREDA) will be responsible authority for the installation as well as maintenance of the solar pumping devices to the eligible farmers.
Duty drawback facility extended for textiles
The government has extended duty drawback facility for one year on all textile products to boost exports, and has increased rates in some cases for the benefit of Indian exporters.
What is duty drawback?
- It is a refund that can be obtained when an import fee has already been paid by a business entity for a good but the good is then subsequently exported.
- In order to obtain a duty drawback, a business does not have to have paid the import duty nor do they have had to perform the product’s exportation.
- But they only need to be assigned the drawback from those to whom it would typically be due.
- The duty drawback has been announced by the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC).
- The duty drawback benefits textile exporters to overcome the barriers they face in exports.
- CBEC revises drawback rates every year on November 1 for one year.
Purpose of this duty drawback:
- These drawbacks are aimed at giving a boost to exports of cotton textiles as they will provide adequate neutralization of the incidence of duties and taxes on the export goods and make them more competitive in the international markets.
Under the revised norms:
- Domestic textiles attract drawback of 7.5% now as against 7.3% earlier. Thus, duty drawback benefits textile exporters will help to overcome barriers exporters face in exports.
- Similarly, incorporation of blanket and other cotton products in this category will attract drawback rate of 8% now from 7.2% earlier.
Bilateral & International Relations
PM to inaugurate Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction
Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the 2016 Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (AMCDRR) in New Delhi.
- The conference has been organised by Union Government in collaboration with the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR).
- 2016 AMCDRR will pave the way for implementation of the Sendai framework in the Asian region and will also devise a mechanism for monitoring its progress.
- About 2,000 foreign delegates, including ministers from 54 Asia Pacific countries will participate in the 2016 AMCDRR.
- 2016 AMCDRR will focus on consultation, collaboration and partnership with governments and stakeholders to mainstream Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) in the region.
- It will adopt the ‘Asian Regional Plan for Implementation of the Sendai Framework’ endorsed by the Asian countries.
- AMCDRR is a biennial conference jointly organized by different Asian countries and the UNISDR.
- It was established in 2005.
- So far, 6 AMCDRR conferences have been organised.
- For the first time India had also hosted the second AMCDRR in 2007 in New Delhi.
About Sendai Framework:
The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015-2030) is an international Treaty which was adopted during the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR) held in Sendai, Japan in March, 2015.
- It is the successor agreement to the Hyogo Framework for Action (2005–2015), which had been the most encompassing international accord to date on disaster risk reduction.
- It is the first major agreement of the post-2015 development agenda, with seven targets and four priorities for action.
- The Framework is for 15-year.
- It is a voluntary and non-binding agreement which recognizes that the State has the primary role to reduce disaster risk but that responsibility should be shared with other stakeholders including local government, the private sector and other stakeholders.
- The implementation of the Sendai Framework involves adopting integrated and inclusive institutional measures so as to work towards preventing vulnerability to disaster, increase preparedness for response and recovery and strengthen resilience.
Priorities for action:
The Sendai Framework sets four specific priorities for action:
- Understanding disaster risk;
- Strengthening disaster risk governance to manage disaster risk;
- Investing in disaster risk reduction for resilience;
- Enhancing disaster preparedness for effective response, and to “Build Back Better” in recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction.
The Seven Global Targets:
To support the assessment of global progress in achieving the outcome and goal of the Sendai Framework, seven global targets have been agreed:
- Substantially reduce global disaster mortality by 2030, aiming to lower average per 100,000 global mortality rate in the decade 2020-2030 compared to the period 2005-2015.
- Substantially reduce the number of affected people globally by 2030, aiming to lower average global figure per 100,000 in the decade 2020 -2030 compared to the period 2005-2015.
- Reduce direct disaster economic loss in relation to global gross domestic product (GDP) by 2030.
- Substantially reduce disaster damage to critical infrastructure and disruption of basic services, among them health and educational facilities, including through developing their resilience by 2030.
- Substantially increase the number of countries with national and local disaster risk reduction strategies by 2020.
- Substantially enhance international cooperation to developing countries through adequate and sustainable support to complement their national actions for implementation of this Framework by 2030.
- Substantially increase the availability of and access to multi-hazard early warning systems and disaster risk information and assessments to the people by 2030.
Science & Technology
Researchers aim to scoop out marine oil spills
Researchers from Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) Thiruvananthapuram have developed a compound named gelator to scoop out marine oil spills.
How it is produced?
- They had produced gelators using glucose as a starting material and through several other chemical reactions.
How it works?
- The gelator molecule is partly hydrophilic and partly hydrophobic. The hydrophilic part helps in self-assembling to form gelator fibres, while the hydrophobic part is responsible for its diffusion into oil layer.
- Since outer part of the fibre is hydrophobic, oil tends to gets into spongy network made of fibres.
- Once inside the fibre network, oil loses fluidity and becomes a gel. The gel was strong enough to be scooped with a spatula.
What are the advantages?
- Gelator has ability to selectively congeal oil, including crude oil from an oil-water mixture. It makes the process of recovering marine oil spills simple, efficient and cost-effective.
- It is in a powder form and can be easily applied over oil-water mixture. It does not cause any environmental damage.
- It can be recovered oil from oil-water mixture and can be reused several times. But in the case of crude oil, the gelator can’t be recycled.
Key Facts for Prelims
Brand ambassador of Swachh Rail Mission
- Ministry of Railways has appointed Bindeshwar Pathak, the founder of Sulabh International, as a Brand Ambassador for Swachh Rail Mission.
- Under the Mission, Sulabh International has started on pilot basis cleaning and maintenance of five important railway stations from September 2016. These railway stations are Gorakhpur, Old Delhi, Jaipur, Ahmedabad and Gwalior.
- Sulabh International is an India-based social service organization which works to promote human rights, environmental sanitation, non-conventional sources of energy, waste management and social reforms through education.