Polity & Governance
- Govt launches DigiShala channel to promote digital payments
- Disabled children miss out due to lack of support services: Report
- Government urges public to restrict the use of newspapers as food packaging material
- SECI to Launch 1000 MW Rooftop Solar PV Scheme for Government Sector
Bilateral & International Relations
- India, Vietnam sign Civil Nuclear deal, three other agreements
- India reports fishery subsidies; aims to protect ‘poor’ fisherfolk
Defence & Security Issues
- Plastic notes will help beat counterfeiting
Key Facts for Prelims
- December 10: Human Rights Day
- Narmada Seva Yatra
Polity & Governance
Govt launches DigiShala channel to promote digital payments
In another step to push digital transactions, the Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has launched a TV channel named ‘DigiShala’ to promote cashless transactions.
- The channel was launched as part of the ‘Digidhan’ campaign which aims to spread awareness about digital transactions.
What is ‘DigiShala’?
- DigiShala is dedicated 24*7 and 365 days free-to-air TV channel to inform citizens about digital payment ecosystem, benefits and processes.
- It is a satellite channel managed by Doordarshan (DD). It will be broadcasted nationally on DD Free Dish DTH service.
- Through it, citizens will be informed and educated about various digital payment options through step by step demos of digital payments using e-wallets, UPI, USSD, Aadhaar-enabled payment systems and cards.
- It will impart information and education, especially in rural and semi-urban areas related to Digital Payment ecosystem, its tools, processes and benefits.
- The services on the channel initially will be available in Hindi and English and later in local languages as well.
- It is not mandatory for the service provider and direct-to-home (DTH) airing it and customers may opt for it.
Disabled children miss out due to lack of support services: Report
The 2016 India Social Development Report (SDR) has been published. The theme for this edition of report was ‘Disabilities Rights Perspectives’.
About the report:
The report drew on data from a number of sources, including the census, the National Sample Survey (NSS), data-sets of the India Human Development Survey, and the National Family Health Survey, besides the new data from fresh empirical studies.
Highlights of the report:
- About 45% of all persons with disabilities (PWD) in India are illiterate. They remain illiterate mainly because of lack of support services.
- The number of PWDs in India are 26.8 million or 2.2% of the population. However, the World Bank estimates it is 4 to 8% of the population.
- Men formed 56% of the PWDs and 70% of the disabled population is in rural areas.
- Movement disability accounted for the largest number of PWDs in India. It was followed by hearing disability and visual impairment.
- 38% of all male PWDs were illiterate and the illiteracy rate was 55% for female PWDs. Whereas, India’s total literacy rate is 74 per cent.
- For each category of disability, a greater proportion of women in it are illiterate than men. 76% of women with multiple disabilities are illiterate.
- Interestingly, even in Kerala, which has near-total literacy, 33.1% of the PWDs were illiterate.
- It estimated one-third are children with disabilities of the 75 million children of primary school age are out of school.
- State governments must ensure availability of minimum support such as accommodation, assistive devices and transport for disabled children to complete their schooling.
Government urges public to restrict the use of newspapers as food packaging material
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has banned use of newspapers for wrapping and packing of food items.
- In this regard, FSSAI has issued an advisory all states and Union territories and asked commissioners of food safety to restrict the use of newspapers for packing, serving and storing of food items.
- This is first time in recent years FSSAI has issued new rule related to packaging of food items. So far, it had focused on setting standards for packaged food.
Why this ban has been imposed?
- In India, use of newspapers for wrapping and packing of food items is a common practice followed by small corner shops and street vendors.
- However, it can cause serious health concerns due contaminate food items by newspaper ink.
- Printing ink used for printing newspapers may contain bioactive materials, harmful pigments, colours, additives, binders, preservatives, chemical contaminants and even pathogenic microorganisms that may pose potential risk to human health.
- Even newspaper or cardboard boxes made of recycled paper may be contaminated with mineral oils, metallic contaminants and harmful chemicals like phthalates which can cause digestive problems and also lead to severe toxicity.
Who are at risk?
Older people, teenagers, children and people with compromised vital organs and immune systems are at a greater risk of acquiring cancer-related health complications after they are exposed to food items packed in such materials
About Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI):
- The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is an agency of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India.
- The FSSAI has been established under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006which is a consolidating statute related to food safety and regulation in India.
- The FSSAI is led by a non-executive Chairperson, appointed by the Central Government.
- The Chairperson is in the rank of Secretary to Government of India.
- The agency also has 8 regional offices, 4 referral laboratories and 72 local laboratories located throughout India.
SECI to Launch 1000 MW Rooftop Solar PV Scheme for Government Sector
Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) has launched a tender of 1000 MW capacity for development of grid-connected rooftop solar capacity for Central Government Ministries/Departments.
- The move is a step towards fulfilment of the Government of India’s target for installation of 40 GW rooftop solar power plants by the year 2022.
- This would be the largest rooftop tender to be launched by SECI, and is expected to give a big boost to the hugely potent rooftop solar power generation segment.
- Rooftop solar systems will be installed with the financial assistance from MNRE in the form of Incentives.
- The power generated from the systems shall be used for meeting the captive requirement of the buildings and the surplus power, if any, shall be fed to the grid under the net-metering arrangement of the respective State.
- Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) is a company of the Indian Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, established to facilitate the implementation of Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission.
- It is the only Public Sector Undertaking dedicated to the solar energy sector.
- The company is responsible for implementation of a number of government schemes, major ones being the VGF schemes for large-scale grid-connected projects under JNNSM, solar park scheme and grid-connected solar rooftop scheme, along with a host of other specialised schemes such as defence scheme, canal-top scheme, Indo-Pak border scheme etc.
- SECI is the leading PSU in the rooftop solar segment, and has already commissioned over 54 MW capacity of rooftop solar projects under multiple government schemes.
- The company’s mandate has recently been broadened to cover the entire renewable energy domain and the company renamed to Renewable Energy Corporation of India (RECI).
Bilateral & International Relations
India, Vietnam sign Civil Nuclear deal, three other agreements
India and Vietnam have signed a civil nuclear cooperation agreement.
- With this, Vietnam became 14th country with which India has signed the civil nuclear deal.
- The two countries also signed three other agreements in the fields of energy, aviation and government cooperation.
- These agreements will enhance aviation links, cooperation in the area of energy efficiency and promotion of parliamentary cooperation between both countries.
- Vietnam also extended invitation to India to explore energy in South China Sea (SCS).
- It has urged India to intensify economic engagement with Southeast Asia, highlighting India’s importance as a regional power. It also supported India’s multilateral membership plans including UNSC.
India reports fishery subsidies; aims to protect ‘poor’ fisherfolk
India has notified the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on the subsidies it pays fisherfolk amid demands from a U.S.-led group of nations for a ban on subsidies given for illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing.
- The move comes even as India has expressed concern over committing to norms at the multilateral level that will impact the livelihood of its subsistence fisherfolk.
What’s the issue?
- According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s ‘State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture,’ almost a third of commercial fish stocks are now fished at biologically unsustainable levels, triple the level of 1974.
- Therefore, the U.S.-led group, ‘Friends of Fish’, is seeking a ban on subsidies given for IUU fishing, citing the rising global demand for fish and the consequent increase in ‘unsustainable’ fishing.
Why India is opposed to this move?
- India has expressed apprehensions that the demand for a ban on subsidies for IUU fishing could lead to prohibition even on fishing that could be termed non-IUU. This could, in turn, harm the interests of lakhs of subsistence fisherfolk in poor and developing nations.
- Also, currently there is no unanimity among WTO members on what constitutes IUU fishing. Several countries, including India, are wary about agreeing to stringent norms on this aspect due to its possible impact on the livelihood of millions of workers in the fisheries sector.
- ‘Fishery subsidy schemes’ at the Central, state and union territory-levels in India provided for subsidies worth Rs.284 crore in 2014-15. Tamil Nadu received the highest subsidy with Rs.169.3 crore (of which about Rs.148 crore is in the fuel category) in 2014-15.
- India argues that with such schemes it aims to “protect and secure the livelihood of traditional and poor fishing communities.”
- The subsidies were provided to fishermen who were either homeless or poor boat owners, those with registered craft and members of fishermen cooperative societies.
- The subsidies, in addition to those on fuel, were for purchase of inboard machine/OBM for non-mechanised boats, for providing insurance cover to fishermen for accident due to cyclone/mishap/calamities, for purchasing nets, accessories, life-saving jackets and advance technique equipment.
- It was also applicable to the supply of deep freezers and ice boxes, for building port infrastructure, for purchasing safety and communication equipment, and for repairing and renovating fishing boats.
Defence & Security Issues
Plastic notes will help beat counterfeiting
The government has decided to print banknotes based on a plastic or polymer substrate in order to make counterfeiting them more difficult.
- Such notes were first introduced in Australia to safeguard against counterfeiting.
Advantages of plastic notes:
- Plastic notes have an average life span of about five years and are difficult to imitate. Also, currency notes made of plastic are cleaner than paper ones.
Disadvantages associated with plastic notes:
- Higher production cost.
- Difficult to fold.
- Hard to count as they are slippery.
- Huge cost to recaliberate ATMs as existing machines are not compatible.
- The Reserve Bank for long has been planning to launch plastic currency note after field trials.
- In February 2014, the government had informed Parliament that one billion plastic notes of Rs 10 denomination would be introduced in a field trial in five cities selected for their geographical and climatic diversity. The selected cities were Kochi, Mysore, Jaipur, Shimla and Bhubaneswar.
Key Facts for Prelims
December 10: Human Rights Day
- The Human Rights Day is observed annually on 10th December to commemorate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
- Theme for the year 2016: “Stand up for someone’s rights today”.
- The Human Rights Day was formally established at the 317th Plenary Meeting of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on 4 December 1950.
- The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was formally adopted and proclaimed by UNGA on 10 December 1948.
- It was adopted as shared standard yard stick to protect human rights across the globe.
Narmada Seva Yatra
- To turn the Narmada river pollution free, Madhya Pradesh Government has launched five months long Narmada Seva Yatra.
- It was launched at Amarkantak. [The Amarkantak region is a unique natural heritage area and is the meeting point of the Vindhya and the Satpura Ranges, with the Maikal Hills being the fulcrum. This is where the Narmada River, the Son River and Johila River]
- The Narmada Sewa Yatra aims to create awareness about the conservation of the river.
- It is one of the biggest public campaign of the world to conserve river and environment.
- All the villages along the river will have Narmada Sewa Samiti. These samitis will take follow up action on measures to be undertaken for its preservation.
- Trees will be planted along the banks of the Narmada.
- It will cover more than 1,900 kilometres in 16 districts.
- Districts and villages along the banks of river will have facility to treat sewage water before it discharged into the river.
- The yatra holds religious, social and scientific importance of the river to create awareness about its conservation.