Polity & Governance
- WCD Ministry considering setting up National Women Entrepreneurship Council
- 107 complaints received on SHe-box till date
Government Schemes & Policies
- Govt clears construction of 1,86,777 affordable houses
- Union cabinet approves Prime Minister’s Research Fellows scheme
- Swadhar Greh Scheme
Issues related to Health & Education
- “Healthy States, Progressive India” Report
- India improves ranking in US Chamber’s intellectual property index
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Govt launches mobile App ‘Ash Track’
- Inauguration of Integrated Automatic Aviation Meteorological Systems (IAAMS) At INS Garuda
- “Swachh Bharat Sanitation Park” inaugurated in Delhi
- 21st Indian Birding Fair
Bilateral & International Relations
- Saudi King Salman opens annual Janadriyah festival
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Polity & Governance
WCD Ministry considering setting up National Women Entrepreneurship Council
The Ministry of Women and Child Development is considering to establish National Women Entrepreneurship Council (NWEC).
About the proposed NWEC:
- NWEC will promote entrepreneurship as it would be the umbrella organization for socio-economic gender parity, financial inclusion and economic empowerment of women in India.
Need for economic empowerment of women:
- Economically empowered women are major catalysts for development.
- There is greater recognition of the positive relationship between increased economic activity by women and improved social outcomes. Women often tend to reinvest their income in their children’s education, health and nutrition. This has a positive impact on the potential for economic growth.
- According to Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs, India scored an overall 41.7 points, ranking 49 among 54 economies globally with comparatively low in Women Business Ownership percentages.
- India presents lower opportunities for women to assume leadership roles, participation in the workforce or engagement in entrepreneurial activities.
- Lack of education, technological know-how and cultural bias coupled with stringent business and government regulations are some key impediments that happen to undermine women’s ability to rise to positions of leadership and take advantage of entrepreneurial opportunities in India.
107 complaints received on SHe-box till date
The government has directed all concerned authorities to take appropriate actions on 107 complaints received through portal ‘SHe-box’ so far.
About the SHe-Box:
- The platform will cater to Central government employees in the beginning and thereafter, its ambit will be widened to include the private sector as well.
- The platform seeks to ensure “effective implementation” of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.
- It is also an effort to provide “speedier remedy” to women facing sexual harassment at the workplace.
- The portal is an initiative to provide a platform to women working or visiting any office of Central Government (Central Ministries, Departments, Public Sector Undertakings, Autonomous Bodies and Institutions etc.) to file complaints related to sexual harassment at workplace under the SH Act.
- Those who had already filed a written complaint with the concerned Internal Complaint Committee (ICC) constituted under the SH Act are also eligible to file their complaint through this portal.
How will it work?
- Once a complaint is submitted to the ‘SHe-Box’, it will be directly sent to the internal complaints (ICC) committee of the ministry/ department/ PSU/ autonomous body etc concerned, having jurisdiction to inquire into the matter.
- The ICC will take action as prescribed under the Act and update the status of the complaint.
Government Schemes & Policies
Govt clears construction of 1,86,777 affordable houses
The Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has approved the construction of 1,86,777 more affordable houses under its flagship Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban).
- The approval was given at the 30th meeting of the Central Sanctioning and Monitoring Committee.
The Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) Programme launched by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (MoHUPA), in Mission mode envisions provision of Housing for All by 2022, when the Nation completes 75 years of its Independence.
- The Mission seeks to address the housing requirement of urban poor including slum dwellers through following programme verticals:
- Slum rehabilitation of Slum Dwellers with participation of private developers using land as a resource.
- Promotion of Affordable Housing for weaker section through credit linked subsidy.
- Affordable Housing in Partnership with Public & Private sectors.
- Subsidy for beneficiary-led individual house construction /enhancement.
Union cabinet approves Prime Minister’s Research Fellows scheme
In a major boost for research in the country, the Union cabinet has approved the Prime Minister Research Fellowship scheme for students of higher education institutions such as IITs, NITs and IISERs.
- The move was also aimed at preserving the country’s talent pool.
About Prime Minister’s Research Fellows (PMRF) Scheme:
- The PMRF Scheme was announced in the Budget Speech 2018-19. It will be implemented for period of seven years beginning 2018-19 at total cost of Rs. 1650 crore.
- Under it, best students who have completed or are in final year of B. Tech/Integrated M.Tech/M.Sc courses in Science and Technology streams from IISc/IITs/IISERs/ NITs/IIITs will be offered direct admission in PhD programme in IITs/IISc.
- Maximum of 3000 Fellows would be selected in three year period, beginning 2018-19.
- Selected students through selection process laid down in PMRF Guidelines will be offered monthly fellowship of Rs.70,000 for first two years, Rs.75,000 for 3rd year and Rs.80,000 in 4th and 5th years.
- Each selected fellow students will be also provided research grant of Rs.2.00 lakh for period of 5 years to cover their foreign travel expenses for presenting research papers in international conferences and seminars.
Significance of PMRF Scheme:
- The scheme will help tapping talent pool of country for carrying out research indigenously in cutting edge science and technology domains.
- The research undertaken by fellows under this scheme will address national priorities at one hand and shortage of quality faculty in premier educational institutions of country on the other.
Swadhar Greh Scheme
Recently released government data shows that there are 559 Swadhar Greh presently functional in the country with 17231 beneficiaries.
About Swadhar Greh Scheme:
The Swadhar scheme was launched by the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development in 2002 for rehabilitation of women in difficult circumstances.
- The scheme provides shelter, food, clothing and care to the marginalized women/girls who are in need.
- The beneficiaries include widows deserted by their families and relatives, women prisoners released from jail and without family support, women survivors of natural disasters, women victims of terrorist/extremist violence etc.
- The implementing agencies are mainly NGOs. An Evaluation Study conducted through Centre for Market Research and Social Development to assess the performance of the scheme observed that the scheme is successful for which it was formulated/implemented.
Issues related to Health & Education
“Healthy States, Progressive India” Report
NITI Aayog has released a comprehensive Health Index report titled, “Healthy States, Progressive India”.
About the report:
- The report has been developed by NITI Aayog, with technical assistance from the World Bank, and in consultation with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW).
- The report ranks states and Union territories innovatively on their year-on-year incremental change in health outcomes, as well as, their overall performance with respect to each other.
- It is the first attempt to establish an annual systematic tool to measure and understand the heterogeneity and complexity of the nation’s performance in Health.
- States and UTs have been ranked in three categories namely, Larger States, Smaller States, and Union Territories (UTs), to ensure comparison among similar entities.
- The Health Index is a weighted composite Index, which for the larger States, is based on indicators in three domains: (a) Health Outcomes (70%); (b) Governance and Information (12%); and (c) Key Inputs and Processes (18%), with each domain assigned a weight based on its importance.
- Health Index has been developed as a tool to leverage co-operative and competitive federalism to accelerate the pace of achieving health outcomes.
- It would also serve as an instrument for “nudging” States & Union Territories (UTs) and the Central Ministries to a much greater focus on output and outcome based measurement of annual performance than is currently the practice.
- With the annual publication of the Index and its availability on public domain on a dynamic basis, it is expected to keep every stakeholder alert to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Goal number 3.
Performance of states:
- Among the Larger States, Kerala, Punjab, and Tamil Nadu ranked on top in terms of overall performance, while Jharkhand, Jammu & Kashmir, and Uttar Pradesh are the top three ranking States in terms of annual incremental performance.
- Among Smaller States, Mizoram ranked first followed by Manipur on overall performance, while Manipur followed by Goa were the top ranked States in terms of annual incremental performance.
The Health Index report notes that while States and UTs that start at lower levels of development are generally at an advantage in notching up incremental progress over States with high Health Index scores, it is a challenge for States with high Index scores to even maintain their performance levels.
- The incremental measurement reveals that about one-third of the States have registered a decline in their performance in 2016 as compared to 2015, stressing the need to pursue domain-specific, targeted interventions.
- Common challenges for most States and UTs include the need to focus on addressing vacancies in key staff, establishment of functional district Cardiac Care Units (CCUs), quality accreditation of public health facilities and institutionalization of Human Resources Management Information System (HRMIS).
- Additionally, almost all Larger States need to focus on improving the Sex Ratio at Birth (SRB).
India improves ranking in US Chamber’s intellectual property index
In the latest 2018 edition of International Intellectual Property Index (IIPI) that evaluates the intellectual property (IP) environment in 50 countries, India figures in the 44th place.
- Last year, India was ranked 43rd out of 45 countries in index.
About the index:
- International Intellectual Property Index (IIPI) started in 2012 by USGIPC ranks countries based upon 35 parameters each having one point weightage.
- Some of the parameters are patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets and market access, enforcement, and ratification of international treaties.
Highlights of the report:
- The US topped this edition of list with total 37.98 points, followed by United Kingdom (37.97) and Sweden (37.03).
- India has improved its performance both in relative and absolute terms. The index showed that India ranked 44th of 50 economies — a jump from 43rd of 45 economies one year ago — improving its performance both in relative and absolute terms.
- For the first time, India has broken free of the bottom 10% of economies measured, and its score represents the largest percentage improvement of any country measured. This is further evidence of a country on the move.
- India improved its score as it passed guidelines to strengthen the patentability environment for technological innovations, improved the protection of well-known marks, and initiated IP awareness and coordination programs, thereby implementing some tenets of the 2016 National IPR Policy.
- India’s score continues to suggest that additional, meaningful reforms are needed to complement the policy.
- Among key areas of weaknesses are limited framework for protection of life sciences IP, lengthy pre-grant opposition proceedings, patentability requirements outside international standards, previously used compulsory licensing for commercial and nonemergency situations, limited participation in international IP treaties and no participation in international PPH (Patent Prosecution Highway) tracks.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
Govt launches mobile App ‘Ash Track’
Ministry of Power has launched Web based monitoring System and Fly Ash mobile application named ASH TRACK.
- These platforms will enable better management of fly ash produced by thermal power plants by providing interface between ash producers (thermal power plants) and potential ash users such as –cement plants, road contractors etc.
About ASH TRACK App:
- The app shows coal based power plants situated within radius of 100 km and 300 km from a given location.
- It will allow user to select power station from where he wants to take fly ash. It will also show ash availability, distance from user’s location.
- It will help power plants to see location of prospective fly ash users surrounding it like – cement plants, NHAI, contractors of Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) projects, brick producers, etc.
- The app will give plant wise, utility wise and state wise fly ash utilization status in the country and also details of ash generation and utilization in real time.
Significance of the app:
- It will allow effective monitoring and reviewing for increasing fly ash utilization.
- It will help in protecting environment in terms of reduction in fugitive emissions, saving of precious top soil and conservation of land for sustainable development.
What is Fly Ash?
- Fly ash is one of the coal combustion products.
- It is composed of the fine particles that are driven out of the boiler with the flue gases.
- In modern coal-fired power plants, fly ash is generally captured by electrostatic precipitators or other particle filtration equipment before the flue gases reach the chimneys.
- Fly ash includes substantial amounts of silicon dioxide, aluminium oxide and calcium oxide.
What are environmental impact of Fly Ash?
- Apart from causing air pollution, it can also contaminate water and soil systems.
- Heavy metals can leach from stored fly ash into groundwater, which can put the health of the surrounding population in danger.
Reuse of Fly Ash:
- Fly ash can be reused as a substitute material for Portland cement and sand in concrete production. It can also be used for road construction.
- Its agricultural uses include soil amendment, fertilizer, cattle feeders and soil stabilization in stock feed yards etc.
- It can also be used as a substitute material for clay for cement clinkers production.
Fly ash management:
- Quality-wise Indian coal has much more ash content than other countries. Diverse approaches must be adopted for fly ash management.
- It includes washing coal at its place of origin will prevent ash from coming to power plant.
- Promoting R&D for increasing efficiency of power plants will also help in reducing ash generation.
- Proper management of fly ash is important for environment and also for power plants as it occupies a lot of land space.
At present, 63% of the fly ash is being utilised.[Ref: PIB]
Inauguration of Integrated Automatic Aviation Meteorological Systems (IAAMS) At INS Garuda
The Indian Navy has unveiled the Integrated Automatic Aviation Meteorological System (IAAMS) at INS Garuda, naval air station located in Kochi, Kerala.
- It is overall fourth air station installed with this integrated system.
About Integrated Automatic Aviation Meteorological Systems (IAAMS):
IAAMS is an ambitious project of the Indian Navy to modernise the Meteorological infrastructure of the nine Naval Air Stations.
- The IAAMS project at INS Garuda will give a major fillip to aviation safety through automation of weather monitoring process.
- IAAMS is equipped with state-of-the-art meteorological sensors viz., Radar Vertical Wind Profiler, Ceilometer, Transmissometer and Automatic Weather Observation System.
- It undertakes automatic and continuous recording of relevant weather parameters that are vital for accurate weather forecasting.
- It has a special alarm feature that alerts the duty staff during abnormal change of weather parameters that may affect safe flying operations.
- It can also provide automatic dissemination of routine weather reports as per standards of World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) to other air stations and Air Traffic Controller towers without human intervention.
“Swachh Bharat Sanitation Park” inaugurated in Delhi
The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, in collaboration with the Environmental Sanitation Institute and Tata Trusts, has developed a Sanitation Park which was inaugurated in New Delhi.
- The Sanitation Park was developed with an objective to create awareness on various safe technological options.
- The Park demonstrates various options pertaining to toilet technologies and solid and liquid waste management technologies, with a brief description of these technologies.
- The Park also displays information regarding various interventions undertaken under the Swachh Bharat Mission, capturing the success stories and impact created under the Mission across the country.
- The park presents the opportunity for the visitors to understand the various components and initiatives of SBM and familiarize themselves with different technologies.
21st Indian Birding Fair
The 21st Indian Birding Fair is happening at the Man Sagar Lake, Rajasthan.
- This year, this fair is dedicated to the White Naped Tit bird, which is quite rare in Jaipur and are at the verge of extinction.
About White Naped Tit bird:
- White-Naped is a robust, strongly patterned, mainly black-and-white coloured bird with yellow in the flanks and sides of the breast.
- The bird is found in Udaipur and in some regions of Kutch as well.
- It is considered vulnerable to extinction because of the scarcity of suitable habitats.
About Man Sagar Lake:
- Man Sagar Lake is an artificial lake, situated in Jaipur, the capital of the state of Rajasthan in India.
- It is named after Raja Man Singh, the then ruler of Amer, who constructed it in c. 1610 by damming the Dharbawati river.
- The Jal Mahal is situated in the middle of the lake.
Bilateral & International Relations
Saudi King Salman opens annual Janadriyah festival
32nd edition of Saudi Arabia’s National Heritage Festival was inaugurated in Janadriyah village, Riyadh.
- This year India is guest of honor country.
About the Janadriyah festival:
- Jenadriyah is cultural and heritage festival of Saudi Arabia. It is held annually at Jenadriyah village near Riyadh.
- It is organised every year by National Guard.
- It was held for first time in 1985. It draws more than one million visitors every year.
- The festival normally falls during the month of February or March.
- The activities in festivals include camel race, horse race, sports, dance, arts, history, falconry, and traditional arts and crafts.