Polity & Governance
- Gujarat government grants religious minority status to Jews
Government Schemes & Policies
- MoHUA proposes Global Housing Construction Technology Challenge
Issues related to Health & Education
- Government declares 6 educational ‘Institutions of Eminence’
- ADB approves USD 503 mln lining project of the Son canal in Bihar
Science & Technology
- China successfully launches two satellites for Pakistan: PRSS-1 & PakTES-1A
- NASA’s GRACE-FO satellites power on their lasers to find each other in Earth orbit
Key Facts for Prelims
- World’s largest mobile manufacturing unit
- Scientists discover world’s oldest colours
- India to hold first ever India Tourism Mart
- First Indian to win gold in Gymnastics World Challenge Cup
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Polity & Governance
Gujarat government grants religious minority status to Jews
Gujarat Government has granted religious minority status to Jews living in the state.
What does it mean?
- Now, Jews living in Gujarat will get religious minority rights envisaged in Constitution of India and various acts and rules of the state government.
- They will also get benefits of welfare schemes formulated for religious minority communities within the jurisdiction of Gujarat.
- Gujarat is third state in India to grant religious minority status to Jews after West Bengal and Maharashtra.
- The Jewish population in Gujarat is so minuscule that they didn’t even figure separately in the Census 2011. Gujarat has small Jewish community with no more than 170 members and majority of them located in Ahmedabad.
- Constitution of India has not defined word ‘Minority’ and only refers to ‘Minorities’ but it speaks of those ‘based on religion or language’ and rights of minorities have been spelt out in Constitution in detail.
- Six religious communities, viz. Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Zoroastrians (Parsis) and Jains have been notified in Gazette of India as minority communities by Union Government all over India.
- Evolved in Egypt about 3,700 years ago, Judaism is one of the oldest religions of the world.
- Judaism was founded by Moses, although Jews trace their history back to Abraham.
- It believes in the unity and oneness of universal Creator.
- Judaism is the religion, philosophy and way of life of the Jewish people.
- Judaism has a rich history of religious text, but the central and most important religious document is the Torah.
- Jewish traditional or oral law, the interpretation of the laws of the Torah, is called halakhah.
- Spiritual leaders are called Rabbis.
Jews in India:
- Jews have been living in India for over 2,000 years ever since they first landed on West coast of India.
- Indian Jews are known as a peace-loving community. They follow Hebrew calendar. They have special thanks giving ceremony known as Eliyahoo-ha-Nabior i.e. ‘gratitude to Elijah the Prophet’, on festive occasions.
- The Synagogue Judah Hyam Hall is the only place of worship in Delhi for Jews.
Main Jews groups in India:
- Bene Israel– meaning Children of Israel. Marathi speaking. Arrived in Maharashtra 2,100 years ago.
- Cochin Jews– arrived in India 2,500 years ago and settled down in Kerala as traders.
- Baghdadi Jews– Jews who came to India as traders from West Asia, mainly from Baghdad. They are settled mainly in Mumbai, Pune and Kolkata.
- Bene Menashe– The Manipur Jews constitute a community which sees itself as descendants of the Manasseh (Menashe) Tribe (which is one of the 10 lost tribes of Jews).
- Bene Ephraim– also called “Telugu Jews”. They are a small group who speak Telugu. Their observance of Judaism dates to 1981.
Government Schemes & Policies
MoHUA proposes Global Housing Construction Technology Challenge
The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) is set to launch Global Housing Construction Technology Challenge as part of technology sub-mission of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Urban (PMAY-U).
About Global Housing Construction Technology Challenge:
- The challenge aims to accelerate PMAY-U’s target of providing ‘housing for all’ as the scheme is moving at pace far slower than its rural counterpart.
- Through this global challenge, MoHUA will invite ideas for innovative technologies for mass housing projects that can help build houses faster, cheaper and of better quality with sustainable green materials.
- The four parameters in the global challenge would be time, cost, quality, and sustainability. The technology will have to be better than the existing ones on all these four fronts.
- It will be tested in geographically different urban areas across the country with varying terrains such as say hilly, plain, or earthquake-prone.
- The winning technologies would be used to build mass houses, in a tie-up with the states, for the economically weaker sections and low-income groups under the affordable housing project vertical of PMAY-U.
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.
Issues related to Health & Education
Government declares 6 educational ‘Institutions of Eminence’
The Government has shortlisted Six Institutions of Eminence (IoEs) including 3 from Public Sector and 3 from Private Sector.
- Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, Karnataka;
- Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, Maharashtra; and
- Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi.
- Jio Institute (Reliance Foundation), Pune under Green Field Category;
- Birla Institute of Technology & Sciences, Pilani, Rajasthan; and
- Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Manipal, Karnataka.
Benefits provided to these institutions which selected as ‘Institution of Eminence’:
- Each ‘Public Institution’ selected as ‘Institution of Eminence’ will get financial assistance up to Rs. 1000 Crore over a period of five years.
- These Institutions shall be provided with greater autonomy to admit foreign students up to 30% of admitted students; to recruit foreign faculty upto 25% of faculty strength; to offer online courses upto 20% of its programmes.
- They will also be allowed to enter into academic collaboration with top 500 in the world ranking Institutions without permission of UGC; free to fix and charge fees from foreign students without restriction; complete flexibility in fixing of curriculum and syllabus, among others.
- At the same time, they will get more opportunity to scale up their operations with more skills and quality improvement so that they become World Class Institutions in the field of education.
- N Gopalaswami committee was constituted to select 20 institutes of higher education in India that will be developed into “world-class” institutes.
About the scheme of Institutions of Eminence:
- The scheme of Institutions of Eminence was rolled out by University Grants Commission (UGC).
- It aims to help 20 higher education (10 public and 10 private) institutions from country break into top 500 global rankings in 10 years, and then eventually break into top 100 over time.
Facilities provided to these institutes:
- These selected institutions are proposed to have greater autonomy compared to other higher education institutions.
- They will be free to decide their fee for domestic and foreign students and have flexible course duration and structure.
- They will be exempted from approvals of government or UGC for academic collaborations with foreign institutions, except institutions in MEA and MHA’s list of negative countries.
Procedure of selection:
- Once identified, the target for Institutions of Eminence will be to break into top 100 bracket in one internationally reputed ranking framework in 10 years.
- The 10 government institutions selected will also get Rs 1,000 crore each from HRD Ministry to achieve world-class status. There will be no financial assistance to the private institutions.
Who can apply?
- Only higher education institutions, currently placed in the top 500 of global rankings or top 50 of National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF), are eligible to apply for eminence tag.
- The private Institutions of Eminence can also come up as greenfield ventures provided sponsoring organisation submits convincing perspective plan for 15 years.
Need for world-class institutes in India:
- India today educates only half as many young people from the university age group as China and ranks well behind most Latin American and other middle-income countries.
- India lacks world-class universities according to international rankings, and Indian academics, compared internationally, are rather poorly paid.
- Students also suffer an immense shortage of places in top academic institutions and throughout the higher education system.
ADB approves USD 503 mln lining project of the Son canal in Bihar
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved Lining Project of Son canal in Shahabad-Bhojpur region of Bihar.
- This $84 million ADB loan is part of the $200 million multi-tranche financing facility for the Bihar Urban Development Investment Programme.
- It will facilitate improvement and expansion of water supply in Bhagalpur and Gaya towns in the state.
About Asian Development Bank (ADB):
- The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is a regional development bank established on 19 December 1966.
- It is headquartered in the Ortigas Center located in Mandaluyong, Metro Manila, Philippines.
- The bank admits the members of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP, formerly the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East or ECAFE) and non-regional developed countries.
- ADB was modelled closely on the World Bank, and has a similar weighted voting system where votes are distributed in proportion with member’s capital subscriptions.
- ADB has been modelled closely on the World Bank.
- ADB is an official United Nations Observer.
- ADB offers both Hard Loans and Soft loans. The ADB offers “hard” loans from ordinary capital resources (OCR) on commercial terms, and the Asian Development Fund (ADF) affiliated with the ADB extends “soft” loans from special fund resources with concessional conditions.
Members & funding:
- The bank admits the members of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP, formerly known as the United Nations Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East) and non-regional developed countries.
- Currently, it has 67 members – of which 48 are from within Asia and the Pacific and 19 outside.
- ADB raises funds through bond issues on the world’s capital markets.
- ADB also rely on its members’ contributions, retained earnings from its lending operations, and the repayment of loans.
- Japan holds the largest proportions of shares at 15.67%. The United States holds 15.56%, China holds 6.47%, India holds 6.36%, and Australia holds 5.81%.
Board of Governors:
- It is the highest policy-making body of the bank.
- It is composed of one representative from each member state.
- The Board of Governors also elect the bank’s President who is the chairperson of the Board of Directors and manages ADB.
- The Alternate Board of Governors are nominated by Board of Governors of ADB’s 67 to represent them at the Annual Meeting that meets formally once year to be held in a member country.
Functions of ADB:
- Provides loans and equity investments to its Developing Member Countries (DMCs)
- Provides technical assistance for the planning and execution of development projects and programs and for advisory services
- Promotes and facilitates investment of public and private capital for development
- Assists in coordinating development policies and plans of its DMCs
About Sone river:
- Sone River of central India is the Second largest of the Ganges’ southern tributaries after Yamuna River.
- It originates near Amarkantak in Madhya Pradesh, just east of the headwater of the Narmada River, and flows north-northwest through Madhya Pradesh state before turning sharply eastward where it encounters the southwest-northeast-Kaimur Range.
- The Sone parallels the Kaimur hills, flowing east-northeast through Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Bihar states to join the Ganges just west of Patna.
- Geologically, the lower valley of the Son is an extension of the Narmada Valley, and the Kaimur Range an extension of the Vindhya Range.
- Its main tributaries are the Rihand and the North Koel.
- Dehri on sone and Sonbhadra are the major cities situated on Sone River.
- Indrapuri Barrage and Bansagar Dam are built on river Sone.
Science & Technology
China successfully launches two satellites for Pakistan: PRSS-1 & PakTES-1A
China successfully launched Pakistan’s two remote sensing satellites PRSS-1 and PakTes-1A on board of Long March-2C rocket from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre.
- It was overall 279th mission for the Long March rocket series (mainly used to send satellites into low Earth or Sun-synchronous orbits) and first international commercial launch in nearly two decades after it carried Motorola’s Iridium satellites into orbit in 1999.
- It is China’s first optical remote sensing satellite sold to Pakistan.
- It can carry out day and night monitoring. It also has viewing capacity even in clouded conditions.
- It will be used for land and resources surveying, agriculture research, urban construction, monitoring of natural disasters and to provide remote sensing information for (CPEC) under China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
- It is China’s first optical remote sensing satellite sold to Pakistan and overall 17th satellite developed by China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) for an overseas buyer.
- It is Pakistan’s indigenously developed scientific experiment satellite developed by engineers from its space agency SUPARCO (Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission).
NASA’s GRACE-FO satellites power on their lasers to find each other in Earth orbit
NASA’s new climate-monitoring satellites are almost ready to keep an eye on our planet’s ice sheets, atmosphere and ocean levels.
- The twin Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) satellites switched on their lasers in search of one another for the first time.
- Those lasers will keep the satellites connected to each other while they orbit the Earth, tracking the changes in distance between them brought about by variations in our planet’s gravitational field.
- That data, in turn, will help scientists better understand and monitor the thinning of the ice sheets, rising sea levels and even the flow of magma underground.
About GRACE- FO mission:
- The Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-on (GRACE-FO) mission is a partnership between NASA and the German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ).
- GRACE-FO is a successor to the original GRACE mission, which began orbiting Earth on March 17, 2002.
- The GRACE missions measure variations in gravity over Earth’s surface, producing a new map of the gravity field every 30 days.
- GRACE-FO will carry on the extremely successful work of its predecessor while testing a new technology designed to dramatically improve the already remarkable precision of its measurement system.
- GRACE-FO will continue the work of tracking Earth’s water movement to monitor changes in underground water storage, the amount of water in large lakes and rivers, soil moisture, ice sheets and glaciers, and sea level caused by the addition of water to the ocean.
These discoveries provide a unique view of Earth’s climate and have far-reaching benefits to society and the world’s population.[Ref: The Hindu]
Key Facts for Prelims
World’s largest mobile manufacturing unit
- Samsung inaugurated what it calls the ‘world’s largest mobile factory’ in Noida, Uttar Pradesh.
- The new facility will help company to double its current manufacturing capacity for mobile phones.
- The facility will allow Samsung to make phones at a lower cost due to its scale when other phone making hubs such as China are getting more expensive.
- The factory is also expected to provide at least 1,000 more local jobs.
Scientists discover world’s oldest colours
- Scientists have discovered 1.1 billion-year-old bright pink pigments, extracted from rocks deep beneath the Sahara Desert in Africa.
- The discovery is the oldest colours in the geological record.
- The bright pink pigments are the molecular fossils of chlorophyll that were produced by ancient photosynthetic organisms inhabiting an ancient ocean that has long since vanished.
- The ancient pigment was extracted from marine black shales of the Taoudeni Basin in Mauritania, West Africa.
India to hold first ever India Tourism Mart
- India will organise its first-ever India Tourism Mart (ITM) for three days from September 16.
- The event will be organised by the Tourism Ministry, in partnership with the Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism and Hospitality (FAITH) with the support of States/UTs.
- It is expected to provide a platform for all stakeholders in the tourism and hospitality industry to interact and create business opportunities.
- Through ITM 2018, India can showcase its hidden destinations to the world, especially to emerging tourism markets like China, Latin America, and Japan etc.
First Indian to win gold in Gymnastics World Challenge Cup
- Dipa Karmakar became the first Indian gymnast to win gold at the FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Challenge Cup in Mersin, Turkey.
- This is Dipa’s first medal in a World Challenge Cup.