Polity & Governance
- Mission XI Million, the biggest school sports outreach programme in the country launched
- First-of-its-kind Braille atlas launched
- National Productivity Week 2017
- National Deworming Day
Defence & Security Issues
- Government to set up Defence Procurement Organisation
Art & Culture
- Haryana joins Rajasthan bid to get Akbar defeated at Haldighati
Science & Technology
- India ranks 43 out of 45 countries in USCC intellectual property index
Key Facts for Prelims
- Official mascot of FIFA U-17 World Cup ‘Kheleao’ unveiled
- Sudarsan Pattnaik creates Guinness World Record for making tallest sand castle
- Hunar Haat
Polity & Governance
Mission XI Million, the biggest school sports outreach programme in the country launched
With a vision of making football the sport of choice in India, Mission XI Million, the biggest school sport outreach programme was recently launched by the government.
- The Mission 11 million, a football initiative, is aimed towards taking the game to 12,000 schools in 37 cities across the country.
- A first of its kind, the programme will encourage children to play the game of football, gain healthy habits and learn important life lessons in teamwork and sportsman spirit.
- The approach is to work with school principals and sports teachers and encourage and incentivize them to make children play football games on regular basis.
- Designed with international sporting expertise, but keeping in mind the ground realities of our huge and varied country, it aims to instill the passion for football in 11 million children from every part of the country.
- Mission XI Million also equips parents and schools with the equipment and the knowledge about how to make regular play a reality for their wards.
- The program will be rolled out in every state of the country.
First-of-its-kind Braille atlas launched
The Ministry of Science and Technology has come up with a comprehensive Braille atlas to help the nearly 50 lakh visually-challenged people in the country, especially students.
- It is world’s first braille atlas for the visually impaired.
- The atlas has been developed in Hindi and English by the National Atlas and Thematic Mapping Organisation (NATMO), Kolkata.
- Each atlas, which will cost nearly ₹600, will include 20 maps on different themes — physical, socio-economic, river system, crop pattern, natural vegetation, cultural, metropolitan areas, and roads and railways.
- This is the first time that a comprehensive atlas has been prepared for the visually-challenged with attention to minute details.
- It was made using indigenously developed silk-screen painting technology.
- The atlas was awarded National award for S&T intervention in empowering the physically challenged by the Prime Minister in January, 2017 at the Indian Science Congress held in Tirupati.
The origin of the National Atlas Organisation dates back to the year 1956 when Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru approved its establishment. It was renamed as the NATMO National Atlas and Thematic Mapping Organisation (NATMO) in 1978.
- National Atlas and Thematic Mapping Organisation (NATMO) is the premier agency of applied Geo-Spatial technology and pioneer in Thematic Mapping and Atlas Cartography.
- It is under the administrative control of the Department of Science &Technology of the Government of India.
- Its headquarters is in the CGO building in Salt Lake, Calcutta.
- It is engaged in preparing different atlases, thematic maps and other documents on block level, district, state, national and many other monograms.
- Its thematic maps and data are used by the decision makers at districts and sub-divisions levels for implementing the developmental schemes as well as by the researchers, students and common people.
National Productivity Week 2017
Every year the ‘National Productivity Week’ is celebrated during 12th-18th February by the National Productivity Council.
- The theme chosen for this year’s observance is “From Waste to Profits-through Reduce, Recycle and Reuse”.
- During the week, Departmental Secretaries, PSU’s, Industry Associations, Autonomous Bodies, Universities, Local Productivity Councils & NPC Regional Directorates will actively organize workshops, essay/painting/slogan competitions, debates, training programs, etc. to spread the message of productivity amongst all stakeholders.
About National Productivity Council:
- National Productivity Council is an autonomous body under Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion, Ministry of Commerce & Industry.
- It was established on 12th February, 1958, with the objective of stimulating and promoting productivity and quality consciousness across all sectors in the country.
National Deworming Day
The National Deworming Day is observed every year on February 10 with main objective to combat parasitic worm infections among preschool and school-age children across India.
- This year it is third edition of the observance of this day after it was launched in 2015 by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW).
- The goal of the day is to deworm all preschool and school-age children between the ages of 1-19 years in order to improve their overall health, cognitive development, nutritional status and quality of life.
- On this day, Albendazole tablets are given to all targeted children.
- This year for the first time, deworming tablets were given to the private schools children also.
- It is the world’s largest deworming programme covering 340 million children under-19 years of age across 36 states/ UTs.
About National Deworming Programme:
- To combat Soil Transmitted Helminths (STH) infections, government has adopted a single day strategy called National Deworming Day (NDD).
- The programme is being implemented through the combined efforts of Department of School Education and Literacy under Ministry of Human Resource and Development, Ministry of Women and Child Development and Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation.
- During NDD single dose of Albendazole is administered to children from under 1 to 19 years of age group through the platforms of schools and aanganwadi centers.
- Albendazole is an extremely safe drug that has been used for decades by millions of people around the world and in India, with no or minimal side effects.
- Side effects such as nausea and vomiting can manifest in the children with high worm load.
What is Soil-Transmitted Helminths (STH)?
- Soil-Transmitted Helminths (STH) also known as parasitic worm is a type of helminth infection (helminthiasis) caused by different species of roundworms.
- Soil Transmitted Helminths (STH) interfere with nutrients uptake in children; can lead to anaemia, malnourishment and impaired mental and physical development.
- The situation of undernutrition and anaemia which is linked to STH ranges from 40% to 70% in different population groups across the country (WHO).
- They also pose a serious threat to children’s education and productivity later in life.
- India carries the highest burden of worm infestation and 64% of Indian population less than 14 years of age are at risk of Soil Transmitted Helminths (STH) or worms’ infestation (WHO).
Defence & Security Issues
Government to set up Defence Procurement Organisation
The government plans to set up a Defence Procurement Organisation (DPO) to integrate and streamline the long and arduous process of defence acquisitions.
- The DPO will be a vertical under the Defence Ministry and the philosophy is to integrate the processes.
- A government appointed committee, headed by former Director of Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Lucknow, Dr. Pritam Singh, has submitted a report on the modalities of setting up the DPO to Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar.
Need of DPO:
The Defence Procurement Process, which applies to all defence capital procurements, has been modified several times to bring in transparency and speed up acquisitions but it continues to be lengthy and complicated.
More financial powers:
In a related move to shorten the procurement cycle, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), chaired by the Prime Minister, has increased the financial powers of the Defence Minister.
- In the past, the Defence Minister was entitled to clear deals up to ₹500 crore, which has now gone up to ₹2,000 crore Jointly, the Finance Minister, the Defence Minister can approve projects up to ₹3,000 crore, up from the earlier ₹1,000 crore.
- The Defence Secretary too has now been given financial powers upto ₹500 crore to clear deals. This ensures that a major chunk of the procurements are approved within the Ministries.
- About 70% of the deals by number are below ₹3,000 crore. So now only deals of ₹3,000 crore and above would go to the CCS for approval.
Art & Culture
Haryana joins Rajasthan bid to get Akbar defeated at Haldighati
After attempts by ministers from Rajasthan to get history books rewritten in university courses to say that the battle of Haldighati was won by Maharana Pratap and not by Akbar, few legislators in neighbouring Haryana, too, are keen on amending chapters on this historical event.
What’s the issue all about?
- The ministers had proposed that textbooks be rewritten to say that the 1576 battle was won by Maharana Pratap.
- The popular view of historians is that the Mughal emperor’s forces had defeated the Rajput king.
- Now, some ministers claim that Akbar was only a foreign invader, and that Rana Pratap actually won the battle.
Satish Chandra’s views:
- Other authoritative texts on medieval history, such as Satish Chandra’s Medieval India: From Sultanat to the Mughals- Mughal Empire (1526-1748), say the Battle of Haldighati was fought between the forces of Akbar led by Man Singh and those of Maharana Pratap, assisted among others by “an Afghan contingent led by Hakim Sur which played a distinctive role”.
- The battle failed to break the stalemate between Akbar and Rana Pratap, with the latter retreating into the hills of southern Mewar.
- The author also notes that Akbar followed up the battle of Haldighati by coming back to Ajmer, and personally leading the campaign against Rana Pratap. In the process, Goganda, Udaipur and Kumbhalmir were occupied, forcing the Rana deeper into the mountainous tract of south Mewar.
Science & Technology
India ranks 43 out of 45 countries in USCC intellectual property index
In the latest 2017 edition of International Intellectual Property Index (IIPI) that evaluates the intellectual property (IP) environment in 45 countries, India figures in the 43rd place.
- For the fifth consecutive year, India continued its dismal run in the US Chamber international IP Index.
- The fifth annual index was released by US Chamber of Commerce’s Global Intellectual Property Centre (GIPC) in its report titled ‘The Roots of Innovation’.
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 U.S., the U.K., Germany, Japan, Sweden, France, Switzerland, Singapore, South Korea and Italy completed the top 10 ranks.
- Among the BRICS countries China was ranked 27th, South Africa (33rd), Brazil (32nd) and Russia (23rd).
- This year the index includes 90% of global gross domestic product (GDP) and seven new economies Egypt, Hungary, Kenya, Pakistan, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, and Spain were included.
- In this edition, India is just above Pakistan (44th) and Venezuela (45th).
- India scored a meagre 8.75 out of a total of 35 points, falling significantly behind the median score of 15.39. Besides, the average score of India’s regional neighbours was 17.64.
- This is for fifth consecutive year India has been ranked at the near bottom in the index. Last year, India was placed 37 out of 38 countries. India was ranked last or next-to-last in the previous four years.
- There was slight improvement in India’s overall scores in this edition mainly because of the inclusion of five new indicators in the index on which India performed very strong.
Challenges ahead for India:
- This year India has made some increment, but still has to do a lot more to build up a positive impression of its IPR policy with adequate legislative reforms required by innovators.
- In addition to its anaemic IPR policy, the report cited challenges with the scope of patentability for computer-implemented inventions, Section 3(D) of the Indian Patent Act, and the recent High Court of Delhi decision regarding photocopying copyrighted content.
- Also, according to the report, India’s key areas of weakness includes that
- Overall, National IPR Policy does not address fundamental weaknesses in India’s IP framework,
- Limited framework for protection of life sciences IP,
- Patentability requirements being outside international standards and
- Lengthy pre-grant opposition proceedings in place.
- Another of India’s weaknesses was also that it had “previously used compulsory licensing for commercial and nonemergency situations, limited participation in international IP treaties.”
Key Facts for Prelims
Official mascot of FIFA U-17 World Cup ‘Kheleao’ unveiled
- The official mascot ‘Kheleao’ of FIFA Under-17 World Cup tournament to be hosted in India was unveiled at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi.
- FIFA Under-17 World Cup will be hosted by India from October 6 to 28, 2017.
- Kheleao, a clouded leopard is an endangered wild cat whose habitat extends from the Himalayan foothills to mainland Southeast Asia.
Sudarsan Pattnaik creates Guinness World Record for making tallest sand castle
- Renowned Indian sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik creates Guinness World record with World’s tallest sand castle which is 48 ft 8 inch(14.84 mt) high sand castle at Puri beach of Odisha in India.
- Sudarsan break the record of 45ft. 10 inch sand castle which was created in USA.
- The second edition of the Hunar Haat was inaugurated by the Minority Affairs Ministry in New Delhi to encourage, promote and provide national and international market to master artisans and craftsmen belonging to minority communities.
- The theme of the event is ‘Crafts Aur Cuisine Ka Sangam’.
- “Hunar Haat” is being organized through National Minorities Development & Finance Corporation (NMDFC) under USTTAD (Upgrading the Skills & Training in Traditional Arts/Crafts for Development) scheme of Ministry of Minority Affairs.
- It will showcase crafts and traditional cuisines brought from different parts of the country.
- Around 100 artisans and 30 culinary experts from about 24 states/UTs are participating in it.