India-Norway Marine Pollution Initiative
Current Affair Analysis

12th February 2019 Current Affairs Analysis -IASToppers

‘India-Norway Marine Pollution’ Initiative; Marine Pollution; Blue Economy; Give it Up’ campaign;PAHAL-Direct Benefits Transfer for LPG (DBTL) Consumers Scheme; Maithili Language; What is Mithilakshar? “Light House Projects challenge”; “Global Housing Technology Challenge-India (GHTC- India)”; Defence Innovation Hubs (DIHs); What is Circular economy? National Productivity Council (NPC); Akshaya Patra; National Gas Grid; LAWASIA (The Law Association for The Asia and Pacific); African Union (AU); Egypt; 40th anniversary of Islamic revolution; ‘Sarthi Sandesh Vahini’; Vat Cau festival; ASCEND 2019; Chinook helicopters; etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
February 22, 2019

Contents

Polity & Governance

  • National Productivity Week

Government Schemes & Policies

  • Bill to counter exploitation by NRI spouses
  • Nearly 1.04 crore LPG consumers voluntarily surrender their LPG subsidy under ‘GiveItUp’ campaign
  • Constitutional and Legislative Measures to Protect and Safeguard Land Rights of Scheduled Tribes

Issues related to Health & Education

  • Rajasthan to scrap education criterion
  • PM Modi served 3 Billionth Akshay Patra Meal in Vrindavan

Economy

  • Status of National Gas Grid
  • “Light House Projects challenge” launched

Bilateral & International Relations

  • India and Norway launch initiative to combat Marine Pollution
  • Iran marks 40th anniversary of Islamic revolution
  • Egypt’s al- Sisi elected new chairperson of African Union
  • First LAWASIA Human Rights Conference

Defence & Security Issues

  • Defence Innovation Hubs

Art & Culture

  • Committee for the Promotion and Protection of Maithili Language and its scripts

Key Facts for Prelims

  • Abu Dhabi includes Hindi as third official court language
  • ‘Sarthi Sandesh Vahini’
  • Vat Cau festival
  • ASCEND 2019
  • Chinook helicopters

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Polity & Governance

National Productivity Week

National Productivity Council (NPC) observes 61st foundation day on 12th February as Productivity Day and the National Productivity Week from February 12-18, 2019. 

national productivity week 1

Theme of National Productivity week, 2019:

  • The theme of 2019 is “Circular Economy for Productivity & Sustainability”.
  • The theme represents a unique opportunity for circular business model for Make à Use à Return.
  • It presents an opportunity for long term economic prospects and regeneration of materials.
  • Through observation of this week, it aims at collaboration with business and policy makers so as Circular Economy opportunities can be highlighted.

What is Circular economy?

  • A circular economy is an economic system where products and services are traded in closed loops or ‘cycles’.
  • It is characterized as an economy which is regenerative by design, with the aim to retain as much value as possible of products, parts and materials.
  • The circular economy follows the principle of preservation and enhancement of natural capital by balancing renewable resource flows.
  • It suggest to optimize resources which yields by circulating products, components, and materials at their highest utility at all times.

Examples of circular economy:

  • Alaska Airlines converts its unwanted airline seats to handbags and purses.
  • Hewlett-Packard (HP), a software company, recovers plastic from used ink cartridges and toners and recycles it to produce new ink cartridges.

eco

Benefits of Circular economy:

  • Circular economy has the potential to increase productivity and create jobs, whilst reducing carbon emissions and preserving valuable raw materials.
  • It provides for a way of creating value.
  • It works by extending product life span through improved design and relocating waste from the end of the supply chain to the beginning – in effect, using resources more efficiently by using them over and over.

National Productivity Council (NPC):

  • NPC is national level organization an autonomous non-profit organization to promote productivity culture in India.
  • It is established in 1958 by Department for ‘Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DIPP)’, Ministry of Industry.
  • NPC is a constituent of the Tokyo-based Asian Productivity Organisation (APO), an Inter-Governmental Body, of which the Government of India is a founder member.

Objectives of NPC:

  • To create and develop productivity consciousness in the country.
  • To make arrangements for the training of managers at every level of management.
  • To undertake research with regard to various production processes.
  • To send delegations to developed countries to study information with regard to increased productivity.
  • To import various productivity services with a view to having maximum utilisation of available resources
  • To conduct various seminars on different subjects to improve productivity.

Training and Programmes under NPC:

  • Ambedkar Institute of Productivity (AIP) is the long term training wing of the National Productivity Council (NPC), located in Chennai, Tamilnadu.
  • CETEE (Centre for Excellence in Training for Energy Efficiency) is the culmination of Indo-Japanese Governmental Co-operation and has been implemented with the assistance of Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), and New Energy Development Organization (NEDO), Govt. of japan.
[Ref: PIB]

 

Government Schemes & Policies

Bill to counter exploitation by NRI spouses

In a bid to counter growing incidents of exploitation of Indian women by NRI (Non Resident Indian) spouses, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj introduced a Bill in the Rajya Sabha.

Registration of Marriage of NRI Bill, 2019

Need of such bill:

  • The Ministry of External Affairs introduced the Bill due to numerous complaints received from Indian nationals, mostly women deserted or harassed by their Non-Resident Indian spouses.
  • The Bill will create accountability and protect those who are trapped in fraudulent marriages and are abandoned by their spouses.

Features of the Bill:

  • According to the new Bill, a marriage between an NRI and an Indian citizen will have to be registered within 30 days from the date of marriage.
  • Necessary legal provisions have been created in the criminal code and the Passports Act, 1967, to initiate action against erring NRI spouses.

Objective:

  • Aim of the bill is to prevent victimisation of Indian nationals in fraudulent marriages.
  • It is expected that the Bill will serve as a deterrent for NRI spouses, who use marriages as a tool of exploitation.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Nearly 1.04 crore LPG consumers voluntarily surrender their LPG subsidy under ‘GiveItUp’ campaign

The number of households that have voluntarily given up their LPG subsidy crossed one crore stimulating ‘Ujjwala’ scheme to provide gas connections free of cost to Below Poverty line (BPL) women.

‘GiveItUp’ campaign 1

About the Give it Up’ campaign:

  • Prime minister of India had launched the ‘Give It Up’ campaign in March, 2015.
  • ‘Give it Up’ scheme encourages well-to-do households to voluntarily give up their liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) subsidy so that it could be targeted to the poor who remain reliant on polluting cooking fuels such as wood, dung, crop residues and coal.
  • The money surrendered under this movement will be utlised for poor to get LPG connection in rural as well as in urban areas who are still using firewood for cooking.

Background:

  • While inaugurating ‘Urja Sangam’, a global energy meet, Prime Minister appealed economically well-off people to voluntarily surrender subsidy and promised to give back LPG connections to poor households.
  • Domestic LPG prices are revised every month in line with international price of LPG with corresponding revision in monthly LPG subsidy under Pratyaksha Hastaantarit Laabh (PAHAL) scheme.

PAHAL-Direct Benefits Transfer for LPG (DBTL) Consumers Scheme:

  • The scheme was launched as Direct Benefit Transfer Scheme for LPG subsidy in 2013 under the aegis of Union Ministry of Petroleum and natural Gas.
  • This scheme has been acknowledged as the world’s largest cash transfer program (households) by the Guinness Book of World Records.
  • The scheme aimed at providing subsidized liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cylinders at market rates and grant LPG subsidy direct into customer’s bank accounts.
  • It required the consumer to mandatorily have an Aadhaar number for taking LPG Subsidy.

Salient Features:

  • Avoidance of multiple pricing of LPG
  • One-time advance will be transferred to the bank account of a customer before they buy their first cylinder
  • Subsidy is based on the number of subsidized cylinders an individual is entitled to in a given year.
  • Individuals who do not require the subsidy amount can choose to voluntarily give it up.
  • Provision for SMS updates regarding the scheme notifications
  • Prevention of the sale of unauthorized cylinders, subsequently reducing black market deals.
  • Elimination of Multiple gas connections
  • Elimination of intermediaries benefiting Consumers and oil companies
  • Aiding agencies will keep a track of their consumers
  • Pushing the country towards a cashless economy by motivating people into opening bank accounts as who do not have a bank account cannot utilise the scheme.
[Ref: PIB]

 

Constitutional and Legislative Measures to Protect and Safeguard Land Rights of Scheduled Tribes

To protect and safeguarding the land rights and other rights of Scheduled Tribes, several constitutional and legislative measure have taken.

National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) 1

Below are the preventive steps taken to safeguard minority’s rights:

  • The Scheduled Tribes (STs) and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (OTFDs) (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006” to recognize and vest the forest rights and occupation in forest land to forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes.
  • Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013” (RFCTLARR Act, 2013 in short) safeguards against displacement of Scheduled Tribes. Special provisions have been made for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes under Sections 41 and 42 of the RFCTLARR Act, 2013 which protect their interests.
  • The Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996”, also provides that the Gram Sabha or the Panchayats shall be consulted before making the acquisition of land in the Scheduled Areas and before resettling persons affected by such projects in the Scheduled Areas. The actual planning and implementation of the projects in the Scheduled Areas shall be coordinated at the State Level.
  • Constitutional provisions under Schedule – V also provide for safeguards against displacement of tribal population because of land acquisitions etc. The Governor of the State, having scheduled Areas, is empowered to prohibit transfer of land from tribal and regulate the allotment of land to members of the Scheduled Tribes. Land being a State subject, various provisions of rehabilitation and resettlement as per the RFCTLARR Act, 2013 are implemented by the concerned State Governments.
  • The Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987” provides for legal services to members of Scheduled Tribes.
  • The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989” has been introduced to prevent the commission of offences of atrocities against members of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, to provide for the trial of such offences and for the relief of rehabilitation of the victims. Wrongfully dispossessing members of Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes from their land or premises or interfering with the enjoyment of their rights, including forest rights, over any land or premises or water or irrigation facilities or destroying the crops or taking away the produce there from amount to atrocities and are subject to punishment under the said Act.

Rights and Safeguards Provided to the Minorities:

  • Constitution of India doesn’t define the word ‘Minority’ but has used the word minorities considering two attributes: religion or language of a person.
  • To provide enough equality, the authors of Indian constitution have defined diverse protection in Fundamental Rights (Part III), Directive Principles of State policy (Part IV) and also in the Fundamental Duties (Part IV-A).
  • Five religious   communities: Muslims,   Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Zoroastrians (Parsis)   have   been   notified   as   minority communities by the Union Government.
  • On Jan 2014, Jains have also been notified as minority community.
  • The Union Government set up the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) under the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992.
[Ref: PIB]

 

Issues related to Health & Education

Rajasthan to scrap education criterion

The Rajasthan Assembly has passed two Bills which seek to end the minimum education criterion for panchayat and civic poll candidates:

  • Rajasthan Panchayati Raj (Amendment) Bill, 2019
  • Rajasthan Municipality (Amendment) Bill, 2019.

Rajasthan to scrap education criterion

Background:

  • The education criteria was introduced by the previous government, which stipulated that for contesting the zila parishad or panchayat samiti polls, a contestant must have a minimum qualification of secondary education (Class X).
  • To contest the sarpanch elections, an aspirant from the general category must have passed Class VIII and a SC/ST aspirant must have passed Class V.

Why has education criterion been scrapped?

  • Few experts are of the opinion that the requirement of minimum qualification for contesting elections is against the very spirit of 73rd and 74th amendments.
  • It also violates the right of every citizen to vote and to contest elections, which form the basic structure of the constitution.
  • It may be noted here that due to these restrictions, many able candidates were debarred from contesting elections. In one way, it can be said that this law has prevented many people from coming to the mainstream.

Supreme Court’s stand:

  • Even Haryana had passed a similar law mandating minimum education qualification for those contesting in Panchayat Raj Institutions. The constitutional validity of this law of Haryana was questioned in the Supreme Court.
  • The Supreme Court had upheld the constitutional validity of the law enacted by Haryana government to bar the illiterate from contesting panchayat polls in the state. The Supreme Court had ruled that “it is only education which gives a human being the power to discriminate between right and wrong, good and bad”.
  • The Supreme Court’s interpretation is based on the fact that uneducated or illiterate people getting elected to the local bodies can easily be misled by officials if they don’t know to write and read. In such cases, administrative actions that they are going can pose many challenges.
  • The Court has further observed that it is only the education which can give people the power to differentiate between right and wrong, and good and bad.

Key facts:

  • Literacy rate in Rajasthan has seen upward trend and is 66.11 percent as per 2011 population census.
  • Of that, male literacy stands at 79.19 percent while female literacy is at 52.12 percent.
  • In 2001, literacy rate in Rajasthan stood at 60.41 percent.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

PM Modi served 3 Billionth Akshay Patra Meal in Vrindavan

Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Vrindavan and served food to underprivileged school children at Akshaya Patra Foundation.

Akshaya Patra Foundation 1

  • Akshaya Patra was funded by International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON).
  • PM Modi also unveiled a ceremonial plaque to mark the serving of “3rd billionth meal” by Akshaya Patra Foundation at Vrindavan Chandrodaya Mandir campus.

Akshaya Patra:

11111

 

 

  • Akshaya Patra is a Bengaluru-based not-for-profit organisation that works with the government on mid-day meal schemes.
  • The organisation implements the Mid-Day meal scheme in the government schools and government aided schools.
  • Since 2000 Akshaya Patra has been concerting all its efforts towards providing fresh and nutritious meals to children.
  • Akshaya Patra aims at countering malnutrition and supporting the right to education to socio-economically disadvantaged children.
  • The Foundation works closely with the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) and State Government since 2003.
  • Today, Akshaya Patra is the world’s largest (not-for-profit run) Mid-Day Meal Programme serving wholesome food every school day to over 1.76 million children from 14,702 schools across 12 states in India. It has 40 kitchens spread across 12 states in India.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Economy

Status of National Gas Grid

The Union Government has envisaged the development of the National Gas Grid.

National Gas Grid 1

About National Gas Grid:

Objectives:

  • To remove regional imbalance within the country with regard to access for natural gas and provide clean and green fuel throughout the country.
  • To connect gas sources to major demand centres and ensure availability of gas to consumers in various sectors.
  • Development of City Gas Distribution Networks in various cities for the supply of CNG and PNG.

Significance:

  • The National Gas Grid together with providing gas connections to households will provide better infrastructure for automobiles using gas.
  • The National Gas Grid will also aid in renewing of the fertilizer sector and also give a boost to the Power and Automotive sector.
[Ref: PIB]

 

“Light House Projects challenge” launched

The Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs has instituted a challenge for States/ UTs to select six sites across the country for constructing the Lighthouse projects under Global Housing technology Challenge (GHTC) – India.  

“Light House Projects challenge”

About the Light House challenge:

  • The States/ UTs will receive Central Assistance to construct these projects as per ‘Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban)’ (PMAY (U)) guidelines.
  • The winning six States/ UTs that score the highest marks across the prescribed criteria will be awarded lighthouse projects.
  • In addition to this, a Technology Innovation Grant (TIG) for the States/ UTs is provisioned to offset the impact of any additional cost implication due to the use of new technology.
  • The selected sites for lighthouse projects will be used as an ‘open laboratory’ for live demonstration and will receive due attention from academia (Civil Engineering, Planning, and Architecture), practitioners, policy makers and media.

Funding for Light house projects:

  • Central Assistance: INR 1.50 lakh per dwelling unit from MoHUA
  • TIG: Up to Rs. 2.00 lakh per dwelling unit or 20% of the estimated cost per dwelling unit, whichever is less.

“Global Housing Technology Challenge-India (GHTC- India)”:

IMG_3149

  • The Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs launched a Global Housing Technology Challenge-India (GHTC- India) in January, 2019 aimed at introducing best technologies that seek to build houses in a shorter period of time with lower cost.

Components of GHTC-India:

  1. Conduct of Grand Expo-cum-Conference
  2. Identifying Proven Demonstrable Technologies from across the globe
  3. Promoting Potential Technologies through the establishment of Affordable Sustainable Housing Accelerators- India (ASHA-I) for incubation and accelerator support.
  • The shortlisted global technology providers will be invited to plan and construct light house projects within the framework of PMAY (U) on pre-selected sites provided by States/UTs across six identified PMAY.

Why GHTC-India is being conducted?

  • There is felt need to bring about a paradigm shift in the housing construction sector in India with an alternate technology transition that can facilitate construction of houses in a faster and cost-effective manner while meeting environmental, economic and social standards.
  • Under Technology Sub-Mission of the PMAY(U), various State Governments are already using alternate construction technologies in construction of about 1.2 million houses.
  • GHTC-India will leverage these successes and expand the scope of technology transition to reach the full spectrum of stakeholders in housing sector in India and beyond.
  • Bloomberg Philanthropies (BP) is strategic partner.
  • Collaborators such as Indian Institute of Technologies (IITs), National Institute of Technologies (NITs), National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Confederation of India Industries (CII), International Finance Corporation-World Bank Group etc. willing to associate in GHTC- India.

Who are the Knowledge partners of GHTC-India?

  • World Resource Institute (WRI), India
  • National Real Estate Development Council (NAREDCO)
[Ref: PIB]

 

Bilateral & International Relations

India and Norway launch initiative to combat Marine Pollution

In an effort to fight against marine pollution, India signed a letter of intent with the Norwegian government establishing the ‘India-Norway Marine Pollution’ Initiative.

India-Norway Marine Pollution Initiative

  • The letter was signed by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC).

Background:

  • In January, 2019 the Indian and Norwegian governments agreed to work more closely on oceans by signing a Memorandum of understanding (MoU) and establishing the India-Norway Ocean Dialogue.
  • A ‘Joint Task Force’ on Blue Economy was established to develop sustainable solutions within strategic areas of the blue economy.

Significance of Initiative:

  • Both the governments launched the first Joint initiative under this new partnership.
  • This will combat marine pollution, which is one of the fastest growing environmental concerns.
  • In partnership, Norway and India will share experiences and competence, and collaborate on efforts to develop clean and healthy oceans, sustainable use of ocean resources and growth in the blue economy.

Objective of Initiative:

 

  • To support local governments in implementing sustainable waste management practices
  • Develop systems for collecting and analysing information about sources
  • Improve private sector investment
  • Increase Beach clean-up efforts
  • Pilot projects using plastic waste as fuel substitution for coal in cement production
  • Awareness raising campaigns

What is Marine pollution?

  • Marine pollution is a major threat to any organism living in or depending upon the ocean.
  • It occurs when harmful effects result from the entry of chemicals, particles, industrial/agricultural waste, noise, or the spread of invasive organisms into the ocean.

Types of Marine Pollution:

Eutrophication

  • In case of an excess of chemical nutrients (primarily nitrates and phosphates) in the water, eutrophication/nutrient pollution occurs.
  • It decreases the level of oxygen and makes the water inhabitable for fish.
  • Eutrophication also alters the breeding process of marine life and expands the primary productivity of the marine ecosystem to great extent.

Plastic Debris

  • Plastic coming from various sources can pose a serious threat to marine fauna who can die by ingestion and suffocation.
  • Plastic fishing nets are known to kill thousands of fishes in the oceans every year.
  • Entering plastic in Human body via food chain can have disastrous effects on the health of people.

Toxins

  • Toxins called persistent toxins can enter the body of marine animals accumulating in their tissue via bioaccumulation.
  • Examples of such toxins are pesticides, DDT, phenols, heavy metals, PCBs, etc.
  • The toxins biomagnifies at each higher level in the food chain.
  • Humans being at the top of many marine food chain are the receivers of large quantities of biomagnified toxins from seafood.

Noise

  • Some of the Marine species rely heavily on their sense of hearing.
  • However, human activities generate unnecessary noise in the marine ecosystem which is detrimental to aquatic life.
  • The source of noise can be passing of ships, seismic surveys, oil exploration surveys, etc.

Acidification

  • Oceans act as a natural reservoir for absorbing the carbon dioxide from the Earth’s atmosphere.
  • However, due to rising level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the oceans are becoming more acidic.
  • It might lead to dissolution of calcium carbonate structures which can affect the shell formation in shellfish and also the corals.

Effects of Marine Pollution

India-Norway Marine Pollution Initiative 1

  • It stimulates the growth of algae due to excess nutrients.
  • In the ocean food chains, toxins get concentrated upward which makes estuaries anoxic as many particles combine chemically depletive of oxygen.
  • When the marine ecosystem absorbs the harmful material, they are incorporated into the food webs of the marine ecosystem.
  • After getting dissolved in the marine food webs, these harmful pesticides cause mutations, and also results in diseases.
  • When toxic metals are dumped into the oceans through drains, it engulfs within the marine food webs.
  • It affects the biochemistry and reproduction process of entire food chain relying on aquatic life.

The International Conventions Dealing with Marine Pollution:

  • United Nations Convention on the Law of Sea (UNCLOS), 1982.
  • Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), 1992
  • United Nations Environmental Programme Goals and Principles of Environmental Impact Assessment (UNEP EIA Principles), 1987
  • Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty (Madrid Protocol), 1991
  • Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Trans-Boundary Context (Espoo Convention), 1991
  • Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters. (Aarhus Convention), 1998

Convention to which India is a signatory:

  • United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)
  • Basel Convention ,1992: monitoring of hazardous waste.
  • Ocean Policy Statement: Development of ocean
  • Convention on Migratory species: protection to many aquatic spices
  • International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL 73/78): Disposal of ship-based wastes.

What is Blue Economy?

  • The Blue Economy encompasses various traditional marine sectors such as fisheries and aquaculture, shipping, port infrastructure, ship building and repair, island development, seabed exploration, hydrocarbon extraction and marine tourism industry.

There are also many emerging sectors such as marine renewable energy, deep seabed mining, salt water desalination, marine bio-technology and provisioning specialized Information and Communications Technologies services for the marine industry.

How can we harness the potential of the blue economy?

  • In order to fully harness the potential of the blue economy, India needs to envision the seas and oceans as development spaces.
  • This involves an integrated approach towards oceanic resources comprising marine spatial planning and integrated coastal zone management.
[Ref: PIB, Times of India]

 

Iran marks 40th anniversary of Islamic revolution

Iranians have taken to the streets across the country to mark the 40th anniversary of the 1979 revolution.

40th anniversary of Iran revolution

About the Iranian Revolution:

  • Iranian Revolution, also known as Islamic Revolution or the 1979 Revolution, was a series of events involving the overthrow of the monarch of Iran, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, and replacing his government with an Islamic republic under the Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, a leader of one of the factions in the revolt.
  • The reason for the revolution was to stop the oppression under the western secular policies.
  • The movement against the United States-backed monarchy was supported by various leftist and Islamist organizations and student movements.

Outcome of the revolution:

  • A multiclass opposition overthrew an autocratic ruler, leading to the establishment of a theocratic state.
  • This outcome contrasts sharply with other modern revolutionary movements, which have been fought in the name of nationalism or socialism and which have concluded with the transfer of power to a secular, modernizing intelligentsia.
[Ref: The Hindu, Aljazeera]

 

Egypt’s al- Sisi elected new chairperson of African Union

Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has been elected chairperson of the African Union at the continental body’s summit in Ethopia.

African Union 2

  • Egyptian leaders have been absent from African Union meetings since 1995 when an assassination attempt was made on the life of former leader Hosni Mubarak.
  • Al-Sisi’s election brought to an end the one-year chairmanship of Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame.

African Union (AU):

  • The African Union (AU) is a continental union consisting of 55 countries of the continent of Africa.
  • The bloc was founded on 26 May 2001 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and launched on 9 July 2002 in South Africa.
  • Headquarter of the AU is in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
  • The most important decisions of the AU are made by the Assembly of the African Union.
  • They have adopted a gold, green and red based emblem and flag to represent the continental union.
  • Parent organisations of the AU are Organisation of African Unity, African Economic Community.

 Objectives of the AU:

  • To achieve greater unity, cohesion and solidarity between the African countries and African nations.
  • To accelerate the political and social-economic integration of the continent.
  • To promote democratic principles and institutions, popular participation and good governance.

Members:

  • All UN member states based in Africa and on African waters are members of the AU.

Location of Egypt:

cruise-egypt-road-map

  • Egypt is a country spanning the northeast corner of Africa and southwest corner of Asia by a land bridge formed by the Sinai Peninsula.
  • Egypt is a Mediterranean country bordered by the Gaza Strip and Israel to the northeast, the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea to the east, Sudan to the south, and Libya to the west.
  • Across the Gulf of Aqaba lies Jordan, across the Red Sea lies Saudi Arabia, and across the Mediterranean lie Greece, Turkey and Cyprus, although none share a land border with Egypt.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

First LAWASIA Human Rights Conference

The first LAWASIA Human Rights Conference was organised by LAWASIA, in association with the Bar Association of India recently.

LAWASIA

  • The conference aims to provide a unique opportunity for lawyers and associated professional members to exchange insights and expertise on topics of significant importance to all.
  • Theme: “State Power, Business and Human Rights: Contemporary Challenges”.
  • The conference explored a wide range of human rights issues of relevance in the Asia Pacific region.

About LAWASIA (The Law Association for The Asia and Pacific):

  • LAWASIA is a regional association of lawyers, judges, jurists and legal organisations, which advocates for the interests and concerns of the Asia Pacific legal profession.

Mission:

  • To encourage and facilitate regional interaction at all levels amongst law associations, judges, lawyers and others involved in the legal community.
  • To provide an established voicefor the interests of the legal community in Asia and the Pacific.
  • promote the rule of law, respect for human rights and high standards of legal practice.

Structure and Organisation:

  • LAWASIA’s governing body, the LAWASIA Council, is composed of representatives from peak legal bodies within the United Nations ESCAP (Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific region).
  • Its policies and agenda are informed by, and directly address, issues confronting the legal profession throughout the Asia Pacific.
  • In addition to the bodies represented on its Council, LAWASIA has individual, organisational, law firm and corporate members drawn from over 40 jurisdictions.
  • Every member has the opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to LAWASIA’s activities by participating in one or more of its Sections and Committees.
[Ref: Times of India]

 

Defence & Security Issues

Defence Innovation Hubs

The Defence Innovation Organisation set up under iDEX has announced setting up of two DIHs in Tamil Nadu (Coimbatore) and Maharashtra (Nashik).

Defence Innovation Hubs (DIHs) current affairs

Objective of Defence Innovation Hubs (DIHs):

  • The Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) framework of the Government envisages setting up and managing independent Defence Innovation Hubs (DIHs)
  • These DIHs will serve as platforms where innovators can get information about needs and feedback from the Services directly and create solutions for India’s major defence platforms. 

Minimum criterion for setting up Defence Innovation Hubs:

 

Any Central Government recognized Incubator including (but not limited to):

  • Department of Science and Technology (DST) recognized Incubators
  • Atal Innovation Mission, NITIAayog created Atal Incubation Centers (AICs) and Established Incubation Centers (EICs)
  • Ministry of MSME recognized incubators
  • The incubator located in districts mentioned in the list of SME clusters hosted by the Ministry of MSME in collaboration with United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)
  • Incubator / Hub promoted by local industry associations
  • Any other incubator recognized through any Central government scheme
[Ref: PIB]

 

Art & Culture

Committee for the Promotion and Protection of Maithili Language and its scripts

Due to the Lack of using Mithilakshar script which became a reason for the language’s decline, Government is taking some of the measures recommended to protect this language.

Promotion and Protection of Maithili Language and its scripts

  • The Committee has submitted its report to MHRD in which it has made several recommendations for promotion and protection of Maithili language.
  • The Ministry of Human Resource Development constituted this Committee in the year 2018 for making a report for the Promotion and Protection of Maithili Language and its scripts.

Recommendations of the committee:

  • To establish a Script and Manuscript Centre at Darbhanga in any one of the Universities viz. Kameshwar Singh Sanskrit University or Lalit Narayan Mithila Unviersity.
  • Early completion of the work pertaining to Unicode Scripts of Mithilakshar by Technology Development of Indian Languages (TDIL)
  • To prepare audio-visual teaching materials for teaching the Mithilakshar scripts.

What is Mithilakshar?

  • Mithilakshar or Tirhuta is the script of broader cultural Mithila.
  • Mithilakshar had come to its current shape by 10th Century AD.
  • The oldest form of Mithilakshar is found in the Sahodara stone inscriptions of 950 AD.
  • Afterwards, the scripts has been used throughout Mithila from Champaran to Deoghar.
  • The scripts of Mithilaksar, Bangla, Assamese, Nebari, Odia and Tibetan are part of the family.
  • It is an extremely ancient script and is one of the script of the broader North Eastern India.

History of Maithili:

  • Maithili is a Bihari language of the eastern sub-group of the Indo-Aryan branch.
  • Bhojpuri and Magadhi are closely related to the language.
  • The language is claimed to have developed from the Magadhan Prakrit.
  • It was the literary language of all of eastern India during the medieval period.
  • This language was popularised in fourteenth century by poet Vidyapati and solidified the importance of the language in literature.

Why was Maithili culture declining?

  • Use of this script has been on decline since last 100 years.
  • Because its own script is not being used, the Maithili language is getting developed in a composite manner despite having been accorded a constitutional status in the constitution.
[Ref: PIB]

 

Key Facts for Prelims 

Abu Dhabi includes Hindi as third official court language

  • Abu Dhabi has included Hindi as the third official language used in its courts, alongside Arabic and English, as part of a move designed to improve access to justice.

Abu Dhabi includes Hindi as third official court language

Aim:

  • This is aimed at helping Hindi speakers to learn about litigation procedures, their rights and duties without a language barrier.

Key facts:

  • The Indian community in the UAE, numbering 2.6 million, constitutes 30% of the total population and is the largest expatriate community.

 

‘Sarthi Sandesh Vahini’

Sarthi Sandesh Vahini 1

  • Uttar Pradesh has launched ‘Sarthi Sandesh Vahini’ mission.
  • The ‘Sarthi Sandesh Vahini’ is a mission started by the state family welfare department with an aim to spread awareness regarding family planning in urban and rural areas.
  • Under this campaign, vehicles will provide family planning information to the viewers through various documentaries and films.

 

Vat Cau festival

News- Vat Cau festival

  • Vat Cau is a centuries-old sport which began as a training exercise for soldiers in Vietnam and contains elements of wrestling and rugby.
  • Vat Cau is the main draw of a three-day annual festival held during Vietnam’s much celebrated Tet Lunar New Year.
  • Dating back to the 11th century, the game was invented by a revered general to teach his recruits about the importance of teamwork, intelligence and strength when fighting against foreign invaders.
  • A single match has four separate teams of eight men wearing waist straps of different colours. They tussle over a 17kg (37-pound) ball made from the wood of a jackfruit tree, laboriously inching it towards one of the holes dug in each team’s corner.

 

ASCEND 2019

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  • It is an ambitious initiative of the Kerala government to position the state as an investment hotspot.
  • It aims to make Kerala a top investment destination and empower entrepreneurs to launch their enterprises in a speedy and hassle-free manner.
  • At this event, K-SWIFT (Kerala Single Window Interface for Fast, Transparent Clearances) was also displayed. KSWIFT is an online clearance mechanism designed by the Kerala government to simplify and speed up the issuance of clearances from Departments / Agencies for launching enterprises in the state.

 

Chinook helicopters

chilllook helicopeter

  • Recently, the first batch of four Chinook military helicopters manufactured by the American aerospace major Boeing has arrived at the Mundra port in Gujarat.
  • Chinook is a multi-role, vertical-lift platform, which is used for transporting troops, artillery, equipment and fuel.
  • It would be deployed for humanitarian and disaster relief operations and in missions such as transportation of relief supplies and mass evacuation of refugees.

 

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