Polity & Governance
- Govt announces steps to curb online child sexual abuse
- Northern Zonal Council meeting
- UPSC to share competitive exams scores online to boost hiring
- New series WPI, IIP released with base year 2011-12
Environment & Ecology
- Officials from Arctic nations to meet amid drilling concerns
Bilateral & International Relations
- India-UK agree on MoU in urban transport sector
Defence & Security Issues
- Army brings back CASO as part of counter-terror operations in Kashmir
Key Facts for Prelims
- Florence Nightingale Awards
- Derby Air-to-Air Beyond Visual Range Missile
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Polity & Governance
Govt announces steps to curb online child sexual abuse
To curb the menace of Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM), the government announced immediate measures.
- These measures have been taken on the basis of consultations of an inter-ministerial committee that includes Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY), Ministry of Law, Ministry of External Affairs and the Department of Telecom.
- The Ministry of Women and Child Development has been making several efforts to deal with the problem of online Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM).
- In a major step, a stakeholder Consultation was held last year on this issue wherein it was decided that the Ministry will establish a National Alliance against Online Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation, focusing primarily on the online content.
- Subsequent to this decision, the inter-ministerial committee was constituted on request of the WCD Ministry, subsequent to its last year’s decision of establishing a national alliance against online exploitation.
What are the interim measures?
- These interim measures were taken by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) in collaboration with Ministry of Women and Child Development.
- Under the interim measures, the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will be required to adopt and implement the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) Resources by 31st July.
- The IWF maintains a dynamic global list of websites and URLs, which contain CSAM. The implementation of IWF Resources will result in the relevant content being blocked/removed on an ongoing basis.
Northern Zonal Council meeting
The 28th meeting of the Northern Zonal Council was recently held at Chandigarh under the Chairmanship of Shri Rajnath Singh, Union Home Minister.
What was discussed?
- The Zonal Council discussed and deliberated upon 18 items of common interest among the member states.
- The major items discussed were ‘Need for fiscal and infrastructural harmony in Northern States; Joint efforts for export of fruits, flowers and vegetables from the States; Sharing of Water of various rivers of the region and also hydropower among States.
About the Zonal Councils:
Zonal Councils are advisory councils and are made up of the states of India have been grouped into six zones to foster cooperation among them. They are:
- Northern Zonal Council
- North-Central Zonal Council
- North-Eastern Zonal Council
- Eastern Zonal Council
- Western Zonal Council
- Southern Zonal Council
- Five Zonal Councils were set up vide Part-III of the States Reorganisation Act, 1956.
- The North Eastern States’ special problems are addressed by another statutory body – The North Eastern Council, created by the North Eastern Council Act, 1971.
- The Zonal Councils are mandated to discuss and make recommendations on any matter of common interest in the field of economic and social planning, border disputes, linguistic minorities or inter-State transport etc.
- They are regional fora of cooperative endeavour for States linked with each other economically, politically and culturally.
- Being compact high level bodies, specially meant for looking after the interests of respective Zones, they are capable of focusing attention on specific issues taking into account regional factors, while keeping the national perspective in view.
Northern Zonal Council consists of the States of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan, National Capital Territory of Delhi and Union Territory of Chandigarh.[Ref: PIB]
UPSC to share competitive exams scores online to boost hiring
In a first, the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) has decided to share online scores of candidates taking competitive exams.
- This is part of the government’s proposal to boost hiring by the private sector.
About the initiative:
- The Commission has decided to disclose information like marks obtained and educational qualifications of candidates who appeared in the final stage of examination (interview) but were “not recommended”.
- These details will be linked to the Integrated Information System for Public Recruitment Agencies — a dedicated website being developed by the National Informatics Centre (NIC).
- UPSC will be making a provision in the application form so candidates can either opt in or out of the disclosure scheme.
- Candidates taking tests for recruitment to the armed forces and those applying for limited departmental competitive examinations and the Central Industrial Security Force will not be covered under the disclosure scheme.
- The publicly available scores will act as a useful database to other employers to enable them to identify good, employable candidates
- Last year, NITI Aayog had recommended to the government to disclose scores and ranking of candidates in recruitment examinations to boost job opportunities for the unemployed.
- Similar idea was mooted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in March last year to help the prospective employers to choose quality talent.
- The results of the government conducted entrance examinations for engineering and medical streams are already being utilized by private colleges for admission purposes.
New series WPI, IIP released with base year 2011-12
The government has released the new series of Index of Industrial Production (IIP) and the Wholesale Price Index (WPI) with new base year of 2011-12, a long pending demand of the economists and experts.
- The Central Statistics Office (CSO), Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, revises the base year of the macroeconomic indicators.
- Revisions is done as a regular exercise, to capture structural changes in the economy and improve the quality and representativeness of the indices.
- Revisions in the IIP are necessitated to maintain representativeness of the items and producing entities and also address issues relating to continuous flow of production data. In the past, such changes were effected at the time of a revision in the base year.
- Instead of the earlier 2004-05, base year for the IIP and the WPI will be 2011-12. Already, the Consumer Price Index (CPI), the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and gross value addition etc., have 2011-12 as the base year. The common base year of 2011-12 is aimed at reducing discrepancies.
What is Index of Industrial Production (IIP)?
- Index of Industrial Production (IIP) is an index which helps us understand the growth of various sectors in the Indian economy such as mining, electricity and manufacturing.
- IIP is a short term indicator of industrial growth till the results from Annual Survey of Industries (ASI) and National Accounts Statistics are available.
- IIP is released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) of the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.
- IIP is published monthly, six weeks after the reference month ends.
New series of IIP:
- The new series of IIP will include 809 manufacturing products and 55 mining products that are re-grouped into 521 item groups.
- The new series of IIP will include technology items like smart phones, tablets, LED television etc.
- A technical review committee has also been established to identify new items by ensuring that the series remains relevant. The committee is slated to meet at least once a year.
- In the new series, there has been an increase in number of factories in panel for reporting data and closed ones have been removed.
- The number of source agencies reporting data for compilation of IIP in the new series will be 14 as compared to 15 in the current series. This is on account of the fact that data on ‘Iodised Salt’ in the new series will be provided by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP).
- The electricity sector now includes data from renewable energy sources.
- The coverage of the mining sector has undergone a change on account of the MCDR Amendment Rules, 2016.
What is Wholesale Price Index (WPI)?
- Wholesale Price Index (WPI) is a price index which represents the wholesale price of a basket of goods over time. In simple words, WPI is an indicator of price changes in the wholesale market.
- WPI measures the changes in the prices charged by manufacturers and wholesalers. WPI measure the changes in commodity prices at selected stages before goods reach to the retail level.
- In several countries such as India, it is used to measure the inflation and the change in the average price level of goods traded in wholesale market.
- It is released on a weekly basis to measure the change in the wholesale price of a set of goods.
- WPI is published by the Economic Adviser in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
New series of WPI:
- The number of items covered in the new series of the WPI has increased from 676 to 697. Overall, 199 new items have been added and 146 old items have been dropped.
- Under the primary articles, new vegetables and fruits like radish, carrot, cucumber, bitter gourd, mosambi (sweet lime), pomegranate, jackfruit, and pear have been added.
- Under the mineral group, new items like copper concentrate, lead concentrate and garnet have been added and other items like copper ore, gypsum, kaolin, dolomite, and magnesite have been dropped.
- Under the manufacturing items, 173 new items including conveyer belt, rubber tread, steel cables, tissue paper, and wooden splint have been added, while 135 items like khandsari, poppadom, and video CD players have been taken out.
- Under the new series of WPI, weight of manufactured items has decreased to 64.2 per cent from 64.9 per cent in old series.
- Similarly, the weight of fuel and power has decreased to 13.1 per cent from 14.9 per cent. On the other hand, the weight of primary items have increased to 22.6 per cent from 20.1 per cent.
Environment & Ecology
Officials from Arctic nations to meet amid drilling concerns
High-level officials from the world’s eight Arctic nations are meeting in Alaska amid concerns about the future of the sensitive region after United States President Donald Trump called for more oil drilling and development.
- No formal discussions were set in Alaska on key issues such as climate change, development and drilling.
- But those issues will provide a backdrop as the chairmanship of the council passes from the US to Finland.
All about Arctic Council:
The Arctic Council is an advisory body that promotes cooperation among member nations and indigenous groups.
- Its focus is on sustainable development and environmental protection of the Arctic.
- It does not make policy or allocate resources, and its decisions must be unanimous.
- In terms of being a reflection of a nation’s priorities, it can only go so far since all eight have to agree to the same thing.
- Eight member countries constitute the council: Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States as these are the eight countries with sovereignty over the lands within the Arctic Circle.
- Observer status is open to non-Arctic states approved by the Council at the Ministerial Meetings that occur once every two years. Observers have no voting rights in the Council.
- Presently, there are 12 observer states including India and China.
Bilateral & International Relations
India-UK agree on MoU in urban transport sector
India and the UK agreed to sign an MoU in the urban transport sector for cooperation in policy planning, technology transfer and institutional organisation.
- The MoU is the bilateral cooperation arrangement between the Transport for London (TfL) and the India’s Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.
- The signing of the MoU will be completed through diplomatic channels shortly.
- The agreement will involve sharing expertise on the mobility and efficiency of India’s transportation systems, as well as around logistical issues such as planning and delivery.
- It will also cover TfL’s experience in ticketing, providing information, financing and infrastructure maintenance work, as well as promotion of the use of public transport.
- Other areas of cooperation in the future were likely to include innovation around buses, including electric buses, and the use of water transport in urban centres.
- London’s transport system is considered one of the best equipped in the world, deploying a wide range of options from the Underground train network to an extensive bus network, the Dockland Light Railway, trams, ferries and even a cable car.
- During the visit, Mr. Gadkari was given a presentation on strategy and policy reforms around the bus system, as well as other forms of transport.
Defence & Security Issues
Army brings back CASO as part of counter-terror operations in Kashmir
The Army has decided to reintroduce cordon and search operations (CASO) as a “permanent feature” of its campaign against militants, nearly 15 years after the practice was abandoned.
- This feature will be majorly carried out in militancy-affected areas of South Kashmir.
Reason for the reintroduction:
- The major objective behind the reintroduction of combing operations is to bring the situation in the Kashmir Valley under control.
- The recent decision to re-introduce CASO comes against the backdrop of the recent killing of unarmed Kashmiri Army officer Lieutenant Ummer Fayaz in Shopian by militants.
- In 2001, CASO was discontinued following large-scale opposition from the locals. However, after 2001, the operation was launched only on specific intelligence-based inputs. Moreover, it was felt that CASO had alienated the local population from the armed forces due to the various difficulties people faced during such operations.
- Recently, the Army, security forces and police had also carried out a massive cordon and combing operation in south Kashmir’s Shopian district following the recent militant attacks on policemen and banking facilities. It was the first time in 15 years that the combing operation of this magnitude involving 4,000 troops was conducted by the security forces.
Key Facts for Prelims
Florence Nightingale Awards
- The President of India Shri Pranab Mukherjee conferred the Florence Nightingale Awards to 35 nurses from across the country on the occasion of International Nurses Day.
- The Florence Nightingale awards are given to the outstanding nursing personnel employed in Central, State/UTs.
- Nurses working in Government, Voluntary Organizations, Mission institutions and the private institutions can apply with the due recommendation of concerned State Government.
- The Florence Nightingale Awards carries Rs.50,000/- cash, a certificate, a citation certificate and a Medal.
Derby Air-to-Air Beyond Visual Range Missile
- Tejas, the Light Combat Aircraft has successfully test fired Derby Air-to-Air Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missile in RADAR guided mode.
- The test was performed on a Manoeuvrable Aerial Target at the Interim Test Range (ITR), Chandipur.
- The objective behind the test was to assess the Derby integration with aircraft systems on-board Tejas including the aircraft avionics, fire-control radar, launchers and Missile Weapon Delivery System and evaluate its performance.
- Debry is developed by Israeli defence company Rafael Advanced Defense Systems to meet the combat needs of the armed forces.
- Tejas, the Indian Light Combat Aircraft is the world’s smallest, light weight, multi-role combat aircraft in its class amongst modern supersonic aircraft.
- It is a single seat, single jet engine developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited for the Indian Navy and the Air Force.