Polity & Governance
- India officially certified maternal and neonatal tetanus free
- Rajesh Kumar Chaturvedi appointed CBSE Chairman
- High prices of dals may hit protein intake
- Recommendations of SIT on Black Money as Contained in the Fifth SIT Report
- Income Declaration Scheme extended to September 2017
Environment & Ecology
- India and ADB Sign US $ 100 Million Loan for ‘Climate Adaptation in Vennar Subbasin of Cauvery Delta project’ in Tamil Nadu
- Rare ‘Marbled Map’ butterfly sighted in Eastern Ghats
Defence & Security Issues
- Mhadei returns after Successful Completion of All Women Expedition
- DRDO Embarked Major Success in Advanced Artillery Gun System
- Ex MEGH PRAHAR: Demonstration on Opposed River Crossing
- Operation ‘Sankat Mochan’ to evacuate Indians from South Sudan
Polity & Governance
India officially certified maternal and neonatal tetanus free
The World Health Organization (WHO) officially certified India free of yaws, a chronic bacterial infection that mainly affects skin, bone and cartilage, and maternal and neonatal tetanus that affects the nervous system.
- By this, India becomes the first country to be officially acknowledged as being Yaws-free.
- Also, India was validated for Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus Elimination (MNTE) in April 2015, much ahead of the global target date of December 2015.
- India being yaws-free is also significant as India has achieved this important milestone in May this year much before the WHO global target year of 2020.
- The elimination of Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus as a public health problem means that in India the annual rate of Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus is now less than 1 per 1000 live births.
- Yaws is a tropical infection of the skin, bones and joints caused by the spirochete bacterium Treponema pallidum pertenue.
- The disease affects skin, bone and cartilage. Humans are currently believed to be the only reservoir, and transmission is from person to person.
- Yaws is spread by direct contact with the fluid from a lesion of an infected person. The disease is most common among children, who spread it by playing together.
- Yaws is cured by a single oral dose of an inexpensive antibiotic azithromycin or by an injection of benzathine penicillin.
- The 13 countries currently known to be endemic for yaws need support to implement WHO’s “Yaws Eradication Strategy” (also known as the Morges strategy).
- In the 1950s and 1960s the World Health Organization (WHO) nearly eradicated yaws. Since then the number of cases has increased and there are renewed efforts to globally eradicate the disease by 2020.
About Maternal and neonatal tetanus (MNT):
- Maternal and neonatal tetanus (MNT) have been among the most common lethal consequences of unclean deliveries and umbilical cord care practices.
- When tetanus develops, mortality rates are extremely high, especially when appropriate medical care is not available.
- The disease, which is often transmitted when the umbilical cord is cut under unsanitary conditions, is characterized by wrenching muscle spasms, initially in the jaw.
About the Maternal Neonatal Elimination Initiative:
- The MNT Elimination Initiative is an international private-public partnership that includes National Governments, UNICEF, WHO, UNFPA, GAVI, USAID/Immunization Basics, CDC, UNICEF National Committees, the Government of Japan, Save the Children, PATH, RMHC, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Kiwanis International, Pampers – a division of Procter & Gamble, and BD.
[Ref: PIB, WHO]
Rajesh Kumar Chaturvedi appointed CBSE Chairman
The government appointed a 1987- batch IAS officer Rajesh Kumar Chaturvedi Chairman of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) for a five-year term.
About Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE):
- The CBSE is a Board of Education for public and private schools, under the Union Government.
- It affiliates all Kendriya Vidyalayas (KVs), all Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas (JNVs), private schools and most of the schools approved by Union Government.
- CBSE, which started operation in 1962 with 309 schools, now administers over 16,000 schools and manages the board exams of over 2.5 million students in class 10 and Class 12.
- CBSE is also responsible for conducting the Joint Entrance Exam Main (JEE-Main) the first tier of the two-tier entrance test for selection of students to the Indian Institutes of Technology and other top engineering schools.
- It also conducts the National Eligibility Test (NET) for the University Grants Commission for selection of professors at colleges and universities and Central Teacher Eligibility Test (CTET) for selection of school teachers.
High prices of dals may hit protein intake
According to experts, while the government is fighting hard to tackle the rising prices of pulses across the country, a cut in this rich source of protein diet from the platter could severely impact the nutrition of a sizeable population.
Experts believe that
- India’s dependency on cereals is already very high — too high, in a way — some 57 per cent of the daily calories and 55 per cent of protein intake comes from cereals. Any substitution of pulses by cereals is not really helpful from a nutritional perspective.
- The rise in price has adversely affected the level of consumption of pulses, particularly among the people with lower income.
- Pulse is an important source of protein in India and given that a large segment of the population is vegetarian, reduction in the per capita pulse consumption will definitely have adverse effect on nutrition.
- Given that neither meat products nor soybean are likely to offer a comprehensive solution, increasing the availability of pulses seem to be the only option in foreseeable future. Soybean may partially substitute, but it vital to increase the production of pulses for both food and nutritional security.
- If price of pulses continues to soar its non availability will lead to protein malnutrition, specifically for developing children.
- Per capita net availability of pulses in India reduced from 51 gm per day in 1971 to less than 42 gm per day in 2013. This is against the WHO recommendation of 80gm per day per person.
Recommendations of SIT on Black Money as Contained in the Fifth SIT Report
In a step towards making India a cashless economy and curbing black money, the Supreme Court-constituted special investigation team (SIT) has recommended a ban on cash transactions above Rs.3 lakh.
Highlights of the report:
- High-value transactions in cash are a common feature, especially in the real estate sector where buyers try to get away with lower stamp duty.
- Having considered the provisions which exist in this regard in various countries and also having considered various reports and observations of courts regarding cash transactions, the SIT felt that there is a need to put an upper limit to cash transactions.
- The SIT has recommended that there should be a total ban on cash transactions above Rs.3,00,000 and an Act be framed to declare such transactions as illegal and punishable under law.
- The report also highlighted that unaccounted wealth is being held in cash, as confirmed by huge cash recoveries in a number of enforcement actions by law enforcement agencies from time to time.
- SIT has suggested an upper limit of Rs. 15 lakhs on cash holding. Further, stating that in case any person or industry requires holding more cash, it may obtain necessary permission from the Commissioner of Income tax of the area.
- This is the fifth report by the SIT, which was constituted in 2014 under former Supreme Court judge M.B. Shah to look into ways to curb generation of black money—unaccounted, untaxed wealth—and bring back funds stashed away overseas.
- In its earlier reports, SIT had sought a tightening of rules governing participatory notes—instruments through which some foreign investors invest in Indian markets and which could be used to launder money; Indian authorities suspect that some of the money coming to India through participatory notes may be black money stashed overseas returning in the garb of foreign capital.
Income Declaration Scheme extended to September 2017
The Centre announced an extension of a deadline under the Income Declaration Scheme, aimed at bringing undeclared income and assets into the tax net to, September 30, 2017.
- Earlier the scheme was valid for a period of 4 months from 1st June, 2016 to 30th September, 2016
About the Income Declaration Scheme:
The Income Declaration Scheme, 2016 incorporated as Chapter IX of the Finance Act 2016 provides an opportunity to all persons who have not declared income correctly in earlier years to come forward and declare such undisclosed income(s).
- Under the Scheme, such income as declared by the eligible persons, would be taxed at the rate of 30% plus a ‘Krishi Kalyan Cess’ of 25% on the taxes payable and a penalty at the rate of 25% of the taxes payable, thereby totalling to 45% of the income declared under the scheme.
- Assets specified in the declaration will be exempted from Wealth tax. These declarations will also enjoy immunity from prosecution under the IT Act and Wealth Tax Act and also the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 1988.
- Non-payment of total taxes, penalty and surcharge in time or declaration by misrepresentation or suppression of facts shall render the declaration void. Other penal consequences will also follow accordingly.
- The declarations can be filed online or with the Principal Commissioners of Income-tax.
Environment & Ecology
India and ADB Sign US $ 100 Million Loan for ‘Climate Adaptation in Vennar Subbasin of Cauvery Delta project’ in Tamil Nadu
The Government of India and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) signed a USD 100 million loan for ‘Climate Adaptation in Vennar Subbasin of Cauvery Delta project’ in Tamil Nadu.
- The aim of the loan agreement is to strengthen key irrigation and drainage system and improve water management in the Vennar sub-basin of the Cauvery delta in Tamil Nadu.
- The financing will be used to strengthen embankments of six major irrigation water channels in the Vennar system and rehabilitate 13 irrigation pumping schemes.
- The loan will support Tamil Nadu’s water resources professionals to manage resources better, and with greater involvement of the stakeholders they service.
- Communities will be involved in planning and delivery of water services. Flood forecasting and warning systems will be installed and a flood risks map drawn up to help communities respond more effectively to extreme events.
- The loan from ADB’s ordinary capital resources has a 25-year term.
About the project:
- The Cauvery river basin is a critical source of water for agriculture, both within Tamil Nadu and neighbouring states. The vast majority of the delta’s population is engaged in farming and fishing. The project aims to improve existing infrastructure and will provide flood protection and renewed access to irrigation.
- The Water Resources Department of the State of Tamil Nadu is responsible for implementing the project, which is expected to be completed by December 2020.
Rare ‘Marbled Map’ butterfly sighted in Eastern Ghats
The ‘Marbled Map’, a rare butterfly species usually found in the north-east was recently sighted in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh.
- In this regard, a formal note will be sent to the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) so that it can be included in the new butterfly index.
About the species:
- According to the Book of Indian Butterflies by Issac Kehimkar, Marbled Map or Cyrestis cocles is listed as a “rare” butterfly species confined to forested hills in the region between Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bhutan and Myanmar.
- It is found to be pale green with faint vertical lines and rounded wings. Wings span is between 50-60 mm.
- India is home to 1,318 recorded butterfly species while the figure is about 1,500 in the entire sub-continent.
Defence & Security Issues
Mhadei returns after Successful Completion of All Women Expedition
Indian Navy’s sailboat Mhadei created history when she returned to her homeport in Goa with an all-women crew of six officers.
- The team had a successful voyage from Goa to Mauritius and back, that too on their maiden mission.
- The 40-days-plus-voyage was aimed at exposing crew to rough seas expected during the monsoon period in the North Indian Ocean.
- The crew covered a distance of over 5000 nautical miles through treacherous monsoon seas and heavy winds.
- The first Indian to solo-circumnavigate the Globe on board Mhadei, Cdr Dilip Donde, has tutored and trained the young all-women crew.
- Two solo circumnavigations, the first with stops by Cdr Dilip Donde, and the second, non-stop by Cdr Abhilash Tomy, has been undertaken onboard Mhadei between 2009 and 2013.
DRDO Embarked Major Success in Advanced Artillery Gun System
DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) today successfully conducted the proof firing of armament system for 155 mm x 52 calibre Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS).
- The project is part of the artillery modernisation programme of the Indian Army.
- The first fully integrated gun system is likely to be ready for user (Indian Army) trials by the first half of 2017.
Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) is fully indigenous towed artillery gun system project.
- The project was started by DRDO to replace older guns in service with a modern 155mm artillery gun.
- The armament system comprises of barrel, breech mechanism, muzzle brake and recoil mechanism to fire 155 mm calibre.
- Capable of night operations in direct fire mode.
- It has a longer range, accuracy and precision and provides greater fire power.
- The system is configured with all electric drive to ensure maintenance free and reliable operation over a longer period of time.
- The system has a firing range of 40 km.
- Has high mobility, quick deployability, auxiliary power mode, advanced communication system, automatic command and control system.
- Armament Research & Development Establishment (ARDE), Pune, a nodal laboratory of DRDO is behind the design & development of ATAGS, along with other DRDO laboratories.
- DRDO aims to develop the artillery gun system with participation of private industry to meet the requirement of the Indian Army. The idea is to establish indigenous critical defence manufacturing technologies.
Ex MEGH PRAHAR: Demonstration on Opposed River Crossing
A demonstration of the capabilities of Mathura-based Strike 1, a military field formation of the Indian Army, to seamlessly cross river obstacles was conducted on the banks of the Yamuna.
- Codenamed ‘Megh Prahar’, the exercise was undertaken by the Armoured Division of Strike 1, based at Hisar.
- It was meant to be a practice in river-crossing.
Significance of the Ex MEGH PRAHAR:
- Exercise MEGH PRAHAR would help in testing the effectiveness of the ultra modern Tank T-90 & BMP-2 held with Indian Army in fighting across opposed river obstacle.
- This exercise also showcased the importance of incorporating the Third dimension in bridging the gap of an obstacle and helping in capture of depth obstacle by a mechanized formation.
- The war preparation & effectiveness of Strike 1 was proved beyond doubt during the exercise.
- It showcased the variety of equipment, innovativeness of commanders, jointmanship, professional outlook and war-waging potential of the DOT Division.
Operation ‘Sankat Mochan’ to evacuate Indians from South Sudan
Minister of state for external affairs VK Singh is leading the operation, named “Sankat Mochan”, to evacuate Indians from South Sudan, which has been rocked by violence that has claimed hundreds of lives.
- India sent two C-17 military transport aircraft to war-torn South Sudan ‘s capital city Juba to evacuate over 300 Indians stranded there.
- Only Indian nationals with valid Indian travel document will be allowed boarding with maximum five kg cabin baggage and no check-in pieces. Women and children will be accommodated on priority.