Government Schemes & Policies
- Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana to benefit 70 lakh families in Odisha
- West Bengal government removes income ceiling for ‘Kanyashree’ scheme
Issues related to Health & Education
- FSSAI unveils initiative to collect, convert used cooking oil into biofuel
Bilateral & International Relations
- India releases additional funds for Nepal’s Postal Highway
- Sri Lanka gets $39 million military funding from US
Defence & Security Issues
- Hackers steal Rs 94 crore from Pune’s Cosmos Bank
Art & Culture
- 24th World Congress of Philosophy
- Maharshi Badrayan Vyas Samman for the Year 2018
Science & Technology
- India to send manned space mission by 2022: PM
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Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana to benefit 70 lakh families in Odisha
Odisha government recently announced its aspirational universal health coverage scheme Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana (BSKY) in the state in order to provide financial assurance up to `5 lakh per household to around 70 lakh households for secondary and tertiary care hospitalisation.
- The state has expressed its reluctance to participate in the Ayushman Bharat National Health Protection Mission (ABNHPM).
About the scheme:
- BSKY will provide Rs. 5 lakh per family per annum for all Secondary and Tertiary Cashless Health Care Assistance. Women beneficiaries can get health cover upto Rs. 7 lakh.
- This scheme will benefit 3.5 crore people (70 lakh families) at any govt. and private empanelled hospitals.
- All beneficiaries currently enrolled under the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY), as well as other low-income families, are covered under the BSKY.
- Odisha government purposes to form a Trust to implement the scheme, which will reimburse the hospitalisation cost and will not pay premiums to insurance companies.
What are the challenges for implementation of the scheme?
- Though the Trust model saves money, the major constraints are weak in-house capacity, poor governance structure and susceptibility to outside interference.
- Another uphill task for the Trust is to improve the governance structure. Riddled with weak IT system and poor administration, the uptake of the ongoing health insurance programmes is far from satisfactory.
- The Odisha State Treatment Fund has several procedural challenges, which, increases the predicament of patients. The same issues will have a major bearing on the BKSY implementation, unless the Trust carefully introduces measures to lessen these problems.
- The financial implication of such a humongous scheme needs deliberation. The current resource absorption for RSBY, BKKY and OSTF is not hefty. The claims ratio for RSBY is 65-68 per cent. This is unlikely to rise significantly, unless architectural correction is made.
West Bengal government removes income ceiling for ‘Kanyashree’ scheme
West Bengal Government has announced to remove annual family income ceiling in eligibility criteria to be beneficiary under state’s UN award winning Kanyashree Prakalpa scheme.
- The state government would also be coming up with a “Kanyashree University” for girls soon.
What was the income ceiling for this scheme?
- Currently, girls who belong to families with annual family income not more than Rs 1.20 lakh is entitled to get the benefits.
- In June 2017, the West Bengal Government’s Kanyashree Prakalpa was awarded the first prize in United Nations Public Service Award for Asia Pacific.
About Kanyashree Prakalpa scheme:
Kanyashree Prakalpa is a targeted conditional cash transfer scheme aimed at retaining girls in schools and other educational and skill development institutions and preventing child marriage.
- The scheme is being implemented through 16000 institutes and schools.
- All girl children within age of 13 to 19 in the state.
- Girls regularly attending institutions for education or vocational or sports training.
- Girls of Child Care Institutes registered under Juvenile Justice Act (JJ), 2000 within age of 18-19 years.
About the United Nations Public Service Awards:
The United Nations Public Service Awards is the most prestigious international recognition of excellence in public service.
- It rewards the creative achievements and contributions of public service institutions that lead to a more effective and responsive public administration in countries worldwide.
- The award highlights the pivotal role of public services in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.
- Through an annual competition, the UN Public Service Awards promotes the role, professionalism and visibility of public service.
Issues related to Health & Education
FSSAI unveils initiative to collect, convert used cooking oil into biofuel
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) launched RUCO (Repurpose Used Cooking Oil) initiative to enable collection and conversion of used cooking oil to biodiesel.
- Under this initiative, 64 companies at 101 locations have been identified to enable collection of used cooking oil. For instance: McDonald’s has already started converting used cooking oil to biodiesel from 100 outlets in Mumbai and Pune.
- FSSAI wants businesses using more than 100 litres of oil for frying, to maintain a stock register and ensure that UCO is handed over to only registered collecting agencies.
Significance of the initiative:
- FSSAI believes India has the potential to recover 220 crore litres of used cooking oil for the production of biodiesel by 2022 through a co-ordinated action.
- While biodiesel produced from used cooking oil is currently very small, but a robust ecosystem for conversion and collection is rapidly growing in India and will soon reach a sizable scale.
- The initiative was launched nearly month after FSSAI notified standards for used cooking oil.
- Currently, used cooking oil is either not discarded or disposed of in such a manner that it chokes drains and sewerage systems. Apart from setting quality standards, the new regulation addresses the way this oil is discarded.
- According to FSSAI regulations, maximum permissible limits for Total Polar Compounds (TPC) have been set at 25%, beyond which the cooking oil is unsafe for consumption.
- Beside this, FSSAI is also working in partnership with Biodiesel Association of India (BAI) and food industry to ensure effective compliance of used cooking oil regulations.
- As used cooking oil is considered the most reasonable feedstock for biodiesel production, the FSSAI is planning to redirect the used cooking oil from the food business operators. It has already started collecting used oil in small quantities either through a barter arrangement or at cost.
What is Total Polar Compounds (TPC)?
In many countries, TPC is used to measure the quality of oil. The level of TPC increases every time oil is re-heated.
- Some of the studies show that TPC accumulation in oil without food is slower than that in oil frying with food.
- Higher level of TPC in cooking oil leads to health issues like hypertension, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease and liver disease.
- One of the studies also noticed high levels of glucose, creatinine and cholesterol with declined levels of protein and albumin in cooking oil.
About Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI):
- The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is an agency of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India.
- The FSSAI has been established under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 which is a consolidating statute related to food safety and regulation in India.
- The FSSAI is led by a non-executive Chairperson, appointed by the Central Government.
- The Chairperson is in the rank of Secretary to Government of India.
- The agency also has 8 regional offices, 4 referral laboratories and 72 local laboratories located throughout India.
Bilateral & International Relations
India releases additional funds for Nepal’s Postal Highway
The Indian government has handed over a cheque amounting Rs 33 crore to the Nepal Government for construction of a Postal Highway.
- With this payment, the Government of India has released a total of Rs 117.63 Crores to the Government of Nepal for implementing 14 packages of the Postal Highway Projects.
- The amount has been released towards 25% of the tendered cost (including 10% mobilization advance) of the two road packages of Birgunj-Thori Road being implemented under Postal Highway Project in Nepal with Government of India’s grant assistance.
About Postal Highway:
- It is also called Hulaki Rajmarg which runs across Terai region of Nepal, from Bhadrapur in east to Dodhara in west, cutting across entire width of the country.
- It is oldest highway in Nepal constructed by Juddha Shumsher Jung Bahadur Rana and Padma Shumsher Jung Bahadur Rana to aid transportation and facilitate postal services throughout the Himalayan nation.
- Since 1950, the Government of India has been supporting infrastructure development of Nepal and has provided financial assistance for construction of various highways, roads, bridges, airports, etc as part of its multi-sectoral and multi-dimensional India-Nepal Economic Cooperation Programme.
Sri Lanka gets $39 million military funding from US
The United States has announced that it would grant the Indian ocean island Sri Lanka a $39 million to boost its maritime security.
- The move is aimed to counter China’s increasing influence on Sri Lanka.
- This contribution will also support Bay of Bengal initiative and Sri Lanka’s humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HADR) priorities.
- China, which is the world’s second-largest economy, has raised its investments in major ports in Sri Lanka, which is also a key in its ambitious infrastructure initiative– ‘Belt and Road’.
- The Hambantota port, which is considered the world’s busiest east-west shipping route, also gave China a strong foothold in a region which was long dominated by India.
- It should be noted that the United States stopped selling arms to Sri Lanka when the country was ravaged by the civil war, which came to an end in 2009.
- China, on the other hand, promised Sri Lanka to provide financial help, including loans, notwithstanding the country facing mounting debt.
- It was in June 2016, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailed Sri Lanka out with a $1.5 billion loan. It also issued warning to Colombo over its massive debt.
Defence & Security Issues
Hackers steal Rs 94 crore from Pune’s Cosmos Bank
In a major cyber attack, an international gang of hackers siphoned off Rs 94.42 crore from the Cosmos Cooperative Bank Ltd in Pune through multiple ATM swipes in 28 countries worldwide.
- The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has said the incident is due to a malware attack on the bank’s system.
What is Malware?
- Malware is defined as a software designed to perform an unwanted illegal act via the computer network.
- It could be also defined as software with malicious intent.
- Malware can be classified based on how they get executed, how they spread, and/or what they do.
Various types of Malware:
- A virus is a program that can infect other programs by modifying them to include a possible evolved copy of itself.
- A virus can spread throughout a computer or network using the authorization of every user using it to infect their program. Every program so infected may also act as a virus and thus the infection grows.
- Viruses normally affect program files, but in some cases they also affect data files disrupting the use of data and destroying them completely.
- Worms are also disseminated through computer networks, unlike viruses, computer worms are malicious programs that copy themselves from system to system, rather than infiltrating legitimate files.
- For example, a mass mailing e-mail worm is a worm that sends copies of itself via e-mail. A network worm, on the other hand makes copies of itself throughout a network, thus disrupting an entire network.
- Trojan is another form of Malware, trojans do things other than what is expected by the user.
- Trojan or trojan horse is a program that generally impairs the security of a system.
- Trojans are used to create back-doors (a program that allows outside access into a secure network) on computers belonging to a secure network so that a hacker can have access to the secure network.
Phishing and Spear Phishing
- Phishing is a cybercrime where a target or targets are contacted by email, telephone or text message by someone posing as a legitimate institution to lure the victim into providing sensitive data, such as personally identifiable information, banking, and credit card details, and passwords.
- Technically, phishing is not a malware type, but rather a delivery method criminals use to distribute many types of malware.
- Hoax is an e-mail that warns the user of a certain system that is harming the computer. The message thereafter instructs the user to run a procedure (most often in the form of a download) to correct the harming system. When this program is run, it invades the system and deletes an important file.
- Spyware invades a computer and, as its name implies, monitors a user’s activities without consent. Spywares are usually forwarded through unsuspecting e-mails with bonafide e-mail i.ds. Spyware continues to infect millions of computers globally.
- Adware is the name given to programs designed to display advertisements on your computer, redirect your search requests to advertising websites and collect marketing data about you. For example, adware typically collects the types of websites that you visit so advertisers can display custom advertisements.
- Ransomware is a type of malware that locks the data on a victim’s computer, typically by encryption. The cybercriminal behind the malware demands payment before decrypting the ransomed data and returning access to the victim.
About the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI):
- NPCI is an umbrella organization for all retail payments system in India.
- Founded in 2008, NPCI is a not-for-profit organisation registered under the Companies Act 2013.
- It aims to allow all Indian citizens to have unrestricted access to e-payment services.
- It was set up with the guidance and support of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and Indian Banks’ Association (IBA). NPCI has ten promoter banks.
- It has been promoted by the country’s central bank, the Reserve Bank of India.
- Its recent work of developing Unified Payments Interface aims to move India to a cashless society with only digital transactions.
- It has successfully completed the development of a domestic card payment network called RuPay, reducing the dependency on international card schemes.
Art & Culture
24th World Congress of Philosophy
The 24th World Congress of Philosophy began in Beijing, China.
- The conclave of thought meets under the motto “Learning to be Human”.
- It was organized by the International Federation of Philosophical Societies, and Peking University.
Aims of the 2018 Congress:
Aims of the 2018 Congress include an emphasis on exploring dimensions of the human and inquiring into the challenges facing humanity:
- To globalize philosophical investigations to encompass the diverse forms of philosophizing by past and present thinkers across cultures, with special attention to critical reflections on philosophy itself and the tasks and functions of philosophy in the contemporary world.
- To open the philosophical area to enable philosophers to address emerging global issues through fruitful interactions with other disciplines in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences, with other activities in economic, social, political, and religious spheres, as well as with diverse cultures and traditions.
- To encourage philosophical reflections to become public discourses on recurrent human concerns, such as ecology, justice, and peace.
About World Congress of Philosophy:
It is global meeting of philosophers held every five years under auspices of International Federation of Philosophical Societies (FISP).
- It was first organized in 1900 in Paris, France. Since it has become one of the largest philosophical events in the world.
- Its purpose is to contribute to development of professional relations between philosophers of all countries, promote philosophical education, and contribute to impact of philosophical knowledge on global problems.
- Each World Congress is sponsored by one of member societies in different country, which assumes responsibility for organization of that Congress.
Maharshi Badrayan Vyas Samman for the Year 2018
President Ram Nath Kovind awarded Certificates of Honor and the Maharshi Badrayan Vyas Samman for the year 2018.
About the award:
- The Maharshi Badrayan Vyas Samman distinction is conferred on persons once a year on the Independence Day in recognition of their substantial contribution in the field of Sanskrit, Persian, Arabic, Pali, Prakrit, Classical Oriya, Classical Kannada, Classical Telugu and Classical Malayalam.
- The award introduced in the year 2002, is given to selected young scholars in the age group of 30 to 45 years.
- It carries a certificate of honour and a one time cash prize of Rs.1 lakh.
Science & Technology
India to send manned space mission by 2022: PM
In his address to the nation on India’s 72nd Independence Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that an Indian astronaut, be it a man or a woman, will go on a space odyssey by 2022 on board ‘Gaganyaan’.
Which technologies are required for this mission?
- Three major areas that ISRO needs to master are, environmental control and life support (ECLS) system, crew escape system and flight suite and it’s currently working on them, under pre-project studies for which the Government sanctioned Rs 145 crore.
- If successful, India will become fourth nation in the world to send astronaut into space after US, Russia and China.
- Former Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot Rakesh Sharma was first Indian to travel to space. He was part of the Soviet Union’s Soyuz T-11 expedition, launched on April 2, 1984, as part of the Intercosmos programme.
- Chandrayaan-1 was India’s first lunar probe. It was launched by the Indian Space Research Organisation in October 2008 and operated until August 2009.
- Mangalyaan is another Indian space project. The Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), also called Mangalyaan, is a space probe orbiting Mars since September 24, 2014.
- In December 2014, experimental flight of GSLV Mk-III was successfully tested. It also had successfully tested experimental crew module, demonstrating reentry capability. In June 2017, first developmental flight of GSLV Mk-III was successfully conducted.
- ISRO last month conduced its first ‘pad abort’ test that was successful. The ‘pad abort’ test or Crew Escape System is an emergency escape measure that helps pull the crew away from the launch vehicle when a mission has to be aborted. The test was conducted at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota. The Pad Abort Test demonstrated the safe recovery of the crew module in case of any exigency at the launch pad.