Polity & Governance
- National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR)
- Govt discusses handing maintenance of seized properties to NBCC
Government Schemes & Policies
- Cabinet approves continuation of ongoing urea subsidy scheme beyond 12th Five Year Plan
- LaQshya program launched to improve quality of maternity care
Issues related to Health & Education
- WHO-SEARO Member Countries adopt ‘Delhi End TB Summit Statement of Action’
- India ranked 133rd in World Happiness Index 2018
- India ranks 78th on WEF energy transition index; lower than Brazil
Art & Culture
- Jaipur to host 8th Theatre Olympic
Science & Technology
- Antibiotic resistance: vultures wintering in India show pattern
Key Facts for Prelims
- Haryana passes bill for death penalty for child rapists
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Polity & Governance
National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR)
The exercise of conducting social audit of Child Care Institutions has been initiated by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR).
- This is in pursuance of the directions of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in the matter of Exploitation of Children in Orphanages in State of Tamil Nadu vs. UOI & Ors.
Definition of child care institution:
- A child care institution as defined under the JJ Act,2015, means Children Home, Open Shelter, Observation Home, Special Home, Place of Safety, Specialised Adoption Agency and a Fit Facility recognized under the Act for providing care and protection to children, who are in need of such services. Children in conflict with law are provided residential care and protection in Observation Homes, Special Homes and Places of Safety.
JJ Act, 2015:
- The Government has enacted the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 in order to further improve and strengthen the condition of rehabilitation homes.
- Under the JJ Act, 2015 several provisions have been included to improve the condition of Child Care Institutions (CCIs) including those housing children in conflict with law by providing for inspections of these CCIs by Juvenile Justice Board; prescribing various rehabilitation and reintegration services including skill development, recreational facilities, mental health interventions, etc.
The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) was set up in March 2007 under the Commission for Protection of Child Rights Act, 2005.
- NCPCR is a statutory body under the administrative control of the Ministry of Women & Child Development.
- The Commission’s Mandate is to ensure that all Laws, Policies, Programmes, and Administrative Mechanisms are in consonance with the Child Rights perspective as enshrined in the Constitution of India and also the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Child is defined as a person in the 0 to 18 years age group.
Govt discusses handing maintenance of seized properties to NBCC
The government is considering handing the task of maintaining, managing and earning revenue from immovable properties attached in money laundering cases to the National Building Construction Corporation (NBCC).
What’s the proposal?
- The proposal is to manage the seized land, which can often measure several thousand acres, as well as numerous factories, flats, buildings and shops taken over by the ED.
- The proposal to mandate NBCC to do the job was at the behest of the ED and mooted by the finance ministry about six months ago. It was felt that lack of proper maintenance led to decay of the properties and the agency had to continuously spend on their upkeep.
- As of now, the ED manages the properties confiscated by it but does not have experience in how to do so and there is no provision under PMLA for rental to earn revenue.
- NBCC (India) Limited, formerly known as National Buildings Construction Corporation Ltd., is a blue-chip Government of India Navratna Enterprise under the Ministry of Urban Development.
- It engages in the Real Estate Development & Construction business and also provides Project Management Consultancy. It is the sole land authorised agency for central undertakings.
- The Company has been notified as a Public Works Organization (PWO) explicitly, a construction agency, as per which Government Department(s)/ PSUs and Autonomous Bodies can award the works to NBCC on nomination basis.
- NBCC is also designated as the implementing agency for executing projects under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna (PMGSY), Solid Waste Management (SWM) and developmental work in North Eastern Region.
Government Schemes & Policies
Cabinet approves continuation of ongoing urea subsidy scheme beyond 12th Five Year Plan
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved continuation of Urea Subsidy Scheme from 2017 upto 2020 and implementation of Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) for disbursement of fertilizer subsidy.
- The proposal in these regards was forwarded by Department of Fertilizers, Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers.
Significance of the move:
- The continuation of the urea subsidy scheme will ensure timely payment of subsidy to urea manufacturers resulting in timely availability of urea to farmers at statutory controlled price.
- Implementation of DBT in Fertilizer Sector will reduce diversion of fertilizers to non-agricultural use and plug leakages.
About Urea Subsidy Scheme:
- Urea Subsidy is part of Central Sector Scheme (CSS) of Department and is wholly financed by Central Government of India through budgetary support.
- It also includes Imported Urea subsidy which is directed towards import to bridge gap between assessed demand and indigenous production of urea in the country.
- It also includes freight subsidy for movement of urea across the country.
- The use of chemical fertilizers has played pivotal role in making India self-reliant in food grain production and provide very vital input for growth of Indian agriculture.
- For sustained agricultural growth and to promote balanced nutrient application, urea is made available to farmers at statutorily controlled price.
- The fertilizer subsidy mainly is difference between delivered cost of fertilizers at farm gate and MRP payable by farmer. It is given to fertilizer manufacturer/importer by Central Government.
- At present, there are 31 urea manufacturing units, out of which 28 urea units use Natural Gas as feedstock/fuel and remaining 3 urea units use Naphtha as feedstock.
New Urea Policy, 2015:
- Government had earlier notified New Urea Policy, 2015, with the objectives of maximizing indigenous urea production; promoting energy efficiency in urea production; and rationalizing subsidy burden on the government.
- This led to the highest ever production of 245 LMT during 2015-16. In effect, 20 LMT of Urea during was additionally produced without adding additional any capacity.
Neem Coated Urea:
Earlier, 100% Neem Coated Urea was made mandatory in 2015.
A study conducted by the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation & Farmers Welfare (DAC&FW) had found the effects of Neem Coating of Urea as follows:
- Improvement in soil health.
- Reduction in costs with respect to plant protection chemicals.
- Reduction in pest and disease attack.
- An increase in yield of paddy to an extent of 5.79 per cent.
- An increase in yield of sugarcane to extent of 17.5 per cent.
- An increase in yield of maize to the extent of 7.14 per cent.
- An increase in yield of Soybean to the extent of 7.4 per cent.
- An increase in yield of Tur/Red Gram to the extent of 16.88 per cent.
Neem Coating also had an additional positive impact – plugging the diversion of the subsidized Urea towards non-agricultural purposes.
In light of the increased efficiency of Urea due to Neem Coating, Government had recently decided to bag Urea in 45kg bags. This will effectively help reduce the cost of fertilizers to the farmers.[Ref: PIB]
LaQshya program launched to improve quality of maternity care
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare launched LaQshya program aimed at improving quality of maternity care in labour room and maternity Operation Theatre (OT).
- It is being implemented to ‘fast-track’ interventions for achieving tangible results.
About the LaQshya Programme:
- It is an initiative to improve the quality of care in the labour rooms, operation theatres and other mother and child areas in public health facilities across the country.
- The programme aims at implementing ‘fast-track’ interventions for achieving tangible results within 18 months.
- Under the initiative, a multipronged strategy has been adopted, including improving infrastructure upgradation, ensuring availability of essential equipment, providing adequate human resources, capacity building of healthcare workers and improving quality processes in the labour room.
- Ensuring privacy for mothers-to-be,
- Providing a comfortable position during delivery,
- No-tolerance policy towards verbal or physical abuse on women and
- No demand of gratuitous payment by the staff.
- The NQAS (National Quality Assurance Standards) will monitor quality improvement in labour room and maternity OT. Every facility achieving 70% score on NQAS will be certified as LaQshya certified facility.
- Facilities scoring more than 90%, 80% and 70% will be given Platinum, Gold and Silver badge accordingly. Facilities achieving NQAS certification, defined quality indicators and 80% satisfied beneficiaries will be provided financial incentives.
Significance of LaQshya Programme:
- It will benefit every pregnant woman and new-born delivering in public health institutions.
- It will reduce maternal and newborn morbidity and mortality.
- It will improve quality of care during delivery and immediate post-partum period and enhance satisfaction of beneficiaries.
- It will provide Respectful Maternity Care (RMC) to all pregnant women attending public health facilities.
Issues related to Health & Education
WHO-SEARO Member Countries adopt ‘Delhi End TB Summit Statement of Action’
The Member Countries of World Health Organization-Regional Office for South-East Asia (WHO-SEARO), participating in Delhi End Tuberculosis (TB) Summit have adopted ‘Delhi End TB Summit Statement of Action’.
Delhi End TB Summit Statement of Action:
- It identifies roles, responsibilities and directions of member countries of WHO SEARO region to make their countries free from this disease.
- It commends increased attention, investments and efforts directed at tackling region’s major burden of tuberculosis (TB).
- It also expresses concern that most low-burden countries are yet to establish last mile programmes for early ending of TB.
- It reiterates firm intent to implement response in each of our nations that is demonstrably adequate for ending TB by 2030 and meeting milestones for 2020 by collectively reaching out to missing 2 million BT cases and 150000 multidrug-resistant cases.
Prioritises LEAD – INCREASE – ENABLE – SUPPLEMENT
The Delhi End TB Summit Statement of Action finalises the following priorities:
- LEAD implementation of the national TB responses in countries through a national initiative that monitors the progress in achieving the End TB targets in Member States and calls for establishing a national accountability framework.
- INCREASE in the budgetary and human resource allocations by the governments and by their global and domestic partners to ensure that national TB plans are fully sponsored.
- ENABLE the best possible care to each and every person, including migrants, the aged and the others living with any form of TB including drug-resistant TB/ HIV co-infections.
- SUPPLEMENT medical care for TB with social and financial protection in a comprehensive manner.
- WHO’s South-East Asia Region (WHO SEARO) comprises Bhutan, Bangladesh, South Korea, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor-Leste.
India ranked 133rd in World Happiness Index 2018
India was ranked 133rd among 156 countries in World Happiness Index 2018.
- The index was recently released by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network.
About the index:
- The index ranked 156 countries based on factors (parmaters) such as inequality, life expectancy, GDP per capita, social freedom, generosity, public trust (i.e. a lack of corruption in government and business) and social support.
- Together these parameters are used to generate a happiness score of country on a scale from 1 to 10.
- The 2018 report, for the first time ranked happiness of foreign-born immigrants in 117 countries.
- The main focus of this year’s report, in addition to its usual ranking of the levels and changes in happiness around the world, is on migration within and between countries.
- The report includes four chapters on migration, both internal (within-country) and international (cross-country), investigating the happiness of migrants, their families left behind, and others living in the cities and countries receiving migrants.
Highlights of the report:
- Finland has been ranked the most stable, the safest and best governed country in the world. It is also among the least corrupt and the most socially progressive. Its police are the world’s most trusted and its banks the soundest. Finland’s immigrants are also the happiest immigrant population in the world.
- Top ten in order of overall happiness are Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden, and Australia.
- The United States came in at 18th, down from 14th place last year. Britain was 19th and the United Arab Emirates 20th.
- Burundi in east Africa, scarred by bouts of ethnic cleansing, civil wars and coup attempts, is the unhappiest place in the world. Strikingly, there are five other nations – Rwanda, Yemen, Tanzania, South Sudan and the Central African Republic – which report happiness levels below that of even Syria.
- All the Nordic countries scored highly on income, healthy life expectancy, social support, freedom, trust and generosity.
Performance of India and its neighbours:
- India ranked 133rd, far behind terror-ravaged Pakistan and poorest-of-poor Nepal. It was placed 122nd last year, which was a drop from 118th rank the preceding year.
- China is far ahead at 86th spot.
- Among the eight SAARC nations, Pakistan was at 75th position, up five spots from last year.
- Nepal stood at 101, Bhutan at 97, Bangladesh at 115 while Sri Lanka was at 116.
India ranks 78th on WEF energy transition index; lower than Brazil
India was ranked at 78th among 114 countries on World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Energy Transition Index (ETI) released as part of report titled Fostering Effective Energy Transition.
About the index:
- The index ranks countries on how well they are able to balance energy security and access with environmental sustainability and affordability.
Highlights of the report:
- The overall list was topped by Sweden, followed by Norway at the 2nd position and Switzerland at the 3rd rank.
- Other countries on the top 10 include Finland (4th), Denmark (5th), the Netherlands (6th), the UK (7th), Austria (8th), France (9th) and Iceland (10th).
- Among its emerging market peers Brazil stood at the 38th place, Russia at 70th and China at 76th place.
India related facts:
- In 2018 ETI, India ranks in third performance quartile and third readiness quartile, making it emerging country that is approaching the leapfrog category.
- Interestingly, India has improved its performance score by 5.6 percentage points between 2013 and 2018 period, mainly with improved energy access, reduced subsidies and reduced import costs.
- According to report, India has taken bold measures to improve energy access, energy efficiency and to improve deployment of renewable sources of energy. However, energy transition in India will require large investments and enabling environment along with robust regulatory frameworks to support transition.
- India is at crossroads in its energy transition journey. Its energy needs are primarily met by fossil fuels with implications for environmental sustainability and increasing energy import costs. Furthermore, considerable share of India’s population still lacks access to electricity and clean cooking fuel.
- India has largest government-mandated renewable energy programme, with target of 175 GW renewable energy capacity by 2022, and it announced plans to shift completely to electric vehicles by 2030.
Art & Culture
Jaipur to host 8th Theatre Olympic
Jaipur is all set to be one of the co-hosts of the 8th Theatre Olympics, the largest international theatre festival to be held for the first time in India.
- The Jaipur chapter of Theatre Olympics 2018 is organised by the National School of Drama (NSD) under the aegis of Ministry of Culture, Govt. of India in collaboration with Ravindra Manch Society and Art & Culture Department, Government of Rajasthan.
About the Theatre Olympics:
- The Theatre Olympics was established in 1993 in Delphi, Greece, as the first international theatre festival.
- With the tagline ‘Crossing Millennia’, this is an initiative to connect the cultural past with the present and future, bringing the richness and diversity of theatre heritage to the experiments and research of contemporary theatre.
- The first country to host the Theatre Olympics was Greece in 1995.
- In 2016, the 7th Theatre Olympics were held in Wroclaw, Poland.
Science & Technology
Antibiotic resistance: vultures wintering in India show pattern
A study has found that, Escherichia coli (E. coli), a pathogen seen in over 90% of Egyptian vultures that migrate to northwest India to spend the winter, tend to show significant difference in resistance to antibiotics within a single season.
- This is due to the environment that the vultures were exposed to — carcasses, garbage, and domestic animals. The vultures that use human-dominated landscapes as part of their life cycle were likely to act as “reservoirs and melting pots of bacterial resistance.
What is E.coli?
- Escherichia coli (E. coli) is a bacteria that is surprisingly an important aspect of human intestinal tract health.
- Most E.coli are harmless bacteria and assist in everyday health. However the E.coli that generally make the headlines are pathogenic, which cause illnesses such as diarrhea, or even things outside the intestinal functions.
How is it transferred?
- Usually, the E. coli that causes diarrhea is transferred through food, water, or contact with animals/people who already have E.coli. The infection usually occurs if you swallow miniscule amounts of human or animal feces (this amount is often invisible to the naked eye).
- These tiny traces of feces usually comes from contaminated food such as, raw produce, raw milk, soft cheese, unpasteurized apple cider, or even dealing with a dirty diaper or an employee not thoroughly washing their hands when preparing food.
- Antibiotics are medicine used to treat infections caused by bacteria. Antibiotic Resistance refers to resistance developed by bacteria against antibiotics or the ability of bacteria to mutate or change so as to resist the effects of antibiotics. The more we use them, and the more we abuse them, the less effective they become.
- Antibiotic resistance has become global crisis that threatens management of infections, both in community and in hospital practice.
- The major reasons are indiscriminate use of antibiotics, including against viral infections, prolonged use in patients admitted to hospitals and their abuse in animal husbandry as growth promoters.
- In hospital critical care units, more than 50% organisms are now resistant even to these drugs.
Key Facts for Prelims
Haryana passes bill for death penalty for child rapists
- The Haryana Assembly unanimously passed Criminal Law (Haryana Amendment) Bill, 2018 providing for death penalty for convicts found guilty of raping girls aged 12 years or less.
- With this, Haryana became third state, after Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan to have provision of capital punishment for such sexual offenders.