Polity & Governance
- ‘Centre against imposition of Hindi’
- Ministry of Tourism Approves Projects of Rs. 500 Crore for Jammu & Kashmir
- MFIs see higher growth in urban India than rural: Report
Environment & Ecology
- Environment ministry to develop next generation HFC refrigerant alternatives
- MoU for speed implementation of Namami Gange Programme
Bilateral & International Relations
- WTO rules against India in solar case with US
- India, Nepal Sign Agreements for Roads and Reconstruction Projects
Science & Technology
- NASA’s Cassini to make final, closest observations of Saturn
Key Facts for Prelims
- India’s Best Museums
- Task force on Innovation
- Cricketers Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane
Polity & Governance
‘Centre against imposition of Hindi’
The government has recently clarified that it was against imposing Hindi on other regional languages like Tamil, Kannada or Telugu, and the Centre will continue to promote Hindi as it was the official language as envisaged in the Constitution.
- There were 38 proposals pending for inclusion in the VIII Schedule of the Constitution with the ministry.
- The proposal to include English along with 37 other regional languages like Bhojpuri, Chattisgarhi, Khasi and Bundelkhandi in the VIII Schedule of the Constitution, granting it an official status, has been pending with the Centre for 12 years now.
- The government had instituted an official group to look into the inclusion of these languages in the VIII Schedule. The committee has given its report and the government is examining it.
Any time limit for taking decision regarding inclusion of languages in the Eighth Schedule?
- No time frame can be fixed for consideration of the demands for inclusion of more languages in Eighth Schedule to the Constitution of India.
Sitakant Mohapatra Committee:
- A Committee was set up in September, 2003 under the Chairmanship of Shri Sitakant Mohapatra to evolve a set of objective criteria for inclusion of more languages in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution.
- The Committee submitted its report in 2004.
- The report of the Committee is under consideration in consultation with the concerned Minorities/Departments of the Central Government.
Constitutional provisions relating to the Eighth Schedule:
The Constitutional provisions relating to the Eighth Schedule occur in articles 344(1) and 351 of the Constitution.
- According to Article 344(1), the President shall, at the expiration of five years from the commencement of this Constitution and thereafter at the expiration of ten years from such commencement, by order constitute a Commission which shall consist of a Chairman and such other members representing the different languages specified in the Eighth Schedule as the President may appoint, and the order shall define the procedure to be followed by the Commission.
Article 351 (Directive for development of the Hindi language):
- Article 351 of the Constitution provides that it shall be the duty of the Union to promote the spread of the Hindi language to develop it so that it may serve as a medium of expression for all the elements of the composite culture of India and to secure its enrichment by assimilating without interfering with its genius, the forms, style and expressions used in Hindustani and in the other languages of India specified in the Eighth Schedule, and by drawing, wherever necessary or desirable, for its vocabulary, primarily, on Sanskrit and secondarily on other languages.
- It would thus appear that the Eighth Schedule was intended to promote the progressing use of Hindi and for the enrichment and promotion of that language.
Ministry of Tourism Approves Projects of Rs. 500 Crore for Jammu & Kashmir
Government of India has approved projects worth Rs 500 crore for integrated development of tourism in Jammu and Kashmir as part of Development Package of Prime Minister Reconstruction Plan (PMRP) for integrated development of tourism in Jammu and Kashmir.
New projects include Integrated Development of Tourist facilities at
- Mantalai – Sudhmahadev – Patnitop Circuit for Rs.99.99 Crore,
- Baramulla-Kupwara-Leh circuit for Rs.99.98 Crore,
- Rajouri – Bafliyaz – Shopian – Pulwama Circuit for Rs.99.99 Crore and
- Anantnag-Kishtwar- Pahalgam – Daksum – Ranjit Sagar Dam Circuit for Rs.99.75 Crore.
- In addition, Rs. 99.99 Crore has been approved for integrated development of tourist facilities in lieu of damaged assets in the floods.
Highlights of the project:
- Development of a Convention Centre in Gulmarg and Patnitop,
- Development of Ethnic Villages,
- Development of Water Sports Centre at Baghliyar Dam – Pool Doda.
Other major intervention proposed in the circuits include:
- Last mile connectivity,
- Tourist facilitation/interpretation centre,
- Base camps for trekking,
- Facilitation centre for pilgrims for Amarnath Yatra,
- Sound and Light Show at Shalimar Bag,
- Illumination of heritage structures,
- Provision of eco-friendly vehicles,
- Enhancement of tourist facilities at golf courses across the state.
MFIs see higher growth in urban India than rural: Report
According to an annual report by Sa-Dhan- the Bharat Microfinance Report 2016, the self-regulatory body for MFIs, microfinance institutions (MFIs) have seen their business grow faster in urban India than in rural in last one year.
Highlights of the report:
- The report finds that these loans are being put to increasingly productive uses with a higher proportion of them going towards income generation than before.
- In 2016, total loan amount disbursed increased by Rs. 13,433 crore over 2015, there is a growth of 23% where amount increased in rural areas by 14% and in urban areas by 27%.
- 94% of the loans disbursed in 2015-16 were used for income-generating purposes, up from 80% in the previous year.
- In 2011, RBI (Reserve Bank of India) regulation stipulated that a minimum of 70% of the MFI loans are to be deployed for income generating activities.
- Analysis of the loan portfolio held by reporting MFIs for 2014-15 and 2015-16 shows that the proportion of income generation loan to non-income generation loan is 94:06.
- Within the income-generating loans, the largest proportion—39%—went to the animal husbandry sector, followed by 29% to the trading & small business category.
- Agriculture received 15% of the loans.
Environment & Ecology
Environment ministry to develop next generation HFC refrigerant alternatives
The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has announced an ambitious collaborative R&D programme to develop next generation, sustainable refrigerant technologies as alternatives to hydro-fluorocarbons (HFCs).
- The research initiative of the Ministry will be led by the CSIR’s Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, Hyderabad.
Some of the key players of the initiative include
- The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and its allied institutions;
- Department of Science and Technology;
- Centre for Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences as well as key industry players in the sector.
Why this new programme is necessary?
- India has a small carbon footprint at citizen level and its sustainable lifestyle results in low contribution of the country to overall emissions of greenhouse gases and ozone depleting substances, as compared with other developed countries.
- However, there is an urgent need for developing new technologies indigenously as alternatives available today are patented apart from being expensive.
A research based programme to look for cost effective alternatives to the currently used refrigerant gases is, therefore essential.
Significance of the initiative:
- The initiative is a significant step forward in line with India’s national focus on research, innovation and technology development and Mission Innovation.
MoU for speed implementation of Namami Gange Programme
Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation (MoWR, RD&GR) has signed an MoU with the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare (MoA&FW) for speedy implementation of Namami Gange programme.
Need of this MoU:
- Being a multi-disciplinary programme, the success of Namami Gange largely depends upon the participation of other ministries, state governments and local communities.
Significance of this MoU:
- Signing of this MoU will ensure effective and efficient implementation of various projects of Namami Gange.
About Namami Gange Programme:
‘Namami Gange’ Programme, is a flagship programme of Government of India with a renewed impetus to decrease river pollution and conserve the revered river ‘Ganga’.
- The Union government approved “Namami Gange” Program in May 2015.
- In this connection, the Indian Government solicited support from various countries to rejuvenate the Ganga.
- The program would be implemented by the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), and its state counterpart organizations i.e., State Program Management Groups (SPMGs).
- Among other things, the programme will focus on pollution abatement interventions namely Interception, diversion & treatment of wastewater flowing through the open drains through bio-remediation / appropriate in-situ treatment / use of innovative technologies.
- Under this programme, the focus of the Government is to involve people living on the banks of the river to attain sustainable results.
- The programme also focuses on involving the States and grassroots level institutions such as Urban Local Bodies and Panchayati Raj Institutions in implementation.
Bilateral & International Relations
WTO rules against India in solar case with US
In a setback to India, the World Trade Organization (WTO)’s appellate body upheld the rulings of a panel which stated the Indian government’s power purchase agreements with solar firms were “inconsistent” with international norms.
- The case assumes significance as India recently dragged the US to the WTO over America’s DCR and subsidies provided by eight states in the renewable energy sector
What’s the issue?
- Since India enacted “Domestic Content Requirements (DCR)” under its National Solar Mission (NSM) in 2011, which requires solar power developers to use Indian-manufactured cells and modules, American solar exports to India have fallen by more than 90%.
- The US had, in 2014, filed the complaint before the global trade body alleging discrimination against American firms.
- In February 2016, the WTO panel found in favour of the US in a dispute challenging India’s “localisation” rules discriminating against imported solar cells and modules under India’s NSM.
India, Nepal Sign Agreements for Roads and Reconstruction Projects
India and Nepal have signed three MoUs and agreements to enhance the bilateral agreement between the two nations.
- The agreements were inked during the four-day-visit of Nepal Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda to India.
MoUs and agreements:
- New dollar credit line agreement of $750 million for post-earthquake reconstruction.
- MoU for project management consultancy services for upgradation/Improvement of Road infrastructure in Tarai of Nepal
- First amendatory dollar credit line for post-earthquake reconstruction projects in Nepal.
Science & Technology
NASA’s Cassini to make final, closest observations of Saturn
After more than 12 years studying Saturn, its rings and moons, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has entered the final year of its epic voyage. The conclusion of the historic scientific odyssey is planned for September 2017.
- Beginning on 30 November, Cassini’s orbit will send the spacecraft just past the outer edge of the main rings. These orbits, a series of 20, are called the F-ring orbits.
- During these weekly orbits, Cassini will approach to within 4,850 miles (7,800 kilometres) of the centre of the narrow F ring, with its peculiar kinked and braided structure.
- Cassini’s final phase, called the Grand Finale, begins in earnest in April next year.
- A close flyby of Saturn’s giant moon Titan will reshape the spacecraft’s orbit so that it passes through the gap between Saturn and the rings, an unexplored space only about 2,400 kilometers wide.
- During the Grand Finale, Cassini will make the closest-ever observations of Saturn, mapping the planet’s magnetic and gravity fields with exquisite precision and returning ultra-close views of the atmosphere.
About the Cassini Mission:
Cassini–Huygens is an unmanned spacecraft sent to the planet Saturn. Cassini is the fourth space probe to visit Saturn and the first to enter orbit.
- Its design includes a Saturn orbiter and a lander for the moon Titan.
- The lander, called Huygens, landed on Titan in 2005.
- The spacecraft was launched on October 15, 1997.
- This was the first landing ever accomplished in the outer Solar System.
Objectives of Cassini Mission:
Cassini has several objectives, including:
- Determine the three-dimensional structure and dynamic behavior of the rings of Saturn.
- Determine the composition of the satellite surfaces and the geological history of each object.
- Determine the nature and origin of the dark material on Iapetus’s leading hemisphere.
- Measure the three-dimensional structure and dynamic behavior of the magnetosphere.
- Study the dynamic behavior of Saturn’s atmosphere at cloud level.
- Study the time variability of Titan’s clouds and hazes.
- Characterize Titan’s surface on a regional scale.
Key Facts for Prelims
India’s Best Museums
Five Indian museums feature among the best 25 in Asia while Leh’s ‘Hall of Fame’ has topped the India list as a “must-visit” place by travellers in a survey.
The other top four most rated museums of India are —
- Bagore Ki Haveli (Udaipur),
- Victoria Memorial Hall (Kolkata),
- Salar Jung Museum (Hyderabad) and
- Jaisalmer War Museum (Jaisalmer).
However, no museums from India feature in the top 25 world list, which is topped by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The Museum of Qin Terracotta Warriors and Horse in China topped the Asia list.
TripAdvisor will honour the ranked museums with its Travellers’ Choice awards. The list was determined using an algorithm that took into account the quantity and quality of reviews and ratings for museums worldwide, gathered over a 12-month period.
Task force on Innovation
- The Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP) has decided to set up a Task Force on Innovation.
- The Task Force will assess India’s position as an innovative country, suggest measures to enhance the innovation eco-system and thus improve the country’s ranking in the Global Innovation Index (GII).
- India’s ranking in GII-2016 rose 15 places to 66th position.
Cricketers Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane
Star cricketers Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma were conferred with the coveted Arjuna Award for the year 2016 and 2015 respectively.
The Arjuna Awards, instituted in 1961, are given by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, government of India to recognize outstanding achievement in National sports.
The award carries a cash prize of ₹ 500,000, a bronze statue of Arjuna and a scroll.
As per the revised guidelines, to be eligible for the Award, a sportsperson should not only have had good performance consistently for the previous three years at the international level with excellence for the year for which the Award is recommended, but should also have shown qualities of leadership, sportsmanship and a sense of discipline.