Polity & Governance
- No need to audit PM CARES: SC
- Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology
Government Schemes & Policies
- Dhanwantari Rath to bring Ayurveda at doorsteps
- Swadeshi Microprocessor Challenge
Issues related to Health & Education
- 12% rise in India’s Cancer burden
- Thalassemia Screening and Counselling Centre
- Atal Rankings ARIIA 2020
- RBI issues draft rules for payment sector regulations
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Cheetahs from South Africa arrive at Mysuru zoo
- New species in Galapagos depths
Defence & Security Issues
- Naval Commanders’ Conference 2020
Key Facts for Prelims
- Awards for Indo-U.S. Virtual Networks for COVID-19
- Digital Quality of Life Index 2020
- Killing of blowout
- NaiUdaan & NayaSavera
- Green Corridors
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Polity & Governance
No need to audit PM CARES: SC
The Supreme Court recently held that funds received into PM-CARES Fund need not be credited to the National Disaster Response Fund for the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
How is PM-CARES different from NDRF?
- The nature of National Disaster Response Fund and PM CARES Fund are entirely different.
- The NDRF is a statutory fund created under the Disaster Management Act (DM Act), 2005.
- PM CARES is a public charitable fund created to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and National emergencies.
Does PM Cares require audit by CAG of India?
- Any individual or institution can contribute to PM CARES.
- It does not get any budgetary support and no government money is credited in the PM Cares Fund.
- Since it is a public charitable trust with voluntary donations, no Comptroller & Auditor General audit is required.
- In case of NDRF, the guidelines issued by the central government as per DM Act, provide for audit of the NDRF by CAG.
Is PM Cares a bar on making contributions to NDRF?
- The existence of PM Cares fund is not a bar to contribute to NDRF.
- Any contribution, or grant of any individual or institution is open for contribution to the NDRF in terms of Section 46(1)(b) of the DM Act.
- The guidelines for administration of NDRF provide that any grant that may be made by any person or institution for the purpose of disaster management shall be credited into NDRF.
Can NDRF be used for providing assistance in the fight of Covid-19?
- The Centre can very well utilise NDRF for providing assistance in the fight of COVID-19 pandemic by way of releasing fund on the request of the States as per new guidelines.
Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology
Shashi Tharoor has summoned Facebook over allegations that it did not apply hate-speech rules on BJP leaders.
About Parliamentary Standing Committee on IT:
- The IT Committee chaired by Shashi Tharoor has 21 MPs from Lok Sabha and 9 from Rajya Sabha, with majority MPs from BJP.
- The Committee on IT was constituted in April 1993 (then the Committee on Communications).
- It has jurisdiction over subject matters dealt with by the Ministry of Communications including the Department of Posts, Department of Telecommunications, Ministry of Electronics & IT, and Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
- Parliamentary Committees are considered an extension of Parliament.
- They do a good deal of legislative business as both Houses of Parliament have limited time.
Need for Parliamentary Committees:
- Parliament has broadly two functions- lawmaking and oversight of executive branch of the government.
- Committees fulfil the oversight function on executive branch.
- The practice of regularly referring bills to committees began in 1989 after government departments started forming their own standing committees.
- Prior to that, select committees or joint committees of the houses were only set up to scrutinize in detail some very important bills.
Types of Committees:
1. Standing Committees:
- Standing Committees are permanent regular committees which are constituted from time to time in pursuance of the provisions of an Act of Parliament or Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha.
- They are appointed or elected by the House or nominated by the Lok Sabha Speaker or Rajya Sabha Chairman.
- The work of these Committees is of continuous nature.
- The Financial Committees, DRSCs and some other Committees come under the category of Standing Committees.
- They work under the direction of the presiding officers.
- There are 24 department/ministry-related Standing Committees of which 16 are serviced by Lok Sabha and 8 by Rajya Sabha.
2. Ad hoc Committees:
- They are appointed for a specific purpose and they cease to exist when they finish the task assigned to them and submit a report.
What is this committee supposed to do?
- Committees formed to see that Parliament functions effectively, discuss Bills referred to them by the presiding officers.
- These MPs assemble during and between sessions, invite officials as well as experts.
- They are not bound by the party whips when it comes to discussion of a Bill, unlike in the House.
- Department-related Standing Committees consider demands for grants for the ministry, and take up any subject based on Annual Reports and long-term policy documents relating to the ministries/departments under their jurisdiction.
- Parliamentary Committee works under the direction of the Speaker/Chairman.
- Parliamentary committees draw their authority from Article 105 (on privileges of Parliament members) and Article 118 (on Parliament’s authority to make rules for regulating its procedure and conduct of business).
Government Schemes & Policies
Dhanwantari Rath to bring Ayurveda at doorsteps
A MoU was signed between the All India Institute of Ayurveda and the Delhi Police recently for extending Ayurvedic mode of preventive and promotive health services.
- The MoU is aimed to extend the Ayurveda Preventive and Promotive health services in the residential colonies of Delhi Police.
- These services are to be provided through a mobile unit named Dhanwantari Rath and Police Wellness Centres catered by AIIA and supported by the Ministry of AYUSH.
- Dhanwantari Rath – is a Mobile unit of Ayurveda health care services.
- It would consist a team of Doctors who would be visiting Delhi Police colonies regularly.
- These Ayurveda Health care services are expected to reduce the incidence/prevalence of various diseases.
- They also aim to reduce the number of referrals to hospitals thereby reducing cost to healthcare system as well as patient.
- AYURAKSHA is a joint venture of AIIA and Delhi Police aims for maintaining the health of frontline COVID warriors like Delhi police.
- The joint programme ‘Corona Se Jung- Delhi Police Ke Sang’ aims to fight against corona through simple and time tested Ayurveda immunity boosting measures.
- Under the programme, AYURAKSHA kits have been distributed to nearly 80,000 police personnel for over a period of two months.
- In continuation of the project, Ayurveda Preventive and Promotive health care are now planned to be extended to the families of Delhi Police personnel.
Swadeshi Microprocessor Challenge
The Central government recently launched Swadeshi Microprocessor Challenge.
- To realise the ambition of self-reliance and a momentous stride towards Atma Nirbhar Bharat.
- IIT Madras and Center for Development of Advanced Computing have developed two microprocessors named Shakti (32-bit) and Vega (64-bit) respectively.
- They are developed using Open Source Architecture under aegis of Microprocessor Development Programme of Ministry of Electronics and IT.
- Swadeshi Microprocessor Challenge seeks to invite innovators, startups and students to use these microprocessors to develop various technology products, a government statement said.
- The Challenge is part of the series of proactive, pre-emptive and graded measures to spur the technology-led innovation ecosystem and staying at the forefront of digital adoption.
- The initiative has the potential to mitigate the issues of security, licensing, technology obsolescence and most crucially cutting dependency on imports.
- The design, development and fabrication of these state-of-the-art processor variants is the successful step towards Electronic System Design & Manufacturing in the country.
Issues related to Health & Education
12% rise in India’s Cancer burden
As per the National Cancer Registry Programme Report 2020, the cancer cases in the country are likely to increase by 12% from current estimated cases.
- The figures were released by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and National Centre for Disease Informatics & Research (NCDIR), Bengaluru.
- The total number of cancer cases in 2020 in the country will be at 13.9 lakhs.
- As per the report, the cancer cases in the country are likely to increase to 15.6 lakhs by 2025.
- In 2020, tobacco-related cancers are estimated to contribute to 27.1% of the total cancer burden.
- The north-eastern region of the country accounts for the highest burden of cancer.
- The other common cancers included gastrointestinal tract cancers and breast cancer.
- The most common cancers among men: Lung, mouth, stomach and oesophagus.
- The most common cancers among women: Breast and cervix cancer.
What is National Cancer Registry Programme?
- The National Cancer Registry Programme is an organization of systematic collection, storage, analysis, interpretation and reporting of data on patients with cancer.
- The National Cancer Registry Programme under Indian Council of Medical Research was started in December 1981 with coordinating centre at Bengaluru.
- To generate reliable data on the magnitude and patterns of cancer.
- Propose further epidemiological studies based on results of registry data.
- Help in designing, planning, monitoring and evaluation of cancer control activities under National Programme for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and Stroke.
- Develop training programmes in cancer registration and epidemiology.
Two types of cancer registries under the programme:
1. Population Based Cancer Registries: They record all the new cancer cases occurring in a defined population within a geographic area.
2. The Hospital Based Cancer Registries: They record information on cancer patients attending a particular hospital, with focus on clinical care, treatment and outcome.
- A cancer registry provides an economical and efficient method of ascertaining cancer occurrence rather than intervention trials and cohort studies.
- A proper analysis and interpretation of data provides insights with inputs for its prevention, control and management.
- It also helps to formulate and implement policies and programmes, monitor and evaluate cancer control activities.
[Ref: The Hindu; NCDIR]
Thalassemia Screening and Counselling Centre
A Thalassemia Screening and Counselling Centre was recently inaugurated at Indian Red Cross Society’s National Headquarters (IRCS NHQ) Blood Bank.
- Thalassemia is a chronic blood disorder due to which a patient cannot make enough hemoglobin found in Red Blood Cells (RBC’s).
- This leads to Anaemia and patients also require blood transfusions every two to three weeks to survive.
- These Thalassemia syndromes are caused by inheritance of abnormal (beta) Thalassemia genes from both parents or abnormal beta-Thalassemia gene from one parent and abnormal variant haemoglobin gene from the other parent.
Types of Thalassemia:
1. Thalassemia Minor:
- The hemoglobin genes are inherited during conception, one from the mother and one from the father.
- People with a Thalassemia trait in one gene are known as carriers or are said to have thalassemia minor.
- Thalassemia minor is not a disease and they have only mild anemia.
2. Thalassemia Major:
- This is the most severe form of Thalassemia.
- This occurs when a child inherits two mutated genes, one from each parent.
- Patients Children with thalassemia major develop the symptoms of severe Anaemia within the first year of life.
- There are around 270 million Thalassemia patients in the world.
- India has the largest number of children with Thalassemia major in the world (about 1 to 1.5 lakhs).
- The only cure available for such children is bone marrow transplantation (BMT).
- BMT is difficult and not affordable by the parents of all these children.
- Hence, the mainstay of treatment is repeated blood transfusions, followed by regular iron chelation therapy to remove the excessive iron overload, consequent to the multiple blood transfusions.
- The new initiative of IRCS will provide adequate therapy and prevent the birth of children affected with hemoglobinopathies.
- It will be done through carrier screening, genetic counselling and prenatal diagnosis.
- It is a genetic defect that results in abnormal structure of one of the globin chains of the haemoglobin molecule.
- Defects in these genes can produce abnormal haemoglobin and Anaemia.
Atal Rankings ARIIA 2020
IIT-Madras has topped ARIIA 2020 under the Best Centrally Funded Institution category.
What is ARIIA?
- Atal Rankings of Institutions on Innovation Achievements (ARIIA) is an initiative of the Ministry of Education to rank higher education institutions and universities of India.
- The rankings are based on the indicators like Innovation, Startup and Entrepreneurship Development within students and faculty.
- ARIIA would include a special category for women-only higher education institutions for the first time in 2020.
A. Institute of National Importance, Central Universities & CFTIs:
- Rank 1: IIT-Madras
- Rank 2: IIT-Bombay
- Rank 3: IIT-Delhi
B. Government and government-aided universities:
- Rank 1: Institute of Chemical Technology
- Rank 2: Panjab University
C. Govt. and Govt. Aided College/Institutes:
- Rank 1: College of Engineering Pune
- Rank 2: PES College of Engineering
D. Private or Self-Financed Universities:
- Rank 1: Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology Khordha
- Rank 2: SRM Institute of Science and Technology
E. Private or Self-Financed College/Institutes:
- Rank 1: S R Engineering College
- Rank 2: G H Raisoni College of Engineering, Nagpur & Sri Krishna College of Engineering and Technology
[Ref: Indian Express; Times Now]
RBI issues draft rules for payment sector regulations
The Reserve Bank of India recently issued draft guidelines for establishing SROs responsible for framing and enforcing rules for payment systems operators.
Self-regulatory organisations (SROs):
- An SRO is a non-governmental organisation that sets and enforces rules and standards relating to the conduct of entities in the industry.
- SRO shall be set-up as a not-for-profit company under the Companies Act.
- These will collaborate with all stakeholders in framing rules and regulations.
- Their self-regulatory processes will be administered through impartial mechanisms.
- It shall serve as a two-way communication channel between its members and RBI.
- It will work towards establishing minimum benchmarks, standards and help instil professional and healthy market behaviour among its members.
- The recognised SRO shall promptly inform RBI about any violation that comes to its notice of the provisions of the Payments and Settlement Systems Act or any other regulation.
- The organisation will establish a uniform grievance redressal and dispute management framework for its members.
- As the payment ecosystem matures and as the number of payments systems proliferate, it becomes necessary to optimally use regulatory resources to develop industry standards.
- Self-regulation will help release regulatory resources that can be better focused on issues of systemic importance.
- It would be more appropriate and encourage better compliance.
[Ref: Hindustan Times]
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
Cheetahs from South Africa arrive at Mysuru zoo
Three Cheetahs from a cheetah conservation centre in South Africa arrive at Mysuru zoo under an animal exchange programme.
- The Mysuru zoo, Karnataka has become the second Indian zoo to house the African cheetah.
- The Sakkarbaug Zoological Gardens, in Junagarh Gujarat is the first zoo in India to have African Cheetah.
Key Facts on Cheetah:
- One of the oldest of big cat species, with ancestors that can be traced back more than five million years to Miocene era.
- With great speed and dexterity, known for being an excellent hunter.
- Its killed animals feed many other animals in its ecosystem—ensuring that multiple species survive.
- The cheetah is also the world’s fastest land mammal.
- The African cheetah is the cheetah subspecies native to East and Southern Africa.
- The cheetah lives mainly in the lowland areas and deserts of Kalahari, savannahs of Okavango Delta, and grasslands of Transvaal region in South Africa.
- Bigger in size as compared to Asiatic Cheetah.
- IUCN status: Vulnerable.
- Smaller and paler than the African cheetah and has cat like appearance.
- India’s last known cheetah died in Chhattisgarh in 1947.
- Later, the cheetah was declared extinct in India in 1952.
- IUCN status: Critically Endangered.
- Believed to survive only in Iran.
New species in Galapagos depths
An international team of marine scientists have discovered 30 new species of invertebrates in deep water surrounding the Galapagos.
- The deep-sea experts discovered fragile coral and sponge communities including 10 bamboo corals, four octocorals, one brittle star and 11 sponges etc. at the Galapagos National Park.
- These discoveries include the first giant solitary soft coral known for the Tropical Eastern Pacific, a new genus of glass sponge that can grow in colonies of over one meter in width and, colorful sea fans that host a myriad of associated species.
Location of Galapagos:
- The Galápagos Islands, spread over almost 60,000 sq. km, is a volcanic archipelago in Pacific Ocean.
- It is a province of Ecuador, lies about 1,000 km off its coast and is a biodiversity hotspot.
- It includes more than 125 islands, islets, and rocks populated by a diversity of wildlife.
- The islands are formed at the meeting point of three tectonic plates—the Nazca, Cocos, and Pacific.
- They are situated at the crossroads of three major Pacific currents: Cold South Equatorial Current, Warm Panama Current and Deep sea Cromwell Current.
- The giant tortoises found here – Galápagos– give the islands its name.
- Galápagos Islands and their surrounding waters form the Galápagos National Park and the Galápagos Marine Reserve.
- In 1978, the islands became UNESCO’s first World Heritage Site.
- Renowned worldwide for its unique species, the islands host a wide array of aquatic wildlife -including marine iguanas, fur seals, and waved albatrosses.
- The Galápagos marine reserve has one of the world’s greatest concentrations of shark species, including endangered whale and hammerhead varieties.
- It was here the British naturalist Charles Darwin made key observations in 1835 that shaped his theory of evolution. Darwin described the islands as a world in itself.
Defence & Security Issues
Naval Commanders’ Conference 2020
The Naval Commanders’ Conference of 2020 is scheduled at New Delhi from 19 to 21 Aug 20.
About the Conference:
- The Conference is the apex level biannual event for interaction between the Naval Commanders.
- The Chief of the Naval Staff, with the Commanders-in-Chief, will review major operational, materiel, logistics, HR, training and administrative activities undertaken during the year and deliberate upon the course to be steered in the future.
- The conference is also the forum for interaction of Naval Commanders with other senior government officials.
- It assumes greater significance due to recent events on our northern borders, and unprecedented challenges posed by COVID-19.
- It would provide the higher naval leadership a forum to discuss conduct of operations, sustenance and maintenance of assets, procurement issues, infrastructure development, human resource management, etc.
- Keeping with the vision of SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region), the Commanders would also undertake deliberations upon the larger security imperatives in the Indo-Pacific.
Key Facts for Prelims
Awards for Indo-U.S. Virtual Networks for COVID-19
The Indo-US Science and Technology Forum announced the awards to eight binational teams, consisting of leading researchers from India and US.
- They received awards to conduct cutting-edge research in pathogenesis and disease management of COVID-19 through India-US virtual networks.
Indo-US Science and Technology Forum:
- The IUSSTF is an autonomous bilateral organisation jointly funded by the governments of India and the US.
- It promotes science, technology, engineering and innovation through substantive interaction among government, academia and industry.
- The Department of Science and Technology, Governments of India and the US Department of States are respective nodal departments.
Digital Quality of Life Index 2020
As per Digital Quality of Life Index 2020 released by online privacy solutions provider SurfShark, India ranks among the lowest in the world in terms of Internet quality.
- The Index researched the quality of a digital wellbeing in 85 countries (81% of the global population), in terms of e-infrastructure.
- India occupied 79th place, (quality of a digital wellbeing) ranking below countries including Guatemala and Sri Lanka.
- India ranks nine in terms of Internet affordability and outperforms countries like U.K., U.S. and China.
- In terms of e-government, India occupies the 15th place globally.
- India’s Internet quality is one of the lowest across 85 countries analysed in the research.
- In position 78, India is at the bottom of the pillar with unstable and slow mobile Internet dragging it down in the overall Internet quality index.
- Seven of the 10 countries with the highest digital quality of life are in Europe, with Denmark leading among 85 countries.
Killing of blowout
- The operation to kill the blowout gas well at Baghjan in eastern Assam’s Tinsukia district was suspended due to a technical fault.
- Killing is a technical term for injecting a viscous mud-cement mixture at high pressure through an inlet in the blowout preventer to stop the pores at a depth of 3.5 km underground.
- The natural gas and associated condensates have been spewing out since the blowout.
- Injecting the killing fluid can be done at a stretch for up to 10 hours.
NaiUdaan & NayaSavera
- The Ministry of Minority Affairs is providing free coaching under NaiUdaan and NayaSavera programme.
- Free coaching will be provided to minority youths preparing for Civil Services, UPSC examinations, medical, engineering, banking, administrative examinations and other competitive exams through various institutions and organisations.
- The heart of a 39-year-old female, declared brain-dead at a private hospital in Pune, was brought to Chennai after police created a green corridor for unrestricted movement of air ambulance.
- A green corridor is a demarcated, cleared out special road route created for an ambulance that enables retrieved organ or organs meant for transplant to reach the destined hospital.
- Organs have a short preservation time, and green corridors ensure the ambulance escapes traffic congestion and reaches the destination in the shortest possible time.