Government Schemes & Policies
- Gorakhpur, Koraput and Thane to launch Zero Hunger Programme
- NGT paves way for Chardham highway project
- TRAI releases draft recommendation to promote ease of doing telecom business
Bilateral & International Relations
- Centre rethinks joining Hague child custody pact
Science & Technology
- Fast spinning star confirms Indian Nobel Laureate’s theory
Key Facts for Prelims
- Commemorative Coins on Dr. M.S. Subbulakshmi
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Government Schemes & Policies
Gorakhpur, Koraput and Thane to launch Zero Hunger Programme
On occasion of World Food Day (October 16), three districts – Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh, Koraput in Odisha and Thane in Maharashtra – will initiate India’s ambitious ‘Zero Hunger’ programme through interventions in farm sector.
- These three would act as a model of an integrated approach to deal with hunger and malnutrition by adopting suitable agricultural\horticultural practices.
- Many more districts will eventually be covered under this dedicated farm-based programme in sync with India’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end hunger by 2030.
About the ‘Zero Hunger’ programme:
- The Programme will be initiated by Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) in association with Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), MS Swaminathan Research Foundation and Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC).
- The concerned state governments will also be involved in the programme which consists of organisations of farming system for nutrition, setting up genetic gardens for biofortified plants/crops and initiation of a ‘Zero Hunger’ training.
- The programme will ensure suitable methods of measuring the impact of intervention. There will be intensive training programme in order to identify the nutritional maladies in each district and the appropriate agricultural/horticultural and animal husbandry remedies.
- This programme will be launched in addition to what the government has planned to deal with the issue of malnutrition through various other initiatives under its goal to make India malnutrition free by 2022.
What is SDG Goal 2?
- The second of the seventeen proposed SDGs is “End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture”.
What is a genetic garden?
- A genetic garden for biofortified plants contains germplasm of naturally biofortified crops through plant breeding.
- It has plants and crops that help supplement micro-nutrient deficiencies, including iron, zinc, vitamin A and iodine among others.
[Ref: Economic Times]
NGT paves way for Chardham highway project
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has paved the way for the NH-34 stretch of the PMO’s ambitious Chardham highway widening project, also known as Chardham Mahamarg Vikas Pariyojna.
- NGT disposed of a plea that alleged that the project was violating provisions of Bhagirathi eco-sensitive zone.
- In an undertaking, the Uttarakhand state government and the Border Roads Organisation assured the green court that the project would be carried out with due compliance of laws in force.
What was the issue?
- A plea was filed before the NGT. It had raised an alarm about mountain blasting and felling of thousands of trees in the Bhagirathi river valley for widening of National Highway-34.
- One of the related petitions in the matter also pertained specifically to a nine-km stretch in Bhairon Ghati on the Uttarkashi to Gangotri route. It had said that debris were being dumped into the river valley during the road widening.
- In fact, during a hearing on May 4, the state government had admitted that BRO dumped muck on the fragile hill slopes.
About the Chardham Mahamarg Vikas Pariyojna:
In December 2016, PM Narendra Modi has laid the foundation stone for the Chardham highway development project in Uttarakhand’s Dehradun.
- The project is an ambitious initiative to improve connectivity to the four main Himalayan pilgrimage centres in Uttarakhand, called Char Dham.
- The project’s main objective is to develop around 900 km of national highways.
- These highways will be built in Uttarakhand at an approximate cost of Rs 12,000 crore.
- The project will make travel to the Char Dham (Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath) safer and more convenient.
- The project involves widening the existing, geometrically deficient highway that connects the four abodes.
- Apart from widening, the road transport and highways ministry plans to improve the stretches to two-lane carriageway with paved shoulders, protect landslide hazard zones, construct bypasses, long bridges, tunnels and elevated corridors to ensure safety for the users.
- It will have proper slope stabilisation to ensure protection against landslides.
- The project is expected to be completed by 2018.
Significance of the project:
- The project will benefit people visiting holy shrines in Uttarakhand.
- It will generate additional employment for the local population and will change the economy of the State as it will give strong boost to connectivity and tourism.
- The roads leading to Gangotri and Badrinath are also equally important from a strategic point of view as these roads are used for supply and deployment to the defence establishments along the Indo-China border areas in Uttarakhand.
TRAI releases draft recommendation to promote ease of doing telecom business
Aiming to promote unhindered growth in the telecom sector, the regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) released draft recommendations for ease of doing telecom business.
- Regarding merger and acquisitions (M and A) guidelines, the TRAI said the current provisions of M and A guidelines do not define a red-line for the market share of the resultant entity in a service area. Therefore, DoT (Department of Telecom) should define a cap on the permissible market share of the merging entities taken together; beyond which merger proposal should not be accepted.
- For an existing service provider, for renewal of licence or migration of its licence to Unified Licence (UL), the condition of minimum net worth should not be applicable.
- In respect of electro-magnetic field (EMF) compliance, DoT may review the need of calling biennial certification for all the existing sites of every telecom service provider (TSP). TSPs should be asked to submit all requisite certifications only through the Sanchar Tarang portal.
- DoT should devise a suitable matrix, linking the penalty to the severity of the incident and the number of occurrences of the violation for imposition of financial penalties.
About Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI):
- TRAI is the regulator of the telecommunications sector in India.
- It was established in 1997 by an Act of Parliament to regulate telecom services and tariffs in India. Earlier regulation of telecom services and tariffs was overseen by the Central Government.
- TRAI’s mission is to create and nurture conditions for growth of telecommunications in India to enable the country to have a leading role in the emerging global information society.
- One of its main objectives is to provide a fair and transparent environment that promotes a level playing field and facilitates fair competition in the market.
- TRAI regularly issues orders and directions on various subjects such as tariffs, interconnections, quality of service, Direct To Home (DTH) services and mobile number portability.
About Telecommunications Dispute Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT):
- The TRAI Act was amended by an ordinance, effective from January 2000, establishing a Telecommunications Dispute Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) to take over the adjudicatory and disputes functions from TRAI.
- TDSAT was set up to adjudicate any dispute between a licensor and a licensee, between two or more service providers, between a service provider and a group of consumers, and to hear and dispose of appeals against any direction, decision or order of TRAI.
Bilateral & International Relations
Centre rethinks joining Hague child custody pact
An “inter-ministerial process” is under way to discuss the repercussions of the Hague convention on India.
What’s the issue?
- The Indian government had in November 2016 announced that it would not sign the convention.
- The Ministry of Women and Child Development has reservations about the treaty because they believe it could trample on women’s rights.
- However, America says India should sign this convention to create a more effective response to deal with abduction cases and prevent inter-country parental child abduction.
- Currently, there is no specific Indian legislation addressing issues related to abduction of children from and into India.
- However, Law Commission of India had submitted the 218th Report titled “Need to accede to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction 1980” on 30th March, 2009.
What is Inter-country parental child abduction?
- Inter-country parental child abduction is a situation that is attained when one parent takes a child or children to a foreign country to prevent the other parent from seeking custody of the child.
Inter-country parental child abduction cases in India:
- India’s case-load (regarding IPCA) is second largest in the United States which is followed by Mexico.
- At least 90 children from 80 Indian-American families were affected by separating parents and the legal problems involved.
- As more and more Indians are studying and working in the U.S, such cases are growing in number and it is necessary to get a better mechanism to deal with this.
About the Hague Abduction Convention:
The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction or Hague Abduction Convention is a multilateral treaty developed by the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH).
- It provides an expeditious method to return a child internationally abducted by a parent from one-member country to another.
- The Convention was entered into force between the signatories on 1 December 1983.
- The Convention was drafted to ensure the prompt return of children who have been abducted from their country of habitual residence or wrongfully retained in a contracting state not their country of habitual residence.
- The primary intention of the Convention is to preserve whatever status quo child custody arrangement existed immediately before an alleged wrongful removal or retention thereby deterring a parent from crossing international boundaries in search of a more sympathetic court.
- The Convention applies only to children under the age of 16.
- 94 states are party to the convention. In 2016, Philippines acceded to the convention.
Science & Technology
Fast spinning star confirms Indian Nobel Laureate’s theory
Scientists for first time have observed Optical polarisation phenomenon (polarised light emitted by rapidly rotating stars) after it was predicted by Indian astrophysicist and Nobel laureate Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar 70 years ago.
What is Optical polarisation phenomenon?
- Optical polarisation phenomenon is a measure of the orientation of the oscillations of a light beam to its direction of travel.
- The phenomenon was observed using High Precision Polarimetric Instrument (HIPPI), world’s most sensitive astronomical polarimeter to detect polarised light from Regulus, one of brightest stars in night sky about 79 light years away.
- The equipment provided unprecedented insights into the star, which is in the constellation Leo, allowing the scientists to determine its rate of spinning and the orientation in space of the star’s spin axis.
- Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar in 1946 had first predicted that some stars could be emitting polarised light from their edges.
- In 1968, other researchers built on Chandrasekhar’s work to predict that the distorted, or squashed, shape of a rapidly rotating star would lead to the emission of polarised light, but its detection has eluded astronomers until now.
[Ref: The Hindu]
Key Facts for Prelims
Commemorative Coins on Dr. M.S. Subbulakshmi
- Commemorative coins of Rs 100 and Rs 10 denomination were released on the occasion of 101st Birth Centenary of noted Carnatic musician Dr. MS Subbulakshmi.
- She was the first musician to be awarded Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honour in 1998.
- She was also the first Indian musician to receive the Ramon Magsaysay award, often considered Asia’s Nobel Prize in 1974 and first Indian musician to perform at UN General Assembly.
- In 2016, to mark her birth centenary, UN Postal Administration had issued stamp to honour her.