Polity & Governance
- Legal Aid and Empowerment initiatives
Issues related to Health & Education
- India develops National Action Plan to combat Antimicrobial Resistance
- Anti-dumping duty likely on hydrogen peroxide
Bilateral & International Relations
- India contributes $250,000 to UN election assistance programme
- Logistics pact with U.S. ‘almost done’
Science & Technology
- After Mars, ISRO decides it’s time to probe Venus
Key Facts for Prelims
- April 21: Civil Services Day
- GMR Hyderabad Airport gets carbon neutrality certificate
- UNESCO’s Peace Prize
- Video gaming to be featured at 2022 Asian Games
Polity & Governance
Legal Aid and Empowerment initiatives
Three key legal aid and empowerment initiatives of the Department of Justice – including ‘Pro bono legal services’, ‘Tele law service’ and ‘Nyaya Mitra scheme were launched recently.
Aim of these initiatives:
- These initiatives are aimed at fulfilling the department’s core mandate of enhancing ‘access to justice’ for the poor and vulnerable communities, including making accessible quality and effective legal aid for them.
Pro bono legal Services:
- The ‘Pro bono legal services’ initiative is a web based platform, through which interested lawyers can register themselves to volunteer pro bono services for the underprivileged litigants, who are unable to afford it.
- The Department of Justice has launched the online application for this initiative. Through this online portal, litigants from marginalised communities (including members of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, women, children, senior citizens, persons with low income and persons with disabilities) can also apply for legal aid and advice from the pro bono lawyers.
- Many from the legal fraternity were already volunteering legal support for the underprivileged clients, in an individual capacity.
Tele Law: Mainstreaming Legal Aid through Common Service Centre
- Through the second initiative, launched by the Minister, the Department of Justice and NALSA are partnering with CSC- E- Governance Service Limited for mainstreaming legal aid to the marginalized communities through the Common Service Centers (CSCs).
- This initiative, called ‘Tele Law’, is aimed at facilitating delivery of legal advice through an expert panel of lawyers – stationed at the State Legal Services Authorities (SLSA). The project would connect lawyers with clients through video conferencing facilities at CSCs, operated by para legal volunteers. For this purpose, this initiative would also play a pivotal role in empowering 1000 women para legal volunteers.
- The project would be launched across 1800 panchayats in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, North Eastern States and Jammu & Kashmir.
District Facilitation Centre to reduce pendency: Engagement of Nyaya Mitra
- At present, more than 2.4 crore cases are pending in the district and lower judiciary, of which nearly 10% are more than 10 years old. Collective action and efforts in remedying this situation is required.
- In this context, the Minister also inaugurated the Nyaya Mitra scheme, which is aimed at reducing pendency of cases across selected districts, with special focus on those pending for more than 10 years.
- Functionalized through a retired judicial or executive officer (with legal experience) designated as the ‘Nyaya Mitra’, the project would be operated out of District Facilitation Centres, housed in CSCs.
- Nyaya Mitra’s responsibilities would include among others assistance to litigants who are suffering due to delay in investigations or trial, by actively identifying such cases through the National Judicial Data Grid, providing legal advice and connecting litigants to DLSA, CSC Tele Law, other government agencies and civil society organisations. He/she shall also refer the marginalized applicants to Lok Adalats for dispute resolution and render assistance towards prison reforms within the district, in coordination with the district judiciary and other stakeholders.
- This initiative would be launched in 227 districts including 27 districts from North East and Jammu & Kashmir and 200 districts from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Odisha, Gujarat, West Bengal etc. and would be operated out of CSCs.
Issues related to Health & Education
India develops National Action Plan to combat Antimicrobial Resistance
What is Antimicrobial resistance or Superbugs?
- Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) or superbugs happens when microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites change when they are exposed to antimicrobial drugs. These microorganisms are also termed as “superbugs”.
- As a result, the medicines or drugs become ineffective and infections persist in the body further increasing the risk of spread to others.
National Action Plan to combat Antimicrobial Resistance:
- Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare announced the finalization of India’s comprehensive and multi-sectoral National Action Plan at the ‘Inter-Ministerial Consultation on AMR containment’ held at New Delhi.
- The Ministers signed a ‘Delhi Declaration’ to contain Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR).
- The Delhi Declaration calls for the support of all stakeholders including UN, WHO, FAO and other UN agencies, civil society organizations etc., in developing and implementing the national and state action plans on AMR.
- The National action plan has objectives of enhancing awareness, strengthening surveillance, improving rational use of antibiotics, reducing infections and promoting research.
The National Programme for Containment of AMR is under implementation in 12th Five Year Plan with the following objectives:
- To establish a laboratory-based surveillance system by strengthening laboratories.
- To generate quality data on AMR for pathogens of public health importance.
- To generate awareness among healthcare providers and in the community regarding the rational use of antibiotics.
- To strengthen infection control guidelines and practices and promote rational use of antibiotics.
Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has set up a National Anti-Microbial Resistance Research and Surveillance Network (AMRRSN) to enable compilation of data of AMR at the national level.
Under AMRRSN, ICMR is carrying out surveillance of drug resistance to antibiotics in the following six pathogenic groups:
- Diarrhoeagenic bacterial organisms
- Enteric fever pathogens
- Enterobacteriaceae causing sepsis
- Gramnegative Non-fermenters
- Gram positives including MRSA
- Fungal infections.
In addition, the health ministry enacted regulations to regulate the sale of antibiotics and brought out National Guidelines for the use of antibiotics.[Ref: PIB]
Anti-dumping duty likely on hydrogen peroxide
Government is planning to impose anti-dumping duty of up to $118 per tonne on import of hydrogen peroxide used by industries in applications such as corrosion control and paper bleaching from six countries.
- The move is aimed at guarding domestic players from cheap imports of ‘hydrogen peroxide’ from Bangladesh, Taiwan, Korea, Indonesia, Pakistan and Thailand.
Key facts about Hydrogen peroxide:
- Hydrogen peroxide is a colourless liquid, slightly more viscous than water.
- Hydrogen peroxide is the simplest peroxide.
- It is used as an oxidizer, bleaching agent and disinfectant. It is also used as ripening agent.
- Concentrated hydrogen peroxide, or “high-test peroxide”, is a reactive oxygen species and has been used as a propellant in rocketry.
- Hydrogen peroxide is unstable and slowly decomposes in the presence of base or a catalyst. Because of its instability, hydrogen peroxide is typically stored with a stabilizer in a weakly acidic solution.
- Hydrogen peroxide is found in biological systems including the human body. Enzymes that use or decompose hydrogen peroxide are classified as peroxidases.
Bilateral & International Relations
India contributes $250,000 to UN election assistance programme
India contributed USD 250000 to the United Nations programme for helping countries to hold elections and develop their electoral systems.
- It is India’s second contribution of USD 250000 to the programmes for electoral assistance and capacity building. The first contribution was made in the year 2012.
About UN Election Assistance Division
- The UN Election Assistance Division was set up in 1991.
- Through the division, the United Nations has helped over 100 countries with their elections.
- The division principally provides technical assistance for organising and conducting elections.
- However, it has also sent observers to ensure the integrity of elections at the request of the General Assembly or the Security Council, and even organised elections in Cambodia and Timor-Leste.
- The foundation of UN Electoral Assistance is Article 21 (3) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which provides that “The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections.”
Types of Assistance:
- Technical assistance
- Election observation and other assessments
- Organization or Supervision of Elections.
UN entities providing electoral assistance:
- The Department of Political Affairs (DPA)
- The Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO)
- The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
- The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
- United Nations Volunteers (UNV)
- The United Nations Office of Project Services (UNOPS)
- The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
Logistics pact with U.S. ‘almost done’
India is all set to notify the operationalising of the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) with the U.S.
- The notification includes designating the points of contact for the U.S. military to work with and setting up a common account for payments. The U.S., which has similar agreements with several countries, has already notified the details.
- After the notification, the U.S. is expected to formally ratify the agreement which will then operationalise the pact.
- India and the U.S. concluded the logistics agreement, the first of the three foundational agreements between the two nations, last August.
- However, its implementation has been delayed, as India was unable to streamline administrative procedures to enable its operationalisation.
What is LEMOA?
- LEMOA, sometimes called a Logistics Services Agreement (LSA) an agreement that US has signed with many of its allies.
- It is a facilitating agreement that establishes basic terms, conditions, and procedures for reciprocal provision of Logistic Support, Supplies, and Services between the armed forces of India and the United States.
- In reality, LSA has been signed by around 100 countries, many of which are not US allies.
- LEMOA permits the US and India to use each other’s facilities and provides for easier access to supplies and services for the military forces of the two countries when they are engaged in specific types of activities.
- These activities are limited to joint military exercises, training, port calls and humanitarian missions and other military activities that both sides mutually agree to undertake.
- It does not give the US automatic access to Indian military bases or to logistical support, but simply smoothens existing practices.
- Though the US does currently use Indian military bases and logistics — for example, during joint military exercises — this is managed on a case-by-case basis, which is simply more cumbersome.
- LEMOA does not necessarily give anything that the US does not already get, but it makes the process more regularised.
Science & Technology
After Mars, ISRO decides it’s time to probe Venus
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has invited scientists to suggest studies for a potential orbiter mission to Venus – somewhat similar to the one that landed in Mars in 2013.
- ISRO plans to send a spacecraft that will initially go around Venus in an elliptical orbit before getting closer to the ‘Yellow Planet’.
- It will carry instruments weighing 175 kg and using 500W of power.
- Venus, the second planet from the Sun, comes closest to Earth roughly every 583 days, or about 19 months.
- Venus, our closest planetary neighbour, is similar to Earth in many aspects.
- However, it takes only 225 days to revolve around the Sun. Secondly, the surface is very hot due to nearness to the Sun.
Missions to Venus:
- Ever since the then USSR sent the Venera mission to Venus in February 1961, there have been close to 30 missions to the planet, the last one being Japan’s Akatsuki in 2010. These comprised orbiters, landers, atmospheric probes and fly-bys.
- The erstwhile Soviet Union tops the list with 16 Veneras and two Vegas.
- The US had Mariner, Pioneer and Magellan missions.
Key Facts for Prelims
April 21: Civil Services Day
- The National Civil Services Day is celebrated every year on April 21, when civil servants rededicate themselves to the cause of the citizens and renew their commitment to public service.
- This day coincides with the date on which Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel had addressed the first batch of probationers at the All India Administrative Service Training School at Metcalfe House, New Delhi in 1947.
- On this day, the ‘Prime Minister Award for Excellence in Public Administration’ is presented in three categories. These awards were instituted in 2006.
GMR Hyderabad Airport gets carbon neutrality certificate
- The GMR Hyderabad International Airport Limited has received the Carbon Neutrality (Level 3+) Certificate from the Airports Council International (ACI).
- The certification comes under ACI’s Airport Car Accreditation Programme that is the industry standard for assessment of an airport’s efforts to manage and reduce carbon emissions.
- The programme was launched in June, 2009 and comprises four levels.
- Established in 1991, Airports Council International (ACI) represents airports’ interests with governments and international organizations, develops standards, policies and recommended practices for airports, and it provides information and training opportunities to raise the standards around the world.
- ACI is the only global trade representative of the world’s airport authorities.
UNESCO’s Peace Prize
- A UNESCO jury has awarded the organization’s prestigious ‘peace prize’ to the mayor of Lampedusa, the Italian island which gained fame as a hotspot for migrant arrivals.
- Mayor Giusi Nicolini was awarded the prize together with French NGO SOS Mediterrannee, for their work in saving the lives of refugees and migrants and for welcoming them with dignity.
- The peace prize, also known as the Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize, named after the first president of Ivory Coast, has been awarded by Unesco each year since 1989, to recognize individuals and groups who “safeguard, maintain, and seek peace”.
Video gaming to be featured at 2022 Asian Games
- Competitive video games will become a medal sport for the first time ever at the 2022 Asian Games.
- They will appear as a demonstration event at the 2018 edition of the next Asian Games, to be held in Indonesia, as part of the run-up to esports’ official inclusion as a medal sport in the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China.
- Held every four years, Asian Games is a multi-sport competition, touted as second only to the Olympics in terms of size.