Government Schemes & Policies
- Union Home Minister launches the Student Police Cadet (SPC) programme
Issues related to Health & Education
- India sees major reductions in HIV infections: UN report
- 8M people live in ‘modern slavery’ in India: Global slavery Index 2018
- Gujarat, Rajasthan, Andhra top states with maximum capacity approved for solar parks
Bilateral & International Relations
- 10th edition of Delhi Dialogue begins in New Delhi
- Israel adopts divisive Jewish nation-state law
Science & Technology
- Govt banks on new MicroDot technology to check vehicle thefts
- India to expand polar research to Arctic as well
Key Facts for Prelims
- e-Pragati core platform
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Government Schemes & Policies
Union Home Minister launches the Student Police Cadet (SPC) programme
The Union Home Minister Shri Rajnath Singh launched the Student Police Cadet (SPC) programme for nationwide implementation.
About Student Police Cadet Programme:
The SPC programme seeks to build a bridge between the Police and the larger community through school students by inculcating values and ethics in them through classes in school and outside.
- The programme will focus on students of class 8 and 9 and special care will be taken to ensure that it does not increase the workload of the students.
- The programme will not have any prescribed text book and nor will it include any exam. Under its schedule, only one class is proposed in a month.
- The programme seeks to cover broadly two kinds of topics: Crime prevention and control and Values and ethics.
- The Programme shall be at first implemented in Government schools in both urban and rural areas.
Implementation of the programme:
- The programme will be steered by a state level committee headed by the Principal Secretary, Home Department with the Principal Secretary, Education and Director General of Police as members.
- A similar committee will be formed at the district level, headed by the District Magistrate with the District Inspector of Schools and Superintendent of Police as members.
Issues related to Health & Education
India sees major reductions in HIV infections: UN report
According to the Joint UN Agency on AIDS (UNAIDS) report, India saw a major reduction in the number of new HIV infections, AIDS-related deaths and people living with HIV from 2010 to 2017 on the back of sustained and focussed efforts.
- The report is titled ‘Miles to go – closing gaps, breaking barriers, righting injustices’.
Highlights of the report:
- Asia and the Pacific regions have made strong inroads with its HIV response.
- In India, new HIV infections dropped from one lakh twenty thousand in 2010 to Eighty eight thousand in 2017, AIDS-related deaths reduced from one lakh sixty thousand to Sixty Nine Thousands and people living with HIV from Twenty three lakhs to Twenty one Lakhs in the same time period.
- India has an approved social protection strategy, policy or framework that is being implemented.
- Sustained and focused efforts to reach key populations have led to major reductions in HIV infections in Cambodia, India, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam between 2010 and 2017.
- The report, however, warned that the global new HIV infections were not declining fast enough.
- It also noted that the epidemics were expanding in Pakistan and the Philippines.
- The report also found that countries that had decriminalised at least some aspects of sex work have fewer sex workers living with HIV than countries that criminalise all aspects of sex work.
- Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) is a spectrum of conditions caused by infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). It may also be referred to as HIV disease or HIV infection.
- Serological tests, such as RDTs or enzyme immunoassays (EIAs), detect the presence or absence of antibodies to HIV-1/2 and/or HIV p24 antigen.
- No single HIV test can provide an HIV-positive diagnosis. It is important that these tests are used in combination and in a specific order.
- HIV/AIDS is a pandemic disease caused due to the infection of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system. If untreated, person’s immune system will eventually be completely destroyed.
- AIDS refers to set of symptoms and illnesses that occur at very final stage of HIV infection.
Common reasons for getting infected with AIDS:
- Unprotected sexual intercourse.
- Contaminated blood transfusions.
- Hypodermic needles.
- From mother to child during pregnancy, delivery, or breastfeeding.
- Some bodily fluids, such as saliva and tears, do not transmit HIV.
- The UNAIDS is a UN program on human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
- It seeks to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals.
- Since its launch in 1996, UNAIDS has been providing the strategic direction, advocacy, coordination and technical support to deliver life-saving HIV services.
Steps taken by Indian authorities against HIV/AIDS:
National AIDS Control Programme IV
- The National AIDS Control Programme (NACP), launched in 1992, is being implemented as a comprehensive programme for prevention and control of HIV/AIDS in India.
- NACP has been busy in raising awareness about behaviour change and increasing involvement of NGOs and networks of PLHIV.
- This initiative was started by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2003 in order to work towards reducing HIV/AIDS cases in India
- The main objective of Avahan is to fill the void between existing initiatives and people who are suffering from this fatal disease.
- Their main target is high-risk populations — including female sex workers, their clients, same-sex relations between men, transgenders (known as hijras) and drug-injecting users.
National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO):
- NACO was set up by the government of India to introduce comprehensive strategies, and to realise the goal of HIV prevention and control among the high-risk populations.
8M people live in ‘modern slavery’ in India: Global slavery Index 2018
The Global Slavery Index 2018 estimates that on any given day in 2016 there were nearly 8 million people living in modern slavery in India.
About the index:
- Global slavery Index 2018 is published by the Australia-based human rights group Walk Free Foundation.
- The estimation data were drawn from 54 surveys conducted in 48 countries which included a module on Modern Slavery, with a total sample of 71,158 individual interviews.
Highlights of the report:
Definition of ‘Modern Slavery’:
- The term ‘Modern Slavery’ is used as an umbrella term which refers to situations of exploitation that a person cannot refuse or leave because of threats, violence, coercion, deception, and abuse of power.
- In the context of this report, modern slavery covers a set of specific legal concepts including forced labour, debt bondage, forced marriage, slavery and slavery-like practices, and human trafficking.
Major external drivers:
- Findings from the Index highlight the connection between modern slavery and two major external drivers – highly repressive regimes, in which populations are put to work to prop up the government, and conflict situations which result in the breakdown of rule of law, social structures, and existing systems of protection.
- North Korea is at the top of the list with 104.6 per 1,000.
- Japan registering the lowest prevalence rate of 0.3 per 1,000.
- Globally, nearly three-quarters (71 percent) of modern slavery’s victims are women and girls.
- There are more female than male victims across all forms of modern slavery.
- The 10 countries with the largest number of absolute numbers of people in modern slavery include India, China, Pakistan, North Korea, Nigeria, Iran, Indonesia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Russia and the Philippines. These 10 countries account for 60% of people living in modern slavery.
- Among 167 countries, India ranked 53. However, in absolute numbers, India topped the list on prevalence.
- In terms of prevalence, there were 6.1 victims for every thousand people.
India’s responses on this report:
- The Indian government questioned the definition of modern slavery used in the research and also the sample size for interviews and the questions posed to those surveyed.
- Ministry of Women and Child Development termed the index flawed in its interpretations and as the terminology used is very broad based and words like “forced labour” need a more detailed elaboration in the Indian context where the socio-economic parametres are diverse and very nuanced.
Gujarat, Rajasthan, Andhra top states with maximum capacity approved for solar parks
Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan have topped the list of states with maximum solar power generation capacity approved under solar parks in India.
- Gujarat’s total capacity of 6,200 Mw is distributed across 3 solar parks.
- Rajasthan’s 4,331 Mw capacity comes from 6 parks; while 4 solar parks account for Andhra’s 4,160 Mw total approved capacity.
- Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh have 570 Mw and 2,570 Mw approved capacity, respectively.
- Also, 7 of the 45 parks have capacity exceeding 1,000 Mw.
What is a solar park?
- The solar park is a concentrated zone of development of solar power generation projects and provides developers an area that is well constructed, with proper infrastructure, access to amenities and by minimizing paper works for project implementation.
About Solar Park Scheme:
The Ministry of New and renewable Energy (MNRE) along with its affiliate Solar Energy Corporation (SECI) have launched Solar Park scheme to encourage the construction of solar parks that can generate electricity above between 500 MW and 1000 MW.
- The Solar Parks/ Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects will be set up across various states for five years that is from 2014-15 to 2019-20.
- Objective of the government as per the revised policy is to create at least 50 solar parts with a capacity of 500 MW and above by 2019-20.
- The government will make a budgetary allocation of Rs 8100 crores for the project for providing financial assistance to the parks.
- SECI would be the implementation agency on behalf of Government of India (GOI). The states shall designate a nodal agency for implementation of the solar park.
How would States will get benefits from the scheme?
- At the state level, the solar park will enable the states to bring in significant investment from project developers in Solar Power sector, to meet its Solar Purchase Obligation (SPO) mandates and provide employment opportunities to local population.
- The state will also be able to reduce its carbon footprint by avoiding emissions equivalent to the solar park’s generated capacity.
- They will also generate large direct & indirect employment opportunities in solar and allied industries like glass, metals, heavy industrial equipment etc.
- The solar parks will also provide productive use of abundant uncultivable lands which in turn facilitate development of the surrounding areas.
- The solar park scheme also provides for reduced number of statutory approvals to facilitate faster and easier development.
- Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) is a company of the Indian Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, established to facilitate the implementation of Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission.
- It is the only Public Sector Undertaking dedicated to the solar energy sector.
- The company is responsible for implementation of a number of government schemes, major ones being the VGF schemes for large-scale grid-connected projects under JNNSM, solar park scheme and grid-connected solar rooftop scheme, along with a host of other specialised schemes such as defence scheme, canal-top scheme, Indo-Pak border scheme etc.
- SECI is the leading PSU in the rooftop solar segment, and has already commissioned over 54 MW capacity of rooftop solar projects under multiple government schemes.
- The company’s mandate has recently been broadened to cover the entire renewable energy domain and the company renamed to Renewable Energy Corporation of India (RECI).
Bilateral & International Relations
10th edition of Delhi Dialogue begins in New Delhi
The 10th edition of Delhi Dialogue (DD X) was held in New Delhi.
- The theme for this edition was “Strengthening India-ASEAN Maritime Cooperation”.
- This was the first major event organised after ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit, which was held in New Delhi in January 2018.
About Delhi Dialogue:
- Delhi Dialogue is premier annual event to discuss politico-security, economic and socio-cultural engagement between India and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
- It has been held annually since 2009 and political leaders, policy makers, senior officials, diplomats, think tanks and academicians from both sides participate in the discussions pertaining to ASEAN-India relations.
- It is aimed at finding a common ground and expanding the scope of cooperation between India and ASEAN nations.
- The ninth edition of dialogue had marked the 25th anniversary of ASEAN-India Partnership.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a regional organisation comprising ten Southeast Asian states which promotes intergovernmental cooperation and facilitates economic integration amongst its members.
- It came into existence on August 8, 1967 after ASEAN declaration (also known as Bangkok declaration).
- Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Philippines and Thailand were founder countries.
- Later 5 more countries Brunei Darussalam, Lao PDR, Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam were added.
- Its headquarters is in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Its principal aims are:
- To accelerate economic growth, social progress, and sociocultural evolution among its members.
- To protect of regional stability and the provision of a mechanism for member countries to resolve differences peacefully.
Israel adopts divisive Jewish nation-state law
Israel passed a law declaring that only Jews have the right of self-determination in the country.
- The controversial bill defines the country as an exclusively Jewish state.
Why was this law created?
- The question of Israel’s status as a Jewish state is politically controversial and has long been debated.
- Some Israeli Jewish politicians consider that the founding principles of Israel’s creation, as a state for Jews in their ancient homeland, are under threat and could become less relevant, or obsolete, in the future.
- Fears over the high birth-rate of Israeli Arabs, as well as possible alternatives to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which could challenge Israel’s Jewish majority, have spurred on calls to anchor the Jewishness of Israel in law.
About the law:
- The law was enacted just after the 70th anniversary of the birth of the state of Israel.
- It stipulates that Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish people and they have an exclusive right to national self-determination in it.
- The bill also strips Arabic of its designation as an official language alongside Hebrew, downgrading it to a special status that enables its continued use within Israeli institutions.
- The bill states that advancing Jewish settlement is a national interest. It also states that the “whole and united” Jerusalem is its capital.
Criticism against the law:
- The law is being called racist and on the verge of being apartheid by the members of the Arab minority in the nation.
- The earlier drafts of the law were more discriminatory towards the Arabs in the nation, who have long complained of being treated as second-class citizens.
- Despite the changes, critics feel that the new law will deepen a sense of alienation within the Arab minority.
- The Arab population in Israel amounts to around 1.8 million, about 20 percent of the nation’s 9 million population.
- They mainly comprise descendants of the Palestinians who remained on their land during the conflict between Arabs and Jews that culminated in the war of 1948 surrounding the creation of the modern state of Israel.
- Hundreds of thousands were forced to leave their homes or fled. While those who remained have full equal rights under the law but they face constant discrimination and inferior provision of services such as education, health and housing.
Science & Technology
Govt banks on new MicroDot technology to check vehicle thefts
In a move to put a check on vehicle thefts, the government will soon notify a new standard for automobile industry to use a MicroDots technology.
What is MicroDots technology?
- In this technique, thousands of small dots laser etched will be sprayed with a vehicle identification number on all over the vehicle’s body. This will also include their engines. This tech is termed as MicroDots and it is almost impossible to remove these dots.
Need for use of such technology:
- The auto-lifters take out the engines along with the other valuable parts and thereafter, they destroy the vehicle. Thus, most of the vehicles stolen go untraced.
Menace of auto thefts:
- It is reported that 2.14 lakh vehicles are stolen across India annually. The Capital, however, tops the list with 38,644 in 2016. This significant figure translates to over 100 vehicles on a daily basis.
- The state of Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra follows the list with 34,480 and 22,435 number of vehicles, respectively.
- The Delhi Police report states that 41,000 vehicles were stolen in the last year of which around 30 vehicles a month were recovered.
- The government’s highest automobile technical standard making body, CMVR-TSC, will finalise the norm in the next one or two months.
- Once the MicroDots technology stabilises and there is greater demand, the industry would adopt this as a norm.
India to expand polar research to Arctic as well
Indian government is refocusing priorities to the Arctic polar region because of opportunities and challenges posed by climate change.
- India’s National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR) is in talks with Canada and Russia, key countries with presence in the Arctic circle, to establish new observation systems.
- Currently, India has only one Arctic observation station near Norway.
- The government has renamed the National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR) as the National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research.
- India is already an observer at the Arctic Council — a forum of countries that decides on managing the region’s resources and popular livelihood.
- In 2015, set up an underground observatory, called IndARC, at the Kongsfjorden fjord, half way between Norway and the North Pole.
- India has already established a high-altitude research station in the Himalayas, called HIMANSH, at Spiti, Himachal Pradesh.
Need to refocus priorities:
- Climate change was a decisive factor in India re-thinking priorities. Sea ice at the Arctic has been melting rapidly — the fastest in this century. That means several spots, rich in hydrocarbon reserves, will be more accessible through the year via alternative shipping routes.
About National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR):
The National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research is an Indian research and development institution, situated in Vasco, Goa.
- It is an autonomous Institution of the Department of Ocean Development (DOD), Government of India.
- It is responsible for administering the Indian Antarctic Program and maintains the Indian Government’s Antarctic research station, Maitri.
- At present, NCAOR is an agency working under Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India since 2006, by the notification of the President of India.
- NCAOR complex is a home to a special low-temperature laboratory and is setting up a National Antarctic Data Centre and a Polar Museum.
Key Facts for Prelims
e-Pragati core platform
- Andhra Pradesh government has launched the ‘e-Pragati core platform’.
- The project is aimed at bringing together 745 G2B (government to businesses), G2C (government to citizens), G2E (government to employees) and G2G (government to governments) services offered by 33 departments and more than 300 government agencies.
- Through the e-Pragati core platform the State government aims to realise the vision of ‘Sunrise AP 2022’.