Polity & Governance
- NABCB secures international equivalence for personnel certification
Government Schemes & Policies
- Government to remove minimum education requirement for transport vehicle drivers
- Ambitious ‘back to village’ programme starts in J&K
- Namma Kolhapuri chappal gets GI boost
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Rs 80,000 crore Kaleshwaram irrigation project inaugurated in Telangana
Defence & Security Issues
- Indian Navy launches Operation Sankalp in Gulf of Oman
- Visakhapatnam’s BDL unit to supply Varunastra to Indian Navy
- Summer solstice 2019
Key Facts for Prelims
- International Yoga Day 2019
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Polity & Governance
NABCB secures international equivalence for personnel certification
The National Accreditation Board for Certification Bodies (NABCB) has secured international equivalence for its accreditation programme for personnel certification bodies in the annual meetings of the Asia Pacific Accreditation Cooperation in Singapore.
About the international equivalence of NABCB’s accreditation programme:
- NABCB signed the Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) of the Asia Pacific Accreditation Cooperation (APAC) for its accreditation programme based on international standard, ISO/IEC 17024.
- ISO/IEC 17024: Conformity assessment – General requirements for bodies operating certification of persons specifies criteria for the operation of a Personnel Certification Bodies (also known as a certification body for persons).
- The standard includes requirements for the development and maintenance of the certification schemes for persons upon which the certification is based.
- Personnel Certification would support many professionals in India, especially those who do not have formal education or certificate programme.
- Any person carrying ISO/IEC 17024 certificate with NABCB logo will be recognized internationally.
- It can also be used by regulators for establishing confidence in certified personnel for different activities.
- Hence, with this international recognition, NABCB aims to facilitate export of Indian services and skills into the world market by attesting that persons are certified following international standards by the certifying bodies.
What is accreditation?
- Accreditation is the formal recognition of competence.
- In context of National Accreditation Board for Certification Bodies (NABCB), It relates to competence of certification bodies and inspection bodies.
- Accreditation reduces risk for business and its customers by assuring that accredited Conformity Assessment Bodies (CABs) are competent to carry out the work they undertake within their scope of accreditation.
Why is accreditation needed?
- Accreditation is the recognized mechanism accepted by WTO / TBT agreements for establishing equivalence of certification/ inspection schemes operated in different countries as also the test results of various laboratories.
About National Accreditation Board for Certification Bodies (NABCB):
- NABCB, a constituent Board of the Quality Council of India (QCI), is an autonomous body attached to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
- It is India’s national accreditation body.
- Chairman of the NABCB is nominated by Chairman of Quality Council of India.
- NABCB is internationally recognized and represents the interests of the Indian industry at international forums through membership.
- NABCB obtains its finances through the services offered and from no other sources.
- NABCB is a member of the Asia Pacific Accreditation Cooperation (association of Accreditation Bodies in the Asia-Pacific Region) and International Accreditation Forum (Association of Accreditation Bodies worldwide).
- NABCB is also a signatory to the IAF MLA (Multi-lateral Arrangement for Mutual Recognition).
- To establish and offer accreditation schemes, based on internationally accepted standards, for certification bodies and inspection bodies engaged in providing services of system certification (ISO 9001, ISO 14001 etc.), product certification and inspection.
What are the accreditation schemes offered by NABCB now?
- NABCB offers accreditation in the areas of Management System Certification [based on ISO 9001 (QMS), ISO 14001 (EMS), ISO 22000 (FSMS)] , Product Certification and Inspection bodies.
About Asia Pacific Accreditation Cooperation (APAC)
- APAC was established in January 2019 by the amalgamation of two former regional accreditation cooperations – the Asia Pacific Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (APLAC) and the Pacific Accreditation Cooperation (PAC).
- Conformity assessment results that are produced by conformity assessment bodies (CABs) that have been accredited by one APAC MRA signatory are accepted by all the other APAC MRA signatories.
- APAC is recognized by the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) as one of four APEC Specialist Regional Bodies (SRBs) that support the work of the APEC Sub-Committee on Standards and Conformance.
- APAC’s members include accreditation bodies, accreditation focal points and other organisations that have an interest in accredited conformity assessment results.
- To manage a mutual recognition arrangement (MRA) among accreditation bodies in the Asia Pacific region by facilitating the acceptance of conformity assessment results (e.g. test reports, test certificates, and certification) across the region and with other regions around the world.
Indian organizations of APAC:
- Global Laboratories Accreditation Board (GLAB)
- National Accreditation Board for Certification Bodies (NABCB)
- National Accreditation Board for Education and Training (NABET)
- National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL)
- 9 June 2019 marks World Accreditation Day as a global initiative, jointly established by the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) and the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC), to raise awareness of the importance of accreditation.
Government Schemes & Policies
Government to remove minimum education requirement for transport vehicle drivers
The ministry of road transport and highways has proposed to remove the requirement of minimum educational qualification for driving a transport vehicle in the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill.
What is the current minimum qualification?
- Under Rule 8 of the Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989, a transport vehicle driver needs to have passed class 8.
- Many people in India possess the required skill for driving but not the required educational qualification and hence were finding it difficult to obtain driving license.
- Hence, central government felt that driving being more a matter of skill than of educational competence, the condition of minimum educational qualification acts as a hindrance for the otherwise eligible unemployed youth.
- It will open up employment opportunities for a large number of unemployed persons, especially the youth in the country.
- It will fulfil the shortage of nearly 22 lakh drivers in the transport and logistics sector.
- It will benefit skilled persons from economically underprivileged sections of the society where the population is dependent for livelihood on low-income earning jobs such as driving.
Ambitious ‘back to village’ programme starts in J&K
The ambitious ‘back to village’ mission mode programme started in many districts of Jammu and Kashmir which will continue till June 27.
What is ‘Back to Village’?
- BacktoVillage – Governance at the Doorstep’ is a first of its kind initiative in J&K.
- As part of this programme, civil servants will have to reach out to 4483 Panchayats of J&K, where they will interact and obtain feedback from the grassroots for improving delivery of village-specific services.
- To reach out to the people at the grassroots level to create in the rural masses an earnest desire for decent standard of living.
- To energize Panchayats and directing development efforts in rural areas through community participation.
- To involve the people of the state and government officials in a joint effort to deliver the mission of equitable development.
- To emphasize the importance of ensuring people’s participation, not merely as an agent in the execution of the development works but as owners of the entire programme.
- Rural areas in Jammu and Kashmir face multiple problems including those of roads, schools, health centres, electricity, sanitation and safe drinking water.
Namma Kolhapuri chappal gets GI boost
Maharashtra’s extremely popular footwear industry, renowned for its handcrafted leather Kolhapuri chappal has been given the Geographical Indication (GI) tag, which is likely to further boost its sale.
About the Kolhapuri chappals:
- Kolhapuri chappals are hand-crafted leather slippers that are locally tanned using vegetable dyes.
- There is a perception that these chappals are from Maharashtra alone, but a large number of them are from Karnataka, and have been making these chappals for centuries.
- The GI tag approvals implies that the artisans producing Kolhapuris in these districts will now be able to make and market their product in domestic and international markets.
- This also means the artisans can tie up with leading e-commerce players for higher profits.
- More importantly, it also prohibits the usage of the term “Kolhapuris” for similar products made in other parts of the country.
What is a Geographical Indication?
- A ‘geographical indication’ (GI) is a place name used to identify the origin and quality, reputation or other characteristics of products.
- There are currently more than 340 GI in India.
- The registration of a geographical indication is valid for a period of 10 years which can be renewed from time to time.
- The Appellate Board or the Registrar of Geographical Indications has the power to remove the geographical indication or an authorised user from the register.
GI registration confers:
- Legal protection to the products.
- Prevents unauthorised use of a GI by others.
- Helps consumers get quality products of desired traits.
- Promotes economic prosperity of producers of goods by enhancing demand in national and international markets.
What Indications are not registrable?
- The indications must fall within the scope of GI Act, 1999.
- The use of which would be likely to deceive or cause confusion; or
- The use of which would be contrary to any law for the time being in force; or
- Which comprises or contains scandalous or obscene matter; or
- Which comprises or contains any matter likely to hurt the time being in force; religious susceptibilities of any class or section of the citizens of India; or
- Which would otherwise be dismantled to protection in a court; or
- Which are determined to be generic names or indications of goods and are, therefore, not or ceased to be protected in their country of origin or which have fallen into disuse in that country; or
- Which although literally true as to the territory region or locality in which the goods originate, but falsely represent to the persons that the goods originate in another territory, region or locality as the case may be.
Why is it important?
- Article 22 of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights agreement says unless a geographical indication is protected in the country of its origin, there is no obligation under the agreement for other countries to extend reciprocal protection.
- Typically, such a name conveys an assurance of quality and distinctiveness, which is essentially attributable to the place of its origin.
- Products sold with the GI tag get premium pricing also.
How a geographical indication is different from a trade mark?
- A trade mark is a sign which is used in the course of trade and it distinguishes goods or services of one enterprise from those of other enterprises.
- Whereas a geographical indication is an indication used to identify goods having special characteristics originating from a definite geographical territory.
GIs and international conventions:
GI registration is essential to get protection in other countries.
- Under Articles 1 (2) and 10 of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, geographical indications are covered as an element of IPR
- They are also covered under Articles 22 to 24 of the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement, which was part of the agreements concluded at the Uruguay Round of GATT negotiations.
- India, as member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), enacted the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration & Protection) Act, 1999 that came into force from September 15, 2003.
Who can apply for the registration of a geographical indication?
- Any association of persons, producers, organisation or authority established by or under the law can apply.
- The applicant must represent the interest of the producers.
- The application should be in writing in the prescribed form.
Registrar of Geographical Indications:
- The Controller-General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks appointed under sub-section (1) of section 3 of the Trade Marks Act, 1999, shall be the Registrar of Geographical Indications.
- The Central Government may appoint such officers with such designations as it thinks fit for the purpose of discharging, under the superintendence and direction of the Registrar, such functions of the Registrar under this Act, as he may from time to time authorise them to discharge.
- In 1999, the Parliament had passed the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act,1999.
- This Act seeks to provide for the registration and better protection of geographical indications relating to goods in India.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
Rs 80,000 crore Kaleshwaram irrigation project inaugurated in Telangana
The Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Project (KLIP), touted as the world’s largest multi-stage multi-purpose scheme, was inaugurated by Telangana government.
About Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Project (KLIP):
- The Kaleshwaram irrigation project is a multipurpose water project on river Godavari.
- It is located in Kaleshwaram in Jayshankar Bhoopalpally district of Telangana.
- Kaleshwaram is a town on Godavari bank downstream of Sriram Sagar project (SRSP). At Kaleshwaram, river Pranahita merges with Godavari. This place is also known as Sangam and Dakshin Ganga.
- This Project has been conceived from the erstwhile Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Pranahita- Chevella Sujala Sravanthi project.
- This Project is proposed at Medigadda Village, below the point of confluence of Pranahitha and Godavari River near Kaleshwaram village, where famous Shiva temple, Kaleshwaram, exists. The project is thus named as Kaleshwaram Project.
- The project starts at Medigadda Barrage and ends at Narketpally in Nalgonda district in Telangana.
- This Project envisages water diversion by construction of barrage across river Godavari at Medigadda, and two more barrages between Medigadda and Sripada Yellampally Project in 13 Districts of Telangana through canals, tunnels, lift systems, etc. for irrigating an ayacut.
- Under the project, water will be lift (about half a kilometre height) from Godavari river per day from the Medigadda barrage. From there, the water will be supplied across 20 reservoirs of this project.
- The project is programmed to be completed by June 2022.
- The Kaleshwaram project has provision for the storage of about 148 tmc ft with plans of utilising 180 tmc ft by lifting at least 2 tmc ft water every day for 90 flood days.
- The project is designed to irrigate 7,38,851 hectares (over 18.47 lakh acres) uplands in the erstwhile districts of Karimnagar, Nizamabad, Warangal, Medak, Nalgonda and Ranga Reddy.
- Previously, it was decided to draw water from the Godavari river by constructing a barrage at Tummidihatti village in Adilabad, Telangana for the irrigation purpose.
- However, Maharashtra government showed concerned over submergence of land and the insufficient availability of water at Tummidihetti location. As a result, the location of the project was changed to Medigadda village.
- Hence, the original project is divided in to two parts namely, Dr.B.R.Ambedkar Pranahita project (aimed at diverting water by constructing a barrage across river Pranahita near the confluence of Wainganga and Wardha rivers in Adilabad District) and Kaleshwaram Project.
- In other words, the Kaleshwaram and Pranahita projects are the off-shoots of Dr.B.R.Ambedkar Pranahita-Chevella Sujala Sravanthi project due to inter-state issues with Maharashtra.
- To bring drinking water and irrigation to the parched areas of Telangana, by drawing nearly 225 thousand million cubic feet (TMC) of water through from the Godavari river basin.
- To provide 10 TMC of Drinking Water to the villages enroute, 30 TMC of Drinking Water to twin Cities of Hyderabad & Secunderabad and 16 TMC of water for Industrial use.
- This project is unique because Telangana will harness water by constructing a barrage at Medigadda (downstream the confluence of Godavari and Pranahitha rivers) and reverse pump the water into the main Godavari river and divert it through lifts and pumps into reservoirs, water tunnels etc.
Records break by this project
- Largest multi-stage, multi-purpose lift irrigation project
- Biggest project of its kind, completed in the shortest time.
- Biggest underground pump house
- Biggest underground surgepool
Other regional records
- The costliest irrigation project to be taken up any State in India till date
- Highest power consumption Scheme in Asia
- Longest tunnel to carry water in Asia, running up to 81 km between Yellampally barrage and the Mallannasagar reservoir
- It is expected to irrigate land in Telangana along with drinking water and industrial water purposes.
- It will make the Telangana an economic power as farmers will be able to sow two crops.
- It will Create about several lakh acres of new ayacut (The area served by an irrigation project such as a canal, dam or a tank).
- This project saved the Government from the hassles of land acquisition and re-settlement of people by constructing of barrages and reservoirs on Godavari.
- It supports the ‘Mission Kakatiya’ and ‘Mission Bhagiratha’ schemes designed to provide drinking water to many villages while improving the capacities of tanks.
- It will enhance the socio-economic profile of Telangana including fisheries development, inland waterways, tourism, and biodiversity
- It will serve as the lifeline of Hyderabad as it gives assured water supply even if the city expands up to the proposed regional ring road (RRR).
Why it is world’ largest irrigation and drinking water system?
- Godavari flows at 100 metres below Mean Sea Level (MSL) while Telangana is located at 300 to 650 metres above MSL.
- Hence, the project needs high powered pumps with immense waster upliftment capacities making it the largest irrigation and drinking water system.
Need of this project:
- There has been a general emphasis in the past on gravity (canal flow) irrigation according to the ground levels of the Command Area, leaving a large command able area (The area which can be irrigated from a scheme) in middle reaches of Godavari- covering uplands of Telangana State where only lift irrigation is feasible. Most of these areas are drought prone.
- The transfer of water through lift schemes and conveying it to water deficient upland regions of Telangana is thus of strategic importance and a pressing need towards a more equitable development of water resources for irrigation and other water requirements.
- Till date, the biggest water lift schemes in the world were the Colorado lift scheme in America and the Great Manmade River in Egypt.
Defence & Security Issues
Indian Navy launches Operation Sankalp in Gulf of Oman
Indian Navy launched Operation Sankalp in the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman to reassure Indian flagged vessels transiting through the area following the recent maritime incidents in the region.
What is Operation Sankalp?
- Operation Sankalp was launched by Indian navy in the Persian Gulf/Gulf of Oman as a measure to re-assure Indian flagged vessels transiting through the region.
- The operation has been launched in the wake of escalating tension in the Gulf of Oman, where two oil tankers were attacked recently.
- The incident has since heightened tensions between Iran and USA. It remains unclear who was responsible for the attacks but the United States has put the blame on Iran, which, in turn, has denied the allegations.
Visakhapatnam’s BDL unit to supply Varunastra to Indian Navy
Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) has signed a contract worth of Rs 1,187.82 crore for supply of Heavy Weight Torpedoes – Varunastra – to the Indian Navy.
About the Varunastra
- It is the first indigenous heavy weight ship launched anti-submarine electric torpedo of Indian Navy.
- It was developed by the Naval Science and Technological Laboratory (NSTL), a premier laboratory of DRDO.
- The torpedoes will be manufactured at BDL Visakhapatnam unit, in collaboration with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
- It can carry about 250 kg of explosives at a speed of around 40 nautical miles an hour.
- It has GPS based locating aid, a unique feature in contemporary torpedoes in the world.
- It is capable of targeting quiet and stealthy submarines, both in deep and littoral waters in intense counter-measure environment.
- It uses its own intelligence in tracing the target.
- After procuring it in Indian navy in 2018, India became one of the eight countries to have the capability to design and build such a system.
Summer solstice 2019
The summer season solstice falls during June solstice in the northern hemisphere which occurs sometime between June 20 and June 22, depending on the shift of the calendar.
What is solstice?
- The term ‘solstice’ derives from the Latin word ‘solstitium’, meaning ‘Sun standing still’. Solstice is either of the two moments in the year when the Sun’s apparent path is farthest north or south from Earth’s Equator.
- It is derived from Latin words sol, meaning sun, and sistere, which means to stand still.
- It occurs twice a year – in each hemisphere (Northern and Southern).
How does solstice occur?
- Between March and September, Earth’s Northern Hemisphere gets more exposure to direct sunlight over the course of a day. The rest of the year, the Southern Hemisphere gets more.
- In the Northern Hemisphere, peak sunlight usually occurs on June 20, 21, or 22 of any given year which is called as summer solstice.
- On the other hand, the Southern Hemisphere reaches peak sunlight on December 21, 22, or 23 which is called winter solstice.
What is Summer solstice?
- The peak solar insolation in north hemisphere between 20 to 22 June every year is known as summer solstice.
- It is also called Litha, estival solstice or mid summer.
- It is the day with the longest period of daylight.
- It marks the first day of the season of summer. (In the southern hemisphere, the Summer solstice is celebrated in December when the northern hemisphere celebrates the Winter solstice).
- The Summer solstice is the time when the sun reaches its northern most latitude and therefore appear at its highest in the sky at noon.
- After the summer solstice, the Sun follows a lower and lower path through the sky each day until it reaches the point where it is in the sky for exactly 12 hours. This is called Autumn Equinox.
- After the Autumn Equinox the Sun will continue to follow a lower and lower path through the sky and the days will grow shorter and shorter until it reaches its lowest path on the Winter Solstice.
- The summer season solstice has been seen as a significant time of year in many cultures, and has been marked by festivals and rituals.
What is the Winter Solstice?
- The Winter Solstice, also called ‘Yule’, marks the first day of the season of winter. It falls on or near 21 December. (In the southern hemisphere, the Winter solstice is celebrated in June when the northern hemisphere celebrates the Summer solstice)
- The Winter solstice is the time in December when the sun reaches its southern most latitude and therefore appear at its lowest in the sky at noon. The Winter solstice is the shortest day.
- In winter solstice, The North Pole leans away from the sun.
- After the Winter solstice, the Sun follows a higher and higher path through the sky each day until it is in the sky for exactly 12 hours. This occurs on the Spring Equinox.
- After the Spring Equinox, the Sun still continues to follow a higher and higher path through the sky, with the days growing longer and longer, until it reaches it highest point in the sky on the Summer Solstice.
- The summer solstice 2019 coincides with World Music Day and International Day of Yoga.
- The Stonehenge prehistoric monument in England are believed to be used to mark solstices and equinoxes.
- Scientists have estimated that the longest day in Earth’s history likely occurred in 1912.
- All the planets in solar system rotate on a tilted axis and therefore have seasons, solstices, and equinoxes.
Key Facts for Prelims
International Yoga Day 2019
- The International Day of Yoga is celebrated annually on June 21 to raise global awareness about the benefits of the ancient Indian practice.
- It was first introduced by the United Nations on June 21, 2015.
International Yoga Day 2019
- The theme for International Yoga Day 2019 is Climate Action.
About the International Yoga Day:
- In December, 2014, the United Nations General Assembly declared June 21 as ‘International Day of Yoga’ through a resolution which saw the highest number of nations joining as co-sponsors ever for any General Assembly resolution.
- Adopted under the agenda of ‘Global Health and Foreign Policy,’ resolution recognized that Yoga provides a holistic approach to health and well-being.
- The word ‘yoga’ derives from Sanskrit and means to join or to unite, symbolizing the union of body and consciousness.
- Recently, Sri Lanka’s first satellite ‘Raavana-1’ was successfully launched into orbit from the International Space Station (ISS) along with two other BIRDS 3 satellites from Japan and Nepal.
About Raavana-1 Satellite:
- It is Sri Lanka’s first satellite which was designed and developed by two local Sri Lankan engineers.
- Raavana-1 is expected to fulfil five missions including the capturing of pictures of Sri Lanka and surrounding regions, active attitude stabilization which ensures that satellite’s attitude is stable under the influence of external talks.
- It will have a minimum lifespan of one and a half years but is expected to be active for up to five years.