Polity & Governance
- Celebrities to face law for misleading ads
Issues related to Health & Education
- First Indian sign language dictionary to be released soon
- India ranks 131 on Human Development Index, Norway No.1
Bilateral & International Relations
- 1st Grand Challenges India (GCI) Meeting
- Shri Upendra Tripathy Appointed as Full Time Interim Director General of ISA
- India, Pakistan to review Miyar project
Science & Technology
- ISRO commissions world’s third-largest wind tunnel in Thiruvananthapuram
Key Facts for Prelims
- 21st March: World Forestry Day
- 22nd March: World Water Day
Polity & Governance
Celebrities to face law for misleading ads
The Centre will soon introduce a new consumer protection law to impose stringent punishment for misleading advertisements on manufacturers, celebrities endorsing products and publishers.
- The bill in this regard has already been drafted and is under consideration.
Proposals in the new law:
- For the first time offence, a fine of Rs 10 lakh and jail term of up to two years, while for second and subsequent offenses, a fine of Rs 50 lakh and imprisonment of five years has been proposed for brand ambassadors. The ministry has proposed similar penalty and jail term for adulteration, besides license suspension and cancellation.
- ‘Deficiency in services’ in product liability is also included. An enabling provision to make rules to regulate e-commerce and direct selling will also be provided.
- Overlap of powers of Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) and the Consumer Fora have been removed. An investigating wing will be set up at CCPA, while limiting the role of a district collector to support CCPA in investigation.
- A provision for penalty on consumers for frivolous complaints has also been removed.
The government had earlier introduced the Consumer Protection Bill, 2015, which was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee, which recommended several changes to the Bill.
As over 80 amendments were made, it was decided to bring in a new Bill.[Ref: The Hindu]
Issues related to Health & Education
First Indian sign language dictionary to be released soon
The Union Government is all set to release country’s first-of-its-kind Indian Sign Language (ISL) dictionary which aims to bring uniformity in sign languages used by hearing and speech impaired people.
- It is being developed in both print and video format by the Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre (ISLRTC).
- It will give a uniform language to 50 lakh hearing and 20 lakh speech impaired people in the country.
- ISL dictionary will contain graphic representations of popular signs used by the hearing impaired and also their regional variations.
- So far, it has compiled 6,032 Hindi and English words and their corresponding graphic representation of the signs which are used in daily life.
Significance of the dictionary:
- It will also have legal, technical and medical terms It will help bridge the communication gap by promoting the use of sign language for hearing impaired students at schools and colleges.
- It will also enable government officials, teachers, community leaders, professionals and the public at large to learn and use sign language.
- It will enable the public utility organisations like hospitals, banks, courts, airports, and others to utilise the services of interpreters.
- Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre (ISLRTC) is an autonomous organization under the aegis of Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan) under the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
- It was established under Society Registration Act, 1860.
- Its main objectives are to develop manpower for teaching and conducting research in Indian Sign Language (ISL), promote use of ISL as an educational mode in collaboration with universities, national and international bodies.
India ranks 131 on Human Development Index, Norway No.1
The 2016 Human Development Report has been released by the UNDP. HDI is also released as part of the report.
Highlights of the report:
- The world’s top three countries in HDI are Norway (0.949), Australia (0.939) and Switzerland (0.939).
- The report says 1.5 million people worldwide still live in multidimensional poverty, 54% of them concentrated in South Asia. While poverty fell significantly from 1990 to 2015, inequalities sharpened in the region.
- South Asia also had the highest levels of malnutrition in the world, at 38%, and the lowest public health expenditure as a percentage of the GDP (1.6%, 2014).
- Noting that women, on an average, have lower HDI than men across the world, the report pointed out that the largest gender disparity in development was in South Asia, where the female HDI value is 20% lower than the male value.
- In South Asia, gender gaps in entrepreneurship and labour force participation caused an estimated income loss of 19%. “Between their first and fifth birthdays, girls in India and Pakistan have a 30% to 50% greater chance of dying than boys,” the report noted.
Performance of India:
- India slipped down one place from 130 to 131 among the 188 countries.
- India’s human development index (HDI) value of 0.624 puts it in the “medium human development” category, alongside countries such as Congo, Namibia and Pakistan.
- It is ranked third among the SAARC countries, behind Sri Lanka (73) and the Maldives (105), both of which figure in the “high human development” category.
- India’s public health expenditure is lower, at 1.4% of the GDP. However, it did make some gains between 1990 and 2015, improving life expectancy by 10.4 years in this period. Child malnutrition also declined by 10 percentage points from 2015, and there was a modest gain in infant and under-five mortality rates.
- The report praised India’s reservation policy, observing that even though it “has not remedied caste-based exclusions”, it has “had substantial positive effects”.
- The HDR also hailed the national rural employment guarantee programme as a “prime example” of “combining social protection with appropriate employment strategies”.
- While India’s HDI value increased from 0.428 in 1990 to 0.624 in 2015, it still had the lowest rank among BRIC nations. However, its average annual growth in HDI (1990-2015) was higher than that of other medium HD countries.
About the HDI:
- The HDI is a measure for assessing countries progress in three basic dimensions of human development:
- A long and healthy life (life expectancy),
- Access to knowledge and
- Access to a decent standard of living.
- Countries are ranked based on scale ranging between 0 (low) to 1 (high).
Bilateral & International Relations
1st Grand Challenges India (GCI) Meeting
1st Grand Challenges India (GCI) meeting was recently held in New Delhi.
- The meeting was hosted by the Program Management Unit at BIRAC (PMU-BIRAC) and is jointly supported by Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and Wellcome Trust.
What is GCI?
The Grand Challenges India (GCI) is a mission-directed research initiative, collaboratively launched in 2012 under the umbrella of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the DBT and BMGF.
Functions of the GCI:
- As India transitions from Millennium Development Goals to Sustainable Development Goals, the GCI partnership has ushered a new wave of innovative solutions to help address issues that are inextricably linked to social impact.
- This aims to achieve the said goals by reconnecting Science to People and available scientific data & evidences to the societal problems for finding tangible solutions.
- Programs such as Grand Challenges India are providing global innovators and researchers a fantastic platform to collaborate and progress through the innovation ecosystem by developing their ideas and concepts.
- The GCI provides financial support in the form of grants, cooperative agreements, and contracts to support the advancement of the GCI mission to enhance health, extend healthy lives, and reduce the burdens of poverty.
- The GCI covers all kinds of health and developmental priorities, ranging from maternal and child health, infectious diseases, vaccines, point-of-care diagnostics, agriculture, food and nutrition to other related arenas of developing nations as per individual requirements.
- Most importantly, this partnership signifies a convergence between Indian and global priorities and synergistic new initiatives of the Government such as Swachh Bharat, Start-up India and others.
- GCI promotes scientific and technological advances which aim to find solutions to key health and development challenges through research and innovation, by funding Indian researchers.
- Projects are selected based on national and societal need and transparent calls are made for proposals seeking the best ideas.
- Under this initiative, the DBT and the Gates Foundation have pledged an investment of up to US$25 million each, over a period of 5 years.
Shri Upendra Tripathy Appointed as Full Time Interim Director General of ISA
Mr. Upendra Tripathy has been appointed as the Interim Director General (IDG) of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) on a full time basis.
About International Solar Alliance:
- ISA was launched at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in November, 2015 by Modi and French President Francois Hollande.
- The alliance, headquartered in India, aims to bring together countries situated between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn which receive abundant sunshine for around 300 days a year.
- ISA aims to invite solar rich 121 countries located fully or partly between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn to join the alliance.
- It will function from the Gurgaon, Haryana based National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE).
- Alliance seeks to share common platform to reduce the cost of finance and technology that is needed to deploy solar power widely.
- Alliance would pursue cooperation in training, building institutions, regulatory issues, common standards, and investment including joint ventures.
India, Pakistan to review Miyar project
India and Pakistan have agreed on redesigning the Miyar Hydroelectric project, at the end of two-day talks of Indus Water Commissioners in Islamabad.
About Miyar project:
- The project envisages an installation of 120 MW capacity and has been awarded to Hindustan Power through the international competitive bidding process.
- The project component comprises of a construction of a 25 m high diversion structure, about 6.6 km long headrace tunnel, an open to sky restricted orifice surge tank, a surface powerhouse complex on the right bank of river Chenab near Udaipur town.
- The 113th meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission was the first since India suspended dialogue under the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty following a militant attack on an Indian military base in Uri in September last year.
- Pakistan has been flagging concerns over the designs of five Indian hydroelectric projects: 1000MW Pakal Dul, 850MW Ratle, 330MW Kishanganga, 120MW Miyar and 48MW Lower Kalnai. The projects are being built or planned in the Indus river basin.
Science & Technology
ISRO commissions world’s third-largest wind tunnel in Thiruvananthapuram
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) commissioned the world’s third largest hypersonic wind tunnel at Thiruvananthapuram’s Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) in Kerala.
- In this regard, ISRO chairman A S Kiran Kumar commissioned two facilities – a 1-m Hypersonic Wind Tunnel and a 1-m Shock Tunnel.
- They are the third largest in terms of size and simulation capability in the world.
- They have been indigenously designed, developed and made in India with the support of Indian Industries.
- The facilities comprise 500 valves, 2 km long pipelines, 41 electric motors, 35 pumps, 320 instruments and 10 km of cables.
- The tunnels also have a wide spectrum of simulation capabilities in terms of Mach number, Reynolds number and re-entry velocities.
- The wind tunnels will be used to study the effects of air flowing past solid objects like space vehicles.
- They can also be used to simulate the aero-thermal environment where characterisation of vehicles is carried out.
Significance of these facilities:
- The facilities will help aerodynamic characterisation of advanced space transportation systems in a hypersonic environment.
- Commissioning of these facilities also symbolises the country’s capability in establishing such world-class facilities wherein technology from outside is restricted or not available.
Key Facts for Prelims
21st March: World Forestry Day
- World Forestry Day or International Day of Forests is celebrated worldwide every year on 21st of March at the international level in order to increase the public awareness among communities about the values, significance and contributions of the forests to balance the life cycle on the earth.
- Theme for World Forestry Day 2017 is “Forests & Energy”.
- The World Forestry Day was established in the year 1971 at the 23rd General Assembly of European Confederation of Agriculture. And it was decided to be celebrated as an annual event celebration on 21st of March by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.
22nd March: World Water Day
- World Water Day is being observed globally today (22nd March).
- It is to mark the importance of water to human civilisation and nature.
- The United Nations organisation sets a theme each year. Theme this year: wastewater.
- World Water Day is part of a global mission to get safer water for all. It’s a day for people to learn, get involved and take action.
- The United Nations General Assembly designated March 22 as World Water Day in 1993 following a resolution taken in Rio, Brazil in 1992. This is the 24th year, and it’s organised by UN Water in collaboration with governments and partners.