Polity & Governance
- Digital Locker Authority soon to push paperless governance
- Central Board for Workers’ Education renamed
- National Career Service signs MoUs with Eleven Strategic Partners
Environment & Ecology
- Report on the Spot Study of Water Situation in Drought Affected Areas of the country
Bilateral & International Relations
- President Mukherjee launches “Akashvani Maitree” Channel
- India and Germany join hands on skill agenda
- Join agreement against parental abduction: U.S.
- U.S.’ security assistance to Pakistan falls by 73 per cent since 2011
Science & Technology
- Paper-based device can spot substandard meds
- Scientists develop new laser from jellyfish proteins
Key Facts for Prelims
- India is the 7th richest country in the world
Polity & Governance
Digital Locker Authority soon to push paperless governance
The Centre will soon appoint an authority to administer and manage its Digital Locker initiative, one of the key projects under Digital India programme, as it looks to push paperless governance.
What has been proposed?
- The Government will appoint a Digital Locker Authority to establish, administer, and manage Digital Locker system to preserve and retain information for efficient delivery of services to the users.
- Controller of Certifying Authorities (CCA) may take up the role of the Authority for regulation purposes, while Standardisation Testing and Quality Certification (STQC) may be made responsible for drafting and maintenance of specifications and audits.
Proposed functions of the authority:
- The Digital Locker Authority will be responsible for granting licenses and to authorise a private entity to offer these services.
- Besides, it will prepare standards and guidelines, while also ensuring compliance by service providers. These guidelines include those for data retention and migration, audit and security and privacy.
- The authority will also need to notify the fee or service charges a subscriber will have to pay for availing Digital Locker services from authorized service providers. Currently, the services are offered for free.
About the DigiLocker:
- Digital Locker (DigiLocker) is one of the key initiatives under the Digital India Programme.
- It was launched by the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY), under the ministry of communications & IT.
- A beta version of the Digital Locker has been already released by the DeitY, Govt. of India.
- Digital Locker is aimed at minimizing the usage of physical documents and enable sharing of e-documents across agencies.
Facilities under Digital Locker:
- With the help of this Portal, the sharing of the e-documents will be done through registered repositories thereby ensuring the authenticity of the documents online.
- Residents can also upload their own electronic documents and digitally sign them using the e-sign facility.
- These digitally signed documents can be shared with Government organizations or other entities.
- At present, the digital locker gives 10MB of free space for individuals to store documents and links of government department or agency-issued e-documents. The government is also planning to subsequently increase the storage space to 1 GB.
How to open account at DigiLocker?
- Most of our important documents are prevalent in physical form, leading to huge administrative overhead. Digital Locker will minimize the use of physical documents.
- Person can access his/her documents anytime anywhere.
- It will also reduce administrative overhead of Govt. departments and agencies and make it easy for the residents to receive services.
- Use of cloud storage by Govt. can be relied upon in terms of security and availability.
Central Board for Workers’ Education renamed
Union government has renamed the Central Board for Workers’ Education as “Dattopant Thengadi National Board for Workers Education and Development”.
About the board:
The Dattopant Thengadi National Board for Workers Education and Development having national network is a Central Autonomous Body, under Government of India, Ministry of Labour & Employment.
- It has been working since 1958 with its network of 50 Regional Directorates, 9 Sub Regional Directorates, 6 Zonal Directorates.
- The Headquarter is situated at Nagpur.
- It also has an Apex National Training Institute i.e. Indian Institute of Workers’ education at Mumbai.
- It is engaged in generating awareness about various subjects relating to labour, industry, nation and other socio-economic issues, besides Government’s schemes amongst both organized and unorganized/ rural sector workers for the last 59 years in the country.
About Dattopant Thengadi:
Born in 1920 in Maharashtra, Dattopant Thengadi was a Hindu Ideologue and Indian trade union leader.
- He is the founder of the Swadeshi Jagaran Manch, Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh and the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh.
- Some of the hallmark qualities of his lifestyle are: simple living, in-depth study, deep thinking, clarity of thought, courage of the conviction and missionary zeal for the goal.
- He devoted his entire life for the upliftment of the poor people and promotion of social harmony in the country.
- He was a great thinker, intellectual and efficient organizer, a towering personality in the Labour Movement in India.
- He contributed very immensely for the economic growth of the county and was a well-known trade unionist of national repute.
National Career Service signs MoUs with Eleven Strategic Partners
To improve reach and quality of employment services, the National Career Service (NCS) signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) with eleven strategic partners.
- Earlier, the NSC had partnered with leading organisations like Uber, Monster.com, Saral Rozgar, Quikrjobs, Indian Staffing Federation etc. for the same purpose.
National Career Service (NCS) Portal:
In 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the launch of National Career Service (NCS) Portal to be implemented by the Ministry of Labour and Employment.
Who’ll benefit from NCS:
- Unemployed candidates seeking jobs
- Students seeking career counselling
- Candidates seeking vocational / occupational guidance
- Illiterate, under-privileged sections of society, blue-collar workers seeking placements and guidance
- Person with different abilities (PWDs), ex-servicemen, veterans / senior citizens, etc.
- Employers seeking suitable candidates.
Environment & Ecology
Report on the Spot Study of Water Situation in Drought Affected Areas of the country
The “On the Spot Study of Water Situation in Drought Affected Areas of the Country” report has recently been submitted to the government.
- The study was carried out by Central Water Commission under the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation.
- Various long/short term measures (being taken up and to be taken up) to mitigate water scarcity situation have also been recommended which are region/area/state specific.
Key points of the report:
- At almost all places minimum domestic water requirements are being met through importing water from other regions, by digging local deep bore wells and also by tankers.
- Ground water levels have been reported as falling in almost all regions of the country due to over exploitations and inadequate recharging mechanism for ground water.
- No specific observation on water quality has been reported at most of the areas except in Gujarat, where problem of salinity in coastal areas has been reported.
Which parts of India are under water scarcity situation?
According to the report,
- The water scarcity situation is prevailing in the country, but some pockets like Marathwada in Maharashtra, Bundelkhand in U.P. and MP, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh are more affected by water scarcity situation.
What are the main causes of water scarcity?
According to the report,
- The main cause of water scarcity in country is consecutive failure of monsoon, resulting low storages in dams, during last two years. Rainfall deficit in country as a whole during 2015 was 14% and in 2014 it was 12%.
- Earlier, year 2012 was also a rainfall deficit year with 11% deficit.
- Consecutive less rainfall also resulted less carryover storage in reservoirs.
Key suggestions made by the report:
- Construct water harvesting structures, create awareness among citizens for water conservation and construct new water storage structures.
- In some areas like Marathwada of Maharashtra, Bundelkhand of UP and MP interlinking projects have been recommended.
- Renovation and repair of existing water bodies should also be carried out.
- Water budgeting and planning the cropping patterns for the oncoming agricultural seasons is necessary in water scarce regions.
- The strategy for avoiding water intensive crops to the extent in consultation with the relevant expert departments is also crucial for checking such situation.
- Micro irrigation (sprinkler and drip) should be adopted to achieve more crops per drop.
Bilateral & International Relations
President Mukherjee launches “Akashvani Maitree” Channel
The President Pranab Mukherjee has launched Akashvani’s Maitree Channel and its multimedia website in Bengali language for listeners in West Bengal, Bangladesh and the adjoining areas.
- It is a unique venture of All India Radio and is aimed at strengthening ties between India and Bangladesh.
- Channel’s uniqueness lies in sharing of content between Bangladesh Betar and Akashvani Maitree.
- This service is launched from a State-of-the-art Super Power Transmitter of 1000kw, installed at Chinsurah, West Bengal.
Background of Akashvani Maitree:
- The All India Radio (AIR) during the Bangladesh Liberation Movement in 1971 had launched Akashvani Maitree, a Bangla radio service.
- The channel had played a historic role during the Bangladesh liberation movement. However, it was discontinued in 2010.
Why it is launched again?
- The relaunch of Akashvani Maitree is being looked as an outreach to strengthen India’s shaky relations with Bangladesh as a part of its cultural diplomacy.
- The service is being re-launched twin objectives:
- To attract Bengali-speaking listeners from both countries.
- To counter the presence of CRI (Chinese Radio International) with its strong presence in the region.
- The channel will also play a significant role in promoting and preserving the composite Bengali cultural heritage irrespective of geographical location.
India and Germany join hands on skill agenda
India and Germany have signed an agreement on vocational training that aims to foster conditions to create and improve workplace-based vocational training in India’s industrial clusters.
- The agreement was signed between the Union Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) and German International Cooperation (GIZ).
Key features of the agreement:
- Under the agreement, technical assistance will be used to enhance industry institute partnerships between Indian and German organizations.
- It will help to foster industry linkages and build capacity of local training institutions which will help to adapt elements of the German dual system into the Indian context.
- Under it, a new project focused on adapting elements of German dual system in India in select industrial clusters will be initiated.
- This project will be implemented in three selected clusters in India. It includes Automobile cluster in Maharashtra and Electronics cluster in Bangalore.
Join agreement against parental abduction: U.S.
The United States has urged India to join ‘Hague Abduction Convention’ to safeguard the rights of children born to Indian-American couples.
- Almost a hundred children born to Indian-American couples are facing an uncertain future due to the trauma of separation of their parents and the complex legal issues involved.
Why India should sign this convention?
- A growing number of children of such couples were facing difficulties due to ‘International Parental Child Abduction’ (IPCA) and India need to create a more effective response to deal with such cases.
- Regarding IPCA, India’s case-load 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.
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.
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.
U.S.’ security assistance to Pakistan falls by 73 per cent since 2011
According to a Congressional Research Service (CRS) report, US security assistance to Pakistan declined by 73 per cent since 2011.
- The report, prepared for the US Congress, covers both military and economic assistance given between 2002 and 2015 as well as those earmarked for fiscal years 2016 and 2017.
- The bilateral relationship started deteriorating since 2011 after the discovery of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad and a US air strike on a Pakistani border post in Salala that killed 24 soldiers.
Highlights of the report:
- The report showed a 53% decrease in economic assistance since 2011.
- Security aid as well as economic aid had declined over the years.
- Recently, the US decided not to pay $300 million in military reimbursements to Islamabad over its alleged reluctance to act against the Haqqani network.
- The cancelled $300 million payments were in the form of Coalition Support Fund CSF, under which Pakistan has received $14 billion since 2002. Nearly half the CSF assistance to Pakistan is used for food and ammunition.
- Another indication of tension between the US and Pakistan was the cancellation of an aircraft deal. Under its Foreign Military Financing (FMF) programme, the US planned to sell Pakistan eight F-16 fighter jets at a cost of $270 million.
Science & Technology
Paper-based device can spot substandard meds
Scientists have developed a simple, inexpensive paper-based device which can identify poor-quality or degraded medications within minutes.
- The price of the paper-based device would be $1.
- To screen for a variety of potential quality issues, researchers included 12 lanes separated by wax barriers on the paper device.
According to researchers,
- The developing world is awash in substandard, degraded or falsified medications, which can either directly harm users or deprive them of needed treatment.
- With internet sales of medications on the rise, people everywhere are increasingly at risk.
- People who do not have access to the best-quality medicines also do not have as many resources to buy the analytical instrumentation to detect the quality problems.
- Medications can be compromised in many different ways. For example, they may be bulked up with fillers, or they can degrade because they are stored improperly.
- Identifying poor-quality medications is challenging, as inspectors may not know in advance what chemical adulterants or degradation products they need to look for.
- Bad-quality medications may also contain at least some of the active ingredient, so simply detecting the presence of the real medication is not enough to rule out issues.
Scientists develop new laser from jellyfish proteins
Scientists have, for the first time, developed LASER (light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation) from fluorescent jellyfish proteins that were grown in bacteria.
- The breakthrough represents a major advance in so-called polariton lasers.
What is Polariton laser?
- Polariton laser works by passing photons back and forth between excited molecules.
- In polariton lasers, the radiation is emitted spontaneously, but it possesses all the characteristic properties of laser light
- Unlike conventional lasers, the photons in Polariton laser are released and reabsorbed within the device itself before zooming out as laser light.
- These lasers have the potential to be far more efficient and compact than conventional ones.
- It could open up research avenues in quantum physics and optical computing.
- It consumes less energy compared to conventional lasers.
- It can be used for the purpose more efficient optical communications or in medical lasers that are less destructive to living tissue.
Key Facts for Prelims
India is the 7th richest country in the world
According to the report titled The W10: The 10 wealthiest countries in the world, published by the New World Wealth, India is the 7th richest country in the world with a total individual wealth of 5.6 trillion US dollars.
The United States is the wealthiest in the world in terms of total individual wealth followed by China and Japan.