Polity & Governance
- Department of Commerce developing National Logistics Portal
- CJI launches applications to facilitate litigants and lawyers
Issues related to Health & Education
- Rashtriya Poshan Maah (National Nutrition Month) held
- World Bank launches world-first blockchain bond
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- NITI Aayog launches 5 Thematic Reports on Sustainable Development in Indian Himalayan Region
Science & Technology
- NASA’S satellite ‘ICESAT-2’ tracking Earth’s polar ice
Key Facts for Prelims
- First Indian company to cross ₹ 8 trillion market cap
- India Banking Conclave (IBC) 2018
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Polity & Governance
Department of Commerce developing National Logistics Portal
A National Logistics Portal is being developed by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to ensure ease of trading in the international and domestic markets.
- The portal will link all the stakeholders of EXIM, domestic trade and movement and all trade activities on a single platform.
About National Logistics Portal:
- It will be implemented in phases and will fulfil Central Government’s commitment to enhance trade competitiveness, create jobs, boost India’s performance in global rankings and pave way for India to become logistics hub.
- Stakeholders like traders, manufacturers, logistics service providers, infrastructure providers, financial services, Government departments and groups and associations will all be on one platform.
- In 2018-19 budget speech, Union Finance Minister had announced that Department of Commerce will create portal which will be single window online market place for trade and will connect business, create opportunities and bring together various ministries, departments and private sector.
India’s logistics sector:
- India’s logistics sector is highly defragmented and very complex with more than 20 government agencies, 40 partnering government agencies (PGAs), 37 export promotion councils, 500 certifications, 10000 commodities being stakeholders in it.
- At present it has 160 billion market size and involves 12 million employment base, 200 shipping agencies, 36 logistic services, 50 IT ecosystems and banks and insurance agencies.
- Government is aiming is to reduce logistics cost from present 14% of GDP to less than 10% by 2022.
- As per Economic Survey 2017-18, Indian logistics sector provides livelihood to more than 22 million people.
- Improving this sector will facilitate 10% decrease in indirect logistics cost leading to growth of 5 to 8% in exports. Further, the Survey estimates that worth of Indian logistics market will be around US $215 billion in next two years compared to about US $160 billion currently.
CJI launches applications to facilitate litigants and lawyers
Justice Dipak Misra, the Chief Justice of India launched three applications for the benefit of the litigants and lawyers during an event at the Supreme Court of India.
- These applications are – e-Filing, e-Pay, and National Service and Tracking of Electronic Processes (NSTEP).
- These applications have been created under the eCourts project Phase II and developed under the leadership of Justice MB Lokur, Judge-in-charge of eCommittee, Supreme Court.
- The application is meant for online registration of lawyers and litigants. Through the application, one can file cases from any part of India to any court on registration.
- Portfolio management of cases of litigants and lawyers is provided on the portal and one can get updates from time to time about filed cases, cases under objection or rejected cases.
Significance of e-Filing application:
- The e-Filing application will facilitate efficient administration of Judicial System by easing pressure on filing counters and will speed up work flow processing.
- Data entry will be more accurate which will help to take data driven decisions in court administration.
- It will start building digital repositories which will auto generate paper books and can be quickly transmitted to Higher Courts which will reduce delays.
- It will also help reduce touch point of litigants will also result in more productivity of staff members and will help send documents for service to other locations or mail addresses which will be relatively easy.
- It is a unified portal wherein facility to pay online court fees is provided. The platform is user friendly which can be used with very little self help. At present, the facility will be made operational in two states – Maharashtra and Haryana.
Significance of e-Pay application:
- The OTP authentication provides secure way to financial transactions and one can get instant acknowledgement through SMS and print receipt.
- The application is beneficial for the judicial administration since verification of court fees becomes more easy, secure and transparent and accurate figures of court fees collected can be generated for any court, district or State.
National Service and Tracking of Electronic Processes (NSTEP):
- It is launched as part of the eCourts Project. It is a transparent and secure system for transmission of process from one location to another and will address delays in process.
- It offers facility to send electronic processes directly to registered mail of the addressee by secured mechanism; enables uploading of documents associated with process; and facilities like tracking GPS, obtaining photograph and on screen signature.
Significance of NSTEP:
- NSTEP will lead to secured auto generation of processes with unique QR Code through CIS, publishing processes on portal and transmission of processes to other court complexes.
- The service will empower litigants with real time information relating to status of service of process and will entail litigants to take immediate follow up action which will reduce delays.
What is e-courts project?
The eCourts Mission Mode Project is a national eGovernance project for ICT enablement of district and subordinate courts of the country.
The major objectives of the Project are to make whole judicial system ICT enabled by putting in place
- Adequate and modern hardware and connectivity;
- Automation of workflow management in all courts;
- Electronic movement of records from taluka/trial to appeal courts;
- Installation of video conferencing (VC) facility and
- Recording of witness through Video Conferencing.
It has two phases:
- Phase I 2010-15
- Phase II 2015-19
- It is being implemented by the Government of India with a total outlay of 1670 crores (Phase II).
Specific targets set under the Project include:
- Computerization of all the courts (around 20400) and DLSA and TLSC;
- WAN and cloud connectivity in 3500 court complexes;
- Full Installation and use of Video Conferencing facility at 3000 Court Complexes and 1150 prisons;
- Charting out key identified citizen services like electronic filing, daily orders, delivery of decrees, online case status in all the district courts etc.
Issues related to Health & Education
Rashtriya Poshan Maah (National Nutrition Month) held
The Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India had recently organized an orientation workshop for various stakeholders participating in the Poshan Maah (National Nutrition Month) being celebrated in the month of September.
- The Workshop focused on sensitizing the line Ministries, States/UTs and District level functionaries and partners on various aspects of Rashtriya Poshan Maah (National Nutrition Month) being celebrated during the month of September across the Country as part of Jan Andolan under POSHAN Abhiyaan.
About Poshan Maah (National Nutrition Month):
The programme- an initiative of WCD Ministry and NITI Aayog is supported by 18 line Ministries/Departments/Government Organizations.
- The primary objective of the celebration of Poshan Maah is to take the messages of POSHAN to the grass root level.
- It seeks to synergise all efforts by leveraging technology and intends to take nutrition awareness to the level of Jan Andolan or People’s Movement.
- The programme focuses on 8 themes – Antenatal Care, Optimal Breastfeeding (Early & Exclusive), Complementary Feeding, Anemia, Growth Monitoring, Girls-education, diet, right age of Marriage, Hygiene & Sanitation, Food Fortification.
About POSHAN Abhiyaan:
- POSHAN (Prime Minister’s Overarching Scheme for Holistic Nutrition) Abhiyaan was launched on International Women’s day (March 8) in 2018 to boost nutrition among children and women.
- It aims to ensure holistic development and adequate nutrition for pregnant women, mothers and children.
- It targets to reduce level of under-nutrition and other related problems by ensuring convergence of various nutrition related schemes. It also targets stunting, under-nutrition, anaemia (among young children, women and adolescent girls) and low birth rate.
- It will monitor and review implementation of all such schemes and utilize existing structural arrangements of line ministries wherever available.
- The Abhiyaan targets to reduce stunting, under-nutrition, anemia (among young children, women and adolescent girls) and reduce low birth weight by 2%, 2%, 3% and 2% per annum respectively.
- The target of the mission is to bring down stunting among children in the age group 0-6 years from 38.4% to 25% by 2022.
Annual targets under POSHAN Abhiyaan:
The annual targets set under POSHAN Abhiyaan beginning 2017-18 are as under:
- Prevent and reduce stunting in children (0-6years): By 6% @ 2% p.a.
- Prevent and reduce under-nutrition (underweight prevalence) in children (0-6 years): By 6% @ 2% p.a.
- Reduce the prevalence of anemia among young Children (6-59 months): By 9% @ 3% p.a.
- Reduce the prevalence of anemia among Women and Adolescent Girls in the age group of 15-49 years: By 9% @ 3% p.a.
- Reduce Low Birth Weight (LBW): By 6% @ 2% p.a.
World Bank launches world-first blockchain bond
The World Bank launched world’s first public blockchain bond named bond-i created, allocated, transferred and managed by using blockchain technology.
- Bond-i is an acronym standing for Blockchain Offered New Debt Instrument and also refers to tourist famous Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia.
- Funds raised from this bond will go towards sustainable development initiatives.
- Bond-I is Ethereum blockchain bond denominated in Australian dollars, making it Kangaroo bond (referring to foreign bonds issued in Australia in local currency).
- World Bank had chosen Commonwealth Bank of Australia (largest bank in Austria) was chosen as sole arranger for this bond.
- The bond has two-year maturity and had raised Australian $100 million (US$73.16 million) after its issuance.
- It was issued and distributed on blockchain platform that runs on an on private Ethereum network managed and operated by CBA and World Bank.
- Funds raised through it will go towards endeavours tied to World Bank’s Reconstruction and Development division for sustainable development initiatives.
- This issue of World Bank bond will be the first time that capital is raised from public investors through a legally valid bond issuance that uses blockchain from start to finish.
The World Bank, whose bonds carry an AAA rating, regularly uses its borrowing power to help develop new bond markets as well as pioneering new means for selling and trading the securities.
- It issues between $50 billion and $60 billion a year of bonds to back economic progress in developing countries.
- World Bank had issued the first globally traded and settled bond in 1989 as well the first electronic bond in 2000. The launch of blockchain operated bond is of part of World Bank’s broader strategic focus to harness potential of latest technologies.
- It had established Blockchain Innovation Lab in June 2017 to understand impact of blockchain and other disruptive technologies and harness their potential applications.
What is Blockchain technology?
Blockchain is a sort of distributed ledger or decentralized database that keeps records of digital transactions.
- Blockchain technology was first developed in 2009 by Satoshi Nakamoto.
- Since its inception, it has been used as the basis for several cryptocurrencies from around the world, including Bitcoin and Bitshares.
- Once a transaction is entered in the blockchain, it cannot be erased or modified.
- Blockchain removes the need for using a trusted third party such as a bank to make a transaction by directly connecting the customers and suppliers.
- Each transaction is recorded to the ledger after verification by the network participants, mainly a chain of computers, called nodes.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
NITI Aayog launches 5 Thematic Reports on Sustainable Development in Indian Himalayan Region
The NITI Aayog released the five Thematic Reports on Sustainable Development in e Indian Himalayan Region (IHR), listing the challenges in all the defined 5 thematic areas.
- The reports discuss the significance, the challenges, the ongoing actions and a future roadmap.
Earlier in June 2017, the NITI Aayog had set up 5 Working Groups to prepare a roadmap for actions in 5 thematic areas that are quite significant for the Himalayas. These areas were:
- Inventory and Revival of Springs in Himalayas for Water Security
- Sustainable Tourism in Indian Himalayan Region
- Transformative Approach to Shifting Cultivation
- Strengthening Skill & Entrepreneurship Landscape in Himalayas
- Data/Information for Informed Decision Making
These working groups were constituted after the NITI Aayog recognised that mountains require specific solutions for resilience building that address socio-economic and environmental challenges in the mountain setting.
Key Features of five Thematic reports:
Inventory and Revival of springs in Himalayas for Water Security:
- Nearly 30% of springs, crucial to water security of people in Himalayas are drying and 50% have reported reduced discharge.
- There is need for spring mapping and revival by using eight steps protocol that must be taken up across Himalayan States in phased manner.
- It calls for setting up of Mission on Spring Water Management in Himalayas.
Sustainable Tourism in Indian Himalayan Region:
- Himalayan Tourism is growing annually at 6.8% and has created huge challenge related to solid waste, water, traffic, loss of bio-cultural diversity etc. Projected arrival of tourists will be more than double by 2025.
- Urgent actions are needed to address issues of waste management and water crisis.
- The concept of carrying capacity must be applied to all major tourist destinations. Besides tourism sector standards must be implemented and monitored. Performance based incentives must be approved for states.
- Himalayan Authority must be launched for coordinated and holistic development of entire Himalayan region. “Himalaya Calling: An Awareness to Action Campaign” must be launched as people’s movement.
Transformative approach to shifting cultivation:
- Thousands of households in north eastern states, continue to practice shifting cultivation i.e. slash and burn (Jhum cultivation) which needs to be addressed in view of ecological, food and nutritional security.
- There is urgent need for assessment of nature and extent of shifting cultivation area.
- There is need for improved policy coherence, strengthened tenurial security and improved access to related programs for transform shifting cultivation.
- National Mission/Program on Transforming Shifting Cultivation in North Eastern States must be set up.
Strengthening Skill and Entrepreneurship Landscape in Himalayas:
- The Himalayan states face severe challenge of unskilled workforce and migration of youths.
- There is urgent need to strengthen skill and entrepreneurship workforce in Himalayan region with required focus on identified priority sectors where mountains have advantage, along with investment in trainers, assessors and setting up training centers with industry partnership.
- There is need to set up demand driven network of skill and entrepreneurship development Centers in Himalayan States along with consortium of institutions of high learning for mountain specific research and technology.
Data/Information for Informed Decision Making:
- Himalayan states face challenges related to data availability, data authenticity, compatibility, data quality, validation, user charges.
- It needs to be addressed for informed decision making at different levels of governance. Central Data Management Agency for Himalayas must be set up to provide data with high fidelity scenario. It will help in addressing data sharing, access, authenticity and comparability issues.
- It should be linked with Hindukush Himalaya Monitoring and Assessment program (HIMAP). Central Data Management Agency for Himalayan Database must be set up at GB Pant National Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development.
Science & Technology
NASA’S satellite ‘ICESAT-2’ tracking Earth’s polar ice
NASA will shortly launch the Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) mission to measure — in unprecedented detail — changes in the heights of Earth’s polar ice to understand what is causing ice sheets to melt fast.
- The satellite will capture data from the Earth’s poles about the seasonal and annual changes in land-ice elevation.
About ICESat- 2 mission:
The ICESat-2 project is an extension and upgrade to the space agency’s 15-year record of polar ice heights — taking over from the Operation IceBridge that began in 2009, replacing the first ICESat mission that was started in 2003.
- ICESat-2 will measure the average annual elevation change of land ice covering Greenland and Antarctica to within the width of a pencil, capturing 60,000 measurements every second.
- ICESat-2’s Advanced Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS) measures height by timing how long it takes individual light photons to travel from the spacecraft to Earth and back.
Objectives of ICESat- 2 mission:
The satellite mission has four science objectives:
- Measure melting ice sheets and investigate how this effects sea level rise.
- Measure and investigate changes in the mass of ice sheets and glaciers.
- Estimate and study sea ice thickness.
- Measure the height of vegetation in forests and other ecosystems worldwide.
How it works?
- The new and improved ICESat-2 has a much higher degree of accuracy, rendered by its Advanced Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS) to measure ice height using the time it takes for a photon to reflect off the bottom of the ice-bed and return to the satellite’s detectors.
- It will fire as many as 10,000 such photons every second in green laser light, collecting elevation data from the photons’ roundtrip to an accuracy of one-billionth of a second.
- ICESat-2 will orbit the Earth flying over both poles and measure the polar ice height along its path — for both seasonal and annual variations — four times each year.
Significance of the mission:
- The researchers hope that the data collected by ICESat-2 will reduce the uncertainty in sea level forecasting, as well as support data for climate change studies.
- The new observational technologies of ICESat-2 will advance the knowledge of how the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica contribute to sea level rise.
Key Facts for Prelims
India Banking Conclave (IBC) 2018
- It was recently held in New Delhi.
- It was organised by Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) along with its knowledge partner and government Think Tank, NITI Aayog.
- The conclave was aimed at making India’s banking sector more adaptable to face multiple future challenges in the coming years.
First Indian company to cross ₹ 8 trillion market cap
- Mukesh Ambani-led oil-to-telecom behemoth Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) became first Indian company to cross Rs 8 lakh crore ($114 billion) market capitalisation (m-cap).
- M-cap is value of company that is traded on stock market, calculated by multiplying total number of shares by present share price.