Polity & Governance
- NITI Aayog launches the National Index for Performance on Health Outcomes
- Passport rules liberalized for single parents, adopted children
Bilateral & International Relations
- Japan drags India to WTO against steps on iron, steel imports
- China open to India joining economic corridor
Art & Culture
- Urban planning kept peace in Harappa: Experts
Science & Technology
- First 2G (Second Generation) Ethanol Bio-refinery in India to be set up at Bathinda (Punjab)
Key Facts for Prelims
- National Consumer Day
- 2016 Jnanpith Award
Polity & Governance
NITI Aayog launches the National Index for Performance on Health Outcomes
NITI Aayog along with Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has launched the National Index for Performance on Health Outcomes to rank States on the basis of their performance on measurable health indicators.
- With this, the NITI Aayog aims to nudge States towards transformative action in the Health sector.
About the Index:
- This initiative is envisioned to bring about the much required improvements in social sector outcomes, which have not kept pace with the economic growth in this country.
- It is meant to capture the annual incremental improvements by States, rather than focus on historical achievements.
- It includes indicators in the domains of health outcomes governance and information and a few key inputs and processes.
- It will be used to propel action in the States to improve health outcomes and improve data collection systems.
- The index has been developed, with inputs from domestic and international experts, including academicians and development partners.
- Monitorable indicators that form a part of Sustainable Development Goal in Health have been included in order to align these initiatives.
- The exercise involves the participation of several partners including technical assistance from the World Bank, mentor agencies to hand-hold States, where required, during the exercise and third party organizations to validate the data submitted prior to calculation of the index.
- Data will be entered and results published on a dynamic web portal hosted by NITI Aayog.
Significance of the index:
It is anticipated that this health index will assist in State level monitoring of performance, serve as an input for providing performance based incentives and improvement in health outcomes, thereby also meeting the citizens’ expectations.[Ref: PIB]
Passport rules liberalized for single parents, adopted children
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has announced new rules for the application of passport.
- The step was taken in order to streamline, liberalize and ease the process of issue of passport.
Proof of date of birth:
- Earlier all passport applicants born on or after 26 January 1989 had to submit their birth certificate as proof of date of birth. With the new rule, that won’t be necessary.
- Applicants can now submit PAN Card, birth certificate, voter id, Aadhaar, driving licence among other such documents.
Only one parent’s name required:
- Applicants can either provide the name of the father, mother or legal guardian, i.e., only one parent and not both. This was a policy recommendation of an Inter-Ministerial Committee that has been accepted by the MEA.
No spouse name required for separated/divorced persons
- The applicant doesn’t have to provide the name of his or her spouse if they have separated or are divorced. They would also not be required to provide the Divorce Decree.
Orphaned children have an alternative to birth certificate
- Those orphaned children who don’t have a birth certificate to show proof of their date of birth can now simply submit an official declaration given by the head of the orphanage or child care home confirming their date of birth.
Passport for sadhus or sanyasis
- Sadhus or sanyasis can apply for a passport with the name of their spiritual guru instead of the name(s) of their biological parent(s).
- But they would also have to provide at least one public document such as Election Photo Identity Card (EPIC), PAN card, Aadhaar card and so on which states the name of the guru against the column(s) for the name of the parent(s).
Bilateral & International Relations
Japan drags India to WTO against steps on iron, steel imports
Japan has dragged India to the World Trade Organisation’s dispute settlement body for imposing safeguard measures on steel products and minimum import price on iron and steel products.
What’s the issue?
- India had imposed safeguard measures in steel in September 2015 and minimum import price (MIP) on iron and steel products in February this year.
- Under MIP, products cannot be imported unless their import prices are at or above the imposed minimum.
- Japan, world’s second largest steel producer, found these measures inconsistent with the WTO norms.
- As Japan has filed the case, it will do bilateral consultations with India on the issue.
- As per the WTO’s dispute settlement process, the request for consultations is the first step in a dispute.
- Consultations give the parties an opportunity to discuss the matter and to find a satisfactory solution without proceeding further with litigation.
- After 60 days, if consultations fail to resolve the dispute, the complainant may request adjudication by a panel.
China open to India joining economic corridor
China has said it has an “open attitude” to India joining the $46 billion economic corridor but it wants to know Indian government’s response to a top Pakistani army general’s offer to participate in the project.
- Pakistan Southern Command Commander Lt Gen Amir Riaz had recently said that India should join the CPEC along with Iran, Afghanistan and other Central Asian countries and enjoy its benefits.
- India’s concerns over CPEC being laid through the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir is one of the three major issues bedevilled the relations between the two countries besides China blocking India’s admission to Nuclear Suppliers Group, (NSG) and UN ban on JeM leader Masood Azhar.
About the CPEC project:
China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a collection of projects currently under construction at a cost of $46 billion.
- The 3,000-km CPEC connecting Xinjiang with Pakistan’s Gwadar Port through PoK is stated to cost $46 billion.
- This project will shorten the route for China’s energy imports from the Middle East by about 12,000 kms.
- The project includes building of highways, railways as well as pipelines. It is among the six economic corridors conceived under China’s Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road.
- It is intended to rapidly expand and upgrade Pakistani infrastructure as well as deepen and broaden economic links between Pakistan and the People’s Republic of China.
- The corridor is considered to be an extension of China’s ambitious One Belt, One Road initiative, and the importance of CPEC to China is reflected by its inclusion as part of China’s 13th five-year development plan.
Benefits to Pakistan:
- For Pakistan, the Chinese investment in the south-western region of the country is a game-changer for the economy, especially considering the fact that despite the high concentration of mineral resources in the region it has remained the poorest district.
- The $46 billion promised by China will be used in generating close to 17,000 megawatts of electricity at a cost of $34 billion through coal, nuclear and other renewable energy projects. The rest of the money would be utilised in building up transport infrastructure.
Art & Culture
Urban planning kept peace in Harappa: Experts
According to Indus Valley Civilisation expert Jonathan Mark Kenoyer, ensuring efficient water supply and sewerage for every city can reduce conflicts.
- He believes this strategy is an important lesson to be learnt from the Harappans.
- Harappa was peaceful in comparison with all other first civilisations cities because of its urban planning.
- The efficient water supply, proper sewage treatment and good drainage systems in Harappa were main reason for conflict avoidance.
- However, experts suggests that Harappan concept of cleanliness and wells and drains is not so much about hygiene but also conflict avoidance.
- Harappa was an Indus Valley civilization’s urban centre, lies on an old bank/bed of the River Ravi in Punjab Province of Pakistan
- It was the first site of the civilization to be excavated in 1921 led by team led by Daya Ram Sahni.
- Its main feature was town planning were it had well grid locked pattern planned straight roads and a system of drainage.
Science & Technology
First 2G (Second Generation) Ethanol Bio-refinery in India to be set up at Bathinda (Punjab)
The government is planning to set up the country’s first Second Generation (2G) Ethanol Bio-refinery at village Tarkhanwala, Bathinda (Punjab), with an approximate investment of Rs 600 crores.
- Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL), a Central Government Public Sector Undertaking, is setting up the project.
The Government of India is encouraging production of Second Generation (2G) Ethanol from agricultural residues to provide additional sources of remuneration to farmers, address the growing environmental concerns and support the Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) programme for achieving 10% Ethanol Blending in Petrol.
Benefits of this Bio-refinery:
- The Bathinda Bio-refinery will be utilizing agriculture residues for production of 100 KL per day or 3.20 crore litres per annum of ethanol which may be sufficient to meet the 26% of the ethanol blending requirement of the State.
- The proposed Bio-refinery will generate employment for about 1200 -1300 persons in the Biomass supply chain and generate an additional income of approximately Rs 20 crores per annum for the farmers through purchase of their agriculture residues.
- The project shall also help in reducing CO2 emissions from the paddy straw which currently is being burnt after harvesting.
- One of the major outputs of this Bio-refinery shall be Bio-fertilizer approximating 30,000 tonnes per annum which shall be incorporated into the soil for improving soil fertility and overall productivity of farms in Punjab.
- The Bio-refinery shall also produce more than 1.00 lakh Kg of Bio-CNG per annum which can cater to transport and clean cooking requirements.
What is 2G ethanol?
- Second generation biofuels, also known as advanced biofuels, are fuels that can be manufactured from various types of biomass.
- It draws on previously unused (ligno-) cellulosic plant parts, such as straw or corn cobs.
- First generation biofuels are made from the sugars and vegetable oils found in arable crops, which can be easily extracted using conventional technology.
- In comparison, second generation biofuels are made from lignocellulosic biomass or woody crops, agricultural residues or waste, which makes it harder to extract the required fuel.
Key Facts for Prelims
National Consumer Day
- The National Consumer Day is observed every year in India on 24th December.
- On this day, the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 had received the assent of the President.
- It is celebrated every year by the Department of Consumer Affairs under the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs Food and Public Distribution.
- This year’s theme is: ‘Alternate Consumer Disputes Redressal’.
2016 Jnanpith Award
- Veteran Bengali poet Shankha Ghosh has been selected for this year’s Jnanpith Award.
- He is the 52nd recipient of Jnanpith Award.
- He has earlier won the Sahitya Academy Award and the Padmabhushan for his contribution to Indian literature.
- He is sixth Bengali litterateur to bag this prestigious literary award.
- Jnanpith Award is India’s highest literary award.
- It is bestowed upon any Indian citizen who writes in any 22 official languages of India mentioned in VIII Schedule of Constitution of India and English.
- It is mobile app for merchants launched by ICICI Bank, India’s largest private sector bank.
- With this, ICICI Bank became first bank in the country to roll out all-in-one payments platform.
- This app allows consolidation of all modes of payments, including digital wallets, Unified Payments Interface (UPI), QR code, and credit & debit cards.
- It allows multiple users to connect to the same account. This makes it possible to be used for cash-on-delivery payments.