Polity & Governance
- Centre appoints Shri Dineshwar Sharma as its Representative in J&K
Government Schemes & Policies
- India’s First Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendra for Skilling in Smart Cities
- Bengal Govt. calls for meet as raw jute demand falls
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Centre eases norms for sewage plants
- Centre eases rules for groundwater extraction by industry
Bilateral & International Relations
- China must cease predatory trade practices: US
- ‘Paika Bidroha’ to be named as 1st War of Independence
Key Facts for Prelims
- Gram Samridhi Evam Swachhata Pakhwada
- 24 October: United Nations Day
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Polity & Governance
Centre appoints Shri Dineshwar Sharma as its Representative in J&K
In a major development, the Centre appointed Dineshwar Sharma, former Director of Intelligence Bureau, as the Representative of Government of India to initiate and carry forward a dialogue with the elected representatives, various organizations and concerned individuals in the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
What will he do?
- Sharma will initiate a sustained interaction and dialogue to understand the legitimate aspirations of the wide cross sections of society, particularly the youth in Jammu and Kashmir and communicate them to the State Government and the Centre.
- The last time such an exercise was held was in 2010 when the then UPA government appointed a group of three interlocutors to hold sustained dialogue with all sections of people in J&K.
- Soon after the BJP-led NDA government came to power, Home Minister Rajnath Singh had ruled out the appointment of any interlocutor for J&K saying it was a “non-productive” practice.
Need for Representative in J&K
- J & K Valley’s prolonged anti-india protest, rising insurgency in Kashmir, intense counter- insurgency operation has caused acute distress in the region. Demand for the political outreach emerged to prevent radicalisation of local youth which is the topmost concern for the Indian security establishment
About Dineshwar Sharma:
- Dineshwar Sharma is a Retired IPS officer from 1979 Batch of Kerala Cadre.
- During his distinguished career, he has served in J&K, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Nagaland and Manipur and as Additional Director and Special Director in the Intelligence Bureau in the Headquarters.
- He has in-depth understanding of security related matters and considerable knowledge and experience of issues relating to Jammu and Kashmir.
- He would now hold the rank of a Cabinet Secretary and would have complete independence in deciding who to hold talks with.
Government Schemes & Policies
India’s First Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendra for Skilling in Smart Cities
India’s first Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendra (PMKK) for Skilling in smart cities was inaugurated in collaboration with the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) in New Delhi.
- The main aim behind the move is to bring momentum in skilling through collaborative efforts.
National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), an executive arm of Skill Development Ministry, collaborated with New Delhi Municipal Council Smart City Limited for the following:
- To extend cooperation for setting up of PMKK Centres for Smart Cities
- To provide skill training for unemployed youth through its short-term training (STT) module
- Contribute to the capacity building of municipal employees through Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) program.
About the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendra:
The newly inaugurated Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendra
- Leverages NDMC infrastructure for skilling initiatives
- With a capacity of skilling 4,000 youth annually
- Catering to healthcare and solar energy sectors, the centre will be managed by one of NSDCs affiliated training partners – Orion Edutech, which has an impeccable record of training nearly 3 lakh candidates through its network of over 275 skill development centres across the country.
Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY)
PMKVY is flagship Skill Certification Scheme of Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE) launched in July 2015.
- Its objective is to enable a large number of Indian youth to take up industry-relevant skill training that will help them in securing a better livelihood.
- Under this Scheme, individuals with prior learning experience or skills are also assessed and certified under Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL).
- Government will pay complete training and assessment fees. The training includes soft skills, personal grooming, behavioural change.
- It is implemented through the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC).
- Skill training is based on the National Skill Qualification Framework (NSQF) and industry led standards.
- Every year more than 13 million Indians enter the working age but the country has an annual training capacity of 3 million on adding up all the training and educational capacities.
- This gap of more than 10 million is very difficult to bridge considering long gestation training periods, capacity building lacunae etc.
- Addressing this issue is critical to realizing the demographic dividend potential of India.
Bengal Govt. calls for meet as raw jute demand falls
West Bengal government has called for an urgent meeting this week to review the raw jute situation in the State.
- The meeting will also discuss the infrastructure gaps at the Jute Corporation of India (JCI) which is tasked with purchasing raw jute from farmers to raise the price.
- The problem being faced by the farmers is mainly on account of declining demand for the low grade jute being grown by the farmers in West Bengal.
- West Bengal is the hub of the low grade — TD 6 — variety of raw jute. The demand for this type of the natural fibre, used mainly for making sacking and gunny bags, has been declining since last year.
- Poor agricultural practices and lack of facilities for retting (a process of washing raw jute to get better fibre), has led to the farmers resorting to production of this variety.
Why the demand for TD 6 declined?
- This is because of the Textile Ministry’s specifications to the jute mills to make lighter bags in order to tackle competition. However, lightweight jute bags of 560 grams (replacing the earlier 665 grams) necessitates the use of better quality raw jute . This has led to a drop in demand for the TD-6 variety.
- The scenario could be changed if the mills were allowed to tweak the specifications for jute sacks, enabling higher use of TD-6 grade. Or else, the Jute Corporation could be asked to increase its purchases.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
Centre eases norms for sewage plants
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has relaxed standards for upcoming sewage treatment plants (STP), including those to come up on extremely polluted stretches of the Ganga.
- For long the focus has been the lack of sewage treatment capacity in the country and not the quality of treatment at STPs. Only three out of India’s 28 states and union territories in India, for which data is available, can meet their demand for sewage treatment.
- Recently, the environment ministry tweaked standards for four parameters that determine water quality: pH value, which captures the level of acidity, Bio-Chemical Oxygen Demand (BOD), Total Suspended Solids (TSS) and Fecal Coliform (FC).
Fecal coliform bacteria like the dreaded strain of E. Coli is found in the intestines of warm-blooded animals.
Key provisions of the rules:
- The new rules will apply to all STPs that are commissioned after June 2019, and all existing plants have to comply with them within five years.
- The biochemical oxygen demand (Bod) — a marker for organic pollutants — in the treated water had to be no more than 10 mg/litre. Existing laws permit BoD up to 30 mg/litre.
- However, a notification by the Union Environment Ministry this month has junked the 10 mg/litre target. The 10 mg criteria would require advanced technology that was too costly for most States. That kind of quality can be achieved in a phased manner.
- These include proposed STPs to treat sewage in stretches of the river downstream of Haridwar, including Kanpur and Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh.
- New STPs in State capitals, have to cap BoD at 20 mg/litre.
- Plants in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura, Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Daman & Diu, Lakshadweep and Dadra and Nagar Haveli don’t need to stick to higher sewage-treatment criteria.
Critical analysis of the new norms:
- The norms are much weaker than those proposed by the ministry in 2015. The ministry diluted the standards after receiving feedback that the draft norms were impractical and compliance would be too costly.
- It is an expensive proposition to ensure older plants comply with the norms. The retrofitting of older plants itself will cost crores of rupees.
- It was better to have less stringent norms and 100% sewerage infrastructure coverage. There is no point treating some waste water to a high degree and mixing it with untreated water.
- A major source of pollution in the Ganga is sewage and a long running court case showed that neither was treatment capacity adequate nor was the sewerage network. As the sewerage network grows it is likely to burden the treatment plants even more.
What is Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD)?
- Biochemical Oxygen Demand or Biological Oxygen Demand, is a measurement of the amount of dissolved oxygen (DO) that is used by aerobic microorganisms when decomposing organic matter in water.
- The BOD value is most commonly expressed in milligrams of oxygen consumed per litre of sample during 5 days of incubation at 20 oc and is often used as a surrogate of the degree of organic pollution of water.
- BOD can be used as a gauge of the effectiveness of wastewater treatment plants.
Why is BOD important?
- Biochemical Oxygen Demand is an important water quality parameter because it provides an index to assess the effect discharged wastewater will have on the receiving environment.
- The higher the BOD value, the greater the amount of organic matter or “food” available for oxygen consuming bacteria.
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) is a statutory organisation under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC).
- It was constituted in September, 1974 under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.
- Further, CPCB was entrusted with the powers and functions under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.
- It serves as a field formation and also provides technical services to the Ministry of Environment and Forests of the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
Principal Functions of the CPCB:
- To promote cleanliness of streams and wells in different areas of the States by prevention, control and abatement of water pollution, and
- To improve the quality of air and to prevent, control or abate air pollution in the country.
- To co-ordinate the activities of the State Pollution Control Boards by providing technical assistance and guidance and also resolves disputes among them.
Centre eases rules for groundwater extraction by industry
The Central Grounder Water Authority (CGWA) has sent Draft guidelines for “issuance of NOC” for ground water withdrawal and draft “Public Notice” to the Chief Secretaries of all the State and Administrators of Union Territories for their comments within 60 days.
- Due to the increasing number of litigations in the National Green Tribunal, various branches of Tribunal are directing CGWA to ensure that the ground water withdrawal in the country should be in accordance with law.
- These guidelines will ensure a uniform regulatory framework across the country so that the discriminatory practices in regulation are either mitigated or minimized.
The major revisions in the guidelines are
- Pan India coverage,
- Decentralization of the No Objection Certificate (NOC) issuing authorities, based on the quantum of ground water extraction viz. revenue heads of the district, State Nodal Agency / State Ground Water Authority and CGWA, dispensing with the provisions relating to submission of artificial recharge proposals and construction of artificial recharge structures by project proponents,
- Introduction of a water conservation fee in lieu of recharge mechanism;
- Funds raised through the water conservation fee to be used by States for effective ground water management etc.
- Does away with provisions regarding artificial recharge and construction of artificial recharge structures by project proponents.
About Central Grounder Water Authority (CGWA):
- The CGWA constituted by Government of India under Section 3(3) of the Environment (Protection) Act of 1986 has been regulating ground water development and management in the country.
- The authority has been granting NOC for withdrawal of ground water by industries/infrastructure/mining projects.
Bilateral & International Relations
China must cease predatory trade practices: US
The US asked China to provide fair and reciprocal treatment to US firms and cease predatory trade and investment practices.
- The message comes ahead of US President Donald Trump’s maiden trip to China next month.
- The visit will send a clear signal that for bilateral economic relations to be sustainable, China must provide fair and reciprocal treatment to U.S companies and must desist from predatory trade and investment practices.
How US defined China’s Predatory practices?
US defined China’s Predatory practices like
- The forced technology transfer;
- American companies have had an enormous amount of their intellectual property stolen, sometimes through cyber-enabled means, and also through other means as well;
- The complete lack or reciprocity in investment permissions for services companies;
- By denying US firms free access to its domestic market
‘Paika Bidroha’ to be named as 1st War of Independence
In a move seen as a bid to rewrite modern Indian history, Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Prakash Javadekar has announced that the 1817 Paika Rebellion or ‘Paika Bidroha’ would be named as the First War of Independence from the academic year 2018-19.
Who were Paikas?
- Paiks were the traditional landed militia of Odisha, used to perform policing functions.
- They owned rent-free land that was given to them for their military service to Kingdom of Khurda.
- However, they were rendered landless by the policies of British East India Company.
About Paika Rebellion:
- Paika Rebellion of 1817 is an armed rebellion against British colonialism.
- The revolution was in response to the tinkering of the revenue system by the British in 1803. In response, the farming community of Odisha rose in rebellion.
- At that juncture, Bakshi Jagabandhu Bidyadhar, the military chief of the King of Khurda, led the army of Paikas and forced the British to retreat. This came to be known as Paika Bidroh (Paika rebellion).
- The main cause of the revolution was the takeover of the rent-free land that had been given to the Paiks for their military service to the Kingdom of Khurda.
- Though the revolution occurred before the first war of independence in 1857, the revolution did not get similar recognition like that of the Revolt of 1857.
Key Facts for Prelims
Gram Samridhi Evam Swachhata Pakhwada
- In partnership with State Governments and other Departments, Department of Rural Development organized Gram Samridhi Evam Swachhata Pakhwada from 1st October to 15th October, 2017.
- It was also an effort to prepare the Gram Panchayat Development Plan through extensive community participation specially of women and youth.
- The recommendations of this plan will be given top most priority in finalization of Annual Action Plan across schemes and programmes of various Ministries and Departments.
- Gram Sabhas were held in nearly all the Gram Panchayats of the Country on 2nd October.
During this period,
DISHA Monitoring Portal and Gram Samvaad App were introduced on 11th October, 2017.
- Disha Monitoring Portal would enable Members of Parliament to track progress in implementation of various centrally sponsored schemes in their constituency.
- Gram Samvaad Mobile app allows a citizen to access information on and implementation of Rural Development schemes at Panchayat level.
24 October: United Nations Day
- The United Nations Day is observed every year on 24th October to mark anniversary of entry into force of UN Charter in 1945.
- UN is successor of ineffective League of Nations and was established in 1945 after World War II in order to prevent another such conflict.
- With ratification of this founding document by majority of its members, including five permanent members of UN Security Council, United Nations officially came into existence on 24th October 1945.