Polity & Governance
- 25th January: National Voters Day
Government Schemes & Policies
- Centre launches schemes for young scientists
- Govt looking to increase AMRIT stores by 4 times this year
- Rapid Reporting System for the Scheme for Adolescent Girls launched
- MIS portal for Anganwadi Services Training Programme launched
- 325 air routes awarded under UDAN-2
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- India ranks 177 out of 180 in Environmental Performance Index
Key Facts for Prelims
- SARAS PT1N
- Bharat Parv
- VoICEIndia Magazine
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Polity & Governance
25th January: National Voters Day
The Election Commission of India celebrated the 8th National Voters Day on January 25th.
- The theme for this years National Voters’ Day is ‘Accessible Elections’ to spread awareness among voters regarding effective participation in the electoral process.
- This theme expressed ECI’s pursuit of working towards making the electoral process more inclusive and friendly for Persons with Disabilities (PwDs).
Why 25th January was chosen?
- Election Commission of India was constituted on 25th January 1950. Thus, 25th January every year is now observed as the National Voters Day.
About National Voters’ Day:
- National Voters’ Day was initiated in 2011 to commemorate the foundation day of the Election Commission of India (ECI) which came into existence on 25th January 1950.
- This day is also utilized to spread awareness among voters regarding effective participation in the electoral process.
About Election Commission of India (ECI):
- ECI is permanent and independent constitutional body established directly by Constitution of India to ensure fair and fair elections in the country.
- It is multi-member body and currently has three members including Chief Election Commissioner (CEC).
Government Schemes & Policies
Centre launches schemes for young scientists
The Ministry of Science & Technology has announced four new schemes to promote young scientists and researchers in the country.
- The schemes primarily aim at early recognition and reward to young talent in the field of science.
- They focus on youth to empower, recognize and motivate them.
Four schemes are as below:
- The scheme aims to tap latent potential of faculty working in state universities, colleges and private academic institutions who are well trained but having difficulty in pursuing their research due to varied reasons including lack of facilities, funding and guidance.
- Up to 500 TAs (Teacher Associateships) will be supported under this scheme.
- This scheme facilitates mobility of such faculty members to carryout research in well-established public funded institution such as IITs, IISc, IISERS and other National Institutions (NITs, CSIR, ICAR, ICMR labs, etc) and Central Universities located preferably nearer to institution where faculty member is working.
Overseas Visiting Doctoral Fellowship
- The scheme was instituted to enhance international mobility of Indian research students having potential to create talented pool of globally trained manpower.
- It will provide opportunity for research students to gain exposure and access to top class research facilities in academia and labs across the world.
- It will offer opportunities for up to 100 PhD students admitted in Indian institutions for gaining exposure and training in overseas universities /institutions of repute and areas of importance to country for 1 year period during their doctoral research.
- The selected fellows will be paid a monthly fellowship amount, one-time contingency/preparatory allowances to cover visa fee, airport transfer charges, medical insurance etc.
Distinguished Investigator Award (DIA)
- The scheme was initiated to recognize and reward Principal Investigators (PIs) of Department of Science and Technology (DST) projects that have performed remarkably well.
- It aims to reward best PIs of completed projects and also motivate ongoing PIs to perform exceedingly well.
- It seeks to effectively improve productivity of research undertaken and overall efficiency of research ecosystem.
- It will be one-time career award devised to specifically cater to younger scientists who have not received any other prestigious awards or fellowships.
- The award carries a fellowship and optional research grant for 3 years, based on peer review of project proposal submitted.
AWSAR (Augmenting Writing Skills for Articulating Research) Scheme
- The scheme aims to encourage, empower and endow popular science writing through newspapers, magazines, blogs, social media, etc. by young PhD Scholars and Post-Doctoral Fellows during course of their studies and research pursuits.
- It also seeks to tap tremendous potential of young scientists to popularize & communicate science and also to inculcate scientific temperament in the masses.
- The scheme also carries monetary incentive to each of 100 best entries from PhD scholars in year along with Certificate of Appreciation besides getting the story published/projected in mass media.
- In addition, three leading stories from selected hundred will be also awarded cash prize. Further, twenty entries will be selected from articles submitted exclusively by Post-Doctoral Fellows relating to their line of Research for monetary incentive and most outstanding story to be given a cash prize of Rs.1,00,000/-.
Govt looking to increase AMRIT stores by 4 times this year
In a bid to make low-cost medicines more accessible, the health ministry is working to increase the number of AMRIT pharmacy stores by four times by this year end from the existing 111 outlets.
About AMRIT scheme:
The Affordable Medicines and Reliable Implants for Treatment (AMRIT) scheme is the flagship programme of the Union Health ministry.
- The AMRIT programme was launched in November 2015 and is being implemented through mini-ratna PSU HLL Lifecare Ltd (HLL) which has been setting up pharmacies at major hospitals across the country to dispense the medicines.
- The AMRIT aims to provide affordable life-saving cancer, cardiac drugs and medical disposables.
- The primary goal of AMRIT is to make available and accessible, at very affordable rates, all drugs, implants, surgical disposables that are not dispensed free of cost by the hospitals.
- The AMRIT pharmacies offer an average discount of 63% on medicines.
Rapid Reporting System for the Scheme for Adolescent Girls launched
The Union Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) has launched beneficiary module (i.e. Phase -1) of Rapid Reporting System (RRS), a web based on line monitoring for Scheme for Adolescent Girls (SAG).
About the Rapid reporting system (RRS):
- The RRS portal will facilitate monitoring of SAG and take corrective measures by ensuring faster flow of information, accurate targeting of beneficiaries and reduction of leakages.
- It has been developed by Ministry of WCD in collaboration with National Informatics Centre (NIC).
About the Scheme for Adolescent Girls:
- Realizing the multi-dimensional needs of out of school adolescent girls (11-14 years) owing to the onset of second growth spurt during this period and with an aim to motivate these girls to join school system, the government is implementing the Scheme for Adolescent Girls (SAG) for out of school girls in the age group of 11-14 years.
- The scheme aims at providing them nutritional support, motivating out of school girls to go back to formal schooling or skill training under its non-nutrition component.
- It also provides nutritional support and girls are also equipped with information on health, hygiene and guidance on existing public services.
- It is implemented using platform of Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme.
- Ministry of WCD is implementing scheme in selected 508 districts across country.
- Anganwadi Centres (AWCs) are focal point for delivery of services.
- It is a centrally sponsored scheme implemented through Centre and State share in ratio of 50:50, for nutrition component 60:40 for rest of activities for State/UTs with legislation, 90:10 for NE and 3 Himalayan States and 100% for UTs without legislative assemblies.
MIS portal for Anganwadi Services Training Programme launched
The Union Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) has launched Management Information System (MIS) portal for Anganwadi Services Training Programme.
- The portal has been developed by Ministry of WCD in collaboration with National Informatics Centre (NIC) for submission of applications and estimates by NGOs for carrying out Anganwadi Services (ICDS) Training through Anganwadi Workers Training Centres (AWTC) and Middle-Level Training Centres (MLTC).
- The phase 1 of portal will enable NGOs to submit proposals to respective states/UTs which in turn will process proposals and recommend requirement of funds for running programme.
- On this request, Central government will further examine proposal and release funds. It will ensure that funds are released timely and reach beneficiaries for training purpose.
Anganwadi Services Training Programme
- The Anganwadi Services Training Programme comes under Umbrella Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme which is centrally sponsored scheme.
- The training to Anganwadi Workers (AWWs), Anganwadi Helpers (AWHs) and Supervisors at AWTCs and MLTCs is part of the Anganwadi Services.
- The AWTCs and MLTCs are run either by respective state governments/UT administrations or by NGOs under supervision of states/UTs.
- The Union Government releases funds required for implementation of scheme to states/UTs.
325 air routes awarded under UDAN-2
The Union Ministry of Civil Aviation has awarded 325 air routes under the second phase of government’s flagship UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam naagrik) regional connectivity scheme.
- Out of 325 air routes, around 40% or 129 air routes were awarded to newly created category of ‘priority areas’ that include Jammu and Kashmir, North-eastern and hill states, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep Islands.
- The routes under phase-II were awarded to 15 airlines and helicopter operators after bidding process.
- The ‘Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik’ RCS (Regional Connectivity Scheme) was launched in October 2016.
- The key objective of the UDAN scheme is to provide regional connectivity so that persons in regional towns are able to take affordable flights.
- It is considered as a vital component of the National Civil Aviation Policy (NCAP) which was released on June 15, 2016.
- The scheme has been launched to provide connectivity to un-served and under-served airports of the country through revival of existing air-strips and airports.
- This is first of its kind scheme and will be implemented for a period of 10 years. As of now, 128 routes have been identified and declared in the RCS map of India.
- UDAN scheme will make flying easier and affordable for the common man.
- It is hailed as the first-of-its-kind scheme globally to stimulate regional connectivity through a market-based mechanism.
- India is already among the fastest growing aviation markets in the world. But infrastructure constraints at airports in big cities could slow down this growth. UDAN, if successful, can provide a fillip to India’s aviation story. It could boost passenger numbers and provide feeder traffic to networks in big centres.
- UDAN network will cover the whole country. Accordingly, 24 airports in the western region, 17 airports in the northern region, 11 in the southern region, 12 in east and 6 in north-eastern parts of the country are proposed to be connected under UDAN.
- The scheme is expected to have positive effects on the economy in terms of employment and investment.
- The scheme will also promote tourism and balanced regional growth.
- Air connectivity has a multiplier effect on tourism, investments, economic growth, job creation. Getting the nooks and corners of India linked up, directly or indirectly, through the fastest mode of transportation can open up the country like never before.
- Cheap fares on regional routes can mean a horde of first-time fliers taking to the skies, making accessible to them new economic opportunities and quick connections in times of emergencies.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
India ranks 177 out of 180 in Environmental Performance Index
On the sidelines of World Economic Forum meet in Davos, the 2018 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) was released.
About the index:
- EPI has been developed by Yale University and Columbia University in collaboration with the World Economic Forum and the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission.
- The overall EPI is based on a country’s performance in 10 environmental issue categories and two policy objectives viz. Environment health and Ecosystem Vitality.
- High rank in the EPI shows long-standing commitments to protecting public health, preserving natural resources and decoupling greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from economic activity.
Highlights of the report:
- Top 5 countries are Switzerland, France, Denmark, Malta and Sweden.
- Top bottom countries are Nepal, India, Congo, Bangladesh, Burundi.
- India has been ranked 177 among 180 countries.
- The report has ranked India as fourth worst country worldwide in curbing environmental pollution. India has slipped from 141st position in 2016 report.
- India’s overall low ranking—177 among 180 countries—was linked to poor performance in the environment health policy and deaths due to air pollution categories.
- India is among the bottom five countries on the Index. Overall, India (at 177) and Bangladesh (179) come in near the bottom of the rankings.
Reasons for India’s low performance:
- India’s low scores are influenced by poor performance in the environmental health policy objective.
- Deaths attributed to PM2.5 have risen over the past decade and are estimated at 1,640,113, annually (Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, 2017).
- Despite government action, pollution from solid fuels, coal and crop residue burning, and emissions from motor vehicles continue to severely degrade the air quality.
Concerns raised by the report:
- The low rank of emerging economies including China (120) and India (177) indicates strain population pressures and rapid economic growth impose on the environment.
- As per the report, substantial populations still suffer from poor air quality, most notably in India, China, and Pakistan (169).
- Globally, air quality is the leading environmental threat to public health.
- In 2016, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation estimated that diseases related to airborne pollutants contributed to two-thirds of all life-years lost to environmentally related deaths and disabilities.
- Pollution is particularly severe in places such as India and China, where greater levels of economic development contribute to higher pollution levels.
- Further, as countries develop, increased population growth in large cities, as well as increased industrial production and automotive transportation, continue to expose people to high levels of air pollution.
- Report notes that the low scores on the EPI are indicative of the need for national sustainability efforts on a number of fronts, especially cleaning up air quality, protecting biodiversity and reducing GHG (Green House Gas) emissions.
Key Facts for Prelims
What is SARAS?
- The SARAS is an indigenous aircraft developed by the National Aeronautics Laboratories (NAL), which is overseen by the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR).
- The aircraft programme is named after Indian crane Saras.
About SARAS PT1N:
- SARAS PT1N is a 14-seater passenger aircraft designed and developed by CSIR-NAL, a frontline aerospace research laboratory.
- The flight recently completed a successful first flight in its new avatar.
- The production version aircraft will have 19-seat capacity.
- As part of Independence Day celebrations, Ministry of Tourism is organising ‘Bharat Parv’, a 7-day cultural event at the Red Fort, Delhi.
- Bharat Parv is a national festival showcasing the country’s diverse culture, cuisines, handicrafts and catch glimpses of a progressive India.
- The prime objective of organizing the event is to generate a patriotic mood, promote the rich cultural diversity of the country, ensure wider participation of the general public and to popularise the idea of “Ek Bharat Shreshta Bharat”.
- The Ministry of Tourism has been designated as the nodal Ministry for the event.
- On the sidelines of National Voters Day celebrations, the President inaugurated the first edition of VoICE India – a biannual magazine.
- The magazine brings forth best practices, innovations and knowledge derived from practical experience and success stories of the election machinery that exists in every corner of India.