Polity & Governance
- 25 projects under Swadesh Darshan scheme sanctioned
- NGOs have to register with NITI Aayog for grants
- Narsingh Yadav fails dope test
- India’s First Green Rail Corridor Launched in Tamil Nadu
- Kochi water metro: Country’s first water metro in 4 years
Environment & Ecology
- Panel formed to prepare Ganga de-siltation plan
Defence & Security Issues
- Red Corridor to be redrawn
Science & Technology
- Scientists work toward storing digital information in DNA
Also in News
- Kerala Tourism strikes gold at PATA awards
- China unveils world’s largest amphibious aircraft
Polity & Governance
25 projects under Swadesh Darshan scheme sanctioned
Ministry of Tourism has sanctioned 25 projects under the Swadesh Darshan scheme worth Rs. 2048 Crore so far to 21 States and Union Territories since its launch of in January 2015.
- These States and UTs include Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Kerala, Puducherry, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Bihar, West Bengal, Sikkim, Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Tripura.
- For North Eastern States, the Ministry has sanctioned 9 projects worth Rs. 821 Crores covering all the 8 states.
- For Tribal areas, the Ministry has sanctioned 3 projects for Rs. 282 Crores to the SG of Nagaland, Chhattisgarh and Telangana.
- For Buddhist Circuit, the Ministry has sanctioned 2 projects worth Rs. 108.11 Crore to the SG of Bihar and Madhya Pradesh.
About Swadesh Darshan Scheme:
The Ministry of Tourism has launched the Swadesh Darshan Scheme in 2014-15.
- Aim of the scheme is to develop theme based tourist circuits in the country on the principles of high tourist value, competitiveness and sustainability in an integrated manner by synergizing efforts to focus on needs and concerns of all stakeholders to enrich tourist experience and enhance employment opportunities.
- Under the Swadesh Darshan scheme, thirteen thematic circuits have been identified, for development namely:
- North-East India Circuit,
- Buddhist Circuit,
- Himalayan Circuit,
- Coastal Circuit,
- Krishna Circuit,
- Desert Circuit,
- Tribal Circuit,
- Eco Circuit,
- Wildlife Circuit,
- Rural Circuit,
- Spiritual Circuit,
- Ramayana Circuit and
- Heritage Circuit.
NGOs have to register with NITI Aayog for grants
Stepping up its scrutiny of NGOs, especially their financial dealings, the Centre has made registering them on the NITI Aayog portal, mandatory for them to apply for grants from any ministry.
- The decision was taken by the Aayog at its recently held meeting, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired.
Aim of the move:
- The move aims to smoothen the process of identification, verification and facilitation — at both ends: for beneficiaries as well as contributors.
What was decided at the meeting?
It was decided that:
- NGOs are now required to give unique identification numbers, the details of the Aadhaar and PAN numbers of all their trustees and office- bearers.
- All ministries have been directed to process the proposal for grants and releases to the NGOs only through the Aayog’s portal.
- A system should be developed to give unique entity numbers to charitable trusts and societies.
- Significantly, a last month government notification said if an NGO receives government funding in excess of Rs 1 crore, those handling its day-to-day operations will be treated as public servants under the Lokpal and Lok Ayukta Act (2013).
- In case of foreign funding, this limit was pegged at Rs 10 lakh a year.
- The notification also said that managers, directors, board members of NGOs will have to declare their personal assets, jewellery, cash, moveable and immoveable property by July 31.
- They will also be subject to rules and regulations for government officials under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The notification has caused considerable consternation in the community raising fears of excessive control by the Centre, though officials maintain the order is only to pave the way for making NGOs accountable.[Ref: The Hindu]
Narsingh Yadav fails dope test
Top Indian wrestler Narsingh Yadav has tested positive for a banned substance and may miss out on participating in the coming Rio Olympics.
- The 74kg freestyle wrestler, who bagged a bronze medal in last year’s World championship to qualify for the Olympics, tested positive for a banned steroid, methandienone in an out-of-competition test conducted by the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA).
- NADA had collected Narsingh’s samples at the National camp in Sonepat a few weeks ago.
- With this, his participation in 2016 Rio Olympics has been jeopardised and if found guilty by the disciplinary panel, he may face a four-year suspension.
- Metandienone, also known commonly as methandrostenolone, is an orally active anabolic steroid.
- Metandienone binds to and activates the androgen receptor in order to exert its effects. These include dramatic increases in protein synthesis, glycogenolysis, and muscle strength over a short space of time.
- National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) is an autonomous body under the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports to check doping in sports.
- NADA deals with adopting and implementing anti-doping rules and policies which conform with the World Anti-Doping Code, cooperates with other anti-doping organizations and promotes anti-doping research and education.
- Government does not interfere in the day-to-day functioning of NADA and is committed to total transparency and objectivity in matters relating to doping.
India’s First Green Rail Corridor Launched in Tamil Nadu
Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu inaugurated the first green train corridor between Rameswaram and Manamadurai, in Tamil Nadu.
- By using bio-toilets, the Railway ministry is creating green rail corridors in the country with zero human waste discharge.
- Trains in the section have been equipped with bio-toilets ensuring zero discharge of human waste on the rail tracks.
- After Rameswarm-Manamadurai, Okha-Kanalas Junction (141 Kms), Porbandar-Wansjaliya (34 Kms) and Jammu-Katra (78 Kms) would also be taken up for making them free from human waste discharge from trains.
Why these sections and stations were chosen?
- Because the number of trains originating and terminating at these stations and sections are few, thus making it operationally easier and faster to make them human-discharge free.
Bio-toilets in Indian Railways:
- The Railways ministry has provided 15,500 bio-toilets in 2015-16 in about 4,000 coaches, while till March 2015, it has fitted around 19,000 bio-toilets.
- Indian Railways has decided to provide bio-toilets in all coaches by September 19, 2019.
- Indian Railways in its commitment to provide hygienic environment to passengers and to keep station premises/tracks clean, have developed environment-friendly Bio-toilets for its passenger coaches.
- The technology has been developed jointly by Indian Railways (IR) and Defence Research & Development Organization (DRDO) for railway passenger coaches through an MoU.
- In the bio-toilet fitted coaches, human waste is collected in tanks below the toilets and the same is decomposed by a consortium of bacteria.
- This environment friendly, low cost and robust technology, is the first of its kind in Railway Systems in the world.
Kochi water metro: Country’s first water metro in 4 years
Kerala Government has launched Kochi Water Metro project, the first ever Water Metro project in the country.
- Kochi Water Metro project would be completed in four years and the government would closely monitor the project to ensure that it was implemented in a time-bound manner.
- The Water Metro, an unprecedented project in the country, would bestow Kochi with 78 modern boats and draw global attention to it as a major port city.
- The project aims to provide water connectivity to people living between islands in the Kochi agglomeration area and the city.
- The project would make the urban water transport network in the city modern and safer.
- The project is being implemented by Kochi Metro Rail Ltd with the support of German development bank, Kfw.
- The Water Metro project is not just about launching boats, but building roads in the islands and plying electric-CNG buses on the roads there, besides providing basic infrastructure facilities such as street lights.
Environment & Ecology
Panel formed to prepare Ganga de-siltation plan
The Union Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation has set up a committee to prepare guidelines for desilting the Ganga river from Bhimgauda in Uttarakhand to Farakka in West Bengal.
- Madhav Chitale, a member of the National Ganga River Basin Authority, has been appointed chairman of the committee.
- The committee has been asked to establish difference between de-silting and sand mining and also to establish need for de-silting for ecology and e-flow of the Ganga.
- The committee has been asked to submit its detailed report within three months.
Defence & Security Issues
Red Corridor to be redrawn
The Union government is set to reduce the number of Maoist-affected districts by about a fifth.
- Approximately 20 of the 106 districts that have been described as being Maoist-affected and are part of the Red Corridor may soon no longer be part of the list.
- This exercise, under way now for two years, is being done for the first time since 2006, when the Maoist-affected districts were identified and graded on the basis of their violence profile.
- The year 2015 saw the lowest Maoist violence in the last six years.
Why their names are not disclosed?
- The names are not being revealed because of the sensitivities of the States, which fear that once a district is taken off the list, financial aid given to the districts – to the tune of Rs. 30 crore annually for various developmental work – will dry up.
What is ‘Red Corridor’?
- The Red Corridor is a region in the east of India that experiences considerable Naxalite–Maoist insurgency.
- The 106 districts that span 10 States — Bihar, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Telangana, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh — are described as those affected by Left Wing Extremism (LWE) and constitute the ‘Red Corridor’.
- Of these, 44 districts are said to be the worst-affected. India has a total of 683 districts.
How any district is described to be affected by Left Wing Extremism?
The considerations on which the government has examined the districts with LWE features are:
- Their violence profile,
- An assessment of the kind of logistical and other support provided to armed Maoist cadres by their sympathisers and “over ground workers”, and
- The kind of positive changes brought about by development work that these districts have seen.
Developmental works in the 44 worst-affected districts:
- The Expenditure Finance Committee (EFC) has already given the go-ahead for an ambitious road project in the 44 worst-affected districts.
- Under this project, the government proposes to construct 5412 km road length and 126 bridges and it would cost Rs. 11,725 crore.
Science & Technology
Scientists work toward storing digital information in DNA
Scientists are working towards storing digital data in the base sequence of DNA.
- DNA is by its essence an information-storing molecule; the genes we pass from generation to generation transmit the blueprints for creating the human body.
How DNA store information?
- The information in the DNA is stored in strings of what’s often called the four-letter DNA code. This code refers to sequences of four building blocks abbreviated as A, C, T and G found in the DNA molecule. Specific sequences give the body directions for creating particular proteins.
The difference between DNA and digital devices:
- Digital devices, on the other hand, store information in a two-letter code that produces strings of ones and zeroes. A capital ‘A’, for example, is 01000001.
How to convert from digital to DNA?
- Converting digital information to DNA involves translating between the two codes. In one lab, for example, a capital A can become ATATG. The idea is once that transformation is made, strings of DNA can be custom-made to carry the new code, and hence the information that code contains.
What are the advantages?
- DNA digital data storage technology has very long durability i.e. scientists can store digital information in DNA sequences for thousands of years.
- Information stored in DNA consumes very little space.
- DNA storage would avoid the problem of having to repeatedly copy stored information into new formats as the technology for reading it becomes outmoded.
What are the challenges?
- One challenge for making the technology practical is making it much cheaper. Scientists custom-build fairly short strings DNA now for research, but scaling up enough to handle information storage in bulk would require a “mind-boggling” leap in output. With current technology, that would be hugely expensive.
Also in News
Kerala Tourism strikes gold at PATA awards
Kerala Tourism won two Gold Gongs at the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Awards.
- The awards will be presented at the PATA Gold Awards Luncheon and Presentation in September 2016 in Jakarta, Indonesia.
- Kerala Tourism bagged the award in recognition of its trend setting marketing initiatives, which have given a boost to the state’s profile as a must-visit destination.
- The awards were in the categories of Travel Advertisement Broadcast Media and E-Newsletter, which were grabbed by the successful Visit Kerala television commercial campaign and the popular Kerala Tourism E-Newsletter, respectively.
- In 2015, Kerala Tourism was also awarded PATA Gold in the Heritage and Culture category for Muziris Heritage Project.
About Pacific Asia Travel Association:
- The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) is a membership association.
- It works to promote the responsible development of travel and tourism in the Asia Pacific region.
- In 2011, PATA celebrate its 60th anniversary with a series of activities and events focused around the theme Building Tourism.
China unveils world’s largest amphibious aircraft
China has completed production of the world’s largest amphibious aircraft which will be used to fight forest fires and perform marine rescues.
- The aircraft, dubbed the AG600, is around the size of a Boeing 737 – far larger than any other plane built to take off and land on water.
- It has a maximum flight range of 2,800 miles and can collect 12 tonnes of water in 20 seconds.
- Before the AG600, the largest amphibious cast was the H-4 Hercules, known as the Spruce Goose, which was designed in the 1940s to carry Allied troops into battle. Its wingspan is still longer than the AG600’s.
- The AG600 could potentially extend the China’s ability to conduct a variety of operations in the South China Sea.