Polity & Governance
- PM Modi to confer the National Youth Parliament Festival Awards to winners
Government Schemes & Policies
- 5,60,695 Houses Sanctioned Under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban)
Issues related to Health & Education
- India hosts ‘4th Global Digital Health Partnership Summit’
- Dharmapada Samvaad-Skill Saathi Youth Conclave in Odisha
- Nine new items added to MSP for minor forest produce scheme
- Relief to e-wallets: RBI extends KYC compliance norms by six months
Bilateral & International Relations
- Chagos Islands dispute: UK obliged to end control – UN
Science & Technology
- CIPAM Invites Entries for Intellectual Property Competition
- New NASA mission could find more than 1,000 planets
- New Horizons spacecraft sends sharpest view of Ultima Thule
Key Facts for Prelims
- International Olympic Committee (IOC)
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Polity & Governance
PM Modi to confer the National Youth Parliament Festival Awards to winners
In order to encourage the youth in the age group of 18-25 years to engage with public issues and understand the common man’s point of view Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports has launched the National Youth Parliament Festival 2019 on the National Youth Day (12th January).
About the Youth Parliament Festival:
- National Youth Parliament Festival 2019 has been jointly organised by National Service Scheme (NSS) and Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan (NYKS) under the aegis of Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports.
- The theme is: “Be the Voice of New India” and “Find solutions and contribute to policy”.
- Youth in the age bracket of 18-25 years were invited to participate in the District, State and National level Youth Parliaments.
- The participants were selected through two screening processes from District Youth Parliament to State Youth Parliament and finally to the speakers in the National Youth Parliament (NYP).
- The best three speakers at the National Youth Parliament will be awarded Rs. 2 Lakhs, Rs. 1.50 Lakhs and Rs. 1 Lakh respectively in order of merit along with a certificate by the Prime Minister.
Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan:
- Nehru Yuva Kendras were established in the year 1972.
- In the year 1987-88, Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan(NYKS) was set up as an autonomous organization under the Government of India, Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports.
- The aim of the Sangathan is to oversee working of the Nehru Yuva Kendras all over country.
- NYKS is the largest grassroots level youth organization; one of its kind in the world.
- The objective is to provide rural youth avenues to take part in the process of nation building as well providing opportunities for the development of their personality and skills.
- Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan has been working in various fronts of youth development with a variety of youth programmes and schemes of the Ministry of Youth Affairs.
National Youth Day:
- Government of India had decided in 1984 to celebrate the birthday of Swami Vivekananda i.e. 12 January is celebrated as National Youth Day every year.
- Since then from 1985, it is started celebrating as the National Youth Day all over the country.
- The main objective is to propagate the philosophy and the ideals of Swami Vivekananda.
- It became a mainstream celebration in India from 1985 onwards and observed on January 12 ever since.
About National Service Scheme (NSS):
- National Service Scheme (NSS) was launched during 1969, the birth centenary year of Mahatma Gandhi, in 37 universities involving 40000 students.
- NSS is an extension dimension to the higher education system to orient the student youth to community service while they are studying in educational institutions.
- It is being implemented by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Government of India.
Aims and objectives of NSS:
- To understand the community in which they work;
- To understand themselves in relation to their community;
- To identify the needs and problems of the community and involve them in problem solving process.
- To develop among themselves a sense of social and civic responsibility;
- To utilise their knowledge in finding practical solution to individual and community problems;
- To develop competence required for group-living and sharing of responsibilities:
- To gain skills in mobilising community participation;
- To acquire leadership qualities and democratic attitude;
- To develop capacity to meet emergencies and natural disasters; and
- To practice national integration and social harmony
Motto of NSS:
- The motto or watchword of the National Service Scheme is “NOT ME BUT YOU”.
- NSS is being implemented in Senior Secondary Schools, Colleges and Universities.
- The design of the NSS envisages that each educational institution covered under the Scheme has at least one NSS unit comprising of normally 100 student volunteers, led by a teacher designated as Programme Officer (PO).
- Each NSS unit adopts a village or slum for taking up its activities.
Nature of Activities under NSS:
Briefly, the NSS volunteers work on issues of social relevance, which keep evolving in response to the needs of the community, through regular and special camping activities. Such issues include
- literacy and education,
- health, family welfare and nutrition,
- environment conservation,
- social service programmes,
- programmes for empowerment of women,
- programmes connected with economic development activities,
- rescue and relief during calamities, etc.
Government Schemes & Policies
5,60,695 Houses Sanctioned Under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban)
The Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs has approved the construction of another 5,60,695 more affordable houses for the benefit of urban poor under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban).
- The cumulative number of houses sanctioned under PMAY(U) now is 79,04,674.
Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban)
- Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana is an initiative by Government of India under the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs in which affordable housing will be provided to the urban poor.
- The PMAY (U) mission was launched on 25th June 2015 with the aim to provide houses to every eligible urban household in India by the year 2022.
- Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana(U) has 4 verticals:
- In-Situ Slum Redevelopment (ISSR)
- Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme (CLSS)
- Affordable Housing in Partnership (AHP)
- Beneficiary led Construction (BLC)
- The beneficiaries are poor and people living under EWS and LIG categories in the country.
- The scheme is divided into three phases. In the first phase, a total of 100 cities will be covered from April 2015 to March 2017. In phase two, 200 cities will be covered from April 2017 to March 2019. In the third phase, the leftover cities will be covered from April 2019 to March 2022.
- The government is providing an interest subsidy of 6.5% on housing loans which can be availed by beneficiaries for 15 years from start of loan date.
- The government will grant Rs 1 lakh to all the beneficiaries of the scheme. In addition, Rs 1.5 lakh will be given to all eligible urban poor who want to construct their houses in urban areas or plan to go for renovation in their existing houses.
- One can also avail loans under this scheme to build toilets in existing houses.
Issues related to Health & Education
India hosts ‘4th Global Digital Health Partnership Summit’
The global intergovernmental meeting on digital health was hosted by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in collaboration with World Health Organization (WHO) and the Global Digital Health Partnership (GDHP).
Efforts made by government towards digital healthcare:
- India took the world stage at the 71st World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland by successfully introducing and unanimous adoption of Resolution on Digital Health.
- Health Ministry is in the process of establishing an Integrated Health Information Platform for interoperability amongst various health IT systems and a pan-India exchange of Electronic Health Records of citizens ensuring privacy, security, and confidentiality of data.
- The same is to be supplemented by a pan-Indian network of disease surveillance, tele-medicine and tele-radiology and tele-education.
- National Resource Centre for EHR (Electronic Health Record) Standards has also been set up in order to augment facilitation for adoption of the notified EHR Standards.
- Ayushman Bharat is primarily dependent on maximising the use of digital tools for effective implementation and monitoring.
- The Ayushman Bharat scheme is completely digital wherein all the processes from beneficiary identification to hospital empanelment and settlement of claims are done electronically and benefits of the scheme are delivered in a mode that is cashless, paperless & completely transparent for all stakeholders.
Global Digital Health Partnership (GDHP):
- Established in February 2018, the Global Digital Health Partnership (GDHP) is an international collaboration of governments, government agencies and multinational organisations dedicated to improving the health and well-being of their citizens through the best use of evidence-based digital technologies.
- The GDHP facilitates global collaboration and co-operation in the implementation of digital health services.
- There are currently 23 countries, territories and the World Health Organization participating in the GDHP.
- The GDHP is currently focused on the five work streams below.
- Cyber security
- Evidence and Evaluation
- Policy Environments
- Clinical and Consumer Engagement
GDHP Member Countries:
- Currently, 23 countries are the member of this group which include Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Estonia, Hong Kong SAR, India, Japan Republic of Indonesia, Italy, New Zealand, Netherlands Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, Sweden, Portugal, the United Kingdom, the United States, Ukraine, Uruguay and the World Health Organization.
Why is the GDHP important for populations globally?
As countries around the world face the challenges of designing systems and delivering services that result in good health and well-being for their citizens, digital technologies can provide potential solutions.
- They can improve the safety, quality and effectiveness of healthcare, support earlier diagnosis of disease and the development of new medicines and treatments.
- They can empower patients, citizens and the care professionals who serve them.
- Governments are making significant investments to harness the power of technology and foster innovation and public-private partnerships that support high quality, sustainable health and care for all. The GDHP facilitates global collaboration and co-operation in the implementation of digital health services.
- There is currently no similar international forum to share best practice and enable co-working in digital health.
- The GDHP was initiated by the Australian Digital Health Agency, who will provide the first 18 months of secretariat services for the GDHP and was the host country for the inaugural summit in 2018.
Dharmapada Samvaad-Skill Saathi Youth Conclave in Odisha
Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Minister inaugurated Nua Odisha, Dharmapada Samvaad-Skill Saathi Youth Conclave in Bhubaneswar, Odisha.
- The programme aims to create a mass movement around skill development in the state and inspire youth to make the most of various skill development opportunities in the country.
Skill Saathi Scheme
- The Skills Career Counselling Scheme aims to counsel 1 crore candidates from the age
group of 15– 35 years focusing on School & College drop-outs, young adults from the
community, college students, polytechnic students, ITI students, Diploma students,
Graduates, Post-Graduates, NEET category (Not in Employment education or
Training), etc. pan India from August 2018.
- Counselling will be conducted on a standardized module as defined by NSDC/MSDE.
- The Skill Saathi initiative has so far mobilised and counselled over 1 lakh candidate in Odisha and over 10 lakh youth across the country in the past three months.
- Skills on Wheels – Skills on Wheels will be a part of the Skill Saathi in order to create awareness about skill development among youth at their doorsteps.
Objectives of the Scheme:
- Create Awareness about the Skill India Mission and inform the youth of India about vocational education and its opportunities.
- Sensitize prospective candidates about available Market Opportunities under the Skill India Mission.
- Facilitate Psychometric Testing and Face-To-Face Counselling Interventions to create an individual-level impact to guide aspirants to make the right choice of training and subsequent employment/entrepreneurship.
- Facilitate Understanding of the concepts of New India, the prospects of India becoming the Skill Capital of the World and how the new generation of youth can become drivers of change.
Nine new items added to MSP for minor forest produce scheme
The Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA) has added nine minor forest produce (MFP) items to its minimum support price (MSP) for MFP scheme.
- The total number of MFPs covered under the list is reached to 49.
- The decision was taken by MoTA based on the recommendations of the pricing cell, constituted by the TRIFED.
MSP for MFP scheme:
- Minimum Support Price Scheme (MSP) for Minor Forest Produce (MFP) is a centrally-sponsored scheme launched at the end of 2013-14 (during the 12th five-year plan) to assure fair and remunerative price to MFP gatherers.
- Known as ‘Mechanism for marketing of Minor Forest Produce (MFP) through Minimum Support Price (MSP) and development of value chain for MFP’.
- FAQ (Fair Average Quality) parameters are norms of quality that the state agency has to ensure while procuring MFP.
- The scheme envisages fixation of Minimum Support Price for the selected MFPs based on the suggestions/ input received from TRIFED and declaration of MSP for selected MFPs by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs
- To provide fair price to the MFP gatherers for the produce collected by them and enhance their income level.
- To ensure sustainable harvesting of MFPs.
- The Scheme will have a huge social dividend for MFP gatherers, majority of whom are tribals.
- The scheme is implemented in all the States & union territories having Scheduled Areas and Scheduled Tribes in the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution of India.
- Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Govt of India. of India shall be the Nodal Ministry for implementation and monitoring of the scheme.
- Ministry of Tribal Affairs shall announce Minimum Support Price (MSP) for the selected MFPs with the technical support from TRIFED.
- TRIFED shall be Central Nodal Agency for implementation of the scheme through State level implementing agencies.
- State designated agencies will undertake procurement of notified MFPs directly from MFP gatherers (individual or collectives) at haats notified procurement centers at grass root level at prefixed Minimum Support Price and ensure full & timely on the spot payment to MFP gatherers.
Relief to e-wallets: RBI extends KYC compliance norms by six months
In a relief to e-wallet companies, the Reserve Bank of India extended by six months the deadline for compliance with Know Your Customer (KYC) norms, for prepaid payment instrument (PPI) issuers.
- The earlier deadline was February 28.
- E-wallet companies were caught in a bind over looming deadline as companies were apprehensive that they will not be able to meet the central bank’s deadline to complete KYC of all customers by February-end.
- Based on requests received from various stakeholders to increase the above timeline on account of difficulties in undertaking Aadhaar e-KYC and time necessary to put in place alternative systems for completing the KYC process, it has been decided to allow PPI issuers additional time of six months for completion of the KYC process.
Prepaid payment instrument (PPI):
- PPIs are instruments that facilitate purchase of goods and services, including financial services and remittance facilities, against the value stored on such instruments.
- The value stored on such instruments represents the value paid for by the holders by cash, by debit to a bank account, or by credit card.
- The pre-paid instruments can be issued as smart cards, magnetic stripe cards, internet accounts, internet wallets, mobile accounts, mobile wallets, paper vouchers and any such instrument which can be used to access the pre-paid amount.
- The Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007 provides for the regulation and supervision of PPIs in India.
- These payment instruments are licensed and regulated by the Reserve Bank of India.
Three types of PPIs:
- Closed system PPIs
- Semi-closed system PPIs
- Open system PPIs.
The most common example of a closed system PPI is a brand-specific gift card. Such cards, physical or otherwise, can be used only at specific locations, and cannot be used to transfer funds from one account to another.
Who can issue prepaid payment instruments in India?
- Only those companies incorporated in India and have a minimum paid-up capital of Rs. 5 crore and minimum positive net worth of Rs. 1 crore at all the times are permitted to issue PPIs in India.
Bilateral & International Relations
Chagos Islands dispute: UK obliged to end control – UN
The UK should end its control of the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean “as rapidly as possible”, the UN’s highest court has said.
- The International Court of Justice said the islands were not lawfully separated from the former colony of Mauritius.
- However, the UK Foreign Office added it would “carefully” examine the details of the court’s opinion, which is not legally binding.
Implications of the judgement:
- While ICJ advisory opinions are not binding, the ramifications of the opinion will be highly significant; an opinion in favour of Mauritius may strengthen their position in any future negotiations, as well as putting significant international pressure on the UK over the status of the territory.
- But what could be particularly critical is the decision’s impact on far broader issues of post-colonial sovereignty, and the legitimacy of colonial era independence arrangements.
Where are the Chagos Islands located?
- The Chagos Islands are located more than 2,000 miles off the east coast of Africa and around 310 miles south of the Maldives Archipelago.
- The Chagos group are made up of a combination of different coralline rock structures, which top a submarine ridge that runs southwards across the centre of the Indian Ocean.
What’s the issue?
- Britain detached the Chagos Islands from Mauritius in 1965, three years before Mauritian independence.
- From 1967 to 1973, some 1,500 Chagos islanders were gradually forced to leave their homes so that the largest island, Diego Garcia, could be leased to the US for a strategic airbase. Today, Diego Garcia hosts a major US military base.
- In 2016, after several judicial challenges, Britain extended Diego Garcia’s lease until 2036 and declared that the expelled islanders would not be allowed to go back.
- In 2017, Mauritius successfully petitioned the United Nations to seek an ICJ advisory opinion on the legality of the separation.
- Mauritius claims it was forced to give up the islands – now a British overseas territory – in 1965 in exchange for independence, which it gained in 1968.
- British overseas territory of Chagos island in 1965 in exchange for independence, which it gained in 1968.
- The dispute over the Chagos Islands is home to the US military base on Diego Garcia which is being portrayed by some as an indication of Britain’s waning influence on the world stage following the Brexit vote.
Arguments put forth by Mauritius:
- The crux of the Mauritian claim is the right of self-determination. Mauritius argues it was illegal for Britain to break up its territory. It claims sovereignty over the archipelago and demands the right to resettle former residents.
- In its submission to the court, the Mauritian government claimed that the separation of the islands from Mauritius was in clear breach of UN resolution 1514, also known as the Colonial Declaration.
- Passed in 1960, it enshrined the right of self-determination for colonial peoples and specifically banned the breakup of colonies prior to independence. This was intended to keep borders stable, and to prevent colonial powers from simply absorbing colonial territory into their overseas territory so as to retain their sovereignty.
Science & Technology
CIPAM Invites Entries for Intellectual Property Competition
The Cell for IPR Promotion and Management (CIPAM), Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, in collaboration with ASSOCHAM and ERICSSON India, has launched the second edition of ‘IPrism’
- IPrism’ is an Intellectual Property (IP) competition for students of schools, polytechnic institutes, colleges and universities.
- Aiming to foster a culture of innovation and creativity in the younger generation, the competition will provide young creators an opportunity to see their creations recognized on a national platform.
Cell for IPR Promotion and Management (CIPAM):
- CIPAM is a professional body under the aegis of Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade(DPIIT) which ensures focused action on issues related to IPRs and addresses the objectives of the policy.
- It was approved by the Government in May 2016, with the slogan – “Creative India; Innovative India”.
- CIPAM assists in simplifying and streamlining of IP processes, apart from undertaking steps for furthering IPR awareness, commercialization and enforcement.
- CIPAM in partnership with industry associations has conducted IPR awareness programmes in schools, universities and industries in various states across India.
- CIPAM in association with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) launched an “IPR Enforcement Toolkit” for the police.
New NASA mission could find more than 1,000 planets
With 300-megapixel Wide Field Instrument, the telescope will be able to map the Milky Way and other galaxies 100 times faster than the famous Hubble Space Telescope, which was launched in 1990.
- The telescope will scan a small piece of the universe – about two square degrees – at a resolution higher than any similar mission in the past.
- Nasa’s new telescope could find as many as 1,400 new planets outside our solar system, enabling humans to find the largest, deepest and clearest picture of the universe as well as the existence of extraterrestrial life.
About the WFIRST:
- The Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) is a NASA infrared space observatory currently under development.
- WFIRST was recommended in 2010 by United States National Research Council Decadal Survey committee as the top priority for the next decade of astronomy. It was approved for development and launch in February 2016.
- Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) mission is scheduled for launch in the mid-2020s.
- It was designed by NASA and astronomers throughout the country to find new planets and research dark energy, the mysterious force that pervades otherwise empty space and that could hold the keys to understanding how the universe expands.
Features of the telescope:
- WFIRST has unique combination – both a wide field of view and a high resolution – that make it so powerful for microlensing planet searches,
- To find new planets, WFIRST will use gravitational microlensing, a technique that relies on the gravity of stars and planets to bend and magnify the light coming from stars that pass behind them from the telescope’s viewpoint.
- This microlensing effect allows a telescope to find planets orbiting stars thousands of light-years away from the Earth – much farther than other planet-detecting techniques.
Significance of WFIRST:
- With the 2.4 meter telescope, single WFIRST images will uncover millions of galaxies. For example, where Hubble has found only a few galaxies within 500 million years of the Big Bang, WFIRST will find hundreds of these rare objects. In addition, the WFIRST coronagraph instrument will directly image ice and gas giant exoplanets.
New Horizons spacecraft sends sharpest view of Ultima Thule
NASA has captured the sharpest-ever image of Ultima Thule.
- The new image shows circular pieces of terrain, deep pits and other details that were previously elusive.
About Ultima Thule:
Ultima Thule is located in the Kuiper belt in the outermost regions of the Solar System, beyond the orbit of Neptune.
- It measures approximately 30 km in diameter, and is irregularly shaped.
- Ultima Thule has a reddish color, probably caused by exposure of hydrocarbons to sunlight over billions of years.
- Ultima Thule belongs to a class of Kuiper belt objects called the “cold classicals”, which have nearly circular orbits with low inclinations to the solar plane.
About New Horizons Mission:
New Horizons is an interplanetary space probe that was launched as a part of NASA’s New Frontiers program.
- Launched in 2006, it has been travelling through space for the past nine years.
- The primary mission is to perform a flyby study of the Pluto system. The secondary mission to fly by and study one or more other Kuiper belt objects (KBOs).
- It is the first spacecraft which successfully fly by the dwarf planet Pluto, for its exploration in the Kuiper Belt along with its moon Charon and other dwarf planets in the belt.
- Images sent by this mission would not only provide geological phenomena of the Pluto (mineral, oil and natural gas exploration) but also help in understanding the various new phenomenon that occurs over the Pluto and the Belt.
New Horizons’ top discoveries about Pluto:
- Sputnik Planitia, the western lobe of Pluto’s heart, might hold a giant, frozen ocean of nitrogen. This type of structure doesn’t exist anywhere else in the solar system.
- Pluto has a vibrant, blue atmospheric haze that hovers at least 300 miles above the surface. Methane in that haze might react with sunlight, making way for complex organic molecules.
- Pluto’s moon Charon has a large tectonic belt around its equator, which scientists think is the result of an underground ocean ripped open.
- Scientists believe methane escaping from Pluto has sprayed Charon’s red polar cap. No one has ever seen the sharing of molecules this way in the solar system, but it does resemble binary star systems exchanging materials.
About Kuiper belt:
Kuiper belt is a region of the solar system beyond the planets, extending from the orbit of Neptune.
- It consists mainly small bodies or remnants from the solar system’s formation.
- It is similar to the asteroid belt, although it is far larger — 20 times as wide and 200 times as massive.
- The Kuiper belt objects (KBO) are composed largely of frozen volatiles (termed ‘ices’), such as methane, ammonia and water.
- Kuiper belt is home to at least three dwarf planets — Pluto, Haumea and Makemake. Pluto, discovered in 1930, is considered its largest member.
- In August 2006, the International Astronomical Union reclassified Pluto as a dwarf planet.
Key Facts for Prelims
International Olympic Committee (IOC)
- The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is the supreme authority of the worldwide Olympic movement.
- It is an international, non-profit, non-governmental organization based in Lausanne, Switzerland.
- Its mission is to develop, promote and protect the Olympic Movement in their respective countries.
- The NOCs are the only organisations that can select and designate the city which may apply to organise Olympic Games in their respective countries. In addition, they alone can send athletes to the Games.
- In 2009, IOC was granted Permanent Observer Status at the UN.
Why in news?
- The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has suspended all discussions with India regarding hosting of global sporting events in the backdrop of denial of visas to the two Pakistani Shooters.