Polity & Governance
- New Chairman for National Commission for Minorities
- Atal Pension Yojana reaches 53 lakh subscribers
- New curbs on cattle slaughter
- Union Sports Min flags off Slum Yuva Daud
- Dr Ambedkar National Award for Social Understanding and Upliftment of Weaker Sections
- Govt permits DIPP to grant industrial licences to defence manufacturers
Bilateral & International Relations
- India gives $500 million assistance to Mauritius, ink four agreements
Science & Technology
- Juno Spacecraft Reveals Spectacular Cyclones At Jupiter’s Poles
Key Facts for Prelims
- Indo-Thailand Siam Bharat 17: HADR
- India’s First Fleet of 200 Electric Vehicles Launched in Nagpur
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Polity & Governance
New Chairman for National Commission for Minorities
Syed Ghayorul Hasan Rizvi has been appointed as the new Chairman of the National Commission for Minorities.
- The last member of the panel, Dadi E Mistri, a representative of the Parsi community, demitted office after completing his stipulated three-year term with the commission.
The NCM was set up under the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992 to look into complaints from members of five religious communities — Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Zoroastrians (Parsis).
- Jain community was notified as a minority community in 2014.
- Besides NCM, 15 states, including Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Maharashtra and Assam, which are home to sizeable minority populace, have set up commissions at their respective levels.
- Aggrieved persons belonging to the communities may approach the state minorities commissions concerned for redressal of their grievances or send their representations to the NCM after exhausting all avenues of remedies available.
- The functions of the state commissions, inter-alia, are to safeguard and protect the interests of minorities provided in the Constitution and laws enacted by Parliament and state legislatures.
Atal Pension Yojana reaches 53 lakh subscribers
The subscriber base of the Atal Pension Yojana (APY) that aims at old age income security for the working poor from mostly the unorganised sector has reached 53 lakh.
- Over 230 banks and the Department of India Post have been involved in the implementation of the government’s flagship social security scheme that focuses on encouraging and enabling the subscribers to save for their retirement.
About Atal Pension Yojana:
Atal Pension Yojana (APY) is a pension scheme for citizens of India focussed on the unorganised sector workers.
- Under the APY, guaranteed minimum pension of Rs. 1,000/-, 2,000/-, 3,000/-, 4,000 and 5,000/- per month will be given at the age of 60 years in turn for the contribution varying from Rs 42 to Rs 210 per month.
- PFRDA is the nodal agency for APY and is working out plans to improve reach and information dissemination.
- Any Citizen of India between 18 – 40 years of age can join APY scheme.
- Government co-contribution is available for 5 years, i.e., from 2015-16 to 2019-20 for the subscribers who join the scheme during the period from 1st June, 2015 to 31st December, 2015 and who are not covered by any Statutory Social Security Schemes and are not income tax payers.
New curbs on cattle slaughter
The Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has notified new rules under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, which bans sale of cattle for slaughter in open markets across the country.
Highlights of the new rule:
- No one can bring cattle to an animal market unless he or she has furnished a written declaration that the cattle will not be sold for the purpose of slaughter.
- Further, upon sale of cattle, the animal market committee will take an “undertaking” that the animals are for agricultural purposes and not for slaughter.
- Across India, the cattle trade is permitted only among farm land owners. Cattle can be only sold to a person possessing documents that he is an agriculturist.
- As per the new regulations, cattle bought cannot be resold within six months. Young and unfit animals cannot be traded.
- Animal markets cannot be set up within 50 km of an international border and 25 km of a state border.
- Transporting cattle outside of the country will require special approval of the state government nominee.
- All animal markets has to run with the approval of district animal market committee to be headed by a magistrate. The committee will also have two representatives from government-approved animal welfare groups.
- The new regulations prescribes around 30 norms for animal welfare in markets like that of water, fans, bedding, ramps, non-slippery flooring, veterinary facility and separate enclosure for sick animals etc.
- The owner of the animal has to bear the cost of its upkeep in a shelter. In case, the owner is unable to pay, the cost would be recovered as land arrears.
- The state government will specify the costs every year on April 1.
- Marketplaces where animals are brought from other places for sale or auction. It includes animal fairs, or areas adjoining a market or a slaughterhouse.
- Cattle as defined: A bovine animal including bulls, bullocks, cows, buffalos, steers, heifers and calves and includes camels.
- All existing animal markets will have to be registered within three months with the District Animal Market Monitoring Committee by making an application to the Committee.
- Cruel and harmful practices have been prohibited for animals including, painting of horns, ear cutting buffaloes, making animals lay on hard ground without proper bedding.
- Purchaser of cattle cannot sell animal for slaughter or sacrifice the animal for religious purposes.
- The rule mandates the appointment of Veterinary inspectors who shall screen the animals before they enter the market. The inspector shall also check whether animals are being transported in trucks which are authorised by law to carry animals.
- The new rules apply only to animal markets and not to individual cattle buying and selling by people.
Implications of the move:
- The notification is likely to have a major impact on cattle slaughter across the country – even though it does not itself ban slaughter.
- Experts say the rules will hurt mostly Muslim traders who face mounting violence by increasingly assertive cow vigilante groups.
- Farmers will also be hit because they will be deprived of a traditional source of income from selling non-milch and old cattle. Farmers who can’t take care of their cattle will have to pay for their upkeep in shelters.
Criticism of the move:
- The new regulations says that cattle bought cannot be resold for six months. This provision will hurt the business of cattle traders.
- The new rules have introduced a lot of paperwork for cattle traders who are predominantly illiterate and poor. For example, a trader has to submit five copies of proof of sale at the local revenue office, the local veterinary doctor in the district of the purchaser, animal market committee, apart from one each for seller and buyer.
- It is feared that the new rules will introduce inspector raj as it mandates veterinary inspector to certify proper loading and unloading of animals. He can also mark any animal unfit for sale.
- For years, the Supreme Court has struggled for consistency in its judicial pronouncements regarding cattle, leaving it ultimately to the Centre and States to devise an appropriate policy.
- While Supreme Court banned the bull-running sport jallikattu as cruel, it refused to intervene with States to frame a uniform policy on cattle slaughter.
- Neither did the court deem it fit to examine a plea to ban animal sacrifices for religious purposes.
Union Sports Min flags off Slum Yuva Daud
Slum Yuva Daud was recently organized in Delhi to mark the beginning of the Adopt Slum Campaign.
- It was initiated by the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports and Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan (NYKS).
- The campaign will involve groups like NSS, public schools, RWAs, NGOs, rotary clubs etc.
- The NYKS has adopted slums across 11 districts and will work for their overall development with young volunteers.
Nehru Yuva Kendras were established in the year 1972 with the objective of providing rural youth avenues to take part in the process of nation building as well providing opportunities for the development of their personality and skills.
- 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, to oversee working of these Kendras.
- NYKS is the largest grassroots level youth organization; one of its kind in the world.
- It channelizes the power of youth on the principles of voluntarism, self-help and community participation.
- The basic objective for creation of youth clubs is to render community support through developmental initiatives involving activities with particular focus on youth empowerment.
Dr Ambedkar National Award for Social Understanding and Upliftment of Weaker Sections
The President of India Shri Pranab Mukharjee presented the “Dr. Ambedkar National Award for Social Understanding and up-liftment of Weaker Sections for the year 2011, 2012 and 2014” at a function.
- The function was organized by The Ambedkar Foundation under Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
Who has been awarded for the year 2011, 2012 and 2014?
- The award for the year 2011 was presented to Professor S.K. Thorat on New Delhi for his contributions towards the upliftment of the downtrodden.
- The award for the year 2012 was presented to Samta Sainik Dal for its extraordinary services.
- The award for the year 2014 was jointly presented to Shri Babu Lal Nirmal of Rajasthan for his extraordinary contributions in upholding the rights of poor persons in rural and urban areas of Baran District and to Amar Sewa Sangam of Tamil Nadu for its extraordinary services being extended for the welfare of the marginalized population of the society including the physically and mentally challenged persons.
About the award:
Dr. Ambedkar National Award for Social Understanding and Upliftment of Weaker Sections was instituted by the Government of India in the year 1992, in pursuance of a decision of the Centenary Celebrations Committee of Babasaheb Dr. B.R. Ambedkar headed by the then Prime Minister of India.
- As per its Code of Procedure, the Award is given for outstanding contribution to the promotion of Social Understanding and for the Upliftment of the Weaker Sections in India.
- A Jury constituted for the purpose considers the achievements of the individuals and organizations nominated / recommended for the Award by the prescribed authorities.
- The efforts made towards integrating the weaker sections into the mainstream of Indian society, working for their socio-economic and educational upliftment is the primary consideration in identifying the Awardee.
- As per the Code of Procedure of the National Award, one Award each year is presented to individuals or organizations.
- The Award is presented jointly or shared by more than one recipient or organization as may be considered by the Jury to be equally deserving of recognition in the year.
- The award consists of a citation and Rs. 10.00 lakh as cash prize.
Govt permits DIPP to grant industrial licences to defence manufacturers
Government has made Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) the authority to grant manufacturing licence for arms, ammunition and defence items.
- Until now, the exercise was being carried out by the home ministry.
- The decision was taken considering the workload of Home Ministry which has to look after security concerns of the entire country.
- The decision will clear the confusions in the minds of the defence products manufacturing companies as the battle on the matter between the DIPP and the Home Ministry had virtually stopped the process of granting industrial licenses since last year.
- The power to grant manufacturing licence with respect to the category of arms and ammunition and defence items under the Arms Act has been delegated to Secretary, DIPP from the Ministry of Home Affairs.
- Henceforth, the defence products manufacturing companies are required to apply for industrial licenses to the DIPP as they used to do before transferring of such power to the Home Ministry.
- Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) was first established in 1995, and then reconstituted in 2000 and merged with the Department of Industrial Development.
- The Department falls under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
- Its main responsibility includes formulation of promotional and developmental measures to boost industrial sector.
- DIPP looks at the overall industrial policy while individual ministries work on the specific areas allocated to them.
Bilateral & International Relations
India gives $500 million assistance to Mauritius, ink four agreements
India and Mauritius have signed four agreements after delegation-level talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister of Mauritius Pravind Kumar Jugnauth in New Delhi.
Four Agreements include:
- Agreement on Maritime Security
- MoU for setting up of a civil services college in Mauritius.
- MoU was signed between the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Mauritius Oceanography Institute in marine sciences and technology.
- Submission of instrument of ratification of International Solar Alliance (ISA) by Mauritius.
- India has extended a 500 million dollar line of credit to Mauritius. The Line of Credit has been signed between SBM Mauritius Infrastructure Development Co. Ltd and Export-Import Bank of India.
- Further, both the countries have agreed that effective management of conventional and non-conventional threats in Indian Ocean is sine qua non for pursuing economic opportunities.
- India and Mauritius agreed to keep a vigil against piracy, humans and drugs trafficking as well as illegal fishing and other forms of illegal exploitation of marine resources.
- India had also appreciated Mauritius for signing and ratification of the framework agreement on International Solar Alliance.
- Both the countries have also agreed to cooperate hydrography for a secure and peaceful maritime domain. India is also supporting the National Coast Guard of Mauritius to augment its capacity through Project Trident.
- India will also renew the life of the Coast Guard Ship Guardian, which was given to Mauritius under an assistance programme.
Science & Technology
Juno Spacecraft Reveals Spectacular Cyclones At Jupiter’s Poles
NASA’s Juno spacecraft has discovered Earth-sized cyclones at the poles of the Jupiter.
- It has also unveiled the presence of the storm systems that travel deep into the heart of the planet.
- Both the poles of the Jupiter were found to be covered with Earth-sized swirling storms which are densely clustered and rubbing together.
- The findings were the result of the Juno probe’s first data-collection pass on August last year. The spacecraft flew for about 4,200 kilometres of Jupiter’s swirling cloud top.
- The findings suggest the presence of ammonia clouds over the planet which are quite variable and continue to increase up to a few hundred miles or kilometres.
- Measurements of Jupiter’s magnetosphere indicate that Jupiter has a stronger magnetic field than expected which is more irregular in shape. The magnetic field in the planet is in the order of 7.766 Gauss which is about 10 times stronger than the strongest magnetic field found on Earth.
- The next flyby of the Juno Probe has been scheduled for July 11. During the flyby, the spacecraft will fly directly over Jupiter’s Great Red Spot.
About Juno spacecraft:
Juno is the unmanned spacecraft, which has been named after the Roman goddess Juno, the wife of Jupiter who is considered as the god of the sky in ancient Greco-Roman mythology.
- Juno is the first mission designed by NASA to see beneath Jupiter’s clouds.
- It has travelled 2.7 billion kilometres since its launch to reach Jupiter.
- It will orbit Jupiter from pole to pole, 5,000 kilometres above planet’s cloud tops.
- It will sample Jupiter’s charged particles and magnetic fields for the first time to study its composition beneath the sky.
- Juno has nine instruments on board to study atmosphere, gravity, magnetic field and possible existence of solid core in Jupiter.
- Juno will map Jupiter’s gravity and magnetic fields and also track how much water is present in the atmosphere.
- In its mission life, the spacecraft will circle the Jupiter 37 times before finally making a death plunge in 2018 in order to avoid accidentally crashing onto one of the planet’s moons.
- It is important to note that Juno is not the first spacecraft to orbit Jupiter. It is second spacecraft to orbit Jupiter, after Galileo probe which had orbited the planet from 1995–2003. Galileo probe in its mission had found evidence of subsurface saltwater on Jupiter’s moons Europa, Ganymede and Callisto.
Key Facts for Prelims
Indo-Thailand Siam Bharat 17: HADR
- Indo-Thailand Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) Table Top Exercise 2017 is in progress at Chiang Mai, Thailand between the Indian Air Force and Royal Thailand Air Force (RTAF).
- The aim of the bilateral exercise is to evolve SOPs for planning and executing relief missions during unforeseen natural calamities like Tsunami, earthquakes, cyclones, floods etc.
- The objective is to enhance interoperability between both the Air Forces, while conducting combined air operations triggered by a crisis.
- The exercise would assist in laying down procedures and establish decision support system at various stages of relief operations.
India’s First Fleet of 200 Electric Vehicles Launched in Nagpur
- Maharashtra’s chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has inaugurated India’s first multi-modal electric vehicle project at the Nagpur Airport Complex.
- The pilot project will have a fleet of 200 electric vehicles including taxis, buses, e-rickshaw and autorickshaws.
- All these electric-powered public transport vehicles will be fully owned by cab aggregator Ola.