Polity & Governance
- 21st National Conference on e-Governance
Government Schemes & Policies
- 2nd project of Swajal Yojana in Rajasthan
Issues related to Health & Education
- Country’s first Aviation Multi Skill Development Centre launched in Chandigarh
Bilateral & International Relations
- AIIB approves infra loans worth $1.5 billion to India
Art & Culture
- Mumbai to become 1st Indian city to join World Cities Culture Forum
Science & Technology
- National Science Day 2018
- Norway to Invest Millions to Improve Arctic Seed Vault
Key Facts for Prelims
- Maldives rejects India’s MILAN 2018 invite
- Vodafone targets 4G network on moon in 2019
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Polity & Governance
21st National Conference on e-Governance
The 21st National Conference on e-Governance was held in Hyderabad (capital city of Telangana).
- This year, theme of the conference was ‘Technology for accelerating Development’.
- Building User experience.
- Universalization and Replication.
- Governing e – Governance.
- Emerging technologies.
- e-Governance good/best practices.
- It was organised by Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG), along with Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeITY) in association with Telangana.
- The Conference served as forum in which Secretaries, Administrative Reforms and Secretaries of Information Technology of State Governments, IT Managers of Central Governments, Software Solution providers, industry, etc. participated and interacted, exchanged opinions, views, discuss issues, problems and also analyze various solution frameworks.
- The Conference also showcased best practices, innovative technologies and ICT solutions.
- The National e-Governance Awards recognising and promoting excellence in implementation of e-Governance initiatives by various government departments and also initiatives of PSUs and Non- Government Institutions were given.
What is e governance?
- e-Governance is generally understood as the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) at all the level of the Government in order to provide services to the citizens, interaction with business enterprises and communication and exchange of information between different agencies of the Government in a speedy, convenient efficient and transparent manner.
- E-Governance is one of the subjects allocated to DARPG, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions under II Schedule to the Allocation of Business Rules, 1961.
- DARPG has been entrusted role to promote e-Governance activities in consonance with the overall national objectivities and priorities.
- Whereas, DeitY’s, under Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeITY) mandate is to encourage e-Governance to empower citizens, promote inclusive and sustainable growth of Electronics, IT & ITeS industries.
Government Schemes & Policies
2nd project of Swajal Yojana in Rajasthan
The Union government has launched the Swajal pilot project at Village Bhikampura, Karauli, Rajasthan.
About Swajal Yojana:
- Swajal is a community owned drinking water programme for sustained drinking water supply.
- Under the scheme, 90% of the project cost will be taken care by the Government and the remaining 10% of the project cost will be contributed by the community.
- The Operations and management of the project will be taken care by the local villagers.
- Besides ensuring the availability of clean drinking water to every household round the year, the project would also generate employment.
Issues related to Health & Education
Country’s first Aviation Multi Skill Development Centre launched in Chandigarh
India’s first Aviation Multi Skill Development Centre (MSDC) was launched at Chandigarh Airport’s old terminal.
- The Centre is a CSR initiative of Airports Authority of India (AAI) and will initially train 2,360 students free of cost in three years.
About Aviation MSDC:
- The Centre was established in collaboration with National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC). It is supported by Aerospace and Aviation Sector Skill Council (AASSC) of India.
- It will impart training based on course curriculum and assessments designed by AASSC in accordance with National Skill Qualification Framework (NSQF).
- It will train about 2,400 youth and women in 8 aviation job roles over next 3 years.
- Demand for aviation skilled personnel is rising commensurately in India with boom in civil aviation sector witnessed in last 3-4 years.
- In the coming few years, more than 900 new aircraft are expected to be inducted by Indian scheduled airlines.
- Air connectivity for both passenger transport and air freight is increasing with new air routes and operationalisation of unserved and underserved airports through UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik) Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS).
With this, aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) and ground-handling demands for skilled personnel are also rising in tandem.
About National Skill Development Corporation India (NSDC)
The NSDC is a one-of-its-kind, Public Private Partnership (PPP) model in India, under the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE).
- It aims to promote skill development by catalyzing creation of large, quality and for-profit vocational institutions.
- NSDC is the implementation arm of Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship.
- A not-for-profit company set up by the Ministry of Finance, under Section 25 of the Companies Act, it has an equity base of Rs.10 crore, of which the Government of India holds for 49%, while the private sector has the balance 51%.
- NSDC provides funding to build scalable and profitable vocational training initiatives.
- Its mandate is also to enable support system which focuses on quality assurance, information systems and train the trainer academies either directly or through partnerships.
- NSDC acts as a catalyst in skill development by providing funding to enterprises, companies and organisations that provide skill training.
- It will also develop appropriate models to enhance, support and coordinate private sector initiatives.
- The differentiated focus on 21 sectors under NSDC’s purview and its understanding of their viability will make every sector attractive to private investment.
The main objectives of the NSDC are to:
- To contribute significantly (40%) to the overall target of skilling/up-skilling 400 million people in India by 2022, mainly by fostering private sector initiatives in skill development programmes and to provide funding.
- Upgrade skills to international standards through significant industry involvement and develop necessary frameworks for standards, curriculum and quality assurance
- Enhance, support and coordinate private sector initiatives for skill development through appropriate Public-Private Partnership (PPP) models; strive for significant operational and financial involvement from the private sector
- Play the role of a “market-maker” by bringing financing, particularly in sectors where market mechanisms are ineffective or missing
- Prioritize initiatives that can have a multiplier or catalytic effect as opposed to one-off impact.
Bilateral & International Relations
AIIB approves infra loans worth $1.5 billion to India
The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has approved $1.5 billion in loans to India for infrastructure projects in 2018.
- The funds are meant for investment in energy, roads and urban development projects.
- Of the loans committed by the multilateral bank, around $200 million will be invested under the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) framework.
The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is an international financial institution that aims to support the building of infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region.
- It has 57 member states.
- It was proposed as an initiative as well as hosted by the government of China.
- It was founded in October, 2014, and will have its headquarters in Beijing.
- Its goals are also to boost economic development in the region, create wealth, prove infrastructure, and promote regional cooperation and partnership.
- China is the largest shareholder with 26.06% voting shares. India is the second largest shareholder with 7.5% voting shares followed by Russia (5.93%) and Germany (4.5%).
- The value of AIIB’s authorized capital amounts to $100 billion, with almost $30 billion invested by China.
- The bank expects to lend $10 billion to $15 billion a year for the first five years of its operations, beginning in the second quarter of 2016.
Art & Culture
Mumbai to become 1st Indian city to join World Cities Culture Forum
Mumbai is set to be the newest member and the first Indian city on the World Cities Culture Forum (WCCF), a platform for cities to share their culture.
How will the forum help Mumbai?
- The WCCF enables the policy makers of member cities to share research and intelligence, while exploring the vital role of culture in prosperity. Forum members collaborate via a program of events including themed symposia, regional summits and workshops.
- Mumbai, like members of the Forum, will be able to share its culture as part of a comparative research to understand its role and impact. The municipal corporation will be able to maintain a relationship with the other member cities and Mumbai will be represented on the Forum at all events.
- Through its leadership exchange program, the city’s policy makers will be able to share ideas, technology, challenges and access cultures and arts.
- The World Cities Culture Forum (WCCF), which BOP (an international consultancy) convenes, provides a way for policy makers to share research and intelligence, and explore the vital role of culture in their future prosperity.
- The forum, which began in 2012 with eight members, is a network of 32 key cities today, including London, Hong Kong, Amsterdam, Cape Town, Dakar, Edinburgh, Lisbon, San Francisco, Shanghai, Singapore, Toronto and many others.
How the WCCF works?
- Forum members collaborate via a programme of events including themed symposia, regional summits and workshops. These events feed in to the annual World Cities Culture Summit.
- Hosted on a rotating basis by member cities, this unique gathering allows city leaders to share ideas and knowledge about the role of culture as an organising principle for the sustainable city of the future.
Science & Technology
National Science Day 2018
The National Science Day is observed every year on 28th February with an objective to spread message of importance of science and its application among the people.
- The theme for National Science Day 2018 is “Science and Technology for a sustainable future.”
About National Science Day:
- The National Science Day marks the epoch-making discovery of Raman Effect by Indian physicist Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman (CV Raman) on February 28, 1928. This discovery was awarded with the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1930.
- This day is celebrated as science festival in the entire nation by organising science exhibitions, seminars, workshops, symposiums and many other activities.
- The National Science Day was instituted by the Union Government in 1986 based on the demand of National Council for Science and Technology Communication (NCSTC) forwarded.
- The first National Science Day was celebrated on 28 February 1987.
What is Raman Effect?
- The Raman Effect is a change in the wavelength of light that occurs when a light beam is deflected by molecules.
- Some part of light beam after passing through a transparent medium gets scattered. This phenomenon of scattering of light is termed as Raman Scattering and the cause of scattering is called the Raman Effect. The wavelength of these scattered rays is different from that of the incident rays of light.
- The violet light of the solar spectrum is isolated with a violet filter and passed through the liquid sample. Most of the light emerging from the liquid sample is the same color as the incident violet beam: the so-called Rayleigh scattered light. However, Raman and K. S. Krishnan were able to show that some of the scattered light was a different color, which they could isolate by using a green filter placed between the observer and the sample.
- However, Raman, along with K S Krishnan was able to show that some of the scattered light was a different color, which they could isolate by using a green filter placed between the observer and the sample.
- The Raman Effect is a very weak effect; only one in a million of the scattered light particles, or photons, actually exhibits the change in wavelength. This explains, in part, why the effect was not discovered earlier.
Norway to Invest Millions to Improve Arctic Seed Vault
Norway has announced it will spend 100 million Norwegian crowns, or $13 million, to make improvements to a special seed vault in the Arctic on the 10th anniversary of its official opening.
About Svalbard Global Seed Vault:
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a gene bank built underground on the isolated Norwegian island in a permafrost zone some 1,000 kilometres from the North Pole, was opened in 2008 as a master backup to the world’s other seed banks, in case their deposits are lost.
- It is located on the Svalbard archipelago between mainland Norway and the North Pole.
- Conservationist Cary Fowler, in association with the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), started the vault to preserve a wide variety of plant seeds that are duplicate samples, or “spare” copies, of seeds held in gene banks worldwide.
- The seed vault is an attempt to insure against the loss of seeds in other genebanks during large-scale regional or global crises. The seed vault is managed under terms spelled out in a tripartite agreement between the Norwegian government, the Global Crop Diversity Trust (GCDT) and the Nordic Genetic Resource Center (NordGen).
- The Norwegian government entirely funded the vault’s construction.
- Svalbard was chosen for several reasons. Its cold climate and permafrost make the area a perfect location for underground cold storage. The surrounding sandstone is stable for building and is low in radiation.
- In terms of security, Svalbard scores high marks compared to the locations of many other genebanks in the world. The vault is located an extraordinary 120 meters (393.7 feet) into the rock, ensuring that the vault rooms will remain naturally frozen even in the event of failure of the mechanical cooling system and rising external air temperatures due to climate change.
- Svalbard was chosen as the site of the seed bank, in part, because of the area’s permafrost – a thick layer of soil that stays frozen throughout the year. It makes for excellent underground cold storage. But in late 2016, the permafrost began to unexpectedly melt. This caused water to flow into the entrance of the vault tunnel.
- The event raised concerns about the need to better protect the samples. However, Norway government has initiated improvement works.
Who will own the seeds in the SVALBARD GLOBAL SEED VAULT?
- Storing seeds in the vault is free to end users, with Norway and the Global Crop Diversity Trust paying for operational costs.
- Depositors will retain ownership rights over the seeds sent to the facility. The boxes with seeds will be sealed by the depositors and will not be distributed to or given access to by anyone other than the depositors.
Will genetically modified seeds be stored in the seed vault?
- Norwegian law, promulgated prior to the establishment of the Seed Vault and intended therefore to apply more generally to research and use of genetically modified organisms in Norway, effectively prohibits importation of genetically modified seeds and their storage in Svalbard at this time.
How are the seeds stored?
- When a seed needs to be stored for few years, maintaining it at just 10 degree Celsius is enough. But in the long run, for 10 to 20 years, they need to be kept at a minus 15 to minus 20 degree Celsius (range). Chang La (in the Himalayas) has a prevalent temperature in this sub-zero range.
Where is India’s seed vault?
- At Chang La in the Himalayas, at a height of 17,300 feet, there is a storage facility with over 5,000 seed accessions. One accession consists of a set of seeds of one species collected from different locations or different populations.
- The vault is a joint venture of the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (which comes under the Indian Council of Agricultural Research) and the Defence Institute of High Altitude Research (under Defence Research and Development Organisation).
Significance of the seed vault:
- Food security is a challenge in many developing countries. Crop diversity is the resource to which plant breeders must turn to develop varieties that can withstand pests, diseases, and remain productive in the face of changing climates. It will therefore underpin the world food supply.
- Also, the Seed Vault ensures that unique diversity held in gene banks in developing countries is not lost forever if an accident occurs.
- The seed vault is a worldwide insurance for food supply for future generations.
Key Facts for Prelims
Maldives rejects India’s MILAN 2018 invite
- Maldives declined India’ invitation to participate in the biennial naval exercise MILAN 2018.
- Meanwhile, the Maldivian envoy has said that his country cannot participate in the naval drills due to the state of emergency in the island nation.
- Maldives has been regularly participating in the biennial exercise, which was started in 1995.
- The biennial naval exercise, Milan, is being organised at the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
- The aim of the exercise is to expand regional cooperation and combat unlawful activities in critical sea lanes.
Vodafone targets 4G network on moon in 2019
- British telecom major Vodafone plans to create the first 4G network on the moon to support a mission by PTScientists in 2019.
- The company has appointed Nokia as its technology partner for the 4G network .
- This will be the first privately-funded moon landing mission. It will lay the future of space exploration.