Government Schemes & Policies
- Union Agriculture Minister launches NCDC’s new scheme to promote young entrepreneurs in cooperatives
- Union HRD Minister launches the Scheme for Higher Education Youth in Apprenticeship and Skills (SHREYAS)
- Assam launches PRANAM Commission to protect parents of govt employees
- 100th Letter of Intent under SATAT scheme
- NITI Aayog’s Atal Innovation Mission partners with Adobe to enhance creativity in ATL Schools
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Major fire breaks out at Bandipur Tiger Reserve in Karnataka
Art & Culture
- ‘Titanwala Museum’ inaugrated
Science & Technology
- China eyes bans for rogue scientists
- 28th February: National Science Day
- India Ranks 47th Out of 100 Countries in The Facebook Inclusive Internet Index 2019
Key Facts for Prelims
- ‘Made in India’ chipsets
- ICAR-NRRI ‘ricexpert’ App
- ‘Delhi Declaration’ on digital health
- New rail zone
- Aarohan Social Innovation Awards
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Government Schemes & Policies
Union Agriculture Minister launches NCDC’s new scheme to promote young entrepreneurs in cooperatives
The National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC) has launched “Yuva Sahakar-Cooperative Enterprise Support and Innovation Scheme” for attracting Youth to cooperative business ventures.
Key features of the scheme:
- The scheme would encourage cooperatives to venture into new and innovative areas.
- NCDC has created a dedicated fund with liberal features enabling youth to avail the scheme.
- The scheme will be linked to Rs 1000 crore ‘Cooperative Start-up and Innovation Fund (CSIF)’ created by the NCDC.
- It would have more incentives for cooperatives of North Eastern region, Aspirational Districts and cooperatives with women or SC or ST or PwD members.
- The funding for the project will be up to 80% of the project cost for these special categories as against 70% for others.
- The scheme envisages 2% less than the applicable rate of interest on term loan for the project cost up to Rs 3 crore including 2 years moratorium on payment of principal.
- All types of cooperatives in operation for at least one year are eligible.
National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC):
- The NCDC has the unique distinction of being the sole statutory organisation functioning as an apex financial and developmental institution exclusively devoted to cooperative sector.
- The scheme will be linked to Rs 1000 crore ‘Cooperative Start-up and Innovation Fund (CSIF)’ created by the NCDC.
- NCDC has embarked on Sahakar 22, a Mission for Doubling Farmers’ Income by 2022.
Schemes under NCDC:
Minimum Support Price (MSP): Strengthen marketing structure by ensuring remunerative prices to agro producers.
Integrated cooperation development project (ICDP): Development of various cooperative initiative in agriculture and allied sectors.
- Other projects of NCDC includes establishment of sugar industries, Establishment of large capacity for food grains and fertilizer storage, financial assistance for development of cotton production activities.
- NCDC have MoU with National institute of Agricultural Management (MANAGE), Hyderabad which provides mutual cooperation for development in the areas of agriculture.
- NCDC and Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India (TRIFED) have entered in to an MoU for pursuing common goals.
- NCDC has set up ‘Laxmanrao Inamdar National Academy for Co-operative Research and Development (LINAC) ‘for training, research and consultancy for cooperative sector.
Management and Administrative Structure of NCDC:
- The Management of NCDC vests in the General Council of 51 members and Board of Management of 12 members.
- The term of General Council and Board is for 3 years and the same is reconstituted by Central Government every three years.
- The Union Minister of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare is the President of the General Council.
- The Secretary (Agriculture, Cooperation & Farmers Welfare) Government of India is the Chairman of the Board of Management.
With whom does NCDC has dovetailed its schemes?
- Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare
- Ministry of Food Processing Industries
- National Horticulture Board
- Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme of Ministry of Textiles
- Sugar Development Fund
Union HRD Minister launches the Scheme for Higher Education Youth in Apprenticeship and Skills (SHREYAS)
The Ministry for Human Resources Development launched the Scheme for Higher Education Youth in Apprenticeship and Skills (SHREYAS) for providing industry apprenticeship opportunities to the general graduates exiting in April 2019.
Scheme for Higher Education Youth in Apprenticeship and Skills (SHREYAS):
SHREYAS is a programme basket comprising three initiatives of three Central Ministries:
- Ministry of Human Resource Development – National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme (NAPS)
- Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship – National Career Service (NCS)
- Ministry of Labour& Employment – Introduction of BA/BSc/BCom (Professional) courses in the higher educational institutions
- To improve employability of students by introducing employment relevance into the higher education system
- To forge a close functional link between education and industry sectors on a sustainable basis
- To provide skills which are in demand to the students in a dynamic manner
- To establish an ‘earn while you learn’ system into higher education
- To help business in securing good quality manpower
- To link student community with employment facilitating efforts of the Government
Operation of the Scheme
- The primary scheme will be operated in conjunction with National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme (NAPS) which provides for placing of apprentices up to 10% of the total work force in every business.
- The scheme will be implemented by the Sector Skill Councils (SSCs), initially the Banking Finance Insurance Services (BFSI), Retail, Health care, Telecom, Logistics, Media and Management services.
- The scheme would be operationalised by coordination of Ministry of Skills Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) and the Ministry of Labour.
- Under the NAPS scheme, Central Government shares 25% of the stipend per month subject to a maximum of Rs.1500 per month during the period of the apprenticeship.
- Apart from that, an amount upto Rs.7500 will be met towards basic training cost, where needed.
Three Tracks in Implementation in SHREYAS:
- In all the tracks together, it is proposed to cover 50 lakh students by 2022.
Add-on apprenticeship (Degree apprenticeship):
- The students who are currently completing the degree programme would be invited to choose a job role for 6 months with stipend of 6,000 per month.
- Under this approach, the existing B. Voc (Bachelor of Vocation) programmes would be restructured into B.A , B.Sc or B.Com courses with mandatory apprenticeship ranging from 6 to 10 months.
Linking National Career Service with Colleges:
- Under this, the National Career Service (NCS) portal of Ministry of Labour& Employment would be linked with the Higher Education institutions
Assam launches PRANAM Commission to protect parents of govt employees
Assam Chief Minister had launched the PRANAM Commission which is a panel to look after the issues concerning a Bill for protection of parents of state government employees.
- The Parents Responsibility and Norms for Accountability and Monitoring (PRANAM) Bill is an effort to protect elderly parents of government employees in their times of need.
- It is the first of its kind Bill in India.
Highlights of bill:
- Under the bill, it is mandatory for state government employees to look after their parents and unmarried differently abled siblings who do not have their own sources of income.
- Under the bill’s provisions, if the PRANAM Commission gets a complaint that parents of a state government employee are being ignored, then 10 or 15 per cent of the employee’s salary will be deducted by the government and paid to the parents or differently-abled siblings.
- The employees of private companies and the central government working in the state would also be covered by the bill at a later stage.
The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Bill, 2007
- It is initiated by Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment to provide more effective provision for maintenance and welfare of parents and senior citizens.
Highlights of Bill:
- It seeks to make it a legal obligation for children and heirs to provide maintenance to senior citizens.
- Senior citizens who are unable to maintain themselves shall have the right to apply to a maintenance tribunal seeking a monthly allowance from their children or heirs.
- State governments may set up maintenance tribunals in every sub-division to decide the level of maintenance.
- State governments shall set the maximum monthly maintenance allowance with maximum monthly allowance of Rs 10,000 per month.
- Punishment for not paying the required monthly allowance shall be Rs 5,000 or up to three month imprisonment or both.
100th Letter of Intent under SATAT scheme
Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas & Skill development and Entrepreneurship handed over the 100th Letter of Intent (LOI) to the Compressed Bio-Gas(CBG) Entrepreneur under the SATAT scheme.
- The Government is in talks with the UN environment Fund and Japanese Government for providing soft loans for SATAT scheme projects.
Sustainable Alternative towards Affordable Transportation (SATAT):
- Sustainable Alternative towards Affordable Transportation (SATAT) is an initiative aimed at providing alternative towards affordable transportation that would benefit both vehicle-users as well as farmers and entrepreneurs.
- SATAT was launched with a four-pronged agenda of utilising more than 62 million metric tonnes of waste generated every year in India.
- This scheme is lucrative for the prospective entrepreneurs as it provides guaranteed rate of return and assured take-off by Oil marketing companies.
- It is planned to roll out 5,000 Compressed Bio-Gas plants across India in a phased manner. This initiative is expected to generate direct employment for 75,000 people and produce 50 million tonnes of bio-manure for crops.
Objective of SATAT:
- Cutting down import dependence
- Supplementing job creation
- Reducing vehicular pollution from burning of agricultural waste.
What is Letter of Intent (LOI)?
- It is Interim agreement that summarizes the main points of a proposed deal, or confirms that a certain course of action is going to be taken.
- Generally, it does not constitute a definitive contract but signifies a genuine interest in reaching the final agreement.
Compressed Bio-Gas (CBG):
- CBG has calorific value and other properties similar to CNG and hence can be utilized as green renewable automotive fuel. Thus it can replace CNG in automotive, industrial and commercial areas
- Compressed Bio-Gas plants are proposed to be set up mainly through independent entrepreneurs.
- CBG produced at these plants will be transported through cascades of cylinders to the fuel station networks of Oil Marketing companies (OMCs) for marketing as a green transport fuel alternative.
- Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas has announced the National Policy on BioFuels 2018, which emphasizes on promotion of advanced Bio-fuels including CBG
Benefits of CBG on a commercial scale:
- Responsible waste management, reduction in carbon emissions and pollution
- Additional revenue source for farmers
- Boost to entrepreneurship, rural economy and employment
- Support to national commitments in achieving climate change goals
- Reduction in import of natural gas and crude oil
- Buffer against crude oil/gas price fluctuations
- The biogas generation process consists of four subsequent chemical and biochemical reactions i.e. Hydrolysis reaction, Acidogenesis reaction, Acetogenesis reaction and Methanogenesis reaction.
NITI Aayog’s Atal Innovation Mission partners with Adobe to enhance creativity in ATL Schools
NITI Aayog’s Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) and Adobe Inc. signed a Statement of Intent (SOI) to collectively drive the charter of developing creative skills and spreading digital literacy across all Atal Tinkering Labs in India.
Highlights of SOI:
- Adobe shall be adopting 100 schools under Atal Tinkering Labs (ATL) initiative.
- Further, Adobe shall be implementing its Digital Disha Program in ATLs, under which free licenses of Adobe Spark premium shall be offered to ATLs.
Objective of Partnership:
The collaboration is oriented towards fostering essential digital skill sets across school children in India to help kindle the spirit of creativity among young minds of a New India.
Adobe Digital Disha Programme:
- Launched in 2018, the Adobe Digital Disha Programme is aimed at driving synergies in creative thinking and technology-based learning.
- With collaboration of Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), children and teachers across schools shall benefit from creative learning resources empowering them with new age skills.
Atal Innovation Mission (AIM):
- Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) including Self-Employment and Talent Utilization (SETU) is Government of India’s endeavour to promote a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship.
- As a part of AIM, ATLs are being established in more than 5,000 schools in India where students of class 6th to class 12th acquire problem solving and innovation skills, developing innovative solutions leveraging Tinkering technologies like 3D printers.
Initiatives of ATL:
- ATL Community Day (14th April)
- ATL Marathon
- Student Innovator Program (SIP)
Core functions of AIM:
- Entrepreneurship promotion through Self-Employment and Talent Utilization, wherein innovators would be supported and mentored to become successful entrepreneurs
- Innovation promotion: to provide a platform where innovative ideas are generated
Atal Tinkering Labs (ATL):
- Atal Tinkering Labs are dedicated works spaces where students (Class 6th to Class 12th) learn innovation skills.
- The labs are powered to acquaint students with equipment such as 3D printers, robotics & electronics development tools, IoT & sensors etc.
- The Atal New India Challenge is a completion by ATL to design market-ready products based on cutting edge technologies in identified focus areas.
- AIM will provide grant-in-aid that includes a one-time establishment cost of Rs. 10 lakh and operational expenses of Rs. 10 lakh for a maximum period of 5 years to each ATL.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
Major fire breaks out at Bandipur Tiger Reserve in Karnataka
A major fire broke out in the forest area of the Bandipur Tiger Reserve in Karnataka.
- It has reportedly destroyed over 150 acres of the forest.
Bandipur National Park:
- The Bandipur National Park is a national park located in the south Indian state of Karnataka, which is the state with the highest tiger population in India.
- It was established in 1974 as a tiger reserve under Project Tiger.
- It was formed by including most of the forest areas of the then Venugopala Wildlife Park
- It is one of the premier Tiger Reserves in the country along with the adjoining Nagarhole national park.
- It was once a private hunting reserve for the Maharaja of the Kingdom of Mysore but has now been upgraded to Bandipur Tiger Reserve.
- The Bandipur National Park is surrounded by the river Kabini in the north, River Moyar in the south and the River Nugu runs through the park.
- The Gopalaswamy Betta which is a Hindu pilgrimage centre and it also forms part of the National Park.
- The park has a variety of biomes including dry deciduous forests, moist deciduous forests and shrublands. But dry deciduous forest is dominant.
- Together with the adjoining Nagarhole National Park, Mudumalai National Park and Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary, Bandipur National Park is part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve making it the largest protected area in southern India and largest habitat of wild elephants in south Asia.
Art & Culture
‘Titanwala Museum’ inaugrated
Union Textiles Minister Smriti Irani inaugurated the ‘Titanwala Museum’ in Bagru that showcases the Chhipa community’s hand-block printing.
- The museum is an effort towards preserving the art of traditional Bagru block printing.
About the Bagru block printing:
- Bagru printing is one of the traditional techniques of printing with natural colour followed by the chippas of a remote place of Rajasthan.
- Block printing is a labour intensive process. It requires a lot of skillfulness, time and tolerance power of artisan.
How it is made?
- The process starts from preparing the cloth to finished printed fabrics through their indigenous methods.
- Motifs having some specialty are transferred onto light coloured background with wooden blocks following two styles direct and resist style.
- The fabric is first soaked in Fuller’s earth and then dipped into turmeric water to get a tone of yellow colour. Then the dyed fabric is stamped with the beautiful designs known as blocks.
- The wooden blocks of teak-wood are used for printing the design which is soaked in oil overnight and then washed before putting in to use.
- The cloth to be printed is soaked in the solution of clay and other chemicals to make the fabric soften and then dried before used for printing.
- Neat stamping is foremost to get the appealing prints. After printing, the cloth is left for drying in sun for final touch-up.
- Although this technique is facing problems against the threat of globalization, this exotic art of creation is required to be encouraged in the present context of environmental consciousness.
Science & Technology
China eyes bans for rogue scientists
China has drafted new rules to supervise biotechnology research with fines and bans against rogue scientists.
Reason for putting ban:
- The ban was enacted after a Chinese researcher caused a global outcry by claiming that he gene-edited babies.
- The researcher named ‘He Jiankui’ has carried out a controversial experiment that had the potential of enhancing the learning capabilities and memory of the babies.
- He announced that the world’s first gene-edited babies, twin girls, were born after he altered their DNA to prevent them from contracting HIV by deleting a certain gene under a technique known as CRISPR -Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats.
- The new rules propose to classify technology used for extracting genetic materials, gene editing, gene transfer and stem cell research as “high risk”.
- Scientists can be fined 10 to 20 times the amount of “illegal income” earned from unauthorised research and be banned from their field of work for six months to one year.
- Medical practice licence can be revoked and the individual shall not engage in clinical research for life in case of serious circumstances.
What is CRISPR gene-editing technique?
- CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) allows to selectively edit genome parts and replace them with new DNA stretches.
- Cas9 is an enzyme that can edit DNA, allowing the alteration of genetic patterns by genome modification.
- CRISPR is a collection of DNA sequences that direct Cas9 where to cut and paste.
- CRISPR-Cas9 technology has the potential to revolutionise the treatment of blood diseases, tumours and other genetic diseases.
- It was named “2015 Breakthrough of the Year” by the U.S. journal Science.
- Its many potential applications include correcting genetic defects, treating and preventing the spread of diseases and improving crops. However, its promise also raises ethical concerns.
CRISPR-Cas9 is a technology that enables geneticist’s researchers to edit parts of the genome by removing, adding or altering sections of the DNA sequence.
- ‘Transcription activator-like effector nucleases’ (TALENs) and ‘Zinc-finger nucleases’ (ZFNs) are Genome editing technologies.
28th February: National Science Day
National Science Day is celebrated across Indian on 28th February to mark the anniversary of the ‘Raman Effect’.
Why We Celebrate National Science Day?
- The National Science Day is celebrated to mark the anniversary of the ‘Raman Effect’ by the physicist Sir Chandrashekhara Venkata Raman popularly known as CV Raman.
- Born on November 7, 1888 Raman developed an instrument “Raman Spectroscopy” for observing the vibrational, rotational and other low frequency modes in a system.
- He won Nobel prize in 1930 for Discovery of ‘Raman Effect’.
- The Tamil Nadu born Raman was awarded Bharat Ratna in 1954 for his contribution in science especially Physics.
- Science Day is celebrated to spread awareness about the importance of science and its application in the daily life of the people.
Form when the National Science Day is being celebrated?
- In 1986 the National Council for Science and Technology Communication (NCSTC) asked the Central Government to celebrate February 28 as National Science Day.
- The first National Science Day was then celebrated on February 28, 1987.
National Science Day Theme, 2019:
- The 2019 theme of National Science Day was “Science for the People, and People for the Science”
- Raman effect is the scattering of a photon (light) by surface molecules which are excited to higher vibrational or rotational energy levels, also called Raman scattering.
- Raman noticed that when a light beam travels through a medium, the beam is deflected by the molecules of sample/surface.
- But more important he observed that a small part of the emerging light beam after deflection by the molecules had a different wave length from the original beam
- In other words, the wavelength of light after passing through a medium and being deflected by the molecules had a different wavelength.
- This change in wavelength of the light beam is known as the Raman Effect.
- The science that deals with this change of frequency is referred to as Raman spectroscopy.
Raman effect application:
- Raman scanners are used by narcotics squads and airports to detect drugs.
- Raman amplificationis used in optical amplifiers.
- The Raman effect is also involved in producing the appearance of the blue sky.
- For solid materials, Raman scattering is used as a tool to detect high-frequency particle excitation.
- Raman lidar is used in to measure the atmospheric extinction coefficient and the water vapour vertical distribution.
In 1828, C. V. Raman performed a series of measurements where he focused sunlight on a liquid probe.
Set up of experiment:
- Excitation filter: which let only light with a specific wavelength reach the probe.
- The scattered light (Red Colour arrows): a broader spectrum with different wavelengths.
- Emission filter: Allows blocking the incident wavelength (green colour arrows).
What happened in experiment?
- After striking photons (a basic unit that makes up all light) on sample, the major part scatters elastic which means that the energy (i.e. wavelength) of the incident light is equal to the emitted light. (Green Arrows)
- This phenomenon is referred to as Rayleigh scattering.
- Only a minor part scatters inelastically (Red Arrows) where a small fraction of energy is transferred between sample and photon.
- This causes changes in the polarization of the molecule which are induced by molecular vibrations.
- As a result, energy and wavelength of incident and scattered light are not equal anymore which was the main finding of C.V. Raman.
- The Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT), set up by the National Centre for Radio Astrophysics (NCRA), was the world’s largest telescope when it was built in 1995
- 2019 is being celebrated as the ‘International Year of the Periodic Table’ (IYPT) of chemical elements.
- National Science Day is the only day in the year when all prominent institutes in the country are open for public.
India Ranks 47th Out of 100 Countries in The Facebook Inclusive Internet Index 2019
According to Facebook Inc. led study, while Sweden topped the chart, India has been ranked 47th in the overall “Inclusive Internet Index 2019” score.
- Singapore and the US followed the Sweden in the ranking.
Key Findings of Inclusive Internet Index report:
- Men still have more Internet access than women globally but low and lower middle income countries narrowed the gender gap in 2018.
- The UK, Namibia and Ireland, followed by Austria, Chile and South Africa, are among the top performers of the year all with female digital skills training plans.
- Inclusion for women and those with disabilities has improved with low income and lower middle income countries driving progress.
- The percentage of households connected to the Internet globally increased on average from 53.1 per cent to 54.8 per cent.
- However, The rate of growth in Internet connections slowed to 2.9 per cent in 2019 from 7.7 per cent in 2018.
- While lower middle income countries had a significant 66 per cent improvement in 4G coverage, low income countries saw a moderate 22 per cent improvement.
- Although the overall gap between those with access to the Internet and those without narrowed, the lowest income countries fell behind because they improved at a slower rate than other countries.
- Internet connections in low income countries increased by only 0.8 per cent compared to 65.1 per cent last year.
- More than half of respondents of the survey said they are not confident about their online privacy. Yet the majority of respondents (74.4%) think the Internet has been the most effective tool for finding jobs.
About the Inclusive Internet Index:
- The Inclusive Internet Index is commissioned by Facebook and conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit.
- It was launched in 2017.
- To provide researchers and policymakers with the information they need to enable the beneficial use of the Internet, irrespective of age, gender, location or background.
- It seeks to measure the extent to which the Internet is not only accessible and affordable, but also allowing usage that enables positive social and economic outcomes at individual and group level.
Assessment Categories of Inclusive Internet:
The index assesses the performance of 100 countries in four categories of inclusion:
Each category incorporates key indicators of internet inclusion, including quantitative measures such as network coverage and pricing and qualitative measures such as the presence of e-inclusion policies.[Ref: News18]
Key Facts for Prelims
‘Made in India’ chipsets
- Bengaluru-based semiconductor manufacturing company Signalchip launched “India’s first indigenous” semiconductor chips, which could be used in 4G/LTE and 5G NR Modem applications.
- The launch of the chips was significant, and that India is entering an elite club and this will have huge implications on the country’s data security and sovereignty.
- At present only 8 companies and a few countries can design and build semiconductor chips.
ICAR-NRRI ‘ricexpert’ App
- The ICAR-NRRI ‘ricexpert’ App is a web-based application systems which facilitates flow of information from the farmer to the farm scientist and get their instant solution.
- It provides information to farmers in real time on insect pests, nutrients, weeds, nematodes and disease-related problems, rice varieties for different ecologies, farm implements for different field and post-harvest operations.
- Farmers can use this App as a diagnostic tool in their rice fields and make customize queries for quick solution of their problems by sending text, photo and recorded voice and solution received through SMS.
‘Delhi Declaration’ on digital health
- At the concluding session of the ‘4th Global Digital Health Partnership Summit, the Delhi Declaration on digital health was adopted.
- The declaration calls for WHO’s leadership in digital health and for it to establish a specific mechanism to centrally coordinate digital health to assist its Member States.
New rail zone
- Indian Railways decided to create South Coast Railway (SCoR), a new zone in Visakhapatnam.
- As per the decision, the new railway zone will comprise Guntakal, Guntur and Vijaywada divisions.
- South Central Railway (SCR) will comprise Hyderabad, Secunderabad and Nanded divisions.
Aarohan Social Innovation Awards
- Recently, the Infosys Foundation has constituted Aarohan Social Innovation Awards to reward individuals, teams or NGOs developing solutions for the social sector.
- The awards are aimed at nurturing the culture of innovation in the social sector to scale positive change across the country and thereby provide a platform to help the solutions scale.
- The awards would be given away in six categories spanning healthcare, destitute care, rural development, women’s safety and empowerment, education and sport and sustainability.