Polity & Governance
- NITI Aayog strategy to monitor health
- Online Pension Sanction and Payment Tracking System ‘Bhavishya’ soon
- Centre notifies amended RBI Act to usher in MPC
- Regional connectivity: DGCA to ease norms for smaller aircraft
Environment & Ecology
- Key study links air pollution to over six million deaths
- Prakash Javadekar conducts aerial inspection, stresses on protection of Aravali
Art & Culture
- 1,000-year-old inscription on Kapalikas found
Science & Technology
- CSIR launches Ayurvedic anti-diabetic drug
- Start-up makes drones to explore the sea
Also in News
- Century-old records throw new light on Malabar history
Polity & Governance
NITI Aayog strategy to monitor health
The NITI Aayog is working on a strategy to put in place a tracking system for monitoring health parameters of target beneficiaries under the National Nutrition Mission on a real-time basis.
- The tracking system is likely to be Aadhaar-linked.
- At present, nutrition data was available on a sample basis rather than by censuses.
- Ratan Tata was invited to the interaction to draw on the experience of the Tata Trusts that had executed similar pilots in eight districts. Mr. Tata is the ambassador of the challenge of nutrition for India.
Utility of the system:
There are multiple programmes under various ministries aimed at addressing the multitude of the related issues of gender discrimination, infections, diseases, food fortification, education opportunities, sanitation etc. All of which affect stunting and under-nutrition in children below the age of five, including the unborn.
- The Centre’s effort has been to converge the schemes and now the Prime Minister wants that at the district, block and, if possible, at the village level, the healthcare parameters of target beneficiaries, the mothers and the children, can be monitored on a real-time basis using Aadhaar.
About National Nutrition Mission:
There are two components of the National Nutrition Mission as follows:
- Information, Education and Communication (IEC) Campaign against malnutrition
- Multi-sectoral Nutrition Programme
The key objectives of these programmes are as under:
- To create awareness relating to malnutrition amongst pregnant women, lactating mothers, promote healthy lactating practices and importance of balanced nutrition;
- To improve maternal and child under-nutrition in 200 high burdened districts and to prevent and reduce the under-nutrition prevalent among children below 3 years;
- To reduce incidence of anaemia among young children, adolescent girls and women.
The programme envisages coordinated action at the Central and State levels for affirmative multi-sectoral action in fulfilling the objectives.
- An Inter-Ministerial Coordination Committee (IMCC) headed by Cabinet Secretary at National level has been created for coordination at National level.
- At the State level, the State Nutrition Council headed by the Chief Minister would be the highest body for providing policy direction and oversight to the Multi-sectoral Nutrition Programme. The State Nutrition Council would be assisted by the Executive Committee headed by the Chief Secretary of the State and would comprise of Principal Secretaries/Secretaries of all line departments concerning the Multi-sectoral Nutrition Programme.
- Similar coordinating bodies would be set up at the District and village levels to provide all support in effective implementation, monitoring and supervision of the programme.
- Monitoring and evaluation of the programme has been entrusted to National Institute of Public Cooperation and Child Development (NIPCCD) to track the progress and achievements during and after implementation.
- At the National level, the Food & Nutrition Board (FNB) under Ministry of Women & Child Development would act as the Technical Support Unit with additional technical human resource to manage and roll out the programme.
Online Pension Sanction and Payment Tracking System ‘Bhavishya’ soon
All central ministries and departments will soon be linked to the online Pension Sanction and Payment Tracking System ‘Bhavishya’ to ensure quick grant of pension and check any delay in its disbursal.
- Besides, the Centre has decided that all Pension Payment Orders (PPOs) will be digitised.
- With this step, the pension release will be expedited and it will also help in quick resolution of pending issues.
In 2014, the Department of Pension & Pensioners’ Welfare has launched a web based Pension Sanction and Payment Tracking System ‘BHAVISHYA’ which provides for on-line tracking of sanction and payment processes by the individual as well as the administrative authorities.
- The system has introduced transparency and accountability into the pension sanction and payment process, thereby helping eliminate delays and bring satisfaction to the retiring employees and pensioners.
- The system keeps retiring employees and administration informed of the progress of pension sanction process through SMS and e-mail.
- Initially, the software has been launched on a pilot basis in fifteen Ministries/Departments of the Government.
- In the year 2015-16, the scheme was scaled up and will eventually cover all 9,000 Drawing and Disbursal Offices (DDOs) in the country.
Centre notifies amended RBI Act to usher in MPC
The Centre brought the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) one step closer to reality by notifying the changes made to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Act.
- The government has decided to bring the provisions of amended RBI Act regarding constitution of MPC into force on June 27, 2016 so that statutory basis of MPC is made effective.
- The rules governing the procedure for selection of members of Monetary Policy Committee and terms and conditions of their appointment and factors constituting failure to meet inflation target under the MPC framework have also been notified.
About Monetary Policy Committee (MPC):
- The committee will have six members, with three members from RBI, including the Governor, who will be the ex-officio chairperson, a Deputy Governor and one officer of the central bank.
- The other three members will be appointed by the Centre on the recommendations of a search-cum-selection committee to be headed by the Cabinet Secretary.
- These three members of MPC will be experts in the field of economics or banking or finance or monetary policy and will be appointed for a period of four years and shall not be eligible for re-appointment.
- The committee will be tasked with bringing value and transparency to monetary policy decisions
- The monetary policy committee framework will replace the current system where the RBI governor and his internal team have complete control over monetary policy decisions. While a technical advisory committee advises the RBI on monetary policy decisions, the central bank is under no obligation to accept its recommendations.
- With the introduction of the monetary policy committee, the RBI will follow a system similar to the one followed by most global central banks.
- The Committee is to meet four times a year and make public its decisions following each meeting.
At present, the RBI governor has the final say on monetary policy decisions.
- The idea of setting up an MPC was mooted by an RBI-appointed committee led by deputy governor Urjit Patel in February 2014 though that committee had recommended a five-member committee where three members would be from RBI and two external members would be appointed by the RBI governor and the deputy governor in-charge.
- It was also suggested that the governor would have a casting vote in case of a tie.
Regional connectivity: DGCA to ease norms for smaller aircraft
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is expected to come out with less rigorous rules and compliance standards for smaller aircraft, in a bid to attract airlines to its regional connectivity scheme.
- The government intend to come out with less strict civil aviation requirements for scheduled commuter operators who will fly 80-seater aircraft. It will come out with separate regulations for 19-seater aircraft too, which will be even less rigorous.
- The existing regulations might be stringent for players willing to operate smaller aircraft for regional connectivity purposes.
- The government is of the view that the success of the regional connectivity scheme will depend on making it easier to acquire and operate smaller aircraft.
- The government plans to revive 50 airports in three years. This would require an addition of 50-100 small aircraft to the total fleet size of 440 aircraft serving Indian skies currently, according to estimates.
About the regional connectivity scheme:
According to the regional connectivity scheme announced by the Centre in its civil aviation policy, passengers will be charged Rs. 2,500 for an hour’s flight from an airport that is currently unconnected.
- The government will provide 80% of the subsidy to airlines for the losses they incur due to the cap on the fare, while the remaining 20% will come from the States.
Prospects of smaller aircraft:
- In its 20-year forecast for the period 2014-2033, Bombardier projected that the 60- to 99-seat aircraft market worldwide would see substantial growth, as these planes become important tool for network connectivity between major, secondary and tertiary airports. It forecast global delivery demand in this period at 5,600 aircraft.
Environment & Ecology
Key study links air pollution to over six million deaths
The International Energy Agency (IEA) said in its recently released World Energy Outlook (WEO) special report that, an estimated 6.5 million premature deaths in the world are linked to air pollution every year with more than half of them being reported from China and India together.
Key points of the report (India):
According to the report, India alone contributes 1.59 million deaths to this dubious figure.
- In a chapter on India – a home to 11 of the world’s 20 most polluted cities, the report highlights the recent measures taken by the country to curb its emission, particularly in power sector. But, it notes, these achievements are more often offset by strong growth in emissions from industry and transportation sector, emphasising that the air quality will remain an important policy concerns even in 2040.
- Referring to India’s Capital, the report says that the two coal-fired power plants (Badarpur and Rajghat) are the main sources of PM2.5 emissions in Delhi.
Key points of the report (general):
- The global number will increase significantly, touching 7.5 million in 2040, unless the energy sector that emits majority of air pollutants takes greater action to curb emission.
- The report, highlighting links between energy, air pollution and health, says no country is immune as a staggering 80% of cities that monitor pollution levels fail to meet the air quality standards set by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
- Though it notes that the number of deaths due to household air pollution (use of biomass for cooking and kerosene for lighting) at present is more than the deaths due to outdoor air pollution, the trend will reverse in 2040 as more and more people would be able to access the relatively cleaner cooking gas and electricity by then.
- The report has noted that the air pollution is the fourth largest human health risk after high blood pressure, poor diets and smoking.
- It also says the energy production and use – mostly from unregulated, poorly regulated or inefficient fuel combustion – are the most important man-made sources of key air pollutant emission – 85% of particulate matter and almost all of the sulfur oxides and nitrogen oxides.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) is a Paris-based autonomous intergovernmental organization established in the framework of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 1974 in the wake of the 1973 oil crisis.
- The IEA works to ensure reliable, affordable and clean energy to its 29 member countries.
- The IEA acts as a policy adviser to its member states, but also works with non-member countries, especially China, India, and Russia.
- The Agency’s mandate has broadened to focus on the “3Es” of effectual energy policy: energy security, economic development, and environmental protection.
- IEA member countries are required to maintain total oil stock levels equivalent to at least 90 days of the previous year’s net imports.
Prakash Javadekar conducts aerial inspection, stresses on protection of Aravali
Union minister of environment and forest (MoEF) Prakash Javaderkar conducted aerial inspection of Aravali to get first-hand experience of Aravali forest, its importance for the region and effect of urbanisation on the fragile eco-system of one of the oldest mountain hills.
- Aravali hills have protected Delhi-NCR region from desertification and desert storms for ages and it is important to protect Aravali in its natural form.
- This was second visit of Aravali in last little more than one year by chief minister and union minister.
- Earlier in June 2015 chief minister of Haryana Manohar Lal Khattar has conducted aerial inspection of Aravali following he declared around 1700 acres of area in Mangar Bani as no construction zone.
- Now union forest and environment minister conducts aerial survey, raising the expectation of further protection and conservation of Arvalli particularly from real estate industry.
- The aerial survey of union minister has happened in a time when MoEF is in process of finalising the definition of ‘forest’.
- The inspection also gains importance as Haryana government in a recent meeting of NCR planning board (NCRPB) has stressed that there is no Aravali in Haryana except in some parts of Gurgaon and Faridabad.
- Large part of Aravali has been privatised over the year and real estate companies, who have hundreds of acre of land holding are lobbying hard to dilute the protection of Aravali by excluding areas from demarcation of NCZ, the area covered under NCZ cannot have construction beyond 0.5% and dilute definition of forest, which will open large areas for realtors.
Art & Culture
1,000-year-old inscription on Kapalikas found
A nearly 1,000-year-old rare stone inscription on Kapalikas, worshippers of Bhairava, a manifestation of Shiva, has been discovered in Raichur district by a professor of Kannada University, Hampi.
- This is the first time that an inscription throws light on the presence of Kapalikas in South India, and in Karnataka in particular.
- Though there were references to Kapalikas in a few inscriptions found in northern India and Karnataka, there was no documentary evidence about their presence.
- Kapalikas were a mysterious cult who may have practised human sacrifice and immolation.
- The inscription is undated, however, based on the nature of the script, which is in ancient Kannada, it is presumed to be from mid-1,000 AD.
- The inscription also refers to a ‘Kankala Gorava’ who had mastered Soma Siddantha or Kapalika Siddantha.
- It states that though Soma Siddanthis led a lavish life, they had a cordial relationship with the rest of society. It also claims that taking a dip in the pond and having a darshan of the deity in the cave would relieve one of sins.
Science & Technology
CSIR launches Ayurvedic anti-diabetic drug
Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has launched BGR-34 – an anti-diabetic ayurvedic drug designed for type 2 Diabetes mellitus.
- BGR-34 is developed jointly by National Botanical Research Institute (NBRI) and Central Institute for Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (CIMAP), the research units of CSIR at Lucknow.
- BGR-34 has been economically priced at Rs 5 per tablet as compared to latest DPP4 inhibitors globally.
- The modern diabetes drugs are known for side-effects and toxicity while BGR-34 works by controlling blood sugar and limiting the harmful effects of other drugs.
Start-up makes drones to explore the sea
Two young scientists have created OpenROV, an open-source drone project by a small Berkeley-based startup, that builds submarine drone kits.
- Its latest model, Trident, is essentially the same as a quadcopter — it’s a mobile platform, easy to drive (or fly) with a simple controller, but it goes underwater.
- OpenROV has sold more than 3,000 of a first-generation submarine, which is able to navigate below the surface, connected by a thin cable and controlled by software running on a tablet or smartphone.
- It will operate from a wirelessly connected buoy.
Also in News
Century-old records throw new light on Malabar history
Century-old records from a political conference found at Pandikkad near Manjeri have thrown new light on some events in Kerala’s socio-political history in the early 1900s.
- Calicut University researchers stumbled upon the documents at Maranattu Mana last week.
- The records provide evidence of the developments that took place at the fifth Malabar district political conference held at Kalkoni Maidan, Manjeri, on April 28 and 29, 1920, under the chairmanship of S. Kasturiranga Iyengar, Editor of The Hindu. Annie Besant and her followers had walked out of the meeting.
Historical significance of the Manjeri meeting:
- The Manjeri meeting, held in the erstwhile part of the Madras Presidency, for the first time, provided a platform for the middle-class Mappila and non-Mappila tenants to attend a political conference.
- It brought to the fore the sharp divide between the landlords and the middle-class tenants.
- It was this meeting that brought nationalists such as Manjeri Rama Aiyer, K.P. Kesava Menon, K. Madhavan Nair, M.P. Narayana Menon and Variyamkunnath Kunhahamed Haji to the political front.
- The Malabar Rebellion of 1921 took place in the wake of the Manjeri meeting.