Polity & Governance
- Government launches new ‘Jal Shakti’ ministry
- Health Ministry organises national workshop for Population Research Centres (PRCs)
Government Schemes & Policies
- PM-KISAN Scheme extension to include all eligible farmer
- Union cabinet approves major changes in the ‘Prime Minister’s Scholarship Scheme’
- Cabinet clears pension scheme for traders
Issues related to Health & Education
- ICMR recommends ban on Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) including e-cigarettes
- Food delivery apps to have hygiene rating in Punjab
- India Ranks 43rd in IMD World Competitiveness Rankings-2019
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- New species of wasp identified in Goa
Bilateral & International Relations
- Indian-Origin Anita Bhatia Named UN Women’s Deputy Executive Director
Key Facts for Prelims
- Former President Pratibha Patil awarded Mexico’s highest civilian honour for foreigners
- Puerto Williams becomes world’s southernmost city
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Polity & Governance
Government launches new ‘Jal Shakti’ ministry
The new ministry has been formed by merging the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation and Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation.
About Jal Shakti ministry:
The Jal Shakti Ministry will encompass issues ranging from international and inter-states water disputes, the Namami Gange project – which is a flagship initiative to clean the river, its tributaries and sub-tributaries and provide clean drinking water.
- The ministry will roll out government’s ambitious plans to provide piped water connections to every household in India by 2024.
- ‘Nal se Jal’ scheme to provide piped drinking water to every household will be a component of government’s Jal Jivan Mission.
India’s water crisis stats:
- India is home to about 4% of world’s water resources and more than 18% of the world’s population.
- India is the largest user of groundwater in the world, extracting about 253 billion cubic metre (bcm) every year, which is about 25% of the global groundwater extraction.
- 75% of India’s households do not have drinking water on in their premises, 84% of rural households do not have piped water access and that 70% of our water is contaminated while adding that India is currently ranked 120 among 122 countries in the water quality index.
- India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and China together account for more than 50% of the world’s groundwater withdrawals.
Health Ministry organises national workshop for Population Research Centres (PRCs)
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare recently organized a workshop for Population Research Centres (PRCs) to highlight the various features of the flagship schemes of the Health Ministry for concurrent monitoring.
Key Highlights of workshop:
- The objective of the workshop was to integrate the PRCs with the institute they are anchored in for more thoughtful insights of local and current issues to enrich their research.
- Rural Health Statistics (2017-18) and a Compendium of Studies Conducted by the PRCS (2017-18) was also launched.
Evolution of PRC:
- On the recommendations of Demographic Sub-Committee in 1955, the Ministry of Health provided grants for the establishment of Demographic Research Centres (DRC) in Delhi and Calcutta to undertake research on various demographic, social & economic aspects of population growth in their respective regions.
- Later on, Family Planning Communication Action Research Centres were established to carry out research studies in the field of family planning communication.
- The nomenclatures of DRC and Family Planning Committee Action Research Centres were changed to Population Research Centre (PRC) in 1978-79 after taking into account the fact that activities of all research centres were more or less alike.
- In 2013-14, a Committee was constituted under the Chairmanship of Shri Manoj Jhalani, JS (Policy) which submitted “Report of the PRC Committee” to make recommendations on devising a systematic work plan for the PRCs in the Country.
- Since 2013-14, PRCs are involved in the monitoring of State Programme Implementation Plans (PIP) under National Health Mission (NHM) in addition to their research work.
Population Research Centres (PRCs)
- The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) established a network of Population Research Centres (PRCs) with the mandate to provide, inter alia, critical research based inputs related to the Health and Family Welfare Programs and Policies at the national and state levels.
- Their main role is to undertake research projects relating to family planning, demographic research and biological studies & qualitative aspect of population control, with a view to gainfully utilize the feedback from these research studies for plan formulation, strategies and modifications of on- going schemes.
- The PRCs are autonomous in nature and administratively under the control of their host University/Institutions. However, PRCs are established as well as fully funded by the Ministry of health & family Welfare.
- The first PRC was established at the “Institute of Economic Growth”, University of Delhi, in 1958 and the last at “Dr. H.S. Gour Central University”, Sagar in 1999.
- The MoHFW has established the network of 18 Population Research Centres (PRCs) spread over 17 major States/UTs. Out of total 18, 12 are attached to various Universities and 6 are in research institutions of national repute.
PRCs are involved in:
- Concurrent Evaluation of National Health Mission (NHM) conducted by the Health Ministry throughout the country during 2008-09
- Large scale sample surveys of the Ministry like District Level Household survey (DLHS), National Family Health Survey (NFHS) and Longitudinal Ageing Study in India (LASI),
- All India study on “Rapid Appraisal of National Rural Health Mission (NRHM)
- Monitor important components of NHM Programme Implementation Plans
Government Schemes & Policies
PM-KISAN Scheme extension to include all eligible farmer
The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has approved that the ambit of the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) would be comprehensively extended.
- The revised Scheme is expected to cover around 2 crore more farmers, increasing the coverage of PM-KISAN to around 14.5 crore beneficiaries.
- With this decision, all land holding eligible farmer families (subject to the prevalent exclusion criteria) would avail of the benefits under this scheme.
About the PM-KISAN:
In the Interim budget of 2019-20, Government has announced the ‘Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN)’ for providing an assured income support to the small and marginal farmers.
Highlights of Programme:
- Under this programme, vulnerable landholding farmer families, having cultivable land upto 2 hectares, will be provided direct income support at the rate of Rs. 6,000 per year.
- This income support will be transferred directly into the bank accounts of beneficiary farmers, in three equal instalments of Rs. 2,000 each.
- This programme will be funded by Government of India.
- This programme will entail an annual expenditure of Rs. 75,000 crores.
Significance of Programme:
- Around 12 crore small and marginal farmer families are expected to benefit.
- PM-KISAN would not only provide assured supplemental income to the most vulnerable farmer families, but would also meet their emergent needs especially before the harvest season.
- PM-KISAN would pave the way for the farmers to earn and live a respectable living.
Union cabinet approves major changes in the ‘Prime Minister’s Scholarship Scheme’
Union cabinet approved a major change in the ‘Prime Minister’s Scholarship Scheme’ under the National Defence Fund.
Changes made in ‘Prime Minister’s Scholarship Scheme’:
- The rates of scholarship have been increased from Rs. 2000 per month to Rs. 2500 per month for boys and from Rs. 2250 per month to Rs. 3000 per month for girls.
- The ambit of the Scholarship Scheme has been extended to the wards of State Police officials who are or were martyred during terror or Naxal attacks.
- The quota of new scholarships for the wards of state police officials will be 500 in a year. The Ministry of Home Affairs will be the nodal Ministry in this regard.
National Defence Fund (NDF)
- The National Defence Fund (NDF) was set up in 1962 to take charge of the voluntary donations in cash and kind received for promotion of the national defence effort, and to decide on their utilisation.
- Currently, the fund is being used for the welfare of the members of the Armed Forces, Para Military forces and Railway Protection Force, and their dependents.
- The fund is administered by an Executive Committee with the Prime Minister as the Chairperson and the Defence, Finance and Home Ministers as Members.
- Under National Defence Fund major scheme of ‘Prime Minister’s Scholarship Scheme (PMSS)’ is being implemented to encourage technical and post-graduate education for the widows and wards of the deceased/ex-service personnel.
- Scholarships are available for education at technical institutions (medical, dental, veterinary, engineering, MBA, MCA and other equivalent technical professions with suitable AICTE/UGC approval).
- The National Defence Fund accepts online voluntary contributions through the website.
Prime Minister’s Scholarship Scheme (PMSS):
- Prime Minister’s Scholarship Scheme, under the aegis of the National Defence Fund, was introduced in 2006-07 to encourage higher technical and professional education for the dependent wards of Ex Servicemen / Ex Coast Guard personnel and their widows.
- The scheme is being implemented by the Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare, Ministry of Defence in respect of armed forces.
- In so far as personnel of paramilitary forces and Railway Protection force are concerned, the scheme is being implemented by Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Railways respectively.
- The duration of Scholarship is upto five years.
- The PMSS is restricted to first Professional Degree Courses only like BE, B Tech, BDS, MBBS etc.
- There are 7 categories for scholarship preference from A to G. For example, preference is given to Wards/Widows of CAPFs & AR personnel killed in action than to Wards of Ex- CAPFs & AR personnel (PBOR).
[Ref: PIB, Business Standard]
Cabinet clears pension scheme for traders
The Union Cabinet has approved a new scheme that offers pension coverage to the trading community to provide a robust architecture of universal social security.
- The scheme would benefit more than 3 crore small shopkeepers and traders.
How the scheme works?
- Under this scheme all shopkeepers, retail traders and self-employed persons are assured a minimum monthly pension of Rs. 3,000/- month after attaining the age of 60 years.
- The scheme is based on self-declaration as no documents are required except Aadhaar and bank account.
- The Central Government will make matching contribution in the subscribers’ account. For example, if a person with age of 29 years contributes Rs. 100/- month, then the Central Government also contributes the equal amount as subsidy into subscriber’s pension account every month.
- All small shopkeepers and self-employed persons as well as the retail traders with GST turnover below Rs. 1.5 crore and age between 18-40 years, can enrol for this scheme.
Issues related to Health & Education
ICMR recommends ban on Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) including e-cigarettes
Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), an apex research body, has recommended a complete ban on Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS), including e-cigarettes, saying their use can initiate nicotine addiction among non-smokers.
Why ban on e-cigarettes?
- The council noted that e-cigarettes and other such devices contained not only nicotine solution, which was highly addictive, but also harmful ingredients such as flavoring agents and vaporizers.
- Use of ENDS or e-cigarettes can open a gateway for new tobacco addiction among the masses as on the balance, these have a negative impact on public health.
- Prolonged use of ENDS or e-cigarettes has documented adverse impact on humans which includes DNA damage, respiratory/cardiovascular/ neurological Disorders, carcinogenic/cellular/molecular/immunological Toxicity and even have adverse effects on fetal development and pregnancy.
- Research has found that youths using e-cigarettes (or other such devices) are more likely to use regular cigarettes in later period. The exposure to ENDS increases the likelihood to experiment with regular products and increase intention to indulge in cigarette smoking.
- In 2018, a committee headed by Dr. K. Srinath Reddy of Public Health Foundation of India recommended a ban on the sale of e-cigarettes in India. In its report, the committee rejected the argument that e-cigarettes could help smokers quit tobacco consumption. It said that these devices could encourage non-smokers to get addicted to tobacco.
Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS):
- ENDS are non-combustible tobacco products. In other words, Electronic cigarettes are devices that do not burn or use tobacco leaves but instead vaporise a solution, which the user then inhales.
- These are devices that heat a solution to create an aerosol (a suspension of fine solid particles/liquid droplets in gas/air), which frequently also contains flavours, usually dissolved into propylene Glycol or/and Glycerin.
- The main constituents of the solution, in addition to nicotine when nicotine is present are propylene glycol, with or without glycerol and flavouring agents.
- Vapes, vape pens, hookah pens, electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes or e-cigs), and e-pipes are some of the many terms used to describe electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS).
- Use of ENDS or e-cigarettes has documented adverse effects on humans, which include DNA damage; carcinogenic, cellular, molecular and immunological toxicity; respiratory, cardiovascular and neurological disorders; and adverse impact on fetal development and pregnancy.
- Studies have found that youths using e-cigarettes and other such devices are more likely to use regular cigarettes later. They increase the likelihood to experiment with regular products and increase the intention to indulge in cigarette smoking.
- The sale of e-cigarettes is completely banned in 25 countries, including Brazil, Norway and Singapore, while market authorization is required in 17 other countries.
Prohibition of Nicotine:
- Nicotine is prohibited for use Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Food Safety and Standards Act 2006.
- Nicotine and Nicotine Sulphate are listed as hazardous chemicals in the Manufacture, Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemical Rules, 1989 made under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
- Nicotine is also Listed as an insecticide in the Schedule of insecticides under the Insecticide Act 1968.
- However, The Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 & Rules, 1945 permit the use of Nicotine up to 2 mg and 4 mg in gums, Iozenges and strips, which may be used as aids for Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT).
Food delivery apps to have hygiene rating in Punjab
The Punjab government has decided to make it mandatory for all online aggregators to ensure that food supplied by them have hygiene rating as per the guidelines of Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).
- Online food order companies take online orders from consumers for the supply of food and deliver the same after procuring it from the Food Business Operators (FBOs) associated with them.
- Under the normal circumstances, the consumer directly approaches the FBOs and therefore, through primary contact, the consumer is aware about the quality of food and the hygienic conditions under which food is prepared and served.
- However, the online order and delivery mechanism of food supply has created a physical disconnect between the consumer and the food maker. Hence, the onus of ensuring the quality of food and the hygienic condition under which food is prepared, has shifted to the intermediate food delivery mechanism.
- It is in this context Punjab government decided that all the online food orders and delivery companies shall ensure that FBOs registered and affiliated with them have their hygiene rating done from the FSSAI empanelled companies
Trend of ordering food online:
- Over the last few years, there has been a sharp increase in the trend to order food online. The boom in the online food industry in India had so far given a free hand to such individual efforts or industry.
- The online food delivery market in India, has been growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 90 per cent and is expected to reach $4 billion by the first quarter of next year.
India Ranks 43rd in IMD World Competitiveness Rankings-2019
India manages to moved up one place than previous ranking by coming to 43rd position in International Institute for Management Development (IMD) World Competitiveness Rankings-2019.
About IMD World Competitiveness Ranking
- It is a list which is compiled by the Switzerland-based International Institute for Management and Development (IMD)’s World Competitiveness Center (WCC).
- In order to facilitate long-term value creation, The IMD measures how well countries manage all their resources and competencies.
- It published the rankings every year since 1989.
- The report ranks 63 economies on 235 indicators which are incorporated from each of these economies.
- It takes into account a wide range of statistics such as unemployment, GDP and government spending on health and education, as well as data from an executive opinion survey covering topics such as social cohesion, globalisation and corruption.
Under the World Competitiveness Rankings, the economies are judged in four categories:
- Economic Performance
- Government Efficiency
- Business Efficiency
Highlights of IMD 2019:
- Singapore has ranked as the world’s most competitive economy for the first time since 2010.
- Hong Kong SAR, USA and Switzerland came to are on second, third and fourth positions respectively.
- The United Arab Emirates (UAE) entered the top five for the first time, earlier in 2016, it was ranked 15th.
- Venezuela remained (63rd) at the bottom of the ranking due to inflation, poor access to credit and a weak economy in the country.
About India’s ranking
- India has gained one-point benefit by coming to 43rd position due to improvements in business legislation, increase in public expenditure on education.
- Lagged in terms of public finance, societal framework, education infrastructure, health and environment, however, India manages to scored well on several economic parameters and tax policies.
- India is also facing some challenges like maintaining high growth with employment generation, fiscal discipline and Digital literacy and internet bandwidth in rural areas.
[Ref: The Hindu]
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
New species of wasp identified in Goa
A new species of wasp from the genus Kudakrumia has been recently identified by scientists in Goa.
About the new discovery:
- The wasp, Kudakrumia rangnekari, was named after Goa-based researcher Parag Rangnekar.
- The holotype is from Kotigao (or Cotigao) Wildlife Sanctuary of Goa of northern Western Ghats and the paratype is from Ranipuram hill of Kerala of southern Western Ghats.
- In zoological nomenclature, a type is a specimen which serves to illustrate the defining characters of a species or genus. The purpose of designating a type is to provide an objective reference which can be used by alter scholars to verify the identity of the species being described.
- Holotype refers to The single physical example (or illustration) of an organism.
- A paratype is a specimen of an organism that helps define what the scientific name of a species and other taxon actually represents. Paratype is a specimen available in the lab to study the given taxon (species).
What is Wasp?
- Wasp is any member of a group of insects in the order Hymenoptera and suborder Apocrita.
- Wasp are neither ant nor bees.
- In stinging species, only the females are provided with a formidable sting.
- Wasps are subdivided into two groups: solitary wasps, which live alone, and social wasps, which live in colonies. The vast majority are solitary in habit.
- Whereas social wasps use their stingers only for defense, stinging solitary wasps rely on their venom to hunt.
- Despite the fear they sometimes evoke, wasps are extremely beneficial to humans. Nearly every pest insect on Earth is preyed upon by a wasp species, either for food or as a host for its parasitic larvae.
Difference between wasp and Bee:
- A wasp is any insect that is neither a bee nor an ant.
- Wasps are distinguishable from bees by their pointed lower abdomens and the narrow waist, called a petiole, that separates the abdomen from the thorax.
- All wasps build nests. Whereas bees secrete a waxy substance to construct their nests, wasps create their house from wood fibers.
Bilateral & International Relations
Indian-Origin Anita Bhatia Named UN Women’s Deputy Executive Director
Anita Bhatia has been appointed by UN Secretary-General as the Assistant Secretary-General for resource management, sustainability and partnerships and Deputy Executive Director of the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women).
About UN Women
- UN Women is the UN organization dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. A global champion for women and girls, UN Women was established to accelerate progress on meeting their needs worldwide.
- It was created in July 2010.
- It works globally to make the vision of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) a reality for women and girls and stands behind women’s equal participation in all aspects of life.
- The UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women (UN Trust Fund) is funded by UN women.
- Making Every Woman and Girl Count is a flagship programme of UN women.
- Un Women merges and builds on the important work of four previously distinct parts of the UN system, which focused exclusively on gender equality and women’s empowerment:
- Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW)
- International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW)
- Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women (OSAGI)
- United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM)
Functions of UN women:
- To support inter-governmental bodies, such as the Commission on the Status of Women, in their formulation of policies, global standards and norms
- To help member states implement these standards, standing ready to provide suitable technical and financial support to those countries that request it
- To lead and coordinate the UN system’s work on gender equality, as well as promote accountability, including through regular monitoring of system-wide progress
- To mark the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, UN Women recently launched a new campaign, “Generation Equality—Realizing women’s rights and an equal future”.
- UN Women’s Office based in New Delhi covers four countries: India, Bhutan, Maldives and Sri Lanka.
UN women Flagship programmes:
UN Women has developed 12 flagship programmes to deepen its efforts and achieve transformative results.
- Women’s Leadership in Politics
- Women’s Access to Justice
- Climate-Resilient Agriculture
- Equal Opportunities for Women Entrepreneurs
- Income Generation & Security
- Prevention and Access to Essential Services
- Safe Cities & Safe Public Spaces
- Women’s LEAP in Crisis Response
- Gender Inequality of Risk (DRM)
- Women’s Engagement in Peace, Security & Recovery
- Gender Statistics for Localization of the SDGs
- Transformative Financing for GEWE
UN agreements on Gender equality:
- Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action
- The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)
Key Facts for Prelims
Former President Pratibha Patil awarded Mexico’s highest civilian honour for foreigners
Former President of India Pratibha Patil has been conferred “Orden Mexicana del Aguila Azteca” (Order of the Aztec Eagle), the highest civilian award of Mexico given to foreigners.
- Pratibha Patil, India’s first woman President (2007-2012), is second Indian President, after S. Radhakrishna to receive this honour.
About the award:
- This award is known as Order of the Aztec Eagle. The royal eagle is Mexico’s national animal, sacred to the ancient Aztecs and it is present on the National Emblem of the Mexican flag.
- The award is given to foreigners for their contributions to strengthening the bilateral ties between Mexico and other countries and outstanding services to the Mexican nation or humanity.
- The award was created in 1993 by the then President of Mexico, Abelardo L. Rodriguez.
- This is given to prominent heads of state or government, ambassadors after they have served in Mexico. Other important personalities who have made a major contribution in various fields, service to Mexico or its people, also receive this award.
- The award comes in five degrees – Collar, Sash of Special Category, Sash, Plaque, Venera and Insignia.
Which other Indian personality received this award?
- Consul-General of Mexico in Mumbai Rajju Shroff
- Nobel laureate Amartya Sen
- Renowned artist Satish Gujral
- Industrialist Raghupati Singhania and others
Puerto Williams becomes world’s southernmost city
- Puerto Williams, located on the southern tip of the South American continent, has been upgraded to the category of “city” by Chilean authorities, making it the world’s southernmost city.
- Earlier Ushuaia in Argentina was the southernmost city in world.
- Puerto Williams is a Chilean port, located on Isla Navarino island facing the Beagle Channel.
- It is located in the Magallanes Province of Chile.
- Founded by geopolitical reasons Puerto Luisa was its original name.
- Since foundation in 1953 it has served primarily as a naval base.
Location of Chile:
- Chile is a South American country occupying a long, narrow strip of land between the Andes to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west.
- It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far south.
- Chile also claims about 1,250,000 square kilometres of Antarctica, although all claims are suspended under the Antarctic Treaty.
- The arid Atacama Desert in northern Chile contains great mineral wealth, principally copper.