Polity & Governance
- Political Parties Registration Tracking Management System
Government Schemes & Policies
- Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana yet to gain momentum
Issues related to Health & Education
- Education aided with SATCOM in Rajasthan
- Global drop in Tobacco usage
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Controlling invasive species: Senna spectabilis
Bilateral & International Relations
- Exchange of lists of Nuclear installations and Fishermen
- Guru Govind Singh Jayanti
Art & Culture
- Sangita Kalanidhi Award 2019 awarded to S. Sowmya
Science & Technology
- ISRO keeps the hopes high for Space exploration
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Polity & Governance
Political Parties Registration Tracking Management System
Election Commission recently launched a “Political Parties Registration Tracking Management System (PPRTMS)”.
Key features of the system:
- It will allow them to track their registration applications submitted to the poll panel on a real-time basis.
- It will apply for parties registering from January 1, 2020.
- It will enable those applying for the party registration from January 1 to track the progress of their application using the system.
- The users will get status updates through SMS and e-mail.
Procedure for registration:
The registration of political parties is governed by the provisions of section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
- An association seeking registration has to submit an application to the Commission within a period of 30 days from the date of its formation as per guidelines prescribed by the Election Commission of India in exercise of the powers conferred by Article 324 of the Commission of India and Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
Government Schemes & Policies
Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana yet to gain momentum
The ambitious plan of PM Modi ‘Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana’ aimed to transform rural India by creating model villages and panchayats is moving sluggishly and has witnessed a little growth.
About Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana :
- Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY) was launched on on 11th October, 2014.
- It is a village development project under which each Member of Parliament will take the responsibility of developing physical and institutional infrastructure in three villages by 2019.
- The Ministry of Rural Development is the nodal agency of the scheme.
- The scheme is inspired by the principles and values of Mahatma Gandhi and places equal stress on nurturing values of national pride, patriotism, community spirit, self-confidence and on developing infrastructure.
SAGY aimed to:
Develop three Adarsh Grams by March 2019, of which the first village was to be achieved by 2016. Thereafter, five such Adarsh Grams (one per year) would be selected and developed by 2024.
It was envisaged to create at least one model village in each district of India, which would present an example of growth and development to the other villages nearby.
Objectives of SAGY:
- To contemplate processes which leading to holistic development of the identified Gram Panchayats.
- To substantially improve the standard of living and quality of life of all sections of the population through
- Improved basic amenities
- Higher productivity
- Enhanced human development
- Better livelihood opportunities
- Reduced disparities
- Access to rights and entitlements
- Wider social mobilization
- Enriched social capital
- To generate models of local level development and effective local governance to motivate and inspire neighbouring Gram Panchayats to learn and adapt.
- To nurture the identified Adarsh Grams as schools of local development to train other Gram Panchayats.
- To deliver quality education and quality health care including 100% immunization, 100% institutional delivery, reduced IMR, MMR, reduction in malnutrition among children
Key features of the scheme:
Village development plan: The scheme will be implemented through a village development
- Key features of the scheme:
- Village development plan: The scheme will be implemented through a village development plan that would be prepared for every identified gram panchayat with special focus on enabling every poor household to come out of poverty.
- MPLADS: The constituency fund, MPLADS, would be available to fill critical financing gaps.
- Nodal officer: The scheme is implemented through Members of Parliament (MPs) with District Collector being the nodal officer. He will conduct a monthly review meeting with representatives of the participating Line Departments. The Members of Parliament concerned will chair the review meetings.
- Unit for development: The MP would be free to identify a suitable gram panchayat for being developed as Adarsh Gram, other than his/her own village or that of his/her spouse. Gram Panchayat, which has a population of 3000-5000 in plain areas and 1000-3000 in hilly, tribal and difficult areas, would be the basic unit for development.
- Empowered Committee: At the state level there will be an Empowered Committee headed by the Chief Secretary consisting of the relevant Departments and including experts, as required with at least two Civil Society representatives.
- Technology use: Adoption and adaptation of technology and introduction of innovations are critical to this programme. This will include use of space application and remote sensing for planning, mobile based technology for monitoring, agriculture technology for increasing productivity etc.
Current Status of the scheme:
- Despite the joint strength of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha grossing 790 including nominated members, about two-thirds of the MPs are yet to select gram panchayats under Phase-4 of the scheme.
- Ever since the launch of the scheme in 2014, only 1,753 gram panchayats have been selected across four phases and till the end of December 2019, only 252 MPs have adopted gram panchayats under Phase-4 of SAGY.
This brings setback to the ambitious developmental scheme which could have set an example of growth in Rural India by providing its people with quality access to basic amenities and opportunities to enable them to shape their own destiny.[Ref: The Financial Express, Vikaspedia]
Issues related to Health & Education
Education aided with SATCOM in Rajasthan
The government in Rajasthan is using satellite communication [SATCOM] technology in a big way to enhance the learning outcome in educational institutions.
- This move is intented to generate awareness about social welfare schemes and providing quality education to the five aspirational districts selected by NITI Aayog in the State.
- The Science & Technology Department is providing the facility of receive only terminals (ROT) and satellite interactive terminals (SIT) for getting the services of subject experts in the government schools and colleges. It is aimed to propagate various schemes in the remote areas with no Internet connectivity.
- ROT will facilitate students especially studying English and Science in the government educational institutions to connect with subject expert in order to get good grades in Board exams.
- The technique would be used during the first phase in approximately 2,000 institutions in departments of education, higher education, social welfare, minority welfare, woman and child development and tribal area development.
- The facility will also be provided to all the 134 model schools, Kasturba Gandhi Girls’ Schools, Social Welfare Department’s hostels, children’s homes and students of a government college in each district.
- The institutions with the shortage of teachers will especially benefit from the geostationary satellite uplinking facilities.
- The Haj pilgrims, who were earlier required to come to Jaipur for training, would be trained at the district level through ROT and SIT installed in the government colleges.
Global drop in Tobacco usage
A recent report by World Health Organization (WHO) projects “a powerful shift in the global tobacco epidemic”.
Highlights of the report:
- The report projected a decline in the number of males using tobacco.
- The number has stopped growing and is projected to decline by more than 1 million male users in 2020 (or 1.091 billion) compared to 2018 levels, and 5 million less by 2025 (1.087 billion).
- Overall global tobacco use fell from 1.397 billion in 2000 to 1.337 billion in 2018 (around 60 million people).
- The fall was largely driven by reductions in the number of females using tobacco products with their numbers shrinking from 346 million in 2000 to 244 million in 2018.
- By 2020, there will be 10 million fewer tobacco users, male and female, compared to 2018, and another 27 million less by 2025, amounting to 1.299 billion.
- In India, which had a 44% prevalence of tobacco use (male and female combined) in 2000, this is expected to reduce almost by half to 22.3% by 2025.
- Globally, the prevalence was at 33.3% in 2000, and is projected to reach 20.9% in 2025.
- Current tobacco use rates in India in 2018 for people aged 15 years and older were higher than global rates among both males and females.
- Countries are implementing effective tobacco control measures, which are having the desired effect of reducing tobacco use.
- Tobacco taxes help in reducing tobacco consumption and health-care costs, and represent a revenue stream for financing for development in many countries.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
Controlling invasive species: Senna spectabilis
The Kerala Forest and Wildlife Department is planning to adopt steps to arrest the rampant growth of invasive plants, especially Senna spectabilis, in the forest areas of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve (NBR), including the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary.
Why this move?
- The spread of invasive plants, especially Senna spectabilis, is posing a major threat to the forest areas of the reserve, owing to its quick growth and coppicing character.
- The thick foliage arrests the growth of other indigenous tree and grass species and causes food shortage for the wildlife population, especially herbivores.
- The plant has started to invade the adjacent Bandipur and Nagarhole tiger reserves in Karnataka and the Mudumalai tiger reserve in Tamil Nadu.
- The vayal ecosystem (marshy land) of the forest area now has this plant in large numbers.
- The allelochemicals produced by this plant adversely affect the germination and growth of the native species.
The physical method used to tackle the issue for the past five years did not fetch any desired effect. Hence, the government is planning to adopt an integrated method combining physical as well as chemical measures to address the issue.
About Senna spectabilis:
- Senna spectabilis is a plant species of the legume family native to South and Central America.
- An adult tree grows up to 15 to 20 metres in a short period of time and every year distributes thousands of seeds after gregarious flowering.
- They are often grown as an ornamental trees in front yards, parks, gardens, buildings etc. due to their bright yellow flowers that bloom during the summer months.
About Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve:
- The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve is an International Biosphere Reserve in the Western Ghats and Nilgiri Hills ranges of South India.
- The Nilgiri Sub-Cluster is a part of the Western Ghats, which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2012.
- It includes the Aralam, Mudumalai, Mukurthi, Nagarhole, Bandipur and Silent Valley national parks, as well as the Wayanad and Sathyamangalam wildlife sanctuaries.
- The ecosystem of the hill ranges of Nilgiris and its surroundings covering a tract of over 5000 sq km was constituted as Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in September 1986 under Man and Biosphere Programme.
- Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve is India’s first and foremost biosphere reserves with a heritage, rich in flora and fauna.
- It is home to the native tribal groups like the Todas, Kotas, Irullas, Kurumbas, Paniyas, Adiyans, Edanadan Chettis, Allar, Malayan, etc.
About Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary:
- Wayanad wildlife sanctuary is located in Kerala.
- It is bounded by protected area network of Nagarhole and Bandipur of Karnataka in the northeast, and on the southeast by Mudumalai of Tamil Nadu.
- It is a part of Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve.
- It was from this sanctuary that Pazhassi Raja fought valiantly against the British.
- Established in 1973, it is the second largest wildlife sanctuary in Kerala State. It comes under the Project Elephant jurisdiction in 1992 to protect wild elephant populations.
- The flora in the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary have the typical South Indian moist deciduous forests and West Coast semi-evergreen forests and plantations of teak, eucalyptus and oak.
- It has 4 forest ranges: Muthanga, Tholpetty, Kurichyad and Sulthan Bathery.
Bilateral & International Relations
Exchange of lists of Nuclear installations and Fishermen
India and Pakistan on 1 Jan exchanged for the 29th consecutive year a list of their nuclear installations under the agreement on the Prohibition of Attack against Nuclear installations between India and Pakistan.
- The two countries also exchanged details of civilian prisoners and fishermen lodged in each other’s jails.
About Agreement on the Prohibition of Attack against Nuclear installations:
- The agreement between India and Pakistan was signed on December 31, 1988 and came into force on January 27, 1991.
- It mandates the countries to inform each other of nuclear installations and facilities covered under the agreement on January 1 of every calendar year.
- The agreement prohibits the countries from attacking each other’s atomic facilities.
- The treaty aims at the reduction (or limitation) of nuclear arms and pledged not to attack or assist foreign powers to attack on each other’s nuclear installations and facilities.
- The treaty was drafted in 1988, and signed by the Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and her Indian counterparts, Rajiv Gandhi in 1988; it entered into force on January 1991.
- The treaty barred its signatories to carry out a surprise attack (or to assist foreign power to attack) on each other’s nuclear installations and facilities.
- Starting in January 1992, India and Pakistan have annually exchanged lists of their respective civilian nuclear-related facilities.
Lists of prisoners and fishermen:
- In accordance with the provisions of 2008 agreement, the two countries exchange lists of prisoners and fishermen on January 1 and July 1 every year.
- India has called for early release and repatriation of civilian prisoners, missing Indian defence personnel and fishermen along with their boats.
- To address the humanitarian issues with respect to elderly, women and mentally unsound prisoners, India shared the details of the reconstituted Joint Judicial Committee and the team of Indian medical experts to visit Pakistan to meet the prisoners.
Significance of the agreement:
- The need for the agreement had been felt against the backdrop of Israel’s 1981 bombing of Iraq’s Osirak reactor near Baghdad. The strike, carried out by Israeli fighter jets over hostile airspace, had set Iraq’s nuclear weapons programme significantly.
Key facts: What is Operation Brasstacks?
- Operation Brasstacks was a codename of a major military exercise of the Indian Army in Rajasthan state of India, that took place in 1986 until its execution in 1987.
Guru Govind Singh Jayanti
Guru Govind Singh Jayanti was celebrated across the world on 2nd January 2020 to honour the birth anniversary of the tenth Sikh guru.
About Guru Govind Singh:
- Guru Gobind Singh became the 10th Sikh Guru at the age of Nine.
- He was a spiritual master, warrior, poet and philosopher.
- He was born in Patna, Bihar on 22nd December 1666 according to the Julian calendar to Ninth Sikh Guru Teg Bahadur and Mata Gujri.
- His birth falls in the Saptami Tithi during Shukla Paksha in the month of Poh (Paush) according to the Nanakshahi calendar. The annual celebration of the Guru’s birthday is based on the Nanakshahi calendar.
His Significant developments in Sikhism:
- He declared the Holy Scripture of Sikh community Shri Guru Granth Sahib as the permanent Sikh Guru after him in 1708.
- He established the Khalsa at the Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib near Anandpur, in Punjab.
- The Khalsa followed a strict moral code and spiritual discipline and the followers of Khalsa must abide by four rules:
- Not to disturb the natural growth of the hair
- No eating meat slaughtered in ‘halal’
- Not cohabiting with people from different castes
- No use of tobacco
- He initiated the Five K’s tradition of the Khalsa, the five articles of faith that Khalsa Sikhs wear at all times:
Kesh: uncut hair
Kangha: a wooden comb
Kara: an iron or steel bracelet worn on the wrist
Kirpan: a sword or dagger
Kacchera: short breeches
- He stood against the Mughal Rulers and fought against injustice inflicted by them. In 1688, Guru Gobind Singh fought the Battle of Bhangani against an allied force of Bhim Chand, Garwal king Fateh Khan and other local kings of the Sivalik Hills. The Guru came out victorious. A description of the battle can be found in Bichitra Natak or Bachittar Natak, a part of the Dasham Granth, which is a religious text attributed to Guru Gobind Singh.
- After repeated conflicts with Garwali and Mughal leaders, Guru Gobind Singh wrote a letter to Aurangzeb in Persian, which was later famously named as Zafarnama or the Epistle of Victory, reminding him of the misdeed the Mughals had done to the Sikhs. He fought against the Mughals later in battle of Muktsar in 1705.
- Guru Gobind Singh selected the five Sikh volunteers after a test and they were named as Panj Pyaare or ‘five beloved ones’. They were Daya Ram, Dharam Das, Himmat Rai, Mohkam Chand and Sahib Chand. They were the first Sikhs.
Guru Gobind Singh succumbed to his injuries on October 7, 1708 in Nanded inflicted by an assassin.[Ref: Indian Express, Scroll]
Art & Culture
Sangita Kalanidhi Award 2019 awarded to S. Sowmya
- Noted vocalist Sowmya has been chosen for the Sangita Kalanidhi award of the Madras Music Academy (MMA).
- She is a high-calibre vocalist and noted Carnatic singe having an intellectual approach towards Carnatic music.
- She is the youngest musician to receive the coveted award in recent times after Sanjay Subramaniam.
- Sangita Kala Acharya awards will go to vocalists Seetha Narayanan and M.S. Sheela.
Sangita Kalanidhi Award:
- It is prestigious award bestowed annually upon expert of Carnatic Music by Madras Music Academy (MMA).
- The award’s name has been derived from Sanskrit which means treasure of Music and art in English.
- This honour is considered one of the highest awards in Carnatic music.
- MMA came into existence in 1942 and plays an important role in promoting Carnatic Music.
[Ref: The Hindu]
Science & Technology
ISRO keeps the hopes high for Space exploration
According to the ISRO’s chief K Sivan, the Four men from the Indian Air Force have been selected to undergo training for India’s first human spaceflight mission ‘Gaganyan’.
- He declared 2020 as the year of Gaganyaan and Chandrayaan-3.
Missions in brief:
- Gaganyan will be India’s first manned space mission with an estimated buget of ₹10,000-crore.
- India is planning to send three to seven humans (Gaganyatris) into space i.e. in the low earth orbit (LEO) by 2022 for a period of five to seven days.
- The crewed vehicle is planned to be launched on ISRO’s GSLV Mk III.
- The astronauts will conduct experiments on microgravity in space.
- India will be fourth nation in the world after USA, Russia and China to launch human spaceflight mission.
- The Chandrayaan mission was launched in October 2008 and actively operated until August 2009.
- The mission included a lunar orbiter and an impactor.
- It was launched using the PSLV-XL rocket from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre located in Sriharikota.
- Chandrayaan 2:
- Chandrayaan 2 mission was a ₹1000-crore ambitious mission of NASA to explore the South Pole of Moon.
- It was launched on 22 July 2019 and was expected to have soft landing on the moon on Sep 7, 2019.
- It suffered partial failure after its communication was lost with mission’s lander (Vikram) and rover (Pragyan) due to hard landing over the surface of moon.
- The South Pole region of Moon is still unexplored, has craters that are cold traps and contain a fossil record of the early Solar System.
- Chandrayaan 3:
- It extends the mission of NASA to explore the South Pole of Moon after Chandrayaan 2.
- The launch of the nearly ₹600-crore Chandrayaan-3 is targeted for the end of 2020 or early 2021.
- Chandrayaan 3 will have lander and rover and will not feature an orbiter of its own.
ISRO’s second launch port:
The Tamil Nadu government has started acquiring 2,300 acres of land in Thoothukudi district for ISRO’s second launch port.[Ref: The Hindu, India Today]
Key Facts for Prelims
Mobile Aided Note Identifier (MANI) app
- The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) launched a mobile app- Mobile Aided Note Identifier (MANI) to identify currency notes with an eye to aid the differently-abled people.
- The visually challenged can identify the denomination of a note by using the application,.
- The application can also work offline once it is installed.
- Users can download MANI and will have to scan the notes using the camera, and the audio output will give the results in Hindi and English.