Polity & Governance
- Food Regulatory Portal and “Nivesh Bandhu” Portal launched
Government Schemes & Policies
- Deen Dayal SPARSH Yojana launched to promote philately
- Goa ranks top, Bihar at bottom of Gender Vulnerability Index
- Scope of Coastal Berth Scheme expanded
Defence & Security Issues
- India successfully tests glide bomb
Art & Culture
- Srirangam temple wins UNESCO award for cultural heritage conservation
Science & Technology
- New genetic variant of existing dengue virus identified in south India
Key Facts for Prelims
- Hindi writer Krishna Sobti chosen for Jnanpith Award
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Polity & Governance
Food Regulatory Portal and “Nivesh Bandhu” Portal launched
Union Government announced the launch of the Food Regulatory Portal and Investor Facilitation Portal “Nivesh Bandhu”.
‘Food Regulatory Portal’
- It was jointly launched by Ministry of Food Processing and Industries (MoFPI) and Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).
- It a single interface for food businesses to cater to both domestic operations and food imports.
- The portal focuses on six key areas food standards, consistent enforcement, hassle free food imports, credible food testing and codified food safety practices of food sector.
- Food Regulatory Portal will be a game changer for effective and transparent implementation of the food safety laws in the country.
- The portal is strategically aligned with Union Government’s mission of One Nation, One Food Law to create an enabling environment for businesses to operate.
- Investor Facilitation Portal “Nivesh Bandhu” will assist investors to make informed investment decisions.
- It will provide information on Central and State Governments’ investor friendly policies, agro-producing clusters, infrastructure, and potential areas of investment in the food processing sector.
Government Schemes & Policies
Deen Dayal SPARSH Yojana launched to promote philately
The Union government launched Deen Dayal SPARSH Yojana, a scholarship program for school children to increase the reach of Philately.
What is Philately?
- Philately is the hobby of collection and study of postage stamps.
- It also entails the collection, appreciation and research activities on stamps and other related philatelic products.
- The hobby of collecting stamps includes seeking, locating, acquiring, organising, cataloguing, displaying, storing, and maintaining the stamps or related products on thematic areas.
- Stamp collection also teaches a lot about the socio economic political reality of the period in which the stamp is issued or the theme on which it is issued.
About the Deen Dayal SPARSH Yojana:
Under the scheme of SPARSH (Scholarship for Promotion of Aptitude & Research in Stamps as a Hobby), annual scholarships will be awarded to student of class VI to IX having good academic record and also pursuing Philately as a hobby.
- The government has proposed to award 920 scholarships to students pursuing Philately as a hobby.
- Every Postal Circle will select a maximum of 40 scholarships representing 10 students each from class VI, VII, VIII and IX.
- The amount of scholarship will be Rs 6,000 per annum.
- At the time of selection for award scholarship, the candidate must have scored at least 60 per cent marks or equivalent grade/grade point in the recent final examination. There will be 5 per cent relaxation for SC/ST.
- To avail the scholarship, a child must be a student of a recognised school within India and the concerned school should have a Philately Club. The concerned student should be a member of the Club.
- In the case of school Philately Club not being established, a student having his own Philately Deposit Account will also be considered.
- Selections under the scheme would be on the basis of evaluation of project work on Philately and performance in Philately Quiz conducted by the Circles.
- Selections to the scholarship would be for one year and there would be no bar on an already selected student applying for the scholarship next year provided he/she fulfills other criterion.
Goa ranks top, Bihar at bottom of Gender Vulnerability Index
According to the findings of the first-ever Gender Vulnerability Index (GVI), the safest state to be a woman in India is Goa, followed by Kerala, Mizoram, Sikkim and Manipur.
About the index:
- The GVI was conducted for the first time by Child development NGO Plan India and released by the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
- The composite index has been developed after analysing the situation of girls and women in the country on the basis of four important dimensions – Health, Education, Protection and Poverty.
- It will be useful in understanding the situation in states, as it ranks each state in every dimension of gender vulnerability.
Highlights of the report:
- States where women and girls are the most vulnerable are Bihar, Jharkhand, UP and Delhi.
- Kerala ranks second primarily for its achievements in the area of health.
- At the bottom of the table is Bihar where women and girls being the most vulnerable, less healthy and poorer among the 30 states.
- Delhi pulled down by its poor track record in education and protection, with the former ranked worst.
Scope of Coastal Berth Scheme expanded
The Ministry of Shipping, after due appraisal in consultation with NITI Aayog and Department of Expenditure, has extended the period of the Coastal Berth Scheme of the flagship Sagarmala Programme for three years, upto 31st March, 2020.
- The ministry has also expanded its scope to cover capital dredging at Major Ports and preparation of DPR (detailed project report) for coastal berth project, in Oct 2017.
About the Coastal Berth Scheme:
The Coastal Berth Scheme aims to provide financial assistance to ports or states in order to create infrastructure for movement of cargo and passengers either by sea or national waterways.
- The admissible financial assistance from Central Government is 50% of the total cost of the project.
- The balance expenditure has to be incurred by the respective ports/concerned State Government from their own resources.
- The financial assistance will also be provided for the preparation of DPRs for the projects to be considered under this scheme.
- The projects under Coastal Berth Scheme of Sagarmala programme are distributed over eight states with the highest number of 12 projects in Maharashtra. Other states include Andhra Pradesh (10), Goa (10), Karnataka (6), Kerala (3), Tamil Nadu (3), Gujarat (2) and West Bengal (1).
Significance of the scheme:
- India has high potential to use coastal shipping for its internal cargo movement given its 7500 kms long coastline.
- Once completed, the projects will help to promote coastal shipping and increase its share in domestic cargo movement in India.
- Better infrastructure for coastal shipping will decongest rail and road network besides ensuring cost competitive and effective multi-modal transportation solution.
About Sagarmala port project:
- The Sagarmala project seeks to develop a string of ports around India’s coast.
- The objective of this initiative is to promote “Port-led development” along India’s 7500 km long coastline.
- The Union Ministry of Shipping has been appointed as the nodal ministry for this initiative.
- The project aims to develop access to new development regions with intermodal solutions and promotion of the optimum modal split, enhanced connectivity with main economic centres and beyond through expansion of rail, inland water, coastal and road services.
Defence & Security Issues
India successfully tests glide bomb
Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the Indian Air Force (IAF) successfully tested an indigenously-built lightweight glide bomb Smart Anti Airfield Weapon (SAAW).
- It was test-fired from the Integrated Test Range in Odisha’s Chandipur.
- SAAW will be inducted soon into the Armed Forces.
- As many as three test-fires were conducted with different release conditions and ranges.
About SAAW bomb:
- The SAAW project was sanctioned in September 2013.
- The SAAW is a long-range precision-guided anti-airfield weapon, designed to be capable of engaging ground targets with high precision out to a range of 100 km.
- The bomb has been developed by the DRDO’s Research Centre Imarat (RCI) in collaboration with DRDO’s other laboratories and IAF.
Significance of SAAW:
- SAAW can be used to destroy bunkers, runways, aircraft hangers and other reinforced structures.
- SAAW’s deep penetration capabilities and high explosive warhead carrying capacity will allow Indian Air Force (IAF) to easily hit targets across border without putting pilot and aircraft at risk.
- It can be integrated into the varied types of fighter jets with the IAF.
Art & Culture
Srirangam temple wins UNESCO award for cultural heritage conservation
The Sri Ranganathaswamy temple at Srirangam has won the UNESCO Asia Pacific Award of Merit 2017 for protecting and conserving cultural heritage.
- With this, it becomes the first temple from Tamil Nadu to grab the prestigious honour from the UN body.
What factors helped to earn the award?
Two key parameters that earned the temple the award:
- The traditional method of renovating temple premises
- Re-establishment of rainwater harvesting and the historic drainage system in preventing flooding
The massive renovation and restoration effort was executed through the public-private partnership model.
UNESCO Asia-Pacific awards for cultural heritage conservation programme:
- The awards were launched in 2000 by UNESCO for cultural heritage conservation programme.
- They are given under four categories– Award of Excellence, Awards of Distinction, Awards of Merit and Award for New Design in Heritage Context.
- These awards aim at acknowledging efforts taken to restore and conserve historical structures without affecting their heritage value in region comprising 48 countries.
- They are being given to encourage the efforts of all stakeholders and the public in conserving and promoting monuments and religious institutes with rich heritage in the Asia-Pacific region.
- Mumbai’s Christ Church and Royal Bombay Opera House were the other monuments in India that received the Award of Merit this year.
About Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple:
It is a Hindu temple dedicated to Ranganatha, a reclining form of the Hindu deity Vishnu.
- It is located in Srirangam, Tiruchirapalli, Tamil Nadu.
- It is constructed in the Tamil or Dravidian style of temple architecture.
- It has been mentioned Tamil literature as early as Sangam era.
- The temple is glorified in the Thiviya Pirabandham, the early medieval Tamil literature canon of the Alvar saints from the 6th to 9th centuries AD.
- It is counted among the 108 Divya Desams dedicated to Vishnu.
- The temple follows Thenkalai tradition of worship.
- The temple lies on an islet formed by the twin rivers Cauvery and Coleroon.
- Its location, on an island in Cauvery river, has rendered it vulnerable to natural disasters as well as the rampaging of invading armies – Muslim and European – which repeatedly commandeered the site for military encampment.
- The main entrance is known as the Rajagopuram (the royal temple tower).
- The annual 21-day festival conducted during the Tamil month of Margazhi (December–January) attracts 1 million visitors.
- It is the largest temple in India and one of the largest religious complexes in the world.
Science & Technology
New genetic variant of existing dengue virus identified in south India
Scientists at the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune have spotted a new genetic variant of the existing dengue virus in Tamil Nadu.
- The new virus discovered is of an Asian genotype (genetic structure) that caused severe epidemics in Singapore in 2005 and Sri Lanka in 2009.
- The mosquito-borne virus has earlier also been responsible for the outbreak in Tamil Nadu and Kerala in the years 2012 and 2013 respectively.
- The Asian (GI) genotype of DENV-1 has entered India from Singapore.
- This finding, however, hasn’t replaced the old American-African genotype DENV-1, which has been in circulation in India since the 1940s.
Types of dengue viruses found in India
- Currently there are 4 types of dengue viruses that are found in India comprises four distinct serotypes (DEN-1, DEN-2, DEN-3 and DEN-4) which belong to the genus Flavivirus, family Flaviviridae.
About National Institute of Virology (NIV):
- It is the apex body for virology research in the country under the Indian Council of Medical Research.
Key Facts for Prelims
Hindi writer Krishna Sobti chosen for Jnanpith Award
- Noted writer of Hindi literatureKrishna Sobti was awarded the 53rd Jnanpith Award for the year 2017 for her path-breaking contribution to Indian literature.
- She will be overall eight women to win this prestigious award.
- The award carries cash prize of 11 lakh rupees, a citation plaque and a bronze replica of Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of knowledge and wisdom.
- Instituted in 1961, Jnanpith Award is India’s highest literary award.
- It is bestowed upon any Indian citizen who writes in any 22 official languages of India mentioned in VIII Schedule of Constitution of India and English.