Current Affairs Analysis

4th October 2019 Current Affairs Analysis -IASToppers

The Lord as a juristic person; National Health Systems Resource Centre (NHSRC); Free Drugs & Diagnostics Service Initiative; Pneumoconiosis; Pneumoconiosis Fund; District Mineral Foundation (DMF); Pradhan Mantri Khanij Kshetra Kalyan Yojana (PMKKKY); Deep Carbon Observatory; Singapore’s Controversial ‘Fake News’ Law; Vayoshreshtha Samman; International Day of Older Persons; Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing; Exercise Ekuverin; Dhivehi language; Exercise Nomadic Elephant –XIV; Delhi-Katra Vande Bharat Express; Vande Bharat Express; 'PRAKASH' portal; Bandipur Tiger Reserve; Elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV); etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
October 04, 2019


Polity & Governance

  • Rajasthan to create pneumoconiosis fund with DMF money
  • NHSRC to be WHO collaborating centre for medical devices
  • The Lord as a juristic person: What legal rights do deities enjoy?

Issues related to Health & Education

  • What is the disease that killed 5 elephants in Odisha?
  • Tamil Nadu government wins Vayoshreshtha Samman for services to elders Indian President
  • International Day of Older Persons

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • Why Wayanad is protesting permanent closure of highway through Bandipur Tiger Reserve
  • Humans pollute more than volcanoes: study

Bilateral & International Relations

  • Singapore’s Controversial ‘Fake News’ Law Comes into Effect

Defence & Security Issues

  • Indo Maldives joint Ex Ekuverin – 19 at Aundh Mil Stn, Pune
  • Curtain raiser: Indo-Mongolian Joint Exercise Nomadic Elephant 2019

Key Facts for Prelims

  • Delhi-Katra Vande Bharat Express launched today by Amit Shah
  • Govt launches portal for improving coal supply coordination to power plants

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Polity & Governance

Rajasthan to create pneumoconiosis fund with DMF money

Rajasthan has announced the creation of a Pneumoconiosis Fund, which will be majorly financed by money from the District Mineral Foundation (DMF).


What is Pneumoconiosis?

  • Pneumoconiosis is a lung disease.
  • It mostly affects workers who work in the mining and construction sectors and deal with soil, silica, coal dust and asbestos.
  • The disease includes asbestosis, silicosis and coal workers’ pneumoconiosis.

About the Pneumoconiosis Fund

  • This Fund will be used to finance a comprehensive silicosis policy for mining workers released by the Rajasthan government in October, 2019.
  • The aim of the silicosis policy for mining workers is to streamline the strategy to deal with pneumoconiosis.


  • The Fund will be operating under Rajasthan’s Social Justice and Empowerment Department.
  • It will include pension for patients and their families after the patient’s death and their inclusion in the state’s social security schemes, which will be over and above the compensation paid.


  • Rajasthan has the highest mine leases (33,000) in India. Most of these are sandstone mines and quarries.
  • It is also the state with a high prevalence of pneumoconiosis, including silicosis. The number of deaths due to silicosis had increased in Rajasthan from 1 in 2013-14 to 235 in 2016-17.
  • DMF funds were already being used at the district level in Rajasthan for compensation to silicosis patients. However, permissions from the governing body were required each time a case had to be added. Also, there are other districts where DMF funds are not available.


  • Earlier, the Rajasthan government was just providing a compensation of Rs 4 lakh to the silicosis patient, of which Rs 1 lakh was paid to him / her and Rs 3 lakh to the family after the patient’s death through the Rajasthan Environmental Health Administration Board (REHAB).
  • After DMF, REHAB was discontinued. The compensation was revised to Rs 5 lakh (Rs 2 lakh to the patient and Rs 3 lakh to the family after the patient’s death).
  • DMF will also bring in convergence of other available funds such as Building and Other Construction Workers (BOCW) Welfare Fund, the state budget, and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

District Mineral Foundation (DMF)


  • District Mineral Foundations (DMFs) are statutory bodies in India established by the State Governments.
  • DMF has been instituted as a non-profit Trust under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2015.
  • It aims to work for the interest and benefit of persons and areas affected by mining-related operations.
  • For this, miners and mining companies are required to pay to the DMFof the district in which they are operating. In case of all mining leases executed before 12th January, 2015 (the date of coming into force of the Amendment Act) miners have to contribute an amount equal to 30% of the royalty payable by them to the DMFs. Where mining leases are granted after that date, the rate of contribution would be 10% of the royalty payable.
  • DMF Rules of various state governments is guided by three laws: Article 244 read with Fifth and Sixth Schedules of the Constitution of India, the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act (PESA), 1996, and the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006.

Pradhan Mantri Khanij Kshetra Kalyan Yojana (PMKKKY)


  • In 2015, the Union government announced the launch of the Pradhan Mantri Khanij Kshetra Kalyan Yojana (PMKKKY).
  • It is a programme meant to provide for the welfare of areas and people affected by mining related operations,using the funds generated by District Mineral Foundations (DMFs).

Objective of PMKKKY


  • To implement various developmental projects in mining affected area
  • To minimize/mitigate the adverse impacts on the environment, health and socio-economics of people in mining districts
  • To ensure long – term sustainable livelihoods for the affected people in mining area


  • The Pradhan Mantri Khanij Kshetra Kalyan Yojana (PMKKKY) will be implemented by the District Mineral Foundations (DMFs) of the respective districts using the funds accruing to the DMF.

Utilisation of Funds

High priority areas – at least 60% of PMKKKY funds to be utilized under following heads

  • Drinking water supply
  • Environment preservation and pollution control measures
  • Health care
  • Education
  • Welfare of Women and Children
  • Skill development
  • Sanitation

These are some “high priority” issues for DMFs stipulated in various state DMF rules and the Pradhan Mantri Khanij Khestra Kalyan Yojana (PMKKKY) guidelines.

Other priority Areas – Up to 40% of the PMKKKY to be utilized under following heads

  • Physical infrastructure like roads, bridges, railways etc.
  • Irrigation
  • Energy and Watershed Development
  • Any other measures for enhancing environmental quality in mining district.
[Ref: Down To Earth]


NHSRC to be WHO collaborating centre for medical devices

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), has announced the re-designation of the National Health Systems Resource Centre (NHSRC) as the WHO Collaborating Centre for Priority Medical Devices and Health Technology Policy.


Mandate of Division of Healthcare Technology at NHSRC

  • Draw up technical specifications for technologies procured under the National Health Mission
  • Draft policies for medical device maintenance and management
  • Undertake evaluations of health product innovations
  • Conduct Health Technology Assessments (HTA)
  • Support the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on issues related to diagnostics initiative, National Dialysis Programme and other technology intensive services

WHO and NHSRC collaboration

  • In 2019, in collaboration with WHO, NHSRC developed a guidance document for the Ministry of Health’s free diagnostics initiative to further strengthen the agenda of universal access to affordable diagnostics.
  • NHSRC also works with WHO on development of technical specification of blood pressure measuring devices, In vitro diagnostics and devices for cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
  • Future collaboration includes work on International Classification and Nomenclature for Medical Devices, which would improve access to affordable health technologies.
  • In the past, NHSRC as a collaborating centre has supported WHO in formulating technical specifications for medical devices such as oxygen concentrators and resuscitation devices.

About National Health Systems Resource Centre (NHSRC)


  • National Health Systems Resource Centre (NHSRC) has been set up under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) to serve as an Apex body for technical assistance.
  • Established in 2006, its mandate is to improve health outcomes by facilitating governance reform, health systems innovations and improved information sharing.
  • The NHSRC currently consists of seven divisions – Community Processes, Public Health Planning, Human Resources for Health, Quality Improvement in Healthcare, Financing of Healthcare, Health Informatics and Public Health Administration.
  • The NHSRC has a regional office named North East Regional Resource Centre (NE RRC).


  • It has a 23-member Governing Body, chaired by the Secretary, MoHFW, Government of India with the Mission Director, NRHM as the Vice Chairperson.
  • Of the 23 members, 14 are ex-officio senior health administrators, including four from the states. Nine are public health experts, from academics and Management Experts.

About Free Drugs & Diagnostics Service Initiative

  • In the union budget 2014-15, the Government announced that two key initiatives i.e. Free Drug Service and Free Diagnosis Service. Both initiatives are part of National Health Mission.
  • Under this initiative, support is provided for provision of essential drugs free of cost in public health facilities.
  • The support is not only for drugs but also for strengthening/setting up robust systems of procurement, quality assurance, IT backed supply chain management systems like Drugs and Vaccines Distribution Management Systems (DVDMS) etc.

Three components under the umbrella of the Free Diagnostics Service Initiative are:

  • Essential Pathology Initiative: To assure every patient get a range of diagnostic packages free of cost.
  • Tele-radiology initiative: Lack of specialist clinicians especially radiologists have been a major challenge. Hence, a model has been devised under which digitized X-Ray films are transmitted to service provider and reports are received within a stipulated time frame.
  • CT scan Services at District Hospital: Since CT is an expensive test and many districts in India do not have a single CT facility, this initiative is of great value.

Priority medical devices project

  • In 2007 the World Health Organization (WHO), in collaboration with the Government of the Netherlands, launched the Priority Medical Devices (PMD) project.


  • It aims to determine whether medical devices currently on the market were meeting the needs of health care providers and end-users and if not, to propose research to identify inadequacies.
  • It identifies gaps in the availability of preventive, diagnostic, therapeutic and assistive medical devices on the market.
[Ref: The Hindu]


The Lord as a juristic person: What legal rights do deities enjoy?

Among the parties in the Ayodhya title suit appeals now being heard by the Supreme Court is Lord Ram himself represented by a former judge of Allahabad High Court. The other Hindu’ party in the case, after initially arguing for the dismissal of the Lord’s plea, told the court that it would not press the issue of maintainability of Suit Number 5 of 1989 (filed by former judge of Allahabad High Court).

Lord Ram

God as a juristic person

  • A juristic person, as opposed to a human being, is an entity whom the law vests with a personality. In other words, a juristic entity/person is one in whom the law reposes rights or duties in its own name.
  • Hence, deities at Hindu places of worship have been treated like other real persons for the purpose of law.
  • However, not every deity is a legal person. This status is given to an idol only after its public consecration, or pran pratishtha.
  • The treatment of deities as juristic persons started under the British. Temples owned huge land and resources, and British administrators held that the legal owner of the wealth was the deity, with a shebait or manager acting as trustee.

Rights deities have:

  • Own property.
  • Pay taxes
  • Sue and being sued.
  • Do not have fundamental rights or other constitutional rights (Sabarimala case).

Relevant cases

  • In Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee vs Som Nath Dass and Others (2000), the Supreme Court said: It is not an individual natural person but an artificially created person which is to be recognised to be in law as such. Gods, corporations, rivers, and animals, have all been treated as juristic persons by courts.
  • In 1887, the Bombay High Court held in the Dakor Temple case that Hindu idol is a juridical subject and gave the status of a legal person.
  • This was reinforced in the 1921 order in Vidya Varuthi Thirtha vs Balusami Ayyar, where the court said that under the Hindu law, the image of a deity is a ‘juristic entity’, vested with the capacity of receiving gifts and holding property.
  • In Yogendra Nath Naskar vs Commissioner of Income-Tax (1969), the Supreme Court said that not all idols that will qualify for being ‘juristic person’ but only when it is consecrated and installed at a public place for the public at large.

The rights deities have

  • In the Sabarimala case, one of the arguments presented against allowing women of menstruating age entry into the temple was that this would violate the right to privacy of Lord Ayyappa, who is eternally celibate.
  • However, the supreme court in this case said that because a deity has been granted limited rights under statutory law does not mean that the deity necessarily has constitutional rights.

Shebait as Representative of God

  • Generally, the shebait is the temple priest, or the trust or individuals managing the temple.
  • In the 2010 Allahabad judgment in the Ayodhya case, court said that a Shebait or manager is appointed to act on behalf of an idol.
  • In Bishwanath vs Thakur Radhaballabhji (1967), the Supreme Court said that if a shebait does not discharge their duties properly, a devotee can move court as friend of the deity.

Other than Hinduism

  • A Mosque or Church has never been held as a juristic person, because it’s a place where people gather to worship; it is not an object of worship itself.

Not just deities

  • In May, the Punjab and Haryana High Court held that the entire animal kingdom has a distinct legal persona with corresponding rights, duties, and liabilities of a living person.
  • In 2017, the Uttarakhand High Court declared that the Ganga and Yamuna would be legally treated as living people and enjoy all corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a living person. However, the order was stayed by the Supreme Court as it raised several legal questions.
[Ref: Indian Express]


Issues related to Health & Education

What is the disease that killed 5 elephants in Odisha?

Since The middle of August, a rare disease caused by EEHV has killed five elephants in Chandaka forest of Odisha. The diagnostic detection of active EEHV infections was carried out at the Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI) in Bareilly.


About Elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV)

  • EEHVs is a type of herpesvirus that can cause a highly fatal haemorrhagic disease in young Asian elephants.
  • When EEHV is triggered, the elephant dies of massive internal bleeding and symptoms which are hardly visible.


  • It is lethal for young elephants between the ages of one and 12. If a young elephant dies before reproducing, it affects the population of the species as a whole in the concerned geography.
  • There is no true cure for herpesviruses in animals or in humans.
  • The disease is usually fatal, with a short course of 28-35 hours.

Way forward

  • An Asian elephant calf’s was recovered after falling ill due to EEHV in UK raised new hope.
  • In India, the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) of India will set up a national committee of scientists to develop protocols for the country if an EEHV outbreak occurs elsewhere in the future. One of the aims will be to develop a detection centre in Odisha. Currently, it can only be done in Guwahati and IVRI.
[Ref: Indian Express]


Tamil Nadu government wins Vayoshreshtha Samman for services to elders Indian President

Indian President conferred “Vayoshreshtha Samman 2019 upon Tamil Nadu government in recognition of its programmes to senior citizens through various programmes.


Why did Tamilnadu won the award?

  • Tamil Nadu government won the best state award for implementing Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 and providing services and facilities to senior citizens.
  • It introduced social security pension schemes in 1962. Now the scheme is being implemented under Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme.
  • Separate geriatric wards are functioning in all district hospitals and medical officers visit old age homes every month.
  • It has also started integrated complex for special homes for senior citizens and destitute children in two rural blocks in every districts.

About Vayoshreshtha Samman


  • Vayoshreshtha awards are instituted by the Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry.
  • It is presented as part of the celebration of the International Day of Older Persons on 1st October.
  • It was upgraded to the status of National Awards in 2013.
  • The award is for institutions involved in rendering distinguished service for the cause of elderly persons especially indigent senior citizens and to eminent citizens in recognition of their service/achievements.
[Ref: PIB]


International Day of Older Persons

Between 2015 and 2030, the number of older persons worldwide is set to increase by 56 per cent, from 901 million to more than 1.4 billion. By 2030, the number of people aged 60 and above will exceed that of young people aged 15 to 24.


About International Day of Older Persons

  • In 1990, the United Nations General Assembly designated 1 October the International Day of Older Persons (UNIDOP), which seeks to promote an age inclusive agenda.

Theme for 2019


  • The theme of the 2019 commemoration is “The Journey to Age Equality “.
  • The 2019 theme is aligned with Sustainable Development Goal 10. SDG 10 aims to ensure equal opportunity and reduce inequalities of outcome including through measures to eliminate discrimination, and to empower the inclusion of all.

The Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing

  • The Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing and the Political Declaration adopted at the Second World Assembly on Ageing in 2002 reaffirmed the commitment to the protection of human rights, and called for the elimination of age discrimination, neglect, abuse and violence.

It has three priority areas:

  • Older persons and development (in particular social protection);
  • Advancing health and well-being into old age; and
  • Ensuring enabling and supportive environments.
[Ref: Indian Express]


Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

Why Wayanad is protesting permanent closure of highway through Bandipur Tiger Reserve

Over the last one week, Kerala’s Wayanad district has witnessed a series of protests against a ban on night traffic on the forest stretch of NH 766, a key highway between Karnataka and Kerala that passes through the Bandipur Tiger Reserve in Karnataka.




  • In August 2009, the Chamarajanagar district, Karnataka banned night traffic on NH 766 which passes through the Bandipur Tiger Reserve due to large number of animals being hit by vehicles at night.
  • Moreover, it was found that night traffic was affecting behaviour biology such as breeding and parental care of animals, disrupt their life cycle and make them stray to human habitats.
  • Hence, using the central Motor Vehicle Act, the district administration banned traffic in night.

Protests after the ban

  • After the ban, transport operators petitioned the Chamarajanagar Deputy Commissioner, who lifted the ban.
  • As a result, conservationists went to the Karnataka High Court, which reinstated the ban. Hence, in 2010, the court upheld the night traffic ban by pointing to an alternative road.
  • The Kerala government moved a special leave petition in the Supreme Court as the alternative route increases the distance by 35 km. However, the issue remained inconclusive despite discussions between the states.
  • Recently, the Supreme Court upheld the night traffic ban, which was supported by Karnataka and Tamil Nadu while Kerala wanted it lifted to save a
  • The court asked the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to upgrade the alternative road and sought the Centre’s opinion on closing down NH 766 permanently.

Has the night ban met its objective?

  • Before the ban, the road has 100 animal deaths in accidents, but after night ban, it has come down to five to ten.

About Bandipur Tiger Reserve


  • Bandipur National Park is located in Chamarajanagar district, Karnataka, which is the state with the second highest tiger population in India.
  • Bandipur is one of the oldest tiger reserves in India, having been declared as such in 1973 and a national park in 1984.
  • It is part of interconnected forests that include Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary (Tamil Nadu), Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary (Kerala) and Nagarhole National Park (Karnataka).
  • It was once a hunting reserve for the Maharaja of The Maharaja of Mysore created a sanctuary Venugopala Wildlife Park. The Bandipur Tiger Reserve was established under Project Tiger in 1973 by adding more area to the Venugopala Wildlife park in 1973.
  • The park has a variety of biomes including dry deciduous forests, moist deciduous forests and shrublands.
  • The park is flanked by the Kabini river in the north and the Moyar river in the south. The Nugu river runs through the park.
[Ref: Indian Express]


Humans pollute more than volcanoes: study

Human activity churns out up to 100 times more planet-warming carbon each year as all the volcanoes on Earth, says a study by Deep Carbon Observatory (DCO).


Highlights of the study by Deep Carbon Observatory (DCO)

Humans pollute more than volcanoes study

  • Manmade carbon dioxide emissions are higher than the contribution of volcanoes (which are often considered as a major climate change contributor) in climate change that leads to warming of earth.
  • In other words, Modern manmade emissions are the same magnitude as past carbon emission that resulted in mass extinction.
  • The CO2 released annually by volcanoes are around 0.3 and 0.4 gigatonnes roughly 100 times less than manmade emissions.
  • Human activity contributes about 10 gigatonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere each year.

About Deep Carbon Observatory


  • Formed in 2009, The Deep Carbon Observatory (DCO) is a global research program designed to transform understanding of carbon’s role in Earth.
  • It a global community of scientists on a ten-year quest (from 2009 to 2019) to understand the quantities, movements, forms, and origins of carbon in Earth. ‘Task Force 2020’ of DCO is exploring ways to keep the deep carbon science going beyond the culmination 2019.
  • The DCO is structurally divided into four research communities: Extreme physics and chemistry, Reservoirs and fluxes, Deep life and Deep energy.
[Ref: The Hindu]


Bilateral & International Relations

Singapore’s Controversial ‘Fake News’ Law Comes into Effect

Earlier this year, the Singapore Parliament passed an anti-fake news law that supposedly aims to curb the spread of disinformation. However, many have spoken out against it.


About the New law

  • Singapore notified the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act 2019, which will enable the government to order social media websites to take down posts deemed to be false.

Highlights of the act

  • Under the act, any minister from the government has can instruct to issue a direction against the false statement by explain why the statement is false.
  • In a statement that is believed false, a direction will be issued to the individual or Internet services.
  • Once a minister identifies a falsehood, the individual is issued a “Stop Communication Direction” to be complied with within a specified time period. Only when the falsehood is spread with malicious intent do criminal sanctions apply.
  • In some cases, online platforms may require to ensure that people who previously saw the falsehood see the correction. This is referred to as the “Targeted Correction Direction” under which the online platforms have to send a notice declaring the correction to all the end-users of the platform.
  • In other cases, the Internet service may have to disable access to the material that is considered to be false or profits of online platforms that repeatedly spread falsehoods can be cut.

Need for such law


  • Singapore is vulnerable to fake news because of its position as a financial hub and the presence of multiple ethnicities and religions that make up the local population.
  • Online False statements have the potential to divide society, spread hate and weaken democratic institutions.
  • The 2019 World Press Freedom Index by ‘Reporters Without Borders’ ranks Singapore 151st out of 180 countries.


  • The Act’s definition of a falsehood is limited to a just facts and does not cover opinions or criticisms. As examples, the Bank has lost $20 billion is a statement of fact as opposed to the opinion that Singapore’s policies are often biased.
  • The law will hurt innovation and the growth of the digital information ecosystem.


  • This law can be used against private platforms such as chats and groups, including those with end-to-end encryption, impacting major messaging apps like WhatsApp.
  • Some also think the new law could influence Singapore’s upcoming elections by allowing the ruling party to dictate what constitutes as real and fake news.
[Ref: Indian Express]


Defence & Security Issues

Indo Maldives joint Ex Ekuverin – 19 at Aundh Mil Stn, Pune

Tenth edition of the Joint Military Exercise Ekuverin between the Indian Army and the Maldives National Defence Force will be organised from 07 to 20 October 2019 at Aundh Military Station in Pune, Maharashtra.


About Exercise Ekuverin

  • The Indian Army and the Maldives National Defence Forces have been conducting Exercise Ekuverin (Friends) in the Dhivehi language since 2009.
  • The 14 days Joint Exercise held alternatively in India and Maldives focuses on enhancing interoperability between the two forces for carrying out counter insurgency and counter-terrorism operations in a semi-urban environment under the United Nations mandate.

Key Facts on Dhivehi language

  • Dhivehi is an Indo-Aryan language closely related to the Sinhalese language of Sri Lanka.
  • It is primary language of Maldives.
  • It is influence by Arabic, English, Hindi, Sinhalese and Urdu. Hence it is similar to many of the languages spoken in North India, South East Asia, and Sri Lanka.
  • Dhivehi is written in Thaana Alphabet and is written from right to Left like Arabic.
[Ref: PIB]


Curtain raiser: Indo-Mongolian Joint Exercise Nomadic Elephant 2019

14th edition of Indo – Mongolian joint military training, Exercise Nomadic Elephant-XIV, being conducted over a period of 14 days, will commence from 05 Oct 2019 at Bakloh, Himachal Pradesh.


About Exercise Nomadic Elephant –XIV (14th Edition)

  • Nomadic Elephant-XIV is aimed at training troops in counter insurgency & counter terrorism operations under United Nations mandate.

About Exercise Nomadic Elephant

  • Started in 2006, it is an annual bilateral military exercise between India and Mongolia.


  • It aims at evolving various tactical drills in counter-terror environment like Convoy Protection Drill, Room Intervention Drills, Ambush/ Counter Ambush Drills, while jointly conducting counter terrorist operations.
[Ref: PIB]


Key Facts for Prelims

Delhi-Katra Vande Bharat Express launched today by Amit Shah

Home Minister flagged off the Delhi-Katra Vande Bharat Express train from the New Delhi railway station.


About Delhi-Katra Vande Bharat Express


  • It is the second Vande Bharat Express. The first runs between Delhi and Varanasi.
  • It will reduce the travel time between Delhi and Mata Vaishno Devi Katra stations to just 8 hours from the current 12 hours.
  • Delhi-Katra Vande Bharat Express will aid in Jammu and Kashmir’s development and for promoting religious tourism.

About Vande Bharat Express

About Vande Bharat Express

  • Previously called Train 18, the Vande Bharat Express is India’s first indigenously built engineless semi-high speed train.
  • The first Vande Bharat Express runs between Delhi and Varanasi at a maximum speed of 160 kmph.
  • It has been built by the Integral Coach Factory, Chennai, in a record time of 20 months.
  • The train is a 100% ‘Make in India’ project and is claimed to be built at half the cost of a similar train set that is imported.
  • It is energy-efficient as its coaches are fitted with LED lights. Coaches have automatic doors and retractable footsteps.
  • It is inter-connected with fully sealed gangways along with a GPS-based Passenger Information System. It is provided with Bio toilets.


[Ref: Economic Times, Financial Express]


Govt launches portal for improving coal supply coordination to power plants

The government launched a portal named ‘PRAKASH’ for better coordination among stakeholders, including Coal India Ltd, Indian Railways, power utilities and, ministries of coal and power, for coal supplies to power plants.


About portal PRAKASH

  • The PRAKASH stands for ‘Power Rail Koyla Availability through Supply Harmony’.
  • It is developed by National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC).


  • The portal is designed to help in monitoring entire coal supply chain for power plants: coal stock at mines, coal quantity in transit and coal availability at power generating station.
  • It will help coal companies track stocks and coal requirement at power stations for effective production planning and would lead to optimum utilisation of resources (fuel, rakes, railways).
  • Besides, power stations can plan future schedule by knowing rakes in pipe line and expected time to reach.
  • The ministries of power and coal, the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) and Power System Operation Corporation Ltd can review overall availability of coal at thermal power plants in different regions.

What is the current mechanism?

  • The current mechanism to review coal supply situation consists of an inter-ministerial group which has officials from ministries of power and coal, Indian Railways, power utilities and coal companies.
  • This inter-ministerial group holds weekly meetings to review coal supply situation as well as railway logistics.
  • However, this mechanism faced several issues, such as scattered information, which often led to difficulties in decision making.
[Ref: Business Standard]


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