Government Schemes & Policies
- Four more States join ration card portability
- Vaishno Devi shrine adjudged ‘Best Swachh Iconic Place’
Issues related to Health & Education
- India to contribute $22 million to Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria
- PIL in SC for community kitchens in all states to combat hunger
- PM Asks For Public Support To Boost ‘Poshan Maah’ Nutrition Campaign
- NERAMAC Marketing Complex Foundation Stone Laid
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Cabinet approves Mechanism revision of ethanol price for supply to Public Sector OMCs
- After 215 Years, Asiatic Society of Mumbai Has Elected its First Woman President
Art & Culture
- Nuakhai Juhar
Science & Technology
- Research suggests how Southern Ocean could control global climate
- NASA, ESA Combine Efforts on Asteroid Impact Deflection Assessment Mission
Key Facts for Prelims
- Indian Army Men and Women Summit MT Kun
- Exercise Yudh Abhyas 2019
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Government Schemes & Policies
Four more States join ration card portability
Ration card holders in Kerala and Karnataka, as well as in Rajasthan and Haryana, will be able to buy subsidised food from ration shops in the neighbouring State from October 2019.
- In august 2019, to implement ‘One Nation, One Ration Card’ across the country by June, 2020, the Central government kick-started inter-state portability of ration cards between Telangana-Andhra Pradesh as well as Maharashtra-Gujarat.
- This meant that beneficiaries living in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh (or Maharashtra-Gujarat) can buy their quota of ration from the Public Distribution System (PDS), also called ration shops, in either of the two States.
- Since November 2016, the government is implementing the National Food Security Act, under which food grains are supplied every month at highly subsidised rates of Rs 1–3 per kg to over 80 crore people in India.
What is One Nation One Ration Card (RC) scheme?
- It is the scheme of Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution.
- Under this scheme, beneficiaries can buy subsidised food grains from any ration shop ration shops in any part of the country.
- The scheme will ensure all beneficiaries especially migrants can access Public distribution system (PDS) across the nation from any PDS shop of their own choice.
- Only ration card will suffice if beneficiaries want to get their PDS entitlement only from a particular registered ration shop.
- Migrants would only be eligible for the subsidies supported by the Centre. Even if a beneficiary moved to a State where grains were given for free, that person would not be able to access those benefits, as they were funded by the State exchequer.
- It will ensure that no poor person is deprived of PDS if the person shifts from one place to another.
- It will reduce their dependence on shop owners and curtail instances of corruption.
- It will also help to remove fake ration card holders.
What is Integrated Management of Public Distribution System (IMPDS)?
- The Department of Food & Public Distribution recently launched a scheme namely “Integrated Management of Public Distribution System (IM-PDS)” for implementation during 2018-19 and 2019-20.
- The main objective of the scheme is to introduce nation-wide portability of ration card holders under National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA), to lift their entitlement foodgrains from any FPS in the country without the need to obtain a new ration card.
Vaishno Devi shrine adjudged ‘Best Swachh Iconic Place’
The famous Mata Vaishno Devi shrine atop the Trikuta hills in Reasi district of Jammu and Kashmir has been adjudged ‘Best Swachh Iconic Place’ in the country.
- The Shrine has been adjudged on the basis of the overall improvement in sanitation brought due to several initiatives taken in last few years to ensure cleanliness of the entire shrine area.
About Swachh Iconic Places
- The Swachh Iconic Places is an initiative under the Swachh Bharat Mission.
- It is a special clean-up initiative focused on select iconic heritage, spiritual and cultural places in the country.
- The initiative is being coordinated by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation in association with the Ministry of Urban Development, Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Tourism and the concerned State governments.
- The initiative is divided in three phases having different places for cleaning.
Phase I iconic places:
- Ajmer Sharif Dargah, CST Mumbai, Golden Temple, Kamakhya Temple, MaikarnikaGhat, Meenakshi Temple, Shri Mata Vaishno Devi, Shree Jagannath Temple, The Taj Mahal and Tirupati Temple.
Phase II iconic places:
- Gangotri, Yamunotri, Mahakaleshwar Temple, Charminar, Convent and Church of St. Francis of Assissi, Kalady, Gommateswara, BaidyanathDham, Gaya Tirth and Somnath temple.
Phase III iconic places:
- RaghavendraSwamy Temple (Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh); Hazardwari Palace (Murshidabad, West Bengal); Brahma Sarovar Temple (Kurukshetra, Haryana); VidurKuti (Bijnor, Uttar Pradesh); Mana village (Chamoli, Uttarakhand); Pangong Lake (Leh-Ladakh, J&K); Nagvasuki Temple (Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh); ImaKeithal/market (Imphal, Manipur); Sabarimala Temple (Kerala); and Kanvashram (Uttarakhand).
Issues related to Health & Education
India to contribute $22 million to Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria
India has announced a contribution of $22 million to the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria (GFTAM) for the 6th replenishment cycle (2020-22). This is an increase of 10 per cent over the amount contributed by the US in the 5th cycle.
About Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria (GFTAM)
- The GFTAM is a partnership designed aims at ending AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
- It invests more than $4 billion a year to support programs run by local experts in more than 100 countries.
- Founded in 2002, the Global Fund is a partnership between governments, civil society, the private sector and people affected by the diseases.
- The organization maintains its secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland.
- In October 2019, France will host the Global Fund’s Sixth Replenishment Conference seeking funding for the GFTAM.
Background of the Global Fund:
- The Global Fund was formed as an independent, non-profit foundation under Swiss law and hosted by the World Health Organization in January 2002.
- In January 2009, the organization became an administratively autonomous organization, terminating its administrative services agreement with the World Health Organization.
India and GFTAM
- India has had a sustained partnership with the Global Fund since 2002 both as a recipient and as a donor.
- India was the first implementing country to host a replenishment milestone of the Global Fund.
- In 2017, Improved access to HIV treatment has cut the number of AIDS-related deaths in half since the peak in 2005.
- In many countries, HIV infections remain extremely high among key populations and among adolescent girls and young women.
- In some countries in Africa, young women aged 15-24 are up to eight times more likely to be HIV positive than young men.
- Development assistance for HIV and AIDS reached its peak in 2012 but has since declined by almost a quarter.
- In many countries, the progress toward normalizing the lives of people living with HIV has had the paradoxical effect of reducing the sense of urgency around prevention, particularly among young people.
- Tuberculosis is now the leading cause of death from infectious disease, with 1.3 million deaths per year, not including HIV co-infections.
- Globally, the rate of decline in TB incidence has been slow, at 2 percent per year from 2000 to 2016, mainly due to low case notification.
- Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a growing threat to global health security. TB is responsible for about one-third of all AMR deaths.
- Globally, 10 percent of TB patients are co-infected with HIV. However, about 60 percent of TB patients on average know their HIV status and 85 percent of HIV-positive people receive treatment for both.
- Global malaria death rates have dropped by 60 percent since 2000.
- The number of children under the age of 5 who die from malaria has been sharply
- But the biological threats of drug and insecticide resistance have stalled progress against malaria. In 2016, there were 5 million more cases of malaria than 2015.
- Countries tend to fall into one of two categories: those progressing toward malaria elimination and those with a high burden that are slipping backward in their response. Nearly all countries in the second category are in Africa Over the past several years, funding for malaria has plateaued.
PIL in SC for community kitchens in all states to combat hunger
A PIL has been filed in the Supreme Court calling for the establishment of community kitchen across India to combat malnutrition, hunger and starvation deaths.
What is the issue?
- A PIL has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking directions to all states and UTs to formulate a scheme for community kitchens to combat hunger and malnutrition.
- The plea referred to the state-funded community kitchens being run in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Odisha, Jharkhand and Delhi that serve meals at subsidised rates in hygienic conditions.
- It also sought issuance of order to the National Legal Services Authority (NLSA) for formulating a scheme to mitigate hunger-related deaths.
- Many children under the age of five die every day due to hunger and malnutrition and this condition was violative of various fundamental rights, including the right to food and life of citizens.
- Article 21 embarks that right to life does not mean mere existence, but life with dignity.
- Starvation as the cause of death can only be ascertained upon autopsy after death.
- Increasing urban inequality, significant under-investment in urban health and nutrition infrastructure, workforce in casual or contract employment or even less remunerative self-employment, growth of slums and slum populations lacking in most basic health and hygiene infrastructure has resulted in a permanent food and nutrition emergency in India.
- Food and Agriculture Report, 2018 stated that India houses 195.9 million of the 821 million undernourished people in the world, accounting for approximately 24% of the world’s hungry.
- Prevalence of undernourishment in India is 14.8%, higher than both the global and Asian average.
- The most alarming figure revealed is that approximately 4500 children die every day under the age of five years in our country resulting from hunger and malnutrition, amounting to over three lakh deaths every year owing to hunger, of children alone.
- Over three lakh children die every year in India because of hunger, whereas 38 per cent below the age of five are stunted.
PM Asks For Public Support To Boost ‘Poshan Maah’ Nutrition Campaign
To give impetus to the government’s flagship programme POSHAN Abhiyan (National Nutrition Mission), National Council on India’s Nutrition Challenges has earmarked the month of September as ‘Rashtriya Poshan Maah’.
About POSHAN Abhiyaan
- POSHAN Abhiyaan was launched on International Women’s day (March 8) in 2018 to boost nutrition among children and women.
- It is a multi-ministerial convergence mission with the vision to ensure attainment of malnutrition free India by 2022.
- Its aim to ensure holistic development and adequate nutrition for pregnant women, mothers and children.
- Its large component involves gradual scaling-up of interventions supported by on-going World Bank assisted ‘Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Systems Strengthening and Nutrition Improvement Project’ (ISSNIP) to all districts in the country by 2022.
Target under the mission
- The target of the mission is to bring down stunting among children in the age group 0-6 years from 38.4% to 25% by 2022.
- Prevent and reduce stunting in children (0-6 years): By 6% @ 2% p.a.
- Prevent and reduce under-nutrition (underweight prevalence) in children (0-6 years): By 6% @ 2% p.a.
- Reduce the prevalence of anemia among young Children (6-59 months): By 9% @ 3% p.a.
- Reduce the prevalence of anemia among Women and Adolescent Girls in the age group of 15-49 years: By 9% @ 3% p.a.
- Reduce Low Birth Weight (LBW): By 6% @ 2% p.a.
Significance of the project
- The project will include investments in improving the skills and capacities of ICDS staff and community nutrition workers, instituting mechanisms of community mobilization and behavior change communication.
- It aims at strengthening systems of citizen engagement and grievance redress and establishing mobile technology based tools for improved monitoring and management of services for better outreach to beneficiaries during the critical 1,000-day window for nutrition impact.
- The project will additionally ensure convergence of all nutrition related schemes and provide performance based incentives to states and community nutrition and health workers, facilitating a focus on results.
How will the World Bank loan be utilized?
- The World Bank loan will be used for improving coverage and quality of ICDS nutrition services to pregnant and lactating women and children under 3 years of age.
- It will be also used for project in improving skills and capacities of ICDS staff and community nutrition workers, instituting mechanisms of community mobilization and behaviour change communication, strengthening systems of citizen engagement and grievance redress.
NERAMAC Marketing Complex Foundation Stone Laid
The Union Minister of State for Development of North Eastern Region laid the foundation stone of North Eastern Regional Agricultural Marketing Corporation Limited (NERAMAC) Marketing complex.
- The NERAMAC Limited was incorporated in the year 1982 as a Government of India Enterprise and having its registered office at
- It is operating under the of the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER).
- It was set up to support farmers of North East getting remunerative prices for their produce and thereby bridge the gap between the farmers and the market.
- It is a pioneer marketing organization in the field of the Agri-Horticulture Sector of the north-eastern region, involved in supporting farmers through registered farmer producer company /organizations (FPO/FPCs).
- To undertake development and marketing of horticultural products within and outside the north eastern region.
- To purchase the marketable surplus of fruits and vegetables from the growers of the North Eastern region.
About Mission Organic Value Chain Development for North East Region (MOVCD-NER)
- It is a Central Sector Scheme, a sub-mission under National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA), launched by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare
- It was implemented in all 8 North-Eastern states (Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura), during the 12th plan period.
- It aims to development of certified organic production in a ‘value chain mode’ to link growers with consumers and to support the development of entire value chain starting.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
Cabinet approves Mechanism revision of ethanol price for supply to Public Sector OMCs
The government approved an increase in the price of ethanol to be procured by public sector oil marketing companies (OMCs) from sugar mills for blending with petrol for the 2019-20 supply year from December 1.
- Government has been implementing Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) Programme wherein oil marketing companies (OMCs) sell petrol blended with ethanol up to 10%.
- This programme aims to promote the use of alternative and environment friendly fuels and to reduce import dependence for energy requirements
- Government has notified administered price of ethanol since 2014. For the first time during 2018, price of ethanol, based on raw material utilized was announced by the Government.
- These decisions have significantly improved the supply of ethanol thereby ethanol procurement by Public Sector OMCs has increased from 38 crore liter in 2013-14 to over 200 crore liter in 2018-19.
What is ethanol?
- Ethanol is basically alcohol of 99%-plus purity, which can be used for blending with petrol.
- The normal rectified spirit used for potable purposes has only 95% alcohol content.
- Both ethanol (also called anhydrous alcohol) and rectified spirit are produced mainly from molasses, which is a by-product of sugar manufacture.
- Mills typically crush cane with a total fermentable sugars (TFS). Much of this TFS (sucrose plus reducing sugars (glucose and fructose)) gets crystallised into sugar.
- The un-crystallised, non-recoverable part is called ‘C’ molasses.
- But rather than produce sugar, mills can also ferment the entire TFS in the cane.
- In between these two extreme cases, there are intermediate options as well, where the cane juice does not have to be crystallised right till the final ‘C’ molasses stage.
- The molasses can, instead, be diverted after the earlier ‘A’ and ‘B’ stages of sugar crystal formation. Mills, then, would produce some sugar, as opposed to fermenting the whole sugarcane juice into ethanol.
A molasses (first molasses): It is an intermediate by-product resulting from first sugar crystallization.
B molasses (second molasses): It has approximately the same sugar content as ‘A’ molasses but contains less sugar and does not spontaneously crystallize.
C molasses (final molasses or blackstrap molasses): It is the end by-product of the processing in the sugar factory, which does not crystallize and can be found in liquid or dried form as a commercial feed ingredient.
About Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) programme
- Government of India launched Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) programme in 2003 for undertaking blending of ethanol in Petrol to address environmental concerns due to fossil fuel burning and subsidize crude imports.
- Under EBP programme, ethanol blending in petrol is being undertaken by the Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) in except island Union Territory (UT) of Andaman Nicobar and Lakshadweep wherein 10% of blending of ethanol in Petrol are done by OMCs.
- The present policy allows procurement of ethanol produced from molasses and non-food feed stock like celluloses and lignocelluloses material including petrochemical route.
- This was also an attempt to reduce the Under-recovery of Public Sector OMCs.
What has the government done?
- Consistent surplus of sugar production is depressing sugar price. Consequently, sugarcane farmer’s dues have increased due to lower capability of sugar industry to pay the farmers.
- Hence, government has allowed mills to produce ethanol from ‘B’ heavy molasses and directly from sugarcane juice.
- Government has also even approved the use of sugar and sugar syrup for production of ethanol.
- But the real impetus has come from mills getting higher rates for ethanol manufactured from the ‘B’ heavy and sugarcane juice routes.
- For the 2018-19 supply year, the ex-distillery price payable by OMCs for ethanol manufactured from the conventional ‘C’ molasses route was fixed, while the price of ethanol from C and B heavy molasses was increased.
After 215 Years, Asiatic Society of Mumbai Has Elected its First Woman President
The Asiatic Society of Mumbai has appointed a woman president, Vispi Balaporia, for the first time in its over 200-year-old history.
About Asiatic Society
- The Asiatic Society was founded by William Jones in 1784 at the Fort William in Calcutta, Bengal to enhance and further the cause of Oriental research.
Asiatic Society of Bombay:
- The Asiatic Society of Mumbai was founded by James Mackintosh in early 18th
- The Governor of Maharashtra is the Society’s Chief Patron.
- Known then as the Literary Society of Bombay, its objective was the investigation and encouragement of Oriental Arts, Sciences and Literature.
- In 1820s, the Literary Society of Asiatic Society of Mumbai merged with the Royal Society of Great Britain and Ireland (RAS) as its Bombay Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society (BBRAS).
- In its early days, membership of the Society was restricted to Europeans only and the Indians were not allowed to join until 1841.
- Later, the Geographical Society of Bombay and the Anthropological Society of Bombay merged with the BBRAS.
- However, in 1954, it became separate from RAS and renamed itself as ‘The Asiatic Society of Bombay’ and in 2000 as ‘The Asiatic Society of Mumbai’.
- Its activities include conducting historical research, awarding historians, and running an institute of post-graduate studies.
Art & Culture
On the auspicious occasion of Nuakhai Juhar, Prime Minister tweeted wishes for the hardworking farmers of the Odisha.
About Nuakhai Juhar
- Nuakhai Juhar is one of the most ancient festivals celebrated in Odisha, mainly observed by western Odisha, to welcome the new crop of the season.
- It is also called Nuakhai Parab or Nuakahi Bhetghat.
- Nuakhai is a combination of two words, ‘nua‘ meaning new and ‘khai‘ means eat, it thus signifies “eating of new rice”.
- The farmers offer the first produce from their lands to Goddess Samaleswari, the famous mother goddess of Sambalpur district of Odisha.
- Nuakhai is celebrated across districts like Kalahandi, Sambalpur, Balangir, Bargarh, Sundargarh, Nuapada, Jharsuguda, Sonepur and Boudh and also across several areas of Jharkhand.
Science & Technology
Research suggests how Southern Ocean could control global climate
Scientists have made a new discovery challenging the previous understanding of the link between the Southern Ocean and the atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.
About the new study
- The study shows that, contrary to existing assumptions, biological processes far out at sea are the most important factors determining how the ocean absorbs carbon dioxide.
Significance of the study
- Carbon dioxide is absorbed in the surface oceans and stored in the deep seas over a timescale of 100s to 1,000s years.
- The Southern Ocean plays a critical role in how the carbon dioxide is taken out of the atmosphere.
- Knowing the mechanism behind the uptake of carbon dioxide from atmosphere into the sea, helps scientists understand this mechanism’s role during dramatic climate transitions in the past, such as the ice ages, and better predict the current and future climate change.
What is the existing assumptions?
- It is believed that, whether carbon is released into the atmosphere or trapped in the deep ocean, is determined by the transformation of the water from light to dense which is in turn caused by cooling at the ocean’s surface (due to lower temperature (due to low amount of solar insolation) in Antarctic region, the density of water is higher and hence solubility of carbon dioxide in sea water is low).
What did the new research reveal?
- Researchers studied data collected as part of the ANDREX project (Antarctic Deep Water Rates of Export) which measured the properties of the waters in the Weddell Gyre (a region east of the Antarctic).
- The data on Weddell Gyre showed that the dominant process enabling the uptake of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into to the deep ocean included the role of
- Phytoplankton remove carbon from the surface of the ocean, causing an uptake of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This process is known as the ‘biological carbon pump’.
- From this, researchers showed that dominant factor driving the uptake of carbon from the atmosphere to the ocean was not related to dense water formation in the shallow seas close to Antarctica, but rather to biological processes done by phytoplanktons.
About ANDREX project
- The ANDREX programme aims to enhance understanding of the role of the Weddell Gyre in,
- Driving the southern closure of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC).
- Ventilating the deep global oceans
- Sequestering carbon and nutrients in the deep global ocean
- The programme is funded by the Antarctic Funding Initiative (AFI), with a contribution from the European Commission’s CARBOOCEAN project and brings together scientists from UK, German and US research institutions.
- The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) is a large system of ocean currents that carry warm water from the tropics northwards into the North Atlantic.
NASA, ESA Combine Efforts on Asteroid Impact Deflection Assessment Mission
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and European Space Agency (ESA) asteroid researchers, along with other researchers from around the world will meet in Rome in September to check the progress of Asteroid Impact Deflection Assessment (AIDA).
About Asteroid Impact Deflection Assessment (AIDA)
- The Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment (AIDA) mission is a proposed space probe which would study and demonstrate the kinetic effects of crashing an impactor spacecraft into an asteroid moon.
- The AIDA mission is intended to test whether a spacecraft could successfully deflect an asteroid on a collision course with Earth.
- The AIDA mission is a joint international collaboration of the European Space Agency (ESA), the German Aerospace Center and NASA.
- It would be composed of two spacecraft: European spacecraft HERA which would orbit the asteroid, and Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), which would impact the asteroid.
- HERA was replaced by the Asteroid Impact Mission (AIM) in 2016 when Germany was unable to fund its portion.
- AIDA would target 65803 Didymos, a binary asteroid system in which one asteroid is orbited by a smaller one.
- DART is currently planned to impact in 2022 on the small moon of asteroid Didymos, while Hera would arrive at Didymos in 2027, five years after DART’s impact.
Key Facts for Prelims
Indian Army Men and Women Summit MT Kun
Indian Army Mountaineering Expedition to Mt Kun was recently conducted in Zanskar Range in Ladhak.
About Mount Kun
- The Nun Kun mountain massif consists of a pair of Himalayan twin peaks: Nun (7135 m) and its neighbor Kun (7077 m).
- Kun is the second highest peak of the Nun Kun massif.
- It is located in the upper Suru Valley of Ladakh.
- It is one of the highest peaks in the Zanskar Range as well as highest peak on the Indian side of the Line of Control.
- Nun and Kun along with Barmal, White Needle and Pinnacle Peak are shaped like a horseshoe over the Suru river along the Kashmir and Zanskar border.
Exercise Yudh Abhyas 2019
As part of the ongoing Indo-US defence cooperation, a joint military training, Exercise Yudh Abhyas – 2019, the 15th edition of the joint exercise, is being conducted in USA.
About Yudh Abhyas – 2019
- Exercise Yudh Abhyas is one of the largest joint running military training and defence corporation endeavors between India and USA.
- It is hosted alternately between the two countries.
- It provides an opportunity to the armed forces of both countries to train in an integrated manner at Battalion level with joint planning at Brigade level.
- ln the end, a joint exercise will be undertaken by both countries in an operational setting under a UN mandate.