Polity & Governance
- No of beneficiaries under Ujjwala Yojana crosses 2 crore mark: Government
Bilateral & International Relations
- CAG to audit UN Secretariat in New York
- Myanmar joins ADB’s South Asia economic body
- India, Malaysia inks 7 agreements
Art & Culture
- Padayani Dance Festival
Key Facts for Prelims
- New tree-living crab species found in Kerala
- Doctors artwork finds place in Guinness Book
- 19th Commonwealth Forestry Conference
Polity & Governance
No of beneficiaries under Ujjwala Yojana crosses 2 crore mark: Government
The number of beneficiaries of Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana for providing free of cost LPG (cooking gas) connections to BPL households has crossed 2 crore mark since its launch in May 2016.
- The success of the scheme shows that how it is serving as a novel means of women empowerment and achieving the goals of providing clean fuel and a better life to the people.
About Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana:
- Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana aims to provide five crore LPG connections to women in Below Poverty Line (BPL) households over the next three financial years, at a cost of Rs. 8,000 crore.
- The scheme is being implemented by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.
- The scheme will be partially funded from the savings accruing to the government from LPG users who gave up their subsidy as part of the Give It Up programme.
- The new users who receive LPG connections under the scheme will not have to pay the security deposit, while the Rs. 1,600 administrative costs, cost of pressure regulator booklet and safety hose will be borne by the government.
- The households will be selected using the socio-economic and caste census data. Consumers will have the option to purchase gas stove and refills on EMI.
Bilateral & International Relations
CAG to audit UN Secretariat in New York
The Comptroller and Auditor General of India will audit the UN Secretariat in New York, a job which till now was the exclusive domain of developed countries.
- The CAG is the external auditor of several UN organisations and India’s Shashi Kant Sharma is the Chairman of the UN Board of Auditors.
UN Board of Auditors:
- The General Assembly established the United Nations Board of Auditors (Board) in 1946 as an important mechanism to promote accountability and transparency in the United Nations.
- The members of the Board have collective responsibility for the audits.
- Currently the heads of the SAIs of India, Tanzania and Germany are the members of the Board.
- The Auditors-Generals of UN member states are elected to the Board.
Functions of the board:
- The Board performs external audit of the accounts of the United Nations organization and its funds and programmes and reports its findings and recommendations to the Assembly through the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions.
- The Board provides independent assurance to Member States and other stakeholders regarding proper use of the resources of the United Nations and its funds and programmes.
- It reports on financial matters as well as on regularity and performance issues.
- It plays a significant role in assisting the United Nations to improve its operations and its internal control systems.
- The findings and recommendations of the Board have led to continuous systematic improvements in the functioning of the United Nations.
Myanmar joins ADB’s South Asia economic body
Myanmar has formally become a full member of South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) programme of Asian Development Bank (ADB) being the seventh country to join the group.
Significance of this move:
- Myanmar’s membership in SASEC can offer a host of opportunities for realising synergies from economic cooperation in the sub-region.
- Myanmar is the key to realising greater connectivity and stronger trade and economic relations between SASEC sub-region and the countries of East and Southeast Asia.
- SASEC member-countries recognise that most of SASEC’s multimodal connectivity initiatives include Myanmar as road corridors in Myanmar provide the key links between South Asia and Southeast Asia and ports in Myanmar will provide additional gateways to the landlocked North Eastern region of India.
- SASEC’s energy connectivity and energy trade prospects will be enhanced with the inclusion of Myanmar, involving its substantial resources of hydropower and natural gas.
- Myanmar was accorded an observer status of SASEC in 2013 when ADB’s annual meeting was held in India and has been participating in annual SASEC Nodal Officials’ meetings as an observer since 2014.
- It was invited by the participating countries of SASEC countries to become a full member in 2015.
About SASEC Programme:
In 2001, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal formed the South Asia Sub-Regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) programme, which the Maldives and Sri Lanka joined in 2014.
- Under SASEC programme, these countries have worked together to build power plants, highways, rail systems and fibre optic networks to expand and improve Internet access.
- It is a project-based partnership to promote regional prosperity by
- Improving cross-border connectivity,
- Boosting trade among member countries, and
- Strengthening regional economic cooperation.
- The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is the secretariat and lead financier of the SASEC programme.
India, Malaysia inks 7 agreements
India and Malaysia have inked seven agreements to foster deeper relationship between the two countries.
Signed agreements are:
- Air Services Agreement
- MoU on Cooperation Fertilizers sector:
- MoU on cooperation in Sports
- MoU for cooperation in training
- MoU on Mutual Recognition of the Educational Qualifications
- MoU on collaboration in technology development in the field of Palm Oil
- MoU on implementation of 4th Generation Technology Park in Andhra Pradesh
Art & Culture
Padayani Dance Festival
Padayani festival was recently celebrated in Kerala.
About the festival:
- Padayani is a traditional folk dance and a ritual art from the central portion of the Indian state of Kerala.
- A ceremonial dance involving masks, it is an ancient ritual performed in Bhagavati temples.
- Padayani was performed by magico-medicine men of Kerala to heal the illnesses not amenable to medical modalities of intervention.
- The dance is performed in honor of Bhadrakaali.
- Meaning, a row of warriors, Padayani is an art form that blends music, dance, theatre, satire, facial masks, and paintings.
- Padayani is unique to central Travancore, comprising the Pathanamthitta district of Kerala.
- Padayani is regarded as a remnant of the Dravidian forms of worship that existed before the advent of Brahmanism.
- Kalan Kolam is the major attraction in padayani. This is about a child who is begging his life to lord siva while death comes in his 16th birthday.
- A major attraction of padayani is the song associated with it. Traditionally only a single type of instrument is used to associate the song, thappu.
- It is believed that it is evolved from a symbolic past reminiscent of fencing march of martial art Kalari. Eventually in Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha and Kottayam districts of Kerala, the Nair folk became the performers of the modern form of Padayani art, but the design and making of costumes vested with Kaniyar people.
Key Facts for Prelims
New tree-living crab species found in Kerala
- Scientists have discovered a new species of long legged, tree-dwelling crabs in Western Ghats of Kerala. This is the first report of its kind to offer a record of an arboreal crab — a species that lives in trees.
- The new species named Kani maranjandu after the Kani tribe in Kerala, are substantially different from other congeners.
- The characteristic traits of the crab include the structure of its hard upper shell, its male abdominal structure and reproductive parts and diagnostic elongated walking legs.
Doctors artwork finds place in Guinness Book
- A fingerprint painting, created by a group of Indian doctors as a symbolic representation to end frequent attacks against the fraternity, has found place in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s largest such artwork.
- Titled “Ray of Hope”, measuring 469.75 m, the painting was made up of 15 lakh finger impressions of doctors from different parts of the country, collected over a period of four months.
- The record title is in the name of Dr Naveen Koval, an assistant professor of Pediatrics at Kannur Medical College, Kerala, who conceptualised the work and Indian medical association.
19th Commonwealth Forestry Conference
- The 19th Commonwealth Forestry Conference was held at Forest Research Institute, Dehradun, Uttarakhand.
- This is for the second time India hosted the conference after it was hosted for first time in 1968.
- Scientists and experts from 49 member countries of the Commonwealth had participated in it.
- They focused issues on biodiversity conservation and management, livelihood and economic security from forests, diversification, multiple uses and sustainable harvest, forest and climate change.
- They also shared their ideas and researches on ‘Forests for Prosperity and Posterity’ in consonance with Aichi targets of the UN Convention on Conservation of Biological Diversity (UNC-CBD) and Sustainable Development Goals.