Polity & Governance
- Nitish Kumar declares Bihar a dry state
- Modi unveils ‘Stand up India scheme’ to make Dalits entrepreneurs
- ‘Capital punishment rose by 54% in 2015’: Amnesty International report
- Google now offers ‘health card’ for disease search
- Key takeaways from RBI’s first monetary policy review of FY17
- India launches Transnational skill standards
Environment & Ecology
- Government Issues New Rules On Management Of Hazardous Waste
- Ranthambore opens for full day safari
Defence & Security Issues
- MHA constitutes Madhukar Gupta Committee to strengthen border protection
Science & Technology
- Pig hearts may save human lives, say researchers
- ‘Fast radio burst ‘afterglow’ came from black hole’
Also in News
- President of India presents National Geoscience Awards 2014
Polity & Governance
Nitish Kumar declares Bihar a dry state
The Nitish Kumar government has declared Bihar a dry State by imposing total prohibition on the sale and consumption of liquor, both country-made and Indian-Made Foreign Liquor, with immediate effect.
Earlier, following an excise amendment law, the ban on country-made liquor had become effective across the State from April 1.
- The government will stick to the 1991 guidelines on the sale and consumption of toddy.
- No new liquor licences will be issued to for sale and consumption of alcohol in places like hotels, bars and clubs, in towns and cities too.
- However, Army cantonment areas would be exempt as they regulate sale and consumption of alcohol in their own way.
Modi unveils ‘Stand up India scheme’ to make Dalits entrepreneurs
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has recently launched the “Stand up India scheme” to enable Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and women entrepreneurs to access loans, setting a target of creating 2.5 lakh such entrepreneurs across the country.
Key features of the scheme:
- Under the scheme people from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, and women entrepreneurs, will get support such as pre-loan training, facilitating loan, factoring and marketing.
- Under the scheme 1.25 lakh bank branches will provide loans up to Rs 1 crore. Each branch will be required to provide two such loans ranging from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 1 crore without collateral for setting up a new enterprise.
- There will be a Rs 10,000 crore refinance window through Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) and the National Credit Guarantee Trustee Company Ltd (NCGTC) will create a corpus of Rs 5,000 crore.
- SIDBI will engage with the Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and various other institutions to take the scheme forward.
- Debit Card (RuPay) will be used for withdrawing working capital and history of borrowers will be developed.
Stand Up Connect Centres:
- The offices of SIDBI and National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development will be designated ‘Stand Up Connect Centres’.
‘Capital punishment rose by 54% in 2015’: Amnesty International report
In its recently launched Death Penalty Report 2015-16, Amnesty International (AI), has said that at least 1,634 people were executed by 25 countries last year alone.
Key facts of the report:
- The report notes that these numbers show an alarming 54% increase over the previous year. Significantly, the rise also represents the maximum number the group has recorded in a single year since 1989.
China & Asia-Pacific:
- Most executions take place in China, where such data remains a state secret.
- Barring information from Beijing, the Asia-Pacific region saw 367 people subjected to the death penalty — more than a ten-fold rise from 2014. Pakistan alone accounted for 326 of them.
- West Asia and North Africa saw a 26% rise in executions, even if there was no addition to the eight countries that resorted to the punishment in 2014. While Iran accounted for 82% of executions in the region, for Saudi Arabia, the total rose by 76% over 2014.
- For the seventh year running, the U.S. remained the lone country in the Americas to have executed convicts. But the numbers were the lowest since 1991.
- Four more countries abolished the death penalty for all crimes in 2015, taking the tally of abolitionist states to 102.
Google now offers ‘health card’ for disease search
For health-related searches in India, Google will now present results for over 400 diseases in an easy-to-read graphic or “card”.
- India is the third country to get this feature after the US and Brazil.
About the Health Card:
- Running a Google search for a disease will now return the usual results along with a panel, which Google calls “card”.
- Health cards were rolled out in the US last year and in Brazil two weeks ago.
- It carries an illustration, major symptoms, need for lab tests for diagnosis, most commonly affected age groups and indicates whether a disease is contagious, among other kinds of information.
Globally, according to Google, one in 20 searches on its platform are related to health.
- In India, the cards are available in Hindi and English.
- Google has worked with AIIMS, Apollo hospitals and Columbia Asia hospitals for this feature in India.
Key takeaways from RBI’s first monetary policy review of FY17
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), in its latest monetary policy review, has slashed key lending rate by 25 basis points.
- GDP growth is projected to improve gradually to 7.6% in 2016-17.
- The marginal standing facility (MSF) rate stands at 7%.
- The bank rate which is aligned to the MSF rate stands at 7%.
- The statutory liquidity ratio, or the value of specified securities which commercial banks have to subscribe to, is at 21.25%, effective from April 2.
India launches Transnational skill standards
The Union government has launched Transnational Skill Standards in India with an aim to align skill standards which are recognized globally.
- The Transnational Standards will highlight the gaps in Indian Standards against the UK standards. To cover the gaps, those intending to migrate, will undergo ‘bridge training’.
- These standards in skill development are benchmarked to United Kingdom across 82 identified job roles.
- The Further Education Colleges (FE) of the United Kingdom will partner with Indian Training Providers to impart training on bridge courses. These Colleges will set up Skill Academies of Excellences in the identified sectors in India.
- The training will be provided in several economic activities including agriculture, life science, healthcare, capital goods, textiles, hospitality, information technology, etc.
Why UK standards as benchmark?
- The Ministry has chosen UK standards to benchmark Indian Skills standards since all the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries recognize UK skill certification.
Benefits of Transnational Skill Standards:
- Transnational Skill Standards will support international mobility of Indian workforce and also prepare them to work in international companies having their operations in the country.
- These standards are expected to bring more quality in vocational education which will open more avenues for employment across countries for the youth.
Environment & Ecology
Government Issues New Rules On Management Of Hazardous Waste
Government has released new rules ‘The Hazardous and Other Wastes (Management and Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2016’ for management of hazardous wastes
- The revised rules notified by the Union environment ministry replaces its older version made in 2008.
- The revised rules, for the first time include a separate category of items like tyre, metal scrap, paper and certain electronic goods that can be recycled and reused.
- Hazardous waste includes material like lead acid battery scrap, used oil, waste oil and spent catalysts.
- The new rules distinguish hazardous waste from others such as waste tyre, paper waste, metal scrap and used electronic items. The rules recognise the latter as a resource for recycling and reuse supplementing industrial processes, thereby reducing the load on the country’s resources.
- The ambit of the rules has been expanded by including ‘Other Waste’.
- Banned for import: Among other items banned for import are waste edible fats and oil of animals, household waste, tyres for direct re-use purpose, solid plastic wastes, including PET bottles, waste electrical and electronic assemblies scrap and other chemical wastes especially in solvent form.
- Permitted for import: Metal scrap, paper waste and various categories of electrical and electronic equipment for re-use purpose, however, can be imported without permission from the environment ministry.
- Responsibility: The rules make state governments responsible for environmentally sound management of hazardous and other wastes and mandate them to set up industrial space or sheds for recycling, pre-processing and other utilization of hazardous or other waste.
- Safety and health of workers: The state authorities have also been asked to register the workers involved in recycling, undertake industrial skill development activities and ensure safety and health of workers.
- Annual reports: States must also submit annual reports regarding implementation of these rules to environment ministry. This is because workers employed in unscientific hazardous waste management practices suffer from neurological disorders, skin diseases, genetic defects and cancer.
- Annual inventory: The rules also mandate state pollution control boards to prepare an annual inventory of the waste generated, recycled, recovered, utilised including co-processed, waste re-exported and waste disposed.
Significance of new rules:
The new hazardous waste rules will ensure resource recovery and disposal of hazardous waste in an environmentally sound manner.
The rules are environment and industry-friendly.
The provisions of the new rules are in line with this government’s priority for Ease of Doing Business and Make in India, but with responsible concerns for sustainable development.
Ranthambore opens for full day safari
Ranthambore has, with immediate effect, opened the forest for full day safari from sunrise to sunset.
The full day safari has been introduced at Ranthambore on the lines of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh governments.
- Ranthambhore was established as the Sawai Madhopur Game Sanctuary in 1955 by the Government of India and was declared one of the Project Tiger reserves in 1973.
- It is named after the historic Ranthambhore fortress, which lies within the park.
- Ranthambore became a national park in 1980. In 1984, the adjacent forests were declared the Sawai Man Singh Sanctuary and Keladevi Sanctuary, and in 1991 the tiger reserve was enlarged to include the Sawai Man Singh and Keladevi sanctuaries.
- Ranthambore National Park is located in the Sawai Madhopur district of southeastern Rajasthan.
- Park lies at the edge of a plateau and is bounded to the north by the Banas River and to the south by the Chambal River.
Defence & Security Issues
MHA constitutes Madhukar Gupta Committee to strengthen border protection
The Ministry of Home Affairs has constituted a Committee under the Chairmanship of Shri Madhukar Gupta, in order to strengthen border protection and address the issue of gaps and vulnerability in border fencing along Indo-Pakistan border.
- The mandate of the Committee will be to study all types of gaps in fencing and all other vulnerabilities in the International Border on Indo-Pakistan Border and to suggest comprehensive approach to fix these gaps in fencing and other vulnerabilities on interim and permanent basis.
- The Committee will submit its report in 3 months.
Science & Technology
Pig hearts may save human lives, say researchers
Scientists from the United States and Germany have succeeded in keeping transplanted pig hearts alive in baboons, primate cousins of humans, for a record 2.5 years.
- This is very significant because it brings scientists one step closer to using these organs in humans.
- Xenotransplants— organ transplants between different species — could potentially save thousands of lives each year that are lost due to a shortage of human organs for transplantation.
- Given the dire shortage of organ donors, the use of animal hearts, lungs or livers to save human lives has long been a holy grail of medical science.
‘Fast radio burst ‘afterglow’ came from black hole’
Scientists have found that a radio emission believed to be an afterglow from a mysterious event called fast radio burst, actually originated from a supermassive black hole in the core of a distant galaxy.
What are fast radio bursts (or FRBs)?
- As their name suggests, fast radio bursts (or FRBs) are brief yet powerful spurts of radio energy lasting only a few milliseconds.
- Last year, researchers reported detecting the afterglow from a fast radio burst, which would pinpoint the precise position of the burst’s origin, a longstanding goal in studies of these mysterious events.
- The first ones were only identified in 2007. Their source has remained a mystery. Most FRBs have been identified in archival data, making immediate follow-up impossible. The new event, FRB 150418, is only the second one to be identified in real time.
Also in News
President of India presents National Geoscience Awards 2014
The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee recently presented the National Geoscience Awards – 2014.
About the award:
- The National Geoscience Awards was previously known as the National Mineral Awards.
- It was instituted by the Ministry of Mines in 1966, to honour individuals and teams of scientists for their extraordinary achievements and outstanding contributions in fundamental and applied geosciences and mining and allied fields.