Polity & Governance
- 31st meeting of the Standing Committee of Voluntary Agencies (SCOVA)
- CBI to get Centralised Technology Vertical
Government Schemes & Policies
- Govt launches updated Credit linked Capital Subsidy Scheme for MSMEs
Issues related to Health & Education
- Steps taken to implement the Institutions of Eminence (IoE) Scheme
- launches campaign to promote ‘eat right movement’
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Mapping lightning across India
- Was the ‘loch ness monster’ a giant eel? Here’s what DNA study found
Bilateral & International Relations
- India extends $1 billion line of credit to Russia’s Far East
Defence & Security Issues
- Exercise TSENTR 2019
- 28TH Indo–Thai CORPAT
- INS Tarkash at Lagos, Nigeria
- Hurricane Dorian
Science & Technology
- Mobile Science Exhibition (SCIENCE EXPLORER) of NCSM in Leh opened
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Polity & Governance
31st meeting of the Standing Committee of Voluntary Agencies (SCOVA)
The Union Minister of State for Development of North Eastern Region chaired the 31st meeting of the Standing Committee of Voluntary Agencies (SCOVA).
- The SCOVA meeting was organised by the Department of Pensions & Pensioners’ Welfare (DoP&PW), Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions.
About Standing Committee of Voluntary Agencies (SCOVA)
- On the recommendations of Parliamentary Consultative Committee, Standing Committee of Voluntary Agencies (SCOVA) was constituted in 1986.
- SCOVA consists of 15 Non-official members (5 Standing Group and 10 Rotating Group Members) represented by the Pensioners Associations from various Ministries/Departments/States etc.
- It is a useful forum for holding consultation with the pensioners through their Associations and concerned Ministries/Departments.
- It provides the Associations an opportunity for raising their issues concerning pensioners’ welfare etc. directly before the concerned Ministries/Departments.
- To provide a feedback on implementation of process/programmes of the Department of Pension & Pensioners’ Welfare
- To discuss and critically examine the policy initiatives and
- To mobilize voluntary efforts to supplement the Government action
CBI to get Centralised Technology Vertical
Union Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, at the 1st national conference on cyber-crime investigation and forensics organised by the CBI, said that a Centralised Technology Vertical (CTV) would be set up under the CBI.
About CBI’s Centralised Technology Vertical (CTV)
- A Centralised Technology Vertical (CTV) would be set up under the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) at a cost of ₹99 crores.
- It aims to facilitate real-time information sharing with investigators across India.
- In the wake of Abrogation of special status to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution, cyber manipulators were posing risk by circulating fake videos on social media.
Background of CBI
- The Central Bureau of Investigation traces its origin to the Special Police Establishment (SPE) which was set up in 1941 by the Government of India.
- The functions of the SPE then were to investigate cases of bribery and corruption in transactions with the War & Supply Deptt. Of India during World War II.
- It had its headquarters in Lahore.
- After the end of the war, there was a continued need for a central governmental agency to investigate bribery and corruption by central-government employees.
- The department was transferred to the Home Department by the 1946 Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act.
- This Act transferred the superintendence of the SPE to the Home Department and its functions were enlarged to cover all departments of the Govt. of India.
- The DSPE acquired its popular current name, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), through a Home Ministry resolution dated of 1963.
- Initially the offences that were notified by the Central Government related only to corruption by Central Govt. servants. In due course, with the setting up of a large number of public sector undertakings, the employees of these undertakings were also brought under CBI purview.
- Similarly, with the nationalisation of the banks in 1969, the Public Sector Banks and their employees also came within the ambit of the CBI.
- India has the second largest users of Internet in the world.
Government Schemes & Policies
Govt launches updated Credit linked Capital Subsidy Scheme for MSMEs
The government launched the updated Credit linked Capital Subsidy Scheme (CLCSS) to allow micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) access to capital.
- Government will soon prepare a final report on the recommendations of the U K Sinha committee, which had been set up by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to suggest expeditious ways to strengthen MSMEs.
What has been changed in CLCSS?
- In the relaunched scheme, there is an additional 10 per cent subsidy for SC-ST entrepreneurs.
- Special provisions have been made for 117 ‘aspirational’ districts, hill states and the northeastern region.
- Additionally, now there will no upper limit on overall annual spending on the subsidy disbursal.
Significance of the updated CLCSS
- The CLCSS scheme would be crucial in raising MSME contribution to gross domestic product from the current 29 per cent to 50 per cent, in addition to increasing exports from the sector to 50 per cent from 40 per cent now.
Credit Linked Capital Subsidy and Technology Upgradation Scheme (CLCSS)
- It was announced by the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises in 2000.
- It aims at facilitating technology up-gradation by providing 15% on institutional finance of upto Rs 1 crore up front capital subsidy to MSEs, in the specified 51 sub-sectors including khadi, village and coir industrial units.
Other Objective of the scheme
- Hand holding for zero defect zero effect manufacturing (ZED)
- Increasing productivity through waste reduction (Lean)
- Design intervention (Design),
- Cloud computing (Digital MSMEs),
- Facilitation of intellectual property (IPR)
- Nurturing new ideas (Incubation)
- At present, the Scheme is being implemented by 12 nodal banks/agencies including SIDBI and NABARD.
- The government is deliberating to improve the TReDS (Trade Receivables Discounting System) platform and the online bill discounting platform, which helps MSMEs raise funds by selling their trade receivables to corporates.
- While the government has already notified that all companies registered under the Companies Act, 2013, with a turnover of over Rs 500 crore, along with the Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs), has to get themselves on the TReDS, only 27 Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs) and about 750 corporates have registered.
Recommendations of U K Sinha committee
- The committee suggested a Rs 5,000-crore stressed asset fund for domestic MSMEs hurt by demonetisation, the GST and an ongoing liquidity crunch.
Issues related to Health & Education
Steps taken to implement the Institutions of Eminence (IoE) Scheme
The Ministry of Human Resource Development issued orders to 5 public Universities, IIT Madras, Banaras Hindu University, IIT Kharagpur, University of Delhi and University of Hyderabad, conveying their declaration as Institutions of Eminence (IoE).
- The scheme of Institutions of Eminence was rolled out by University Grants Commission(UGC).
- It aims to help 20 higher educations (10 publics and 10 private) institutionsfrom country break into top 500 global rankings in 10 years, and then eventually break into top 100 over time.
Who can apply?
- Only higher education institutions, currently placed in the top 500 of global rankingsor top 50 of National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF), are eligible to apply for eminence tag.
- The private Institutions of Eminence can also come up as greenfield ventures provided sponsoring organisation submits convincing perspective plan for 15 years.
Benefits of Institutions of Eminence
- Government Institutions to get additional funding upto 1000 Cr.
- The selected Institutions under IoE shall have complete academic, finical and administrative
- Academic collaborations with foreign higher educational institutions (in top 500) would be exempt from government approvals.
- Hire personnel from industry.
- Recruit faculty from outside India (limit of 25% of its faculty strength for public institution).
- Enter into academic collaborations with other Institutions within the country.
- Have own transparent merit based system for admission of students.
- Admit additionally foreign students on merit subject to a maximum of 30% of the strength of admitted domestic students.
- Fix and charge fees from foreign students without restriction as well as determine the domestic student fees,
- Offer courses within a program as well as to offer degrees in newer areas.
- Offer online courses as part of their programmes with a restriction that not more than 20% of the programme should be in online mode.
- Have flexibility in fixing of curriculum and syllabus, with no UGC mandated curriculum structure.
Govt. launches campaign to promote ‘eat right movement’
Health Minister kick-started POSHAN Maah 2019 with a year-long social and mass media campaign on the Eat Right India movement.
- Central Government is celebrating the September month as “Rashtriya Poshan Maah” (National Nutrition Month) to emphasise the need for healthy nutrition.
About Eat Right movement
- It is aligned with the government’s flagship public health programmes such as POSHAN Abhiyaan, Anemia Mukt Bharat, Ayushman Bharat Yojana and Swachh Bharat Mission.
- The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has put in place robust regulatory measures under three major pillars: Eat Safe, Eat Health and Eat Sustainably for the programme.
- As part of ‘Eat Right India’ campaign, FSSAI has trained over 1 lakh food safety supervisors to spread awareness and sensitise people and food vendors on food safety.
- There is an increasing burden of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and heart diseases in India.
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.
- In 2018, FSSAI launch a campaign to eliminate the of trans-fat from India by 2022. Hence, regulations to reduce trans-fats to less than 2 percent in all oils, fats and food products are in place.
- FSSAI has also prescribed a limit for Total Polar Compounds (TPC) at 25% in cooking oil to avoid the harmful effects of reused cooking oil.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
Mapping lightning across India
For the first time, a report has mapped lightning strikes across the country, and the lives they have claimed.
Highlights of the report
- Lightning strikes have caused at least 1,311 deaths in the four-month period between April and July 2019. Uttar Pradesh accounted for 224 of these deaths, followed by Bihar, Odisha and Jharkhand.
- Out of 65.55 lakh lightning strikes in India during four-month period, 36 per cent happened to be cloud-to-ground lightning while 64 per cent were in-cloud lightning, which remains confined to the clouds in which it was formed.
- Odisha recorded the maximum lightning incidents across India.
About the report
- The first ever report on lightening was prepared by Climate Resilient Observing Systems Promotion Council (CROPC), a non-profit organisation that works closely with India Meteorological Department (IMD).
Significance of the report
- The report is part of an effort to create a database that can help develop an early warning system for lightning, spread awareness, and prevent deaths.
- It is possible to predict, 30-40 minutes in advance, when a lightning strike heads towards Earth. The prediction is made possible through study and monitoring of the in-cloud lightning strikes.
- Between 2,000 and 2,500 people are estimated as killed every year in lightning strikes in the country. Timely dissemination of this information can save several lives.
What is lightning and how does it strike?
- Lightning is a very rapid discharge of electricity in the atmosphere some of which is directed towards the Earth’s surface.
- The base of these clouds typically lies within 1-2 km of the Earth’s surface, while their top is 12-13 km away. Temperatures towards the top of these clouds are in the range of minus 35 to minus 45 degrees Celsius.
- As water vapour moves upward in the cloud, the falling temperature causes it to Heat is generated in the process, which pushes the molecules of water further up.
- As they move to temperatures below zero degrees celsius, the water droplets change into small ice crystals.
- They continue to move up, gathering mass until they are so heavy that they start to fall to Earth.
- This leads to a system in which, simultaneously, smaller ice crystals are moving up and bigger crystals are coming down.
- This results in collisions among waster crystal which triggers the release of electrons, a process that is very similar to the generation of sparks of electricity. As the moving free electrons cause more collisions and more electrons, a chain reaction ensues.
- This process results in a situation in which the top layer of the cloud gets positively charged, while the middle layer is negatively charged.
- An enormous amount of heat is produced and this leads to the heating of the air column between the two layers of the cloud. This heat gives the air column a reddish appearance during lightning. As the heated air column expands, it produces shock waves that result in thunder.
How does this current reach the Earth from the cloud?
- While the Earth is a good conductor of electricity, it is electrically neutral.
- The majority of lightning happens within the cloud due to the attraction between positive and negative charges.
- If the surface of the Earth becomes intensely positively charged, then the attraction between negative charges in the base of the cloud and positive charges on the surface of the Earth have the ability to cause cloud to ground lightning.
- There is a greater probability of lightning striking tall objects such as trees, towers or buildings. This happens because air is a poor conductor of electricity, and electrons that are travelling through air seek both a better conductor and the shortest route to the relatively positively charged Earth’s surface.
Was the ‘loch ness monster’ a giant eel? Here’s what DNA study found
In the absence of any conclusive evidence, there have been various theories about whether “Nessie” ever existed. Scientists announced one more theory: The Loch Ness Monster may have been a giant eel.
What is Loch Ness Monster?
- The Loch Ness Monster or Nessie is said to be a creature that inhabits Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands.
- It is often described as large in size with a long neck and one or more humps protruding from the water.
- It was brought to worldwide attention in 1933. However, evidence of its existence is anecdotal, with a few disputed photographs.
What did new research reveal?
- The researchers carried analysis on traces of DNA in the Loch Ness’s waters. The results showed there was a lot of eel DNA in the Loch.
- The first written record of Loch Ness Monster was found from Irish monk St Columba, who saw it in River Ness in the 6th century.
- In 1934, a “Surgeon’s photo” (as shown in above pic), showing a head on a long neck emerging from the water, was became famous. After 60 years, it was discovered that the photo was of a plastic model attached to a toy submarine.
What are marine eels?
- Eels have an elongated, snakelike body and vary in size and coloration.
- They are mostly found in shallow waters but some of them live offshore in sandy or clayey bottoms ranging up to 500 metres.
- The moray and conger are common genuses of marine eel.
Bilateral & International Relations
India extends $1 billion line of credit to Russia’s Far East
Prime minister of India, for the first time, attended the East Economic Forum during his two-day Russia visit and announced a credit line of $1 billion for the development of Far East Russia.
About East Economic Forum
- The Eastern Economic Forum was established by the Russian President in 2015 to support the economic development of Russia’s Far East and to expand international cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region.
- In the last five years, as many as 17 different countries have invested in the Far East, including China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and Vietnam.
- As a result, 20 advanced special economic zones and five free ports have been put in place in EEF.
What is India’s interest in the EEF?
- An area of special interest for India is the exploration of hydrocarbon reserves along the coast of Russia’s Far East.
- India is also a key customer of the Russian arms industry. In March, India entered into a joint venture with Russia to manufacture the Kalashnikov assault rifles in India. In 2018, Russia sold the S-400 advanced air defence system to India.
Russian Far East
- The Russian Far East comprises the Russian part of the Far East, the easternmost territory of Russia, betweenLake Baikal (world’s largest freshwater lake and deepest lake) in Eastern Siberia and the Pacific Ocean.
- The macro-region borders two oceans: The Pacific and the Arctic.
- The Far Eastern Federal District shares land borders with Mongolia, China and Koreato its south, and shares maritime borders with Japan to its southeast and with the US to its northeast.
- It constitutes over one-third of Russia’s territory. It is home to major natural resource deposits and essential to maintaining increasingly valuable Asian trade routes.
- Although traditionally considered part of Siberia, the Russian Far East is considered separate from Siberiain Russian regional schemes.
Significance of the Far East
- The Far East is rich in natural resources like diamonds, stannary, borax materials, 50 gold, tungsten, and fish and seafood.
- About 1/3 of all coal reserves and hydro-engineering resources of the Russia are in Far East,
- Forests of the region comprise about 30% of the total forest area of Russia.
Defence & Security Issues
Exercise TSENTR 2019
The Indian and the Pakistani armies will be part of a multi-nation joint military exercise, TSENTR 2019, in Russia to be held in September.
About TSENTR 2019
- Exercise TSENTR 2019 is part of the annual series of large scale exercises that form part of the Russian Armed Forces’ annual training cycle.
- The exercise aims at evolving drills of the participating armies and practicing them in the fight against the international terrorism.
- The series rotates through the four main Russian operational strategic commands i.e Vostok (East), Zapad (West), TSENTR (Centre) and Kavkas (South).
- 2019 exercise is planned at Donguz training ranges, Orenburg,
- These annual exercises have slowly began taking an international character, with Belarus participating in ZAPAD-2017 and China and Mongolia participating in VOSTOK-2018.
- In 2019, invitations for participation have been extended to nine other countries including China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan.
28TH Indo–Thai CORPAT
28th edition of India-Thailand Coordinated Patrol (Indo-Thai CORPAT) between the Indian Navy (IN) and the Royal Thai Navy (RTN) is being conducted from 05 – 15 September 2019.
About India-Thailand Coordinated Patrol (Indo-Thai CORPAT)
- The Objectives of the Indo-Thai CORPAT are to ensure effective implementation of United Nations Conventions on Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS).
- It also aims is to keep the vital part of the Indian Ocean Region safe and secure for commercial shipping, international trade and legitimate marine activities.
- The 27th edition of CORPART was held between India and Indonesia.
INS Tarkash at Lagos, Nigeria
As part of Indian Navy’s Overseas Deployment to Africa, Europe and Russia, Indian Naval Ship Tarkash made a port call (intermediate stop) at Lagos, Nigeria for a three-day visit.
- The port call has been scheduled to celebrate the 60th anniversary of establishing of diplomatic relations between India and Nigeria.
Location of Nigeria
- It is located at the extreme inner corner of the Gulf of Guinea on the west coast of Africa.
- Nigeria shares land borders with 4 countries: Chad, Niger, Benin, Cameroon.
- Nigeria’s capital city is Abuja.
- Hurricane Dorian is a tropical cyclone affecting the East Coast of the United States.
- It reached Category 5 storm with highest sustained winds of 185 mph (295 km/h).
- It is the second most powerful Atlantic storm ever recorded.
What is the difference between “hurricane”, “cyclone” and “typhoon”?
- Hurricane, cyclone and typhoon are different terms for the same weather phenomenon: torrential rain and maximum sustained wind speeds (near centre) exceeding 119 kilometers per hour:
- In the western North Atlantic, central and eastern North Pacific, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico, such a weather phenomenon is called “hurricanes”.
- In the western North Pacific, it is called “typhoons”
- In the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea, it is called “cyclones”
- In western South Pacific and southeast India Ocean, it is called “severe tropical cyclones”
- In the southwest India Ocean, it is called “tropical cyclones”
Naming of Tropical Cyclone
- Weather forecasters give each tropical cyclone a name to avoid confusion. Each year, tropical cyclones receive names in alphabetical order.
- The name list is proposed by the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) of WMO Members of a specific region, and approved by the respective tropical cyclone regional bodies at their annual/bi-annual sessions.
- Since 1953, Atlantic tropical storms have been named from lists originated by the National Hurricane Center. They are now maintained and updated by an international committee of the World Meteorological Organization.
- The original name lists featured only women’s names. In 1979, men’s names were introduced and they alternate with the women’s names. Six lists are used in rotation. Thus, the 2019 list will be used again in 2025.
- The only time that there is a change in the list is if a storm is so deadly or costly that the future use of its name on a different storm would be inappropriate for reasons of sensitivity.
Science & Technology
Mobile Science Exhibition (SCIENCE EXPLORER) of NCSM in Leh opened
The Union Minister of State for Culture and Tourism flagged off the first ever Mobile Science Exhibition (SCIENCE EXPLORER) for the entire Ladakh Region in Leh.
About the Mobile Science Exhibition (SCIENCE EXPLORER)
- Mounted on a specially designed bus, a Mobile Science Exhibition carries a number of interactive exhibits related to everyday science.
- These Science Explorer will travel to schools in ‘Aspirational Districts’ and will aim to create a scientific awareness among the rural children.
- Each specially designed bus contains various interactive exhibits and other demonstrations related to children and rural life.
- Popularize science and technology among the students and general public.
- Inspiring youngsters to pursue a career in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
What is a Mobile Science Exhibition (MSE) Programme?
- Mobile Science Exhibition (MSE) programme, originally launched as Mobile Science Museum (MSM) in 1965, with a mission ‘If the people cannot visit the museum, let the museum visit the people at their doorsteps’, is the largest and the longest running outreach programme of National Council of Science Museums (NCSM).
- First MSE, on the theme ‘Our Familiar Electricity’, was inaugurated in Kolkata in 1965.
About National Council of Science Museums (NCSM)
- National Council of Science Museums (NCSM) is an autonomous organization under the Ministry of Culture.
- It is engaged in Communicating Science through its network of 25 Science Centres/Museums spread across India.
- NCSM is the world’s largest network of science centres and museums that functions under a single administrative umbrella.