Government Schemes & Policies
- UJALA scheme launched in Melaka, Malaysia
Issues related to Health & Education
- Health Ministry launches two new contraceptives
- Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2018
- NITI Aayog constitutes Expert Task Force on Employment & Exports
Bilateral & International Relations
- India, Myanmar sign 11 Agreements
- India-Sri Lanka joint maritime naval exercise – SLINEX 2017
Science & Technology
- TRAI recommends delicensing of some spectrum for M2M services
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Government Schemes & Policies
UJALA scheme launched in Melaka, Malaysia
India’s zero-subsidy UJALA (Unnat Jyoti by Affordable Lighting for All) Scheme was launched in Melaka State of Malaysia by Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), under Union Ministry of Power.
- It highlights success of Indian model UJALA scheme to promote efficient lighting, using efficient equipment to reduce electricity bills and preserve environment at global level.
- India’s Ujala scheme will be replicated in Malaysia, under which each household in Melaka state will get 10 high quality 9-watt LED bulbs, at subsidised rate almost half price offered in market.
- The initiative is implemented by India’s EESL with logistical assistance and facilitation support from Green Growth Asia, a non-profit organisation in Malaysia. The EESL is planning to distribute about 1 million 9W LED bulbs, replacing 18W CFLs.
- It will help Melaka promote efficient lighting and conserve the resources, money and environment by reducing 19,000 tonnes carbon emissions per year.
About the UJALA scheme:
UJALA is a flagship project of the Govt. of India where it wants every home in India to use LED bulbs so that the net power or energy consumption rate comes down and the carbon emission rates can also be checked.
- The main objective of scheme is to promote efficient lighting, enhance awareness on using efficient equipment which reduce electricity bills and preserve environment.
- It is LED based Domestic Efficient Lighting Programme (DELP). Under it, LED Bulbs are distributed.
- Its purpose is not only to help reduce electricity bills of consumers but also contribute to energy security of India.
- It is being implemented by EESL, a joint venture of PSUs under Union Ministry of Power.
- LED bulbs have a very long life, almost 50 times more than ordinary bulbs, and 8-10 times that of CFLs, and therefore provide both energy and cost savings.
- The Ujala scheme uses economy of scale and a sustainable market mechanism.
- It is globally one of the largest efficiency programmes.
Issues related to Health & Education
Health Ministry launches two new contraceptives
In a bid to keep a check on the increasing population in the country, The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has launched two new contraceptives- Antara and Chhaya.
- They have been launched in 10 states under Mission ParivarVikas, a central family planning initiative.
- These 10 states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Haryana, West Bengal, Odisha, Delhi and Goa.
- Antara is injectable contraceptive, effective for three months drug whereas Chayya is contraceptive pill, effective for one week.
- Both of contraceptives are safe and highly effective. They will be available for free in medical colleges and district hospitals in 10 states.
- The introduction of these new contraceptives will expand the basket of choices for country’s population to meet their family planning needs
About Mission ParivarVikas
The Mission ParivarVikas aims to accelerate access to high quality family planning choices based on information, reliable services and supplies within a rights-based framework.
- Its main objective is to bring down Total Fertility Rate (TFR) to 2.1, which is when population of country starts stabilizing by 2025.
- Its strategic focus is on improving access to contraceptives through delivering assured services, ensuring commodity security and accelerating access to high quality family planning services.
- It will utilise RMNCH+A strategy, FPLMIS and consumer friendly website on family planning.
- The mission is being implemented in 146 high focus districts that house 44% of country’s population, with highest TFR of 3 and more in country.
- The high focus districts are in 7 states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Assam.
Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2018
The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2018 of top 1,000 universities in the world has been released.
Highlights of the rankings:
- UK led the rankings with University of Oxford retaining first position.
- The University of Cambridge climbed two places to second, overtaking California Institute of Technology and Stanford University, both joint third. The United States continued to dominate the rankings.
- China is the only BRICS nation that has advanced dramatically; it is now the fourth most-represented nation in the table, with 60 universities, including seven in the top 200, up from four last year.
Performance of Indian institutions
- Some of the premier Indian institutes such as IIT Delhi and IISc Bangalore have slide down in the rankings to lower bands. Not a single Indian institute was able to made it to the top 100 list.
- This year, India’s representation has also declined, from 31 institutions to 30, while eight of its universities have slipped to a lower band.
- Indian Institute of Science (IISc) has been placed in 251-300 category. The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay has been listed 351-400 category.
- Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur and Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Roorkee have been listed in 501-600 category.
- Aligarh Muslim University, Banaras Hindu University, University of Delhi and Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati made it to the 601-800 list.
Reasons for decline in ranking of Indian Universities
- Indian institutes were lagging behind in research funding and citations and also on internationalisation front.
- Most of premier institutes in India cater to one particular stream such as engineering or management etc. which reduces volume and variety of research.
- Government policy strictly limits number of students from abroad who can study in India and prevents international scholars from being hired into long-term faculty positions.
- If India desires to feature at a larger scale in these rankings, Indian Universities along with Indian education system need urgent revamp and there need to focus more on research, research funding and internationalization of Indian campuses.
NITI Aayog constitutes Expert Task Force on Employment & Exports
With an aim to create new jobs by enhancing India’s export, the NITI Aayog constituted an Expert Task Force.
- The task force will be chaired by the NITI Aayog Vice Chairman, Dr. Rajiv Kumar.
- The task force, which includes government and private sector representatives, has been asked to submit its report by November 2017.
Steps outlined by the task force
The steps outlined by the task force to address this challenge of creating well-paid, formal sector jobs, include:
- Proposing a comprehensive plan of action to generate employment and alleviate under-employment in both goods and services sectors and low wages by boosting India’s exports in key labour-intensive industries
- Recommending sector-specific policy interventions in key employment sectors
- Recommending measures to enhance trade in services with high employment potential
- Identifying key macro economic factors constraining exports and suggesting methods to address these constraints
- Assessing the effectiveness of existing schemes to promote exports
- Addressing issues related to logistics, export credits and trade facilitation
- Suggesting ways to enhance the availability of data on trade such that it is reliable, globally comparable and timely, particularly with respect to trade in services.
Need for the task force:
- While the Indian workforce has high aspirations, a majority of the workers are still employed in low-productivity, low-wage jobs in small, micro and own-account enterprises. An urgent and sustained expansion of the organized sector is essential to address India’s unemployment and under-employment issue.
- An important strategy is also to enable a shift towards more labour-intensive goods and services that are destined for exports. Given the importance of exports in generating jobs, India needs to create an environment in which globally competitive exporters can emerge and flourish.
Bilateral & International Relations
India, Myanmar sign 11 Agreements
India and Myanmar signed eleven agreements following delegation-level talks headed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi at Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar.
- These 11 agreements were signed in a range of sectors including one on maritime security cooperation to further strengthen their multifaceted partnership.
Highlights of the signed Agreements
- MoU on Maritime Security Cooperation
- Cultural Exchange Programme for year 2017-2020
- MoU on Cooperation in Medical Products Regulation
- MoU on cooperation in the field of Health and medicine
- Technical Agreement for providing Coastal Surveillance System
- Exchange of Letter for Extension of MoU on the establishment of MIIT
- MoU for Upgradation of Women’s Police Training Centre at Yamethin, Myanmar
- MoU for Sharing White Shipping Information between Indian Navy and Myanmar Navy
- MoU in the field of elections between Election Commission of India and Election Commission of Myanmar
- Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation between Press Council of India and Myanmar Press Council
- Exchange of Letter for Extension of MoU on establishment of India-Myanmar Centre for Enhancement of IT-Skill.
India-Sri Lanka joint maritime naval exercise – SLINEX 2017
Indian Navy and Sri Lankan Navy began the 2017 Sri Lanka-India Exercise (SLINEX) at Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh.
- SLINEX 17 aims at reinforcing strong neighbourly ties between both countries underscored by extensive maritime interaction and improved understanding.
- It focuses on fleet work, seamanship, communication, replenishment at sea, Visit Board Search and Seize (VBSS) operations as well as helicopter operations.
- The exercise will commence with a Harbour Phase, during which, the participants will engage in professional, cultural and social interactions.
- The Harbour Phase will be followed by the Sea Phase, which will include complex operations including anti-piracy exercises, gun firings, cross-deck helicopter operations and anti-surface exercises.
About Sri Lanka-India Exercise (SLINEX)
- SLINEX series of bilateral maritime exercises was initiated in 2005 and since then four successful engagements have been conducted.
- SLINEX aims to promote mutual understanding and provide exposure to both the Navies to each others’ operating procedures, communication procedures and best practices.
- This allows the two navies to develop greater confidence to operate together during complex maritime missions.
Science & Technology
TRAI recommends delicensing of some spectrum for M2M services
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has recommended delicensing of chunk of spectrum in few bands to facilitate smooth roll-out of machine-to-machine (M2M) communications.
- TRAI has suggested that no separate spectrum band will be allocated exclusively for M2M services, rather it will utilise existing license exempt airwaves.
Important recommendations made by TRAI:
- TRAI has suggested to Department of Telecom (DoT) that all existing operators should be allowed to provide connectivity for M2M services. Under this technology, devices will be fitted with SIM or universal integrated circuit card (eUICC).
- TRAI has suggests delicensing of 1 MHz of spectrum from 867-868 MHz frequencies and another six units from the 915-935 MHz range for M2M communication services.
- TRAI has suggested that government, through DoT, should identify critical services in M2M sector and these services should be provided only by connectivity providers using licensed spectrum.
- It also suggested that companies offering M2M services using unlicensed spectrum should be covered under licence through a new permit to be called Unified Licence (M2M).
What is M2M communications?
- Unlike person-to-person (P2P) communication, M2M technologies involve communication between two devices.
- The technology is basis for automated information exchange between machines.
- It enables wired and wireless devices to talk to each other using sensors.
- It is also a key component of the emerging Internet of Things (IoT) revolution.
- Applications of self-communicating machines using M2M communications can be deployed in new-age infrastructure projects and various industry verticals such as smart cities, smart grids, smart homes, smart transportation and smart heath sectors.
- TRAI acknowledged its potential in National Telecom Policy 2012.