Government Schemes & Policies
- PM Modi launches Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan in Gujarat
- PM Modi launches ‘Intensified Mission Indradhanush’
Bilateral & International Relations
- India plans to lessen its drug reliance on China
Defence & Security Issues
- China swears by 1890 border treaty with Britain
Science & Technology
- Bacteria can spread antibiotic resistance through soil: study
Key Facts for Prelims
- 2017 Nobel Prize in Literature
- International Conference on Dialogue of Civilizations – IV
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Government Schemes & Policies
PM Modi launches Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan in Gujarat
Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently launched the Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan (PMGDISHA) at Gandhinagar in Gujarat.
About Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan (PMGDISHA):
Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyaan is the scheme to make six crore persons in rural areas, across States/UTs, digitally literate, reaching to around 40% of rural households by covering one member from every eligible household by 31st March, 2019.
- Under the scheme, 25 lakh candidates will be trained in the FY 2016-17; 275 lakh in the FY 2017-18; and 300 lakh in the FY 2018-19.
- To ensure equitable geographical reach, each of the 250,000 Gram Panchayats would be expected to register an average of 200-300 candidates.
- The scheme aims at imparting digital literacy to citizens in rural areas free of cost.
- Under it, people in rural area will be trained to operate a computer, tablet, smartphones, etc and how to access the Internet, government services, undertake digital payment, compose e-mails, etc.
- Illiterate people between the age group 14-60 years, nominated from every eligible rural household, are qualified for the scheme.
- The marginalised sections of society like SCs/STs, Minorities, BPL familiers, differently-abled (divyangs) all will be a part of this scheme.
- The implementation of the Scheme would be carried out under the overall supervision of Ministry of Electronics and IT in active collaboration with States/UTs through their designated State Implementing Agencies, District e-Governance Society (DeGS), etc.
- The Scheme is applicable only for rural areas of the country.
Significance of the programme:
As per the 71st NSSO Survey on Education 2014, only 6% of rural households have a computer. This highlights that more than 15 crore rural households (@ 94% of 16.85 crore households) do not have computers and a significant number of these households are likely to be digitally illiterate.
- The PMGDISHA being initiated under Digital India Programme would cover 6 crore households in rural areas to make them digitally literate.
- This would empower the citizens by providing them access to information, knowledge and skills for operating computers / digital access devices.
- PMGDISHA is expected to be one of the largest digital literacy programmes in the world.
PM Modi launches ‘Intensified Mission Indradhanush’
Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Intensified Mission Indradhanush (IMI).
- Through this programme, Government of India aims to reach each and every child under two years of age and all those pregnant women who have been left uncovered under the routine immunisation programme.
- The special drive will focus on improving immunization coverage in select districts and cities to ensure full immunization to more than 90% by December 2018.
- The achievement of full immunisation under Mission Indradhanush to at least 90% coverage was to be achieved by 2020 earlier. With the launch of IMI, achievement of the target has now been advanced.
About the Intensified Mission Indradhanush (IMI):
- IMI will cover low performing areas in the selected districts and urban areas. These areas have been selected through triangulation of data available under national surveys, Health Management Information System data and World Health Organization concurrent monitoring data.
- Special attention will be given to unserved/low coverage pockets in sub-centre and urban slums with migratory population.
- The focus is also on the urban settlements and cities identified under National Urban Health Mission (NUHM).
- IMI will have inter-ministerial and inter-departmental coordination, action-based review mechanism and intensified monitoring and accountability framework for effective implementation of targeted rapid interventions to improve the routine immunization coverage.
- IMI is supported by 11 other ministries and departments.
- The convergence of ground level workers of various departments like ASHA, Auxiliary nurse midwife (ANMs), Anganwadi workers, Zila preraks under National Urban Livelihood Mission (NULM), self-help groups will be ensured for better coordination and effective implementation of the programme.
Monitoring of the IMI:
- Intensified Mission Indradhanush would be closely monitored at the district, state and central level at regular intervals.
- Further, it would be reviewed by the Cabinet Secretary at the National level and will continue to be monitored at the highest level under a special initiative ‘Proactive Governance and Timely Implementation (PRAGATI)’.
- Under IMI, special strategies are devised for rigorous monitoring of the programme. States and districts have developed coverage improvement plans based on gap self-assessment. These plans are reviewed from state to central level with an aim to reach 90% coverage by December 2018.
- An appreciation and awards mechanism is also conceived to recognize the districts reaching more than 90% coverage. The criteria includes best practices and media management during crisis.
- To acknowledge the contribution of the partners/Civil Society Organization (CSOs) and others, Certificate of Appreciation will be given.
About Mission Indradhanush:
Mission Indradhanush was launched by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India in 2014.
- The Mission Indradhanush aims to cover all those children by 2020 who are either unvaccinated, or are partially vaccinated against vaccine preventable diseases.
- The goal of MI is to achieve more than 90 per cent full immunisation coverage among children in the country by 2020.
- The diseases being targeted are diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, poliomyelitis, tuberculosis, measles and Hepatitis B.
- In addition to these, vaccines for Japanese Encephalitis and Haemophilus influenzae type B are also being provided in selected states.
- In 2016, four new additions have been made namely Rubella, Japanese Encephalitis, Injectable Polio Vaccine Bivalent and Rotavirus.
- During MI drives, pregnant women are administered the tetanus vaccine, ORS packets and zinc tablets are distributed for use in the event of severe diarrhoea or dehydration and vitamin A doses are administered to boost child immunity.
Significance of MI:
- MI is one of the largest immunisation programmes in the world. Since the launch of MI, full immunisation coverage has increased by 5% to 7%.
Bilateral & International Relations
India plans to lessen its drug reliance on China
Union Health Ministry along with drug regulators is planning to take a series of measures to limit reliance on China as well as tighten the regulatory checks and balances to ensure only good quality supplies are entering the Indian market.
- The idea is to regulate small foreign players who may not be supplying quality products but giving pricing advantage. This is hurting the interest of Indian patients as well as the industry.
- The Government wants to create a level playing field for Indian companies and also ensure good quality products for Indian patients
- The government is also planning to make changes to the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules soon to hike registration charges and licensing fees.
Need to lessen India’s drug reliance on China:
- The recent tension between India and China has prompted the government to think of measures to reduce its dependence on China for pharmaceutical products.
- Currently, India gets 70-80% of its medicines and medical devices supplies, including raw material for pharmaceuticals (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient) from China. This poses a major risk of severe drug shortage if India’s diplomatic relations with China worsen.
- In 2014, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval had also warned the government about India’s over-dependence on China for API and how tension between the two countries can cause a crisis in the public health system of India.
- Industry executives say Indian companies are subjected to much higher fees when they sell their products in China or in other countries. The measures are important to bring a parity to fee structures but it has its consequences like impact on prices and competition.
- Following Doval’s alert, the government had formed a committee of experts to formulate a specific policy to boost API manufacturing in India.
- Currently, API accounts for less than 10% of India’s over Rs 1 lakh crore pharmaceutical industry.
- However, India was once a favoured destination for sourcing low-cost, good quality raw material for manufacturing medicines.
- Gradually, China has taken over this bulk drug market globally in the past few years by creating huge capacities.
Defence & Security Issues
China swears by 1890 border treaty with Britain
A day after Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman made her maiden visit to the Nathu La post, China referred to its 1890 treaty with the United Kingdom which, it claims, demarcated the Sikkim sector of the India-China border as it urged New Delhi to abide by its provisions.
- India believes Beijing is misrepresenting Delhi’s position as well as prior agreements between the two countries acknowledging differences at the India-China-Bhutan trijunction.
What was the 1890 UK- China treaty?
The 1890 UK- China treaty was signed between Great Britain and China on March 17, 1890, at Calcutta.
- As per Article (1) of Convention of 1890, it was agreed that the boundary of Sikkim and Tibet shall be the crest of the mountain range separating the waters flowing into the Sikkim Teesta and its affluents, from the waters flowing into the Tibetan Mochu and northwards into other rivers of Tibet. The line commences at Mount Gipmochi, on the Bhutan frontier, and follows the above-mentioned water-parting to the point where it meets Nepal territory.
- However, Tibet refused to recognise the validity of Convention of 1890 and further refused to carry into effect the provisions of the said Convention. In 1904, a treaty known as a Convention between Great Britain and Tibet was signed at Lhasa.
- As per the Convention, Tibet agreed to respect the Convention of 1890 and to recognise the frontier between Sikkim and Tibet, as defined in Article (1) of the said Convention.
- On April 27, 1906, a treaty was signed between Great Britain and China at Peking, which confirmed the Convention of 1904 between Great Britain and Tibet.
Is India bound by the Convention of 1890?
- The Convention of 1890 was entered by the King of Great Britain on behalf of India before independence and around the time of independence, the Indian Independence (International Arrangement) Order, 1947 was notified by Secretariat of the Governor-General (Reforms) on August 14, 1947.
- The Order provided, inter alia, that the rights and obligations under all international agreements to which India is a party immediately before the appointed day will devolve upon the Dominion of India.
- Therefore, in terms of Order of 1947, the government of India is bound by the said Convention of 1890.
- However, India’s affirmation of the Convention of 1890 was limited to the alignment of the India-China border in Sikkim, based on watershed, and not with respect to any other aspects.
Science & Technology
Bacteria can spread antibiotic resistance through soil: study
Researchers including one of Indian origin from North Carolina State University in the US found that antibiotic resistance can be passed between bacteria found in the soil.
About the research:
- Researchers studied antibiotic resistance and its persistence and spread among food animals, humans and the environment they all share.
- The study found that spreading manure on the ground as fertiliser can also spread antibiotic resistance to bacteria in the soil.
- Bacteria contain small DNA molecules known as plasmids. These plasmids are separate from the bacterias actual DNA, and can pick up and exchange genes between bacteria.
Significance of the study:
- The study tells us that this particular plasmid is shuttling across different serotypes.
- It could explain why we find antibiotic resistant salmonella strains even on farms that don’t use antibiotics. It seems that once antibiotic resistance takes hold, it doesn’t go away. These bacteria are simply better equipped to survive and so they prosper.
Key Facts for Prelims
2017 Nobel Prize in Literature
- British author Kazuo Ishiguro, best known for his novel The Remains of the Day, has won the 2017 Nobel Literature Prize.
- The award was given for his works that are of great emotional force which uncovers the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world.
- He had received four Man Booker Prize nominations and won it in 1989 for his novel ‘The Remains of the Day’.
International Conference on Dialogue of Civilizations – IV
- The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), Ministry of Culture, Government of India, in collaboration with National Geographic Society is hosting an international conference on ‘Dialogue of Civilizations’ at Delhi, Gandhinagar and Dholavira.
- This conference is fourth in this series of ‘dialogues’ initiated by National Geographic Society in 2013.
- It was started with an objective to encourage scholarly and public discourse about the five ancient, literate civilizations of the world, i.e. Egypt, Mesopotamia, South Asia, China and Mesoamerica.
- It focuses on how the study of the past can share our present and future towards the right direction.
- The first conference of this series was inaugurated in Guatemala in 2013 followed by Turkey in 2014 and China in 2015.
- The present conference is the fourth in this series, with the final dialogue planned in Egypt.