Polity & Governance
- Why the Centre says it cannot grant special status to Andhra Pradesh
- Nari Shakti Puraskar 2017
Government Schemes & Policies
- 40 Indian-origin students attend Know India Programme
- Commerce ministry to devise national strategy on product standards
- Over 49 lakh LED lights installed under SNLP
- National E-Mobility programme launched
Issues related to Health & Education
- #YesIBleed Campaign
Science & Technology
- NASA’s Parker Solar Probe: Send your name to the sun
- World-first firing of air-breathing electric thruster
Key Facts for Prelims
- 8th March: International Women’s Day 2018
- “Wings India 2018”
- 2018 Pritzker prize for Balkrishna doshi
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Polity & Governance
Why the Centre says it cannot grant special status to Andhra Pradesh
Regional parties in Andhra Pradesh are trading charges with the Centre over granting special category status for the state.
- At the time of bifurcation in 2014, this was a promise made by the then government, headed by former prime minister Manmohan Singh. However, the BJP-led government has ruled this out now.
- Now, Union Minister Arun Jaitley offered to provide the “monetary equivalent” but said the state could not be given “special status”.
So why can’t the Centre grant Andhra special status?
- Under the 14th Finance Commission recommendations, the “special status” categorisation has been removed. It is now restricted only to the north-eastern and three hilly states.
- The recommendations were accepted in 2015, a year after the Andhra was bifurcated.
What has the Centre offered instead?
- The Centre has offered to provide “special assistance” to Andhra for five years.
- Equivalent to the Special Status Category, it has offered 90:10 funding for all centrally sponsored schemes — which adds up to about Rs 20,010 crore of central assistance.
[Ref: Indian Express]
Nari Shakti Puraskar 2017
President Ram Nath Kovind presented Nari Shakti Puraskars 2017 to 30 eminent individuals and 9 distinguished institutions.
About Nari Shakti Puraskars:
- To acknowledge Women’s achievements, the Government of India confers Nari Shakti Puraskars on eminent women and institutions in recognition of their service towards the cause of women empowerment.
- The Nari Shakti Awards were initiated in the year 1999.
- The awards recognize the efforts made by women & institutions in rendering distinguished services for the cause of women, especially vulnerable and marginalized women.
- The Ministry of Women and Child Development announces these national level awards for eminent women, organisations and institutions.
- The Nari Shakti Puraskar carries a cash award of Rs.1 Lakh and a certificate for individuals and institutions.
Eligibility for the Puraskars:
- The Puraskars are open to all Indian Institutions, organisations and individuals.
- The WCD Ministry invites nominations from the State Governments, Union Territory Administrations, concerned Central Ministries/Departments, Non-Governmental Organisations, Universities/ Institutions, private and public sector undertakings (PSUs) working for empowerment of women.
- However, in exceptional cases, the Selection Committee may also, suo moto, recommend a person or institution for the award, with justification.
Selection process for the Puraskars:
- A Screening Committee to scrutinize and short list the nominations received for the Awards and a Selection Committee constituted for the purpose considers the achievements of organizations and individuals nominated or recommended for the Puraskars by the prescribed authority.
- The outstanding contributions in the field are of primary consideration in identifying the recipients of Puraskars.
- The final selections of the Awardees are made by the National Selection Committee which takes into account the recommendations of the Screening Committee.
- The National Selection Committee may at its discretion also consider individuals other than those recommended by the State Governments/Central Ministries.
Government Schemes & Policies
40 Indian-origin students attend Know India Programme
Forty Indian-origin students from nine countries are in India as part of the 46th edition of Know India Programme (KIP).
- Madhya Pradesh is the partner state for this edition of the programme.
About Know India Programme:
Know India Programme is a flagship programme of Ministry of External Affairs for engagement with Indian origin youth (between 18-30 years) to enhance their awareness about India, its cultural heritage, art and to familiarise them with various aspects of contemporary India.
- KIP is three-week orientation programme aimed at promoting awareness on different facets of life in India as well as the progress made by country in fields such as economic and education.
- The participants are provided all the hospitality in India.
- Engage and make students and young professionals of Indian Diaspora (18 to 30years) feel sense of connect with their motherland
- Motivated and inspire PIOs by transformational changes taking place in India and give them an exposure to various aspects of contemporary India’s forms of art, heritage and culture.
- Minimum qualification required for participating in KIP is graduation from a recognized University /Institute or enrolled for graduation and ability to speak in English.
- The applicant should not have visited India through any previous Programme of Government of India.
- Those who have not visited India before will be given preference.
- In 2016, KIP scheme was revamped to extend number of days from 21 to 25 days including 10-day visit to one or two states.
Commerce ministry to devise national strategy on product standards
The Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry has released draft Indian National Strategy for Standardisation for standardisation of products and services to provide level playing field to domestic industry and adopt best global practices.
Key objectives of draft strategy
- Positioning standards as key driver of all economic activities relating to goods and services
- Create integrated infrastructure, roadmaps and institutions for their effective management
- Enhance competitiveness of Indian goods and services in domestic and international markets.
- Develop comprehensive ecosystem for standards development taking into account diversity of interests and expertise available.
Significance of this strategy:
- The strategy will play an active role and take leadership positions in apex international forums in related areas besides creating response mechanisms to global developments on standards, technical regulations and conformity assessment practices that impact market access of Indian goods and services.
Need for such strategy:
- Rapid growth of Indian economy, its size and emerging relevance in global trade has made it essential to establish robust quality infrastructure in country with harmonised, dynamic and mature standards ecosystem for goods.
- The standardisation will fuel economic growth and enhance ‘Made in India’ label as standards are widely recognised as catalysts for technical development, industrial growth, well-being of society and more recently for convergence of new and emerging technologies.
- The strategy for standardisation of products considers current state of development across sectors, existing quality infrastructure and policy directions in relation to domestic economic developments and trade in goods and services.
Over 49 lakh LED lights installed under SNLP
Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) has installed 49 lakh LED street lights in 28 states/UTs under the Street Lighting National Programme (SLNP).
About the Street Lighting National Programme (SLNP):
- The Central Government’s Street Lighting National Programme (SLNP) was launched in January 2015.
- Under the programme around 3.5 crore conventional street lights will be replaced with smart and energy efficient LED street lights by March 2019.
- The programme aims to install LED bulbs street-lighting across different cities in the country. The LED lights will replace inefficient lamps.
- Energy Efficiency Services Limited, a Public Energy Services Company under the administration of Ministry of Power, Government of India (GoI) is the implementing agency for SLNP.
- EESL also undertakes social audits in all states post the completion of the project.
Objectives of the programme:
- Reduce energy consumption in lighting which helps DISCOMs to manage peak demand
- Mitigate climate change by implementing energy efficient LED based street lighting
- Provide sustainable service model that obviates need for upfront capital investment as well as additional revenue expenditure to pay for procurement of LED lights.
- Enhance municipal services at no upfront capital cost of municipalities
- Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) is a joint venture of NTPC Limited, Power Finance Corporation, Rural Electrification Corporation and POWERGRID, Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) was set up under Ministry of Power (India) to facilitate implementation of energy efficiency projects.
National E-Mobility programme launched
The Union government has launched the National E-Mobility Programme.
About the National E- Mobility Programme:
- The Programme aims to provide an impetus to the entire e-mobility ecosystem including vehicle manufacturers, charging infrastructure companies, fleet operators, service providers, etc.
- The Programme will be implemented by Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) which will aggregate demand by procuring electric vehicles in bulk to get economies of scale.
- Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL) will issue a fresh tender for additional 10,000 e-vehicles. These electric vehicles will replace the existing fleet of petrol and diesel vehicles.
Significance of this move:
- India has embarked on an ambitious e-mobility plan and the government has taken the leadership in enabling e-mobility in India. The National E-Mobility Programme is a step towards ushering in an era of clean, green and future-oriented technologies in the country.
Issues related to Health & Education
The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has launched #YesIBleed menstrual hygiene campaign on the occasion of International Women’s Day 2018.
- It is second edition of such campaign that aims to create holistic approach to issue of menstruation, which is experience that transcends culture, class, and caste.
- The “#Yes I Bleed” campaign has been initiated formally across all multi-media platforms, including Facebook and YouTube to spread awareness about issue.
- The United Nations has recognised menstrual hygiene as global public health and human rights issue. Yet across the globe, period poverty as some call it, is reality for millions of women and girls.
What are the concerns?
- According to the results of the study, “Sanitary Protection: Every Woman’s Health Right”, only 12% of Indian women have access to sanitary napkins and remaining 88% have no access as they find sanitary pads unaffordable.
- They use unsanitised cloth, tree leaves, husk sand and even ash. These can cause severe reproductive health problems and infections and can also lead to cervical cancer.
- In India’s rural areas, women lack of resources, education and awareness about personal hygiene and hygiene products and don’t even have any conversation around menstruation.
- For the less privileged, periods are the few ‘cursed’ days of the month. A woman on her periods cannot enter the temple, kitchen or take part in any auspicious occasion – because she is ‘impure’.
- The 88% who do not have access to sanitary pads use unsanitised cloth, husk sand, tree leaves and even ash. These can cause severe reproductive health problems and infections, and can also lead to cervical cancer.
- Also, there is the issue of school dropouts and poor attendance because of inadequate menstrual hygiene management. This also is one of the causes for loss of wages for women labourers.
- Equally important is the safe disposal of used sanitary pads, which actually are an environmental disaster. In villages, the used pads often end up in village ponds, exposing every human being and animal to the risk of infection.
What need to be done?
- Menstruation is still taboo subject in India and even women are uncomfortable discussing in public. There is nothing to be ashamed of. It is a natural physiological process.
- The subject of menstrual hygiene is “more about a change of mindset than simply about the use of proper menstrual products”. Mindset change is happening, but much more needs to be done.
- It is high time people dispel the misconceptions that surround the normal physiological process of menstruation and discard the restrictions imposed on women during “the time of the month”.
Science & Technology
NASA’s Parker Solar Probe: Send your name to the sun
NASA is inviting people around the world to submit their names online to be placed on a microchip aboard NASA’s historic Parker Solar Probe mission launching in summer 2018.
About NASA’s Parker Solar Probe:
NASA’s Parker Solar Probe will be the first-ever mission to “touch” the sun.
- To trace how energy and heat move through the solar corona and
- To explore what accelerates the solar wind as well as solar energetic particles.
- Determine structure and dynamics of magnetic fields at sources of solar wind.
- Trace flow of energy that heats corona and accelerates solar wind.
- Determine what mechanisms accelerate and transport energetic particles.
- Explore dusty plasma near Sun and its influence on solar wind and energetic particle formation.
Key facts about the probe:
- The spacecraft, about the size of a small car, will travel directly into the sun’s atmosphere about 6.2 million miles from our star’s surface.
- It is scheduled for launch in 2018 to explore the Sun’s outer atmosphere.
- The probe will use Venus’ gravity during seven flybys over nearly seven years to gradually bring its orbit closer to the Sun.
- The Parker Solar Probe will perform its scientific investigations in a hazardous region of intense heat and solar radiation.
- The primary power for mission is dual system of solar panels (photovoltaic array). Secondary source consists of much smaller secondary array power that uses pumped-fluid cooling to maintain operating temperature.
- The spacecraft is designed to endure harsh environment near Sun, by approaching within 8.5 solar radii (5.9 million kilometers) to ‘surface’ (photosphere) of Sun where incident solar intensity is approximately 520 times intensity at Earth orbit.
- It will be protected by solar shadow-shield made of reinforced carbon-carbon composite.
- The spacecraft systems and scientific instruments are located in central portion of shield’s shadow, where direct radiation from Sun is fully blocked.
World-first firing of air-breathing electric thruster
The European Space Agency (ESA) is building Air-Breathing Electric Thruster (ABET) that can possibly extend the working life of satellites by years and even help with interplanetary travel using just the air around it as a propellant.
How does this Air-Breathing Electric Thruster (ABET) work?
- An air-breathing engine works by collecting the sparse air at the edge of the atmosphere and compresses it to a point that it becomes thermalised ionised plasma.
- It then fires out the plasma using an electric charge to achieve thrust. An air breathing thruster could keep a satellite operational for extended periods of time if it only uses the air around it for fuel instead of propellants.
- This ABET does not operate in complete vacuum, but works in low Earth orbit (LEO) – altitude of 2,000 km or less– notes the ESA. At LEO, the air is scarce, but not entirely absent. In fact, there is enough air to cause a drag on spaceships and satellites. This is why there are on-board engines installed on satellites to correct course every time it moves out of position.
Key Facts for Prelims
8th March: International Women’s Day 2018
- International Women’s Day was celebrated on March 8 across the world.
- The 2018 theme of IWD is ‘Time is Now: Rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives’. The theme aims to encourage women to raise voice for their rights and promote growing global movement to support gender parity.
About the International Women’s Day:
- It is an annual marker that aims to bring attention to women’s accomplishments and obstacles.
- The first Women’s Day was celebrated on February 28, 1909, in New York by the Socialist Party of America. The day was dedicated to the 15,000 women who marched through New York in 1908 as part of the garment strike.
- In 1910, a German activist Clara Zetkin proposed the idea of celebrating Women’s Day in March at the 1910 International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen.
- On March 19, 1911, Women’s Day was celebrated in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland.
- In 1975, the United Nations declared March 8 as the official date to celebrate Women’s Day.
- The UN celebrates the day on the basis of different themes.
- In 2017, the theme was “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030”.
- The day has now come to be also known as the United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace.
“Wings India 2018”
- Recently, the biennial event on Civil Aviation and Aerospace titled “Wings India 2018” was held in Hyderabad.
- The theme of the event is “India-Global Aviation Hub”.
- The event with was organised jointly by the Union Civil Aviation Ministry, Airports Authority of India and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
About “Wings India 2018”:
- “Wings India 2018” aims to be the most comprehensive platform in the region for the interactions, forging alliances, investments and air connectivity between the States and the global aviation players/ stakeholders.
- It will have a special focus on connecting the cities and towns aimed at increasing the regional connectivity in the country.
2018 Pritzker prize for Balkrishna doshi
Legendary Indian architect Balkrishna Doshi (90), a pioneer of low-cost housing design has won the prestigious Pritzker Prize, considered architecture field’s Nobel.
- He is the first Indian to receive the award.
- He is one of the last living architects to have apprenticed with Franco-Swiss trailblazer Le Corbusier distinguished his work by committing to sustainable architecture and inexpensive housing.
About the Pritzker prize:
- The international Pritzker prize was established by Chicago’s Pritzker family in 1979.
- It is awarded each year to a living architect/s for significant achievement.
- It is considered to be one of the world’s premier architecture prizes, and is often referred to as the Nobel Prize of architecture.
- It is awarded annually and bestows laureates with $100,000 along with bronze medallion.
- The award is conferred on the laureate/s at a ceremony held at an architecturally significant site throughout the world.
- Previous winners include world-renowned architects like Zaha Hadid, Frank Gehry, IM Pei, and Shigeru Ban.