Polity & Governance
- ‘One Stop Centres’ for women in 100 more districts
- Protests in Assam mark JPC hearing on Citizenship Bill
- ‘First Apex Conference for the CEOs of Smart Cities’
Government Schemes & Policies
- Ministry of Tribal Affairs to expand Van Dhan Vikas Kendras in Tribal Districts across the country
Issues related to Health & Education
- India signs $200 million loan agreement with World Bank for National Nutrition Mission (POSHAN Abhiyaan)
- CBDT approves amendment of India-Kuwait tax agreement
Bilateral & International Relations
- 15th Asia Media Summit to be hosted by India
Science & Technology
- Scientists takes initial steps to develop a vaccine for leptospirosis
- NITI Aayog and Google sign SoI to help grow AI ecosystem in India
- Google launches Android Things for IoT platform
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Polity & Governance
‘One Stop Centres’ for women in 100 more districts
Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) in its Programme Approval Board (PAB) meeting has approved setting up additional 100 One Stop Centres (OSCs) for women affected by violence.
- These OSCs will be set up in Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Mizoram, Nagaland, Odisha, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh.
About One Stop Centres (OSCs):
- Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD), has formulated a Centrally Sponsored Scheme for setting up One Stop Centres (OSC), to be funded from the Nirbhaya Fund. The scheme is being implemented through States/UTs from 1st April 2015.
- These Centres will be established across the country to provide integrated support and assistance under one roof to women affected by violence, both in private and public spaces in a phased manner.
- The purpose of these OSCs is to facilitate integrated services for women affected with violence such as police assistance, medical aid, psycho-social counselling, legal aid/counselling, temporary stay for 5 days etc. such that aggrieved women can avail services under one roof and The OSCs are established in existing buildings and in new constructed buildings in a standard format.
About ‘Nirbhaya Fund’:
- The government, in April 2015, made the women and child development ministry (WCD) as the nodal agency for the Nirbhaya Fund replacing the Home Ministry.
- To approve the funds under Nirbhaya fund, a committee has been constituted which comprised officials from various ministries, including women and child development, home affairs, road transport and railways.
- Between 2013 and 2017, the corpus of Nirbhaya Fund has grown to Rs 3,100 crore.
Protests in Assam mark JPC hearing on Citizenship Bill
People in Assam have been protesting against the granting of Indian citizenship to Hindu foreigners as the Joint Parliamentary Committee on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 began its hearing in Assam.
- Protesters say the move would threaten the existence of the indigenous people of Assam. They also see it as a violation of the provisions of the Assam Accord of 1985.
What is the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016?
The Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016 seeks to allow illegal migrants from certain minority communities in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan eligible for Indian citizenship. In other words, it amends the Citizenship Act of 1955.
- The Bill provides that the registration of Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders may be cancelled if they violate any law.
- The Citizenship Amendment Bill seeks to allow illegal migrants belonging to the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian religious communities coming from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan to not be imprisoned or deported.
- It also appeals for the minimum years of residency in India to apply for citizenship to be lessened from at least 11 to six years for such migrants.
- The Bill, however, does not extend to illegal Muslim migrants. It also does not talk about other minority communities in the three neighbouring countries, such as Jews, Bahais etc.
Why Assamese are in protest against the bill?
- The Citizenship Amendment Bill has not been sitting well with the Assamese as it contradicts the Assam Accord of 1985, which clearly states that illegal migrants heading in from Bangladesh after March 25, 1971, would be deported.
What is Assam Accord?
The Assam Accord (1985) was a Memorandum of Settlement (MoS) signed between representatives of the Government of India and the leaders of the Assam Movement in New Delhi on 15 August 1985.
- The years between 1979 and 1985 witnessed huge political instability, collapse of state government, president’s rule and unprecedented ethnic violence in Assam.
- The elections conducted by the government were totally boycotted and violence based on linguistic and communal identities killed thousands in the state. Finally, to cope up with the situation, the then Rajiv Gandhi government signed a Memorandum of Settlement (MoS) with the leaders of the movement on 15 August 1985 called Assam Accord.
As per this accord:
- All those foreigners who had entered Assam between 1951 and 1961 were to be given full citizenship including the right to vote.
- Migrants those who had done so after 1971 were to be deported.
- Those who entered between 1961 and 1971 were to be denied voting rights for ten years but would enjoy all other rights of citizenship.
‘First Apex Conference for the CEOs of Smart Cities’
- The First Apex Conference for CEOs of Smart Cities was held in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh.
- It was organised by Union Urban Affairs Ministry and inaugurated by Minister of State (I/C) for Housing & Urban Affairs.
- The conference aimed to provided single platform for convergence of all best practices in Smart city missions across country to help city leaders to use collective learning to accelerate progress of work.
- It also aimed to provide momentum to cities and platform for cross-learning, sharing and disseminating experience gained over past two and a half years.
Government Schemes & Policies
Ministry of Tribal Affairs to expand Van Dhan Vikas Kendras in Tribal Districts across the country
The Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA) is going to expand Van Dhan Vikas Kendras in tribal districts across the country.
- About 3000 such kendras are proposed to be set up in two years in all forested Tribal Districts.
- Initially, it will be taken up on priority in 39 districts with more than 50% tribal population and then gradually will be expanded to other Tribal Districts across the country.
About Van Dhan Yojana:
It aims at mainstreaming tribal community by promoting primary level value addition to Non Timber Minor Forest Produce (MFP) at grassroots level.
- It also aims to promote MFPs-centric livelihood development of tribal gatherers and artisans.
- Through this initiative, the share of tribals in the value chain of Non-Timber Forest Produce is expected to rise from present 20% to around 60%.
- It will be implemented through Ministry of Tribal Affairs at Central Level and TRIFED as nodal agency at National Level. At State level, state nodal agency for MFPs and district collectors will play pivot role in scheme implementation at grassroot level.
About Van Dhan Vikas Kendra:
- TRIFED will facilitate establishment of MFP-led multi-purpose Van Dhan Vikas Kendras in the tribal areas.
- These kendras will be cluster of 10 SHGs comprising of 30 tribal MFP gatherers each.
- They will provide skill upgradation and capacity building training and setting up of primary processing and value addition facility.
- Locally the Kendras will be managed by a Managing Committee (an SHG) consisting of representatives of Van Dhan SHGs in cluster.
Significance of Minor Forest Produce (MFP):
- MFP is a major source of livelihood for tribals living in forest areas. The importance of MFPs for this section of the society can be gauged from the fact that around 100 million forest dwellers depend on MFPs for food, shelter, medicines and cash income.
- It provides them critical subsistence during the lean seasons, particularly for primitive tribal groups such as hunter gatherers, and the landless. Tribals derive 20-40% of their annual income from MFP on which they spend major portion of their time.
- This activity has strong linkage to women’s financial empowerment as most of the MFPs are collected and used/sold by women. MFP sector has the potential to create about 10 million workdays annually in the country.
Issues related to Health & Education
India signs $200 million loan agreement with World Bank for National Nutrition Mission (POSHAN Abhiyaan)
The Union Government has signed $200 million loan agreement with World Bank for National Nutrition Mission (POSHAN Abhiyaan) for 315 districts across all states and union territories.
About POSHAN Abhiyaan:
- POSHAN Abhiyaan was launched on International Women’s day (March 8) in 2018 to boost nutrition among children and women.
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 (0-6years): 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:
- With a focus on improving the coverage and quality of ICDS nutrition services to pregnant and lactating women and children under 3 years of age, 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 also 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.
How will the World Bank loan be utilized?
- The World Bank loan will be used for improving coverage and quality of ICDS nutrition services to pregnant and lactating women and children under 3 years of age.
- It will be also used for project in improving skills and capacities of ICDS staff and community nutrition workers, instituting mechanisms of community mobilization and behaviour change communication, strengthening systems of citizen engagement and grievance redress.
- It will be also used for establishing mobile technology based tools for improved monitoring and management of services for better outreach to beneficiaries during critical 1,000 day window for nutrition impact.
- It 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.
CBDT approves amendment of India-Kuwait tax agreement
The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has notified protocol to amend existing Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) between India and Kuwait.
- The DTAA between both countries was signed in June 2006 for the avoidance of double taxation and for prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income.
What is Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA)?
- DTAA is a tax treaty signed between countries (or any two/multiple countries) so that taxpayers do not pay double taxes on their income earned from source country as well as their residence country.
- The need for DTAA arises out of imbalance in tax collection on global income of individuals. person aims to do business in foreign country, he may end up paying income taxes in both countries i.e. in the country where income is earned and country where individual holds his citizenship or residence. DTAA helps to taxpayers to do away issues of paying double taxes.
Location of Kuwait:
- Kuwait is a country in Western Asia.
- Situated in the northern edge of Eastern Arabia at the tip of the Persian Gulf, it shares borders with Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
[Ref: PIB, The Hindu]
Bilateral & International Relations
15th Asia Media Summit to be hosted by India
India is going to host 15th Asia Media Summit (AMS-2018) in New Delhi from May 10-12, 2018.
- It is being hosted by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, jointly with the Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC), New Delhi and Broadcast Engineering Consultants India Limited (BECIL).
- The theme of the annual summit is “Telling our Stories- Asia and More”.
- It aims to provide unique opportunity for broadcasters in Asia to share their thoughts on broadcasting and information.
About the AMS Summit:
It is an annual summit of the Asia-Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development (AIBD) Kuala Lumpur.
- The Summit would encourage regional and bilateral dialogue and cooperation to respond to challenges to the broadcasting sector in the region.
- It would provide a unique opportunity for broadcasters in the Asian region to share their thoughts on software and hardware aspects of Broadcasting.
- There are also opportunities for networking, facilities for business to business meetings and prospective translation of these meetings into trade and economic relations after the summit.
Participants would represent:
- Organizations like Ministries responsible for Information and Broadcasting in the Asian region, International Organizations UNESCO, FAO, UN;
- Radio and Television broadcasting companies both national/ public and private broadcasters;
- Television channels and networks, Institutes/Academies of Communication, Media Research;
- Community Radio groups;
- Press and Media, and broadcast equipment manufacturers.
About Asia-Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development (AIBD):
The AIBD was established in 1977 under the auspices of UNESCO.
- It is hosted by the Government of Malaysia and the secretariat is located in Kuala Lumpur.
- The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) are founding organisations of the Institute and they are non-voting members of the General Conference.
- The Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU) is a founding organisation of the Institute and is a non-voting member of the General Conference.
Role and mandate:
- It is a unique regional inter-governmental organisation servicing countries of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN-ESCAP) in the field of electronic media development.
- It is mandated to achieve a vibrant and cohesive electronic media environment in the Asia-Pacific region through policy and resource development.
- The AIBD currently has 26 Full Members (countries), represented by 34 organisations, and 67 Affiliate Members (organisations) with a total membership of 101 representing 48 countries and regions and over 50 partners in Asia, Pacific, Europe, Africa, Arab States and North America.
- Full membership of the AIBD is confined to sovereign states and they are invited to designate the broadcasting authority of the country to be the beneficiary.
Science & Technology
Scientists takes initial steps to develop a vaccine for leptospirosis
Researchers from Gujarat Biotechnology Research Centre, Gandhinagar have successfully identified key peptide that can be used to develop a new preventive vaccine against leptospirosis.
- In their study, researchers had identified peptide sequences that could bind to vaccine for long-lasting immune response.
About the research:
- The researchers had used bioinformatics (computational biology analysis) approach to study whole protein set of bacteria Leptospira interrogans key peptide and narrowed search down to one effective immunogenic protein.
- This protein was found to be present in almost all serovars (different types within species) of bacteria and can be effective vaccine candidate against most serovars.
- They had predicted antigenicity of peptide i.e. ability to bind to antibody present on T cells and B cells for inducing immune response.
- Among these proteins, they had further searched to identify outer membrane proteins as these are known to play important roles in interaction between bacteria and their host.
- Then they looked for sites on human T cells and B cells where antigen could bind. The identification of target sites is key step in vaccine design.
What is Leptospirosis?
Leptospirosis is an emerging tropical infectious bacterial disease that affects humans and animals. It caused by corkscrew-shaped bacteria called Leptospira.
- The bacteria can be transmitted via exposure to contaminated water or soil or direct contact with reservoirs hosts like wild or domestic animals.
- In humans, it can cause a wide range of symptoms such as mild headaches, muscle pains, and fevers to severe with bleeding from the lungs or meningitis.
- Currently there is no preventive vaccine for humans that are available in market.
- Leptospirosis causes almost 60,000 deaths every year, globally.
NITI Aayog and Google sign SoI to help grow AI ecosystem in India
The NITI Aayog has signed Statement of Intent (SoI) with search engine giant Google to work together to foster growth for India’s nascent artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) ecosystem.
Highlights of signed SoI:
Under the program, Google and NITI Aayog will work on the following initiatives:
- Organise trainings for relevant government functionaries to introduce them to open source AI tools with the goal of enabling more effective governance.
- Awarding grants and scholarships to researchers, scholars and university faculty conducting cutting edge research in the field of AI/ML in India.
- Organising AI/ML study jams for students and developers based on Google’s Machine Learning Crash Course (MLCC) on the fundamentals of machine learning.
- Incubating Indian AI/ML startups in a program where they will be mentored by Google to better leverage AI in their respective business models.
- Organise a Hackathon focused on using AI/ML and open data sets to solve key challenges within agriculture, education, healthcare, etc. in India.
- The NITI Aayog has been entrusted to setup a national programme to conduct research and development in frontier technologies such as AI.
- In furtherance of this mandate, NITI Aayog has been developing India’s national strategy on AI along with the National Data and Analytics Portal to enable the wide deployment and use of AI.
What is Artificial intelligence?
- Artificial intelligence is branch of computer science concerned with making computers behave like humans.
- In contrast to normal hardware and software, AI enables a machine to perceive and respond to its changing environment.
Expert committee on AI:
- The Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeITY) has set up an internal expert committee to advise the government on a policy on artificial intelligence (AI).
- The expert committee will advise the IT ministry on the most apt technologies for India as government’s main focus is to reduce cyber-attacks with AI.
- Its recommendations will be used to frame the policy.
- The government recently had drawn up a seven-point strategy that would form the framework for India’s strategic plan to use AI.
- The strategy includes developing methods for human machine interactions; creating a competent workforce in line with AI and R&D needs, ensuring safety and security of AI systems; understanding and addressing the ethical, legal and societal implications of AI, measuring and evaluating AI technologies through standards and benchmarks, among others.
Need for a policy on AI:
- The artificial intelligence market is estimated to touch $153 billion in 2020 and expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate (cagr) of 45.4% from 2016 to 2022.
- It is also widely seen as major challenge in generation of employment as many companies are likely to depend more on it to cut down on human resources.
- Globally too, there is a growing interest in artificial intelligence. In 2016, White House had initiated work on Preparing for the future of artificial intelligence; in UK, the House of Commons committee on S&T had looked at robotics and artificial intelligence while in 2017, State Council of China had started work on next generation artificial intelligence development plan.
Google launches Android Things for IoT platform
Alphabet Inc’s Google launched Android Things (codenamed Brillo), a variant (or spinoff) of Android operating system for Internet of Things (IoT) devices such as smart home appliances and other smart machines.
- Its goal is to enable IoT machines developers to be built faster, cheaper and more secure.
What is Android Things?
It is Android-based embedded operating system (OS) platform developed by Google.
- It is aimed to be used with low-power and memory constrained Internet of Things (IoT) devices, which are usually built from different microcontroller unit (MCU) platforms.
- Android Things as an IoT OS it is designed to work as low as 32–64 MB of RAM. It will support Bluetooth Low Energy and Wi-Fi.
- Google also introduced Weave protocol along with Android Things, which will be used by these devices, will use to communicate with other other.
- Every Android device can automatically recognize any Brillo OS or Weave API based device. Users can choose a device, set it up and use it immediately.