Polity & Governance
- Shri Rajnath Singh chairs 11th Standing Committee meeting of Inter-State Council
- Government launches ‘Bharat ke Veer’ web portal and application
- Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs): lost in a classification trap
- Labour participation rate of women in India visibly low, says World Bank study
Bilateral & International Relations
- India, Bangladesh sign 22 agreements
- Industry charts agenda for India-Bangladesh trade
- Sri Lanka, India to jointly develop Trincomalee oil tank farm
- ‘Swachhagraha “Bapu Ko Karyanjali”-a Mission, an Exhibition’
Science & Technology
- Protein that boosts vaccine efficacy found
Key Facts for Prelims
- Kolkata- Khulna-Dhaka bus service
- April 10: World Homoeopathy Day
- Indo – Mongolian Joint Exercise: Nomadic Elephant
- 40-year-old North Koel Irrigation project
Polity & Governance
Shri Rajnath Singh chairs 11th Standing Committee meeting of Inter-State Council
The Union Home Minister, Shri Rajnath Singh recently chaired the 11th Standing Committee meeting of the Inter-State Council. The council was attended by Chief Ministers of various states.
What is the Inter-State Council?
- The Inter-State Council is a constitutional body to facilitate coordination between states and the centre.
- It is a recommendatory body to investigate and discuss subjects, in which some or all of the states or the union government have a common interest.
- It is set up on the basis of provisions in Article 263 of the Constitution of India by a Presidential Order, 1990 based on the recommendation of Sarkaria Commission.
- The Inter-state council is not a permanent constitutional body for coordination between the states and Central government.
- Rather, President can establish it at any time if it appears to him that the public interests would be served by the establishment of such a council.
Composition of the Inter-State Council:
- The Council is headed by Prime Minister (Chairman). Besides, Chief Ministers of all states and UTs (having legislative Assembly) are its members.
- Six Union ministers of cabinet rank nominated by the Prime Minister are also members.
Government launches ‘Bharat ke Veer’ web portal and application
The Union Ministry of Home Affairs has launched web portal and mobile application named “Bharat ke Veer” to enable people to contribute towards family of martyrs from central paramilitary forces.
- It was launched on the occasion of Valour Day of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), observed on 9 April.
- The portal and application is an IT based platform to enable willing donors to contribute towards the family of a braveheart who have sacrificed their life in line of duty or towards the ‘Bharat Ke Veer’ corpus.
- The platform is technically supported by National Informatics Centre (NIC) and powered by State Bank of India (SBI).
- The amount so donated through it will be credited to the account of ‘Next of Kin’ of those Central Armed Police Force or Central Para Military Force soldiers.
- To ensure maximum coverage, a cap of Rs. 15 lakh is imposed on donation and donors will be alerted if amount exceeds, so they can choose to divert part of the donation to another account or the corpus.
- Bharat Ke Veer corpus will be managed by a committee made up of eminent persons of repute and senior Government officials. The committee will decide to disbursement of fund equitably to braveheart’s family on need basis.
Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs): lost in a classification trap
A recent Anthropological Survey of India (AnSI) publication has brought to the fore startling revelations about the Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) in the country.
- The survey has asked the State governments to conduct baseline surveys to arrive at accurate demographic and socio-economic figures of the PVTGs.
- It also points out that the PVTG list requires revising and refinement to avoid overlapping and repetition.
Who are these PVTGs?
- PVTGs are more vulnerable among the tribal groups.
- Due to this factor, more developed and assertive tribal groups take a major chunk of the tribal development funds, because of which PVTGs need more funds directed for their development.
- In this context, in 1975, the Government of India initiated to identify the most vulnerable tribal groups as a separate category called PVTGs and declared 52 such groups.
- In 1993 an additional 23 groups were added to the category,making it a total of 75 PVTGs out of 705 Scheduled Tribes, spread over 17 states and one Union Territory(UT), in the country (2011 census).
- No base line surveys have been conducted among more than half of such groups.
Highlights of the survey:
- According to the survey, of the 75 PVTGs, base line surveys exists for about 40 groups, even after declaring them as PVTGs.
- Base line surveys are done to precisely identify the PVTG families, their habitat and socio-economic status, so that development initiatives are implemented for these communities, based on the facts and figures.
- Among the 75 listed PVTG’s the highest number are found in Odisha (13), followed by Andhra Pradesh (12), Bihar including Jharkhand (9) Madhya Pradesh including Chhattisgarh (7) Tamil Nadu (6) Kerala and Gujarat having five groups each.
- The remaining PVTGs live in West Bengal (3) Maharashtra (3), two each in Karnataka and Uttarakhand and one each in Rajasthan, Tripura and Manipur.
- All the four tribal groups in Andamans, and one in Nicobar Islands, are recognised as PVTGs.
- Some of the PVTGs are distributed in more than one State. The Birhor are recognised as a PVTG in four States, while 10 other group are PVTG in two States, namely the Sahariya, Kurumba, Koraga, Korwa, JenuKuruba, Kattunayakan, Katkari/Kathodi, Kharia, Kolam, and Lodha. Thus, the number of the PVTGs at the national level would be 63.
- Regional and State-specific variations in welfare schemes for PVTGs has also been highlighted. While Odisha has established exclusive micro-projects for the PVTGs, there are none such in for the five PVTGs in Gujarat.
- In Tamil Nadu, development schemes are being monitored through the Tribal Research Centre, Ooty, and implemented by the State government. However, in Karnataka, all affairs of two the PVTGs are handled by the Social Welfare Department, which extends some schemes as per their knowledge, barely receiving any professional advice. Only recently, the Karnataka Tribal Research Centre was been established at Mysore while many States did so decades ago.
- In some cases, a PVTG receives benefits only in a few blocks in a district, while the same group is deprived in adjacent blocks. The reason is that micro-projects extend benefits only within their jurisdiction.
- There is a huge variation in the number of PVTGs ranging from a few individuals as in case of Great Andamanese, Onge and Sentinelese and about a little more than a thousand people as in the case of Toda of Nilgiris. Although PVTGs are slowly witnessing decadal increase in their population, quite a few still face stagnation such as the Birhor in central India. Some are declining like the Onge and Andamanese.
- Smallest population size among the PVTGs are the Senteneles (groups of 32). They still shy away from others. The Great Andamanese (57 persons) and the Onge (107 persons) are the dwindling populations.
- In main land, the Toto of West Bengal and the Toda of Tamil Nadu have population less than 2000 persons.
- The Saharia people of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan are the largest among the PVTGs with population more than 4 lakhs.
- Literacy rate among the PVTGs has gone up significantly over the past. From a single digit literacy rate, the figures have increased to 30 to 40 % in many of the PVTGs. However, as is the case with entire India, female literacy rate is still considerably lower compared to male counterpart.
- The authors have pointed out at a considerable increase in the age of marriage among PVTGs. The incidence of girl child being married while still being a minor, among these tribes has been decreasing.
Labour participation rate of women in India visibly low, says World Bank study
In a study, five economists of the World Bank have found that despite high growth rate during the economic reform period, women’s ability to access job opportunities in the new economy has been “precarious.”
Highlights of the study:
- India’s female labour force participation (FLFP) rate has remained visibly low and the International Labour Organisation ranks India’s FLFP rate at 121 out of 131 countries in 2013, one of the lowest in the world.
- India had the lowest FLFP rate in South Asia, with the exception of Pakistan.
- Globally, only parts of the Arab world held a lower FLFP rates than India.
- In 2013, FLFP per cent for India was 27 against China’s 63.9, and it was 56.3% in the U.S., 79.9% in Nepal, 57.4% in Bangladesh, 35.1% in Sri Lanka, 24.6% in Pakistan, 23.3% in the Arab world, and 50.8 % in the European Union.
- FLFP dropped by 19.6 million women from 2004-05 to 2011-12. Participation declined by 11.4%, from 42.6% to 31.2% from 1993-94 to 2011-12.
- Approximately 53 per cent of this drop occurred in rural India, among those aged between 15 to 24 years.
- Comparing the two periods between 1993-94 to 2004-05 and 2004-05 to 2011-12, most of the drop in FLFP was found during the second period.
- An additional 31 million females added in the labour force during the 11-year period between 1993-94 and 2004-05.
- In contrast, during the later seven-year period, there was a significant drop in the female labour force by 19.2 million individuals.
What are the reasons for decline in FLFP rate?
- An increase in educational enrolment among the younger cohort, attainment of socio-economic status, and household composition largely contributed to the drop.
- As per the study, stability in family income, as indicated by the increasing share of regular wage earners and declining share of casual labour in the composition of family labour supply, had led female family members to choose dropping out of the labour force.
- One plausible explanation for the recent drop in FLFP is that with the recent expansion of secondary education, as well as rapidly changing social norms in India, more working age young females (15-24 years) are opting to continue their education rather than join the labour force early.
- The decline in the FLFP rate for females between 15 to 24 years of age was to a large extent due to an increase in female enrolment in education.
Bilateral & International Relations
India, Bangladesh sign 22 agreements
India and Bangladesh have signed 22 agreements in various fields such as defence, nuclear cooperation, judicial sector, earth sciences, navigation, peaceful uses of outer space, to boost bilateral cooperation.
- These agreements were signed in presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bangladesh Prime Minister Shiekh Hasina in New Delhi after delegation level talks.
- India also announced concessional Line of Credit (LoC) of $4.5 billion to Bangladesh for projects in priority sectors.
- Moreover, India also gave LoC of $500 million to Bangladesh for defence purchases.
Some of the agreements signed are:
- MoU on Defence Cooperation Framework
- MoU on Bilateral Judicial Sector Cooperation
- MoU for extending Defence LOC of $500 million.
- MoU on Cooperation in the Field of Mass Media.
- MoU on Cooperation in the area of Cyber Security.
- MoU concerning Cooperation on Aids to Navigation.
- MoU on Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.
- MoU for Extending a 3rd Line of Credit (LoC) by GoI to GoB.
- Agreement on Cooperation in Peaceful uses of Nuclear Energy.
- MoU on Co-operation in the field of Information Technology and Electronics.
- MoU on establishing Border Haats across the border between India and Bangladesh.
- Agreement for the Regulation of Motor Vehicle Passenger Traffic (Khulna-Kolkata route).
- Inter-Agency Agreement on Cooperation regarding Nuclear Power Plant Projects in Bangladesh
- MoU on Mutual Scientific Cooperation in the field of Earth Sciences for Research and Development.
Industry charts agenda for India-Bangladesh trade
Leading industry bodies of India and Bangladesh, the FICCI and the FBCCI, have brought out a six-point agenda to boost trade and investment between India and Bangladesh.
Six agenda includes:
- Setting up a Joint Task Force on Tariff and Non-Tariff Barriers.
- Setting up a Joint Task Force to promote Indian investments in Bangladesh in the focus areas of infrastructure, education, healthcare, power and tourism.
- Connectivity initiatives for expansion of sub-regional cooperation among BBIN (Bhutan-Bangladesh- India-Nepal) countries to cover links through road, rail, rivers, sea, transmission lines, petroleum pipelines and digital.
- Pursuing joint investments and a road-map for cooperation in the Bay of Bengal in exploration of hydrocarbons, marine resources, deep sea fishing, preservation of marine ecology and disaster management.
- Collaboration in knowledge sharing to facilitate innovation and research and forming a partnership on skill development.
Sri Lanka, India to jointly develop Trincomalee oil tank farm
India and Sri Lanka have in principle agreed to jointly operate the world war-era oil storage facility in Trincomalee, the strategically advantaged port town located on the island’s east coast.
- India has been engaging with Sri Lanka since 2003, almost 15 years after the 1987 Indo-Sri Lanka Accord granted first preference to India in the running of the oil storage facility.
- As per the 2003 agreement signed by the neighbours, India was to upgrade and commission the 99 tanks in the farm – each with a capacity of 12,250 kilolitres – on a 35-year lease.
- Most of the tanks, built by the British during the World War Years, are in good condition.
- However, the project did not take off fully as planned, as the two sides could not come to an understanding on operational aspects.
- During his visit to Sri Lanka in March 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the project to develop the upper tank farm in Trincomalee would help the coastal town become a regional petroleum hub.
- Home to 3.7 lakh Muslim, Tamil and Sinhala people Trincomalee, in Sri Lanka’s post-war years, has emerged a favoured destination for surfers from around the world, gradually transforming with plush resorts and restaurants dotting its coast.
- At the same time, with its fine natural harbour and crucial location, Trincomalee remains in spotlight as a potential transit point for international trade routes, particularly drawing India which has known strategic interests there.
‘Swachhagraha “Bapu Ko Karyanjali”-a Mission, an Exhibition’
Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated an exhibition titled “Swachhagraha – Bapu Ko Karyanjali – Ek Abhiyan, Ek Pradarshani” in New Delhi mark the 100 years of Champaran Satyagraha.
- The exhibition will showcase Champaran Satyagraha and it will connect essential principles of Satyagraha with Swachhagraha.
- It will also showcase the ground covered by the Swachh Bharat Mission in creating a mass movement towards a clean India.
About Champaran Satyagraha:
Champaran Satyagraha was Mahatma Gandhi’s first experiment of Satyagraha. It was undertaken in the erstwhile undivided Champaran district in northern Bihar in April 1917.
- It was undertaken after Mahatma Gandhi learned about the abuses suffered by farmers, who were forced into growing indigo by British planters and estate owners.
- The tenants from Champaran were forced under the law to plant three out of every twenty parts of his land with indigo for his landlord under the so called Tinkathia system.
- Initially, Gandhiji was reluctant to commit himself to the task but he was so persuaded by indigo cultivator Rajkumar Shukla that he decided to investigate the matter.
- Gandhiji’s plan was to carry out an extensive inquiry in the district and demand action based on its findings. However, local authorities did not find his visit welcoming and they unsuccessfully tried to dissuade him.
- But Gandhi began his work from the house of Babu Gorakh Prasad in Motihari, headquarters of the then Champaran district.
- During this time, Gandhij was served with a court summon while he was making a spot visit to village. Gandhiji was charged with violating law and was told to leave Champaran, but he refused to leave.
- On April 18, 1917 when Gandhi appeared in Motihari Court and was accompanied by nearly 2000 local people. The magistrate wanted to defer the trial and resulted in the collapse of trial.
- The then Lieutenant Governor of Bihar ordered the withdrawal of case against Gandhi, and the Collector wrote to Gandhi saying he was free to conduct the inquiry.
- This small step in the form of passive protest was a giant leap forward in the history of freedom struggle and heralded the advent of Gandhian era.
- His protest led to abolishing of exploitative tinkathia system. The victory at Champaran established Gandhiji in India’s struggle against the British raj.
Science & Technology
Protein that boosts vaccine efficacy found
Scientists from US have discovered a protein called PorB that could help make vaccinations more effective and provide protection from diseases such as cancer.
About the study:
- In this study, researchers had purified this protein, found on the exterior of bacteria.
- Proteins are unusually any of a class of nitrogenous organic compounds which have large molecules composed of one or more long chains of amino acids. They are an essential part of all living organisms, especially as structural components of body tissues such as muscle, hair, etc., and as enzymes and antibodies.
Significance of discovery:
- It helps to increase amount of antibody production and can stimulate cells to kill offending agent and used it as an accessory to provide a better vaccination response.
- Typically, vaccines can either increase the amount of antibody production or they can stimulate cells (called cytotoxic T cells) to directly kill the offending agent. But the unique protein PorB can do both.
- The discovery may lead to greater understanding of how vaccine enhancers work.
- It can also be used to help body identify and fight off bacterial infections and also potentially to use its own machinery to fight off other diseases like cancer, HIV, and influenza before they establish.
Key Facts for Prelims
Kolkata- Khulna-Dhaka bus service
- A Kolkata-Khulna-Dhaka bus service was recently ceremoniously flagged off from Kolkata.
- This is a part of several initiatives being taken to strengthen bilateral relations between India and Bangladesh.
- This is for the first time, Kolkata and Khulna are being directly connected through a bus route.
- It will be a 409 Km long bus route from Kolkata via Khulna to Dhaka.
- Presently, the bus services are being operated on the Kolkata-Dhaka and Kolkata- Dhaka-Agaratala routes. They are being run by the State Transport Corporations of West Bengal and Tripura, besides Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation.
April 10: World Homoeopathy Day
- The World Homoeopathy Day is observed every year on April 10.
- It commemorates the 262nd birth anniversary of the founder of Homoeopathy, Dr. Christian Friedrich Samuel Hahnemann, a German physician.
- On this occasion, AYUSH Ministry, had organised International Convention on World Homoeopathy Day with theme “Enhancing Quality Research in Homoeopathy through scientific evidence and rich clinical experiences”.
- Observance of the day seeks to spread more knowledge about this form of medicine in the mainstream public health.
Indo – Mongolian Joint Exercise: Nomadic Elephant
- Twelfth iteration of Indo – Mongolian Joint Military Exercise Nomadic Elephant has begun at Vairengte in Mizoram.
- Nomadic Elephant is aimed at training the troops in Counter Insurgency & Counter Terrorism Operations under the United Nations mandate.
- The joint training will also lay emphasis on conducting operations by a joint subunit, comprising of troops from both the armies, in adverse operational conditions aimed at enhancing the interoperability between the two armies.
- Navy’s flagship anti-submarine aircraft Tu-142M will be turned into a museum.
- The aircraft will be given to the Andhra Pradesh government to be converted into a museum and kept on the Beach Road close to the Submarine Kursura in Visakhaptnam.
40-year-old North Koel Irrigation project
- The Centre has decided to revive the North Koel Irrigation project, envisaged nearly 40 years ago, to address water requirements in Jharkhand and Bihar.
- When completed, the project, estimated to cost Rs 1600 crore, is expected to irrigate 1 lakh hectares of land in the two states.