The oil Risk
- As international oil prices head higher, India will have to brace itself for the economic risks of expensive energy
- Oil prices have reached to 70$ per barrel on 26 January from 45$ per barrel in June 2017.
Cause of this price rise :
It seems to be more the result of a weakening of the U.S. dollar than anything else.
Impact on OPEC countries :
Oil trading at $70 should offer some respite to traditional oil producers like the OPEC members, which have suffered the onslaught of U.S. shale producers.
Impact on India :
- Rise in prices of petrol and diesel will increase cost of production and decline in global competitiveness can be expected.(The rise in domestic fuel prices is on expected lines given the policy of dynamic daily pricing of petrol and diesel adopted by the Centre.)
- Rising oil prices put pressure on domestic consumers and if the government decide provide subsidy then it can increase fiscal deficit.
What needs to be done?
- The government should think for the long term and make crucial tweaks to its hydrocarbon exploration and licensing policy to expedite oil discovery and production.
- It must take a leaf from China’s book and actively support Indian energy firms’ bids for overseas oilfields. Self-reliance is ultimately the best hedge.
Taxpayer count rises post GST
Findings of the Economic survey :
- According to the survey, the GST has resulted in a 50% increase in the number of indirect taxpayers
- Also, the tax regime has revealed new data on key aspects such as inter-State trade, State-wise exports, and the extent of formalisation in the economy
- Data showed GST had resulted in a significant increase in voluntary compliance
- About 1.7 million registrants who were below the threshold annual turnover limit of Rs20 lakh choose to register for GST nevertheless
- GST data has showed that the formal sector in India was larger than earlier thought.
Global centre for cyber security
In a bid to safeguard the world from hackers and growing data breaches — especially from nation-states — the World Economic Forum (WEF) has announced a new Global Centre for Cybersecurity.
About the Global Centre for Cybersecurity:
- The Global Centre for Cybersecurity will help build a safe and secure global cyberspace.
- The centre will be based in Geneva, Switzerland, and will function as an autonomous organization under the auspices of the World Economic Forum.
- The aim of the centre is to establish the first global platform for governments, businesses, experts and law enforcement agencies to collaborate on cybersecurity challenges.
- The centre will draw on the Forum’s government and industry support to work towards a more secure cyberspace through its established multistakeholder approach.
Zero budget natural farming
Himachal Pradesh has launched Zero Budget Natural Farming project to promote organic farming.
What is it?
- It is a method of farming where the cost of growing and harvesting plants is zero. This means that farmers need not purchase fertilizers and pesticides in order to ensure the healthy growth of crops.
- It is, basically, a natural farming technique that uses biological pesticides instead of chemical-based fertilizers.
- Farmers use earthworms, cow dung, urine, plants, human excreta and such biological fertilizers for crop protection.
- It reduces farmers’ investment.
- It also protects the soil from degradation.
- Each year, environmentalists record a high number of dead turtles washing up ashore. Sea turtles are accidentally captured, injured or killed by mechanised boats, trawl nets and gill nets operated and used by commercial fishermen.
- This heavy toll, of injuries and deaths, occurs when turtles begin migrating to their nesting grounds on beaches and in fishing areas that are their feeding grounds.
- There are five species in Indian waters — Leatherback, Loggerhead, Hawksbill, Green and Olive Ridley.
- In India, though sea turtles are protected under Schedule I Part II of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act of 1972.
Role in marine Ecosystem:
- Sea turtles, especially the leatherback, keep jellyfish under control, thereby helping to maintain healthy fish stocks in the oceans.
- The Green turtle feeds on sea grass beds and by cropping the grass provide a nursery for numerous species of fish, shellfish and crustaceans.
- The Hawksbill feeds on sponges in the reef ecosystem and opens up crevices for other marine life to live in.
- Turtles are also transporters of nutrients and energy to coastal areas.
- Unhatched eggs, eggshells and fluids help foster decomposers and create much needed fertilizer in sandy beaches.
Steps to be taken reduce Turtle deaths:
- Under current regulations, mechanised trawl boats are not allowed to operate within certain distance from the coast. This ban needs to be enforced at all levels of fishing and monitored by the respective Fisheries departments, marine police and the Indian Coast Guard.
- All trawl boats should be fitted with a vessel monitoring system that must be kept on at all times. This will provide a simple system of monitoring by the Coast Guard.
- Trawlers meant should be required by law to be fitted with Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs).
- There are closed seasons for certain types of fishing vessels. These closed seasons should take into account the sea turtle nesting season.
These small but meaningful measures will help the sea turtles that are our marine heritage to have another chance at survival.
Red alert on the green index
- India’s rank in Environmental Performance Index dropped from 141in 2016 to 177 in 2018. In comparison, emerging peer economies, Brazil and China, rank 69 and 120, respectively.
- Top 5 countries are Switzerland, France, Denmark, Malta and Sweden. Bottom 5 countries are Nepal, India, Congo, Bangladesh and Burundi.
About Environmental Performance Index (EPI):
- The Environmental Performance Index (EPI) is a method of quantifying and numerically marking the environmental performance of a state’s policies.
- The EPI was preceded by the Environmental Sustainability Index, published between 1999 and 2005.
- The EPI ranks countries on 24 performance indicators across 10 issue categories.
- The EPI is produced jointly by Yale University and Columbia University in collaboration with the World Economic Forum and the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission.
Cost of Environmental degradation:
- A recent study by the World Bank showed air pollution to be the cause of an estimated 1.4 million premature deaths in India. It translates into a welfare loss equivalent around 8% of India’s GDP in 2013.
- The cost of lost labour productivity was 0.84% of its GDP.
- A significant concern is also the fact that the poor are affected disproportionately because of environmental degradation.
Steps taken by government:
A look at recent initiatives shows that the government has set ambitious targets for environmental protection.
- Government has notified new, strict environmental standards for coal-fired power plants, to be effective from January 2018.
- An aggressive target was set to implement Bharat Stage VI emission norms from April 1, 2020, skipping Stage V norms.
- In order to accelerate the transition to renewable sources of power, the government, under the National Solar Mission, revised the target for setting up solar capacity from 20 GW to 100 GW by 2021-22.
The current state of environment is linked to the lack of political will to implement even existing environmental laws and regulations. Being among the four worst countries in the world in terms of environmental performance should hopefully serve as a wake-up call.
Govt. to set up apex cybercrime coordination centre
- To deal with cybercrimes such as financial frauds, circulation of communal and pornographic contents, the Union Home Ministry is planning to set up an apex coordination centre and has asked States to establish a similar mechanism in every district.
- The apex centre — Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C) — would be set up in Delhi.
- It would coordinate with State governments and Union Territories, and closely monitor the cyberspace and social media with due emphasis on vernacular content.
- The centre would also block those websites which flout India’s laws and circulate child porn, and communally and racially sensitive content.
Why such step by government?
- There were 1,44,496 cybersecurity attacks observed in the country during 2014-16.
- Over a period of time, there has been a phenomenal increase in use of computers, smart phones and internet. With this increase, cybercrimes have emerged as a major challenge for law enforcement agencies.
- The cybercrime cases are of varied types. These range from defacement of government websites, online financial frauds, online stalking and harassment, and data thefts. Each requires specialised investigative skill sets and forensic tools.
- Cybercrime cases pose technical, legal and administrative challenges in investigation which require strengthening of the institutional mechanism.
Armed forces set to be curtailed in Northeast
- The Home Ministry will conduct a “security audit” in the Northeast
- After this, it might chalk out a plan to reduce the number of Central armed police force personnel deployed there
Insurgency at a record low :
- Insurgency-related incidents in the Northeast had come down to 308 in 2017, the lowest since 1997.
- This is nearly 85% reduction.
Reddy committee report being considered :
- The Central government had appointed a five-member committee headed by Justice B.P. Jeevan Reddy in November 2004 to review AFSPA
- Report had said that besides repealing the Act, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 should be modified to clearly specify the powers of the armed forces and the Central forces
Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act :
- The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act was enacted in 1958 to bring under control what the government of India considered ‘disturbed’ areas
- As per Section 3 of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, it can be invoked in places “where the use of armed forces in aid of the civil power is necessary.”
- The AFSPA gives power to the Army and the Central forces deployed in “disturbed areas” to kill anyone acting in contravention of law, arrest and search premises without a warrant and provide cover to forces from prosecution and law suits without the Centre’s sanction
- The state governments can suggest whether the Act is required to be enforced or not. But under Section (3) of the Act, their opinion can still be overruled by the governor or the centre.
India and ASEAN
- This week India will host heads of state or government of all 10 nations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for the Republic Day celebrations.
- Inviting the heads of state of the ASEAN was a remarkable feat, especially on the logistics and security side. India has not invited so many heads of state ever for the Republic Day.
- The year 2017 was an important landmark as India and the ASEAN commemorated 25 years of their partnership, 15 years of summit-level interaction, and five years of strategic partnership.
Delhi declaration- major outcome of India ASEAN summit :
- South china sea dispute-The declaration underscores the need for full and effective implementation of “Declaration on the Conduct of the Parties in the South China Sea” and an early conclusion of the “Code of Conduct in the South China Sea”, thereby showing Delhi’s support to the ASEAN’s position on the dispute that also involves China.
- Emphasis on terrorism in the declaration demonstrates India’s attempts to muster greater support for its efforts in fighting terrorism through multilateral channels.
History of India ASEAN partnership :
- The India-ASEAN dialogue partnership has come a long way in the past quarter century. From being a sectoral partner in 1992 to full dialogue partner in 1995, India and ASEAN are strategic partners today.
- India’s search for economic space resulted in the ‘Look East Policy’ in 1990s. The Look East Policy has today matured into a dynamic and action oriented ‘Act East Policy. ASEAN countries are one of the majorfocused areas of ‘Act east policy’
Challenges for Indian influence in the region:
- In the past 25 years, China has arguably emerged as the biggest stakeholder in the region, followed by Japan.
- While China is working on regional and inter-regional connectivity with projects such as cross-country railway networks with the ASEAN, India is still unable to complete projects initiated more than a decade back.
- With China’s launching of OBOR, and the Trump administration preoccupied elsewhere, the strategic and economic milieu of the region is swiftly changing in favour of China.
- Countries, which are otherwise against China dominating the region, are also welcoming OBOR albeit with certain conditions.
- India’s economic focus too is not in tune with other regional powers which view ASEAN as an important market for exports and investments. India’s export sector remains weak
Way forward :
1) Digital technologies
Chinese giants begin to dominate the digital space in Southeast Asia and concerns rise about their ability to own data, the Indian IT sector may take some advantage of the seeming reluctance of ASEAN states to put all their eggs in the Chinese basket.
2) Completion of infrastructure projects
Prompt completion of the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway, kaladan multimodal transportation project.
3) Air connectivity
With China having three times more commercial flights than India to Southeast Asia, improving air connectivity between India and ASEAN countries should also be high on the agenda.
4) Maritime framework
The Bay of Bengal can be used as an exploratory ground for the development of an India-ASEAN maritime framework.
While India offers scholarships to students from ASEAN states to study at Nalanda University, this initiative should be extended to the IITs and the IIMs.
Tourism too can be further encouraged between India and the ASEAN with some creative branding by the two sides.
China releases Arctic policy
The document draws a picture of how China views the economic possibilities the region offers. With this, China has vowed to actively participate in Arctic affairs as a “near-Arctic State” and a major stakeholder in the Arctic.
Focus areas :
- China will participate in the development of Arctic shipping routes. The Arctic shipping routes are likely to become important transport routes for international trade as a result of global warming, China plans to build a “Polar Silk Road” by developing the Arctic shipping routes.
- To participate “in the exploration for and exploitation of oil, gas, mineral and other non-living resource in the Arctic.
- China will start to utilize fisheries and other living resources and participate in conservation, since the Arctic has the potential to become a new fishing ground in the future,.
- China will develop Arctic tourism
Should Euthanasia be allowed?
Narayan Lavate (88) and Iravati Lavate (78), an elderly couple from Maharashtra seeks Presidential nod for ‘active euthanasia’. They say that they do not wish to be a burden on society in their old age.
What is Euthanasia?
Euthanasia is the practice of intentionally ending a life to relieve pain and suffering. It is of two types.
- Passive euthanasia means withdrawing life support to induce death in a natural way.
- Active euthanasia means injecting legal drugs to induce death. It is more controversial.
Current legal status:
- The path-breaking judgment in Aruna Shanbaug vs. Union of India (2011) brought the issue of euthanasia into the public domain. Aruna Shanbaug was in a vegetative state since 1973 after she was sexually assaulted in the hospital premises.
- The 2011 judgment helped to push the debate to the extent of permitting passive euthanasia for terminally ill patients under the strict supervision of the High Court, in consultation with a team of doctors treating the terminally ill patient.
- So, only Passive euthansia is allowed under some circumstances while Active euthanasia is not permitted.
Aruguments in favour of Active Euthanasia:
- The right to life U/A 21 includes the right to live with dignity. When you are in pain, that dignity is lost and you are forced to rely on your kith and kin for support.
- In the case of terminally ill patients, the expensive health is economic burden on the family.
- Everyone should be given Right to Choose.
Argument against Passive Euthanasia:
- The probability of its misuse — whether it is demanded for property, money, or because of animosity among family members — is very high.
- Euthanasia is a rejection of the importance and value of human life.
- Euthanasia can become a means of health care cost containment.
Way Forward :
- Euthanasia for those who are terminally ill and in vegetative state can be debated. But euthanasia for those who are mentally alert, though physically disabled, is a big no.
- Further, legislation must be introduced for laying down the procedure for Passive euthanasia.
A vote for state funding
- Elections and political parties are a fundamental feature of Parliamentary democracy. Indian elections are the world’s biggest exercise in democracy but also among the most expensive.
- A transparent method of funding political parties is vital to the system of free and fair elections.
Government has taken following steps to decrease use of cash in elections:
- Income Tax Act was amended to include a provision that donations made to political parties would give a tax advantage to the donor.
- Creation of Electoral Trust for orderly receipt of the voluntary contributions from any person and for distributing the same to the respective political parties.
- The maximum amount of cash donation that a political party can receive is capped at Rs. 2,000 (down from 20,000).
- Electoral bonds to allow a political donor to purchase bonds from authorised banks and these can be redeemed by parties only through registered accounts in a prescribed time frame.
Criticism of Electoral bonds:
- The name of the donor will not be revealed either to the party or to the public. So, the problem to replace anonymous donations and bring about transparency and accountability towards voters will remain the same.
- Electoral bonds will result in unlimited and undeclared funds going to certain political parties.
- The current rule of maintaining anonymity of the donor will further increase the corporate and politicians nexus.
- The data of donors could be made available to the ruling party which can be source of harassment.
But the electoral bonds are a positive step to curb the use of black money in the election by reducing use of cash.
Provisions that will further lead to strengthening the business-politics nexus:
The Corporate donations constitute the main source of election funding in India which is awash with black money.
- The maximum limit of 7.5% on the proportion of the profits a company can donate to a political party has been lifted. This opens up the possibility of shell companies being set up specifically to fund parties.
- Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) has been amended to allow foreign funding to political parties.
- Political parties have refused to come under the RTI Act in order to conceal their sources of funding.
Way forward :
Reducing role of money in elections:
- Strong disclosure norms.
- Strict statutory limits on election expenses.
- Ceiling on corporate donations to political parties.
- The Indrajit Gupta Committee had endorsed partial state funding of recognised political parties.
A path to executive power
Refer article “Election Commission recommends disqualification of 20 AAP MLAs” of 18-24 jan.
- President Ram has recently approved the recommendation of the EC to disqualify 20 Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
- They were deemed to have been holding offices of profit as they were parliamentary secretaries to ministers in the Delhi government.
Why do State governments create such posts in the first place?
One of the major constraints in cabinet formation is Article 164 (1-A) of the Constitution. The article limits the number of Ministers in State cabinets (including the Chief Minister) to 15% of the total number of MLAs of the State and for Delhi it is 10% of the total seats. So, such posts are mainly to reward MLAs who do find a place in the cabinet
- The principle behind “Office of profit” is the doctrine of separation of powers. The office of profit rule seeks to ensure that legislators act independently and are not lured by offers from the executive. Rewarding MLAs with executive posts can restrict them from performing their primary role.
- The constitutional constraints (cap on number of ministers) and office of profit restrictions seek to prevent the creation of multiple executive posts to reward loyal legislators.
EC unlikely to reiterate demand for contempt power
The Election Commission is unlikely to reiterate its demand for powers to initiate contempt proceedings against people and parties for making allegations against it without credible evidence.
In April, some political parties have questioned the impartiality of the EC. The Commission had urged the law ministry to amend the election laws so that it could use the ‘Contempt of Courts’ Act against such people and parties. Contempt powers were sought to counter “unfounded, baseless allegations which vitiate the atmosphere and affect the minds of the electorate”.
The government had recently told Parliament that the EC’s demand was examined from legal and constitutional angles. The Law Ministry had also taken into account judicial pronouncements in this regard. So, the government told the poll panel that it won’t be appropriate to grant contempt powers.
Arguments in favour:
- Several Election management bodies, including those in Kenya and Pakistan, have “direct powers” to initiate contempt proceedings.
- Allegations affect the credibility of Election Commission asone of the guardian of democracy.
Arguments against contempt power:
- Contestation is part and parcel of election. So, power to silence is against democratic ethos.
- Rather than contempt power, EC should reach out to people and explain them transparently.
- This power can be misused and fair criticism can be muzzled in future.
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Super blood blue moon
- A cosmic event not seen in 36 years —may be glimpsed January 31 in parts of western North America, Asia, the Middle East, Russia and Australia.
What is it?
- A cosmic event which combines three unusual lunar events — an extra big super moon, a blue moon and a total lunar eclipse.
Blue moon :
- A blue moon refers to the second full moon in a month. Typically, a blue moon happens every two years and eight months
- It happen when the moon is closest to Earth in its orbit. This point, called the perigee, makes the moon appear 14% larger and 30% brighter.
- Supermoons can happen four to six times a year.
Lunar eclipse :
- During the eclipse, the moon will glide into Earth’s shadow, gradually turning the white disk of light to orange or red.
- Unlike a solar eclipse, this lunar eclipse can be safely viewed without protective eyewear.
- Lunar eclipses occur at least twice a year.
Electronic vehicles: charging infrastructure needs a jolt to meet
- Government has set itself the target of quadrupling the generation capacity of solar energy by 2022.
- Shifting the production of new automotive vehicles from internal combustion engine models to electric vehicles by 2030.
- Government wants the clean energy industry to develop within the framework of its Make-in-India agenda.
- Finally, it wants to reduce the country’s dependence on energy and energy-related imports.
- Very few global carmakers have brought their electric variants into India. This is because of the fact that the government has made a distinction between EVs and hybrid vehicles under the GST regime is seen as a problem. While EVs are to be taxed at 12%, hybrid vehicles are taxed at 28% plus a 15% cess.
- The view among carmakers is that people are still sceptical about the shift to all-electric vehicles since they fear the charge duration of the batteries. Also, people are more likely to try hybrid vehicles, but that sector is not being encouraged by the current tax structure.
- Non availability of infrastructure like charging stations.
- EVs can be charged at home using AC power, this would take about 5-8 hours for a full charge. DC chargers, on the other hand, can do the same in a fraction of the time. Most of the chargers being installed across the country, however, are AC chargers.
- Battery technology and price of battery is yet another aspect that needs more research to make them efficient and cheaper.
- Yet another issue is that simply shifting the fleet to electric will not address the impact on the environment. This has to be accompanied with an even swifter change in the energy mix to renewable sources.
Steps taken by government :
- Different departments and ministries have stepped up their engagement with the electric vehicle industry.
- Energy Efficiency Services Limited, a government firm, has put in motion plans to procure 10,000 e-vehicles and has already given out tenders to the likes of Tata Motors and M&M. EESL aims to lease these vehicles out to government departments so as to replace their existing fleets of petrol and diesel vehicles.
Government also notified the scheme for Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles in India (FAME), as a part of its National Electric Mobility Mission Plan 2020.
- The scheme has four focus areas: technology development, pilot project, charging infrastructure and demand creation.
- The scheme has been extended till March 31, 2018.
First India-designed vaccine(Rotavac) passes WHO test
- For the first time, a vaccine conceived and developed from scratch in India has been “pre-qualified” by the World Health Organisation.
- To be “pre-qualified” means that the vaccine can be sold internationally.
- The Rotavac vaccine protects against childhood diarrhoea caused by the rotavirus.
- The Rotavac vaccine, developed by the Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech Limited last year, was included in India’s national immunisation programme.
Universal immunization programme :
- Universal Immunization Programme is a vaccination program launched by the Government of India in 1985
- It became a part of Child Survival and Safe Motherhood Programme in 1992 and is currently one of the key areas of National Rural Health Mission(NRHM) since 2005
- The program now consists of vaccination for 12 diseases- tuberculosis, diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), tetanus, poliomyelitis, measles, Hepatitis B, Diarrhoea, Japanese Encephalitis, rubella, Pneumonia( Haemophilus Influenza Type B)and Pneumococcal diseases (Pneumococcal Pneumonia and Meningitis)
- The other additions in UIP through the way are inactivated polio vaccine (IPV), rotavirus vaccine (RVV), Measles-Rubella vaccine (MR) and Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine
- Vaccines against rotavirus, rubella and polio (injectable) will help the country meet its Millennium Development Goals 4 targets that include reducing child mortality by two-thirds by 2015, besides meeting meet global polio eradication targets
Google Lunar XPRIZE(GLXP)
- It was a 2007–2018 inducement prize space competition organized by the X Prize Foundation, and sponsored by Google.
- The challenge called for privately-funded teams to be the first to land a robotic spacecraft on the Moon, travel 500 meters, and transmit back to Earth high-definition video and images.
- SpaceILMoon Express, Synergy Moon, Team Indus, and Team Hakuto,secured verified launch contracts.
- GLXP mission sometimes refer to as moon 2.0
Why in news?
- The X Prize Foundation announced that “no team would be able to make a launch attempt to reach the Moon by the [31 March 2018] deadline and the US$30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE will go unclaimed.”
Team Indus :
- It is a for-profit organisation headquartered in Bangalore, India.
- The team of professionals from various backgrounds in science, technology, finance and media
- It was the only Indian team attempting to win the Google Lunar X Prize mission announced in 2007.
Poultry sector and use of
antibiotics in India
- The poultry industry is booming. The amount of chicken produced doubled between 2003 and 2013.
- Chicken is popular because it can be eaten by people of all religions (pork is forbidden to Muslims and beef is generally not eaten by Hindus) and because it is versatile and affordable.
- The majority of poultry is now produced by commercial farms, contracted to major companies like Venky’s.
- Chickens in numerous poultry farm are being given Colistin, to protect them against diseases or to make them gain weight faster.
- Doctors call Colistin the ‘last hope’ antibiotic.It is used to treat patients critically ill with infections which have become resistant to nearly all other drugs. Thus, the problem of drug resistance development in humans have been increasing rapidly.
Why antibioticsare used?
- Antibiotics are cheaper than investing in Poultry infrastructure for hygiene.
- To protect hens against diseases
- To make them gain weight faster
- Lack of required regulation on sale of antibiotics in India and whatsoever regulations are there, they are not implemented well.
Way forward :
- Widespread awareness programme against use of antibiotics in poultry so that consumer itself put pressure on demand side.
- Strict rules and regulation regarding sale of antibiotics especially colistin which is considered as drug of last hope.
- Proper inspection of poultry farms by food inspectors along with transparency and accountability on part of inspectors.
First India-designed vaccine passes WHO test
- The Rotavac vaccine, developed by the Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech, has been “pre-qualified” by the World Health Organisation.
- The Rotavac vaccine, developed by the Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech, has been “pre-qualified” by the World Health Organisation.
- To be “pre-qualified” means that the vaccine can be sold internationally to several countries in Africa and South America.
- It is a sign that there is a credible industrial, scientific and regulatory process in place to develop vaccines in India.
- The Rotavac vaccine protects against childhood diarrhoea caused by the rotavirus. Rotavirus is responsible for an estimated 36% of hospitalisations for childhood diarrhoea around the world and for an estimated 200,000 deaths in low- and middle-income countries.
- It was included in India’s national immunisation programme last year.
Paltry disbursal of Nirbhaya fund
- The Union government has released Rs. 20 crore for the Central Victim Compensation Fund (CVCF) scheme to various States and Union Territories.
- This is only 10% of the total corpus of Rs. 200 crore allocated for the scheme.
- The survivors of sexual assault or acid attacks were not aware that they were entitled to compensation by the State.
Central Victim Compensation Fund scheme:
- The central government has launched scheme for victims of rape, acid attacks, human trafficking and women killed or injured in the cross border firing.
- The objective of the scheme is to support and supplement the existing Victim Compensation Schemes notified by States/UT and reduce disparity in quantum of compensation amount notified by them.
Plea to exclude SC/ST creamy layer from quota
The Supreme Court will hear a petition to exclude the affluent members, or the creamy layer, of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes from the benefits of reservation. The petition was filed by Samta Andolan Samiti which represents the poor strata of the SCs/STs in Rajasthan.
- No class or caste remained homogeneously backward across time.
- The uplifted/affluent and advanced sections of the SCs/STs snatch away the maximum benefit. So, the benefits of the reservation policy are not percolating down to the people who are in actual need of them.
- It is this lack of percolation of benefits to the poor and really backward among these communities that has led to social unrest, Naxalite movements and perennial poverty.
Indra Sawhney case :
- In 1992, a nine-judge Bench of the court in the Indra Sawhney case, or the Mandal case as it was popularly known, upheld the caste-based reservation for the OBCs as valid.
- The court also said the creamy layer of the OBCs (those earning a specified income) should not get the benefits of reservation.
The ruling, however, confined the exclusion of the creamy layer to the OBCs and not the
Acid attack victims to get quota in central government jobs
- According to an official order people with autism, mental illnesses, intellectual disability and victims of acid attacks will now get quota in central government jobs.
- In case of direct recruitment, four per cent of the total number of vacancies in groups A, B and C shall be reserved for people with benchmark disabilities. Benchmark disability means a person with not less than 40% of a specified disability.
According to new rules central government departments have been asked to ensure that 1% of each posts be reserved for:
- People with blindness and low vision.
- Deaf and hard of hearing.
- Locomotor disability including cerebral palsy, leprosy cured, dwarfism, acid attack victims and muscular dystrophy.
- People suffering from autism, intellectual disability, specific learning disability and mental illness.
Grievance Redressal Officers :
Under the new rules, all government organisations have been asked to appoint ‘grievance redressal officers’ to look into complaints.
- These officers will maintain a register of complaint carrying details such as date of complaint; name of complainant; the name of the establishment or person against whom the complaint has been lodged.
- Every complaint shall be inquired into within two months of its registration.
- The action taken thereon shall be communicated to the complainant or person with benchmark disability.
- This is flagship programme of the Union Health ministry
- AMRIT stands for Affordable Medicines and Reliable Implants for Treatment.
- The primary goal of AMRIT is to make available and accessible, at very affordable rates, all drugs, implants, surgical disposables that are not dispensed free of cost by the hospitals.
- Bharat Parv event is being organized by the Government of India from 26th to 31st January 2017, as part of the Republic Day Celebrations.
- The Ministry of Tourism has been designated as the nodal Ministry for the event.
- Bharat Parv is a national festival showcasing the country’s diverse culture, cuisines, handicrafts and catch glimpses of a progressive India.
- The prime objective of organizing the event is to generate a patriotic mood, promote the rich cultural diversity of the country, ensure wider participation of the general public and to popularise the idea of “Ek Bharat Shreshta Bharat”.
National Voters Day
The Election Commission of India celebrated the 8th National Voters Day on January 25th.
This year’s celebrations revolved around the theme ‘Accessible Elections’, which expressed ECI’s pursuit of working towards making the electoral process more inclusive and friendly for Persons with Disabilities (PwDs).
On the occasion, the President also inaugurated the first edition of VoICE India – a biannual magazine which brings forth best practices, innovations and knowledge derived from practical experience and success stories of the election machinery that exists in every corner of India.
National Voters’ Day:
- National Voters’ Day or Rashtriya Matdata Diwas is celebrated on January 25 every year with an aim to encourage youngsters, who have reached the age of 18, to participate in the electoral process.
- The National Voters’ Day is celebrated at all polling stations across the country to mark the importance of voting.
What is it?
The Maitreyi Yatra is an exchange programme for schoolchildren as part of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the J&K government and the Ministry of Human Resource Development.
The objective of this programme is to integrate the youth of Jammu and Kashmir to the rest of the country and to promote brotherhood and harmony. It provides a good opportunity for the youth of J&K to be acquainted with culture, language and development story of different parts of the country.
The Student Exchange Programme is organized by Ministry of Human Resource development.
India’s first floating market in Kolkata
India’s first floating market is now open in Kolkata’s Patuli area in West Bengal. Set up by the Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA), the market functions solely on boats at the lake in Patuli, where shopkeepers sell fruits, vegetables, fish among other produce.
Stree Swabhiman Initiative
Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has announced an initiative by common services centres (CSCs) on women’s health and hygiene. The initiative is named ‘Stree Swabhiman’.
About Stree Swabhiman:
- ‘Stree Swabhiman’ aims to create a sustainable model for providing adolescent girls and women an access to affordable sanitary products by leveraging CSCs.
- Under the ‘Stree Swabhiman’ project, sanitary napkin micro manufacturing units are being set up at CSCs across India, particularly those operated by women entrepreneurs.
- The initiative is driven by awareness and personalised outreach by women entrepreneurs who produce and market sanitary napkins themselves.
- Common Services Centers (CSCs) are a strategic cornerstone of the Digital India programme.
- They are the access points for delivery of various electronic services to villages in India, thereby contributing to a digitally and financially inclusive society.
- It is a military exercise between India and Vietnam.
- VINBAX-2018 was Table Top Exercise to carry out training for Peace Keeping Operations under United Nations (UN) mandate.
- It is the first military exercise between the two countries.
- The exercise is being held in Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh.