22-01-2021 | 13:00 PM
PM Kisan Scheme
Context: The Government of India released Rs 18,000 crores under Pradhan Mantri-Kisan Samman Nidhi. Around nine crore farmers are to be benefitted from the funds.
• During the 2019-20 Budget, it was announced that the scheme is to be implemented as a nationwide scheme. It was first launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2019 in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh.
• Under the PM-KISAN scheme, the farmers are provided Rs 6,000 per year in three instalments. Both small and marginal farmers are eligible to enjoy the benefits of the scheme.
• The scheme completed one year in February 2020. Till then more than eight crore forty-six lakhs farmers have been covered under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi.
20-01-2021 | 14:38 PM
Green National Highways Corridor Project
The Government of India has recently entered into a USD 500 million loan arrangement with the World Bank to build the country's Green National Highway Corridors.
• These corridors will be built in Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. The scheme will support the building of 783 kilometres of highways by the Ministry of Road and Highways.
• The project would provide road users with reliable transport.
• It will connect people to markets and services.
• The project would encourage the effective use of water and building materials to reduce the loss of natural resources. This will help to reduce Greenhouse gas pollution.
18-01-2021 | 17:11 PM
The Prime Minister of India launched the SEHAT Scheme for the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. SEHAT is Social Endeavour for Health and Telemedicine.
• The scheme would provide free cashless care for the inhabitants of Jammu and Kashmir up to Rs 5 lakhs of health coverage.
• A card must be given to the recipients of the programme.
• The Common Service Centers shall be used efficiently in the execution of the system.
• The scheme will cover all cases of Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana in the Indoor Patient Department.
16-01-2021 | 15:53 PM
The Ministry of Home Affairs recently declared Nagaland as “Disturbed Area” for the next six months under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958.
• Nagaland was declared as a “disturbed area” for a period of six months on June 30, 2020. The state has been under AFSPA for more than six decades now. The act was not withdrawn even after signing the agreement between Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland and GoI.
• Nagaland has been declared as ‘disturbed area’ as there have been killings, extortion and loot in various parts of the state. Even after eighty rounds of negotiations for more than eighteen years, the demands of NSCN-IM do not seem feasible.
About Disturbed area:
• A disturbed area is declared by notification under Section 3 of AFSPA. It is invoked in places where the use of armed forces is necessary to aid the civil power.
• The Governor of the state or the central government can declare the whole or part of the state or union territory as disturbed area. The State Government can only suggest if the act is required or not.
12-01-2021 | 17:26 PM
Stopgap Funding Bill
The US President Donald Trump recently signed the Stopgap Funding Bill.
• A stopgap funding bill is used by the US Government to ensure that it does not run out of funds for running federal programmes after the deadline of an Appropriation Act.
• These Acts have a deadline and the funds cannot be used to address new obligations after it.
• The Government Shutdown occurs when the Congress fails to fund the government. In such a scenario, the US Government stops all the non-essential services. On the other hand, the essential services such as police departments, armed forces, etc continue to function.
11-01-2021 | 17:19 PM
Human Freedom Index, 2020
• The Human Freedom Index has been issued by the Cato Institute and the Fraser Institute. It will use data from 2008 to 2018.
• According to the Index, personal freedom has declined globally since 2008. India ranked 111 in the Human Rights Index for 2020. India ranked 94th in 2019.
• It effectively ranks countries based on fiscal, civil and personal rights. In the Human Freedom Index, India is ahead of China and Bangladesh. China and Bangladesh were ranked 129 and 139, respectively.
• New Zealand, Switzerland, and Hong Kong packed the first three spots. However, Hong Kong's rank is projected to decrease in the future due to China's hostile involvement in the region.
• The scores of India in the Human Freedom Index were as follows:
• India scored 6.30 out of 10 in Personal freedom.
• India scored 6.56 out of 10 in Economic Freedom.
• India scored 6.43 out of 10 in Human Freedom.
• Syria ranked the last in the index due to war scenarios in the country
About Human Freedom Index:
• The Index is based on 79 distinct indices of personal and economic independence. It includes the size of the Government, the rule of law, protection and security, civil liberty, the size of the Government, property rights, expression, religion, freedom of foreign trade, etc.
• The Index of Democracy in the World was the precursor of the Individual Freedom Index.
08-01-2021 | 15:53 PM
North African Couscous
• It is a refined grain food made from small bales of durum wheat or semolina flour. It's a Berber dish. It is a staple food from Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania and Libya.
• The UN Cultural Heritage List contains customs and rituals related to the preparation of Couscous.
04-01-2021 | 15:06 PM
G7 Summit 2021
Prime Minister Modi was recently invited by his British counterpart, Boris Johnson, to attend the G7 summit in the United Kingdom, to be held in 2021.
India is one of the three guest nations besides South Korea and Australia.
Following its extension to cover 10 democracies, the grouping is expected to become a D10.
D10 Group of Countries:
The D10 Group of Countries has been suggested by the United Kingdom, by adding the G7 nations, India, Australia and South Korea.
D10 accounts for the ten greatest democracies in the world.
D10 is being developed to create alternative providers of 5G equipment and other technology, avoiding dependency on China.
22-01-2021 | 12:44 PM
INS Kiltan arrived at Sihanoukville Port, Cambodia under Project Sagar III. The ship is to provide 15 tonnes of HADR (Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief) for the floods in Cambodia.
• The mission is part of India's HADR assistance to foreign countries.
• It reiterates India's position as a trusted ally, first responder and preferred security partner. Earlier, India sent 15 tonnes of assistance to Vietnam under the mission.
• SAGAR initiative aims at providing security, capacity building, collective action, maritime engagement and sustainable development. India’s greatest strength of SAGAR is that it is located in the centre of Indian Ocean.
20-01-2021 | 12:07 PM
Akash Missile System
Recently the Government approved the export of the Akash missile system.
About Akash Missile:
• Akash is a short-range, surface-to-air, indigenous missile with a range of 25 km.
• It was developed by the DRDO under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme.
• It is produced by Bharat Dynamics Limited.
• The range of this missile is 25 km; it has the capability to hit its target in any weather.
• This missile can go up to 18,000 meters in the air.
• It has the capability to destroy fighter aircraft, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles.
15-01-2021 | 12:18 PM
Recently, the second edition of the biennial pan-India coastal defence exercise Sea Vigil-21 has been conducted. The exercise aims to assess India’s preparedness in the domain of coastal defence and maritime security. The inaugural edition of the exercise was conducted in January 2019.
The 2021 exercise is being undertaken along the 7516 km coastline and Exclusive Economic Zone of India.
The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) defines an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) as generally extending 200 nautical miles from shore, within which the coastal state has the right to explore and exploit, and the responsibility to conserve and manage, both living and non-living resources.
It involves all the 13 coastal States and Union Territories along with other maritime stakeholders, including the fishing and coastal communities.
13 Coastal States and UT’s are: Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, West Bengal, Daman & Diu, Puducherry, Andaman & Nicobar Islands (Bay of Bengal) and Lakshadweep Islands (Arabian Sea).
Assets of the Indian Navy, Coast Guard, Customs and other maritime agencies are also participating in the Exercise.
Exercise 2021 version will provide a realistic assessment of India’s strengths and weaknesses and thus will help in further strengthening maritime and national security.
This exercise aims to check the efficacy of the measures initiated to plug gaps in coastal security following the Mumbai terror attack in 2008.
Several other initiatives were set forth, including the National Committee for Coastal and Maritime Security (NCSMCS), creation of Joint Operations Centres (JOC) at Mumbai, Cochin, Visakhapatnam and Port Blair, raising of Sagar Prahari Bal (SPB), installation of the Harbour Defence Surveillance System, setting-up of National Command Control Communication and Intelligence (NC3I) Network.
The Sea Vigil is a build-up towards the major theatre level exercise TROPEX (Theatre-level Readiness Operational Exercise) which the Indian Navy conducts every two years. Both Sea Vigil and TROPEX will together cover the entire spectrum of maritime security challenges.
06-01-2021 | 14:58 PM
The Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE) has recently unveiled a new Project 17A ship named Himgiri for the Indian Navy. The boat was launched into the waters of the Hooghly River. It's the Nilgiri Stealth Frigate class.
About Project 17A:
The project was approved in 2015 by the Government of India. A total of seven advanced frigates are to be supplied to the Indian Navy under the programme. Four of these are to be designed by Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited and three are to be launched by GRSE.
The cost of the project was estimated at USD 7 billion. The project has created job opportunities for more than 2,000 Indian businesses and small and medium-sized enterprises.
The Project 17A ships are guided missile frigates. Each of these ships are 149 metres long. They have displacement of approximately 6,670 tonnes and a speed of twenty-eight knots. The ships being built under the project use the latest integrated construction methodology.
It's the first of three ships constructed by GRSE. Project 17A ships are fitted with advanced sensors, indigenous weapons and are equipped with gas turbine propulsion.
Earlier, Himgiri was commissioned by the Indian Navy in 1974 and decommissioned in 2005.
22-01-2021 | 12:53 PM
• The Ministry of Railways announced that Indian Railways has successfully completed the trial run of new Vistadome tourist coaches. These coaches were manufactured by the Integral Coach Factory in Chennai.
• There are currently 13 Vistadome coaches operating in India. They run in Araku Valley, Dadar and Madgaon, Darjeeling-Himalayan Railway, Kangra Valley Railway, Kalka-Shimla Railway, Nilgiri Mountain Railway, Matheran Hill Railway.
• Vistadome coaches are made with glass roof tops and large windows to give a panoramic view.
• The coaches are also fitted with the controlled opalescence in the glass roofs.
• The coaches have a passenger information system, rotatable seats, automatic sliding doors, white doors for persons with disabilities, Mini pantry.
21-01-2021 | 12:24 PM
• The SAHAYAK-NG, an air droppable container was tested successfully by the Defence Ministry. It is the first indigenously developed air droppable container.
• The SHAYAK-NG was developed by the Defense Research Development Organization (DRDO) and Avantel, a private corporation. NTSL, Visakhapatnam.
• The SAHAYAK-NG can carry a payload up to fifty kilograms.
• It can be dropped from heavy aircraft.
• It is GPS enabled.
• They are designed to withstand water entry shocks.
• The rate of descent of the SAHAYAK-NG container is controlled by a parachute system.
19-01-2021 | 15:08 PM
The National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI)
The National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI) has declared that it will offer a free IDN (Internationalized Domain Name) in any of their preferred 22 official Indian languages along with every IN domain booked by the registrant.
NIXI will offer a free IDN (Internationalized Domain Name) in any of their preferred 22 official Indian languages along with every IN domain booked by the registrant.
Applicants will get a free email in the local language.
This offer has been created to stimulate the adoption of भारत (IDN) domain name and proliferation of local language content.
This offer is valid for new .in users who register up to 31st January 2021.
This offer has also been extended to those existing in users who renew their domain in the month of January 2021.
Under Section 8 of the Companies Act, 2013, NIXI is a not-for-profit organization and it was registered in 2003.
NIXI was set up for peering of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) among themselves to route the domestic traffic within the country, instead of taking it all the way to US/Abroad.
The Primary objective of NIXI is to facilitate exchange of domestic Internet traffic between the peering ISP, Content players and any other organizations with their own AS number.
This enables more efficient use of international bandwidth, saving foreign exchange and also improves the Quality of Services (QoS) for Internet users by avoiding multiple international hops and thereby reducing latency.
NIXI is working for spreading the internet technology to Indian citizens via the following activities: -
Internet Exchanges, through which the internet data is exchanged amongst ISPs and between ISPs and the Content Delivery Networks (CDNs).
In Registry, managing and operation of IN country code domain and IDN domain for India.
IRINN, managing and operating Internet protocol (IPv4/IPv6).
Indian Registry for Internet Names and Numbers (IRINN)
IRINN is a non-profit organization, is a division functioning under NIXI.
It was previously known as National Internet Registry (NIR). IRINN provides allocation and registration services of IP addresses and Autonomous System (AS) numbers, and internet-related information to its Affiliates at national level.
NIXI was recognized by APNIC in 2012 to become the NIR for India.
11-01-2021 | 12:33 PM
UK’s new strain of COVID-19
• India and several other countries have suspended their flights from the United Kingdom due to the concerns about the new variant of COVID-19 that is spreading rapidly in the country.
• A mutant of COVID-19 has been the reason for the rapid increase in COVID-19 cases in East and South England. The new variety is being referred to as Variant Under Investigation (VUI).
• The new variant is the result of multiple mutations in the spike protein of COVID-19. According to the preliminary analysis, the mutant is more transmissible than the previously circulating variant.
• The COG-UK had identified these mutations as “N501Y”. It is an area of spike protein where the virus binds to the human cell.
19-01-2021 | 13:07 PM
The Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii’s Big Island recently erupted after an Earthquake that struck the region
About Kilauea Volcano:
• The Kilauea volcano was last active in 2018 due to an earthquake.
• Mt Kilauea is the second youngest volcano of the Hawaiian hotspot.
• It is the most active of the five volcanoes that form the Island of Hawaii.
• Structurally, Mt Kilauea has recently formed Caldera. Caldera is a hollow structure formed after a volcano erupts large volumes of magma in a short period of time.
18-01-2021 | 14:54 PM
NCAVES India Forum-2021
Natural Capital Accounting and Valuation of the Ecosystem Services (NCAVES) India Forum-2021 is being virtually organised by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI).
The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation has taken up several initiatives under the project “Natural Capital Accounting and Valuation of Ecosystem Services (NCAVES)” which aims to advance the theory and practice of ecosystem accounting in India.
The project has been launched by the United Nations Statistics Division, the United Nations Environment Programme, the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity.
The project is funded by the European Union (EU) and will have a duration until the end of 2021.
India is one of the five countries taking part in this project - the other countries are Brazil, China, South Africa and Mexico.
In India, the NCAVES project is being implemented by the MoSPI in close collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) and the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC).
The objectives of the National Forum would be:
To present India’s achievements in the domain of Natural Capital Accounting (NCA).
To prioritize the emerging opportunities for NCA in India.
To familiarize stakeholders with the work undertaken by the different international agencies in the area of NCA.
To provide a platform to selected Research Institutions to present their research conducted in the valuation of ecosystem services.
The participation in the project has helped MoSPI commence the compilation of the Environment Accounts as per the UN-SEEA framework and release environmental accounts in its publication “EnviStats India” on an annual basis from 2018.
Several of these accounts are closely related to the social and economic attributes, making them a useful tool for the Policy.
Another tool under the NCAVES project is the development of the India-EVL Tool which is essentially a look-up tool giving the values of various ecosystem services in the different States of the country.
Ecosystem accounting can produce information on the extent of ecosystems, their condition based on selected indicators, and the flow of ecosystem services.
16-01-2021 | 13:03 PM
Status of Leopard in India 2018 Report
The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change recently released the “Status of Leopard in India, 2018” report.
• India has 12,852 leopards compared to 7,910 leopards in 2014. In the country, the leopard population has increased by 60%.
• The states that registered the highest estimates of leopards were Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra.
• Approximately 3,387 leopards have been found in the Western Ghats.
14-01-2021 | 12:39 PM
Krishna Godavari Basin’s R- Cluster
• The Reliance Industries Limited and British Petroleum recently announced the start of gas production from the R cluster. R Cluster is the deepest Off-shore gas field in Asia.
• It is the first of the three deepwater gas projects jointly developed by Reliance Industries Limited and British Petroleum.
• The R cluster is an off-shore gas field which is a part of the KG-D6 block of the Krishna Godavari Basin.
• The other 2 deep-water gas projects in the block are Satellite Cluster and the MJ gas field.
21-01-2021 | 12:29 PM
100% FDI in DTH
• The Union Cabinet recently approved updated standards for direct-to-home (DTH) broadcasting facilities.
• The criteria call for 100% foreign direct investment (FDI) in DTH. The licence duration has now been extended to 20 years. It's been ten years earlier.
What are the new Guidelines?
• The licencing fee was revised to 8 percent from 10 percent of the adjusted gross sales.
• Broadcasting companies would have to pay the licencing fee on a quarterly basis. Companies are also charged on an annual basis.
• The guidelines also encourage DTH service providers to spend more coverage leading to improved operations and increased growth.
15-01-2021 | 12:30 PM
Companies (Auditor’s Report) Order, 2020
The Ministry of Corporate Affairs has announced the notification of Companies (Auditor’s Report) Order, 2020 (CARO).
• Disclosure of knowledge of the litigation against the Benami holding firm.
• The auditor should provide information on the expenditure made by the firm.
• Fraud perpetrated by the company or by the company should be reported.
• Cash losses for the current year and the previous financial year should be published.
• The summary should include details of the loan repayment term and the amount to be repaid.
14-01-2021 | 14:12 PM
Academic advisory council for College of Supervisors (COS)
Recently Reserve Bank of India (RBI) formed an advisory council under former deputy governor N S Vishwanathan to advise the director of the central bank on supervisory colleges.
About Academic Advisory Council
The academic advisory council will identify areas where upskilling and building are required in supervisory colleges.
The council will also plan and develop the curriculum of all programmes and will benchmark the programmes with international standards and best practices.
The council will also develop appropriate teaching methods.
About College of Supervisors (CoS)
The College of Supervisors was set up by RBI.
It was set up as part of the measures to further strengthen Supervision over regulated entities.
The main objectives of Supervisory colleges are:
To improve understanding of risk profile of the banking group,
To enhance information exchange and cooperation among supervisors.
To facilitate effective supervision of internationally active banks.
To augment and reinforce supervisory skills among its regulatory and supervisory staff both at entry level and on a continuous basis.
India launched the Supervisory colleges after the PMC Bank scam. The Supervisory colleges were launched to prevent PMC Bank scam scenarios in the future.
While the CoS was functioning in a limited way in virtual mode since May 2020, it is now being fully operationalised.
This will further contribute to effective oversight of the regulated entities by augmenting and ensuring a consistent quality of supervisory resources pool.
The CoS will have a full-time Director supported by an Academic Advisory Council (AAC).
Rabi Narayan Mishra, former Executive Director, RBI has been appointed as the Director of CoS.
11-01-2021 | 12:20 PM
Global Economic Prospects (GEP) 2020
Recently, World Bank has released its Global Economic Prospects (GEP) 2020 report.
GEP is a World Bank Group flagship report that examines global economic developments and prospects, with a special focus on emerging market and developing economies. It is issued twice a year, in January and June.
Key Highlights of the Report
According to the report the Indian economy is to contract by 9.6% in 2020-21. The Indian economy is to recover 5.4 percent in 2021-22. The contraction in the Indian economy would be primarily due to a sharp decline in household spending and private investment.
The informal sector which accounts to four fifth of employment in the country has been severely affected.
On the other hand, the world economy is to expand by 4% in 2021.
The services and manufacturing sector are gaining Momentum. According to World Bank India is facing its first technical recessionary phase.
When the GDP growth is negative for two consecutive quarters or more than the period it is called technical recessionary phase.
In India, the Gross Domestic Product declined by 23.9 percent between April and June quarter. The Gross Domestic Product growth rate contracted by 7.5 % during the July and September quarter. This clearly shows that the GDP growth of India has been negative for two consecutive quarters. Thus, India is in a technical recessionary phase.
Report argues that the Central banks in some emerging market and developing economies have employed asset purchase programs in response to pandemic induced economic crisis. However, these programs may erode central bank operational independence, risk currency weakness which can fuel inflation expectations, and debt unsustainability.
Report also states that there is ‘Dramatic’ inequality’.
Those with the lowest incomes were worst hit by the downturn and would likely take the longest to regain jobs, healthcare, vaccines and so forth in the post-COVID-19 economy.
Those with job security, in contrast, and those at the top at the income scale were direct beneficiaries of substantial government and central bank support for their assets.
About the World Bank
The World Bank Group (WBG) is a family of five international organizations that make leveraged loans to developing countries.
It is the largest development bank in the world and is an observer at the United Nations Development Group.
The bank is based in Washington, D.C.
The bank's stated mission is to achieve the twin goals of ending extreme poverty and building shared prosperity.
Names of Reports published by World Bank are:
Ease of Doing Business
World Development Report
Multidimensional Poverty Index
Human capital Index
Universal Health Coverage Report
Logistic performance Index
Global Economic Prospects
15-01-2021 | 12:22 PM
Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD)
The 16th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) was celebrated virtually on 9th January, 2020.
About Pravasi Bharatiya Divas
Every year Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) is celebrated on 9th January to mark the contribution of Overseas Indian community in the development of India.
A number of events such as the PBD Convention, the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award and the Bharat ko Janiye Quiz are also organized on this occasion.
January 9th was chosen as the day to celebrate Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) because it was on this day in 1915 that Mahatma Gandhi, the greatest Pravasi, returned from South Africa to India and led India’s freedom struggle.
About Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention
The theme of 16th PBD Convention 2021 was “Contributing to Aatmanirbhar Bharat“.
PBD conventions were held every year since 2003.
Its format has been revised since 2015 to celebrate the PBD once every two years.
The objective of the Conference is to establish cultural bonds and an ecosystem for cultural propagation among the Diaspora. As Indian Diaspora and various diaspora associations have played a very significant role in the propagation of Indian culture in different parts of the world.
This conference will bring together prominent diaspora figures and associations involved in the propagation of Indian culture to discuss creative ways of leveraging the Diaspora to enhance India’s soft power in this field.
Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award
The Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award is the highest honour conferred on a Non-Resident Indian, Person of Indian Origin.
The award is also given to an organisation or institution established and run by Non-Resident Indians or Persons of Indian Origin.
It is given to those who have made significant contributions in better understanding of India abroad, support India's causes and concerns in a tangible way, community work abroad, welfare of local Indian community, philanthropic and charitable work, etc.
Selected eminent Indian diaspora members are awarded the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards in the presence of the President of India during the PBD convention.
30 Winners of the 2021 Award includes Suriname President Chandrikapersad Santokhi, Curacao Prime Minister Eugene Rhuggenaath and New Zealand minister Priyanca Radhakrishnan.
Bharat ko Janiye Quiz
In 2015-16, Bharat ko Janiye Quiz was launched to strengthen engagement with young Indians (18-35) from overseas and inspire them to know more about their country of origin.
The first edition was held in 2015-16 which was followed by the second edition of Bharat ko Janiye Quiz in 2018-19.
15 winners of the Quiz were announced during the PBD convention and they will be invited for an India Tour (Bharat ko Janiye Darshan) after the pandemic.
Note: The Youth PBD was celebrated virtually on the theme "Bringing together Young Achievers from India and Indian Diaspora” on 8 January 2021, and it was anchored by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports.
07-01-2021 | 12:08 PM
Abortion Law of Argentina
Argentina recently became the largest Latin American country to legalize abortion up to the 14th week of pregnancy.
Under the new law Argentina has legalised abortion up to the 14th week of pregnancy. In India, abortion is legal till 24th week of pregnancy according to Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) act, 2020. Earlier it was 20 weeks.
Argentina's current abortion laws are deemed historical because prior to the passing of the bill abortions were permitted only in cases of rape or when the woman’s health was at serious risk. Since 1921, the activists of Argentina have been campaigning for a new law to overturn this rule.
Girls and women were forced to resort to illegal and unsafe procedures, as abortion was against the law. The scope of access to safe medical procedures for abortion was even narrower for girls and women from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
According to Human Rights Watch, unsafe abortion was the leading cause of maternal mortality in Argentina.
The bill calls for greater autonomy for women over their own bodies and control of their reproductive rights.
It also provides better healthcare for pregnant women and young mothers.
The passage of this law will have a significant impact in other Latin American countries. Currently abortions are illegal in El Salvador, Nicaragua and Dominic Republic. In some countries like Cuba, Uruguay, Guyana, women can request for abortion only in specific cases. Some of these countries even have imprisonment as punishment to illegal abortion.
Debates over abortions
There are differing opinions with regard to allowing abortions.
One opinion is that terminating a pregnancy is the choice of the pregnant woman and a part of her reproductive rights.
The other is that the state has an obligation to protect life, and hence should provide for the protection of the foetus.
Lawmakers who voted against the law continued to defend their stance that “The interruption of a pregnancy is a tragedy. It abruptly ends another developing life.”
The Catholic Church and the evangelical community, which wield immense power and influence in Argentina, had strongly opposed the passing of this bill.
05-01-2021 | 13:37 PM
Young Champions of the Earth Award
The Young Champions of the Earth prize is awarded every year to seven entrepreneurs under the age of thirty.
These entrepreneurs should have bold ideas for sustainable environmental change. The winners of the award receive mentoring, seed funding, communications support to amplify their efforts.
Prize winners from India:
Vidyut Mohan (India): He is the co-founder of Takachar. He has built affordable and portable biomass upgrading equipment which allows farmers to prevent open burning by converting crops to fuels, activated carbon and fertilizers.
04-01-2021 | 14:05 PM
HUMAN DEVELOPMENT REPORT, 2020
Recently the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) released the Human Development Report, 2020. According to the report, India slipped two ranks in Human Development Index (HDI) this year, standing at 131 out of 189 countries.
Key highlights of the report
The Human development report 2020 consists of the Human development index for 2019.
In 2020, a human development report was generated under the theme “The Next Frontier: Human Development and Anthropocene”.
Norway topped the index, followed by Ireland and Switzerland, Hong Kong and Iceland.
China was ranked at 85th position and Pakistan was ranked at 154th position.
For the first time, the UNDP incorporated a new metric to reflect the impact caused by each country’s per-capita carbon emissions and its material footprint. This is known as Planetary Pressures-adjusted HDI or PHDI.
It measured the amount of fossil fuels, metals and other resources used to make the goods and services.
The report found that no country has yet been able to achieve a very high level of development without putting a huge strain on natural resources.
India slipped two ranks in Human Development Index (HDI) this year, standing at 131 out of 189 countries.
The HDI value of India for 2019 is 0.645, which positions our nation in the category of medium human development.
If the HDI were adjusted to assess the planetary pressures caused by each nation’s development, India would move up eight places in the ranking, as per the report.
The report argues that only 13.5% women held seats in the parliament.
Report noted that the labour force participation rate of women in the country was 20.5% whereas it was 76.1% for men.
India was placed at 123rd position in the Gender Inequality Index.
Report also stated that the difference in parents’ response towards girls and boys has led to higher malnutrition among girls.
Indigenous children in India, Cambodia and Thailand show more malnutrition-related issues such as stunting and wasting.
India ranked 5th for installed solar capacity in 2019. Solar capacity in India increased from 2.6 gigawatts in 2014 to 30 gigawatts in 2019.
20-01-2021 | 12:25 PM
Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana 3.0
On January 15, 2021, the Government of India launched the third phase of Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY). It will be launched in 600 districts across all states of India. The third Phase is to be implemented by the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship.
About Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana 3.0
Skill India Mission PMKVY 3.0 envisages training of eight lakh candidates over a scheme period of 2020-2021 with an outlay of Rs. 948.90 crore.
This third phase will focus on new-age and COVID-related skills.
It will be implemented in a more decentralized structure with greater responsibilities and support from States/UTs and Districts.
Under the guidance of State Skill Development Missions (SSDM), District Skill Committees (DSCs) will play a key role in addressing the skill gap and assessing demand at the district level.
The 729 Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendras (PMKKs), empanelled non-PMKK training centres and more than 200 ITI’s under Skill India will be rolling out PMKVY 3.0 training to build a robust pool of skilled professionals.
Skill India Mission is an initiative of the Government of India, launched by the Prime Minister on the 16th of July 2015 with an aim to train over 40 crore people in India in different skills by 2022.
It includes various initiatives of the government like National Skill Development Mission, National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, 2015, Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) Skill Loan scheme.
The third phase of Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana will be more trainee- and learner-centric addressing the ambitions of aspirational Bharat and its focus is on bridging the demand-supply gap by promoting skill development in areas of new-age and Industry 4.0 job roles.
It will be a propagator of vocational education at an early level for youth to capitalize on industry-linked opportunities.
By pursuing a bottom-up approach to training, it will identify job roles that have demand at the local level and skill the youth, linking them to these opportunities (Vocal for Local).
It will encourage healthy competition between states by significantly increasing allocation to those states that perform better.
13-01-2021 | 15:46 PM
Recently, the Union Education Minister and the Union Minister for Textiles and Women & Child Development jointly launched the Toycathon 2021 and Toycathon Portal.
India, despite being a home of many globally popular games such as Chess, Ludo, Snakes and Ladders is not among leading developers and manufacturers of toys.
Currently, India’s toy market stands at around 1.5 Billion USD, which primarily is dominated by imported toys (mainly 70-80% from China).
Under the ‘AatmaNirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’ initiated by our Hon’ble PM, Toycathon-2021 is conceived to challenge India’s innovative minds to conceptualize novel Toy and Games.
It is a special kind of hackathon where students and teachers from schools and colleges, design experts, toy experts and start-ups will crowd source ideas for developing toys and games based on Indian culture, ethos, folklores, heroes and value systems.
Toycathon 2021 is an inter-ministerial initiative organized by Ministry of Education’s Innovation Cell.
Toycathon 2021, will majorly focus on conceptualizing new and innovative toys using local material which is economical, affordable, safe and environment friendly.
It will focus on:
Boosting physical and mental fitness.
On promoting Vedic Mathematics.
Supporting missions like Swacch Bharat, BetiBachaoBetiPadhao, Environment Conservation, Climate Change, Digital India, Skill India, Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat.
Rediscovering and redesigning traditional Indian toys.
The launch of Toycathon is an effort to create an ecosystem for the domestic toy industry and the local manufacturers which will promote indigenous toy industry and reduce imports.
It will also help our children to understand the ethos and values of Indian culture.
Toys can be an excellent medium to further the spirit of ‘Ek Bharat, Shreshtha Bharat’.
It will help in promoting the use of educational toys in line with the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020.
It will greatly help India develop into a global hub for toys and games.
05-01-2021 | 15:01 PM
RoDTEP (Remission of Duties and Taxes on Exported Products) scheme
The Government of India has recently announced that the benefits of RoDTEP (Remission of Duties and Taxes on Exported Products) scheme is to be extended to all export goods from 1st January 2021.
The RoDTEP Scheme was launched in 2020 to boost India’s exports in the International markets.
RoDTEP is a scheme for the Exporters to make Indian products cost-competitive and create a level playing field for the exporters in the Global Market.
Under the scheme, a mechanism will be created for reimbursement of levies, taxes or duties at central, state and local levels. Prior to the scheme, the reimbursements were not done under any mechanism but were incurred at the manufacturing and distribution process.
RoDTEP Scheme has replaced the current Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS), which was not in compliance with WTO norms and rules.
The new RoDTEP scheme is fully WTO compliant.
The RoDTEP Scheme will coordinate with the WTO to reduce the post production transaction costs for the exporters. In order to achieve this, the RoDTEP Scheme implementation measures must provide production-oriented processes. This is in accordance to WTO rules. This will help to boost the production of MSMEs.
Also, under the scheme the indirect taxes are consumed in production process, which is also consistent with WTO.
It will also boost employment generation.
Scheme is to be implemented with end to end digitalization.
Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS)
This scheme came into effect on 1 April 2015 through the Foreign Trade Policy and was in existence till 2020.
Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS) was introduced to offset infrastructural inefficiencies and associated costs involved in exporting goods which are produced in India.
The MEIS covered almost 5000 goods notified for the purpose of the scheme.
09-12-2020 | 15:22 PM
SERB-POWER Scheme for women scientists
On October 29, SERB-POWER (Promoting Opportunities for Women in Exploratory Research) Scheme exclusively for women scientists was launched by the Union Minister for Science and Technology, Earth Sciences and Health & Family Welfare. The scheme has two components of fellowships and research grants.
Highlights of the scheme
The scheme has been designed exclusively for women scientists.
The scheme has been launched by the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB). It is a statutory body of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India.
The major objective of the scheme is to mitigate gender disparity in science and engineering research with in the S&T programs in Indian academic institutions and R&D laboratories.
It will cultivate a women-friendly culture.
It will also ensure more women in leadership positions in decision-making bodies.
Search-cum-Selection Committee was constituted to help in identifying the POWER Fellowship.
Programme Advisory Committee (PAC) mechanism will be used to choose the POWER Research Grants.
It has been proposed to institute 25 POWER Fellowships annually and a total of 50 Power Grants each will be sanctioned in Level I & Level II per annum.
The scheme has two components- SERB-POWER Fellowship and SERB- POWER Research Grants.
The scheme is targeted at women researchers aged 35-55 years.
The scheme provides for a fellowship of Rs 15,000/-per month part of regular income.
A Research grant of Rs 10 lakh annually.
Overhead of Rs 90,000 on annual basis.
The span of the fellowship would be of Three years, only once in a career. There will be no possibility of extension.
SERB – POWER Research Grants
These POWER Grants seek to empower women researchers by funding them under two categories.
Under Level I category, the scale of funding is up to 60 lakhs for three years. It is for applicants from IITs, IISERs, IISc, NITs, Central Universities, and National Labs of Central Government Institutions.
Under Level II category, the scale of funding is up to 30 lakhs for three years. It is for applicants from State Universities/Colleges and Private Academic Institutions.
The grants will be regulated by terms of reference conforming to SERB-Core Research Grant (CRG) guidelines.
Other important government schemes for the empowerment of women includes:
Gender Advancement for Transforming Institutions (GATI) Scheme. It will develop a comprehensive charter and a framework for evaluating gender equality in STEM.
Vigyan Jyoti Scheme launched by the DST. The objective of the scheme is to create a level-playing field for the meritorious girls in high school to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) in their higher education.
Knowledge Involvement in Research Advancement through Nurturing (KIRAN) Scheme. KIRAN scheme seeks to bring gender parity in the S&T sector by incorporating more women talent in the R&D domain.
Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Scheme. It is the joint initiative of the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Ministry of Human Resource Development to ensure survival, protection, and empowerment of the girl child.