Under the Swabhimaan campaign, the banks were advised to provide appropriate banking facilities to habitations having a population in excess of 2000 (as per 2001 census) by March 2012. The banks identified approximately 74000 habitations across the country having a population of over 2000 for providing banking facilities. As per reports received from Banks, 74351 villages with population of above 2000 have been covered with banking facilities either by branches; Business Correspondents, mobile banking etc by March 31, 2012.
Kalvari – First Scorpene Class Submarine
‘Kalvari’, the first of the Scorpene class submarines, built at the Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Ltd Mumbai (MDL),state-of-art features of the Scorpene include superior stealth and the ability to launch a crippling attack on the enemy using precision guided weapons. The attack can be launched with torpedoes, as well as tube launched anti-ship missiles, whilst underwater or on surface. The Stealth features give it invulnerability, unmatched by many submarines.
Erosion of coastlines
As per data base compiled by the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) in the year of 2005, around 23% of the Indian coastline is affected by varying degrees of erosion. A Shoreline Change Atlas of the Indian Coast prepared by the Space Application Centre (SAC), Ahmadabad in association with the Central Water Commission in May, 2014, indicates that around 45% of the total coastline is under erosion, around 35.7% of coastline is under accretion and rest (18.79%) is under stable category.
IRNSS Is Now Navic: India’s Navigation System Gets a Simpler Name
The seventh satellite to make up the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), called the IRNSS-1G, has been launched into space via the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) C33 rocket from Sriharikota spaceport in southwestern India.This was the final step towards completing India’s own satellite navigation system. This has made the nation self-reliant in the field of space-based positioning.
The navigation system ‘Navic‘, which in Hindi means ‘sailor’ or ‘navigator’. The name is also supposed to be a contraction of the phrase ‘navigation with Indian constellation’.
Significance of Navic:-
While GPS and Glonass(Russia) are fully functional global systems, the Chinese and the Japanese systems offer regional coverage and Europe’s Galileo is yet to be operational. India will formally join the select group of nations owing such system once IRNSS is declared operational after checking the systems – space (satellites), ground (ground stations) and the user-end signal receivers.
IRNSS is an independent regional navigation satellite system designed to provide position information in the Indian region and 1500 km around the Indian mainland. Simply put, the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) is similar to the GPS (global positioning system) of the US, Glonass of Russia and Galileo of Europe as well as China’s Beidou. It consists of a constellation of seven satellites.
IRNSS provides two types of services, namely Standard Positioning Services available to all users and Restricted Services provided to authorised users.
Applications of IRNSS:
- Terrestrial, Aerial and Marine Navigation.
- Disaster Management.
- Vehicle tracking and fleet management.
- Integration with mobile phones.
- Precise Timing.
- Mapping and Geodetic data capture.
- Terrestrial navigation aid for hikers and travelers.
- Visual and voice navigation for drivers.
LPG scheme for poor women
Prime Minister recently launched the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, which aims to provide five crore LPG connections to women in Below Poverty Line (BPL) households over the next three financial years, at a cost of Rs. 8,000 crore.
About the scheme:
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, in March 2016, had given its approval to Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana. The scheme is being implemented by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.
- The scheme will be partially funded from the savings accruing to the government from LPG users who gave up their subsidy as part of the Give It Up programme.
- The new users who receive LPG connections under the scheme will not have to pay the security deposit, while the Rs. 1,600 administrative costs, cost of pressure regulator booklet and safety hose will be borne by the government.
- The households will be selected using the socio-economic and caste census data. Consumers will have the option to purchase gas stove and refills on EMI.
Currently, India has 16.64 crore active LPG consumers with a requirement of about 21 million tonnes per annum.
Non-trade issues at WTO, lack of legal experts worry India
India recently indicated that developing nations, including India, are facing a double disadvantage at the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) Dispute Settlement Body (DSB).
These nations are challenged not only by the lack of a sufficient pool of trade law experts to represent them effectively at the DSB but also by certain efforts to bring within the body’s ambit non-trade issues such as labour and environment.
India has been advocating that certain issues, including labour and environment, must be kept out of the WTO’s purview and instead be dealt with by the global bodies concerned such as the International Labour Organisation and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The developed world, however, is keen that the WTO addresses, what they call, global trade’s new challenges, including labour and environment.
The Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) makes decisions on trade disputes between governments that are adjudicated by the Organization.
Supreme Court panel to monitor MCI
Endorsing a Parliamentary Standing Committee report of March 2016 that medical education and profession in the country is at its lowest ebb and suffering from total system failure due to corruption and decay, the Supreme Court has set up a three-member committee, headed by former Chief Justice of India R.M. Lodha, to oversee the functioning of the Medical Council of India (MCI) for at least a year.In doing so, the court has exercised its extraordinary powers under Article 142 of the Constitution. It empowers the Supreme Court to pass such “decree or order as may be necessary for doing complete justice between the parties”.
Court was bound to take this route as the government had not acted on the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare. Its report on ‘The functioning of the Medical Council of India’ was tabled in Parliament on March 8, 2016.
- According to the court, the Justice Lodha committee will have the authority to oversee all statutory functions under the MCI Act. All policy decisions of the MCI will require approval of the Oversight Committee.
- The Committee will be free to issue appropriate remedial directions. The Committee will function till the Central Government puts in place any other appropriate mechanism after due consideration of the Expert Committee Report.
The Medical Council of India (MCI) is the statutory body for establishing uniform and high standards of medical education in India.
- The Council grants recognition of medical qualifications, gives accreditation to medical schools, grants registration to medical practitioners, and monitors medical practice in India.
- The Medical Council of India was first established in 1934 under the Indian Medical Council Act, 1933. The Council was later reconstituted under the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 that replaced the earlier Act.
Important functions of the council:
- Establishment and maintenance of uniform standards for undergraduate medical education.
- Regulation of postgraduate medical education in medical colleges accredited by it..
- Recognition of medical qualifications granted by medical institutions in India.
- Recognition of foreign medical qualifications in India.
- Accreditation of medical colleges.
- Registration of doctors with recognized medical qualifications.
- Keeping a directory of all registered doctors (called the Indian Medical Register).
Amazon surprises with new reef system
Scientists have discovered a new reef system at the mouth of the Amazon River, the largest river by discharge of water in the world.
As large rivers empty into the world’s oceans in areas known as plumes, they typically create gaps in the reef distribution along the tropical shelves — something that makes finding a reef in the Amazon plume an unexpected discovery.
Scientists from University of Georgia in the U.S. and the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil on an expedition to study the Amazon River plume looked for evidence of a reef system along the continental shelf. The Amazon plume — an area where freshwater from the river mixes with the salty Atlantic Ocean — affects a broad area of the tropical North Atlantic Ocean in terms of salinity, pH, light penetration and sedimentation, conditions that usually correlate to a major gap in Western Atlantic reefs.
The Amazon River plume and its effects on the global carbon budget converged with the discovery of the reef system to provide scientists a wider view of the reef community. Microorganisms thriving in the dark waters beneath the river plume may provide the trophic connection between the river and the reef.
175 countries sign Paris Climate Agreement
The historic agreement on climate change on Friday marked a milestone, with a record 175 countries, including India, signing it. But world leaders made ot clear that more action is needed, and quickly, to fight a relentless rise in global temperatures.
With the planet heating up to record levels, sea levels rising and glaciers melting, the pressure to have the Paris Agreement enter into force and to have every country turn its words into deeds was palpable at the U.N. signing ceremony.
“The world is in a race against time,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his opening speech. “The era of consumption without consequences is over. Today you are signing a new covenant with the future. This covenant must amount to more than promises,” he said.
The agreement will come into force once 55 countries representing at least 55 per cent of global emissions formally join it, a process initially expected to take until 2020.
But following a host of announcements at the signing event, observers now think it could happen later this year.
China, the world’s top carbon emitter, announced it would “finalise domestic procedures” to ratify the agreement before the G20 summit in China in September. The United States, the world’s second-largest emitter, reiterated its intention to ratify this year, as did Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the leaders of Mexico and Australia.
Maros Sefcovic, the energy chief of another top emitter, the 28-nation European Union, also said the EU waned to be in the “first wave” of ratifying countries.
Congo’s President Joseph Kabila, speaking on behalf of the world’s 48 least-developed countries, said all were committed to “to move in one irreversible direction to secure a safer climate”. Even though small emitters, he said they would take the steps required to ratify the agreement “as soon as possible”, a reflection of the wide reach of the agreement.
The Washington-based World Resources Institute said that at least 25 countries representing 45 per cent of global emissions had either joined the agreement on Friday or committed to joining it early.
French President Francois Hollande, the first to sign in recognition of his key role in achieving the December agreement, said he would ask parliament to ratify it by this summer.
“There is no turning back now,” Mr. Hollande told the gathering, adding that a key to success in combating climate change will be to get governments, companies, and people all over the world to work together to move from fossil fuels to renewable energy.
U.S. Secretary of State Kerry said the signing of the agreement had to be followed by a recommitment by world leaders to actually win the “war” against carbon emissions that are making the world hotter every year.
Putting the deal into economic terms, he said, “the power of this agreement is what it is going to do to unleash the private sector” to define the new energy of the future and set the global economy on a new path to growth and development that preserves the environment.
The signing set a record for international diplomacy — Never have so many countries signed an agreement on the first available day.
The ceremony, held on Earth Day, brought together a wide range of states that might sharply disagree on other issues.
North Korea’s Foreign Minister Ri Su Yong made a rare U.N. appearance to sign and Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe brought applause when he declared, “Life itself is at stake in this combat. We have the power to win it.”
Prime Minister Enele Sosene Sopoaga of Tuvalu, which has seen four of its small islands disappear into the Pacific Ocean since 2000, said the agreement can change the world but islands on the frontline of climate change urgently need better access to financing to protect themselves against rising oceans. He urged international support for an insurance program for Pacific island nations.
Tuvalu was one of 15 nations that not only signed but ratified the agreement.
The Paris Agreement was a major breakthrough in U.N. climate negotiations, which for years were slowed by disputes between rich and poor countries over who should do what.
Under the agreement, countries set their own targets for reducing emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. The targets are not legally binding, but countries must update them every five years.
Already, states face pressure to do more. Scientific analyses show the initial set of targets that countries pledged before Paris don’t match the agreement’s long-term goal to keep global warming below 2°C (3.6°F), compared with pre-industrial times. Global average temperatures have already climbed by almost 1°C. Last year was the hottest on record.
The latest analysis by the Climate Interactive research group shows the Paris pledges put the world on track for 3.5°C of warming. A separate analysis by Climate Action Tracker, a European group, projected warming of 2.7°C.