GS II Topic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
PM Narendra Modi launches Pradhan Mantri Gramin Awas Yojana
Under PMAY-G Government aims to provide affordable, environmentally safe and secure pucca house to every rural household living below the poverty line by 2022.
Features of Scheme
- PMAY-G is a part of Union Government’s flagship ‘Housing for All’ scheme and has replaced previous rural housing scheme Indira Awas Yojana.
- The beneficiaries for this scheme will be selected through a completely transparent process using the Socio Economic Census 2011 data and validating it through the Gram Sabha.
- It uses ICT and space technology to further confirm correct selection of beneficiaries and progress of work.
- Under it, financial assistance will be provided for construction of dwelling units and upgradations of existing unserviceable kutcha houses.
- The entire payments will be done through transparent IT/DBT mode with Aadhaar linked Bank accounts with consent, to ensure complete transparency and accountability. The unit cost for houses has been increased with convergence of a minimum support of nearly Rs. 1.5 lakh to Rs. 1.6 lakh to a household is available.
- The scheme allows over 200 different housing designs across country based on a detailed study of housing typologies, households’ requirements and environmental hazards.
- It will provide skilling for 5 lakh Rural Masons by 2019 and envisages large scale use of local materials.
- Houses built under the scheme will have cooking space, electricity provision, LPG, toilet and bathing area, drinking water etc through convergence.
GS III Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.
NASA’S New Weather Satellite
NASA has successfully launched for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) the first in a series of highly advanced geostationary weather satellites. The satellite is known as Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R (GOES-R).
- GOES-R will strengthen NOAA’s ability to issue life-saving forecasts and warnings and is aimed at make the United States an even stronger, more resilient weather-ready nation.
- Forecasters will use the lightning mapper to hone in on storms that represent the greatest threats. The satellite’s primary instrument, the Advanced Baseline Imager, will provide images of Earth’s weather, oceans and environment with 16 different spectral bands, including two visible channels, four near-infrared channels, and 10 infrared channels.
- Improved space weather sensors on GOES-R will monitor the sun and relay crucial information to forecasters so they can issue space weather alerts and warnings.
- Beyond weather forecasting, GOES-R also will be part of the Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking (SARSAT) System, an international satellite-based search and rescue network operated by NOAA. The satellite is carrying a special transponder that can detect distress signals from emergency beacons.
- There are four satellites in the GOES-R series: –R, –S, –T and –U, which will extend NOAA’s geostationary coverage through 2036.
China launches world’s longest quantum communication line
China has launched a 712-km quantum communication line, stated to be the world’s longest secure telecommunications network, which boasts of ultra-high security making it impossible to wiretap, intercept or crack the information transmitted through them.
- Quantum communication lines boasts ultra-high security. It is impossible to wiretap, intercept or crack the information transmitted through them.
- Quantum communication boasts ultra-high security as a quantum photon can neither be separated nor duplicated. It is hence impossible to wiretap, intercept or crack the information transmitted through it. Quantum communications technology is nearly impossible to hack because any interference to transmission of information destroys it.
GS II Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
India elected as new vice chair of Kimberly Process for 2018
India has been elected as the vice chair for 2018 and chair for 2019 of the Kimberly Process Certificate Scheme (KPCS). The decision in the regard was taken at the recently held KP Plenary meeting in Dubai.
- KPCS is a joint initiative of the governments, industry and civil societies to prevent the entry of conflict diamonds from the mainstream rough diamond market.
- It was established in 2003 through a United Nations General Assembly Resolution. India is founder member of the scheme.
- In India, the scheme is administered through the Department of Commerce under the aegis of the Union Commerce and Industry Ministry.
What are Conflict diamonds?
Conflict diamonds or blood diamonds are the rough diamonds used by rebel movements in the third world countries especially in Africa to finance (civil) wars with an aim to topple legitimate governments. The KPCS completely bans import and export of rough diamonds without certification.
India’s public health care to get a new boost
UNSW Australia and Medvarsity – Apollo Hospital Group’s e-learning venture, have come together to create a fully online, new Master of Public Health (International) programme. It has been tailored specifically for Indian students. UNSW public health degree launched in India will strengthen our capacity to respond to major health challenges.
- The new degree, aimed at doctors and other health professionals, will be delivered and awarded by UNSW, along with an internship at an Apollo health site.
- Indian students will join fellow health professionals from Australia and around the world in a virtual global classroom, learning essential public health theory and skills.
- Since it is a flexible online programme busy professionals can also achieve this degree actually living in Australia.
- Not only this, the students enrolled in this programme will also have access to advanced learning tools and technology with a fully comparable experience to face-to-face learning.
- With the introduction of this programme, Indian students will be able to apply for jobs with global organisations like the World Health Organization and UNESCO.
India becomes Associate Member of CERN
India became an associate member of the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN), the world’s largest nuclear and particle physics laboratory. India will formally become member of CERN around January 2017 after depositing an instrument of ratification.
Significance of this membership
- India can take part in meetings of the CERN Council and its committees (Scientific Policy Committee and Finance Committee). However India will not have voting rights on decisions of the council.
- It will open up new avenues for Indian scientists to engage with their counterparts in front line research in physics and engineering It will help to boost India’s science credentials and give access to high end scientific technology.
- It will also make Indian scientists eligible for staff appointments in CERN. Besides, Indian industry will be entitled to bid for CERN contracts. Thus, it will open up opportunities for industrial collaboration in areas of advanced technology.
- India will also has to contribute a certain amount of money for research activities including annual contribution of 11.5 million swiss frank to CERN.
- Becoming Associate Member of CERN will enhance participation of young scientists and engineers in various CERN projects and bring back knowledge for deployment in the domestic programmes.
- Through the Teachers programme, teachers teaching in the higher secondary schools would also be able to participate in the programme and pass on the knowledge and quest for high-end science to their students, thereby encouraging large number of students to pursue their career in science.
In September 2016, CERN Council adopted a resolution upgrading India’s position as associate member from earlier ‘observer’ status (since 2004). Earlier because of the observer status India was allowed to attend council meetings and to receive council documents but was not allowed to take part in the decision-making procedures of the organisation.
About European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN)
- CERN as an organisation is world’s largest nuclear and particle physics laboratory. It is situated in Geneva on France-Swiss Border. It was established in 1954.
- Members: It has 22 member states, four associate member states (including India and Pakistan) and three International Organisations have observer status.
- Functions: The laboratory helps scientists and engineers probing fundamental structure of Universe using the most sophisticated scientific instruments and advanced computing systems Provide the necessary infrastructure needed for high-energy physics research including particle accelerators.
- CERN operates the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) which is the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator. Indian scientists had active in construction of the LHC in the areas of design, development and supply of hardware accelerator components, software development and deployment in the machine.
- It is associated with the discovery of the Higgs Boson which is popularly known as the God particle.
India, Switzerland sign Joint Declaration for implementing AEOI
India and Switzerland have signed a Joint Declaration for implementation of Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) in respect of accounts of Indians held abroad. Under the pact, both countries will start collecting data in accordance with the global standards in 2018 and exchange it from 2019 onwards. Thus, it will help India to get access details of bank accounts held by Indians in Switzerland for 2018 and subsequent years on an automatic basis from September 2019. It is considered as a big step towards fighting black money stashed by Indians overseas. The pact is based on the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement on the Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information (MCAA) also known as Common Reporting Standards (CRS) on AEOI.
- MCAA is multilateral convention on administrative assistance in taxation matters developed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
- It was signed by 53 jurisdictions in July 2015 based on Article 6 of the Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters.
- India had joined it in June 2015. It sets up a system wherein bulk taxpayer information will be periodically be sent by source country of income to the country of residence of the taxpayer.
- This agreement obliges signatories to exchange a wide range of financial information among themselves periodically and automatically.
- Its main aim is to prevent international tax evasion and avoidance and help member countries to curb tax evasion and deal with the problem of black money.
- Tax Evasion India’s wealth rises and also disparity: Credit Suisse Report.
China agrees to import rice from 17 mills in India
China has agreed to import rice, non-basmati and basmati varieties from 17 registered mills in India. These mills are in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. It is considered as a major breakthrough in India’s efforts to ensure market access for Indian products (especially rice) in China as it is the world’s largest rice importer.
What is the issue?
- India had repeatedly sought market access for Indian products citing the country’s widening goods trade deficit with China. The products included non-basmati rice, pharmaceuticals and many fruits and vegetables among others. However, China had not granted market access to India’s non-basmati rice claiming that it failed to meet Chinese norms on quality, safety and health standards. China’s apprehensions included the possibility of the cabinet beetle (or Khapra beetle) pest getting transported along with Indian non-basmati rice consignments to China.
- After numerous requests from Indian side, Chinese officials had visited India in September to inspect 19 rice mills registered with National Plant Protection Organization (NPPO). NPPO had assisted its Chinese counterpart AQSIQ during inspection for plant quarantine purposes and pest-risk analysis to ensure that non-basmati consignments from India will be pest-free, of good quality and safe.
- NPPO is the nodal government agency for inspecting mills and granting certificates on plant health for export purposes. It is mandatory for Indian rice exporters to get registered with NPPO.
GS II topic- Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
Income rises, also diparity
As per a report on global wealth published by Credit Suisse, the total quantum of wealth in India is rising but disparity between rich and poor is also rising. The report says that the uneven growth has left 96% of the adult population in India at the base of the wealth pyramid with wealth below $10,000. However, a small fraction of the adult population (0.3%) has net worth of more than $100,000.
Key Highlights from report
INDIAN SCENARIO: The wealth in India is mostly dominated by property and other real estate. It makes up 86% of its estimated household assets.
- The annual growth of wealth per adult in rupees has averaged 6% between 2000 and 2016.
- The number of millionaires remained flat at 1.78 lakh with $973 billion in wealth. Among these, ultra high-networth individuals increased by 5.2% to 2,260, including 1,040 with more than $100 million.
- Meanwhile, the personal debts are estimated to be 9% of gross assets in India which is much lower than in most developed countries.
GLOBAL SCENARIO: Overall growth in wealth remained limited in 2016. It is continuing the trend that had emerged in 2013 and is contrasting sharply with the double-digit growth rates witnessed before the global financial crisis of 2008. The total global wealth in 2016 edged up by 1.4% or $3.5 trillion to a total of $256 trillion, a rise in line with the increase in the world’s adult population.
Important Facts for Prelims
Twin trial of Prithvi-II missile successfully conducted
The twin trial of surface-to-surface nuclear capable Prithvi-II missile was successfully conducted by the India Army from a test range at Chandipur in Odisha.
- Prithvi-II is the first missile to be indigenously developed by the DRDO under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme.
- Range: It is surface-to-surface medium range ballistic missile with strike range of 350 km.
- Warheads: It is capable of carrying 500 kg to 1000 kg of conventional as well as nuclear warheads.
- Fuel and stages: It is single-stage liquid-fuelled. It uses advanced inertial guidance system along with manoeuvring trajectory to hit its target precisely. It already has been inducted into India’s armed forces in 2003.
- Variants: Prithvi-I for the Indian Army, Prithvi-II for the Indian Air Force, and Dhanush Missile for Indian Navy.
Guided Missile Destroyer INS Chennai Joins the Indian Navy
- This marks the formal induction into the Navy of the third and the last of the three ‘Kolkata’ class destroyers.
- The vessel is indigenously designed by the Indian Navy’s in-house organisation, Directorate of Naval Design and constructed by Mazagon Dock Limited, Mumbai. It can rightfully be regarded as one of the most potent warships to have been constructed in India.
- The ship is propelled by four powerful Gas Turbines, in a Combined Gas and Gas (COGAG) configuration, capable of achieving speeds in excess of 30 knots.
- The ship has enhanced stealth features resulting in a reduced Radar Cross Section (RCS) achieved through efficient shaping of hull, full beam superstructure design, plated masts and use of radar transparent materials on exposed decks.
- INS Chennai is packed with contemporary and sophisticated ‘state of the art’ weapons and sensors such as Surface to Surface Missile and Surface to Air Missiles. The ship is fitted with a modern Surveillance Radar which provides target data to the gunnery weapon systems of the ship.
- The ship’s Anti Submarine Warfare capabilities are provided by the indigenously developed Rocket Launchers and Torpedo Launchers. The ship is equipped to fight under Nuclear, Biological and Chemical (NBC) warfare conditions.
- A unique feature of this ship is the high level of indigenisation incorporated in the production, accentuating our national objective of ‘Make in India’.
- Some of the major indigenised equipment / system onboard INS Chennai include Combat Management System, Rocket Launcher, Torpedo Tube Launcher, Automated Power Management System, Foldable Hangar Doors, Helo Traversing system, Auxiliary Control System and the Bow mounted SONAR.
Artificial intelligence by BSE:
- BSE has introduced a data analytics-based solution that relies on artificial intelligence to track news related to listed companies on digital media using social media.
- The objective of the tool is to detect and mitigate potential risks of market manipulation and rumours, and to reduce information asymmetry arising from it on digital media platforms.
- It would provide accurate information involving listed companies and the BSE through the exchange website for the benefit of investors. The solution employs an advanced level combination of statistical modeling and big data analytics.
5th International Tourism Mart:
- The Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, in association with the North Eastern States and West Bengal is organising the “International Tourism Mart” in Imphal, Manipur from 23rd – 25th November, 2016.
- This is the 5th International Tourism Mart. It is an annual event organised in the North Eastern region with the objective of highlighting the tourism potential of the region in the domestic and international markets.
- It brings together the tourism business fraternity and entrepreneurs from the eight North Eastern States and West Bengal. The event has been planned and scheduled to facilitate interaction between buyers, sellers, media, Government agencies and other stakeholders.
- Buyer and Media delegates from around the world and from different regions of the country are participating in the Mart and will engage in one-to-one meetings with sellers from the North East Region. This will enable the tourism product suppliers from the region to reach out to international and domestic buyers, with the objective of promoting tourism to the region.
- The International Tourism Marts are organised in the North Eastern States on rotation basis. The earlier editions of this mart have been held in Guwahati, Tawang, Shillong and Gangtok.
- The highlight of this 5th International Tourism Mart 2016 is that it is being organised during the Sangai Festival. The Sangai festival is an annual major cultural festival organised by State Government of Manipur every year from November 21 to 30.
Andhra Pradesh Government launches water distribution monitoring portal
Andhra Pradesh Government has launched the ‘Smart Water Distribution Monitoring’ web interface. Using this portal people can check the status of drinking water in the water tanks nearby. The portal has Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system. This system helps in reduction of water wastage as well as ensures seamless supply to the households.