|201.||UP Government launches Namami Gange Jagriti Yatra|
The Uttar Pradesh Government has launched Namami Gange Jagriti Yatra, an awareness drive along banks of Ganga River to maintain cleanliness. The campaign was flagged off by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath from the state capital in Lucknow.
The drive has been organised by Uttar Pradesh Homeguard volunteers to spread awareness in 25 districts situated on the banks of river Ganga for maintaining the cleanliness and ever-flowing nature of the river. It will pass through 108 blocks of 25 districts of UP from Bijnore to Ballia along Ganga covering around 1,025 kms.
Under it, above one lakh Homeguard volunteers will organise public gathering and other awareness programmes in the district under Namami Gange Project. It will urge people to refrain from practices and other things that pollute the Ganga River.
|202.||August 10: International Biodiesel Day|
The International Biodiesel Day (IBD) is celebrated every year on August 10 in a bid to create awareness about non fossil-fuels (Green Fuels). The day also honours the research experiments by Sir Rudolf Diesel who ran an engine with peanut oil in the year of 1893. His research experiment had predicted that vegetable oil is going to replace the fossil fuels in the next century to fuel different mechanical engines.
The Biodiesel is an alternative fuel which can be used in place of fossil fuels. It is manufactured from vegetable oils, recycled grease, algae, and animal fat. It is produced through a chemical process called transesterification, in which glycerine is separated from the vegetable oil or fat. It can be seen as alternative to conventional fossil fuels.
Benefits of Biodiesel
Biodiesel is a renewable fuel. It can be used in diesel engines with little or no modification. It can be produced locally. It is biodegradable, sustainable, non-toxic environment friendly fuel. On burning, it emits 60% less carbon dioxide (CO2). The energy produced by biodiesel on combustion is approximately 90% of that of energy produced by petroleum diesel. It is also used in non-engine applications such as to remove paint etc. Byproducts–methyl esters and glycerine obtained during production of biodiesel can be used preparation of soaps and other products
|203.||NCERT launches web portal to supply Textbooks online|
The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has launched a web portal for supply of textbooks to schools and individuals.
The web portal of NCERT will enable schools to place orders for their books online. It will also enable individual buyers to place their orders by logging onto the portal and books will be delivered at their doorstep.
The portal will ensure better distribution of textbooks across the country and also address the apprehensions of schools and parents regarding unavailability of NCERT textbooks. It will enable schools to place orders for the session 2018-19 by enabling them to log on to the portal, by entering their respective Boards’ affiliation numbers and other details.
Moreover, schools will also have option of directly procuring textbooks either from their nearest NCERT vendors or from the Regional Production-cum-Distribution Centres (RPDCs) of the NCERT’s located at Kolkata, Guwahati, Ahmedabad and Bengaluru.
The move will help parents save money spent on sourcing expensive books from private publishers, often due to non-availability of NCERT books. NCERT is also exploring the option of having ecommerce vendors such as Flipkart and Amazon host its books and deliver them too to streamline the process further.
About National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT)
The NCERT is an autonomous organisation set up in 1961 by the Union Government as a literary, scientific and charitable Society under the Societies’ Registration Act. Its mandate is to assist and advise the Union and State Governments on policies and programmes for qualitative improvement in school education.
Its major objectives are to undertake, promote and coordinate research in areas related to school education, prepare and publish model textbooks, supplementary material, organise pre-service and in-service training of teachers etc. It acts as a nodal agency for achieving goals of Universalisation of Elementary Education.
In addition, NCERT is an implementation agency for bilateral cultural exchange programmes with other countries in the field of school education. Textbooks published by NCERT are prescribed by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) from classes I to XII.
|204.||Anti-dumping duty on 93 products from China: Government|
The Union Government has announced that anti-dumping duty is in force on 93 Chinese products to protect profitability of the domestic industry from import of cheap Chinese goods.
These products fall in the broad groups of chemicals and petrochemicals, steel and other metals, machinery items, fibres and yarn, rubber, plastic products, electric and electronic items and consumer goods, among others.
In addition to these 93 products, 40 cases concerning imports from China have been initiated by Directorate General of Anti-Dumping and Allied Duties (DGAD).
Anti-dumping duty is a protectionist stance taken by a government to cushion domestic companies from an increase in cheap price imports. It is imposed by government on imported products which have prices less than their fair normal values in their domestic market.
Why it is imposed?
When a country exports its products to other countries with a selling price below the cost price of the same product in other countries then it is called as dumping of products. This harms the profitability of domestic companies. Anti-dumping steps are taken to ensure fair trade and provide a level-playing field to the domestic industry.
Mechanism for imposition
Anti-Dumping Duty is imposed under the multilateral World Trade Organisation (WTO) regime and varies from product to product and from country to country. In India, anti-dumping duty is recommended by the Union Ministry of Commerce (i.e. by DGAD) and imposed by the Union Finance Ministry.
|205.||India ratifies 2nd commitment period of Kyoto Protocol|
India has ratified the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol (or Doha Amendment) that commits countries to contain the emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs). In this regard, India deposited its Instrument of Acceptance of the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol.
With this, India became the 80th country to accept the amendment relating to the second commitment period (2013- 2020) of the Kyoto Protocol.
About Kyoto Protocol
The Kyoto Protocol is an international GHGs emissions reduction treaty linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). It commits its Parties by setting internationally binding GHGs emission reduction targets. It was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, in December 1997 and entered into force in February 2005.
The protocol is based on principle of equity and Common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities (CBDR). It places obligations on developed nations to undertake mitigation targets to reduce emissions and provide financial resources and technology to developing nations. Developing countries like India have no mandatory mitigation obligations or targets under the Kyoto Protocol.
The first commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol was from 2008-2012. The second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol or Doha Amendment for 2013-2020 period was adopted in 2012. The amendment includes new commitments for parties to the Protocol who agreed to take on commitments in a second commitment period and a revised list of GHGs to be reported on by Parties.
The ratification of second protocol reaffirms India’s stand on climate action. It also further underlines India’s leadership in the comity of nations committed to global cause of environmental protection and climate justice. It will encourage other developing countries also to undertake this exercise. Under the second commitment period, implementation of clean development mechanism (CDM) projects will help Indian attract some investments.
|206.||India ranks 43rd in 2017 Global Retirement Index|
India was ranked last at 43rd position in 2017 Global Retirement Index (GRI) published by French asset management company Natixis Global.
The index ranks 43 countries on the basis of four factors viz. the material means to live comfortably in retirement (Material Well-being); access to quality health services (Health); access to quality financial services to help preserve savings value and maximize income (Finances) and a clean and safe environment (Quality of Life ).
The 43 countries include members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), International Monetary Fund (IMF) advanced economies and the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China).
Key Highlights of 2017 GRI
Top three countries in 2017 GRI are Norway, Switzerland and Iceland. India ranks 43rd and has the same score compared to 2016 GRI. India also ranks the lowest among the BRIC economies.
India’s rank in all sub-indices is also in the bottom five. India position in all sub-indices is Material Well-being (41st), Health (43rd), Finances (39th) and Quality of Life (43rd).
India has the lowest income per capita of all countries in the GRI. Additionally, its score for the income equality indicator has declined compared to 2016 GRI. It has the lowest scores for all indicators within the sub-index including in insured health expenditure compared to 2016 GRI.
India ranks first in old-age dependency, second in tax pressure and sixth in interest rates. Interms of governance indicator India ranks as the fifth worst among all countries in the GRI. It also has the tenth-lowest score for the bank non-performing loans indicator. India ranked last in the Quality of Life sub-index.
India’s environmental factors indicator has improved due to progress in CO2 emissions per GDP. But it still ranks in bottom for happiness, water and sanitation, and air quality as well as scores second-worst for biodiversity and habitat among all GRI countries.
|207.||Government launches Swachh Survekshan Gramin 2017|
The Union Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation has released Swachh Survekshan Gramin 2017, third party survey report to assess the progress Swachh Bharat Mission in rural India
The survey was undertaken by the Quality Council of India (QCI) between May and June 2017 to take into account status of rural sanitation in all States and UTs. The survey covered 4626 villages across all States and Union territories.
Key Highlights of Swachh Survekshan Gramin
QCI claims that 62.45% of the households have access to a toilet and 91.29% of the people who had access to a toilet also used it. Over 4.54 crore household toilets have been constructed since the launch of the Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin. 160 districts, 2,20,104 villages and 5 States declared have been declared Open Defecation Free (ODF). Sanitation Coverage has increased from 39% in October 2016 to 66% in August 2017.
Top performing states: Northeastern States of Sikkim, Nagaland and Manipur with 95% rural households covered by toilets were top performers. Himalayan States of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand were also top performers with over 90% toilet coverage of the rural houses.
Performance of Big States: Almost all rural households in Kerala and Haryana have access to a toilet. In, Gujarat 85% of rural households have access to toilets. Tamil Nadu has 79% rural households access to a toilet.
Worst performing States: Bihar (30% coverage) and Uttar Pradesh (37%), Jharkhand (37%) were among the worst performers in terms of rural sanitation.
About Quality Council of India (QCI)
QCI was set up in 1997 by Union Government jointly with Indian Industry as an autonomous body. Its mandate is to establish and operate the National Accreditation Structure (NAS) for conformity assessment bodies and providing accreditation in the field of health, education and quality promotion.
It also promotes the adoption of quality standards relating to Food Safety Management Systems (ISO 22000 Series), Quality Management Systems (ISO 14001 Series) and Product Certification and Inspection. It has been assigned task of monitoring and administering the National Quality Campaign and also oversee function of National Information and Enquiry Services.
|208.||Government to expand Logistics Data Bank project to South India|
The Union Ministry of Shipping is planning to expand Logistics Data Bank (LDB) project to the country’s southern region. So far, it had covered only the western logistics corridor.
The LDB project was launched at the Jawaharlal Nehru Port (JNPT), Mumbai in July 2016, making it first port in India to provide this service. Later its operations were expanded to the container terminals at Adani Port Special Economic Zone (APSEZ), Mundra and Adani Hazira Port — both in Gujarat.
About Logistics Data Bank (LDB) project
The LDB project was unveiled in July 2016 to make India’s logistics sector more efficient through the use of Information Technology. Under this project, every container in the port facility is attached to a Radio Frequency Identification Tag (RFID) tag and then tracked through RFID readers.
It is being implemented through a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) called Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corporation Logistics Data Services Ltd. (DLDSL). DLDSL is jointly (50:50) owned by the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) Trust and Japanese IT services major NEC Corporation.
The LDB project covers the entire movement of containers through rail or road till the Inland Container Depot and Container Freight Station. Its service integrates information available with the agencies across the supply chain to provide detailed, real-time information within a single window.
Significance of project
It has helped to cut the overall lead time of container movement as well as reduced transaction costs that consignees and shippers incur. It also has aided importers and exporters in tracking their goods in transit. It is billed as a major ‘ease of doing business’ initiative aimed at boosting India’s foreign trade and ensuring greater transparency.
|209.||NSDC, Google India launch mobile app development programme|
The National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) and Google India have launched Android Skill Development programme to improve mobile developer ecosystem in the country.
The programme aims to impart mobile development training on the android OS and web platform and also improve the quality of mobile app development ecosystem in India.
Under the initiative, NSDC will introduce a specific course to create applications for the mobile platform that can be used on smartphones and tablets running on the Android OS. NSDC’s partner agencies will design and deliver 100-hour duration course outside the formal education system.
Under the programme, Google India and NSDC will work together to focus on up-skilling Android trainers. The programme will accelerate mobile skill training and create opportunities for youth in the country. It will focus on achieving the target of the Union Government’s ambitious Skill India initiative.
National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC)
The NSDC is a Public Private Partnership (PPP) under the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship. Its objective is to create training capacity in the country; fund vocational training initiatives and create a market ecosystem for skill development. Its mandate is to train 150 million people by 2022.
|210.||NITI Aayog partners with 6 states to transform Health & Education sectors|
The NITI (National Institution for Transforming India) Aayog has announced partnership with three states each to radically transform their Health and Education sectors under its Sustainable Action for Transforming Human Capital (SATH) initiative.
The shortlisted states for transforming their health sector are Uttar Pradesh, Assam and Karnataka. Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Odisha were selected for transforming their education sector.
NITI Aayog had invited all states and Union Territories to participate in its SATH initiative to transform Health and Education sectors in order to give major push to competitive, cooperative federalism. Under this initiative, a Program Management Unit will now be available in the six chosen States for a period of 30 months to push for efficiency and efficacy in governance structures and service delivery.
It is expected that these three years of focussed attention and support from NITI Aayog will lead to a marked transformation and provide a model for other States to replicate and adapt. It will be three-way partnership between NITI, State Governments and knowledge partner for each of the sectors is part of the SATH initiative of NITI Aayog.
Selection of States
These six states were chosen after a rigorous competitive process based on comprehensive metrics to determine potential for impact and likelihood of success. States had made presentations for each sector which was assessed by a committee comprising of senior members of NITI Aayog and Human Resources Development and Health ministries. The States had highlighted the initiatives undertaken by them and their willingness to accelerate improvement. On thorough technical evaluation, the chosen States have committed to time-bound, governance reforms in both sectors.
Sustainable Action for Transforming Human Capital (SATH) initiative
NITI Aayog is working to foster co-operative federalism by ranking states through health, water, education, and agricultural indices. The SATH initiative was launched to go beyond ranking states and to handhold them in improving their social sector indicators.
The vision of SATH initiative is to initiate transformation in the education and health sectors by providing technical support to states from NITI. It aims to identify and build three future ‘role model’ states for health and education sectors.
Under it, NITI will work in close collaboration with state machinery to design a robust roadmap of intervention, develop governance structure, set up monitoring and tracking mechanisms and provide support on a range of institutional measures to achieve the end objectives.
NITI Aayog is the premier policy ‘Think Tank’ of the Union Government, providing both directional and policy inputs. It is essentially an advisory body that seeks to provide critical directional and strategic inputs across spectrum of key elements of policy to the centre.