|151.||19 August: World Humanitarian Day|
The World Humanitarian Day (WHD) is observed every year on 19 August to recognize work of humanitarian personnel and those who have lost their lives. The campaign theme for this year is #NotATarget.
The observance of the day also provides an opportunity to celebrate the spirit that inspires humanitarian work around the globe. It pays tribute to aid workers who risk their lives in humanitarian service and also to rally support for people affected by crisis around the world.
The World Humanitarian Day was instituted by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) by passing a resolution A/63/L.49. The resolution passed by UNGA on the Strengthening of the Coordination of Emergency Assistance of the United Nations was sponsored by Sweden.
The day coincides with the anniversary of the 2003 bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq. In this bombing, then Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General to Iraq, Sérgio Vieira de Mello and his 21 colleagues were killed.
|152.||Scientists develops artificial womb to save premature babies|
Scientists have developed an artificial womb that can be used in future to save the lives of extremely premature human babies. It was successfully used to incubate healthy baby lambs for a week.
The research showed that preterm lambs were successfully maintained in a healthy, infection-free condition with significant growth, for a period of one week using ex-vivo uterine environment (EVE) therapy.
The artificial womb is a high-tech amniotic fluid bath combined with an artificial placenta. To mimic a womb, researchers had created a temperature-controlled bag filled with electrolyte solution as a substitute for amniotic fluid that lambs swallow and take into their lungs. They had attached the umbilical cord of preterm lamb to the device that exchanges carbon dioxide in blood with oxygen. In early-stage animal testing, the lamb appeared to grow normally inside the system.
The artificial wombs can facilitate development of premature babies in a uterus-like environment. Further development, EVE therapy can prevent the severe morbidity suffered by extremely premature infants. It can potentially offer a medical technology that does not currently exist.
|153.||Navika Sagar Parikrama: Indian Navy’s all-woman team to circumnavigate globe|
A six-member all-woman team of the Indian Navy will set sail to circumnavigate the globe on the sailing vessel INSV Tarini. This is the first-ever Indian circumnavigation of the globe by an all-woman crew.
The expedition has been aptly titled ‘Navika Sagar Parikrama’ with an aim to promote women empowerment in the country and ocean sailing by the Indian Navy.
The voyage of Navika Sagar Parikrama will begin from Goa in the first week of September 2017 and culminate on their return in March 2018. The entire distance will be covered in five legs, with stop overs at four ports Fremantle (Australia), Lyttelton (New Zealand), Port Stanley (Falklands) and Cape Town (South Africa) for replenishment of ration and repairs as necessary. The project is considered essential towards promoting Ocean Sailing activities in the Indian Navy while depicting Union Government’s thrust for ‘Nari Shakti’ i.e. empowering women.
INSV Tarini is a 55 foot sailing vessel has been built indigenously by M/s Aquarius Shipyard Pvt Ltd, Goa. It was inducted into the Indian Navy in February 2017. INSV Tarini is the sister vessel of INSV Mhadei. Its mast is 25 metres and has been custom-built by M/s Southern Spars, Cape Town (South Africa), for sailing in extreme conditions. It carries a suite of six sails, including a main sail, head sails (Genoa and stay sails), downwind sails and storm sail. It has Raymarine navigation suite and an array of satellite communication systems on board through which contact can be made from anywhere.
The first Indian solo circumnavigation was undertaken by Captain (Retd) Dilip Donde from August 2009 to May 2010 onboard the Indian built vessel, INSV Mhadei. The first Indian non-stop solo circumnavigation was undertaken by Cdr Abhilash Tomy from November 2012 to March 2013.
|154.||Defence Ministry clears proposal to procure 6 Apache attack helicopters for Army|
The Union Defence Ministry has cleared a proposal to procure six AH-64-E Apache attack helicopters along with weapons systems from American aerospace giant Boeing for the Indian Army.
Decision in this regard was taken at the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) meeting chaired by Defence Minister Arun Jaitley in New Delhi. DAC is Defence Ministry’s highest decision-making body on procurement.
Decision taken by DAC
AH-64-E Apache attack helicopters: The six will come along with associated equipment, spares and weapons system. It will be a follow on order to the deal India had signed in September 2015 with Boeing and the US government for 22 Apache helicopters and 15 Chinook heavy-lift choppers.
The AH-64-E Apache choppers are one of the most advanced multi-role combat helicopters which have advanced weapons systems and night-fighting features. Till now, Indian Army was not having its own fleet attack helicopter. Army was using the fleet of Russian Mi-25 and Mi-35 attack helicopters with the help Indian Air Force.
Purchasing gas turbines: DAC also cleared another proposal for buying gas turbines from Ukraine for two Admiral Grigorovich class ships being made in Russia for India.
|155.||Government launches Harit Diwali, Swasth Diwali Campaign|
The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has launched the “Harit Diwali, Swasth Diwali” campaign.
The campaign was launched with an aim to reduce adverse environmental conditions especially pollution in the country after post Diwali celebrations due to excessive bursting of crackers which contributes significantly to air and noise pollution.
Harit Diwali, Swasth Diwali Campaign
The campaign aims at enlightening the children about harmful fire crackers. It will motivate children to not to buy fire crackers, instead buy a gift, food items, or sweets for poor and underprivileged children living in their locality. Under this campaign, the MoEFCC will undertake various activities for creating awareness among various stakeholders and encourage people to participate in combating air pollution.
Some of the activities will include promoting Green Diwali among school children include stickers/logo distribution, advertisement on public ransport systems, poster competition, public appeal using Radio. Social media campaign will be also undertaken uder it. Moreover an online video competition will be conducted, where any individual or organisation can make a video on the theme ‘Pollution Free Diwali’.
The weather after the post 2016 Diwali celebrations in Delhi and NCR saw extreme pollution due to excessive bursting of crackers. The adverse air pollution in Delhi and NCR had reached beyond permissable levels that led Government to declare emergency situation in the national capital, which led to closing down of schools, construction sites and power stations.
|156.||NHAI launches MyFASTag and FASTag Partner mobile apps|
The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) launched two mobile Apps – MyFASTag and FASTag Partner in to facilitate the availability of FASTags for Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) project.
The mobile apps will ease the process, making it possible to buy or recharge FASTags easier using mobile button.
MyFASTag: It is a consumer application that will facilitate consumer to purchase or recharge FASTags on it. It also helps to keep track of transactions and provides for online grievance redressal.
FASTag Partner: It is a merchant application. It will allow agencies like Common Services Centre (CSC), banking partners and vehicle dealers to sell and enroll FASTag . In addition, it can be also used to activate dormant RFID tags built in 74 lakh cars in the country following the 2013 Gazette Notification in this regard. This application will aid to convert these RFID tags into FASTag (ETC Tag).
NHAI has announced complete rollout of FASTags for ETC on all 371 NHAI toll plazas from 1 September 2017. One lane in every toll plaza will be a dedicated FASTag lane where no other form of payment will be accepted. In order to enable the availability of FASTags for ETC, NHAI has taken two steps in consultation with Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI). They are online and offline sale of sale of FASTags through Common Services Centre (CSC) near toll plazas. Even FASTags can now be purchased online from Issuer Banks websites, NHAI website and will be delivered by courier at the door step of the purchaser.
Electronic Toll Collection (ETC)
It is electronic payment system on highway tolls that does not have human involvement. ETC systems use vehicle-to-roadside communication technologies to perform an electronic monetary transaction between vehicle and toll collection agency. It aims to make travel more convenient, faster and environment friendly for people.
FASTag is a radio frequency identification device that enables cashless transaction at toll plazas without stopping the vehicle at the toll plazas. It employs RFID technology for making toll payments directly from the pre-paid account linked to it. This system aims to remove logistic inefficiencies at toll plazas and has the potential of saving Rs 60,000 crore in terms of time and fuel bills.
|157.||Veteran photographer S Paul passes away|
Veteran photographer S Paul passed away in New Delhi. He was 88.
Paul was a self-taught photographer who discovered his passion for the art as a teenager. He joined The Indian Express in the 1960s and retired in 1989.
About S Paul
Paul was born on 19 August, 1929 in Jhang, Pakistan. He had moved to India after Partition after his family shifted to Shimla. His younger brother, Raghu Rai is also a renowned photographer.
He received recognition and fame as a professional photographer after his pictures were selected for publication in three renowned British publications Miniature Camera, Amateur Photographer and Miniature Camera World.
Paul was the first Indian to be profiled by The British Journal of Photography in 1967. He was the first Indian to win the Nikon International Photo Contest in 1971. Famous B&W Magazine of US had described him as ‘The Henry Cartier-Bresson of India’.
|158.||Cabinet approves raising Rs. 9020 crore for Long Term Irrigation Fund|
The Union Cabinet gave its approval for raising Extra Budgetary Resources of up to Rs, 9,020 crore for Long Term Irrigation Fund (LTIF) during the financial year 2017-18.
The funds will be raised by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) through the issuance of Bonds at 6% per annum as per requirement.
Utilization of Funds
The LTIF will be for the implementation of Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme (AIBP) works of 99 ongoing prioritised irrigation projects along with their command area development (CAD) works under the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY).
Large number of major and medium irrigation projects taken up under the AIBP were languishing mainly due to inadequate provision of funds. To cater to the large fund requirement and ensure completion of these projects, the Union Finance Minister in his Budget speech 2016-17, had announced creation of dedicated LTIF in NABARD with an initial corpus of Rs. 20,000 crore for funding identified ongoing projects under PMKSY (AIBP and CAD). The corpus of LTIF was to be raised through budgetary resources and market borrowings to fast track implementation of incomplete major & medium irrigation projects.
Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY)
PMKSY has been formulated amalgamating ongoing schemes viz. AIBP, Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP) and On Farm Water Management (OFWM) component of National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA). It is implemented by Ministries of Agriculture, Water Resources and Rural Development.
Objectives of PMKSY: (i) Achieve convergence of investments in irrigation at the field level, (ii) Expand cultivable area under assured irrigation (har khet ko pani), (iii) Enhance the adoption of precision-irrigation and other water saving technologies (More crop per drop), (iv) Improve on-farm water use efficiency to reduce wastage of water, (v) Enhance recharge of aquifers and (vi) Introduce sustainable water conservation practices.
|159.||Cabinet clears stalled North Koel Reservoir Project in Bihar|
The Union Cabinet approved proposal to complete the balance works of North Koel Reservoir Project in Bihar, stalled since 1993. It also revived the project to address environmental concerns.
Under the revived project, storage of water in Mandal dam to be constructed under it will be will be restricted at lower level than envisaged earlier to reduce the submergence and to protect Betla National Park and Palamau Tiger Reserve. Moreover, a 24 MW power project as part of the original design also has been scrapped.
The project is situated on the North Koel river, tributary on Sone River. It aims to provide irrigation to 111,521 hectares of land annually in the most backward and drought prone areas in Jharkhand and Bihar. The construction of the projected originally had started in 1972 and continued till 1993 when it was stopped by the Bihar forest department over environmental concerns. The Mandal dam as part of the project had threatened to submerge portions of the Palamau Tiger Reserve and Betla National Park. The National Wildlife Board (NWB) had cleared the project in June 2017 with certain conditions.
North Koel River
North Koel River rises on Ranchi plateau in Jharkhand. It joins the Sone River (only right bank tributary of Ganga River) a few miles north-west of Haidarnagar. Its principal tributaries are the Auranga and the Amanat. It meanders through the northern part of Betla National Park.
|160.||Union Government inks Global Environment Facility Grant Agreement with World Bank|
The Union Government has inked US $24.64 million Grant Agreement from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) of the World Bank for Ecosystem Service Improvement Project.
The Project will be entirely financed by the World Bank out of its GEF Trust Fund. The project’s duration is of five years.
Ecosystem Service Improvement Project
The project will be implemented by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh through Indian Council of Forestry Research & Education (ICFRE) under the National Green India Mission (GIM).
The objective of the Project is to strengthen the institutional capacity of the Community Organisations and Departments of Forestry to enhance forest ecosystem services and improve the livelihoods of forest dependent communities in Central Indian Highlands.
Global Environment Facility (GEF)
GEF is a multilateral financial mechanism that provides grants to developing countries for projects that benefit the global environment and promote sustainable livelihoods in local communities. Projects under it address six designated focal areas: biodiversity, international waters, climate change, ozone depletion, land degradation and Persistent Organic Pollutants. It was established on the eve of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit.
National Mission for Green India (GIM)
GIM is one of the eight key Missions outlined under National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC). It aims at protecting, enhancing and restoring India’s decreasing forest cover and responding to climate change by a combination of mitigation and adaptation measures.
The mission acknowledges the influence forests on environmental amelioration through climate change mitigation, water security, food security, biodiversity conservation and livelihood security of forest-dependent communities. It hinges on decentralized participatory approach by involving grass root level communities and organizations in decision making, planning, implementation and monitoring.