Daily Current Affairs, 4th July 2018
Topic: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.
Meghalaya Celebrates Behdienkhlam Festival
Context: Behdienkhlam, one of the most colourful festivals of the State, was recently celebrated in the Jaintia Hills, Meghalaya.
About the festival:
- Behdienkhlam is a major festival of the people in the Jaintia Hills.
- It is celebrated to invoke the gods for a bumper harvest and drive away plague.
- It is the ritualistic expression of the relentless struggle of mankind to overcome the destructive forces of nature, including diseases, since the dawn of civilization.
- During the festival, decorated and colourful raths are immersed in ‘Wah Ainar,’ a muddy pool.
- The non-Christian ‘Pnar’ people who believe either in the traditional faith of ‘Niamtre’ or Hinduism observe this festival.
For Prelims: Behdienkhlam, Pnar.
Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
Payments Council of India
Context: Payments Council of India (PCI), an apex body representing companies in payments and settlement system, has a new Chairman in Vishwas Patel.
The Payments Council of India was formed under the aegis of IAMAI in the year 2013 catering to the needs of the digital payment industry.
- The Council was formed inter-alia for the purposes of representing the various regulated non-banking payment industry players, to address and help resolve various industry level issues and barriers which require discussion and action.
- The council works with all its members to promote payments industry growth and to support our national goal of ‘Cash to Less Cash Society’ and ‘Growth of Financial Inclusion’ which is also the Vision Shared by the RBI and Government of India.
- PCI works closely with the regulators i.e. Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Finance Ministry and any similar government, departments, bodies or Institution to make ‘India a less cash society’.
- The Internet and Mobile Association of India [IAMAI] is a young and vibrant association with ambitions of representing the entire gamut of digital businesses in India.
- It was established in 2004 by the leading online publishers, but in the last 10 years has come to effectively address the challenges facing the digital and online industry including mobile content and services, online publishing, mobile advertising, online advertising, ecommerce and mobile & digital payments among others.
- It is the only professional industry body representing the online and mobile VAS industry in India.
- The association is registered under the Societies Act and is a recognized charitable institution in Maharashtra.
For Prelims: PCI, IAMAI.
Topic: Issues related to education.
‘Happiness curriculum’ for school students
Context: The Delhi government has launched a “happiness curriculum” in state-run schools.
About Happiness Curriculum:
- The curriculum will be taught to around eight lakh students from nursery up to Class 8 of all Delhi government schools from the new academic session.
- The curriculum involves a “happiness period” of 45 minutes and five minutes of meditation before each class. It will include meditation, moral values and mental exercises.
- For Prelims: Happiness curriculum- where it has been introduced, features.
- For Mains: Need, significance and similar innovative measures.
Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC)
Context: The Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) has launched its, in-house developed, single-umbrella e-marketing system named Khadi Institution Management and Information System (KIMIS). The system can be accessed from anywhere in the country for the sale and purchase of Khadi and Village Industries products.
About Khadi & Village Industries Commission (KVIC):
The Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) is a statutory body established by an Act of Parliament (Khadi and Village Industries Commission Act of 1956). In April 1957, it took over the work of former All India Khadi and Village Industries Board.
Functions: It is an apex organization under the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, with regard to khadi and village industries within India, which seeks to – “plan, promote, facilitate, organise and assist in the establishment and development of khadi and village industries in the rural areas in coordination with other agencies engaged in rural development wherever necessary.”
The Commission has three main objectives which guide its functioning. These are:
- The Social Objective – Providing employment in rural areas.
- The Economic Objective – Providing salable articles.
- The Wider Objective – Creating self-reliance amongst people and building up a strong rural community spirit.
For Prelims and Mains: KVIC and its important functions.
Topic: mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST)
Context: Chairperson NCST Presents Special Report on “Indira Sagar Polavaram Project” Affected Tribal People to President of India.
Facts for Prelims:
The report and recommendations are under Article 338A(5)(e) of the Constitution on the measures to be taken by the Government of Andhra Pradesh for the effective implementation of constitutional safeguards and other measures for the protection, welfare and socio-economic development of the Scheduled Tribes who are affected on account of Polavaram Irrigation Project, Andhra Pradesh.
About the project:
Polavaram Project is a multi-purpose irrigation project which has been accorded national project status by the central government.
- This dam across the Godavari Riveris under construction located in West Godavari District and East Godavari District in Andhra Pradesh state and its reservoir spreads in parts of Chhattisgarh and Orissa States also.
- The project is multipurpose major terminal reservoir project on river Godavari for development of Irrigation, Hydropower and drinking water facilities to East Godavari, Vishakhapatnam, West Godavari and Krishna districts of Andhra Pradesh.
- The project is likely to displace over 1.88 lakh people across 222 villages and so far, 1,730 persons in six villages have been rehabilitated by the government.
NCST was established by amending Article 338 and inserting a new Article 338A in the Constitution through the Constitution (89th Amendment) Act, 2003. By this amendment, the erstwhile National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes was replaced by two separate Commissions namely- (i) the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC), and (ii) the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST).
Composition: The term of office of Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson and each member is three years from the date of assumption of charge. The Chairperson has been given the rank of Union Cabinet Minister and the Vice-Chairperson that of a Minister of State and other Members have the ranks of a Secretary to the Government of India.
Powers: NCST is empowered to investigate and monitor matters relating to safeguards provided for STs under the Constitution or under other laws or under Govt. order. The Commission is also authorized to inquire into specific complaints relating to rights and safeguards of STs and to participate and advise in the Planning Process relating to socio-economic development of STs and to evaluate the progress of their development under the Union and States.
Report: The commission submits its report to the President annually on the working of safeguards and measures required for effective implementation of Programmers/ Schemes relating to welfare and socio-economic development of STs.
- For Prelims: NCST, Polavaram project.
- For Mains: Issues associated with Polavaram project.
Topic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes.
Brus of Mizoram
Context: In a major breakthrough on repatriation laced Bru persons from Mizoram since 1997, an agreement has been signed by Government of India, Governments of Mizoram and Tripura and Mizoram Bru Displaced People’s Forum (MBDPF).
- The central government will provide financial assistance for rehabilitation of Bru community members in Mizoram and address their issues of security, education, livelihood, etc. in consultation with the governments of Mizoram and Tripura.
What’s the issue?
A bout of ethnic violence forced thousands of people from the Bru tribe to leave their homes in Mizoram. As many as 32,876 people belonging to 5,407 families are living in the refugee camps in the Jampui Hills of Tripura.
- The displaced Bru people from Mizoram have been living in various camps in Tripura since 1997. In 1997, the murder of a Mizo forest guard at the Dampa Tiger Reserve in Mizoram’s Mamit district allegedly by Bru militants led to a violent backlash against the community, forcing several thousand people to flee to neighbouring Tripura.
- The Bru militancy was a reactionary movement against Mizo nationalist groups who had demanded in the mid-1990s that the Brus be left out of the state’s electoral rolls, contending that the tribe was not indigenous to Mizoram.
Facts for Prelims:
The Brus, also referred to as the Reangs, are spread across the northeastern states of Tripura, Assam, Manipur, and Mizoram.
- For Prelims: Bru community.
- For Mains: Bru militancy- causes, effects and solutions.
Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.
United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP)
Context: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has appointed Major General Jose Eladio Alcain of Uruguay as Chief Military Observer and Head of Mission for the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), which monitors the ceasefire in the disputed Jammu and Kashmir.
- UNMOGIP, one of the oldest UN mission, was deployed in January 1949 to supervise the ceasefire between India and Pakistan in the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
- The tasks of UNMOGIP have been to observe, to the extent possible, developments pertaining to the strict observance of the ceasefire of 17 December 1971 and to report thereon to the Secretary-General.
- The group, based in Rawalpindi, is composed of 43 military observers and 23 international civilian personnel.
- Since the Simla Agreement of 1972, India has adopted a non-recognition policy towards third parties in their bilateral exchanges with Pakistan over the question regarding the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
- The military authorities of Pakistan have continued to lodge alleged ceasefire violations complaints with UNMOGIP.
- The military authorities of India have lodged no complaints since January 1972 limiting the activities of the UN observers on the Indian-administered side of the Line of Control, though they continue to provide necessary security, transport and other services to UNMOGIP.
For Prelims and Mains: UNMOGIP- composition, mandate and India’s stand.
Facts for Prelims:
Global Mobility Summit:
Context: NITI Aayog, in collaboration with various ministries and industry partners, is organising ‘MOVE: Global Mobility Summit’ in New Delhi.
- Significance:It will be the first Global Mobility Summit of its kind, with over 1,200 expected participants from across the world including Government leadership, Industry leaders, Research Organizations, Academia, Think Tanks and Civil Society Organisations.
- Objectives of the summit:To help drive Government’s goals for vehicle electrification, renewable energy integration and job growth and also speed up India’s transition to a clean energy economy.
Context: WAPCOS celebrated its 50th foundation day on July 3rd, 2018.
- WAPCOS Limited is a MINI RATNA-I Public Sector Enterprise under the aegis of Union Ministry of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation.
- It was incorporated in 1969 under the Companies act. 1956.
- The company provides consultancy services in the fields of water resources, power and infrastructure.
What is it? It is a mobile app launched by the Election Commission of India to enable citizens to report on violation of election code of conduct. It will be operational only where elections are announced.
Fighter aircraft Tejas:
Context: India’s homegrown fighter aircraft Tejas commences operations.
- Tejas is a single-seat, single-jet engine, multirole light fighter.
- It is the smallest and lightest multi-role supersonic fighter aircraft in the Indian Air Force.
- It has been designed and developed by Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
- In our country, the poor have limited access to cooking gas (LPG).The spread of LPG cylinders has been predominantly in the urban and semi-urban areas with the coverage mostly in middle class and affluent households.
- But there are serious health hazardsassociated with cooking based on fossil fuels. According to WHO estimates, about 5 lakh deaths in India alone due to unclean cooking fuels. Most of these premature deathswere due to non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer.
- Indoor air pollutionis also responsible for a significant number of acute respiratory illnesses in young children. According to experts, having an open fire in the kitchen is like burning 400 cigarettes an hour.
- Air pollutionkills more Indians than any other risk factor with estimates ranging from 15 to 20 lakh premature deaths Although outdoor air pollution garners most public attention, it is well-known in health circles that pollution from chulhas is about half of the problem because people in households are directly exposed to such pollution.
- It is less well-understood, however, that the two are linked:One of the reasons India has such bad outdoor air pollution is that nearly 200 million households are still burning biomass every day for cooking. Solving the household dirty fuel problem will also help reduce the outdoor air problem, although not solve it on its own.
- Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY):
- Providing LPG connections to BPL householdswill ensure universal coverage of cooking gas in the country. This measure empowered women and protect their health. It will reduce drudgery and the time spent on cooking. It will also provide employment for rural youth in the supply chain of cooking gas.
- Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana –Scheme for Providing Free LPG connections to Women from BPL Households.
- This is the first time in the history of the country that the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gaswould implement a welfare scheme benefitting crores of women belonging to the poorest households. Last month, the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) completed two years of operation.
- What makes LPG adoption necessary?
- About 75 crore Indians, especially women and girls,are exposed to severe household air pollution (HAP)from the use of solid fuels such as biomass, dung cakes and coal for cooking. A report from the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare places HAP as the second leading risk factor contributing to India’s disease burden.
- According to the World Health Organization, solid fuel use is responsible for about 13% of all mortality and morbidity in India(measured as Disability-Adjusted Life Years), and causes about 40% of all pulmonary disorders, nearly 30% of cataract incidences, and over 20% each of ischemic heart disease, lung cancer and lower respiratory infection.
- Achievements of the PMUY:
- Under the scheme, now 8 crore LPG connectionsare to be provided to BPL households. The identification of eligible BPL families will be made in consultation with the State Governments and the Union Territories.
- Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) aims to safeguard the health of women & childrenby providing them with a clean cooking fuel – LPG, so that they don’t have to compromise their health in smoky kitchens or wander in unsafe areas collecting firewood. The ambitious scheme also laid down a condition — that the LPG connections will be issued in the name of the women of the households.
- Encouraged by the rapid release of connections, the central government revised the target and scope of the scheme to eight crore connections by March 2020.
- Under the scheme, the union government bears the connection cost of ₹1,600 per connection, and each household pays about ₹1,500 for the stove and the first LPG cylinder. Centre to raise allocation for the project to ₹4,800 crore
- Another reform that equally deserves applaud is Give it scheme. It is truly a social revolutionthat is happening in the country. More than one million people have given up there subsidy voluntarily since the “Give it up” initiative
- With this it is possible that government can use these voluntary resources for synergising other schemes that are cash strapped or require more funds.
- The DBT scheme which aims to directly transfer the subsidyto the beneficiary is another great initiative that is truly innovative and successful.
- Linking the beneficiary’s bank account to his Aadhar number has prevented pilferage, avoided middlemen, and target subsidy to the original beneficiary, India which closely spends nearly 4-5 percent of its GDP in giving subsidies; the DBT scheme has been revolutionary in channelizing these precious resources to empower people.
- Truly smokeless kitchenscan be realized only if the government follows up with measures that go beyond connections to actual usage of LPG. This may require concerted efforts cutting across Ministries beyond petroleum and natural gas and including those of health, rural development and women and child welfare.
- Government needs to re-look at their connection focused approach, and should ensure adequate provisionsfor affordability, availability, and accountability.
- The programme has been successful in introducing asense of urgency into the transition to modern cooking fuels and disbursing connections. But it has been less successful in introducing a sustained change because of issues around affordability and reliability of LPG supply.
- This will propel PMUY to achieve the desired objectiveof not only disbursing connections but making the LPG sector a real contributor to overcoming this deep-rooted challenge affecting energy access, health, and gender disparity. There needs to be a synergy in the Gas connection with the Electricity connection.
- It is welcome that the government has recognised the importance of clean cooking energy with the launch of this mammoth scheme. However, we need to go beyond subsidising connections and fuel costs and focus on issues of cash flow, awareness, availability and administration.Only such a comprehensive approach will help poor households have a better life.