01, July 2017

UNESCO crowns Sharjah as World Book Capital

Sharjah (United Arab Emirates) was named World Book Capital for the year 2019 by the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, on the recommendation of the Advisory Committee which met at the Headquarters of the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) at La Haye.

The city’s objective is to foster a culture of reading in the United Arab Emirates and birth new initiatives to meet the challenge of literary creation in the area and in the rest of the Arab world.

  • With the slogan “Read – you are in Sharjah”, the program focuses on six themes: inclusivity, reading, heritage, outreach, publishing and children. Among other things there will be a conference on freedom of speech, a contest for young poets, workshops for creating Braille books and tactile books as well as many events for Sharjah’s multi-ethnic population
  • Sharjah has been crowned with the prestigious the World Book Capital for 2019 by UNESCO for the quality of its literary and cultural activities and for its efforts to make books accessible to the entire population of the nation.
  • The emirate was selected because of its innovative and inclusive application, with a community-focused activity programme containing creative proposals to engage the very large migrant population.
  • The accolade is an important addition to Sharjahs existing portfolio of milestones like, Capital of Arab Culture (1998), Capital of Islamic Culture (2014), and Capital of Arab Tourism (2015). The Sharjah is the first in the GCC and third in the Arab world and Middle East, to have received this recognition.
  • Sharjah is the 19th city to become World Book Capital.

1.Petya ransomware

Source: The Hindu

A new ransomware going by the name Petya has had a major impact on the operations in India.

Cyber security experts claim India’s critical infrastructure remains vulnerable to such attack even as the country’s largest container port – Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) – has been affected, prompting authorities to contain the disruption in emergency mode.


  • Petya relies on the same NSA-leaked EternalBlue exploit that was used by WannaCry, but that’s only one of its strategies to burrow itself across computers.
  • Petya infects computers and locks down their hard drives. It demands a ransom of $300 (Rs 19,000) in Bitcoins. The email associated with the ransomware has been blocked, so even if victims pay, they won’t get their files back.
  • Once it infects a computer, Petya waits for 10-60 minutes, and then reboots the computer. It then encrypts the master file table and then overwrites the master boot record with a custom loader. It places a ransom note to explain what users must do to regain control.
  • Unlike Wannacry, Petya does not encrypt individual files, but overwrites the master boot record and encrypts the master file table, thus rendering the system inoperable until the ransom has been paid.


  • A piece of malicious software which takes control of your system and files. Upon taking over, it applies encryption on those files and asks for money for a key that can restore the files.
  • The ransomware often scrambles file names and changes their extension.

2.Mizoram celebrates 31st anniversary of Mizo peace accord

Source: The Hindu

The 31st anniversary of the signing of the historic Mizo peace accord between the Union government and the erstwhile underground Mizo National Front (MNF) was celebrated on 30th June in Mizoram.

The Mizo Accord was signed on June 30, 1986 ushering in an era of peace after 20 years of violence and disturbance in the state.

Mizo peace accord

  • Under the Accord, the government agreed to grant full statehood to Mizoram, along with its own High Court. A university was proposed. The Accord promised constitutional protection for Mizo religious and social customs, and laws of the Mizo people. Mizo was notified as an official Indian language. The MNF agreed to break all contact with other insurgent groups in the Northeast.
  • The signatories were Laldenga, leader of the movement, R. D. Pradhan, Home Secretary, and Lalkhama, Chief secretary.

3.India gives $100,000 to UN Tax Fund

Source: The Hindu

India has contributed $100,000 to a UN fund to help developing countries actively participate in the discussion of tax issues, becoming the first country to make the contribution.

UN Tax Fund

  • The UN Tax Trust Fund aims to support the work of the Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters (the UN Tax Committee).
  • Voluntary contributions for the fund have been called for by the UN and the committee since its establishment in 2006.
  • The call for contributions was also emphasised in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda adopted at the third International Conference on Financing for Development in 2015.
  • Through the fund, the UN expects that more developing countries will draw upon the best practice of other bodies, ensuring that global tax cooperation norms and rules will work more effectively and efficiently for all countries and all stakeholders.

Key facts:

  • The UN Tax Committee, a subsidiary body of the UN Economic and Social Council (ESOSOC), has provided guidance on current issues such as double taxation treaties, transfer pricing (profit shifting) taxation of the extractive industries and taxation of services.
  • The committee also provides a framework for dialogues with a view to enhance and promote international tax cooperation among national tax authorities, while making recommendations on capacity-building and the provision of technical assistance to developing counties and countries with economies in transition.


  • The Addis Agenda provides a global framework to ensure the effective mobilisation of resources at the national and international level for sustainable development.
  • Implementation of the Addis Agenda supports the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and is an integral part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the historic and transformational agenda that countries unanimously adopted in 2015.

4.Innovate in India (i3)

Source: PIB

In a bid to create a globally competitive biopharmaceutical industry that addresses the country’s major concerns around barriers to affordable healthcare, innovate in India (i3) program has been launched.

Innovate in India (i3):

  • It is a 250 million USD program of the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and Ministry of Science & Technology in collaboration with World Bank. It will be implemented by Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), a Public Sector Enterprise, set up by DBT.
  • It is a first- of-its-kind mission that brings together industry and academia to promote entrepreneurship and indigenous manufacturing in the biopharmaceutical sector.

Key facts:

  • This Mission aspires to create an enabling ecosystem to promote entrepreneurship and indigenous manufacturing in the sector. The programme will specifically focus on the development of new vaccines, bio-therapeutics, diagnostics and medical devices to better address the rising burden of diseases in the country.
  • It will also bring isolated Centres of excellence together, enhance regional capabilities and strengthen the current bio-clusters network in terms of capacities as well as quantity and quality of output.


  • This endeavor will help nurture next- generation technical skills; promote entrepreneurship; and support institutions in adoption of global innovations, technologies, and licensing models.
  • It will provide young entrepreneurs the confidence as well as the systemic support to pursue their aspirations in biotechnological innovation, and transform India into a global hub for cutting-edge biotechnology research and development.


  • Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) is a not-for-profit Section 8, Schedule B, Public Sector Enterprise, set up by Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India as an Interface Agency to strengthen and empower the emerging Biotech enterprise to undertake strategic research and innovation, addressing nationally relevant product development needs.
  • BIRAC is a new industry-academia interface and implements its mandate through a wide range of impact initiatives, be it providing access to risk capital through targeted funding, technology transfer, IP management and handholding schemes that help bring innovation excellence to the biotech firms and make them globally competitive.
  • BIRAC has initiated partnerships with several national and global partners to collaborate and deliver the salient features of its mandate.


  • “To Stimulate, foster and enhance the strategic research and innovation capabilities of the Indian biotech industry, particularly start-ups and SME’s, for creation of affordable products addressing the needs of the largest section of society”
  • BIRAC’s aim is to play a transformative and catalytic role in building a US$ 100 billion Indian bio economy.

Key Strategies

  • Foster innovation and entrepreneurship
  • Promote affordable innovation in key social sectors
  • Empowerment of start-ups & small and medium enterprises
  • Contribute through partners for capability enhancement and diffusion of innovation
  • Enable commercialization of discovery
  • Ensure global competitiveness of Indian enterprises


5.Impact Assessment of DAY-NRLM by IRMA

Source: PIB

The Deen Dayal Antyodaya Yojana –National Rural Livelihood Mission(DAY-NRLM) was launched in June, 2011 with the objective to organize all rural poor households in the country and continuously nurture and support them till they come out of abject poverty.

Key facts:

This was sought to be achieved through universal social mobilization by organizing at least one-woman member from each rural poor household into Self Help Groups (SHGs) and federating the SHGs at various levels, their training and capacity building, facilitating their micro-livelihoods plans, and enabling them to implement their livelihoods plans through accessing financial resources from their own institutions and the Banks.

The Mission is expected to mobilize all rural poor households (about 9 crore) by 2024-25.

Keeping in view that the Mission had been under implementation for the past five years and that it had made significant progress, an assessment of the Mission was carried out

  1. To evaluate the key design features, components, implementation architecture and
  2. systems established, strategies, and key processes adopted by the Mission;
  3. To assess the key processes adopted and emerging results of the mission in different
  4. component areas viz., social inclusion, institution building, financial inclusion, livelihoods promotion, and entitlements and convergence;
  5. To study the functioning of community institutions promoted;
  6. To assess preliminary outcomes/ impacts of the intervention; and
  7. To assess the implementation strategy, functioning and intermediate outcomes of
  8. Rural Self Employment Training Institutes (RSETIs)

The study indicates that the households covered under NRLM:

  1. Have a higher number of livestock assets as compared to uncovered areas;
  2. Show a higher proclivity to save in formal institutions, though the difference in the quantum of savings is not statistically significant;
  3. Have a higher loan size (about 67% more than the loan size in the uncovered areas) and are more likely to borrow from formal financial sources;
  4. Spend less on food consumption but more on education. However, the total household consumption expenditure is similar in covered and uncovered areas.
  5. Have 22% higher (net) income than the households in the uncovered areas, largely due to income from enterprises. In fact, the propensity scores estimate that covered villages on an average have 25 enterprises compared to an average of 14 enterprises in the uncovered villages.

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