10, February 2017

1.Green Building Performance Monitoring Platform -‘Arc’ Adopted by IGIA
Source: Pib

The Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA), Delhi has adopted first-of-its-kind Green Building Performance Monitoring Platform – ‘Arc’ developed by the US Green Building Council (USGBC) for Terminal 3, Delhi Airport.
The adoption of “Arc” is in line with the continued focus on Environment Sustainability and is aligned to make Delhi a Smart airport. Arc facility is already operational.

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2.The first batch of new Post Office Passport Seva Kendras
Source: Pib

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and the Department of Posts (DOP) announced on 24 January, 2017 their decision to utilize the Head Post Offices (HPO) in the various States as Post Office Passport Seva Kendra (POPSK) for delivering passport related services to the citizens of our country.

The objective of this partnership is to extend passport services on a larger scale and to ensure wider area coverage.

The pilot projects for this joint venture between MEA and DOP was inaugurated on 25 January, 2017 at the HPO at Mysuru in Karnataka and at the Post Office at Dahod in Gujarat.

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3.17th International Seminar on “Counter-IED strategy”
Source: Pib

The two-day 17th International Seminar on “Counter- Improvised Explosive Device (IED) strategy”, organized by the National Security Guard (NSG).

  • The theme of the seminar was “synergizing the National and International special forces to meet challenges of terrorism and IED”.

ACT Expo: 2017 was also organized at NSG Campus Manesar to enable the industries to showcase their latest equipment in the field of counter terrorism.

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4.Launching of Advanced and Heaviest Spacecraft
Source: Pib

  • The GSAT-11 with its lift-off mass of about 5600 Kg is the heaviest communication spacecraft to be launched in the year 2017.
  • GSAT-11 is planned to be launched using Ariane-5 launch vehicle.
  • GSAT-11 is a multi-beam satellite with 32 user beams and 8 hub beams operating over India in Ka/Ku bands employing frequency reuse technique. It will provide higher capacity for interactive applications using VSAT terminals compared to older generation three tonne INSAT/GSAT spacecrafts.

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5.Enrolment of Non-Mechanical Propelled Vessels Under New Proposed Bill
Source: Pib

Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP) being implemented with technical and financial assistance of the World Bank

  1. It envisages preparation of Disaster Management Plan (DMP) and Emergency Management Plan (EMP) to take care of the activities like navigation, terminal & jetty operation, oil spill, disaster contingency etc. after the commissioning of the project and while operating cargo and passengers vessels on National Waterway-1 (NW-1).
  2. The mechanically propelled inland vessels are governed by the Inland Vessels Act, 1917 (1 of 1917) and rules framed by State Governments have provisions for Life Saving Appliances to be kept on board.

New Bill:

  1. The new Inland Vessels Bill, 2017 also proposes for enrolment of non-mechanically propelled vessels by Local Self Administration and administering, enforcement and implementing its provisions in Part XIV by local self- governance.
  2. Prescribing basic minimum standards for construction and safety of non-mechanically propelled vessels are also envisaged in the proposed Bill.

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6.Standard of Higher Educational Institutes
Source: Pib

Improvement of standards of higher education and upgradation of infrastructure is an on-going endeavour and the Central Government has been making a constant effort in this direction

New initiatives:

  1. National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF)
  2. Impacting Research Innovation & Technology (IMPRINT)
  3. Uchchatar Avishkar Yojna (UAY)
  4. Global Initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN)
  5. Global Research Interactive Network (GRIN)
  6. The project Study Webs of Active-Learning for Young Aspiring Minds (SWAYAM) is intended to provide massive open online courses (MOOCs) to the students across the country and thereby expanding the reach of best quality education to students using the ICT tools
  7. Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA) has also been established to give a major push for creation of high quality infrastructure in premier educational institutions

UGC guidelines:

  • Under this an autonomous college will have the freedom to determine and prescribe its own course of study and syllabus
  • They can use modern tools of educational technology to achieve higher standards and greater creativity
  • The UGC undertakes maintenance of standards in teaching, research and quality assurance in Universities, Deemed to be Universities and Colleges through framing and notifying regulations, schemes and disbursing grants to the eligible institutions
  • The UGC has notified several regulations with a view to sustain and improve the quality of higher education and to undertake academic reforms such as the introduction of a semester system, the regular updating of curricula and Choice Based Credit Systems (CBCS)

All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE):

  • AICTE has taken measures of issuing the Regulations for Collaboration & Partnerships between Indian and Foreign Universities/Institutions in the field of Technical Education, Research and Training.
  • It has also notified Regulations making accreditation mandatory for all technical institutions.
  • AICTE has also launched Start-up Policy to promote students driven start-ups in AICTE approved Technical Institutions which also involves industry-academia interaction.

RUSA:

  • Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA).
  • Under RUSA, the overall quality of existing State higher educational institutions is sought to be improved by ensuring their conformity to prescribed norms and standards and adoption of accreditation as a mandatory quality assurance framework.
  • Certain academic, administrative and governance reforms are a precondition for receiving funding under RUSA.

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7.Aadhaar mandatory for availing subsidised foodgrains from PDS under (NFSA)
Source: The Hindu

After cooking gas LPG, the government made Aadhaar mandatory for availing subsidised foodgrains from the ration shops.

Why? To better target Rs1.4 lakh crore subsidy under the food security law.

  • Digitisation is also essential to curb leakages and corruption in PDS.
  • The use of Aadhaar as identity document for delivery of services or benefits or subsidies simplifies the delivery processes, brings in transparency and efficiency and enables beneficiaries to get their entitlements directly in a convenient and seamless manner.
  • The government has given time to those not having the biometric-based unique identification number to apply for Aadhaar by June 30.
  • So far, 72% of ration cards have been seeded with Aadhaar Cards
    Govt provides direct cash transfer of food s.ubsidy to the beneficiaries in Chandigarh, Puducherry and Dadra & Nagar Haveli

Under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), which has been completely rolled out across the country in November last year, the government provides 5 kg of foodgrains per person every month at Rs 1-3/kg to over 80 crore people.

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8.Archaeologists discover new Dead Sea Scrolls cave
Source: The Hindu

The discovery is described as one of the most important in 60 years.The cave discovered west of Qumran in the occupied West Bank contained no manuscripts, but there is ample evidence of their earlier presence.

  • This includes fragments of pottery in which they were placed and the leather straps
  • Many of the caves containing the manuscripts were looted in the 1950.
  • Heads of pickaxes dating from that time were found in the cave in another indication they had been looted.

Background:

  • The Dead Sea Scrolls, which include the oldest known manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible, date from the 3rd century BCE to the 1st century CE.
  • About 900 scrolls were discovered between 1947 and 1956 in the Qumran caves above the Dead Sea.
  • The parchment and papyrus scrolls contain Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic writing, and include several of the earliest-known texts from the Bible, including the oldest surviving copy of the Ten Commandments.

About Qumran Caves: A series of caves, some natural, some artificial, found around the archaeological site of Qumran in the Judaean Desert of the West Bank.

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9.IEDs kill more commoners than VIPs – NSG
Source: The Hindu

A detailed data analysis carried out by the National Security Guard, a counter-terror and counter-hijack force.

Key findings:

  1. It is the unarmed civilians who often fall victim to IED (improvised explosive device) blasts set off by terrorists across India. The VIPs are the least targeted.
  2. The States affected by Left-wing extremism contributed the most number of IED blasts at 159, followed by the north-eastern States at 59 and Jammu and Kashmir at 31.
  3. Between 2012 and 2016, anywhere between 49% and 72% of the attacks annually have been targeted at ordinary civilians. In contrast, attacks targeting VIPs were in the range of 1% to 7%.
  4. In 2016, only 7% of the IED attacks were targeted at the VIPs. In comparison, 55% of all IED explosions across India in 2016 were targeted at public places. The remaining 37% were against security forces.
  5. Overall, there was an increase in incidents when specifically security forces were the target.
  6. Jammu and Kashmir saw an increase in number of blasts after the Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani was killed in an encounter with the security forces.

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10.Centre to raise EPFO’s equity investments to 15%
Source: The Hindu

The Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) will increase its equity investments to 15% of its incremental corpus next fiscal year from 10% at present

What has happened?

  • The Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) will increase its equity investments to 15% of its incremental corpus next fiscal year from 10% at present. It had earlier increased the investments in exchange traded funds (ETF) from 5% to 10% of its corpus.
  • Although the EPFO is permitted to invest up to 15% of its incremental corpus in equity and related instruments, it began by investing 5% in ETFs in August 2015 and increased it further to 10% last year.

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11.SEBI to form panel to facilitate crowdfunding
Source: The Hindu

The Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI) is forming an advisory committee on financial technology or fintech-related issues, which would look at safeguards that can be put in place to facilitate crowdfunding of ‘genuine’ ventures and mobilise more household savings into the financial markets 

Membership of the committee:

The committee shall have representatives and experts from different sections of fintech industry

SEBI Chairman’s views:

  • Enabling access in small towns: To harness technology to enable persons in small towns with small amounts to invest in a retirement fund, we are going to form an advisory committee on fintech that will be led by some very strong business leaders from the industry
  • “If you want to raise money in the bond market, one has to file a draft red herring prospectus, make lots of disclosures, get a credit rating and appoint a debenture trustee,” he said, adding that even England and New Zealand that have allowed crowdfunding of ventures have imposed ‘restrictions.’

Holding discussions:

SEBI is holding fresh discussions with representatives of start-ups and venture capital funds to assess why a single start-up hasn’t been listed yet on the special platform created by the regulator for mature ventures looking to go public.
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12.Nilambur teak set to enter elite club of products with GI tag
Source: The Hindu

Nilambur teak, internationally known for its superior quality and elegant appearance, will soon be added to the list of Kerala produces with the Geographical Indication (GI) tag.

The effort to obtain the GI status for this unique timber variety, pioneered by the IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) Cell of the Kerala Agricultural University (KAU) with the support of the Nilambur Teak Heritage Society, the Kerala Forest Research Institute (KFRI) and the Department of Forests, is set to bear fruit within a month.

It was the Britishers who identified the superior quality of teak from Nilambur plantations and forests. Later, the region became the major supplier of quality teak in the world.

Kerala products with GI registration:

  • GI registration of Pokkali rice, one of the first Kerala produces to get the GI tag, meanwhile, has been renewed.
  • Other Kerala products include Vazhakulam Pineapple, Wayanadan rice varieties Jeerakasala and Gandhakasala, Tirur Betel vine, Central Travancore Jaggery and Chengalikodan Nendran, a banana variety.

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