15, November 2017

1.Railway Minister gives directions for “comprehensive training programme” for all employees of Indian Railways to boost productivity & efficiency

Source: PIB

This comprehensive training programme is being launched under the name “Project Saksham” will help boost productivity and efficiency.

  • Under this plan, all employees in each zone will be put through a week’s training in skills and knowledge relevant to their work area over next one year.

Key facts:

  • Under Project Saksham, over the next one year, all employees in each zone will be put through a week’s training in skills and knowledge relelevant to their work area. It will be a five-day-on-the-job or classroom training in Railway Training Centres, depending on the nature of their employment. The nature of short-duration training will range from refresher courses, with eye on evolved global practices in respective areas, to skills in existing lining of functioning. Employees from rank of a peon to higher echelons of Railway Board Members will undergo the training.


Source: PIB

Ministry of Tribal Affairs along with Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation Ltd (TRIFED), is organizing “AADI MAHOTSAV” a celebration of the spirit of Tribal Culture, Cuisine and Commerce.


  • MSP for MFP Scheme for providing a fair and equitable deal to the tribals.
  • Minor Forest Produce (MFP) is a major source of livelihood for tribals who belong to the poorest of the poor section of society.
  • The importance of MFPs for this section of the society can be gauged from the fact that around 100 million forest dwellers depend on MFPs for food, shelter, medicines and income.
  • It provides them critical subsistence during the lean seasons, particularly for primitive tribal groups such as hunter gatherers, and the landless. Tribals derive 20-40% of their annual income from MFP.
  • This activity has strong linkage to women’s financial empowerment as most of the MFPs are collected and used /sold by women. MFP sector has the potential to create about 10 million workdays annually in the country.
  • The scheme was ready for implementation in March 2014 after a series of studies conducted by the Planning Commission since 2007 (Haque Committee & Sudha Pillai Committee) the recommendation of which supports providing support price to MFP gatherers, enhance their income level and ensure sustainable harvesting of MFPs. The MSP scheme seeks to establish a framework to ensure fair prices for the produce collected by them, assurance of buying at a particular price, primary processing, storage, transportation etc.

Other schemes:

  • Government of India has taken a number of initiatives for socio economic development of tribals like introduction Forest Rights Act, 2006 (Section- 3), PESA Act, 1996 (Section -4), and has been implementing schemes for development of MFP by providing financial support to State TDCCs and TRIFED for market development of MFPs.
  • Recognizing the critical importance which MFPs hold for tribals and the potential to generate large scale employment opportunities empowering the tribals, Government of India introduced an ambitious scheme of providing fair price for the MFP collected by tribals through Minimum Support Price (MSP).

TRIFED – Retail Trade

  • Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development of India Ltd., (TRIFED) is an organization under the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Govt. of India and is engaged in marketing development of tribal products including tribal art & craft under the brand name “TRIBES INDIA”.
  • The main mandate of TRIFED is capability enhancement of the tribals, promotion of tribal products and creation of marketing opportunities for the tribals with a view to ensuring them fair prices for their products and augmenting their income on sustainable basis.
  • Towards the attainment of this mandate, TRIFED is engaged in the retail operations for marketing of unique and ethnic tribal handicrafts and natural products in high end markets through a chain of retail outlets under the brand name “TRIBES INDIA” across the country. It also focuses on trainings for skill up-gradation and capacity building of tribal artisans and gatherers of Minor Forest Produce.

“Young Entrepreneur Development Programme”:

  • TRIFED plans to expand sale operations by empanelling young and smart sales boys/girls for undertaking house to house campaign for sale of our tribal products.
  • These young sales boys/girls shall be known as “Young Entrepreneurs of TRIFED (YET)”. Under this programme, young boys and girls fulfilling the prescribed basic criteria shall be registered as Entrepreneur of TRIFED for a period of 1 year, which will be renewed depending upon the performance of the YET.

3.300 Cyber security experts to attend first ever Asia Pacific Computer Emergency Response Team (Apcert) Conference

Source: PIB

The Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) under the aegis of Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology organizing the Asia Pacific Computer Emergency Response Team (APCERT) Conference.

  • This is the 15th Conference of APCERT and first ever conference in India and South Asia and is expected to be attended by 21 economies.
  • The conference theme is “Building Trust in the Digital Economy


CERT-In is operational since January 2004. The constituency of CERT-In is the Indian Cyber Community. CERT-In is the national nodal agency for responding to computer security incidents as and when they occur.

In the recent Information Technology Amendment Act 2008, CERT-In has been designated to serve as the national agency to perform the following functions in the area of cyber security:

  • Collection, analysis and dissemination of information on cyber incidents.
  • Forecast and alerts of cyber security incidents
  • Emergency measures for handling cyber security incidents
  • Coordination of cyber incident response activities.
  • Issue guidelines, advisories, vulnerability notes and whitepapers relating to information security practices, procedures, prevention, response and reporting of cyber incidents.
  • Such other functions relating to cyber security as may be prescribed.

4.Manual scavenging law to be amended to hike compensation for deaths

Source: Indian Express

The decisions were taken by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

  • States have accounted for merely 13,000-odd manual scavengers — with 80 per cent in Uttar Pradesh and most others maintaining that they have none at all.

Key facts:

  • The Union government is set to amend the rules of the legislation that outlaws manual scavenging so as to make it mandatory for contractors as well as private individuals, who engage workers for manual handling of human excreta, to pay Rs 10 lakh each to families of those who die while cleaning sewers or septic tanks. This would be in addition to the Rs 10 lakh that state governments have to pay in all such cases.
  • Moreover, following severe under-reporting of the extent of the caste-based practice by states, the Centre is set to undertake a nationwide survey by a third-party to account for the numbers. The decisions were taken by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment


  • Manual scavenging, with its definition limited to manual cleaning of dry latrines, was outlawed in India in 1993.
  • It was only in 2013 that the amended ‘The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act’ recognised more hazardous forms of the practice including the work of sewer and septic tank cleaners, whose deaths were entirely unaccounted for until then. In 2014, the Supreme Court ordered that state governments have to pay Rs 10 lakh compensation each to families of all deceased workers since 1993.

What are the Issues?

  • The Central Monitoring Committee formed under the Act, only seven states have reported paying compensation for deaths in the last 25 years.
  • Members concede that even these states — Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Punjab, Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu — have identified only around 270 cases of deaths and paid compensation in just a fraction of identified cases, with many paying only half of the amount due to each victim’s family.
  • According to the Act, a survey of those engaged in all forms of manual scavenging was to be completed within two months. However, even four years since the Act came into force, several states including Maharashtra, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Jammu and Kashmir and Delhi have reported the numbers as zero.
  • Noting that “the response of the states has been very unsatisfactory”, the ministry has pointed out that until there is complete mechanisation of handling septage, states cannot pretend that manual scavengers do not exist.

The law provides for prosecuting anyone even engaging people for manually handling human waste but there is not a single prosecution till date.

5.Antimicrobial resistance – why is it growing in India

Source: The Hindu

What is AMR?

An AMR is when bacteria and other organisms that cause infections adopt to medicines and make them ineffective

They are several reasons for this, according to a report:

Antibiotic Overuse:

  • Due to self- medication and lack of healthcare facilities
  • Use of antibiotics grew rapidly from 2000 to 2015
  • Antibiotic use in animals reared for meat in India is set to grow by 312% by 2030.

Poor Sanitation:

  • Letting untreated sewage in to water bodies contaminates them with antibiotic residues, antibiotic-resistant organisms
  • In the study, the risk of E.coli among Swiss travelers visiting India was 87%

An alarming increase in AMR?

  • Irrational use of antibiotics, overdosing or under-dosing, self-medication and the inappropriate use of antimicrobials in a hospital setting are all to blame

Some key facts about AMR

  • Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria become resistant. When they infect humans, then the infections become harder to treat.
  • It is not a problem only for people who take antibiotics regularly. Even those who do not, when infected by a resistant bug, are difficult to treat.
  • Harbouring resistant bacteria could mean: longer periods of infection, more expensive drugs, longer hospital stays, greater chance of death.
  • Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections. They do not work with virus-causing infections as colds and flu.

6.First fauna survey begins in Krishna sanctuary

Source: The Hindu

The first status survey of the ‘fauna’ in the Krishna Wildlife Sanctuary (KWL), one of the rarest eco-regions in the world, has been commenced.

  • The area in an extent of 194.8 sq. km was declared as wildlife sanctuary in 1998 and since then no survey on the fauna had been carried out.
  • The sanctuary is sandwiched between the Bay of Bengal and the Krishna river and geographically falls in Krishna and Guntur districts.
  • The credit for the rise of the fishing cat population goes to the conservation of the mangrove cover.
  • The cover, the habitat of the fishing cat, has been increasing since the early 2000s due to afforestation measures,”. The India State of Forest Report-2015 shows that there has been a net increase of 17 sq. km. of mangrove forest cover in Krishna district since 2013.

Krishna Wildlife Sanctuary:

  • Krishna Wildlife Sanctuary is a wildlife sanctuary and estuary located in Andhra Pradesh, India.
  • It is one of the rarest eco-regions of the world because it harbors vast tracts of pristine mangrove forests.
  • It is believed by conservationists to be one of the last remaining tracts of thick primary mangrove forests of South India, which is rapidly disappearing due to absence of protective measures.


  • The sanctuary is a part of the mangrove wetland in Andhra Pradesh and are located in the coastal plain of Krishna delta.
  • The Krishna mangroves lie between 15° 2′ N and 15° 55′ N in latitude and 80° 42′- 81° 01′ E in longitude spread across Krishna and Guntur districts of Andhra Pradesh.

Flora and Fauna

  • The estuary of Krishna River passes through the sanctuary, and the mangroves line the estuary.
  • The region potentially holds one of the most significant populations of fishing cats in the world and yet, no concrete surveys on fishing cats or community-based fishing cat conservation efforts have been carried out here.
  • The area has the potential to become world’s first reserve for a few of the IUCN identified endangered species including the fishing cat (Prionailurus viverrinus) or better known locally as bavuru pilli.

Some of the tree species found in the sanctuary are: Casuarina equisetifolia, Pongamia gladra, Calotropis gigantea, Cassia auriculata, Thespesia populnea, Ipomaea biloba, Spinifex squarrosus, Spinifex littoreus, Pongamia pinnate, Prosopis juliflora, banyan, peepul, margosa, tumma, mango, palmyra.

7.Hunar Haat

Source: PIB

The fourth Hunar Haat exhibition was recently organised by the Ministry of Minority Affairs at India International Trade Fair (IITF) at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi.

Hunar Haats:

  • Hunar Haats are organised by Ministry of Minority Affairs under USTTAD (Upgrading the Skills & Training in Traditional Arts/Crafts for Development) scheme.
  • The USTTAD scheme aims at preserving & promoting the rich heritage of the traditional arts & crafts of the Minority communities. This is one of the flagship programmes of the Ministry.

Key facts:

  • Hunar Haats have become a successful mission to provide employment and income generation opportunities with platforms for marketing the products of master artisans, craftsmen and culinary experts belonging to the minority communities.
  • It envisages at boosting the skill of craftsmen, weavers and artisans who are already engaged in the traditional ancestral work.

8.10th South Asia Economic Summit

The 10th South Asia Economic Summit (SAES) will begin at Kathmandu from Tuesday.

The theme of three day summit is “Deepening Economic Integration for Inclusive and Sustainable Development in South Asia”.

  • The summit is being organised by National Planning Commission and Ministry of Commerce of Nepal and South Asia Watch on Trade, Economics and Environment, Nepal.

South Asia Economic Summit :

  • South Asia Economic Summit (SAES) was started in 2008.
  • It is a regional platform for discussing and analyzing economic and development issues and challenges faced by South Asian countries and advancing the cause of regional integration and cooperation.

Key facts:

  • Envisaged as a Davos-world economic forum event in South Asia, the SAES brings together stakeholders from the government, private sector, research/academic community and civil society to generate innovative and actionable ideas for consideration by the region’s policymakers and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
  • The whole process is led by a group of five eminent think tanks that take turns to organize the annual event in one of the SAARC countries.
  • 200 participants including ministers, members of parliament, former MPs, ambassadors, government officials, researchers, eminent experts and thinkers will attend the summit.
  • The summit is a regional platform for discussing and analyzing economic and development issues and challenges faced by South Asian countries and advancing the cause of regional integration and cooperation.

9.Bill banning superstitious practices tabled

Source: The Hindu

The much-delayed and hotly debated Karnataka Prevention and Eradication of Inhuman Evil Practices and Black Magic Bill, 2017, popularly known as the ‘Anti-Superstition Bill’, was recently tabled in the Legislative Assembly. The Bill, if cleared by the State legislature, is expected to put an end to various inhuman practices.

The bill bans the following:

  • Performing any inhumane act, evil practices and black magic in search of treasure, bounty.
  • Tantric acts including physical and sexual assault.
  • Parading anyone naked.
  • Ostracising anyone in the name of ritual and encouraging inhumane acts.
  • Creating impression of ‘possession’ and exorcism.
  • Assaulting people under the garb of exorcism.
  • Spreading misinformation and creating panic in the garb of ghosts, black magic.
  • Making claims of healing power.
  • Propagating practices that involve self-mutilation.
  • Coercing people to perform fire-walking.

 What is not banned?

  • The form of the worship such as Pradakshina, Yatra, Parikrama performed at religious places.
  • Harikata, Keerthana, Pravachana, Bhajana, teaching of ancient and traditional learning and arts, practice, propagation and circulation.
  • Miracles of the deceased saints propagation, publicity and circulation of the same and the propagation, publicity and distribution of literature about miracles of the religious preachers which do not cause physical injury.
  • Performance of prayers, upasana and religious rituals at home, temple, darghas, gurdwara, pagoda, church, and other religious places which do not cause physical injury.
  • All religious celebrations, festivals, prayers, procession and other act relating other rituals.
  • Piercing of ears and nose of children in accordance with rituals and performance of religious ritual such as Kesh Lochan by the Jains.
  • Advice in regard to vaastu shasthra, and advice by jyothishya and other astrologers.

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