22, March 2018

Reduction in Carbon Footprints  

  • To promote cleaner and alternate use of coal, CIL is pursuing initiatives for setting up plants for gasification of coal and its further processing into downstream chemicals.
  • Government of India has taken several initiatives to improve the efficiency of coal based power plants and to reduce its carbon footprint. All new, large coal-based generating stations have been mandated to use the highly efficient supercritical technology.
  • Renovation and Modernization (R&M) and Life Extension (LE) of existing old power stations is being undertaken in a phased manner. About 144 old thermal stations have been assigned mandatory targets for improving energy efficiency. Coal beneficiation has been made mandatory. Introduction of ultra-supercritical technology, as and when commercially available is part of future policy. Besides, stringent emission standards being contemplated for thermal plants would significantly reduce emissions.

Carbon Footprints – the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere as a result of the activities of a particular individual, organization, or community.

Smart India Hackathon 2018

  • Hon’ble Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, envisages a Digital India to bridge the digital divide in our country and further promote digital literacy in order to make development a comprehensive mass movement and put governance within everyone’s reach in India.
  • All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) under the aegis of Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) and in collaboration with i4c, MyGov, Persistent Systems, and Rambhau Mhalgi Prabodhini is organizing Smart India Hackathon 2018.
  • Startup India, Standup India’ campaign, crowdsources solutions for improving governance and quality of life, and provides opportunity to citizens to provide innovative solutions to India’s daunting problems.

  1. Jackfruit is Kerala’s official fruit

Source: The Hindu

  • State to market the fruit and its value-added products as signature farm export
  • Kerala elevated jackfruit as the State’s official fruit
  • Kerala hoped to market jackfruit and its value-added products as its signature agricultural export. The State also would market its banana and pineapple crop in foreign markets.
  • It would bridge the yawning income gap between farmers and big business that convert their harvest into value-added products by starting agro-parks where growers would be the only stakeholders
  • Kerala produced 30 to 60 crore jackfruits annually. Their produce was entirely organic and pesticide-free.

  1. Cabinet approves Ayushman Bharat – National Health Protection Mission

Source: PIB

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the launch of a new Centrally Sponsored Ayushman Bharat -National Health Protection Mission (AB-NHPM) having central sector component under Ayushman Bharat Mission anchored in the MoHFW.

Key facts:

  • The scheme has the benefit cover of Rs. 5 lakh per family per year.
  • The target beneficiaries of the proposed scheme will be more than 10 crore families belonging to poor and vulnerable population based on SECC database.
  • AB-NHPM will subsume the on-going centrally sponsored schemes -RashtriyaSwasthyaBimaYojana (RSBY) and the Senior Citizen Health Insurance Scheme (SCHIS).

Salient Features:

  • This cover will take care of almost all secondary care and most of tertiary care procedures.
  • To ensure that nobody is left out (especially women, children and elderly) there will be no cap on family size and age in the scheme.
  • The benefit cover will also include pre and post-hospitalisation expenses.
  • All pre-existing conditions will be covered from day one of the policy. A defined transport allowance per hospitalization will also be paid to the beneficiary.
  • Benefits of the scheme are portable across the country and a beneficiary covered under the scheme will be allowed to take cashless benefits from any public/private empanelled hospitals across the country.
  • AB-NHPM will be an entitlement based scheme with entitlement decided on the basis of deprivation criteria in the SECC database, The different categories in rural area include families having only one room with kucha walls and kucharoof; families having no adult member between age 16 to 59; female headed households with no adult male member between age 16 to 59; disabled member and no able bodied adult member in the family; SC/ST households; and landless households deriving major part of their income from manual casual labour.
  • The beneficiaries can avail benefits in both public and empanelled private facilities.
  • One of the core principles of AB-NHPM is to co-operative federalism and flexibility to states. There is provision to partner the States through co-alliance. This will ensure appropriate integration with the existing health insurance/ protection schemes of various Central Ministries/Departments and State Governments (at their own cost), State Governments will be allowed to expand AB-NHPM both horizontally and vertically. States will be free to choose the modalities for implementation. They can implement through insurance company or directly through Trust/ Society or a mixed model.

Implementation Strategy:

  • At the national level to manage, an Ayushman Bharat National Health Protection Mission Agency (AB-NHPMA) would be put in place. States/ UTs would be advised to implement the scheme by a dedicated entity called State Health Agency (SHA).
  • They can either use an existing Trust/ Society/ Not for Profit Company/ State Nodal Agency (SNA) or set up a new entity to implement the scheme.
  • States/ UTs can decide to implement the scheme through an insurance company or directly through the Trust/ Society or use an integrated model.

AB-NHPM will have major impact on reduction of Out Of Pocket (OOP) expenditure on ground of:

  • Increased benefit cover to nearly 40% of the population, (the poorest&the vulnerable)
  • Covering almost all secondary and many tertiary hospitalizations. (except a negative list)
  • Coverage of 5 lakh for each family, (no restriction of family size)


  • RSBY was launched in the year 2008 by the Ministry of Labour and Employment and provides cashless health insurance scheme with benefit coverage of Rs. 30.000/- per annum on a family floater basis [for 5 members], for Below Poverty Line (BPL) families, and 11 other defined categories of unorganised workers.
  • To integrate RSBY into the health system and make it a part of the comprehensive health care vision of Government of India, RSBY was transferred to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) in 2015

  1. Cabinet approves moving official amendments in the “Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016”

Source: PIB

The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for moving official amendments in the “Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016”.

  • The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016 proposes to regulate surrogacy in India by establishing National Surrogacy Board at the central level and, State Surrogacy Boards and Appropriate Authorities in the States and Union Territories.

What are the proposals ensures?

  • The proposed legislation ensures effective regulation of surrogacy, prohibit commercial surrogacy and allow altruistic surrogacy to the needy Indian infertile couples.
  • Once the Bill is enacted by the Parliament, the National Surrogacy Board will be constituted. The States and Union Territories shall constitute the State Surrogacy Board and State Appropriate Authorities within three months of the notification by the Central Government.

Major impact:

  • Once in effect, the Act will regulate the surrogacy services in the country and will control the unethical practices in surrogacy, prevent commercialization of surrogacy and will prohibit potential exploitation of surrogate mothers and children born through surrogacy.
  • While commercial surrogacy will be prohibited including sale and purchase of human embryo and gametes
  • Ethical surrogacy to the needy infertile couples will be allowed on fulfillment of certain conditions and for specific purposes.
  • All Infertile Indian married couple who want to avail ethical surrogacy will be benefitted. Further, the rights of surrogate mother and children born out of surrogacy will be protected.
  • The Bill shall apply to whole of India, except the State of Jammu and Kashmir.


  • India has emerged as a surrogacy hub for couples from different countries and there have been reported incidents concerning unethical practices, exploitation of surrogate mothers, abandonment of children born out of surrogacy and rackets of intermediaries importing human embryos and gametes.
  • The 228th report of the Law Commission of India has recommended for prohibiting commercial surrogacy and allowing ethical altruistic surrogacy by enacting a suitable legislation.

  1. Cabinet approves Revision of Energy Norms under New Urea Policy

Source: PIB

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has accorded the following approval to the proposal of Department of Fertilizers:

  • The Target Energy Norms under New Urea Policy-2015(NUP-2015) for 11 urea units to be implemented w.e.f. 1st April, 2018.
  • The energy efficiency norms notified by the Department for the year 2018-19 are capital intensive. The cost economics of the companies does not support the implementation of energy saving schemes as the simple pay back on investment is very long.

New Urea Policy- Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers:

Aim of maximizing indigenous urea production, promoting energy efficiency in urea production, and rationalizing subsidy burden on the government.

These initiatives aim at working in the direction of promoting the indigenous production of Fertilizers, and making them available to the farmers in time.


  • Maximizing indigenous urea production;
  • Promoting energy efficiency in urea production; and
  • Rationalizing subsidy burden on the government.

It will drive urea units to select better technology and different measure to reduce energy consumption.

The higher energy efficiency due to aforesaid measure will reduce subsidy bill. It is expected that there would be reduction in the subsidy burden of the government in two ways – reduction in specific energy consumption norms and import substitution on account of higher domestic production.

Neem Coating of Urea:

  • Vide Department of Fertilizers notification dated 25th May, 2015, it has been made mandatory for all the indigenous producers of urea to produce 100% of their total production of subsidized urea as Neem Coated urea.
  • Since NCU cannot be used for industrial purposes, illegal diversion of subsidized urea to non-agricultural use would not be possible.
  • By curbing this illegal diversion of Urea for non-agricultural purposes, the government aims to prevent subsidy leakages.

  1. Cabinet approves closure of India Development Foundation of Overseas Indians- between April 2015 and March 2018

Source: PIB

The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for closure of India Development Foundation of Overseas Indians (IDF-OI)

  • To enhance synergies in channelizing Diaspora’s contributions to Government of India’s flagship programmes such as National Mission for clean Ganga and Swachh Bharat Mission.


  • IDF-OI was set up by Government of India with the approval of Cabinet in 2008 as an autonomous not-for-profit Trust, to facilitate Overseas Indian philanthropy into social and development projects in India.
  • The Trust is exempt from provisions of the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act (FCRA), 2010 of the Ministry of Home Affairs which enables IDF-OI to receive foreign contributions.
  • IDF-OI is administered by a Board of Trustees, chaired by Smt. Sushma Swaraj, Minister of External Affairs.

Objectives of the Trust:

  • Lead philanthropy by overseas Indians into India and facilitate philanthropic partnerships.
  • Provide a list of credible institutions, projects and programmes to Overseas Indians.
  • Function as a clearing house for all philanthropy related information on India.
  • Partner with and encourage credible philanthropic organisations.
  • Promote accountability and ‘good practices’ in overseas Indian philanthropy.

Mandate :

IDF-OI’s present mandate is to promote the following projects for funding by Overseas Indians:

  • Government of India’s flagship programmes – National Mission for Clean Ganga and Swachh Bharat Mission.
  • Social and Development projects identified by State Governments.
  • Recognizing the emotional connect of Overseas Indians with their place of origin in India, IDF-OI has also partnered with State Governments to offer projects identified by them for contribution by Overseas Indians.
  • 15 States are now working with IDF-OI and are keen to seek assistance of Overseas Indians for projects in areas like Women’s Empowerment, Sustainable Livelihood, Education, Sanitation, and Healthcare

  1. India, Russia, Bangladesh sign pact for Rooppur atomic plant- Department of Atomic Energy

Source: PIB

The Rooppur project is the first initiative under an Indo-Russian deal to undertake atomic energy projects in third countries and it will also be the first time Indian firms will take part in such a project abroad.

Key facts:

  • This will also be the first time Indian companies will be able to participate in a nuclear power project abroad.
  • India is not a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and hence cannot participate directly in construction of atomic power reactors.
  • According to Rosatom, India, Bangladesh and Russia signed an agreement to allow Indian firms in construction and installation works in the “non-critical” category for the Rooppur nuclear power plant project in northwest Bangladesh.
  • The Memorandum of Understanding, signed in Moscow, sets a framework for interaction of Russian contractor, and Indian and Bangladeshi experts in the implementation of works related to the project.
  • The parties, in particular, will cooperate in personnel training, exchange of experience and consulting support. Russia is constructing two nuclear reactors with a capacity of 1,200 MW each in Rooppur, which will be Bangaladesh’s first nuclear power project.
  • The MoU envisages rendering of consultancy to Bangladesh in performance of work related to Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant construction and executing transfer and exchange of knowledge, expertise, consultancy advice, technical support and knowhow, sharing of resources and experience on regulatory aspects, rendering assistance in respect of Indian personnel and qualified Indian institutions experienced in construction, commissioning and operation of technically demanding industrial facilities to the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant.

  1. Cabinet approves Opening of Missions in Africa to implement commitments of India-Africa Forum Summit (IAFS-III)

Source: PIB

  • Approved the opening of 18 new Indian Missions in Africa over a four year period from 2018-2021.
  • The 18 new Indian Missions in Africa will be opened in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chad, Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mauritania, Rwanda, Sao Tome& Principe, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Swaziland and Togo over a four year period from 2018-2021 thereby increasing the number of Resident Indian Missions in Africa from 29 to 47.
  • The decision will enhance India’s diplomatic outreach in the African continent and allow India to engage with Indian diaspora in African countries. Opening of new Missions is also a step towards implementing the vision of enhanced co-operation and engagement with Africa.

  1. Dravidian language family is 4,500 years old: study

Source: The Hindu

  • The Dravidian language family’s four largest languages — Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu — have literary traditions spanning centuries, of which Tamil reaches back the furthest, researchers said.
  • The Dravidian language family, consisting of 80 varieties spoken by nearly 220 million people across southern and central India, originated about 4,500 years ago, a study has found
  • South Asia, reaching from Afghanistan in the west and Bangladesh in the east, is home to at least six hundred languages belonging to six large language families, including Dravidian, Indo-European and Sino-Tibetan.
  • The Dravidian language family, consisting of about 80 language varieties (both languages and dialects) is today spoken by about 220 million people, mostly in southern and central India, and surrounding countries.
  • The Dravidian language family’s four largest languages — Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu — have literary traditions spanning centuries, of which Tamil reaches back the furthest, researchers said
  • Along with Sanskrit, Tamil is one of the world’s classical languages, but unlike Sanskrit, there is continuity between its classical and modern forms documented in inscriptions, poems, and secular and religious texts and songs, they said.
  • The study of the Dravidian languages is crucial for understanding prehistory in Eurasia, as they played a significant role in influencing other language groups.
  • This age also matches well with inferences from archaeology, which have previously placed the diversification of Dravidian into North, Central, and South branches at exactly this age, coinciding with the beginnings of cultural developments evident in the archaeological record.

  Source: The Hindu

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