24, January 2018

INSPIRE (Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research) Faculty scheme, as it’s called, selects promising research scholars

1.General Election to Legislative Assemblies of Meghalaya, Nagaland & Tripura 2018 – Allotment of Broadcast/Telecast time to National/ State Political Parties –regarding

Source: PIB

A copy of the Order issued by the Commission regarding allotment of Broadcast/Telecast time to National/State political parties in the General Election to Legislative Assemblies of Meghalaya, Nagaland & Tripura, 2018 is enclosed for the information of the general public.


  • At the time of General Elections to the Lok Sabha in 1998, a new initiative for State funding of recognized political parties through free use of the State owned Television and Radio was introduced under directions of the Commission vide its Order, dated 16th January, 1998.
  • The said scheme was subsequently extended in all the General Elections to the State Assemblies held after 1998 and General Elections to the Lok Sabha in 1999, 2004, 2009 and 2014.

Key facts:

  • With the amendments to the Representation of People Act, 1951 vide “Election and Other Related Laws (Amendment) Act, 2003” and the rules notified thereunder, equitable time sharing for campaigning by recognized political parties on electronic media now has statutory basis.
  • In exercise of the powers conferred by clause (a) of the Explanation below section 39A of the Representation of People Act, 1951, the Central Government has notified all such broadcasting media which are owned or controlled or financed wholly or substantially by funds provided to them by the Central Government as the electronic media for the purposes of that section.
  • Therefore, the Commission has decided to extend the said scheme of equitable time sharing on electronic media through Prasar Bharati Corporation to the ensuing General Election to the State Legislative Assembly of Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura -2018.
  • The facilities of use of broadcast time and telecast time will be available only to ‘National Parties’. There is no ‘Recognized State Parties’ in respect of Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura.
  • The Prasar Bharati Corporation in consultation with the Commission will decide the actual date and time for broadcast and telecast. This will be subject to the broad technical constraints governing the actual time of transmission available with the Doordarshan and All India Radio.

Prasar Bharathi:

  • Prasar Bharati is a statutory autonomous body established under the Prasar Bharati Act and came into existence on 23.11.1997.
  • It is the Public Service Broadcaster of the country.
  • The objectives of public service broadcasting are achieved in terms of Prasar Bharati Act through All India Radio and Doordarshan, which earlier were working as media units under the Ministry of I&B and since the above said date became constituents of Prasar Bharati.

2.Ministry of Railways sets Zero scrap balance target for all Zonal Railways

Earnings from sale of Railway scrap not only augments Railways revenue but also helps in keeping the Railway track, stations, workshops, depots neat and tidy.

  • In this regard, Ministry of Railways has directed all Zonal Railway & Production units to achieve Zero scrap balance by end of March 2018.
  • General Managers of all the Zonal Railways/PUs have been advised to regularly monitor this activity and to intensify supervision at senior officers’ level so as to promptly identify scrap and offer it for e-auction.

Key facts:

  • The e-auction module is part of the IREPS (Indian Railways E-Procurement System) which is a single portal of Indian Railways handling all procurements tenders and e-auctions digitally.
  • All the Zonal Railways and Production Units use this single platform for online sales of scrap.
  • Monthly on an average, 200 e-auctions are conducted by Materials Managers in Divisions and Stores Depots spread all over Indian Railways. Auction schedules and details of saleable materials are published regularly on IREPS website & updated online.
  • The endeavor shall be continued so as to achieve the task of Zero scrap balance by end of March 2018.

3.Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) for Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme (AIBP)

Source: PIB

The Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation released Central Assistance (CA) of Rs. 246.9 crore for 9 prioritized projects under Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) for Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme (AIBP) works and Rs. 487.80 crore for Command Area Development (CAD) works of 17 projects.

  • During 2017-18, so far, CA amounting to Rs. 1152.52 crore has been released for 26 priority projects under AIBP. Also, Rs. 3318.85 crore has been released as State share from NABARD for 24 priority projects under AIBP. For CAD works, CA amounting to Rs. 524.90 crore for 22 priority projects and Rs. 71.52 crore as State share has been released through


  • Har Khet ko Pani “Prime Minister Krishi Sinchayee Yojana”
  • Government of India is committed to accord high priority to water conservation and its management.
  • To this effect Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) has been formulated with the vision of extending the coverage of irrigation ‘Har Khet ko pani’ and improving water use efficiency ‘More crop per drop’ in a focused manner with end to end solution on source creation, distribution, management, field application and extension activities.
  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by Hon’ble Prime Minister has accorded approval of Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) in its meeting held on 1st July, 2015.
  • PMKSY has been formulated amalgamating ongoing schemes viz. Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP) of the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation (MoWR,RD&GR), Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP) of Department of Land Resources (DoLR) and the On Farm Water Management (OFWM) of Department of Agriculture and Cooperation (DAC).

4.PM Modi to hold nine bilateral talks on sidelines of ASEAN meet

Source: Indian Express

The highest level of participation at the summit, to mark 25 years of India-ASEAN ties, comes in the backdrop of increasing Chinese economic and military assertiveness in the region.

Key facts:

  • Nine bilateral meetings with leaders of Southeast Asian countries on the sidelines of the India-ASEAN Commemorative Summit with a focus on key areas of counter-terrorism, security and connectivity.
  • The highest level of participation at the summit, to mark 25 years of India-ASEAN ties, comes in the backdrop of increasing Chinese economic and military assertiveness in the region.
  • There will be a leaders’ retreat during which leaders will have a “free and frank” discussion on January 25. Theme of the retreat session is “maritime cooperation and security”
  • ASEAN comprises Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Brunei.

ASEAN- India Relations

Mission to ASEAN: India has set up a separate Mission to ASEAN and the EAS in Jakarta in April 2015 with a dedicated Ambassador to strengthen engagement with ASEAN and ASEAN-centric processes.

More Details: http://mea.gov.in/aseanindia/20-years.htm

5.Constitute Mahanadi tribunal: Supreme Court

Source: The Hindu

The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the Centre to set up a tribunal within a month to resolve the long-standing dispute between Odisha and Chhattisgarh over the sharing of Mahanadi water.

Supreme Court:

  • The court, however, refused to grant any stay as sought by Odisha government on the seven pick up weirs across the Mahanadi river, which flows through Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha, before pouring into the Bay of Bengal.
  • Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, who appeared for Odisha government, said there cannot be any negotiation on the issue and the only way the dispute can be resolved is through the constitution of a tribunal

Mahanadi River:

  • The Mahanadi is a major river in East Central India. It drains an area of around 141,600 square kilometres (54,700 sq mi) and has a total course of 858 kilometres (533 mi).[1] The river flows through the states of Chhattisgarh and Odisha.

Importance of  Mahanadi River

  • Mahanadi valley is best known for its fertile soil and flourishing agriculture. Before the Hirakud dam was built, the river carried a huge amount of silt and its delta had one of the highest yield per acre in the whole of India. At present, agriculture primarily depends on a network of canals that arise from the river. Rice, oilseeds and sugarcane are the principal crops here.
  • The river was notorious for devastating floods, but the construction of Hirakud Dam has altered the situation.

Tributaries of Mahanadi

  • The following flowchart shows the flow of Mahanadi from Source to Sea.
  • The major tributaries of Mahanadi are Seonath, Jonk, Hasdo, Mand, Ib, Ong, Tel etc

6.Turkey in deadly clashes as U.S. sounds alarm

Source: The Hindu

The Turkish Army clashed with Kurdish militia in Syria in an operation that has already left two of its soldiers dead, as the U.S. voiced alarm the offensive could endanger attempts to end the Syrian civil war.

Operation Olive Branch:

  • Turkey launched operation ‘Olive Branch’ aimed at rooting out the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia, which Ankara sees as a terror group, from its Afrin enclave in northern Syria.
  • The campaign has caused ripples of concern among Turkey’s NATO allies, especially the U.S. which is still working closely with the YPG to fight Islamic State (IS) jihadists in Syria.


  • S Defense Secretary Jim Mattis called for Turkey to show “restraint” and warned it could harm the fight against the jihadists.
  • He warned the offensive “disrupts what was a relatively stable area in Syria and distracts from the international effort to defeat” IS.

Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights

  • Turkish artillery on Tuesday pounded targets of the YPG inside Syria, the state-run Anadolu news agency said. Turkish drones were also carrying out attacks.
  • The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said fighting was “very violent” northeast, northwest and southwest of Afrin. The Observatory said the offensive took control of two villages so far.
  • As well as the artillery and air strikes, Turkish ground troops and Ankara-backed Syrian rebels have punched over the border several kilometres into Syrian territory, according to state media.
  • The Observatory said 43 Ankara-backed rebels and 38 Kurdish fighters had been killed in the fighting so far. It has also said 28 civilians have been killed on the Syrian side but this is vehemently rejected by Turkey which says it is only targeting militants.

7.Richest 1% own 82% of world’s wealth, says Oxfam’s report

Source: The Hindu

A report titled ‘Reward Work, Not Wealth’ has been released by the international rights group Oxfam. The report reveals how the global economy enables wealthy elite to accumulate vast wealth even as hundreds of millions of people struggle to survive on poverty pay.

 Highlights of the report:

  • The richest 1% in India cornered 73% of the wealth generated in the country last year. Besides, 67 crore Indians comprising the population’s poorest half saw their wealth rise by just 1%. The wealth of India’s richest 1 per cent increased by over Rs. 20.9 lakh crore during 2017, an amount equivalent to total budget of the central government in 2017–18, Oxfam India said. This presents a worrying picture of rising income inequality.
  • Globally, 82% of the wealth generated last year worldwide went to the 1%, while 3.7 billion people that account for the poorest half of population saw no increase in their wealth. 2017 saw an unprecedented increase in the number of billionaires, at a rate of one every two days. Billionaire wealth has risen by an average of 13% a year since 2010—six times faster than the wages of ordinary workers, which have risen by a yearly average of just 2%.
  • The survey also showed that women workers often find themselves at the bottom of the heap and nine out of 10 billionaires are men. In India, there are only four women billionaires and three of them inherited family wealth.


  • The billionaire boom is not a sign of a thriving economy but a symptom of a failing economic system. Those working hard, growing food for the country, building infrastructure, working in factories are struggling to fund their child’s education, buy medicines for family members and manage two meals a day. The growing divide undermines democracy and promotes corruption and cronyism.
  • Oxfam makes several recommendations to start fixing the problem of income inequality. On the government’s part, it has asked for things like promoting inclusive growth by encouraging labour-intensive sectors that will create more jobs, imposing higher tax on the super-rich, implementing policies to tackle all forms of gender discrimination and sealing the “leaking wealth bucket” by taking stringent measures against tax evasion. The report reveals that the top 1% is evading an estimated $200bn in tax. More significantly, developing countries are losing at least $170 billion each year in foregone tax revenues from corporations and the super-rich.
  • The recommendations for corporations are far more eyebrow-raising, be it “Limit returns to shareholders and promote a pay ratio for companies’ top executives that is no more than 20 times their median employees’ pay” or refraining from rewarding shareholders through dividends or buybacks or even paying bonuses to executives until “all their employees have received a living wage”.

Way ahead:

  • The survey found that, in India, it will take 941 years for a minimum wage worker in rural India to earn what the top paid executive at a leading Indian garment firm earns in a year, the study found. In the US, it takes slightly over one working day for a CEO to earn what an ordinary worker makes in a year. Therefore, the survey stressed that the gap between the rich and the poor needs to be urgently addressed.

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