28 , March 2018

1.Atal Innovation Mission ink SOI with SAP Global to foster innovation
Source: PIB

NITI Aayog’s Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) has signed Statement of Intent (SOI) with German tech company SAP to promote culture of innovation and entrepreneurship across 100 Atal Tinkering Labs across India. As part of SOI, SAP will adopt 100 Atal Tinkering Laboratories (ATL) in 2018 for five years to nurture science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) learning among secondary school children across India.

About Atal Tinkering Laboratories (ATL):

ATLs are innovation play workspaces for students between Class 6 to 12, stimulating innovations combining science and technology.

  • These open-ended innovation workspaces are equipped with state-of-the art technologies like 3D printers, robotics, sensor technology kits, Internet of Things, miniaturised electronics etc, to enable students to learn and solve local community problems using emerging technologies.
  • The aim of Atal Labs is to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in schools, universities and industry with a vision to “cultivate one million children in India as the innovators of tomorrow”.

About AIM:

The Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) is Government of India’s flagship initiative to promote a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in the country.

  • AIM is mandated to create an umbrella structure to oversee innovation ecosystem of the country and revolutionizing the innovation eco-system – touching upon the entire innovation life cycle through various programs.
  • Atal Tinkering Laboratories (ATLs) create innovators, Atal Incubation Centre and support to Established Incubation Centre will take the innovations to the market and a network of Incubators shall help create enterprises around these innovations.

2.Department of Posts launches Cool EMS Service between India and Japan
Source: PIB

Ministry of Communications has launched the Cool EMS Service.

  • Cool EMS service is one-way service from Japan to India which allows customers in India to import Japanese food items for personal use which is allowed under Indian regulations.
  • Initially, Cool EMS Service will be available in Delhi only.
  • Food items will be carried by Japan Post in special cool boxes containing refrigerant to preserve the quality of the food items and addressee will collect them from Foreign Post office, Kotla Road, New Delhi in-person or through a messenger in the prescribed time frame.
  • All other features like track and trace, etc of Express Mail Service (EMS) will be available for Cool EMS service as well.

3.The Regional 3R Forum in Asia and the Pacific
Source: PIB

India is getting ready to host the 8th 3R Regional Forum in Asia and the Pacific in its cleanest city Indore, under the theme of “Achieving Clean Water, Clean Land and Clean Air through 3R and Resource Efficiency- A 21st Century Vision for Asia-Pacific Communities”.

Organised by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) Government of India, the Ministry of the Environment, Government of Japan (MOEJ), and the United Nations Centre for Regional Development (UNCRD)

About the 3R Regional Forum:

The Regional 3R Forum in Asia and the Pacific was launched in 2009 in Tokyo, Japan.

  • The United Nations Centre for Regional Development (UNCRD) has been organizing International Regional Forum on 3Rs since 2009 with the support of Government of Japan.
  • It promotes the concept of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle in industry, service and agriculture sector. The overall objective is to establish sound material cycle society by adopting resource conservation, techniques and technologies.
  • It provides a strategic platform for addressing the needs and priorities of 3Rs (reduce, reuse and recycle) in Asian countries and sharing best practices from the region, including emerging concerns in waste management.
  • In the last seven years, the Forum has been organised in Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia, Maldives, Japan and Australia and has been instrumental in providing innovative, effective and smart 3R based solutions.

The Forum comes at an opportune time with the Indian government’s focus on scientific management of 100% municipal solid waste through its ambitious Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban). Through this Forum, India aims to strengthen this focus through its ‘Mission Zero Waste’ approach thereby encouraging cities, industries and other diverse stakeholders to look at waste as a resource.

This year, the Forum which is expected to have representation from 45 countries in Asia and the Pacific region

4.Skill India joins hands with Ministry of Power to support household electrification scheme ‘Saubhagya
Source: PIB

The Ministry of Power has partnered with Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship to train the manpower in six states for speedy implementation of its Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojna (Saubhagya Scheme). These six states are Assam, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh.

Under this partnership, around 47,000 Distribution Lineman-Multi Skills and 8,500 Technical Helpers will be trained to meet the requirement of power sector projects under Saubhagya scheme. The training infrastructures will be available with ITI’s at district level as well as infrastructures available with State Power Distribution Utilities will be utilized for skill training of candidates ensuring successful implementation of scheme.

The list of benefits under the Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana is as follows:

  • Access to electricity to all willing households
  • Substitution to kerosene
  • Improvement in educational services
  • Improvement in health services
  • Improvement in communications
  • Improvement in public safety
  • Increased job opportunities
  • Better quality of life, especially for women, in daily chores.

5.Talks revived to consider impeachment of CJI
Source: The Hindu

Some Opposition parties have revived the process of discussing the moving of an impeachment motion against Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra

  • To move an impeachment motion in the Rajya Sabha, the petition has to be signed by 50 MPs
  • If an impeachment motion is brought about, then there will be an inquiry with two sitting Supreme Court judges and a jurist
  • And until then, convention says a judge has to recuse from taking up cases
  • After the motion is passed by each House of the Parliament by special majority, an address is presented to the President for removal of the judge

Impeachment of SC judges:

  • The procedure relating to the removal of a judge of the Supreme Court is regulated by the Judges Inquiry Act,1968, by the process of impeachment
  • There are two grounds for removal – proved misbehavior or incapacity
  • A judge of the Supreme Court can be removed from his office by an order of the President
  • The President can issue the removal order after an address by the Parliament
  • This address should be supported by a special majority of each House of Parliament (that is, a majority of the total membership of that House and a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members of that house present and voting)
  • This address has to be presented to the President in the same session of Parliament for such a removal

6.RBI restarts pre-policy talks
Source: The Hindu

  • After a gap of about one-and-a-half years, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has resumed the process of holding consultative meetings with industry groups and banks in the run-up to the monetary policy.
  • RBI Governor Urjit Patel and the deputy governors met representatives of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and are scheduled to meet bankers in the coming days.
  • The RBI’s six member monetary policy committee (MPC) will hold its first bimonthly policy review of the new fiscal year on April 4-5.
  • Bankers said the RBI had faced a lot of criticism for a perceived lack of communication since Dr. Patel assumed charge in September 2016.
  • Earlier, the consultative meetings used to take place before the April and October monetary policy reviews.
  • CII has ‘strongly’ recommended reintroduction of the letters of undertaking (LoUs), which were banned by the RBI in the wake of the $2 billion scam at Punjab National Bank.
  • CII said the ban on LoUs — used in trade finance — was hurting genuine importers as their borrowing costs had increased.
  • The industry lobby group also called for maintaining the ‘status quo’ on policy interest rates.

7.Honour killing guillotines liberty: SC
Source: The Hindu

The judgment came on a petition filed by NGO Shakti Vahini to curb honour crimes.

  • Coming down heavily on crimes committed in the name of honour, the Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the choice of consenting adults to love and marry as a part of their fundamental rights.
  • The apex court said, “Honour killing guillotines individual liberty, freedom of choice and one’s own perception of choice.”
  • It issued a set of guidelines for authorities to safeguard young couples under threat for marrying outside their caste or religion.
  • The court held that the consent of the family, community or clan is not necessary.
  • It ridiculed the “elevated sense of honour” of elders, the collective and khap panchayats who rain horror on couples for choosing to marry outside their caste, clan or religion.
  • It termed the elders, presiding over murder in broad daylight, as “patriarchal monarchs” who believe they are the descendants of Caesar or Louis XIV.
  • The court compared honour killing to some of the harsh punishments prescribed in the Code of Hammurabi dating back to 1750 BC.

8.‘Safe houses’ for couples facing khap panchayat ire
Source: The Hindu

  • The district magistrate or police chief have to provide couples, who risk the wrath of khap panchayats, not only with logistics and protection at their wedding but also a “safe house” to stay during the first year of marriage.
  • This is among the guidelines issued by the Supreme Court to be implemented in six weeks.
  •  State governments have to establish safe houses in district headquarters.
  • The safe house, located in the same district or elsewhere, can accommodate the couple for a nominal charge.
  • But before the district magistrate or the police chief take the couple under their official protection, they have to assess whether the “bachelor-bachelorette are capable adults.”
  • The safe houses would function under the direct supervision of the jurisdictional District Magistrate and Superintendent of Police.

9.‘Give social service duties to those sentenced to 6 months or 1 year’
Source: The Hindu

Criminals sentenced to imprisonment for six months or a year should be allocated social service duties rather than be put in already overflowing prisons, the Supreme Court advised the government on Tuesday.

240 jails across the country are housing inmates 150% above their normal capacity.

Staff-prisoner ratio much worse in prisons:

  • Of about 77,000 sanctioned posts, 24500 lie vacant.
  • Tamil Nadu and U.P. are some of the worst cases in prison staff-inmate ratio.
  • Only about 5,000 prison staff monitor over 92,000 inmates in Uttar Pradesh.
  • Tamil Nadu has about 4,000 prison staffers to monitor 13,000 prisoners.

No space for women prisoners:

  • There are 18 jails exclusively for women
  • Plus there are separate areas for women in other jails, but there is complete disproportionality as far as space for women inmates are concerned.
  • These jails were not modelled to house women inmates, especially those with minor children staying with them.

Plight of undertrial prisoners:

  • Sixty percent of those arrested need not be actually arrested.
  • The police say there is no need for arrest, but they still do
  • Again, half of those arrested, need not be remanded, but they are still remanded

SC also suggested:

  • Open prisons: On September 15 last year, a Supreme Court judgment had encouraged the need for open prisons.
  • Counsellors and support persons for prisoners: It had urged for steps like the appointment of counsellors and support persons for prisoners, particularly first-time offenders.
  • More family visits: The apex court had suggested steps like more family visits for prisoners and use of phones and video-conferencing not only between a prisoner and family, but also his lawyers.
  • Audit of prisons: It had directed the State Legal Services Authorities (SLSAs) to conduct a study and performance audit of prisons
  • Board of visitors: It wanted the government to constitute a Board of Visitors to initiate prison reforms.

10.A thin film to save Great Barrier Reef
Source: The Hindu

Scientists from the Australian Institute of Marine Biology have tested a floating “sun shieldmade of calcium carbonate that has been shown to protect the reef from the effects of bleaching

Shield is designed to sit on the surface of the water above the corals, rather than directly on the corals, to provide an effective barrier against the sun

The basic idea is that by reducing the amount of sunlight from reaching the corals in the first place, we can prevent them from becoming stressed which leads to bleaching

The shield will be deployed on a smaller, local level to protect high-value or high-risk areas of reef as the entire reef area is very large (348000sq km)


In early 2016 the Great Barrier Reef suffered the worst bleaching yet, affecting an estimated 93 per cent of coral on its vast northern section and killing more than a fifth of it. Since then, efforts are on for improving the condition of the reef

11.Not a single data breach in seven years, UIDAI tells SC
Source: The Hindu

Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) CEO Ajay Bhushan Pandey  2nd day of presentation before Supreme Court on Aadhaar

  • No Breach in the past: There has not been a single breach in the past seven years in the Central Identities Data Repository (CIDR) that stores and manages data for the country’s Aadhaar project
  • Purpose blind data: UIDAI did not “collect emotions, likes/dislikes or pull out data” of individuals. For UIDAI, authentication of Aadhaar details was “purpose-blind.” It had no aggregate record of the purpose, location or details of data of Aadhaar holders
  • Core biometrics” like fingerprints and iris scans are only shared if there is a national security threat. Even this would require consent at the Cabinet Secretary level
  • Sharing demographic Aadhaar details like name, gender, date of birth and place would require the consent of the district judge
  • Authentication process was done through the UIDAI software and any unauthorised sharing of personal information at the time of enrolment or authentication would make a person liable to imprisonment for three years under Section 37 of the Aadhaar Act
  • Technology was challenged everyday and the UIDAI was constantly engaged in improving the safeguards
  • UIDAI was working closely with the Justice Sri Krishna Committee on the data protection law

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