31, March 2017

‘Namami Brahmaputra’

The five day long ‘Namami Brahmaputra’ festival is being organized by the Government of Assam with aim to strengthen the bonds among various communities of Assam.

Smart India Hackathon-2017: “Digital Solutions along with appropriate technologies have the potential to catalyze development solutions in the North East States”.

  • Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region at Girijananda Chowdhury Institute of Management & Technology (GIMT), Guwahati, along with All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) under Ministry of Human Resource Development.
  • MeitY is a ‘Premier Partner’ in this initiative.

Mothers’ Absolute Affection (MAA) programme has been launched by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to promote and strengthen breastfeeding through health system strengthening.

1.India’s longest road tunnel to the nation – National Highways Authority of India

Source: PIB

India’s longest road tunnel – the 9 kilometre long “Chenani – Nashri Tunnel”

  • The tunnel on NH-44 which connects Jammu with Srinagar, will reduce travel time between the two cities by upto two hours.
  • Besides avoiding large scale deforestation and tree-cutting, the tunnel will provide a safe, all-weather route to commuters travelling from Jammu and Udhampur, to Ramban, Banihal and Srinagar.
  • The tunnel is equipped with world-class security systems, and is expected to boost tourism and economic activities in the State of Jammu and Kashmir.

Key Features of the tunnel

  • It is a single-tube bi-directional tunnel, with a 9.35 metre carriageway, and a vertical clearance of 5 metres.
  • There is also a parallel escape tunnel, with “Cross Passages” connecting to the main tunnel at intervals of 300 metres.
  • It also has smart features such as an Integrated Traffic Control System; Surveillance, Ventilation and Broadcast Systems; Fire Fighting System; and SOS call-boxes at every 150 metres.
  • The project has been completed at a cost of over Rs. 2500 crore.

2.Objectives and targets of satellites launched by PSLV

Source: PIB

Three Indian satellites were launched onboard PSLV-C37 on February 15, 2017. These satellites are: (i) Cartosat-2 Series satellite (weighing 714 kg) and (ii) two Indian Nano-satellites viz., INS-1A & 1B (together weighing 18.1 kg).

The objectives

  • Indian Cartosat-2 series satellite is to provide high resolution images of earth’s surface at sub-meter resolution (Black & White image) and at 2 meter resolution (4-band colored image).
  • The images obtained from this satellite are useful in variety of applications requiring high resolution images, which include cartography, infrastructure planning, urban & rural development, utility management, natural resources inventory & management, disaster management.
  • The objective of Indian nano-satellites INS-1A & 1B is to demonstrate new technologies and miniaturization of spacecraft.
  • Total 101 nano satellites from six foreign countries were launched in this mission.
    • These satellites are: BGUSat (Israel), Al-Farabi-1 (Kazakhstan), PEASSS (The Netherlands), DIDO-2 (Switzerland), Nayif-1 (UAE), 8 Lemur satellites (USA) and 88 Dove satellites (USA).
    • These nano satellites from foreign countries were launched under a commercial arrangement between Antrix Corporation Limited (Antrix), the commercial arm of ISRO and the foreign customer.
    • Antrix has earned a revenue of about half of the cost of launch vehicle in terms of foreign exchange.

3.Open Slogan Contest on the theme “Role of National Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (NPDRR) in Disaster Management in India”

Source: PIB

The 2nd meeting of National Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (NPDRR) will be held in New Delhi on April 24-25, 2017 on the theme ‘Disaster Risk Reduction for Sustainable Development: Making India Resilient by 2030’.

  • It will have an exclusive Ministerial session besides Plenary session on the theme “National Perspective on Disaster Risk Reduction: Sendai and Beyond”.

There will also be five Technical sessions  on the themes

1.“Understanding Disaster Risk”,

  1. “Strengthening Disaster Risk Governance to Manage Disaster Risk”,
  2. “Investing in Disaster Risk Reduction for resilience”,

4.“ Enhancing Disaster Preparedness for Effective Response and to Build Back Better in Recovery, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction” and

5.“Sendai Framework for DRR: Monitoring”.

The National Platform aims to bring together the whole range of India’s disaster risk community from Government, Parliamentarians, Local Self Governments, Media, International Organizations, NGOs, local community representatives, scientific and academic institutions and corporate businesses etc.

It will help in sharing of experiences, views and ideas, present findings of research and action and explore opportunities for mutual cooperation in the field of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR).

Chairman and Members:

  • NPDRR is chaired by the Union Home Minister and Minister of State in-charge of Disaster Management in the Ministry of Home Affairs is the Vice Chairperson of NPDRR.
  • The other members of NPDRR are 15 Cabinet Ministers, Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog, Minister of each State Government/ UT dealing with the subject Disaster Management; representatives of Local Self-Governments and Parliament (4 members from Lok Sabha and 2 from Rajya Sabha), ex-officio members, Heads of institutions of national importance, persons representing industry, media representatives, civil society organizations and international representatives.

Key facts:

The output from the National Platform will offer a strategic direction and a roadmap for the formulation of our future national action plans on DRR.

The NPDRR will help sensitize the participants about important initiatives at global and national level on DRR, including AMCDRR 2016, and the Asia Regional Plan 2016, Prime Minister’s agenda on DRR. Key expected outcomes include:

  1. To obtain consensus of the states/UTs for conducting Multi-Hazard Risk Vulnerability Assessment within specific timeframe.
  2. To explore how Hazard Risk Vulnerability Analysis (HRVA) outcomes can be integrated into policy formulation.
  3. To identify constraints and find out their solutions in strengthening District Disaster Management Authorities in multi-hazard risk prone districts.
  4. To develop a mechanism for compliance of building codes in urban areas and to develop building codes for rural areas.
  5. To suggest various measures for promoting insurance as risk mitigation tool among the general public.
  6. To explore possible areas/schemes for reducing risks of earthquakes, floods and landslides.
  7. To strengthen Incident Response Forces at State/Local levels for effective response.
  8. To have a mechanism in place for build-back-better.
  9. To measure and monitor the performance of India on different priority areas/ targets of SFDRR.

Background:

The first meeting of NPDRR was held on May 13-14, 2013 in New Delhi on the theme ‘Mainstreaming DRR in Development: From Risk to Resilience’

The main functions of the NPDRR are:

  • To review the National Disaster Management Policy and progress made in the field of Disaster Management from time to time.
  • To appreciate the extent and manner in which the Disaster Management Policy has been implemented by the Central and State Governments, and other concerned agencies, and to give appropriate advice in the matter.
  • To advise on coordination between the Central and State Governments/UT Administrations, local self-governments and civil society organizations for Disaster Risk Reduction.

4.There is no provision for individual cash incentive/cash transfer component by Government in BBBP Scheme

Source: PIB

Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP) is a flagship programme of Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD), Government of India to change the mindsets of society to value the girl child and empower her.

Key facts:

  • The scheme mainly focuses on challenging mindsets and deep rooted patriarchy in the societal system, strict enforcement of PC&PNDT Act, advancing education of the girl child: focus is on issues of women empowerment on a life cycle continuum.
  • BBBP scheme has no provision for individual cash incentive/cash transfer component by Government of India and thus is not a DBT (Direct Benefit Transfer) scheme.

The fraudulent activity

  • The fraudulent activity of duping people by falsely promising fake cash benefits in the name of BBBP was brought to the notice of Ministry of Women and Child Development through complaints/ copies of fraudulent forms being filled by people and sent to Office of MWCD.
  • The false promise was to provide Rs. 2 lakhs to a girl child between the age 8 and 32 years on filling the fake forms, which were eventually sent to Ministry of WCD.
  • Over 3 lakh fake/illegal forms have been received by this Ministry so far which were reported to have fraudulently sold in many cases and filled in the name of girls and sending to Ministry for providing cash disbursements under BBBP. The fraudulent activity started in some districts of Uttar Pradesh.
  • The Ministry of Women and Child Development took immediate action and preventive measures to contain this problem by taking up the matter with concerned State Government Authorities where this illegal activity has taken place as reported namely Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Bihar and Delhi.
  • FIRs have been filed in some districts. A disclaimer has been uploaded on website of the Ministry.
  • Press releases were also issued which were carried out in leading newspapers in Hindi and English.
  • This Ministry has also launched a media publicity campaign through Doordarshan/ AIR and other radio stations as well as through Newspapers alerting general public on the issue. The case has been handed over to Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

5.Hills sizzle at 8°C above normal

Source: The Hindu

Resorts across north India recorded the highest surges in temperature

  • So far, this summer, the maximum temperature surges were recorded in hill-station favourites Kullu in Himachal Pradesh and Mukteshwar in Uttarakhand according to IMD. According to figures on the India Meteorological Department (IMD) website, these towns recorded 32°C and 27.2°C — a searing eight degrees above normal for the last week of March.
  • Other summer getaways in north India, such as Shimla also in Himachal Pradesh, Pahalgam in Jammu & Kashmir and Dehradun in Uttarakhand have all registered temperatures seven degrees above their historical normals.

Background:

The IMD had already warned of summer temperatures being higher than normal in February and “above normal” temperatures in Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir.

Key facts:

  • The high temperatures in the north are due to a confluence of weather conditions such dry south-westerly winds from Gujarat blowing to the north and approaching Western Disturbances (a storm from the Mediterranean that brings rain to north and northwest India). These are coupled with an anticyclone, a clockwise spiraling of air that pulls in more warm air flowing in from the south-west.
  • North India apart, several states — Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chattisgarh, Orissa, Jharkhand and Rajasthan — recorded severe-heat wave conditions because of the meteorological confluence.

Background:

  • Historical data, until 2010, on the IMD website says that Shimla’s highest-ever maximum temperature in March was 25.8°C in 2010 and Mukteshwar, 28.5°C in 2004.

The stamp of global warming is evident in this year’s searing March. When the average temperatures are rising every year, there will be more incidents of extreme temperature. The IMD is already in the process of informing States to put in place comprehensive heat action plans to prepare for the summer.

6.Govt.,NDB ink $350 mn. loan pact

Source: PIB

India has signed its first loan agreement with the New Development Bank (NDB) for $350 million to be used in the development and upgradation of district roads in Madhya Pradesh.

  • The objective of the project is the upgradation of major district roads in the state of Madhya Pradesh to improve connectivity of the interior areas of the state with the national and state highway networks.
  • The project would include upgradation, rehabilitation or reconstruction of approximately 1,500 km of district roads to intermediate lane, all-weather standards, with road safety features and improved road asset maintenance and management.

Background:

The project is to be implemented over five years with the Government of Madhya Pradesh and the Madhya Pradesh Road Development Corporation acting as the implementing agencies.

NDB:

  • It is a multilateral development bank operated by the BRICS states (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). It is seen as an alternative to the existing US-dominated World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
  • The New Development Bank was agreed to by BRICS leaders at the 5th BRICS summit held in Durban, South Africa in 2013.
  • The bank is set up to foster greater financial and development cooperation among the five emerging markets.
  • The bank will be headquartered in Shanghai, China.

Voting: Unlike the World Bank, which assigns votes based on capital share, in the New Development Bank each participant country will be assigned one vote, and none of the countries will have veto power.

NEW DEVELOPMENT BANK

The New Development Bank will mobilise resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging economies and developing countries, to supplement existing efforts of multilateral and regional financial institutions for global growth and development.

7.CAG protests  refusal of access to GSTN data

Source: Times of India

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has protested with the finance ministry against the Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN), a special purpose vehicle majority owned by private companies, refusing to give access to taxpayer’s data on its network for scrutiny and audit.

What is GSTN?

  • The GSTN is a private limited company floated to aid the rollout of the new indirect tax regime. The company will provide information technology support to all stakeholders for smooth implementation of the new taxation regime across the country and will be the repository of all information related to taxation and entities registered under GST.
  • The majority (51%) shareholding in the firm is with private entities including HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank and LIC among others. The central government, jointly with state governments and Union Territories, own 49% in the company.

Why GSTN refused to allow CAG?

  • GSTN has refused to allow the CAG on the ground that it was a non-government company and the auditor could not exercise the same rights as applicable for public enterprises.
  • The GSTN also argued that it was just a “pass through portal” and that the CAG must approach the Central Board of Excise and Customs and states which would have original data filed by taxpayers.

CAG’s arguments:

  • Rejecting GSTN’s contention, CAG has said the source of all taxpayers’ data in the GST regime would be with GSTN, ‘being the primary location’ where the data is created. It is from here that the data is selectively pushed to CBEC and states. It is therefore essential for the CAG to access the data lying at the primary source for performing its constitutional mandate.
  • The CAG also contended that the government had “strategic control” in GSTN irrespective of the shareholding pattern. The SPV is performing a part of the statutory function pertaining to revenue collection on behalf of the Centre and states and it could not refuse to give access to information to the auditor.

8.Meet ‘Bhoorsingh the Barasingha’: Kanha tiger reserve becomes first in India get official mascot

Kanha has become the first tiger reserve in India to officially introduce a mascot — Bhoorsingh the Barasingha — to present the hard ground swamp deer as the spirit of the reserve and spread awareness to save it from possible extinction.

Barasingha, or swamp deer, is the state animal of Madhya Pradesh.

The Kanha tiger reserve, spread over Mandla and Balaghat districts, is the only place in the world where the species exists



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