9, December 2016

1.Reforms carried out in RMK to help poor women

Source: PIB

Rashtriya Mahila Kosh (RMK) is a society registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 and an apex micro-finance organization under the Ministry of Women and Child Development. 

  • The main objective of RMK is to provide micro-credit to poor women for various livelihood support and income generating activities at concessional terms in a client-friendly manner to bring about their socio-economic development.
  • The target beneficiaries include rural women and are from different economic activities viz., agriculture, horticulture, pisciculture, dairying, poultry & Animal husbandry, traditional & modern handicraft, small business including petty shop, teashop, vegetable & fruit shop etc., or any other income generating activities/ livelihood activities.

2.Triple talaq is ‘cruel’, ‘most demeaning’ to women 

Source: The Hindu

Observing that the judicial conscience is “disturbed”, the Allahabad High Court has held that triple talaq is “cruel” and raised a question whether the Muslim Personal law could be amended to alleviate the sufferings of Muslim women.

High court:

    • Coming down heavily on the practice, the court has held that this form of “instant divorce” is “most demeaning” which “impedes and drags India from becoming a nation“.
    • The court said the view that “the Muslim husband enjoys an arbitrary, unilateral power to inflict instant divorce” does not tie in with Islamic laws.
    • The court observed that “divorce is permissible in Islam only in case of extreme emergency. When all efforts for effecting a reconciliation have failed, the parties may proceed to a dissolution of marriage by Talaq or by Khola“.


  • The court also noted that personal laws of any community cannot claim supremacy over the rights granted to the individuals by the Constitution that provides for equality and non-discrimination.



The constitution allows Muslims, the biggest religious minority group in the country, to regulate matters such as marriage, divorce and inheritance through their own civil code. Even the Supreme Court has been examining how much it can interfere in Muslim laws governing family-related issues as it hears a plea to end the practice which permits Muslim men to divorce their wives by saying talaq three times.

Besides, the centre had recently informed the Supreme Court that it is opposed to the Muslim practice of triple talaq. It had also described this practice as “misplaced in a secular country.”

3.India has improved by 21 spots as per latest Gender Gap Report of World Economic Forum

Source: PIB

As per the Global Gender Gap Report 2016 by World Economic Forum, India ranks at 87th in respect of Global Gender Gap Index (GGI) among 144 countries of the World.

    • According to the Human Development Report 2015 brought out by UNDP, India ranked 130 on the Gender Inequality Index among 155 countries.


  • As per the GGR, India has climbed 21 spots to rank 87th in 2016, which is an improvement from being ranked at 108th in 2015.


The improvement in ranking has been driven largely by major improvements in education.

  1. On education attainment India has moved up from 125th rank in 2015 to 113th in 2016.
  2. On economic participation and opportunity too, India has moved up to 136th rank in 2016, from 139th in 2015.
  3. On health and survival, it has moved up by one rank over last year to rank 142nd.
  4. India ranks 9th on political empowerment in the world, which is a major achievement.


Government of India has taken several measures, interventions and strengthened Institutional mechanism towards the empowerment of women and for elimination of gender gap and inequality.

  1. ICDS is being implemented to address the nutritional needs of children and pregnant and lactating women,
  2. Matritva Sahyog Yojana for pregnant and lactating women to improve their health and nutrition status.
  3. Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY), implemented with the objective of reducing Maternal and Infant Mortality. .Sabla scheme aims at the empowerment of adolescent girls in the age group of 11-18 years,
  4. Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA) and Rashtriya Madhayamik Siksha Abhiyan (RMSA) schemes are being implemented to universalize elementary and secondary education respectively, having a strong focus on improving enrolment and retention of girls.
  5. Support to Training & Employment programme for Women (STEP) scheme aims to ensure sustainable employment and income generation for marginalized and asset-less rural and urban women.
  6. The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA) helps in economic and social empowerment of women.

Government of India has given utmost priority to end the gender based inequities, reducing disparity between men and women, improving socio-economic status of women and increasing their participation in various fields.

The Ministry of Women and Child Development is implementing the following schemes to reduce gender gap and promote gender sensitization

  1. The Beti Bachao Beti Padhao has been launched to address the issue of declining Child Sex Ratio on a life cycle continuum basis.
  2. women helpline the country to provide integrated support and assistance to women affected by violence

Several steps and initiatives have also been taken up in school education system such as National Curriculum Framework (NCF) 2005 and flagship programme like Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and the subsequent Right to Education Act (RTE).

  • Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas (KGBVs) have been opened in Educationally Backward Blocks (EBBs).
  • Gender Sensitisation is also done through Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) which includes Gender sensitization Module- part of In-service training, Construction for toilet for girls, Construction of residential quarters for female teachers and Curriculum Reforms.

4.Original Handloom Products

Source: PIB

Government of India is aware that some power loom and textile mills products are being sold in the name of handlooms.

The Government has introduced ‘Handloom Mark’ to identify products woven on handlooms.

  • Awareness creation activities are also carried out from time to time to popularize these measures. Surveillance is also taken up to check misuse of Handloom Mark labels.
  • 53 important and famous traditional handloom products have also been registered under the Geographical Indications (GI) of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999.
  • Registered users of GI products have rights under the provisions of the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 to approach the respective police authorities to safeguard their interests against such illegal manufacturing/marketing of GI registered handloom products.
  • State Handlooms & Textiles Departments have also been advised to make special efforts to provide protection to such GI registered handloom products.

Free Tool Kits to Handicrafts Artisans

The Government implements a scheme named Direct benefits to Artisans under National Handicraft Development Programme [NHDP] for providing financial assistance as per norms for supply of tools, safety equipments, looms, furnace etc.

All the Handicrafts Artisans including minority, Scheduled Caste/ Scheduled Tribe and BPL artisans are eligible to get benefits under this scheme.

Guru Shishya Parampara – scheme

Only  those artisans who are Padmashree/Shilpguru/National Awardee/State Awardee and other talented Craftsperson who have dedicated their career for upgrading a particular craft of their region are eligible for imparting such training program to artisans.

The Government has launched “Pehchan”, an initiative to register and provide Identity Cards to Handicrafts Artisans under a national database.

5.Shilp Guru Awards: Shilp Guru Awards are given to craftspersons who are such living legends.

The Shilp Guru Awards were launched by the Development Commissioner (Handicrafts) on 15th November, 2002, to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the resurgence of Handicrafts in India.

On the occasion, the then President of India Late Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam honoured 10 masters of living traditions, responsible for the maintenance of the living cultural heritage of India.

  • Since 2002 up to 2014, 117 artisans responsible for maintaining craft traditions have been selected for the award.
  • The selection of Shilp Guru is done from amongst those who are hereditary masters, who received the National Award at the very inception of the scheme and who are alive or whose children are carrying on with the tradition and have made a valuable contribution in the development, creativity and expansion of knowledge in their craft.
  • Selection of Shilp Guru has to be from among some extraordinarily skilled masters whose work has not been recognized and who deserve the title of Shilp Guru because of their contribution in keeping alive the craft skill, reviving a languishing craft, setting up of institutions for training of Master Craftspersons.
  • Under exceptional circumstances Shilp Guru Award can be presented to a person who may not be a hereditary craftsperson, but who has mastered the technique and has been responsible for the revival of tradition, training of masters and contributing to the development of technology.
  • Individuals who have not trained masters to carry on the tradition shall not be considered for awarding the title of the Shilp Guru. One important criterion of selection is the contribution of the Shilp Guru to the welfare and development of crafts community and to craft sector as a whole.
  • The Award consists a gold coin, Rs.2,00,000/- in cash, a Tamarapatra, an Angavastram and a certificate.
  • It will be awarded to a craftsperson only once in a lifetime, to encourage master craftspersons  to maintain excellence in craftsmanship and keep alive our old tradition.

National Awards

The Office of the Development Commissioner (Handicrafts) is implementing a scheme of National Awards for Master craftspersons since 1965.

  • The main objective was to give recognition to the outstanding craftspersons in the Handicraft sector. The awardees represent almost all states of the country, apart from different crafts styles of different locations in the country.
  • The Award consists of Rs.1,00,000/- in cash, a Tamrapatra, an Angavastram and a certificate.
  • Since 1965 to 2014, 1193 National Awards have been given, out of which 189 are women.
  • The main crafts in which Awards have been given are Metal Engaving, Terracotta, Warli Painting, Madhubani Painting, Paper Machie, Punjabi Tilla Juti, Miniature Painting, Gold Leaf Painting, Pichawai painting, Phad Painting, Hand Block Printing, Bone Carving, Sandal Wood Carving, Tie and Dye Clay Modelling, coconut shell carving, Lac work, Stone Dust, Patta chitra paddy Jewellery & Straw craft & Maru Embroidery.

It will be awarded to a craftsperson only once in a lifetime, to encourage master craftspersons to maintain excellence in craftsmanship and keep alive our old tradition.

6.DST-Intel Collaborative Research for Real-Time River Water and Air Quality Monitoring

Source: PIB

Recognizing the importance of developing the online River Water and Air Quality Monitoring (WAQM) systems, Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India and Intel are collaborating to jointly initiate “DST-Intel Collaborative Research for Real-Time River Water and Air Quality Monitoring” soliciting proposals from Academic/Research Institutions and providing grant-in-aid support to the selected project(s).

Key facts:

    • This will be a joint programme of Public-Private Partnership (PPP) mode.
    • The aim of this initiative is to develop key technologies for sensing, communication and analysis of large-scale data collected from autonomous networks of perpetual/long-lived sensor nodes, followed by integration and deployment for water and air quality monitoring in real-time.


  • The program will be administered by the binational Indo-U.S. Science and Technology Forum (IUSSTF).


7.Himachal Pradesh becomes 18th State to join UDAY

Source: PIB

Government of India signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the State of Himachal Pradesh and the State DISCOM under the Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY) .

Himachal Pradesh is the 18th State to sign MoU under UDAY.


UDAY is an effort to make these DISCOMs financially and operationally healthy, to be able to supply adequate power at affordable rates, and enable the Governments to make efforts towards 100% Village electrification and 24X7 Power For All.

  • The UDAY scheme is aimed at bringing ailing power distribution companies (discoms) to a state of operational efficiency, with state governments taking over up to 75% of their respective discoms’ debt and issuing sovereign bonds to pay back the lenders.
  • UDAY envisages a permanent resolution of past as well as potential future issues of the sector.
  • The scheme seeks to achieve this through several simultaneous steps including reducing the interest burden on the discoms by allowing the states to take over the bulk of their debt, reducing the cost of power, and increasing the operational efficiencies of the discoms by providing capital and infrastructure like coal linkages.

Central schemes such as Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY), Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS), Power Sector Development Fund (PSDF) or such other schemes of Ministries of Power and New & Renewable Energy are already providing funds for improving Power Infrastructure in the State and additional/priority funding would be considered under these schemes, if the State/DISCOM meet the operational milestones outlined in the scheme.

The DDUGJY Scheme approved by the Union Government draws its inspiration from the similar pioneering scheme implemented by the Government of Gujarat.

  • This scheme will enable to initiate much awaited reforms in the rural areas.
  • It focuses on feeder separation (rural households & agricultural) and strengthening of sub-transmission & distribution infrastructure including metering at all levels in rural areas.
  • The earlier scheme for rural electrification viz. Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana (RGGVY) has been subsumed in the new scheme as its rural electrification component.

8.Exploration of Mineral Resources

Source: PIB

GSI has covered the entire 31.4 lakh sq km of the country’s mappable area by systematic geological mapping on 1:50,000 scale on the basis of which Obvious Geological Potential [OGP] area of about 8 lakh sq. km has been identified.

Of the identified OGP area, GSI has covered 3.17 lakh sq. km. and 1.9 lakh sq. km. by National Geochemical Mapping and National Geophysical Mapping respectively.


Further, for accelerating exploration especially targeting deep-seated and concealed mineral deposits over the obvious geological potential areas, the National Mineral Exploration Policy [NMEP] has been approved by the Government in July, 2016.

    • The NMEP proposes, inter-alia, to attract private exploration agencies through revenue sharing mechanism, carry out aero geophysical mapping of the country, make available baseline data free of cost as public good, collate and share data of various exploration agencies.
    • The amount estimated for implementing NMEP in the next five years is about Rs.2116 crore.


  • This is proposed to be funded from the regular annual budget of the Geological Survey of India (GSI), an attached office of Ministry of Mines, and additional funds from National Mineral Exploration Trust and budgetary support by the Central Government.


9.Cyclonic Storm, VARDAH over southeast Bay of Bengal

Source: PIB

  • It is the season’s third cyclonic storm.
  • Vardah has formed in the Southeast Bay of Bengal.
  • It has already hit Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The cyclonic storm is expected to further intensify into a severe cyclone and will continue to move towards the north and then recurve in the northwest direction towards Andhra Pradesh Coast.
  • Warm sea surface temperatures of the Bay of Bengal and longer sea travel will help in the further intensification of the storm.

10.SIMCON 2016

Source: PIB

The conference is being organised on the theme – “Reform, Perform & Transform – A New Dimension of Communication” and is expected to provide a synergy for a robust communication outreach process.

  • The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting is organising the 28th State Information Ministers Conference Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu, Minister for I&B will chair the conference on 10th Dec, 2016.
  • The two day conference will promote partnership in the dissemination process between Centre and States, enabling effective communication to the people and on sector specific collaboration in the Films, Broadcasting & Information sector.

  1. India-United States Joint Statement on the visit of Secretary of Defense carter to India

Source: PIB

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and United States Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter have finalised India’s designation as a Major Defense Partner of the United States.

This was announced in the recent India-US joint statement on Carter’s visit to New Delhi. This status puts India on a par with the closest allies and partners of the U.S.

Both sides exchanged views on regional security issues including the threat posed by terrorism. They agreed to continue further strengthening the bilateral counter-terrorism cooperation and underlined the need to ensure that terror groups receive no patronage from any State.

Citing common values and our shared desire for peace and prosperity in the Asia Pacific and Indian Ocean region.

India-U.S. defense relations

  • Progress  on agreements, including the signing of a Defense Framework Agreement in 2015, have laid a blueprint for collaboration between our defense establishments and enabled deeper cooperation.
  • Joint exchange opportunities – in both personnel and training exercises – have expanded and strengthened our bilateral cooperation.
  • The recent signing of the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) has facilitated additional opportunities for practical engagement and exchange.
  • India’s designation as a “Major Defense Partner” of the United States.
  • The designation as a “Major Defense Partner” is a status unique to India and institutionalizes the progress made to facilitate defense trade and technology sharing with India to a level at par with that of the United States’ closest allies and partners, and ensures enduring cooperation into the future.

India  Amendment in the National Defense Authorization Act, 2017 (NDAA)

India’s Major Defense Partner status has been made a part of the India Amendment in the National Defense Authorization Act, 2017 (NDAA), approved by the US Congress to allocate funds annually to the US military.

  • This Bill is expected to be passed shortly which will put a formal, official stamp on India’s status.
  • Under the India Amendment in the NDAA 2017, the US government will, consistent with its conventional arms transfer policy, inform the review of requests to export defence articles, defence services, or related technology to India under the Arms Export Control Act, and inform any regulatory and policy adjustments that may be appropriate.
  • Besides recognising India’s status as a Major Defense Partner, the India Amendment will designate an American official to ensure the success of the Framework for the United States-India Defense Relationship which was signed last year, to approve and facilitate the transfer of advanced technology, and to strengthen the effectiveness of the US-India Defense Trade and Technology Initiative and the durability of the India Rapid Reaction Cell in Pentagon.

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