Daily Analysis: 15th September 2020

The Hindu, PIB, IE and Others

Index

A) Polity/Bills/Acts/Judgments

1. Publicity of criminal antecedents of candidates during electioneering: EC makes norms stringent (IE)

B) Schemes/Policies/Initiatives/Social Issues

2. Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) (PIB)

3. Swadesh Darshan and PRASHAD Schemes (PIB)

4. Steel Clusters and Purvodaya” Initiative (PIB)

5. National Skill Development Mission (NSDM) and associated Schemes (PIB)

6. Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan and On-line learning Tools (PIB)

7. National Water Mission (NWM) (PIB)

8. Bharat Ratan And Padma Awards, Ministry of Home Affairs (PIB)

9. Pradhan Mantri Jan Vikas Karyakram (PMJVK) (PIB)

C) Geography, Environment and Biodiversity

10. Aerosols and their importance (PIB)

11. National River Conservation Plan (NRCP) (PIB)

D) Polity/Bills/Acts/Judgments

12. Centre opposes move to recognise same-sex unions (TH, pg 1)

E) International Relations

13. What’s next for Palestine after UAE, Bahrain deals with Israel? (TH, pg 11)

F) Science and Technology

14. Scientists find ‘life harbouring’ gas on Venus (TH, pg 14)

G) Miscellaneous

15. Occurrence of Floods (PIB)

16. K.N. Dikshit Committee (PIB)

A) Polity/Bills/Acts/Judgments

1. Publicity of criminal antecedents of candidates during electioneering: EC makes norms stringent (IE)

Context: The Election Commission made the norms of publicity of criminal antecedents of candidates stringent by putting a timeline on when such advertisements should be published and broadcast during electioneering.

Analysis

  • In October, 2018, the Election Commission (EC) had issued directions making it compulsory for candidates contesting elections and the parties fielding them to advertise their criminal antecedents in TV and newspapers at least three times during electioneering.
Now, the EC has made it clear that:
  • The first “publicity” of criminal records should be within first four days of the last date of withdrawal of candidature.
  • The second publicity should be within fifth and eight day of the last date of withdrawal.
  • The third and final publicity should be from ninth day till the last day of campaign — two days prior to polling day.
  • The timeline would ensure that the advertisements attract the public eye.
  • There was a feeling that candidates time the publicity of their criminal records in such a way that it fails to grab attention.
  • The poll panel also made it clear that uncontested winning candidates as well as the political parties who nominate them will also publicise the criminal antecedents, if any.
  • Following Supreme Court directions in February 2020, the Election Commission had asked political parties to justify why they chose candidates with criminal history to contest elections, by filling up a form.
  • The parties thus have to now fill up a form to explain the reasons.

Who are uncontested winning candidates?

  • The Election Commission of India, in its handbook for returning officers, has important details about “unopposed returns”.
  • It says: “If in any constituency there is only one contesting candidate, declare that candidate to have been duly elected immediately after the last hour for withdrawal of candidature. In that event, a poll is not necessary.”

February 2020 Supreme Court Judgment

  • The Supreme Court ordered political parties to publish the entire criminal history of their candidates for Assembly and Lok Sabha elections along with the reasons that goaded them to field suspected criminals over decent people.
  • The judgment was based on a contempt petition filed about the general disregard shown by political parties to a 2018 Constitution Bench judgment (Public Interest Foundation v. Union of India) to publish the criminal details of their candidates in their respective websites and print as well as electronic media for public awareness.
  • If a political party fails to comply, it would be “… in contempt of this Court’s orders/directions.”

Earlier orders state that:

  • Each candidate shall submit a sworn affidavit giving financial details and criminal cases;
  • Each candidate shall inform the political party in writing of criminal cases against him or her; and
  • The party shall put up on its website and on social media as well as publish in newspapers the names and details of such candidates.
  • The entire criminal history of the candidates should be published in a local as well as a national newspaper as well as the parties’ social media handles.
  • It should mandatorily be published either within 48 hours of the selection of candidates or less than two weeks before the first date for filing of nominations, whichever is earlier.
  • A Bench ordered political parties to submit compliance reports with the Election Commission of India within 72 hours or risk contempt of court action.
  • The judgment is applicable to parties both at Central and State levels.
  • The judgment by the Bench signified the court’s alarm at the unimpeded rise of criminals, often facing heinous charges like rape and murder, encroaching into the country’s political and electoral scenes.
  • In 2004, 24% of the Members of Parliament had criminal cases pending against them; in 2009, that went up to 30%; in 2014 to 34%; and in 2019 as many as 43% of MPs had criminal cases pending against them.

B) Schemes/Policies/Initiatives/Social Issues

2. Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) (PIB)

  • In order to improve India’s performance at Olympics and Paralympics, the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports started the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) in September 2014; revamped in April 2018.
  • The scheme has been extending all requisite support to probable athletes (not all athletes) identified for the Tokyo-2021, Paris-2024 and Los Angles-2028 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games including foreign training, monthly stipend etc.
  • High priority category of sports discipline has been identified to put focus on and incentivize those sports disciplines played in the Olympics in which India has won medals in the last conducted Asian Games as well as Commonwealth Games or in which India has good chance of winning medals in the upcoming Olympics of 2024 (Paris) and 2028 (Los Angeles). 
  • Presently, nine sports disciplines viz.,

    (i) Athletics,
    (ii) Badminton
    (iii) Hockey
    (iv) Shooting
    (v) Tennis
    (vi) Weightlifting
    (vii) Wrestling,
    (viii) Archery and
    (ix) Boxing have been categorised as ‘High Priority’.
  • Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) covers the junior and sub-junior athletes also.

3. Swadesh Darshan and PRASHAD Schemes (PIB)

  • Swadesh Darshan Scheme – Integrated Development of theme-based tourist circuits – is the flagship scheme of Ministry of Tourism for development of tourism infrastructure in the country.
  • The duration of Swadesh Darshan Scheme is till the 14th Finance Commission Period i.e. March 2020.
  • The Scheme, being a central sector scheme, is 100% centrally funded.
The scheme has following objectives (only the major ones and not the obvious ones):
  • Develop circuits having tourist potential in a planned and prioritized manner;
  • Promote cultural and heritage value of the country to generate livelihoods in the identified regions;
  • Follow community-based development and pro-poor tourism approach;
In January 2015 the Scheme was launched as a Central Sector Scheme with following five circuits:
  1. Himalayan Circuit,
  2. North East Circuit,
  3. Krishna Circuit,
  4. Buddhist Circuit, and
  5. Coastal Circuit.

Later, 10 more thematic circuits namely:

  1. Desert Circuit,
  2. Tribal Circuit,
  3. Eco Circuit,
  4. Wildlife Circuit,
  5. Rural Circuit,
  6. Spiritual Circuit,
  7. Ramayana Circuit,
  8. Heritage Circuit,
  9. Tirthankar Circuit and
  10. Sufi Circuit were added in the scheme making it to 15 thematic circuits.
  • The third-party evaluation of the scheme is carried, out by the National Productivity Council (Ministry of Industry).

Definition of Tourist Circuit

  • Tourist Circuit is defined as a route having at least three major tourist destinations which are distinct and apart.
  • Circuits should have well defined entry and exit points.
  • A tourist who enters should get motivated to visit most of the places identified in the circuit.
  • A Circuit could be confined to a State or could be a regional circuit covering more than one State/Union Territory.
  • These circuits may have one dominant theme and other sub-themes.

Tribal Circuit

  • The Ministry of Tourism, under the Swadesh Darshan Scheme, has identified tribal circuit as one of the fifteen thematic circuits for development of tourism infrastructure in the country.
  • The objective is showcasing tribal culture, art, handicrafts and providing livelihood and enhance employment opportunities for tribal populations in the country.       
  • The tribal circuits under the scheme would be developed in the states of Nagaland, Chhattisgarh, and Telanagana.

Ramayana Circuit 

  • Further, fifteen destinations have been identified by the Government for development of tourism under the Ramayana Circuit. 
  • Ramayana Circuit is one of the fifteen thematic circuits identified for development under the Swadesh Darshan scheme of Ministry of Tourism.

The Ministry has initially identified fifteen destinations namely:

  1. Ayodhya, Nandigram, Shringverpur & Chitrakoot (Uttar Pradesh);
  2. Sitamarhi, Buxar & Darbhanga (Bihar);
  3. Chitrakoot (Madhya Pradesh);
  4. Mahendragiri (Odisha);
  5. Jagdalpur (Chattisgarh);
  6. Nashik & Nagpur (Maharashtra);
  7. Bhadrachalam (Telangana);
  8. Hampi (Karnataka); and
  9. Rameshwaram (Tamil Nadu).

Central Schemes

  • The central schemes are divided into central sector schemes and centrally sponsored schemes (CSS).

What is a Central Sector Scheme?

  • Central sector schemes are schemes with 100% funding by the Central government and implemented by the Central Government machinery.
  • The central sector schemes are formulated on subjects mainly from the Union List.
  • Besides, there are some other programmes that various Central Ministries implement directly in States and UTs which also come under Central Sector Schemes.
  • In these schemes, the financial resources are not shifted to states.

What are Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS)?

  • CCS are schemes that are implemented by state governments but are largely funded by the Central Government with a defined State Government share.
  • Historically, CSS is the way through which central government helps states to run its Plans financially.
  • They are basically special purpose grants (or loans) extended by Central Government to states to encourage them to plan and implement programmes that help attain national goals and objectives.
  • CSS are basically extended by the Central Government to States under Article 282 of the Constitution.
  • It mainly covers items listed in states list.

National Mission on Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual, Heritage Augmentation Drive (PRASHAD)

  • This Scheme was launched by the Ministry of Tourism in the year 2014-15 with the objective of holistic development of identified pilgrimage and heritage destinations.
  • The total number of sites identified for development under the scheme at present are

24. They are:

  1. Amaravati and Srisailam (Andhra Pradesh),
  2. Kamakhya (Assam),
  3. Patna and Gaya (Bihar),
  4. Dwarka and Somnath (Gujarat),
  5. Hazratbal and Katra (Jammu & Kashmir),
  6. Deogarh (Jharkhand),
  7. Guruvayoor (Kerala),
  8. Maa Chintpurni, Una (Himachal Pradesh,
  9. Omkareshwar (Madhya Pradesh), Trimbakeshwar (Maharashtra),
  10. Puri (Odisha),
  11. Amritsar (Punjab),
  12. Ajmer (Rajasthan),
  13. Kanchipuram and Vellankani (Tamil Nadu),
  14. Varanasi, and Mathura (Uttar Pradesh),
  15. Badrinath and Kedarnath (Uttarakhand) and
  16. Belur (West Bengal). 

4. Steel Clusters and Purvodaya Initiative (PIB)

Context: The Ministry of Steel has prepared a draft framework policy for development of steel clusters in the country.

Analysis

  • The draft framework policy for development of steel clusters is aimed at facilitating setting up of greenfield steel clusters along with development & expansion of existing steel clusters.
  • The steel clusters shall not only help the country become Atma Nirbhar in value added Steel and capital goods but would also generate employment, especially in the Eastern part of the Country covering the States of Chhattishgarh, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Orisha and Andhra Pradesh as part of the “Purvodaya” initiative of the Ministry of Steel.
  • In January 2020, ‘Mission Purvodaya’ was launched which aims at accelerated development of eastern India through integrated steel hubs.
  • The proposed Integrated Steel Hub, encompassing Odisha, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal and Northern Andhra Pradesh, would serve as a torchbearer for socio-economic growth of Eastern India.

5. National Skill Development Mission (NSDM) and associated Schemes (PIB)

  • The National Skill Development Mission (NSDM) was launched in 2015, to provide a strong institutional framework to implement and scale up skill development efforts across the country and to impart training to one crore youth every year.
  • Under Skill India Mission, Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship imparts employable skills to the youth through long term and short term training.
  • The Ministry is implementing Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY 2.0) and Jan Shikshan Sansthan (JSS) for short term training.
  • The Long Term Training is imparted through Industrial Training Institutes under Craftsmen Training Scheme. 

Jan Shikshan Sansthan

  • Jan Shikshan Sansthan (formerly known as Shramik Vidyapeeth) provide vocational skills to non-literate, neo-literates as well as school drop-outs by identifying skills that have a market in the region of their establishment.
  • Neo-literate is an adult or an. adolescent who did not or could not make use of the available educational opportunities on time, and who at a later stage acquired the skills of literacy through formal or non-formal approaches.
  • The Scheme is being implementing with public and private partnership since last five decades for the upliftment of women, SC, ST, OBC and Minority in rural and urban slums.
  • JSSs are providing vocational training at doorstep of the beneficiary in the unreached areas.
  • The Scheme of Jan Shikshan Sansthan has been transferred from Ministry of Human Resource Development to Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship in 2018.

Target Group

  • Socio-economically backward and educationally disadvantaged groups of rural/urban population.
  • Main target includes non-literate, neo-literates, person education upto 8th standard, school drop-outs, in the age group of 15-35 years.
  • Priority given to women, SC, ST, OBC and Minorities in rural areas and urban slums.

Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY 2.0)

  • This is the flagship scheme for skill training of youth to be implemented by the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship through the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC).
  • Flagship schemes of a government are those schemes which are the main or most important and address major national concerns.
  • As the schemes are of utmost importance, the funding of these schemes is slightly higher than other schemes.
  • The Flagship schemes of the Indian Government are declared by the Union Cabinet or the Development Evaluation Advisory Committee (DEAC) of NITI Aayog.
  • The scheme will cover 10 million youth during the period 2016-2020.
  • Under this Scheme, Training and Assessment fees are completely paid by the Government.
  • Skill training would be done based on the National Skill Qualification Framework (NSQF) and industry led standards.

Eligible Beneficiaries

  • In line with the scheme objectives, the scheme is applicable to any candidate of Indian nationality who:
  • An unemployed youth, college/school dropout
  • Has a verifiable identity proof – Aadhaar / Voter id and a bank account.

Key components Short Term Training

  • Apart from providing training according to the National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF), Training Centres (TCs) shall also impart training in Soft Skills, Entrepreneurship, Financial and Digital Literacy.
  • Duration of the training varies per job role, ranging between 150 and 300 hours.
  • Upon successful completion of their assessment, candidates shall be provided placement assistance by Training Partners (TPs).
  • Under PMKVY, the entire training and assessment fees are paid by the Government.
  • Trainings imparted under the Short Term Training component of the Scheme shall be NSQF Level 5 and below.

Recognition of Prior Learning

  • Individuals with prior learning experience or skills shall be assessed and certified under the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) component of the Scheme.
  • TPs shall conduct Kaushal and Rozgar Melas every six months with press/media coverage.

Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendra

  • These are Model Training Centres (MTCs) being established in every district of the country.
  • NSDC is the implementation agency for the project.
  • Loan assistance under the PMKK project shall only be sanctioned to any form of separate legal entity including but not limited to Company/Society/Trust, as per the process and applicable laws and guidelines.
  • NSDC will provide a concessional secured loan funding per centre, up to 75% of the project investment.
  • Each PMKK will be assured a training mandate for three years under the PMKVY scheme.

National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC)

  • It is a not-for-profit public limited company incorporated under Companies Act, 2013.
  • NSDC was set up by Ministry of Finance as Public Private Partnership (PPP) model.
  • The Government of India through Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE) holds 49% of the share capital of NSDC, while the private sector has the balance 51% of the share capital.
  • NSDC aims to promote skill development by catalyzing creation of large, quality and for-profit vocational institutions.

World Youth Skills Day

  • In December 2014, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution declaring 15th July as World Youth Skills Day.
  • The theme for 2020 World Youth Skills Day is “Skills for a Resilient Youth”.
  • The vision of the Incheon Declaration: Education 2030 is fully captured by Sustainable Development Goal 4 “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”.

6. Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan and On-line learning Tools (PIB)

  • It is a part of the efforts taken by the Ministry of Education/Human Resource Development to improve quality of education.
  • It has been launched w.e.f. 2018-19.
  • It extends from pre-school to class XII.
  • The Scheme covers all children from the age of 4 to 18 years and has a scope across all levels of school education from Pre-school to Senior Secondary.
  • Along with universal access, ensuring retention of children till completion of schooling is one of the major objectives of the Scheme.
  • It aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education at all levels of school education. 
  • It envisages the ‘school’ as a continuum from pre-school, primary, upper primary, secondary to senior secondary levels.
  • It susbsumes the three erstwhile centrally sponsored schemes:
  1. Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA),
  2. Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) and
  3. Teacher Education (TE).
  • Bridging gender and social category gaps at all levels of school education is one of the major objectives of the scheme.
  • It supports States for strengthening of school infrastructure including in rural areas.
  • The scheme envisages an annual recurring composite school grant varying from 25,000/- to 1,00,000/- per annum depending upon the enrollment of students, for all government schools.
  • Each school is required to spend at least 10 per cent of the composite school grant on activities related to Swachhata Action Plan.
  • Under the Samagra Shiksha, provisions have been made for library grant to government schools so as to inculcate reading habit among students of all ages and to strengthen school libraries, including purchase of books.
  • National Centre for Children’s Literature (NCCL) is a wing of National Book Trust (NBT).

Samagra Shiksha focuses on improvement in quality of education by providing support for different interventions like:

  1. In-service training of teachers and school heads,
  2. Conduct of achievement surveys at state and national level,
  3. Composite school grant to every school for providing a conducive learning environment,
  4. ICT and digital initiatives,
  5. Remedial teaching for academically weaker students, etc.

Do you know?

  • Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan (under MHRD) covers children in the age range of 4–18 years.
  • ICDS-Integrated Child Development Services (under MWCD) covers children in the age range of 0–6 years.
  • Disha-Early Intervention and School Readiness Scheme for Person with Disability (under MSJE) covers children with disabilities in the age range of 0–10 years.
  • National Health Mission (under MHFW) covers children in the age range of 0–18 years.

Padhe Bharat Badhe Bharat

  • The ‘Padhe Bharat Badhe Bharat’ (PBBB) is a sub-programme of erstwhile Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) which is continued under the new integrated scheme Samagra Shiksha to ensure quality at the foundational years of schooling.
  • The objectives of the programme are to promote early reading and writing with comprehension skills in children, and also basic numeracy skills.
  • States/ UTs are implementing PBBB in their respective States/UTs using multiple strategies and approaches including collaboration with organizations like UNICEF etc.
  • Central Government has taken various steps towards the implementation of the programme of PBBB, which inter-alia, include:
  • Preparation of special bridge materials for States having a high tribal population;
  • Provisioning of free textbooks, development and procurement of supplementary reading material;
  • In-service teacher training;
  • Having dedicated teachers for foundational classes and maintaining the required Pupil Teacher Ratio (PTR) as prescribed under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009.
  • At primary level the PTR should be 30:1 and at the upper primary level it should be 35:1.
  • The Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) framework stipulates that the PTR at secondary level should be 30:1.

Samagra Shiksha and Promotion of Girls’ Education

  • Under Samagra Shiksha, various interventions have been targeted for girls, which include:
  1. Opening of schools in the neighbourhood as defined by the State,
  2. Provision of free text-books to girls up to Class VIII,
  3. Uniforms to all girls up to class VIII,
  4. Provision of gender segregated toilets in all schools,
  5. Teachers’ sensitization programmes to promote girls’ participation, 
  6. Provision for Self-Defence training for the girls from classes VI to XII,
  7. Stipend to CWSN girls from class I to Class XII,
  8. Construction of residential quarters for teachers in remote/hilly areas/in areas with difficult terrain. 
  • In addition to this, to reduce gender gaps at all levels of school education and for providing quality education to girls from disadvantaged groups, Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas (KGBVs) have been sanctioned in Educationally Backward Blocks (EBBs) under Samagra Shiksha. 
  • KGBVs are residential schools from class VI to XII for girls belonging to disadvantaged groups such as SC, ST, OBC, Minority and Below Poverty Line (BPL).

NISHTHA – National Initiative for School Heads’ and Teachers’ Holistic Advancement

  • The Department of School Education and Literacy has launched a National Mission to improve learning outcomes at the Elementary level through an Integrated Teacher Training Programme called NISHTHA – National Initiative for School Heads’ and Teachers’ Holistic Advancementunder the Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Samagra Shiksha in 2019-20. 
  • The aim of this training is to motivate and equip teachers to encourage and foster critical thinking in students, handle diverse situations and act as first level counsellors. 
  • It stands for National Initiative for School Heads’ and Teachers’ Holistic Advancement (NISHTHA).
  • It is an initiative of the Human Resource Development Ministry and is “the world’s largest teacher training programme”.
  • Under this programme, more than 42 lakh teachers and principals of primary and elementary-age government schools across the country will undergo a five-day training programme over the next few months to learn innovative teaching methods, the use of art and technology in the classroom and basic counselling techniques.
  • In the same manner, more than 1 million higher education teachers will be trained under ARPIT programme.

Youth and Eco Club and Rangotsav

  • Samagra Shiksha – an Integrated Scheme for School Education has been launched throughout the country as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme with effect from the year 2018-19.
  • Approval has been given to States and UTs for setting up of Youth and Eco Club in Government Schools in 2019-20 under Samagra Shiksha.
  • Further, in order to experience and celebrate the rich cultural diversity of India and to encourage experimental learning, Rangotsav was organized in schools in 2018-19.
  • Rangotsav is an initiative of the Ministry of Human Resource Development aimed to promote experiential learning.

On-line learning Tools of the Ministry of Human Resource and Development

SWAYAM PRABHA

  • SWAYAM PRABHA is a group of 32 D2H TV channels transmitting educational contents on 24/7 basis.
  • These channels are free to air and can also be accessed through your cable operator.
  • These channels cover diverse disciplines such as arts, science, commerce, performing arts, social sciences and humanities subjects, engineering, technology, law, medicine, agriculture etc. for all teachers, students and citizens across the country interested in lifelong learning.
  • The channels cover both School Education (class IX to XII) and Higher Education (under graduate, post graduate, engineering, out of school children, vocational courses and teacher training).
  • The telecasted videos/lectures are also available as archived videos on the Swayam Prabha portal.

Study Webs of Active Learning for Young Aspiring Minds (SWAYAM)

  • SWAYAM platform is indigenously developed by Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) and All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) with the help of Microsoft.
  • All the courses, taught in classrooms from 9th class till post-graduation to be accessed by anyone, anywhere at any time.
  • It provides one integrated platform and portal for online courses.
  • This covers all higher education subjects and skill sector courses.
  • It is intended to host about 2000 courses and 80000 hours of learning material, within two years: covering school, under-graduate, post-graduate, engineering, law and other professional courses.
  • SWAYAM is designed to achieve the three cardinal principles of Education Policy viz., access, equity and quality.
  • SWAYAM seeks to bridge the digital divide for students who have hitherto remained untouched by the digital revolution and have not been able to join the mainstream of the knowledge economy.
  • This is done through a platform that facilitates hosting of all the courses, taught in classrooms from Class 9 till post-graduation to be accessed by anyone, anywhere at any time.
  • All the courses are interactive, prepared by the best teachers in the country and are available, free of cost to any learner.
  • The courses hosted on SWAYAM are in 4 quadrants –
  1. Video lecture,
  2. Specially prepared reading material that can be downloaded/printed
  3. Self-assessment tests through tests and quizzes and
  4. An online discussion forum for clearing the doubts.
  • Courses delivered through SWAYAM are available free of cost to the learners, however learners wanting a SWAYAM certificate should register for the final proctored exams that come at a fee and attend in-person at designated centres on specified dates. 

Vidwan

  • It is a database of experts which provides information about experts to peers, prospective collaborators, funding agencies policy makers and research scholar in the country. 

DIKSHA

  • DIKSHA the nation’s digital infrastructure for providing quality e-content for school education in states/UTs and QR coded Energized Textbooks for all grades (one nation, one digital platform).
  • Diksha has more than 80000 e-Books for class 12th created by CBSE, NCERT and States/UTs which are available in multiple languages.

e-PATHSHALA

  • In this web portal NCERT has deployed audios, videos, e-books (e-Pubs) and Flip Books for classes 1st to 12th in different languages. 

e-ShodhSindu

  • It is a consortium for Higher Education E-Resources.
  • Its aim is to provide access to qualitative electronic resources including full-text, bibliographic and factual databases (core and peer-reviewed journals and a number of bibliographic, citation and factual databases in different disciplines) to academic institutions at a lower rates of subscription. 

e-Yantra

  • Project e-Yantra is an initiative to spread education in Embedded systems and Robotics by IIT Bombay sponsored by Ministry of Human Resource Development through the National Mission on Education through ICT (NMEICT). 

Shodhganga 

  • It is a digital repository for research scholars across Universities and Institutes to deposit, re-use & share their Theses & Dissertations in digital formats including scanned documents.
  • It is in open access to the world-wide academic community.

Shodhgangotri

  • Under this initiative, research scholars / research supervisors in universities could deposit an electronic version of approved synopsis submitted by research scholars to the universities for registering themselves under the Ph.D. programme.
  • Synopses in Shodhgangotri would later be mapped to full-text thesis in Shodhganga.

DAISY

  • Special e-content for visually and hearing impaired developed on Digitally Accessible Information System (DAISY).

National Digital Library (NDL

  • It aims to collect, preserve and disseminate entire intellectual output of our country and provide online access from school level to postgraduate level, including technical education.
  • Under this scheme, meta-data (a set of data that describes and gives information about other data) of e-resources within and outside the country are made available to the learners, on anyone, anytime, anywhere access mode.
  • Some licensed resources as well as resources having no copyright violation are provided as complete document in digital formats, including scanned documents.
  • The contents cover almost all major domains of education and all major levels of learners including life-long learners.
  • The NDL is available through a mobile app too.

7. National Water Mission (NWM) (PIB)

Context: National Water Mission (NWM) of Ministry of Jal Shakti has initiated “Catch the Rain” campaign.

Analysis

National Water Mission (NWM)

  • It is being implemented by the Ministry of Jal Shakti.

Goals of NWM

  • Comprehensive water data base in public domain and assessment of impact of climate change on water resources;
  • Promotion of citizen and State action for water conservation, augmentation and preservation;
  • Focused attention to vulnerable areas including overexploited areas;
  • Increasing water use efficiency by 20%;
  • Promotion of basin level integrated water resources management.

“Catch the Rain” Campaign

  • It has been initiated by National Water Mission (NWM). 
  • It will help in improving soil moisture and rasing ground water table.
  • In urban areas it will reduce water gushing onto roads, damaging them and will prevent urban flooding.

Campaign objectives are as under

  • To promote creation of Rain Water Harvesting Structures (RWHS) suitable to the climatic conditions and sub-soil strata to store rain water.
  • It drives to make water harvesting pits, rooftop RWHS and check dams; removal of encroachments and de-silting of tanks to increase their storage capacity; removal of obstructions in the channels which bring water to them from the catchment areas;
  • It includes repairs to traditional water harvesting structures like step-wells and using defunct bore-wells and old wells to put the water back to aquifers etc.
  • Some of the activities suggested are to be taken up with peoples’ active participation under this campaign.
  • To facilitate these activities, states have been requested to open “Rain Centers” in each district– in Collectorates/Municipalities or GP offices.
  • Under the “Catch The Rain” initiative, all water bodies in the districts are to be enumerated, (checked with revenue records) and encroachments to be removed.

National Water Mission Awards, 2019

  • One of the strategies of NWM under Goal IV is to incentivize the organization/ companies through awards for water conservation and efficient use of water.
  • Hence, the NWM has initiated the ‘National Water Mission Awards’ to recognize excellence in water conservation, efficient water use and sustainable water management practices.

8. Bharat Ratan And Padma Awards, Ministry of Home Affairs (PIB)

Context: The Ministry of Home Affairs in its commitment to transform Padma Awards into “People’s Padma” has requested all citizens to make nominations/ recommendations including self-nomination. 

Analysis

Bharat Ratna

  • Bharat Ratna is the highest civilian award of the country.
  • It is awarded in recognition of exceptional service/performance of the highest order in any field of human endeavour.
  • It is treated on a different footing from Padma Award.
  • The recommendations for Bharat Ratna are made by the Prime Minister to the President of India.
  • No formal recommendations for Bharat Ratna are necessary.
  • The number of Bharat Ratna Awards is restricted to a maximum of three in a particular year.
  • Government has conferred Bharat Ratna Award on 48 persons till date.

Interesting facts about the Bharat Ratna

  • First recipients of this award were Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan, Sir C.V. Raman, and Chakravarti Rajagopalachari in 1954.
  • Mother Teresa was the first naturalized Indian citizen who received the Bharat Ratna Award in 1980.
  • Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan (1987) and Nelson Mandela (1990) are two non Indians who got Bharat Ratna Award.
  • Sachin Tendulkar is the first sportsperson and the youngest Bharat Ratna Award Winner.
  • Lal Bahadur Shastri was the first person to get this award posthumously.
  • Subhash Chandra Bose was awarded with Bharat Ratna posthumously in 1992. But due to controversy (as there is no evidence of Subhash Chandra Bose’s death) his family refused to accept the award as posthumous winner.
  • This is the only incident in the history of Bharat Ratna that an award was withdrawn.
  • Prime Ministers Jawaharlal Nehru (1947-64) and Indira Gandhi (1966-77, 1980-84) have been criticised for recommending their names to the president by themselves to get the awards in 1955 and 1971 respectively.
  • There is no provision that award should be given to Indians only.
  • It is not mandatory that Bharat Ratna should be awarded very year.
  • The award does not carry any monetary grant.
  • The holders of the Bharat Ratna rank seventh in the Indian order of precedence.
  • M.S. Subbalaxmi was the first musician who got this award.

Padma Awards

  • Padma Awards, which were instituted in the year 1954, are announced every year on the occasion of Republic Day.
  • The award is given in three categories, namely,
  1. Padma Vibhushan for exceptional and distinguished service;
  2. Padma Bhushan for distinguished service of a high order; and
  3. Padma Shri for distinguished service.
  • All persons without distinction of race, occupation, position or sex are eligible for these awards.
  • However, Government servants in-service including those working with PSUs, except doctors and scientists, are not eligible for these Awards.
  • The award seeks to recognize works of distinction and is given for distinguished and exceptional achievements/service in all fields of activities/disciplines.
  • The nomination process is open to the public. Even self-nomination can be made.
  • The award is normally not conferred posthumously.
  • However, in highly deserving cases, the Government could consider giving an award posthumously
  • A higher category of Padma award can be conferred on a person only where a period of at least five years has elapsed since conferment of the earlier Padma award.
  • However, in highly deserving cases, a relaxation can be made by the Awards Committee.
  • The recipients are also given a small replica of the medallion, which they can wear during any ceremonial/State functions etc., if the awardees so desire.
  • The names of the awardees are published in the Gazette of India on the day of the presentation ceremony.
  • The total number of awards to be given in a year (excluding posthumous awards and to NRI/foreigners/OCIs) should not be more than 120.
  • The award does not amount to a title and cannot be used as a suffix or prefix to the awardees’ name

Who Decides?

  • All nominations received for Padma Awards are placed before the Padma Awards Committee, which is constituted by the Prime Minister every year.
  • The Padma Awards Committee is headed by the Cabinet Secretary and includes Home Secretary, Secretary to the President and four to six eminent persons as members.
  • The recommendations of the committee are submitted to the Prime Minister and the President of India for approval.

9. Pradhan Mantri Jan Vikas Karyakram (PMJVK) (PIB)

Context: The areas under PMJVK have been increased from 90 Districts originally to 308 Districts of the country.

Analysis

  • Pradhan Mantri Jan Vikas Karyakram (PMJVK) of the Ministry of Minority Affairs seeks to provide better socio-economic infrastructure facilities to the minority communities particularly in the field of education, health & skill development.
  • It would further lead to lessening of the gap between the national average and the minority communities with regard to backwardness parameters.
  • At present 6 (six) communities namely Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Zoroastrians (Parsis) and Jains have been notified as Minority Communities under Section 2 (c) of the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992.
  • The erstwhile Multi-sectoral Development Programme (MsDP) has been restructured and renamed as Pradhan Mantri Jan Vikas Karyakram for effective implementation since 2018. 
  • The restructured Programme will be implemented as “Pradhan Mantri Jan Vikas Karyakram (PMJVK)” during the remaining period of 14th Finance Commission i.e. upto 2019-20.
  • It will be implemented as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme.
  • It aims to address development deficits in the identified minority concentration areas.
  • The identification of minority concentration areas (at village, block, town and district headquarter level) has been done on the basis of presence of substantial population of notified Minority Communities based on socio-economic, basic amenities and population data of Census 2011.

C) Geography, Environment and Biodiversity

10. Aerosols and their importance (PIB)

  • An aerosol is a mixture of fine solid particles or liquid droplets in air.
  • Aerosols can be natural or anthropogenic.
  • Examples of natural aerosols are fog, forest exudates and geyser steam.
  • Examples of artificial aerosols are haze, dust, particulate air pollutants and smoke.
  • Aerosols affect climate in multiple ways. The effect of aerosols on climate is normally quantified in terms of aerosol radiative forcing.
  • Aerosol radiative forcing is defined as the effect of anthropogenic aerosols on the radiative fluxes at the top of the atmosphere (TOA) and at the surface and on the absorption of radiation within the atmosphere.
  • The effect of the total (anthropogenic + natural) aerosols is called aerosol radiative effect or total aerosol forcing.
  • Aerosol absorbs or scatters radiation in the atmosphere (so-called direct effect). Aerosols, except dust, interfere mainly with solar radiation.
  • Some aerosols act as cloud condensation nuclei (CCN), thus affecting cloud albedo and lifetime (so-called indirect effect).
  • Some of the aerosols can absorb sunlight efficiently and heat the atmosphere. This heating can burn cloud (so-called semi-direct effect).
  • Dark color aerosols can be deposited on sea ice, snow packs and glaciers, thus darkening the snow and ice surfaces, and enhancing the absorption of sunlight (so-called surface darkening effect).
  • Indirectly, they modulate Earth’s energy balance by altering cloud properties—in particular, cloud droplet size—by serving as cloud condensation nuclei, which further influence the cloud fraction, height and lifetime.
  • All these aspects result in modification of the planetary albedo and hydrological cycle.
  • Some important environmental issues, such as haze, acid rain and tropospheric ozone pollution, are also closely correlated with aerosol pollution.

11. National River Conservation Plan (NRCP) (PIB)

Context: Central Government is supplementing the efforts of the State Governments and Union Territories in addressing the challenges of pollution abatement of rivers by providing financial and technical assistance through National River Conservation Plan (NRCP) for identified polluted river stretches.

Analysis

  • The National River Conservation Directorate (NRCD) in the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change is implementing the Centrally Sponsored Schemes of National River Conservation Plan (NRCP) and National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Eco­systems’(NPCA) for conservation of rivers, lakes and wetlands in the country.
  • NRCD is only providing financial assistance under the National River Conservation Plan to the State Governments/ local bodies to set up infrastructure for pollution abatement of rivers in identified polluted river stretches based on proposals received from the State Governments/ local bodies.
  • The pollution abatement works taken up under the NRCP include:
  • Interception and diversion works/ laying of sewerage systems to capture raw sewage flowing into the rivers through open drains and diverting them for treatment;
  • Setting up of Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) for treating the diverted sewage;
  • Construction of Low Cost Sanitation Toilets to prevent open defecation on river banks;   
  • Construction of Electric Crematoria and Improved Wood Crematoria to conserve the use of wood;   
     
  • River Front Development works, such as improvement of bathing ghats. etc.  
  • The Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change is presently implementing the works for pollution abatement of rivers, other than Ganga and its tributaries.
  • Since 2014, all works relating to Ganga and its tributaries have been transferred to the Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Ministry of Jal Shakti.
  • Presently NRCP (excluding Ganga and its tributaries) has covered polluted stretches of 33 rivers.

D) Polity/Bills/Acts/Judgments

12. Centre opposes move to recognise same-sex unions (TH, pg 1)

Context: The Centre opposed before the Delhi High Court a petition seeking recognition of same-sex marriages, saying, “our legal system, society and values do not recognise marriage between same sex couples”.

Analysis

  • The Centre, said the 2018 judgment of the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court “merely decriminalises homosexuality or lesbianism, nothing more, nothing less”.
  • In September 2018, a five-judge Constitution Bench, unanimously held that criminalisation of private consensual sexual conduct between adults of the same sex under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code is unconstitutional.
  • The Supreme Court’s judgement read: “Sexual orientation is an essential attribute of privacy.
  • The ‘Right to choice of sexual orientation’ was made a part of the fundamental right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution.

E) International Relations

13. What’s next for Palestine after UAE, Bahrain deals with Israel? (TH, pg 11)

  • Context: It took more than three decades for the first Arab country (Egypt in 1979) to recognise Israel.
  • Jordan, the second Arab country that established peace with Israel, took 15 more years to do so.
  • There was a gap of 26 years between Jordan’s peace treaty and that of the UAE (in 2020) with Israel.
  • And then, it took less than 30 days for the fourth agreement — between Bahrain and Israel recently mediated by the U.S.

Analysis

Arab Peace Initiative

  • Till the UAE-Israel deal was announced in August 2020, the official Arab position on the question of Palestine was rooted in the Arab Peace Initiative, proposed by Saudi Arabia in 2002, and endorsed by the Arab League in the same year.
  • The proposal calls for normalising relations between the Arab world and Israel, in exchange for:
  • Full Israeli withdrawal from the territories it captured in the 1967 war, including the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan Heights,
  • A “just settlement” of the Palestinian refugee issue and
  • The establishment of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.
  • Since 2002, both the UAE and Bahrain have supported the Arab Peace Initiative. However, the recent agreements made by Bahrain and the UAE break with this consensus.
  • The Abraham Accords [Israel-UAE deal] require Israel only to ‘temporarily halt’ its formal annexation of the West Bank [settlements].
  • The agreement between Bahrain and Israel dispenses with the pretense altogether, making no mention of Palestinian land.
  • The Palestinians have further called for “an immediate emergency session” of the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation “to reject this declaration”.
  • This leaves the Palestinians more isolated than ever, and further weakens the already-dim prospect of a two-state solution.

F) Science and Technology

14. Scientists find ‘life harbouring’ gas on Venus (TH, pg 14)

  • The atmosphere of Venus contains traces of phosphine gas — which on Earth is associated with living organisms — scientists said in fresh insight into conditions on our nearest planetary neighbour.
  • Conditions on Venus are often described as hellish with daytime temperatures hot enough to melt lead and an atmosphere comprised almost entirely of carbon dioxide.
  • A team of experts used telescopes in Hawaii and Chile’s Atacama Desert to observe Venus’ upper cloud deck, around 60 km from the surface.
  • They detected traces of phosphine, a flammable gas that on Earth occurs from the breakdown of organic matter.
  • Writing in Nature Astronomy, the team stressed that the presence of phosphine alone did not prove the presence of life on Venus.

G) Miscellaneous

15. Occurrence of Floods (PIB)

  • Floods are natural calamity that India faces almost every year, in varying degrees of magnitude, leading to a loss of lives and property.
  • The occurrence floods can be attributed to various factors:
  1. Wide variations in rainfall both in time and space with frequent departures from the normal pattern
  2. Inadequate carrying capacities of rivers
  3. River bank erosion and silting of river beds
  4. Landslides
  5. Poor natural drainage in flood prone areas
  6. Snowmelt and glacial lake out-bursts.

16. K.N. Dikshit Committee (PIB)

  • An expert committee, under the chairmanship of K.N. Dikshit, has been set up for conducting holistic study of origin and evolution of Indian culture since 12000 years before present and its interface with other cultures of the world.

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