Pradhan Mantri Urja Ganga project
- The gas pipeline project aims to provide piped cooking gas to residents of Varanasi and later to millions of people in states like Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Odisha.
- From Varanasi’s perspective, an 800-km long MDPI pipeline will be laid and 50,000 households and 20,000 vehicles will get PNG and CNG gas respectively. The government estimates that around 5 lakh gas cylinders will be sent at rural areas annually.
- According to GAIL, with the Urja Ganga project, 20 lakh households will get PNG connections. The project is said to be a major step towards collective growth and development of the Eastern region of India.
- GAIL has built a network of trunk pipelines covering the length of around 11,000 km. With Urja Ganga project, this number will further increase by 2540 km.
Scientific Research Infrastructure Management and Networks
- The government has proposed a new policy that could transform scientific instruments in government labs into lucrative assets generating a steady rental income. The policy is called the Scientific Research Infrastructure Management and Networks (SRIMAN).
- Under the policy, the government plans to hire out to researchers all lab equipment that cost more than ₹10 lakh. This would also reduce the amount of time such expensive instruments remain idle.
- The new system, according to the policy, envisages institutions declaring on a website how often their instruments would be available for use by those outside the department or university. Those who would like to use, for example, a DNA-sequencing machine, would have to pay a fee and specify the purpose and time they would want it for.
Student Police Cadet Programme:
- Recently Union Home Minister has launched Student Police Cadet Programme.
- The programme seeks to build a bridge between the Police and the larger community through school students by inculcating values and ethics in them through classes in school and outside.
- The programme focuses on students of class 8 & 9 and special care has been taken to ensure that it does not lead to increase in the workload of the students.
- The programme does not have any prescribed text book nor is any exam envisaged. Only one class in a month is proposed.
- The programme seeks to cover broadly two kinds of topics: Crime prevention and control and Values and ethics.
- The Programme shall be at first implemented in Government schools in both urban and rural areas.
- The government of Sierra Leone has announced that a new species of Ebola, the sixth, has been discovered there in bats. It has been called, provisionally, the Bombali virus, after a district in the north of the country where it was found.
- Researchers working in joint US-West African study funded by US Aid have discovered the new strain of Ebola virus in bats in northern Bombali region of Sierra Leone.
- It’s not known whether the new strain can develop into the deadly Ebola disease if transmitted to humans.
- There’s no evidence the new virus has infected people, although EcoHealth Alliance, an environmental nonprofit group involved in the discovery, said that it has the potential to infect human cells.
National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR)
- The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) is a statutory body under the Commissions for Protection of Child Rights (CPCR) Act, 2005 under the administrative control of the Ministry of Women & Child Development, Government of India.
- The objective of this commission is to protect, promote and defend the child rights in India including the rights adopted in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Children, 1989, ratified by India in 1992.
- This convention defines the child as a human being below 18 years of age.
- This commission has a chairperson and six members of which at least two should be women.
- All of them are appointed by the Central Government for three years.
- The maximum age to serve in commission is 65 years for Chairman and 60 years for members.
- Banganga River originates from the Aravalli hills and drains into the Yamuna.
- The main tributaries are Gumti Nalla and Suri River, joining the river on its right bank, and Sanwan and Palasan Rivers, meeting the river on its left bank.
- Its basin extends over parts of Alwar, Jaipur, Dausa, Sawai Madhopur and Bharatpur Districts.
- Its eastern edge borders the Yamuna River Basin in Uttar Pradesh.
- Recently Ministry of Road Transport & Highways has accorded in principle approval for the inter-state high-level bridge on the Banganga river.
- “Mission Satyanishtha” launched on July 27 aims at sensitizing all railway employees about the need to adhere to good ethics and to maintain high standards of integrity at work.
- The objectives of the Mission are:
- To train every employee to understand the need and value of ethics in Personal and Public life.
- To deal with ethical dilemmas in life and Public Governance.
- To help understand the policies of Indian Railways on ethics and integrity and the employee’s role in upholding the same.
- To develop inner governance through tapping inner resources.
National Viral Hepatitis Control Program
- Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare in collaboration with the World Health Organisation, launched the National Viral Hepatitis Control Program to mark the World Hepatitis Day, 2018.
- It is a part of the National Health Mission.
- The goal is to end viral hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030.
- The aim of the initiative is to reduce morbidity and mortality due to viral hepatitis.
- The key strategies include:
- Preventive and promotive interventions with the focus on awareness generation.
- Safe injection practices and sociocultural practices.
- Sanitation and hygiene.
- Safe drinking water supply.
- Infection control and immunization.
- Treatment centres will be designated to provide free anti-viral to hepatitis C patients and hepatitis B vaccine to babies born to mothers carrying the virus within 24 hours of birth.
Unified Payments Interface
- SEBI has recently proposed allowing investors to use the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) while bidding for shares in initial public offerings.
- The aim is to reduce the timeline of public issues to T+3, wherein the equity shares would be listed on the exchanges on the third day from the day the IPO closes for the subscription.
About Unified Payments Interface
- Unified Payments Interface is a payment system through which investors can link more than one bank account in their smartphone app and make fund transfers instantly without having to provide IFSC code or account number.
- An investor will only have to use a virtual address, known as a Virtual Payment Address (VPA), which is like our email ID, to carry out the transaction. VPA is an identifier that is created by the user by linking his bank account to the mobile payment application.
- UPI, which was developed by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), is regulated by the RBI.
- Some of the UPI apps available are BHIM, PhonePe and Google Tez.
- An outbreak of kala azar was recently reported from the kozhikode district, after two months of Nipah virus outbreak.
- Visceral leishmaniasis (VL), also known as kala-azar, is caused by the protozoan Leishmania parasites.
- It is transmitted to humans through infected sandflies.
- It is characterized by irregular bouts of fever, weight loss, enlargement of the spleen and liver, and anaemia.
- The parasite migrates to the internal organs such as the liver, spleen, and bone marrow, and, if left untreated, may result in the death.
- It is endemic to the Indian subcontinent in 119 districts in four countries (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal).
- India itself accounts for half the global burden of the disease.
- India has missed the 2017 deadline for elimination of Kala Azar.
- Elimination is defined as reducing the annual incidence of Kala Azar to less than 1 case per 10,000 people at the subdistrict level.
- It is believed to be a super massive black hole in the Milky Way Galaxy.
- It is 4 million times heavier than sun.
- The gravity produced by it is so intense that stars many times more massive than our sun orbit around it at incredible speeds.
- One of the stars, called S2, recently passed by the black hole at a speed of nearly 3% of the speed of light.
- The passerby of the S2 was observed by Very Large Telescope of European Space Agency.
- It proved Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity is correct.
- Einstein predicted that when light (such as the light emitted from S2) passed so close to such a powerful source of gravity, it would lose some of its energy.
- In a way, the light has to struggle to move through the field of intense gravity.
- The light form S2 star has shown that it does lose some of its energy during its passage around the Black Hole.
- It is the software to detect plagiarism (Stealing and publication of another author’s ideas or expressions) in research.
- Union Human Resource Development Minister has recently asserted that this software will be provided to all universities free of cost.
World Meteorological Organisation
- WMO was created in 1950 as an intergovernmental organization.
- It became a specialized agency of the United Nations, in 1951, for meteorology (weather and climate), operational hydrology and related geophysical sciences.
- It is the UN system‘s authoritative voice on weather, climate and water.
- Its secretariat is located in Geneva, Switzerland and is headed by the Secretary-General.
- Through its members, WMO provides forecasts and early warnings to nations, which help prevent and mitigate disasters.
- It WMO monitors and forecast the transport of chemical and oil spills, forest fires, volcanic ash, haze and nuclear isotopes.
- It also draws world attention to the depletion of the ozone layer.
Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS)
- TESS is NASA’s latest satellite to search for planets outside our solar system, known as exoplanets.
- The mission will spend the next two years monitoring the nearest and brightest stars for “Transits”.
- Transits are events which denote a periodic dips in light of the star when a planet pass in front of it.
- It was launched in April this year and it has now started its search for planets around nearby stars.
- It is expected to transmit its first series of science data back to Earth in August, and thereafter periodically every 13.5 days.
- It is the next step in the search for planets outside of our solar system, including those that could support life.
- A FASTag is a reloadable tag that automatically deducts toll charges and allows a vehicle to pass through a toll gate without stopping for the payment.
- It uses radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to make cashless payments through a prepaid account linked to it.
- The tag is fixed to the windscreen of a vehicle and an RFID antenna in the canopy of the toll gate scans the QR code and lifts the barrier to allow a vehicle to pass through.
- The tag is valid for five years.
- It is coded in 7 different colors, each is assigned to a particular category of vehicles.
- It is mandatory for cars and trucks sold after December 1, 2017 to be fitted with a FASTag.
- Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has also proposed to make FASTag compulsory for all commercial vehicles seeking a national permit.
- National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) has a mobile application for FASTag that allows users to buy and recharge these tags as well as seek information on toll rates on different routes.
- It also allows the cab operators to track the movement of their vehicles as they receive SMS alerts.
- Users are refunded 5% of the total toll paid by them in a given month.
Additional Surveillance Measures
- Additional Surveillance Measures (ASM) was introduced recently by SEBI.
- It is a surveillance method in which SEBI impose trading curbs on excessively volatile stocks in the Indian market.
- For example, if the “Spread” – Price variation of a stock between the high and low price, in the last three months is 200 per cent or more, then it will be placed under ASM.
- Once a stock is caught in the ASM net, it attracts a bunch of stricter exchange rules on intra-day price movements.
- Such curbs discourage speculators and intra-day traders from taking heavy positions in stocks and will result in stock prices to drop.
- Stocks of PSUs, securities with derivative products and stocks under Graded Surveillance Measureare exempted from ASM net.
- It is a part of Indonesian group of Islands and located to the east of Bali.
- An earthquake of 6.4 magnitude has recently struck the island and triggered landslides in a volcano Mt. Rinjani.
- The volcano, which rises 3,726m (12,224ft) above sea level and is the second-highest one in Indonesia.
- Indonesia is prone to earthquakes because it lies on the “Ring of Fire”.
- Ring of Fire is the line of frequent quakes and volcanic eruptions that circles virtually the entire Pacific rim.
Central Road and Infrastructure Fund (CRIF)
- The administrative control of Central Road and Infrastructure Fund (CRIF) has been transferred to the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA), Finance Ministry. So far, it was under the domain of Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.
- Over the last one and a half decade, the Central Road Fund (CRF) was a major revenue for the government to finance ambitious road projects. The CRF launched in 2000 is basically a cess imposed along with excise duty on petrol and diesel.
- The cess revenue was accrued to the CRF which was uniquely created and out of this major road projects were financed ever since its launch.
International Tiger Day
- Global Tiger Day, often called International Tiger Day, is an annual celebration to raise awareness for tiger conservation, held annually on 29 July.
- It was created in 2010 at the Saint Petersburg Tiger Summit.
- The goal of the day is to promote a global system for protecting the natural habitats of tigers and to raise public awareness and support for tiger conservation issues.
- The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has launched the M-STrIPES (Monitoring System for Tigers – Intensive Protection and Ecological Status), a mobile monitoring system for forest guards.
- At the St. Petersburg Tiger Summit in 2010, leaders of 13 tiger range countries resolved to do more for the tiger and embarked on efforts to double its number in the wild, with a popular slogan ‘T X 2’. The Global Tiger Initiative (GTI) program of the World Bank, using its presence and convening ability, brought global partners together to strengthen the tiger agenda.
- Over the years, the initiative has institutionalised itself as a separate entity in the form of the Global Tiger Initiative Council (GTIC), with its two arms – the Global Tiger Forum and the Global Snow Leopard Ecosystem Protection Program.
- The Project Tiger, launched way back in 1973, has grown to more than 50 reserves amounting to almost 2.2% of the country’s geographical area.
Inter-Creditor Agreement (ICA)
- The inter-creditor agreement is aimed at the resolution of loan accounts with a size of ₹50 crore and above that are under the control of a group of lenders.
- It is part of the “Sashakt” plan approved by the government to address the problem of resolving bad loans.
- The agreement is based on a recommendation by the Sunil Mehta committee that looked into resolution of stressed assets.
- Recently more than 50 banks and financial institutions in India have entered into an inter-creditor agreement to speed up the resolution of stressed assets of Rs 50 crore and above that are under consortium lending.
- Invest India is the National Investment Promotion and Facilitation Agency of India and acts as the first point of reference for investors in India.
- Invest India is set up as a non profit venture under the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, Ministry of Commerce and Industries, Government of India.
- Operationalized in early 2010, Invest India is set up as a joint venture company between the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP), Ministry of Commerce & Industry (35% equity), Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) (51% equity), and State Governments of India (0.5% each).
- The core mandate of Invest India is investment promotion and facilitation.
- It provides sector-specific and state-specific information to a foreign investor, assists in expediting regulatory approvals, and offers hand-holding services.
- Its mandate also includes assisting Indian investors to make informed choices about investment opportunities overseas.
- An intentionally or unintentionally introduced species that has adapted to and reproduces successfully in its new environment.
- Naturalised species reproduce naturally in the environments they colonise. Invasive species do this so prolifically that they alter the workings of the natural ecosystems they colonise or invade.
- An international team — including scientists from India — have collated information on alien plant species from several sources, ranging from online plant lists to old compilations of India’s national and regional flora. They found that as many as 471 plant species that are alien or exotic — not native to India — are ‘naturalised,’ for they can thrive in the country’s wildernesses by forming stable populations.
- Scientists have developed the first lists of naturalised plants for each State; these lists reveal that 110 alien plants now naturally occur in more than 31 States in India.
- At 332, Tamil Nadu has the highest number of naturalised exotics, followed by Kerala (290), while Lakshadweep has the least (17).
- The distribution across Indian States of over 20 of these naturalised species (in the list of 471) is unknown.
- A majority of these naturalised plants are herbs such as the invasive Siam weed Chromolaena odorata, native to south and central America.
- The new list shows that many exotic species are now part of our natural flora.
- More than 13,000 plant species are now naturalised in ecosystems across the world due to human activity; many of these later turn invasive and impact local flora and fauna.
- Last year, a study identified India as one of the ‘hotspots’ of naturalised plant species and among the seven regions in the world that have the highest number of invasive species.
- The ENVIS Centre on Floral Diversity hosted by the BSI lists more than 170 invasive plant species in India.