Swastha Bharat Yatra
- The government has launched a national campaign ‘Swastha Bharat Yatra’ on the World Food Day under which a pan-India cycle rally is being organised to sensitize people about eating safe food and be healthy.
- The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is leading this campaign where about 7,500 cyclists are expected to participate in over 18,000 km relay.
- The cycle rally will travel across six tracks through almost every state and UT over 100 days to propagate a powerful message ‘Eat Right India’.
- The cyclathon will culminate in the national capital on January 27.
- Along with a bicycle convoy, there will be ‘Eat Right Mobile Unit’ and ‘Mobile Food Testing Unit’ to build awareness around food safety, combating food adulteration and healthy diets.
- In all, over 7,500 volunteer cyclists would stop at 2,000+ locations and conduct in-city and en-route activities and ‘Prabhat Pheris’ to propagate the message of Eat Right India.
Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE)
- It is an autonomous agency under the MoEFCC.
- Headquartered in Dehradun, its functions are to conduct forestry research; transfer the technologies developed to the states of India and other user agencies; and to impart forestry education.
- The council has 9 research institutes and 4 advanced centres to cater to the research needs of different bio-geographical regions.
- These are located at Dehradun, Shimla, Ranchi, Jorhat, Jabalpur, Jodhpur, Bangalore, Coimbatore, Allahabad, Chhindwara, Aizawl, Hyderabad and Agartala.
- Currently ICFRE is focusing on contemporary issues of national and international importance particularly in the areas of climate change, forest productivity, bio-diversity conservation and skill development.
Cambrian Explosion & Biomarkers
- It refers to the sudden appearance in the fossil record of complex animals with mineralized skeletal remains 541 million years ago.
- Researchers have found the oldest clue to the mystery of animal life in ancient rocks and oils dating back at least 100 million years before the famous Cambrian explosion of animal fossils.
- Researchers at the University of California tracked molecular signs of animal life, called biomarkers, as far back as 660-635 million years ago during the Neoproterozoic era.
- In ancient rocks and oils from India, Oman, Siberia, they found a steroid compound produced only by sponges, which are among the earliest forms of animal life.
- The research looked for distinctive and stable biomarkers that indicate the existence of sponges and other early animals, rather than single-celled organisms that dominated the earth for billions of years.
- The biomarker identified, a steroid compound named 26-methylstigmastane (26-mes), has a unique structure that is currently only known to be synthesized by certain species of modern sponges called demosponges.
- This is the first evidence that demosponges, and hence multicellular animals, were thriving in ancient seas at least as far back as 635 million years ago.
- This adds among the earliest forms of animal life existed in that period.
Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas (JNVs)
- JNVs are fully residential and co-educational schools affiliated to Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) with classes from VI to XII standard.
- They are run by Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti, New Delhi, an autonomous organization under the Department of School Education and Literacy, Ministry of HRD.
- JNVs are specifically tasked with finding talented children in rural areas of India and providing them with an education equivalent to the best residential school system, without regard to their families’ socio-economic condition.
- Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti was established with the primary objective to provide modern quality education to talented children, predominantly from the rural areas, without regard to their family’s socio-economic condition.
- JNVs exist all over India, with the exception of Tamil Nadu, where anti Hindi movements were widespread during past times.
- The Kendriya Vidyalayas are a system of central government schools in India that are instituted under the aegis of the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD).
- The system came into being in 1963 under the name ‘Central Schools’. Later, the name was changed to Kendriya Vidyalaya.
- All the schools are affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE).
- Its objective is to educate children of the Indian Defence Services personnel who are often posted to remote locations.
- With the army starting its own Army Public Schools, the service was extended (but not restricted) to all central government employees.
- A uniform curriculum is followed by these schools all over India.
- By providing a common syllabus and system of education, the KVs are intended to ensure that the children of government employees do not face education disadvantages when their parents are transferred from one location to another.
Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM)
- The Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) is an intergovernmental process established in 1996 to foster dialogue and cooperation between Asia and Europe.
- The initial ASEM partnership in 1996 consisted of 15 EU member states and 7 ASEAN member states plus China, Japan, Korea and the European Commission.
- Presently it comprises 53 partners: 30 European and 21 Asian countries, the European Union and the ASEAN Secretariat.
- ASEM addresses political, economic, social, cultural, and educational issues of common interest, in a spirit of mutual respect and equal partnership.
The main components of the ASEM process rest on the following 3 pillars:
- Political & Security Pillar
- Economic & Financial Pillar
- Social, Cultural & Educational Pillar
- The ubiquitous marigold will be the symbol of India’s sacrifices when the world marks the centenary of the end of the First World War on November 11.
- The marigold was chosen because it is easily and widely available and also because saffron is often seen as a colour of sacrifice.
- The First World War ended with the signing of the armistice on November 11, 1918.
- The marigold has also been used across the UK, along with the poppy, as part of community engagement projects that seek to highlight India’s contribution in the First World War.
- In India, the India Gate was built as the focal point to the Remembrance with the names of over 72,000 soldiers inscribed over it.
- ‘India Remembers’ project initiated by the USI ( United Service Institution of India) proposed that the marigold flower join the poppy as a uniquely Indian symbol of remembrance.
Green Climate Fund
- It is a fund within the framework of UNFCCC.
- It was set up by the 194 countries who are parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2010.
- It is founded to assist developing countries in adaptation and mitigation practices to counter climate change.
- World Bank is chosen as a temporary trustee of the fund.
- It is headquartered in Incheon, South Korea.
- It is intended to be the centerpiece of efforts to raise Climate Finance of $100 billion a year by 2020.
GEF (Global Environment Facility)
- The Global Environment Facility was established in October 1991 as a $1 billion pilot program in the World Bank to assist in the protection of the global environment and to promote environmentally sustainable development.
- In 1992, at the Rio Earth Summit, the GEF was restructured and moved out of the World Bank system to become a permanent, separate institution.
- Since 1994, however, the World Bank has served as the Trustee of the GEF Trust Fund and provided administrative services.
- Currently, the GEF is the largest public funder of projects to improve the global environment.
- The GEF also serves as the financial mechanism for the following conventions:
(a) CBD Convention on Biological Diversity
(b) United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
(c) UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)
(d) Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)
(e) Minamata Convention on Mercury
- At its 51st meeting in October 2016, the GEF Council initiate discussions on the seventh replenishment of resources of the GEF Trust Fund (GEF-7).
Dharma Guardian- 2018
- It is the first ever joint military exercise involving the Indian Army and Japan Ground Self Defence Force at Counter Insurgency Warfare School, Vairengte, India.
- It will help to promote Military cooperation between India and Japan.
- Exercise ‘DHARMA GUARDIAN-2018 will contribute immensely in developing mutual understanding and respect for each other’s militaries.
- It has also facilitated tracking the worldwide phenomenon of terrorism.
- Carnot Prize is named after French physicist Nicolas Sadi Carnot who recognised that the power of the steam engine would “produce a great revolution” in human development.
- The Carnot Prize is intended to honour those leading revolutions in energy policy to further progress and prosperity.
Fasal Bima Yojana Scheme
- NITI Aayog has recently announced a cash back proposal for Fasal Bima Yojana scheme.
- NITI Aayog has proposed that 75% of the premium paid by farmers under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) will be returned to them if they don’t file claims for crop damages for four-six consecutive agricultural seasons.
- It would help to attract more farmers into the insurance fold.
- Presently just 29% of the 12 crore farmers/cultivators in the country are covered under the crop insurance scheme.
- The government e estimated Rs 10,000 crore lying with insurers over the last two kharif seasons as an undue benefit accruing to the insurers at the cost of the farmer.
- It is because the agriculture is a high-risk activity given so much of it rain-dependent.
- This risk will increasingly get worse with climate change impact worsening.
- Those farmers who are receiving the payments against their claim with a significant lag, and given agri-households’ dependence on harvest incomes, such lags could actually be eroding farmers’ trust in the scheme.
- The famer pay only just a fifth of the premium and the center pay the rest but delay on the part of state in paying their share of the premium is the main problem.
- The Centre’s steps to improve compliance by insurers and close-fisted state government’s farmers need to be paid 12% interest by insurance companies for any delay in settlement of claims beyond two months of the prescribed cut-off date.
- States will have to pay 12% interest for the delay in release of their share of premium beyond three months.
- The New South Wales Parliament in Sydney, Australia for the first time ever celebrated Telangana culture and its identity.
- The celebration was also a chance to promote Pochampally handloom weavers, who are fighting against all odds to save the handloom industry.
- Bathukamma is floral festival celebrated predominantly by the Hindu women of Telangana and some parts of Andhra Pradesh.
- Bathukamma represents the cultural spirit of Telangana.
- Bathukamma is a beautiful flower stack, arranged with different unique seasonal flowers most of them with medicinal values, in seven concentric layers in the shape of temple gopuram.
- The European Space Agency (ESA) is gearing up to launch one of the world’s most challenging interplanetary missions to Mercury in collaboration with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.
- ESA’s BepiColombo will be the first mission that will use two orbiters to explore the innermost planet of our solar system from a distance of 400km from the planet.
- A UK-built spacecraft will determine if the nearest planet to the Sun contains water.
- The mission will send two orbiters to explore the fiery world where the surface temperatures reach about 4500
- Nasa had earlier launched Mariner 10 in 1973 and Messenger in 2004 to explore Mercury.
1st smoke-free State in India
- Kerala is one of the States with the highest penetration of LPG, which help in transforming their lifestyles.
- Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana initiated by the Ministry of Petroleum aimed at providing 50 million free LPG connections to women in poor households.
- It will reduce the Carbon footprint in the environment which is the biggest threat of global warming.
- Bitcoin, the most popular cryptocurrency, has got its first ATM in India amid the repetitive warnings from the Reserve Bank of India and Finance Minister with regard to its validity in the country.
- The first of its kind Kiosk Bitcoin ATM was provided by Unocoin, a blockchain solution provider.
- According to Unocoin, users can withdraw Indian rupee obtained on selling the cryptocurrencies on its platform.