Global Coalition of the Willing on Pollinators
- Recently Nigeria became the 4th African country to join the “Global Coalition of the Willing on Pollinators”
- This Coalition was formed to follow up on the findings of IPBES assessment on Pollinators and Food Production.
- This agreement is a stepping stone to protect pollinators and their habitats.
- The coalition now has 28 signatories including,
- 17 European countries,
- 5 from Latin America and the Caribbean and
- 4 from Africa.
- Joining the coalition means adopting the following measures-
- Taking action to protect pollinators and their habitats.
- Sharing experience and lessons learnt in developing and implementing national pollinator strategies.
- Reaching out to seek collaboration with a broad spectrum of stakeholders.
- Developing research on pollinator conservation.
- Supporting and collaborating with each other and those parties that are willing to join the coalition.
- Pollinator-dependent species include several fruits, vegetables, oil crops, which are major sources of nutrients to humans.
- The availability of pollinators helps in crop production in terms of both quantity and quality.
- Protecting pollinators will be important for addressing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) –
- SDG 2 (zero hunger),
- SDG 15 (life on land),
- SDG 3 (good health and well-being)
- Equalisation Levy was introduced in India in 2016, with the intention of taxing the digital transactions i.e. the income accruing to foreign e-commerce companies from India.
- It is aimed at taxing business to business (B2B) transactions.
- Equalisation Levy is a direct tax, which is withheld at the time of payment by the service recipient. The two conditions to be met to be liable to equalisation levy:
- The payment should be made to a non-resident service provider;
- The annual payment made to one service provider exceeds Rs. 1, 00,000 in one financial year.
- The following services covered:
- Online advertisement;
- Any provision for digital advertising space or facilities/ service for the purpose of online advertisement;
- Currently the applicable rate of tax is 6% of the gross consideration to be paid.
- The fiscal deficit is the excess of total budget expenditure over total budget receipts excluding borrowings during a fiscal year.
- Fiscal deficit is defined as all expenditure minus total receipts except borrowings. Actually, fiscal deficit represents the total borrowing requirements of the central government.
- Most importantly, fiscal deficit indicate the financial health of the budget and that of the government. Higher fiscal deficit thus becomes a matter of concern. On the other hand, a manageable fiscal deficit is a welcome sign.
National Time Release Study:
- The exercise will be institutionalized on an annual basis, during the same period every year hereafter.
- The TRS is an internationally recognized tool advocated by World Customs Organization to measure the efficiency and effectiveness of international trade flows.
- This initiative will measure rule based and procedural bottlenecks (including physical touch points) in the clearance of goods, from the time of arrival until the physical release of cargo.
- Expected beneficiaries of this initiative will be export oriented industries and MSMEs, who will enjoy greater standardization of Indian processes with comparable international standards.
- This initiative will help India maintain the upward trajectory on Ease of Doing Business, particularly on the Trading Across Borders indicator which measures the efficiency of the cross border trade ecosystem. Last year India’s ranking on the indicator improved from 146 to 80.
- The exercise will be conducted at the same time across 15 ports including sea, air, land and dry ports which cumulatively account for 81% of total Bills of Entries for import and 67% of Shipping Bills for export filed within India.
- Based on the results of the TRS, government agencies associated with cross border trade will be able to diagnose existing and potential bottlenecks which act as barriers to the free flow of trade.
UN Convention on International Settlement Agreements
- The Union Cabinet approved the signing of the United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements resulting from mediation by India.
- It is also known as Singapore Convention on Mediation.
- It was adopted by UN General Assembly (UNGA) in December 2018.
- The Convention provides a uniform and efficient framework for the enforcement of international settlement agreements resulting from mediation and for allowing parties to invoke such agreements, akin to the framework that the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (New York, 1958) (the “New York Convention”) provides for arbitral awards.
- The Convention defines two additional grounds upon which a court may, on its own motion, refuse to grant relief. Those grounds relate to the fact that a dispute would not be capable of settlement by mediation or would be contrary to public policy.
- Signing of the Convention will boost the confidence of the investors and shall provide a positive signal to foreign investors about India’s commitment to adhere to international practice on Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).
IMMUVAC and VPM1002
- Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) launched India’s first large-scale trial for two new tuberculosis (TB) vaccines named IMMUVAC and VPM1002.
- These vaccines aim to prevent infection (pre-exposure) or prevent primary progression or reactivation of latent TB infection (post-exposure), all of which have critical role to play in India’s big fight against TB. Both vaccines have been manufactured by Indian pharmaceutical companies.
- Immuvac: It is also known as mycobacterium indicus pranii (MIP).
Skills Strengthening for Industrial Value Enhancement (STRIVE):
- It is a World Bank assisted-Government of India project with the objective of improving the relevance and efficiency of skills training provided through Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) and apprenticeships.
- The schemes aim to develop a robust mechanism for delivering quality skill development training by strengthening institutions such as State Skill Development Missions (SSDMs), National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), Sector Skill Councils (SSCs), ITIs and National Skill Development Agency (NSDA) etc.
- The schemes shall support universalization of National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF) including National Quality Assurance Framework (NQAF) across the skill development schemes of central and state governments thus ensuring standardization in skill delivery, content and training output.
- It is a Central Sector Scheme (CSS) covering the following areas:
- Improved performance of ITI.
- Increased Capacities of State Governments to support ITIs and Apprenticeship Training
- Improved Teaching and Learning.
- Improved and Broadened Apprenticeship Training.
Canine Distemper Virus (CDV)
- Canine distemper is a contagious and serious disease caused by a virus that attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal and nervous systems of puppies and dogs.
- It can be transmitted from CDV-infected dogs living in and around wildlife sanctuaries.
Quick Reaction Surface-to-Air Missile (QRSAM)
- India test-fires Quick Reaction Surface-to-Air Missile.
- The state-of-the-art missile has been developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for the India Army.
- QRSAM uses solid-fuel propellant and has a range of 25-30 km.
- It is a sophisticated all-weather and all-terrain missile.
- It can be mounted on a truck and stored in a canister.
- It is equipped with electronic counter measures against jamming by aircraft radars.
- The first trial of the QSRAM was conducted on June 4, 2017.
- The system is being developed for the Army with search and track on move capability with very short reaction time.
- The systems are equipped with indigenously developed phased array radar, inertial navigation system, data link and radio frequency seeker.
Impacting Research Innovation and Technology (IMPRINT) India
- Union HRD Minister inaugurates TechEx a technology exhibition organized to demonstrate products and prototypes developed under IMPRINT and UAY.
- A national initiative of the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD).
- IMPRINT is a first-of-its-kind Pan-IIT and IISc joint initiative to develop a (a) New Education Policy, and (b) Roadmap for Researchto solve major engineering and technology challenges in selected domains needed by the country.
- The first phase of IMPRINT is dedicated to creating a policy document defining the scope, strategy and mandate for pursuing engineering challenges in the country and not developing a specific technological product or process. The real engineering pursuit will ensue in the second phase.
- Under the IMPRINT-I Programme, 142 projects are already under implementation. These projects cover crucial domains like security and defence, information technology, energy, sustainable habitat, advance materials, health care, nano technology, climate change, etc.
- Identify areas of immediate relevance that requires innovation in the society.
- Ensure support and higher funding for research for identified areas.
- Measure outcomes of innovation and research efforts and its impact on people’s standard of living.
- It is one of the folk art form belongs to the Kongu region (Coimbatore, Erode, Salem) of Tamil Nadu.
- It is the ‘Rhythm of celebration’ and are played at temple festivals.
- The instrument ‘thudumbu’, locally known as jamab, kidumutti, thidumam, uruti and chera thudumbu.
- The origin of the name thudumbu has been attributed to the ‘Thudumbars’, a tribal community.
- They are living in Pollachi, Mettupalayam, Karamadai, Nilgris and Kovai areas.
- This community used to serve and entertain the Chola, Chera and the Pandya kings, who went for ‘vana bhojana’ in the forests.
- The thudumbu was also played to chase away the wild animals.
- It was also said tha ‘thudumbu’ was introduced by the Vijayanagar empire.
- The bowl-shaped thudumbu that resembles the bayan of the tabla is made of mud.
- Its single face is covered with skin and connected with chords to the bottom of the instrument.
- It is either hung over the waist of the performer and played or held between the legs and played with two sticks.
- It is mostly performed by a group of men.
- This instrument has found its way to Kerala, where it is known as the ‘thambolam melam’.
- This is performed during festivals in and around Palakkad, Koyyamarakkadu and Attapadi and Kizhakkumpattukara.
Ken-Betwa River Interlinking Project:
- Ken-Betwa River Interlinking Project is India’s first interstate river interlinking project which aims to connect the rivers Ken in Madhya Pradesh and Betwa in Uttar Pradesh.
- Through the project the government aims to transfer surplus water from the Ken River in MP to Betwa in UP to irrigates the drought-prone Bundelkhand region spread across the two states.
- The project will also generate 78 MW of power.
Difference between BS-IV and the new BS-VI:
- The major difference in standards between the existing BS-IV and the new BS-VI auto fuel norms is the presence of sulphur.
- The newly introduced fuel is estimated to reduce the amount of sulphur released by 80%, from 50 parts per million to 10 ppm.
- As per the analysts, the emission of NOx (nitrogen oxides) from diesel cars is also expected to reduce by nearly 70% and 25% from cars with petrol engines.
- In BS-VI fuel, the volume of PM 2.5 ranges from 20 to 40 micrograms per cubic metre whereas in BS-IV fuel it is up to 120 micrograms per cubic metre.
- Skills Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion (SANKALP) project focuses on skill development.
- It is programme of ‘Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship’.
- It is an outcome oriented project supported by ‘World Bank’.
- It aims to implement the mandate of the National Skill Development Mission (NSDM).
- It focuses on district level skilling ecosystem through seamless convergence and coordination.
- It has a special focus on decentralised planning and quality improvement.
- It covers the overall skilling ecosystem of both Central & State agencies.
- Four key areas identified under the scheme are,
- Institutional Strengthening (National,State&District level)
- Quality Assurance of skill development programs
- Inclusion of marginalised population in skill development and
- Expanding Skills through Public Private Partnerships (PPPs).
- New mobile app launched to assist farmers.
- The Ministries of Earth Sciences and Agriculture have launched a mobile application that will provide location, and crop and livestock-specific weather-based agro advisories to farmers in local languages.
- It will provide forecast relating to temperature, rainfall, humidity, and wind speed and direction, which play critical roles in agricultural operations and advisories to the farmers on how to take care of their crops and livestock.
- The information would be updated twice a week on Tuesdays and Fridays.
- It has been developed by experts from the India Meteorological Department and Indian Institute of Tropical meteorology and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research.
Nauradehi wildlife sanctuary
- The Supreme Court recently appeared willing to green light National Tiger Conservation Authority’s
proposal to experimentally introduce African cheetahs in Indian jungles.
- Location – Madhya Pradesh
- It is a potential site for the Cheetah Reintroduction Programme in India.
- Cheetahs being translocated from Namibia.
United Nations Industrial Development Organization
- UNIDO is an UN coordinating body central to the promotion of industrial development, poverty reduction and environmental sustainability.
- Its mission is to promote Inclusive and sustainable industrial development (ISID) in was described in the ‘Lima Declaration’.
- In 1999, then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee laid the foundation stone for the Golden Quadrilateral (GQ) Highway project.
- The Golden Quadrilateral is the longest road project in India and the fifth-longest highway in the world.
- It connects four major cities: Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata.
- The GQ project is managed by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) under the Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways.
- The Golden Quadrilateral constitutes only the national highways of the country and not state highways and rural-urban roadways.
Mother’s absolute affection(Maa)
- MAA – “Mother’s Absolute Affection” is a nationwide programme of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in an attempt to bring undiluted focus on promotion of breastfeeding and provision of counselling services for supporting breastfeeding through health systems.
- The programme has been named ‘MAA’ to signify the support a lactating mother requires from family members and at health facilities to breastfeed successfully.
Khadi and Village Industry Commission (KVIC):
- The Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) is a statutory body formed by the Government of India, under the Act of Parliament, ‘Khadi and Village Industries Commission Act of 1956’.
- It is an apex organization under the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, with regard to khadi and village industries within India.
- Its head office is based in Mumbai, with its six zonal offices in Delhi, Bhopal, Bangalore, Kolkata, Mumbai and Guwahati.
- The Commission has three main objectives which guide its functioning. These are –
- The Social Objective – Providing employment in rural areas
- The Economic Objective – Providing saleable articles
- The Wider Objective – Creating self-reliance amongst people and building up a strong rural community spirit.
Universal Immunization Programme
- Immunization is the process whereby a person is made immune or resistant to an infectious disease, typically by the administration of a vaccine.
- Vaccines are substances that stimulate the body’s own immune system to protect the person against subsequent infection or disease.
- Immunization Programmein India was introduced in 1978 as ‘Expanded Programme of Immunization’ (EPI) by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India.
- In 1985, the programme was modified as ‘Universal Immunization Programme’ (UIP) to be implemented in phased manner to cover all districts in the country by 1989-90 with the one of largest health programme in the world.
- Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India provides several vaccines to infants, children and pregnant women through the Universal Immunisation Programme.
- In 2014, the Indian government announced the decision to introduce four new vaccines as part of India’s Universal Immunization Programme (UIP).
- These vaccines are introduced against polio (injectable), rotavirus, rubella and an adult vaccine against Japanese encephalitis.
- Before this, in 2011, a vaccine against Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) was introduced as part of the pentavalent vaccine to contain tetanus, diphtheria, hepatitis B, pertussis, and Hib.
- The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) had launched RUCO (Repurpose Used Cooking Oil), an initiative that will enable collection and conversion of used cooking oil to bio-diesel.
- FSSAI believes India has the potential to recover 220 crore litres of used cooking oil for the production of biodiesel by 2022 through a co-ordinated action.
- The initiative has been launched nearly a month after the food safety regulator notified standards for used cooking oil. According to FSSAI regulations, the maximum permissible limits for Total Polar Compounds (TPC) have been set at 25%, beyond which the cooking oil is unsafe for consumption
- In many countries, TPC is used to measure the quality of oil. The level of TPC increases every time oil is re-heated. Some of the studies show that TPC accumulation in oil without food is slower than that in oil frying with food