- The Indian Coast Guard ship ‘Vajra’, was decommissioned in Paradip.
- The Indian Coast Guard ship rendered three decades of service in maritime security along the northeast coastal waters.
- The ship monitored the coastal activities along with Odisha and West Bengal.
- It was built by Mazagon Dock, named ‘Vajra‘, after the weapon of Lord Indra, and commissioned on 1988.
Eravikulum National Park
- Eravikulam National Park is located in the Kannan Devan Hills of the Southern Western Ghats in the Idukki District, Kerala State.
- In the local language, Eravikulam denotes streams and pools.
- The highest peak in peninsular India, Anamudi (2695 m), is situated in this park.
- Three major types of plant communities found in the park are: Grasslands, Shrub Land and Shola Forests.
- Neelakurunji ,a plant endemic to the Western Ghats, blooms once every 12 years is found in this national park.
- It also is home to and the sanctuary of the Nilgiri tahr, an endangered goat species.
- The catchment area of three important rivers, Periyar, Chalakudy and Pambar is located in this area.
- The Muthuvans are the indigenous people, who have traditionally been associated with the management of the park.
NITI Aayog and Competitive federalism
NITI Aayog, as the premier ‘think-tank’ of the Government of India has been crucial in navigating and charting the course of the country in matters of national and international importance on the economic front, dissemination of best practices from within the country and from other nations, the infusion of new policy ideas and specific issue-based support.
- SATH: NITI Aayog has launched SATH, a program providing ‘Sustainable Action for Transforming Human capital’ with the State Governments. The vision of the program is to initiate transformation in the education and health sectors. SATH aims to identify and build three future ‘role model’ states each for health and education systems (NITI Aayog has selected Uttar Pradesh, Assam, and Karnataka to improve healthcare delivery and key outcomes. In Education, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, and Jharkhand have been selected for support to better learning outcomes.)
- Samavesh is a programme launched by the NITI Aayog to link together various lead Knowledge and Research Institutions.
- Champions of Change is an initiative organised by NITI Aayog to “transform India through G2B (Government-to-Business) partnership”.
- Introduction of Digital Transformation Index and Innovation Index for ranking states
- Launch of the Health Index, which is to become an annual exercise across the country evaluating health outcomes.
- Organized extensive workshops for consultation with States and UTs on indices
- Sustainable Action for Transforming Human Capital (SATH): handholding for states to develop key indicators across areas of health and education
- School Education Quality Index (SEQI), Composite Water Management Index
Sustainable Development Goals
- As nodal body for monitoring implementation of SDGs, KPI created by NITI Aayog to assess progress of states
- The main tributaries of River Mahanadi include the Seonath, the Hasdeo, the Mand and the Ib (which join from the left) and the Ong, the Tel and the Jonk (which join from right).
- The Mahanadi basin extends over states of Chhattisgarh and Odisha and comparatively smaller portions of Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, draining an area of 1,41,589 Sq.km which is nearly 4.3% of the total geographical area of the country.
- The geographical extent of the basin lies between 80°28’ and 86°43’ east longitudes and 19°8’ and 23°32’ north latitudes.
- The basin has maximum length and width of 587 km and 400 km.
- It is bounded by the Central India hills on the north, by the Eastern Ghats on the south and east and by the Maikala range on the west. The Mahanadi is one of the major rivers of the country and among the peninsular rivers, in water potential and flood producing capacity, it ranks second to the Godavari. It originates from a pool, 6 km from Farsiya village of Dhamtari district of Chhattisgarh.
- The total length of the river from origin to its outfall into the Bay of Bengal is 851 km.
- The Seonath, the Hasdeo, the Mand and the Ib joins Mahanadi from left whereas the Ong, the Tel and the Jonk joins it from right.
- Six other small streams between the Mahanadi and the Rushikulya draining directly into the Chilka Lake also forms the part of the basin.
- The major part of basin is covered with agricultural land accounting to 54.27% of the total area and 4.45% of the basin is covered by water bodies.
- The basin spreads over 27 parliamentary constituencies (2009) comprising 13 of Odisha, 11 of Chhattisgarh, and 1 each of Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh.
- It is bounded on the north by the Central India Hills, on the south and east by the Eastern Ghats and on the west by the Maikala range. The basin lies in the States of Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Bihar and Maharashtra.
- Two important projects completed during pre-plan period in the basin are the Mahanadi main canal and Tandula reservoir in Chhattisgarh.
- During the plan period many projects were taken up and completed. Important among them are the Hirakud dam, Mahanadi delta project, Hasdeo Bango, Mahanadi Reservoir Project.
- An exhibition was conducted to showcase the forgotten Mughal Prince Dara Shukoh, at Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, in New Delhi.
- He was the eldest son of Emperor Shah Jahan and heir apparent to the Mughal throne.
- The religious insight of the Mughal prince marks him out from most other Mughal rulers.
- Dara Shukoh leaned towards the Chishti order of Sufism that is known to have promoted tolerance.
- He commissioned the translation of all the Upanishads from Sanskrit to Persian for Muslim scholar to learn.
- He wrote the Majma-ul-Bahrain (The confluence of two seas).to elaborate upon the syncretism between Sufism and Vedic philosophies.
- Prince Dara Shukoh was defeated by Prince Aurangzeb in the battle of Samugarh.
Joint Parliamentary Committees
- A JPC is an ad-hoc body. It is set up for a specific object and duration. JPCs are set up by a motion passed in one house of Parliament and agreed to by the other.
- The details regarding membership and subjects are also decided by Parliament.
- For example, the motion to constitute a JPC on the stock market scam (2001) was moved by the government in the Lok Sabha. The motion constituted a JPC of 30 members of which 20 were from the Lok Sabha and 10 were from the Rajya Sabha.
- The mandate of a JPC depends on the motion constituting it.
- This need not be limited to the scrutiny of government finances.
- JPC recommendations have persuasive value but the committee cannot force the government to take any action on the basis of its report. The government may decide to launch fresh investigations on the basis of a JPC report.
- However, the discretion to do so rests entirely with the government.
- The government is required to report on the follow-up action taken on the basis of the recommendations of the JPC and other committees.
Crisis in Syria:
- Aleppo-one of Syria’s largest cities
- Ghouta originally described the oasis formed by the Barada river around the site where Damascus, Syria, was founded.
- Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has demonstrated once again that his regime cares little about the lives of its own people.
- The barbaric campaign of airstrikes and bombardments launched by government forces in rebel-held Eastern Ghouta, on the outskirts of Damascus, have killed at least 270 people in three days. Eastern Ghouta, with an estimated population of 400,000, is one of the last significant areas held by militants fighting the regime.
- It fell into the hands of the rebels in the early stages of the seven-year-long civil war, and repeated government attempts to overrun it were foiled.
Border Country of Myanmar:
- Myanmar officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar and formerly known as Burma, is a sovereign state in Southeast Asia. Myanmar is bordered by India and Bangladesh to its west, Thailand and Laos to its east and People’s Republic of China to its north and northeast.
- Myanmar has been a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) since 1997.
Principle of Equitable Apportionment
- In arriving at its decision, the Supreme Court followed the “principle of equitable apportionment” recognised by international rules on water sharing like “the Helsinki rules, Campione rules and Berlin rules”.
- This principle of equitable apportionment, as is now intrinsically embedded generally in a pursuit for apportionment of water of an international drainage basin straddling over two or more States, predicates that every riparian State is entitled to a fair share of the water according to its need, and is imbued with the philosophy that a river has been provided by nature for the common benefit of the community as a whole through whose territory it flows even though those territories may be divided by frontiers as postulated in law.
- The Helsinki Rules of 1966 for instance recognise equitable use of water by each basin State taking into consideration the geography and hydrology of the basin, the climate, past utilisation of waters, economic and social needs, dependent population and availability of resources.
National Urban Housing Fund
- The Union Cabinet has given approval for creation of National Urban Housing Fund (NUHF).
- The motive of fund is to finance the government’s Housing for All Program, which aims to build 12 million affordable housing units in urban areas by 2022.
- The newly created fund will be placed under the aegis of the Building Materials and Technology Promotion Council (BMTPC).
- BMPTC is an autonomous body registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860,
- The newly created fund will be placed under the aegis of the Building Materials and Technology Promotion Council
- The fund will be raised from non-budgetary sources and help in plugging the budgetary shortfalls.