Central Vigilance Commission
- It is the apex vigilance institution. It was created via executive resolution (based on the recommendations of Santhanam committee) in 1964 but was conferred with statutory status in 2003. It submits its report to the President of India.
- Presently, the body consists of central vigilance commissioner along with 2 vigilance commissioners.
- They are appointed by the President of India on the recommendations of a committee consisting of Prime Minister, Union Home Minister and Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha (if there is no LoP then the leader of the single largest Opposition party in the Lok Sabha).
- Their term is 4 years or 65 years, whichever is earlier.
- The Central Vigilance Commissioner or any Vigilance Commissioner can be removed from his office only by order of the President on the ground of proved misbehavior or incapacity after the Supreme Court, on a reference made to it by the President, has, on inquiry, reported that the Central Vigilance Commissioner or any Vigilance Commissioner, as the case may be, ought to be removed.
National Culture Fund
- National Culture Fund (NCF) was set up as a Trust under the Charitable Endowment Act, 1890 in November 1996 by the Government, with a view to mobilize extra resources through Public Private Partnerships.
- The National Culture Fund is managed and administered by a council headed by Hon’ble Culture Minister to decide the policies and an Executive Committee headed by Secretary, Culture to actualize those policies.
- The Fund aims at inviting the participation of the corporate sector, non-government organizations, private/public sector as well as individuals in the task of promoting, protecting and preserving India’s cultural heritage.
- All the projects undertaken by the NCF are completed within a specified period, in accordance with an MoU signed by NCF with the concerned donor organization.
Rashtriya Avishkar Abhiyan
- Ministry of Human Resource Development has launched the Rashtriya Avishkar Abhiyan (RAA).
- It is a convergent framework across School Education and Higher Education aiming to encourage children towards learning Science and Mathematics.
- Rashtriya Avishkar Abhiyan will target students in the age group of 6 – 18 years.
- It will encourage the children to have an enduring interest both inside classroom and outside classroom activities.
The objectives of the RAA are,
- To enable children to become motivated and engaged in Science, Mathematics and Technology (SMT).
- To create a culture of thinking, inventing, tinkering to promote enquiry based learning in schools.
- To encourage and nurture schools to be incubators of innovation.
National Social Assistance Program
- NSAP is a welfare program administered by the Ministry of Rural Development.
- Its launch represents a significant step towards the fulfillment of the Directive Principles in Article 41 of the Constitution.
- The program introduced a National Policy for Social Assistance for the poor.
- It aims at ensuring minimum national standard for social assistance in addition to the benefits that states are currently providing or might provide in future.
- This program is implemented in rural areas as well as urban areas.
- The NSAP scheme was brought within the umbrella of ‘Core of Core’ scheme in 2016.
- NSAP at present comprises of
- Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS)
- Indira Gandhi National Widow Pension Scheme (IGNWPS)
- Indira Gandhi National Disability Pension Scheme (IGNDPS)
- National Family Benefit Scheme (NFBS)
Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana
- The PMFBY, launched in April 2016, compensates farmers for any losses in crop yield. In the event of a crop loss, the farmer will be paid based on the difference between the threshold yield and actual yield. The threshold yield is calculated based on average yield for the last seven years and the extent of compensation is set according to the degree of risk for the notified crop. The scheme is compulsory for farmers who have availed of institutional loans.
- The scheme insures farmers against a wide range of external risks — droughts, dry spells, floods, inundation, pests and diseases, landslides, natural fire and lightning, hailstorms, cyclones, typhoons, tempests, hurricanes and tornadoes. The scheme also covers post-harvest losses up to a period of 14 days.
- The Scheme covers all Food & Oilseeds crops and Annual Commercial/Horticultural Crops for which past yield data is available and for which requisite number of Crop Cutting Experiments (CCEs) are conducted being under General Crop Estimation Survey (GCES).
- While the idea of insuring farmers against crop losses isn’t new, the PMFBY is an attempt to plug the holes in the older crop insurance schemes — the National Agriculture Insurance scheme (NAIS) introduced in 1999 and the Modified NAIS (mNAIS) introduced in 2011.
- These older schemes didn’t find too many takers among farmers, the main dampener being their limited risk coverage. In mNAIS, the premium was capped at 8 to 12 per cent of the sum insured to limit the government’s subsidy outgo. Thus, for crops where actuarial rates were higher (that is, the premiums were steeper), insurance companies proportionally reduced the sum insured. Many a time, the ‘compensation’ fell way short of even the farmer’s cost of production.
- The Fasal Bima Yojana has done away with this cap on premium. The sum insured per hectare for a farmer is now decided by the District Level Technical Committee and is pre-declared and notified by the State Level Coordination Committee on Crop Insurance.
- The farmer also pays less — the premium he shells out is 2 per cent of the sum insured for all kharif crops and 1.5 per cent of it for all rabi crops. For horticulture and commercial crops, the premium is 5 per cent of sum covered. The remaining premium is paid by the government.
Advanced Supersonic Parachute Inflation Research Experiment
- A supersonic parachute that will help NASA missions to land on Mars, was successfully launched into the sky during a key test designed to mimic the conditions of entering the red planet.
- The Advanced Supersonic Parachute Inflation Research Experiment (ASPIRE) was launched aboard a sounding rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in the US.
- UTTAM stands for – Unlocking Transparency by Third Party Assessment of Mined Coal (uttam.coalindia.in).
- Ministry of Coal and Coal India Limited (CIL) developed the app.
- It aims to provide for all citizens and coal consumers to monitor the process of Third Party Sampling of coal across CIL subsidiaries.
- It provides a platform for monitoring of sampling and coal dispatches.
- It is an example of leveraging technology to facilitate a bidirectional channel between Coal India Limited and a common citizen.
- It ensures transparency and efficiency in the coal quality monitoring process and brings coal governance closer to people.
Bhimgad Wildlife Sanctuary
- The sanctuary is in Belgaum, Karnataka and is home to subtropical moist broadleaf and tropical forests.
- The rare Wroughton’s free-tailed bat can only be found in two or three places on earth, one of them being the Bhimgad forest of Karnataka.
- This evergreen forest on the Western Ghats on the Goa-Karnataka border is the origin of Mahadayi River.
- There is a fort that stands atop a hill in the heart of the forest that was served by the descendants of Marathas, during Shivaji’s time.
- The sanctuary gets its name from this former Maratha outpost which was known as Bhimgad Fort.
- The sanctuary also houses the tiger, the Malabar giant squirrel, the mouse deer, the King cobra and birds like the Great Indian pied hornbill, the Malabar trogon and the imperial pigeon.
- China pushes plan for kra canal construction splitting Thailand into two and thereby reshaping the Indian Ocean.
- Kra canal also known as Thai canal or Kra isthmus canal is a proposed canal to connect Gulf of Thailand (formerly known as Gulf of Siam) with Andaman Sea.
- The Kra Canal could benefit India and the region by taking pressure off the overcrowded Malacca Straits.
- From China’s point of view, the Kra Canal offers a means to secure its expanding demand for West Asia’s hydrocarbons against overcrowding in the Malacca Straits.
- Strait of Malacca is the world’s busiest maritime lane, through which an estimated 84,000 ships carrying around 30 per cent of global trade transit each year.
- Exiting the Kra Canal westwards, traffic would enter the Andaman Sea, transit past India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and then head south towards the Chinese-owned port at Hambantota, in Sri Lanka.
- Thailand’s tourism industry and fisheries could, however, face damage from the project.