- The Minister of Commerce & Industry Shri Suresh Prabhu launchedthe FIEO GlobalLinker- a digital platform for MSME exporters to digitise their businesses and join a global community of growing businesses today in New Delhi.
- The Minister congratulated Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) for coming out with the interesting idea. He said that this initiative will help in expanding India’s multi-focused export strategy and also aid in connecting art and artisans to the market. Minister also informed that at least 300 Geographical Indications will be registered very soon, which will give a major boost to exports.
- FIEO GlobalLinker is setup with a view to make the business growth of SMEs simpler, more profitable and enjoyable. It is a growing global network currently comprising over 140,000 SME firms, who are seeking business collaboration and growth opportunities through the use of their electronic business card and digital profiles created on the platform.
FIEO is available free of cost and it offers exporters a range of features and benefits like:
- Business Opportunities: Exporters will be able to find clients, suppliers and advisors using the search and review facilities. Creating a free e-commerce store for direct sales and improved chain management.
- Up-to-date Business Knowledge through business articles, industry news and common interest groups.
- Improved Efficiencies: Platform provides services like company intranet, integrating email, a business calendar.
- FIEO’s Services: Application for new RCMC/endorsement/renewal/participation in FIEO’s promotional programme and alerts.
Digital Advancement of Rural Post Office for A New India
- With a view to achieve total digitisation of postal operations in the country, under the IT Modernisation Plan, Department of Posts (Ministry of Communications) has launched Digital Advancement Of Rural Post Office For A New India (DARPAN) Project, which aims at connecting all 1.29 lakh Rural Branch Post Offices in the country to enable them to do online Postal and Financial Transactions. Another aim of DARPAN project is to achieve financial inclusion of rural population.
- DARPAN-PLI App, which will help in collection of premium for PLI and RPLI policies at Branch Post Offices anywhere in India, was recently launched.
- MIT researchers have created a wearable device called AlterEgo that can recognize nonverbal prompts, essentially “reading your mind.”
- The system is made up of a device that loops around a user’s ear, follows their jawline, and attaches underneath their mouth, and a computer system.
- The wearable device has electrodes that pick up neuromuscular signals in your jaw and face that are triggered by internal verbalizations (aka saying words in your head) but can’t be seen by the human eye. These signals are then given to a machine learning system that analyzes the data, associating specific signals with words.
- The system can communicate with the user via a pair of “bone-conducting headphones” by transmitting vibrations from the face to the ear. The headphones are meant to effectively convey information to the user without interrupting their conversation or hearing.
- To create the device, the researchers had to figure out the locations on the face that had the most reliable neuromuscular signals. To do so, they asked subjects “to subvocalize the same series of words four times,” and used 16 electrodes at different facial locations to detect the signals. They then generated a code to analyze the data, which found that seven particular places on the face were able to recognize the nonverbal words. The resulting wearable device uses sensors in those locations, though the researchers are working on a device that can do the same with only four sensors along the jaw.
BBC’s Blue Planet series
- A type of plankton described as part of “the beating heart” of the oceans has been named after the BBC’s Blue Planet series. Sir David Attenborough narrates this critically acclaimed series that dives deep into the marine environment of Planet Earth.
- The tiny plant-like organism is regarded as a key element of the marine ecosystem.
- A single-celled algae, the plankton is found throughout the world’s oceans.
- It will now be officially known as Syracosphaera azureaplaneta, the latter translating from Latin as ‘blue planet’.
Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite
- NASA is expected to launch TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite), which will monitor more than 200,000 stars for temporary drops in brightness caused by planetary transits.
- TESS scientists expect the mission will catalog thousands of planet candidates and vastly increase the current number of known exoplanets.
- Of these, approximately 300 are expected to be Earth-sized and super-Earth-sized exoplanets, which are worlds no larger than twice the size of Earth.
- TESS will find the most promising exoplanets orbiting our nearest and brightest stars, giving future researchers a rich set of new targets for more comprehensive follow-up studies.
- Scientists have improved a naturally occurring enzyme which can digest some of our most commonly polluting plastics. PET, the strong plastic commonly used in bottles, takes hundreds of years to break down in the environment. The modified enzyme, (the enzyme’s known as PETase), can start breaking down the same material in just a few days.
- This could revolutionise the recycling process, allowing plastics to be re-used more effectively.
- Originally discovered in Japan, the enzyme is produced by a bacterium which “eats” PET. Ideonella sakaiensisuses the plastic as its major energy source. Researchers reported in 2016 that they had found the strain living in sediments at a bottle recycling site in the port city of Sakai.
- “[PET] has only been around in vast quantities over the last 50 years, so it’s actually not a very long timescale for a bacteria to have evolved to eat something so man-made,” commented Prof John McGeehan, who was involved in the current study.
- Polyesters, the group of plastics that PET (also called polyethylene terephthalate) belongs to, do occur in nature. “They protect plant leaves,” explained the University of Portsmouth researcher. “Bacteria have been evolving for millions of years to eat that.”
- Plankton, marine and freshwater organisms that, because they are nonmotile or too small or weak to swim against the current, exist in a drifting state. The term plankton is a collective name for all such organisms—including certain algae, bacteria, protozoans, crustaceans, mollusks, and coelenterates, as well as representatives from almost every other phylum of animals.
- Plankton are responsible for 50% of earth’s oxygen. They are an essential part of the food chain. And billions of billions of ancient plankton have given their bodies to form the crude oil that powers modern society.
- Plankton is the productive base of both marine and freshwater ecosystems, providing food for larger animals and indirectly for humans, whose fisheries depend upon plankton.
Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons
- The UN recognises that the OPCW, by virtue of the Chemical Weapons Convention, shall function as an independent, autonomous international organisation in the working relationship with the UN.
The mission of the OPCW is to implement the provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). The Convention contains four key provisions:
- destroying all existing chemical weapons under international verification by the OPCW;
- monitoring chemical industry to prevent new weapons from re-emerging;
- providing assistance and protection to States Parties against chemical threats; and
- fostering international cooperation to strengthen implementation of the Convention and promote the peaceful use of chemistry.
- The OPCW, established in 1997, has its headquarters at The Hague, Netherlands.
- Israel has signed the agreement but is yet to ratify it. The countries that have not signed it are Egypt, South Sudan and North Korea.
- Currency chests are select branches of scheduled banks, which are authorised by the RBI to facilitate distribution of notes and coins. In these branches, notes and coins are stocked on behalf of the RBI.
- These currency chests are expected to distribute notes and coins to other bank branches in their area of operation.
- There are around 4,000 currency chests across the country.
- Public Sector Banks run most of these currency chests.
- High in the Canadian Arctic, two subglacial bodies of water have been spotted beneath over 500 metres of ice.
- The water has an estimated maximum temperature of -10.5C, and would need to be very salty to avoid freezing.
- Although water systems beneath large ice sheets are being found to be increasingly common, this Canadian region (Devon Island’s ice cap) was thought to be frozen to the bedrock beneath.
- This is a unique lake system. Of the [more than] 400 subglacial lakes in Antarctica, all of them are thought to comprise fresh water. Hence, whatever might be living in it may also be unique. The water in the lakes is estimated to be five times as salty as seawater, allowing its freezing point to be lowered below that of fresh water.
- Other subglacial lakes in Greenland and Antarctica contain fresh water, generated by melting at the base of the ice. Geothermal heat rises from the underlying rock, and is insulated by the thick ice sheet above. The Canadian ice sheet is not thick enough to provide this insulation.
- The study’s authors suggest the lakes may have been sealed off from surrounding environments for up to 120,000 years. They may provide a window to life beyond Earth.
Public Interest Litigation
- PIL is brought before the Court not for the purpose of enforcing the right of one individual against another as happens in the case of ordinary litigation, but it is intended to promote and vindicate public interest.
- PIL is essentially a cooperative effort on the part of the petitioner, the State or Public Authority, and the Court to secure observance of the Constitutional or legal rights, benefits and privileges conferred upon the vulnerable sections of the community and to reach social justice to them.
- The first Indo-Nordic Summit will focus on promoting a rules-based international order in the backdrop of China’s attempts to dominate sea lanes of communication that might impact global free trade.
- The five Nordic countries are Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Iceland.
National Policy and Action Plan to combat LWE
- The National Policy and Action Plan to combat LWE was initiated in 2015. Presently, 90 districts in 11 States will now be covered by the Scheme, down from 126 (44 districts have been removed – the maximum number of which is from the state of Telangana – and 8 new districts have been added).
- The list of ‘Most Affected Districts’ has been pruned to 30, down from 36 (Jharkhand accounts for the largest number of such districts).
- MHA had categorized 106 districts in 10 states as Left Wing Extremism affected.
- These districts are covered under the Security Related Expenditure Scheme (SRE) of the MHA for the purpose of reimbursement of security related expenditure like transportation, communication, hiring of vehicles, stipend for surrendered Maoists, temporary infrastructure for forces etc to the states.
- Out of 106 districts, 35 districts which accounted for 80-90 % of country-wide LWE violence were categorized as ‘Most Affected Districts’. This categorization provided the basis for focused deployment of resources – both security and development related.
A Seven-Star rating system
- The star-rating initiative, developed under the Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban will rate cities on a 7-star rating system based on multiple cleanliness indicators for solid waste management, which will include, for instance, Door-to-door collection, source segregation, sweeping, scientific processing of waste, etc.
- Cities can be rated as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7 star based on their compliance with the protocol conditions specified for each of the rating. Further city should be ODF(Open Defecation Free) before it could be given rating of 3 star or above. While cities may self-declare themselves as 1-star, 2-star or 4-star, MoHUA will carry out an additional verification through an independent third party to certify cities as 3-star, 5-star or 7-star. Cities will need to get re-certified themselves every year to retain their star-status.
- The Swachh Survekshan survey run by the SBM Urban for the past three years has successfully built up a spirit of healthy competition among cities, vying with each other every year to improve their ranking as compared to other cities.
- On the other hand, the distinctive feature of Star Rating System will be that many cities can have higher stars as compared to only one city can be “Cleanest city” under Swachh Survekshan.
End Plastic Pollution
- Earth Day Network, the organization that leads Earth Day worldwide, has chosen as the theme for 2018 to End Plastic Pollution, including creating support for a global effort to eliminate primarily single-use plastics along with global regulation for the disposal of plastics. EDN is educating millions of people about the health and other risks associated with the use and disposal of plastics, including pollution of our oceans, water, and wildlife, and about the growing body of evidence that plastic waste is creating serious global problems.
- From poisoning and injuring marine life to the ubiquitous presence of plastics in our food to disrupting human hormones and causing major life-threatening diseases and early puberty, the exponential growth of plastics is threatening our planet’s survival. EDN has built a multi-year campaign to End Plastic Pollution. Our goals include ending single-use plastics, promoting alternatives to fossil fuel-based materials, promoting 100 percent recycling of plastics, corporate and government accountability and changing human behavior concerning plastics.
Commonwealth leaders’ summit
- The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) held in London came with hopes of a “re-energised Commonwealth”. To begin with, the summit was being held in the U.K., the founder of the grouping of mostly former British colonies, after 32 years.
- Besides, Queen Elizabeth II, the head of CHOGM, attended the summit, which she has done infrequently in the last few years owing to her health. She opened her homes in Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle for the event, in what was called a “charm offensive” by the hosts, who were looking to revive the 53-nation grouping as Commonwealth 2.0, amidst Britain’s rocky exit from the EU.
- “Given the expectations, the outcome of the meet was underwhelming. It was announced Prince Charles would ‘succeed’ his mother as the head of the Commonwealth, ignoring calls for the position to be more democratically shared or rotated. There were substantive statements on the Blue Charter on Ocean Governance and on the Commonwealth Connectivity Agenda for Trade and Investment, which could together counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative. But there was little by way of a road map to achieve the goals..”
Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan
- The implementation and monitoring of the activities of the scheme will broadly be aligned for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with main thrust on Panchayats identified under Mission Antyodaya and 115 Aspirational districts as identified by NITI Aayog.
- Sunset date for RGSA will be 31.03.2030.
- The key principles of SDGs, i.e. leaving no one behind, reaching the farthest first and universal coverage, along with gender equality will be embedded in the design of all capacity building interventions including trainings, training modules and materials. Priority will be given to subjects of national importance that affects the excluded groups the most, e.g. poverty, primary health services, nutrition, immunization, sanitation, education, water conservation, digital transactions etc.
- As Panchayats have representation of Schedule Castes, Schedule Tribes and women, and are institutions closest to the grassroots, strengthening Panchayats will promote equity and inclusiveness, along with social justice and economic development of the community.
Constitutional & Statutory Bodies of Indian Constitution:
Constitutional bodies in India are those bodies or institutes which are mentioned in the Indian Constitution. Their powers are directly derived from the Constitution.
The Constitutional Bodies in India are as follows:
- Attorney General
- Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG)
- Election Commission
- Finance Commission
- National Commission for SC’s
- National Commission for ST’s
- Special officer for linguistic minorities
- Union Public Service Commission
- State Public Service Commission
- Advocate General of state
Statutory bodies are established by acts which Parliament and State Legislatures can pass.
Important Statutory Bodies:
- National Human Rights Commission
- National Commission for Women
- National Commission for Minorities
- National Commission for Backward Classes(bill is pending constitutional status not yet given)
- National Law Commission
- National Green Tribunal
- National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission
- Lokpal and Lokayuktas
- Central and state information commission