Facts Corner-Part-8

Departmental Standing Committee:

  • On the recommendation of the Rules Committee of the Lok Sabha, 17 Departmentally-Related Standing Committees (DRSCs) were set up in the Parliament in 1993. In 2004, seven more such committees were setup, thus increasing their number from 17 to 24.
  • The main objective of the standing committees is to secure more accountability of the Executive (i.e., the Council of Ministers) to the Parliament, particularly financial accountability.
  • They also assist the Parliament in debating the budget more effectively. The 24 standing committees cover under their jurisdiction all the ministries/departments of the Central Government.
  • Each standing committee consists of 31 members (21 from Lok Sabha and 10 from Rajya Sabha). The members of the Lok Sabha are nominated by the Speaker from amongst its own members, just as the members of the Rajya Sabha are nominated by the Chairman from amongst its members. Out of the 24 standing committees, 8 work under the Rajya Sabha and 16 under the Lok Sabha.

Integrated Disease Surveillance Project:

  • Government of India initiated Integrated Disease Surveillance Project (IDSP) in 2004 with the aim to detect and respond to outbreaks of epidemic prone diseases.
  • IDSP will continue in the 12th Five Year Plan as Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme. Under IDSP, surveillance units have been established in all States/Districts.
  • The objective of the IDSP is to strengthen/maintain decentralized laboratory-based IT enabled disease surveillance system (at centre, state and district level) for epidemic prone diseases and to monitor disease trends and to detect and respond to outbreaks in early rising phase through trained Rapid Response Team (RRTs).
  • Recent data put out by the Union Health Ministry’s Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) has indicated that food poisoning is one of the commonest outbreaks reported in 2017. This is apart from acute diarrhoeal disease (ADD).

Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups:

  • PVTGs are more vulnerable among the tribal groups. Due to this factor, more developed and assertive tribal groups take a major chunk of the tribal development funds, because of which PVTGs need more funds directed for their development.
  • In 1973, the Dhebar Commission created Primitive Tribal Groups (PTGs) as a separate category, who are less developed among the tribal groups.
  • In 2006, the Government of India renamed the PTGs as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs).
  • PVTGs have some basic characteristics -they are mostly homogenous, with a small population, relatively physically isolated, social institutes cast in a simple mould, absence of written language, relatively simple technology and a slower rate of change etc.
  • PVTGs are spread over 17 states and one Union Territory (A&N Islands).
  • THE Forest Rights Act (FRA) is also known as the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006. Section 3(1)(e) of the Act provides for rights including community tenures of habitat and habitation for primitive tribal groups (also known as PVTGs) and pre- agricultural communities. Orissa has the distinction of having the largest number of PTGs (13 out of 75 identified across the country).

‘Under2 Coalition‘:

  • The Under2 Coalition, a Memorandum of Understanding by subnational governments to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions towards net-zero by 2050, is generating a unique precedent for bold climate leadership, with its member states and regions surpassing 200 in number.
  • Currently, Telangana and Chhattisgarh are signatories to this pact from India, as compared to representations from the other top emitters: 26 subnational governments in China and 24 in the U.S. Greater representation of Indian States is crucial.
  • The Climate Group acts as Secretariat to the Under2 Coalition and works directly with government signatories and partners of the Under2 MOU.

A whip:

A whip is an important member of a political party’s parliamentary body, having a central role in ‘Floor Management’ in both the Houses of Parliament and is responsible for discipline within the party.

  • Their main job is ensuring that their members in Parliament and legislature vote in line with the party’s official policy on important issues and make sure that the members turn out for important votes.
  • Such an importance of Whips in the Parliamentary system had been acknowledged by organizing the First All India Whips Conference at Indore in 1952, in the very first year of general elections to the First Lok Sabha.

Economic Community of West African States:

  • A regional economic union of fifteen countries located in West Africa.
  • The only African country from the list which is “West African” is Liberia.
  • ECOWAS also serves as a peacekeeping force in the region, with member states occasionally sending joint military forces to intervene in the bloc’s member countries at times of political instability and unrest. In recent years these included interventions in Ivory Coast.


  • A spokesperson of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) under the Department of Homeland Security that administers the non-immigrant, temporary worker visa programme said in a statement: “….USCIS is not considering a regulatory change that would force H-1B visa holders to leave the United States by changing our interpretation of section 104(c) of AC-21, which provides for H-1B extensions beyond the 6 year limit.”
  • AC-21 or the American Competitiveness in the Twenty First Century Act is the law passed by the U.S Congress in 2000, which also governs the extension of H-1B visas.

Article 136:

  • Article 136 is the special leave petition, under which an agrieved party is entitled to approach the supreme court of india to appeal against the decision of either the lower court, or any other body, entitled to give some decision.
  • Although 80% of petitions under 136 are rejected by the SC.
  • This article grands wide discretionary powers to the Supreme Court.

Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act (1971):

  • The Verma Committee on Fundamental Duties of the Citizens (1999) identified the existence of legal provisions for the implementation of some of the Fundamental Duties.
  • They include among others the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act (1971) prevents disrespect to the Constitution of India, the National Flag and the National Anthem.
  • Apart from non-statutory instructions issued by the Government from time  to time, the display of the national flag is governed by the provisions of the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act , 1950 and the Prevention  of Insults  to  National  Honour  Act,  1971.
  • The Flag Code of India, 2002, is an attempt to bring together all such laws, conventions, practices and instructions (that are related to the National Flag) for the guidance and benefit of all concerned.

Nobel Laureate Har Gobind Khorana:

  • The ‘miniPCR’ device copies targeted pieces of DNA in a process known as polymerase chain reaction (PCR).
  • This device is used aboard the ISS for NASA’s ‘Genes in Space’ projects.
  • Genes in Space-1 successfully demonstrated the device could be used in microgravity to amplify DNA, a process used to create thousands of copies of specific sections of DNA.
  • Khorana is credited with making the first synthetic genes by cutting and pasting different bits of DNA together.
  • This is considered a forerunner to the method called Polymerase Chain Reaction that is among the methods used to commercially read the unique genetic structures of organisms today.
  • He further placed the lab-made gene in a living bacterium and was, in that sense, a founding father of biotechnology.
  • The CRISPR/Cas9 system, which is among the latest tools used to alter the functioning of certain genes, references the work of Khorana as a key influence.


In a major digital initiative to help plan the traffic flows and optimize freight operations, Ministry of Railways have launched Smart Freight Operation Optimisation & Real Time Information (SFOORTI) App for Freight Managers which provides features for monitoring and managing freight business using Geographic Information System (GIS) Views and Dashboard.

Salient features of SFOORTI Application are as below:

  • With this application, movement of freight trains on Geographic Information System (GIS) view can be tracked.
  • Both passenger and freight trains can be tracked over Zones/Divisions/ Sections in single GIS View.
  • Freight business can be monitored.
  • Comparative Analysis of Zonal/Divisional Traffic.
  • Analysis of new traffic captured and traffic lost.
  • This app provides a Bird’s eye view of all Freight Assets in a single window.
  • Provides end to end Rake movement on Geospatial view
  • Expected Traffic at Interchange points to evaluate daily performance can be viewed.
  • Performance of each zone and divisions with respect to loading and utilization of freight assets can be viewed.
  • Sectional performance monitoring for sections, divisions and zones shall help in traffic routing.
  • Freight terminal and sidings can be better monitored to ensure better turnaround of rakes.

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