9 PM Current Affairs Brief – December 15th, 2019

Breast Milk Banks

News:Recently,Union Minister for Health and Family welfare has informed that Breast Milk Banks have been established under “National Guidelines on Establishment of Lactation Management Centres in Public Health Facilities”.


About Breast Milk Banks:Breast Milk Banks in India consists of:

  • Comprehensive Lactation Management Centre:It is established for the purpose of collecting, screening, processing, storing and distributing donor human milk at Government Medical Colleges or District Hospitals with high delivery load and availability of newborn treatment units.
  • Lactation Management Unit:It has a collection and storage facility of mother’s own milk in District Hospital/Sub-district Hospital with at least 12 beds.
  • Lactation Support Units:These are established at all delivery points to provide breastfeeding support, lactation counselling and Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) support to mothers.

Importance of Breastfeeding:Breastfeeding is important because

  • It prevents infections like diarrhoea and acute respiratory infections in early infancy and thus reduce infant mortality and
  • It decreases the risk of mothers developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.

Additional information:

Initiatives by Indian Government:

About MAA:

  • Government of India has launched a nationwide programme called MAA-Mothers Absolute Affection in 2016.
  • The programme aims to bring undiluted focus on promotion of breastfeeding and provision of services towards supporting breastfeeding, along with ongoing efforts of routine health systems.
  • The key components of the MAA programme are awareness generation, promotion of breastfeeding & inter personal counselling at community level, skilled support for breastfeeding at delivery points and monitoring and Award/ recognition of health facility.

Ministry of Coal to Establish Sustainable Development Cell for Environmental Mitigation Measures

News:The Ministry of Coal has decided to establish a ‘Sustainable Development Cell’.


About Sustainable development Cell:

  • The Sustainable development cell aims to promote environmentally sustainable coal mining in the country and address environmental concerns during the decommissioning or closure of mines.
  • The cell will advise and monitor the mitigation measures taken by the coal companies for maximising the utilisation of available resources in a sustainable way.
  • It also aims to minimise the adverse impact of mining and mitigating it for further  ecosystem services and will act as nodal point at Ministry of Coal level in this matter.
  • Thus,the Cell envisages to address the environment mitigation measures in a systematic manner and to provide a better environment to people working and residing in the vicinity of Mines.

Functions of the Cell:The Cell will adopt a systemic approach, starting from collection of data, analysis of data, presentation of information planning based on information by executing the following tasks in a planned way:

  • Land amelioration and afforestation
  • Air quality, emission and noise management
  • Mine water management
  • Sustainable Overburden Management
  • Sustainable Mine Tourism
  • Planning and Monitoring
  • Policy, Research, Education, and Dissemination.

Three lakh rural habitations lack quality drinking water supply

News:According to data presented by the Ministry of Jal Shakti, it has been found that over three lakh rural habitations lack quality drinking water supply.


Key Highlights from the data:

  • Around three lakh rural habitations across the country continue to be deprived of the government’s minimum prescribed provision of 40 litres per capita per day (lpcd) of potable drinking water with assured quality.
  • Rajasthan, West Bengal, Assam top the list where the coverage is facing quality issues or seeing diminished supply.
  • The coverage was monitored in terms of habitations having provision of a minimum 40 lpcd with sources at a reasonable distance.

Additional information:

About National Rural Drinking Water Programme(NRDWP):

  • The National Rural Drinking Water Programme(NRDWP) is a Centrally Sponsored scheme launched in 2009.
  • It aims to provide every rural person with adequate safe water for drinking, cooking and other domestic basic needs on a sustainable basis which is to be readily and conveniently accessible at all times and in all situations.
  • This initiative is in line with United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Target 6 which says that ‘By 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all’.
  • The Fund-sharing pattern between the Centre and the States/UTs for the programme is (a)100% for the Union Territories (b)90:10 for the Himalayan & the northeastern States and (c)50:50 for other States.

Provision for SCs and STs

  • The NRDWP has special provisions to ensure coverage of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe population with potable water supply.
  • 22% and 10% of the funds are earmarked for the use in SC and ST dominated areas respectively.
  • The criteria for fund allocation to States under the NRDWP, the rural SC and ST population of the State has a weightage of 10%.
  • Thus States with higher SC and ST population get a higher allocation of NRDWP funds.

Other initiatives taken under NRDWP:

National Water Quality Sub-Mission (NWQSM)

  • National Water Quality Sub-Mission had been launched in 2017 to provide safe drinking water to about 28,000 arsenic / fluoride affected habitations over a span of 4 years.


  • SWAJAL is a demand driven and community centred program to provide sustainable access to drinking water to people in rural areas.
  • It is a community demand driven, decentralized programme for aspirational districts identified by NITI Aayog.

National Centre for Drinking Water, Sanitation and Quality(NCDWS&Q)

  • A National Centre for Drinking Water, Sanitation and Quality (formerly known as International Centre for Drinking Water Quality) registered under the Societies Registration Act. 1860 is set up at Kolkata as an autonomous Institution under the Ministry.

Note:Water is a State subject and rural water supply has been included in the Eleventh Schedule of the Constitution among the subjects that may be entrusted to Panchayats by the States.

WDO to launch World Design Protopolis in Bengaluru

News:The World Design Organization is all set to launch its new global programme World Design Protopolis in Bengaluru.


About World Design Protopolis:

  • It is aimed at implementing holistic progress in mega cities across the world and thus making them sustainable.
  • The project also aims to measure progress of city, attract investments and solve problems so that the city becomes a better place for citizens.
  • The project will be of a five year duration.It will measure what they did in the city and how the city benefited and who benefited over a period of five years.

Additional information:

About World Design Organisation:

  • The World Design Organization (WDO) was founded in 1957.It was formerly known as the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design.
  • It is an international non-governmental organization that promotes the profession of industrial design and its ability to generate better products, systems and ultimately a better environment and society.
  • Currently,it has over 140 member organizations from 40 nations, engaging them in collaborative efforts and providing them with the opportunity to be heard internationally.
  • World Design Organization(WDO) has also a United Nations Special Consultative Status.

2020 Crystal Award:World Economic Forum

News:The World Economic Forum (WEF) has announced the Winners of 26th Annual Crystal Award for the year 2020.


About Crystal Awards:

  • The Crystal awards are hosted by the World Economic Forum’s World Arts Forum.
  • The award recognises as well as celebrates the achievements of leading artists and cultural figures whose leadership inspires inclusive and sustainable change.

World Economic Forum’s 2020 Meet:

  • The World Economic Forum’s 2020 Annual Meeting will be held in Davos-Klosters,Switzerland.
  • The meet will be held under the theme of ‘Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World’.
  • The meeting brings together leaders from international organisations, government, civil society, culture and media, business, foremost experts and young generation from all over the world at the highest level and in representative ways.

Additional information:

About World Economic Forum(WEF)

  • WEF was established in 1971 as a not-for-profit foundation and is headquartered in Geneva,Switzerland.
  • The objective of WEF is to improve the state of the world by engaging business,political,academic and other leaders of society to shape global,regional and industry agendas.
  • The reports published by the WEF are (a)Global Competitiveness Report (b)Global Gender Gap Report (c)Global Risks Report and (d)Global Travel and Tourism Report among others.

16th December

Government has taken various initiatives to develop a world class research facilities in India: HRD Minister

News:Union Minister for Human Resource Development has informed Lok Sabha about the initiatives taken by Government to promote research in the field of science & engineering.


Government has taken following initiatives to promote research in the field of science & engineering and to develop a world class research facilities:

Prime Minister Research Fellowship Scheme:

  • The PMRF scheme is aimed at attracting the talent pool of the country to doctoral(Ph.D) programs of Indian Institutes of Technology(IITs) and Indian Institute of Science(IISc) for carrying out research in cutting edge science and technology domains with focus on national priorities.
  • Under it,students who have completed or are in final year of B.Tech /Integrated M.Tech/ M.Sc courses in Science and Technology streams from IISc/IITs/IISERs/ NITs/IIITs will be offered direct admission in PhD programme in IITs/IISc.
  • The selected students will be offered monthly fellowship of Rs.70,000 for the first two years,Rs.75,000 for 3rd year and Rs.80,000 in 4th and 5th years.

Establishment of Research Parks:

  • Research parks are physical environments that can generate, attract and retain science and technology companies and talent in alignment with sponsoring research institutions that include universities as well as public, private and federal research laboratories.
  • The five new Research Parks at IIT Delhi, IIT Guwahati, IIT Kanpur, IIT Hyderabad, and IISc Bangalore have been approved by the Government under Startup India Initiative in Higher Education (SIIHE) Scheme.

Impacting research Innovation and Technology(IMPRINT):

  • IMPacting Research,INnovation and Technology(IMPRINT) scheme is a pan-IIT and IISc joint collaboration.The scheme was launched in 2015.
  • The scheme aims to provide solutions to the most relevant engineering challenges by translating knowledge into viable technology in 10 selected technology domains.
  • The projects are funded jointly by MHRD and the participating Ministry in the ratio of 50:50.

Uchhatar Avishkar Yojana(UAY):

  • The scheme was launched in 2015.The scheme aims to promote innovation of a higher order that directly impacts the needs of the industry and thereby improves the competitive edge of Indian manufacturing.
  • The projects are funded jointly by MHRD,participating Ministries and the Industry in the ratio of 50:25:25.

Institutions of Eminence (IoE):

  • The Institution of Eminence scheme is a scheme of Ministry of Human Resource Development pertaining to higher education institutions (HES) in India.
  • The scheme aims to develop 20 world-class teaching and research institutions
  • The selected institutes will enjoy complete academic and administrative autonomy.

Smart India Hackathons:

  • Smart India Hackathons are organized on a yearly basis since 2017 to find out digital solutions to various problems faced by the people and gives hands-on working and research opportunity for engineering students.

Institutions innovation Council(IIC):

  • Union HRD Minister had launched the ‘Institution’s Innovation Council (IIC) program under Innovation cell of MHRD in 2018.
  • The purpose of formation of network of IICs is to encourage, inspire and nurture young students by exposing them to new ideas and processes resulting in innovative activities in their formative years.

India’s rising retail prices stoke worries of stagflation

News:India’s retail price inflation has jumped to a 40-month high at a time when India’s growth has slowed down to a six-year low.This has prompted some economists to warn that the country could be entering into a stagflationary phase.


About Stagflation:

  • The term Stagflation was first coined by Paul Samuelson who was the first American to win the Nobel Prize in economics.
  • Stagflation is a condition of slow economic growth and relatively high unemployment, or economic stagnation, accompanied by rising prices, or inflation.
  • It can also be defined as inflation and a decline in the gross domestic product(GDP).

What causes Stagflation:

  • The most analysed  episodes of stagflation is the one in the US that began in 1974 and ended in the early 80s.
  • It was set off by a series of supply shocks led by surging oil prices and an excessively expansionary monetary policy especially in 1972-73, which allowed expectations of inflation to become entrenched.
  • This led to a breakdown of the inverse relationship between inflation and unemployment as suggested by the Phillips Curve.

Additional information:

About Phillips Curve:

  • Phillips curve is a graphic curve which advocates a relationship between inflation and unemployment in an economy.
  • As per the curve,there is an inverse relationship between inflation and unemployment.
  • The concept states that with economic growth comes with inflation which in turn should lead to more jobs and less unemployment.

BRICS’ NDB pledges $100  million to NIIF

News:Recently,New Development Bank(NDB) has committed $100 million to India’s National Investment and Infrastructure Fund(NIIF).


About NDB:

  • The New Development Bank(NDB) formerly referred to as the BRICS Development Bank is a multilateral development bank established by the BRICS states (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).
  • The bank was founded in 2014 but was was launched in 2015 with an initial authorized capital of $100 billion.The bank is headquartered in Shanghai,China.
  • The bank aims to contribute to development plans established nationally through projects that are socially, environmentally and economically sustainable.

Objectives of the Bank:

  • Promote infrastructure and sustainable development projects with a significant development impact in member countries.
  • Establish an extensive network of global partnerships with other multilateral development institutions and national development banks.
  • Build a balanced project portfolio giving a proper respect to their geographic location, financing requirements and other factors.


  • The bank functions on a consultative mechanism among the BRICS members with all the BRICS member countries possessing equal rights.
  • The bank’s agreement specifies that all members of the United Nations could be members of the bank.However,the share of the BRICS nations can never be less than 55% of the voting power.

Additional information:

About NIIF:

  • NIIF is India’s first sovereign wealth fund set up by the government of India in 2015.It is a fund manager that invests in infrastructure and related sectors in India.
  • It was created with the objective to maximise economic impact especially by infrastructure investment in commercially viable projects.
  • The Indian government has a 49% stake in NIIF with the rest held by foreign and domestic investors.
  • NIIF currently manages three funds each with its distinctive investment mandate. The funds are registered as Alternative Investment Fund (AIF) with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).
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