First glimpse of 'Vyommitra', the humanoid for Gaganyaan

News: The Indian Space Research Organisation has unveiled a human robot, named Vyommitra, that will be sent to space as part of the Gaganyaan mission.

Facts:

About Vyommitra

  • Vyommitra is a half-humanoid who can mimic human actions
  • ISRO will send Vyommitra to space on unmanned missions

About Gaganyaan Mission

  •  Gaganyaan is India’s first Human Space Flight Programme to be launched by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) by 2022.

Additional Information:

Other Robots in Space

  1.  Fedor (Final Experimental Demonstration Object Research): Russia
  2.  Robonaut 2: NASA, USA
  3.  Kirobo: Japan

Dr Jitendra Singh inaugurates India’s first global Mega Science Exhibition “Vigyan Samagam” in Delhi

News: Minister of Atomic Energy and Space inaugurated India’s first global Mega Science Exhibition “Vigyan Samagam” in Delhi

Facts:

About Vigyan Samagam

  •  It is a multi-venue mega-science exhibition.  It is being hosted in a caravan mode at four cities – Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata and Delhi – from May 2019 to March 2020.
  • It is organised jointly by Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the National Council of Science Museums (NCSM)

Objectives:

  • To highlight the value and impact of fundamental research
  • To act as a catalyst for engaging students, academician and industry on a common interactive mega-science platform
  • To strengthen the larger benefits from collaborative mega-science projects undertaken by Units and Institutions of DAE and DST.

1t.org

News: USA has announced to join the recently launched 1t.org initiative.

Facts:

About 1t.org

  • It is a World Economic Forum initiative.
  • It offers a platform for leading governments, businesses, civil society and ecopreneurs committed to serving the global trillion trees community.

Objectives:

  • To serve and empower the reforestation community.
  • To unlock the conditions needed to re-green Earth.
  • To break down the barriers preventing conservation and restoration at scale.
  • To support the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030, led by UNEP and FAO

Additional Information:

UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030: It aims to massively scale up the restoration of degraded and destroyed ecosystems to fight the climate crisis and enhance food security, water supply and biodiversity.

India achieves complete phase out of one the most potent ozone depleting chemical

News: India has successfully achieved the complete phase out of Hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC)-141 b

Facts:

About Hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC)-141 b

  • It is a chemical used by foam manufacturing enterprises.

Environmental Benefits of phase out:

  • Will assist the healing of the stratospheric ozone layer,
  • Will help towards the climate change mitigation

Additional Information

Ozone Layer:

  • Ozone layer, also called ozonosphere is a layer in the stratosphere lying between roughly 15 and 35 km above Earth’s surface, containing relatively high concentrations of ozone molecules (O3).

Montreal Protocol

  • It was signed in 1987.
  • Aim: to protect the Ozone layer by reducing the production of substances that are supposed to be responsible for Ozone layer depletion.
  • Kigali Agreement: Signed in 2016, it is legally binding. It seeks to phase out the production of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) that are potent greenhouse gases by the late 2040s.

India falls to 51st spot in EIU's Democracy Index

News: Economist Intelligence Unit released Democracy Index 2019

Facts:

About Democracy index:

  • It is based on five categories: electoral process and pluralism; the functioning of government; political participation; political culture; and civil liberties.
  • It ranks countries based on their scores on 60 indicators.
  • It classifies them as one of four types of regime: full democracy, flawed democracy, hybrid regime and authoritarian regime.

Key Takeaways from Democracy index 2019

  • The index was topped by Norway, followed by Iceland and Sweden
  • North Korea was at the bottom of the global ranking at 167th place.
  • India was ranked 51st and included in the "flawed democracy" category.

Nature risk rising report

News: World Economic Forum (WEF) has released Nature Risk Rising Report

Facts:

About Nature Risk Rising Report

  • It has produced by WEF in collaboration with PwC and the first report in series of New Nature Economy (NNE) reports.
  • It explains how nature-related risks matter to business, why they must be urgently mainstreamed into risk management strategies

Key takeaways from Nature Risk Rising Report

  • USD 44 trillion of economic value generation is moderately or highly dependent on nature and its services and, as a result, exposed to risks from nature loss.
  • China, the European Union and the US have the highest absolute economic value in nature-dependent industries
  • Construction, agriculture & food and beverages are the three largest industries that depend most on nature.

India joins Reskilling Revolution Initiative at World Economic Forum as a Founding Member

News:India has joined as a founding government member the World Economic Forum's Reskilling Revolution Initiative.

Facts:

About Reskilling Revolution Initiative:

  • The initiative aims to future-proof workers from technological change and help economies by providing new skills for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
  • It targets to provide one billion people with better education, skills and jobs by 2030.
  • The founding governments of the initiative include Brazil, France, India, Pakistan, the Russian Federation, UAE and the US. 
  • Business partners include PwC, Salesforce, ManpowerGroup, Infosys, LinkedIn, Coursera and The Adecco Group.

Additional information:

About Fourth Industrial revolution:

  • The fourth industrial revolution is the current developing environment in which disruptive technologies such as the Internet of Things(IoT), robotics and artificial intelligence(AI) are changing the way we live and work.

About Centre for Fourth Industrial revolution:

  • In 2018,India has become the fourth country in the world after the USA ,China and Japan where World Economic Forum in partnership with NITI Aayog has opened its centre for Fourth Industrial Revolution. 
  • The centre aims to accelerate the adoption of new technologies, minimize their negative effects on society and ensure that everyone has access to the benefits generated by these technologies. 
  • The centre would be based in Mumbai and it has selected drones, artificial intelligence and blockchain as the first three project areas.

Union minister for Steel launches SAIL SERVICE scheme

News:Union minister for Steel has launched a scheme named  SERVICE -a scheme of SAIL to promote Voluntary Philanthropist Activities by its employees in a structured manner.

Facts:

About SERVICE scheme:

  • SERVICE stands for SAIL Employee Rendering Voluntarism and Initiatives for Community Engagement.
  • Under the scheme,the employees of SAIL would contribute in the areas of education, health, women empowerment and nutrition among others.
  • An interactive SAIL SERVICE portal has also been launched for the employees to register for the scheme and to enable faster interaction and communication amongst the various stakeholders.

Additional information:

About SAIL:

  • Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) is the largest steel-making company in India and one of the seven Maharatnas of the country’s Central Public Sector Enterprises. 
  • The Government of India owns about 75% of SAIL’s equity and retains voting control of the Company.
  • It produces iron and steel at five integrated plants and three special steel plants, located principally in the eastern and central regions of India and situated close to domestic sources of raw materials.

Prime minister chairs 32nd interaction through PRAGATI platform

News:Prime Minister has chaired the 32nd interaction through the PRAGATI platform.

Facts:

Key takeaways from the meeting:

  • The Prime Minister reviewed the performance with regard to grievances related to insurance schemes under Department of Financial Services namely ‘Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana(PMJJBY) and ‘Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana(PMSBY).
  • He also reviewed the progress under Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS) project- a comprehensive and integrated system for effective policing through e-Governance.

About PRAGATI:

  • PRAGATI(Pro-Active Governance And Timely Implementation) is a unique integrating and interactive platform launched in 2015.
  • The platform has been designed in-house by the PMO team with the help of National Informatics Center(NIC).
  • Aim:It aims at addressing the common man’s grievances and simultaneously monitoring and reviewing important programmes and projects of the Government of India as well as projects flagged by State Governments.
  • It uniquely bundles three latest technologies namely Digital data management, video-conferencing and geo-spatial technology. 
  • It also offers a unique combination in the direction of cooperative federalism since it brings on one stage the Secretaries of Government of India and the Chief Secretaries of the States.

Additional information:

About Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana(PMJJBY):

  • The scheme was launched in the year 2015.The nodal ministry is the Ministry of Finance.
  • Eligibility:People in the age group of 18 to 50 years 
  • Premium:subscriber needs to deposit a premium of Rs.330/- per annum to be auto debited from subscriber’s bank account.
  • Coverage:It offers a renewable one year term cover of 2 lakh rupees in case of death for any reason.
  • Implementation:The scheme is being offered by Life Insurance Corporation and all other life insurers who are willing to offer the product on similar terms with necessary approvals and tie up with banks for this purpose.

About Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana(PMSBY):

  • The scheme was launched in the year 2015.The nodal ministry is the Ministry of Finance.
  • Eligibility:People in the age group of 18 to 70 years 
  • Premium:subscriber needs to deposit a premium of Rs.12/- per annum to be auto debited from subscriber’s bank account. 
  • Coverage:It provides a cover of Rs. Two Lakh for accidental death or total permanent disability and Rs One Lakh in case of permanent partial disability.
  • Implementation:The scheme is offered by Public Sector General Insurance Companies or any other General Insurance Company who are willing to offer the product on similar terms with necessary approvals and tie up with banks for this purpose.

India opens its first Mahatma Gandhi convention centre in Niger

News:India has opened its first Mahatma Gandhi International convention centre(MGICC) in Niger.

Facts:

About Mahatma Gandhi convention centre:

  • The Mahatma Gandhi Convention Centre is the first centre to be established in Africa by India to honour Mahatma Gandhi.
  • The convention centre has been designed to witness high-level and wide-ranging participation from African Union member states and other high-level conventions.
  • Besides Niger, convention centres will also be set up by India in eight other African nations -- Uganda, Zambia, Malawi, Gambia, Burkina Faso, Togo, Gabon and Libera upon request by these countries.

Additional information:

About Niger:

  • Niger is a landlocked western African country.The capital is Niamey.
  • The country takes its name from the Niger River, which flows through the southwestern part of its territory.
  • India and Niger relations have expanded significantly in recent years. India has provided Lines of Credit worth $96 million to Niger for projects in transport, electrification, solar energy and potable drinking water 
  • India has also extended $15 million grant assistance to Niger in support of organizing the African Union (AU) summit in July,2019. 

GBCI releases list of India’s Top 10 States for LEED, Maharashtra ranks first

News:The India chapter of the Green Business Certification Inc(GBCI) has released the list of top 10 states for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) in India.

Facts:

Key takeaways from the list:

  • Maharashtra has topped the US Green Building Council's LEED green building certifications for the second consecutive year.
  • Karnataka was ranked second on the list.It was followed by Haryana, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh.

About LEED:

  • The Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) is the rating system developed for certifying Green Buildings. 
  • The rating system has been developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC),the organization promoting sustainability through Green Buildings.
  • The main parameters to get a LEED certificate include saving energy and water, waste management, reducing carbon footprint and focusing on the health of the building's occupants.
  • Buildings that are LEED-certified create healthier spaces for people, use less energy and water, reduce air pollution, provide cleaner air indoors and save money for businesses and families.

Additional information:

About Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA)

  • Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA) is India’s own rating system jointly developed by TERI and the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Government of India.
  • It is a rating tool that helps people to assess the performance of their building against certain nationally acceptable benchmarks.
  • It evaluates the environmental performance of a building holistically over its entire life cycle thereby providing a definitive standard for what constitutes a green building.

Department of Justice celebrates 1.5 lac Registrations of Tele-Law

News:The Department of Justice has celebrated 1.5 lakh registrations for advice on Tele-Law which is an initiative to provide pre-litigation advice to the needy people.

Facts:

About Tele-Law initiative:

  • The Tele-Law initiative was launched in 2017 by the Department of Justice, in partnership with NALSA and CSC e-Governance Service India Limited.
  • The initiative is aimed at delivering legal advice to the marginalised communities through Common service centres(CSC).
  • Under the initiative,video conferencing facility and telephone services are used to connect lawyers to litigants who need legal advice.
  • Currently, Tele-Law Service is available for the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jammu & Kashmir, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Tripura, Sikkim and Mizoram.
  • Further,the service is free for those are eligible for free legal Aid as mentioned under Section 12 of Legal Services Authority Act, 1987.

Additional information:

About CSC’s:

  • Common Services Centre (CSC) programme is an initiative of the Ministry of Electronics & IT (MeitY).It was launched in 2006.
  • CSCs act as access points for delivery of various electronic services to villages in India.
  • CSC e-Governance Services India Limited is a Special Purpose Vehicle (CSC SPV) incorporated under the Companies Act,1956 by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology(MeitY) to monitor the implementation of the Common Services Centres Scheme.

Explained: What is a Blue Corner notice

News:Interpol has issued a Blue Corner notice to help locate fugitive self-styled godman Nithyananda after the Gujarat Police had sought the agency’s intervention.

Facts:

About Interpol:

  • The International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) is an intergovernmental organization established in 1923.It is headquartered at Lyon,France. 
  • It facilitates worldwide police cooperation and crime control in around 194 countries.
  • Each of the member countries hosts an INTERPOL National Central Bureau(NCB).This connects their national law enforcement with other countries and with the General Secretariat of Interpol.
  • The Central Bureau of Investigation(CBI) is designated as the National Central Bureau of India.

Interpol Notices:

  • INTERPOL Notices are international requests for cooperation or alerts allowing police in member countries to share critical crime-related information.

Note:India will be hosting the 91st Interpol General Assembly in 2022 after its proposal had received support of member countries.

President confers Bal Shakti Puraskar 

News:President of India has conferred the Bal Shakti Puraskar award to 49 children’s.

Facts:

About Bal Shakti Puraskar:

  • The National Child Award for Exceptional Achievement was instituted in 1996.In 2018,the award has been renamed as the Bal Shakti Puraskar 
  • The award aims to give recognition to children with exceptional abilities and outstanding achievements in the fields of innovation, scholastic achievements, social service, arts & culture and sports.
  • The award also recognises the achievements of children in the field of bravery are also acknowledged.
  • The award is administered by the Ministry of Women & Child Development.

About Bal Kalyan Puraskar:

  • The National Child Welfare Awards were instituted in 1979 .In 2018,the  award has been renamed as Bal Kalyan Puraskar.
  • The award aims to give recognition to those who have made outstanding contributions in the fields of Child Development, Child Protection and Child Welfare.
  • Award is given in two categories - Individual and Institution.Three awards are given in each of these two categories along with cash prizes.
  • The award is administered by the Ministry of Women & Child Development.

UN Commission on International Trade Law(UNCITRAL)

News:Recently,the Government of India has announced that the International Arbitration Tribunal has dismissed all claims against India in entirety in relation to cancellation of Letters of Intent for providing 2G services.

Facts:

About the issue:

  • The arbitration arose against India due to cancellation of issuance of telecom licences to provide 2G services in five telecommunications circles by Russian and Cyprus companies due to India’s essential security interests.
  • The verdict was pronounced by the International Arbitration Tribunal constituted in accordance with the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law(UNCITRAL) Arbitration Rules, 1976.
  • The proceedings were administered by the Permanent Court of Arbitration(PCA).

About UNCITRAL:

  • The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law(UNCITRAL) was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1966.
  • It is the core legal body of the United Nations system in the field of international trade law.
  • It is responsible for helping to facilitate international trade and investment.
  • The Commission carries out its work at annual sessions which are held in alternate years at United Nations Headquarters in New York and at the Vienna International Centre at Vienna.
  • UNCITRAL's original membership comprised 29 states and was expanded to 60 in 2004.The membership is representative of the various geographic regions and the principal economic and legal systems of the world.

About Permanent Court of Arbitration(PCA):

  • PCA is a permanent intergovernmental organization established by treaty at the First Hague Peace Conference, Netherland in 1899.
  • It is dedicated to serve the international community in the field of dispute resolution and to facilitate arbitration and other forms of dispute resolution between States.
  • The PCA has a Financial Assistance Fund which aims at helping developing countries meet part of the costs involved in international arbitration or other means of dispute settlement.
  • It has a three-part organizational structure consisting of (a)Administrative Council that oversees its policies and budgets (b)panel of independent potential arbitrators known as the Members of the Court and its (c)Secretariat known as the International Bureau headed by the Secretary-General.

Sebi puts in place guidelines for listed REIT, InvIT on rights issue

News:The Securities and Exchange Board of India(SEBI) has announced guidelines pertaining to rights issue of units by listed real estate investment trusts (REITs) and infrastructure investment trusts (InvITs).

Facts:

Key features of the guidelines:

  • The issuer will have to disclose objects of the issue, related-party transactions, valuation, financial details, review of credit rating and the grievance redressal mechanism in the placement document.
  • The investment manager on behalf of the REIT and InvIT in consultation with lead merchant banker(s) will decide the issue price before determining the record date.
  • The minimum subscription to be received in the rights issue should be 90% of the issue size through the letter of offer.

About Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs): 

  • REITs are securities linked to real estate that can be traded on stock exchanges once they get listed
  • Under it, REITs sells units to investors.This money is invested in real estate projects to earn rental income.
  • The income is then distributed to unit holders.Besides regular income from rents and leases,gains from capital appreciation of real estate also form an income for the unit holders.

About Infrastructure Investment trusts(InvITs):

  • InvITs are investment scheme similar to mutual funds.They allow investment from individuals and institutional investors in infrastructure projects to earn a portion of the income as return.
  • They can be considered as a modified version of REITs designed to suit the specific circumstances of the infrastructure sector.
  • They attract long term finance to invest in infrastructure projects such as roads or highways which take some time to generate steady cash flows.

Benefits of REITs and InvITs:

  • Opportunity to invest in stable return-generating instruments with low risk to capital.
  • Decrease in the financing burden on banks by reducing exposure to real estate sector.
  • Increased financing for key sectors such as transportation and energy that will help propel the growth of the country
  • Creation of direct and indirect employment opportunities.