News: Nationwide Artificial Insemination Programme (N.A.I.P) was launched by Prime Minister on 11th September 2019.
About Nationwide Artificial Insemination Programme (N.A.I.P):
- It is a campaign mode genetic up-gradation program being implemented by the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry & Dairying. It Aims over 1 crore insemination in 6 months.
- The Programme is being implemented in 600 identified districts having less than 50% artificial insemination coverage. The duration of the program is from 15th September 2019 to 15th March 2020.
- All breeds of cattle and buffaloes will be covered under this program.
- All the animals covered under the program will be ear-tagged with ‘PashuAadhaar’.
- Further, all inseminated animals will be given Animal health Card (Nakul Swasthya Patra).
Rashtriya Gokul Mission:
- Rashtriya Gokul Mission was launched in 2014. It seeks the development and conservation of indigenous bovine (cattle) breeds (through the selection of high genetic merit bulls for breeding).
- The mission is under Department of Animal Husbandry and dairying, Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry & Dairying.
- To undertake a breed improvement program for indigenous cattle breeds so as to improve their genetic makeup and increase the stock.
- To enhance milk production and productivity of indigenous bovine breeds.
- To upgrade nondescript cattle using elite indigenous breeds like Gir, Sahiwal, Rathi, Red Sindhi, etc.
- Arrange quality Artificial Insemination services at farmers’ doorstep
- Gokul Grams: Integrated Indigenous Cattle development Centres – “Gokul Grams”- are established under mission with the aim of conservation and development of indigenous bovine breeds in a scientific and holistic manner.
Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog:
- It has been established by the government in 2019. It seeks for conservation protection and development of cows and their progeny.
- It is a high powered permanent body. At present, it functions as a part of Rashtriya Gokul Mission under the Department of Animal Husbandry and dairying, Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry & Dairying.
- provide the policy framework and direction to the cow conservation and development programs and
- Ensure proper implementation of laws with respect to the welfare of cows.
News: Ministry of Women and Child Development informed Lok Sabha about Sexual Harassment electronic–Box (SHe-Box).
About Sexual Harassment electronic–Box (SHe-Box):
- In 2017, the Ministry of Women and Child Development launched the ‘Sexual Harassment electronic Box or SHe-Box. It has been developed to ensure the effective implementation of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act (the SH Act), 2013.
- SHe-Box is an online complaint management system for registering complaints related to sexual harassment of women at the workplace.
- Every woman, irrespective of her work status, whether working in organised or unorganized, private or public sectors can register sexual harassment complaints through this portal.
- Once a complaint is submitted to the ‘SHe-Box’, it is directly sent to the concerned authority having jurisdiction to take action into the matter.
Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013
- The main objective of the Act is to implement the Vishakha guidelines and to ensure access to a safe workplace by woman.
- In 1997, the Supreme Court passed a landmark judgment in the Vishaka and others v State of Rajasthan case where the SC held that women have the fundamental rights towards the freedom of sexual harassment at the workplace.
- It also put forward various important guidelines for the employees to follow them and avoid sexual harassment of women at the workplace. These guidelines popularly came to be known as Vishakha Guidelines.
- The SC for the first time defined sexual harassment and imposed three key obligations on institutions — prohibition, prevention, redress.
News: The Ministry of Women and Child Development informed the Lok Sabha about the Nirbhaya Fund.
About the Nirbhaya Fund:
- The Nirbhaya Fund provides for a non-lapsable corpus fund to support initiatives by the government and NGOs working towards protecting the dignity and ensuring the safety of women in India.
- The fund was set up in 2013. The Fund is administered by the Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance.
- The Ministry of Women and Child Development is the nodal authority for appraising/recommending schemes under the Nirbhaya Fund.
The key schemes funded by Nirbhaya Fund
1. Emergency Response Support System (ERSS): It is a Pan-India single number (112) based emergency response system for citizens in emergencies. It has been initiated by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
2. Safe City projects: The project aims to strengthen the safety and security of women in public places. It is being implemented in eight selected metropolitan cities namely Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, and Lucknow. It has been initiated by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
3. Central Victim Compensation Fund: It seeks to enable support to victims of rape, acid attacks, human trafficking and women killed or injured in the cross border firing. It has been initiated by the Ministry of Home Affairs
4. Cyber Crime Prevention against Women & Children: The main objective is to have an effective mechanism to handle cybercrimes against women and children in India. It has been initiated by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
5. One-Stop Centre Scheme: One Stop Centre (OSC) are centres established by the Government of India through the Ministry of Women and Child Development to support women affected by violence of any sort. These centres will provide immediate access to a range of services including medical, legal, psychological and counseling support to the victims. It has been initiated by Minister of Women and Child Development
News: Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is organizing an event to commemorate World AIDS Day on 1st December 2019 in New Delhi. The theme of the event is “Communities make the difference”
- HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that attacks cells that help the body fight infection, making a person more vulnerable to other infections and diseases.
- Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a term that applies to the most advanced stages of HIV infection. It is defined by the occurrence of any of more than 20 opportunistic infections or HIV-related cancers.
- At present, there is no effective cure for HIV, but HIV can be controlled. The medicine used to treat HIV is called antiretroviral therapy or ART.
HIV Prevalence in India
- As per the India HIV Estimation 2017 report, National adult (15–49 years) HIV prevalence in India is estimated at 0.22% in 2017.
- The total number of people living with HIV in India is estimated at 21.40 lakhs in 2017.
Steps taken by the Government:
- National AIDS Control Program (NACP): It was launched in 1992. Launched in 2012, under Phase IV of NCAP, the target is to reduce new infections by 50% (2007 Baseline of NACP III). It also seeks comprehensive care, support, and treatment for all persons living with HIV/AIDS.
- National AIDS Control Organization: It is a division of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare that provides leadership to the HIV/AIDS control program in India through 35 HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Societies. It was established in 1992 to implement NACP.
- National Strategic Plan (2017-24): It aims towards a fast-tracking strategy of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 and is expected to pave a roadmap for achieving the target of 90:90:90.
- Mission SAMPARK: The aim is to trace those who are Left to Follow Up and are to be brought under Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) services.
- Project Sunrise: It aims at prevention of AIDS especially among people injecting drugs in the 8 North-Eastern states
- Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS): It is the main advocate for accelerated, comprehensive and coordinated global action on the HIV/AIDS pandemic. It was established in 1994 and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
- 90:90:90 Strategy: It is an HIV treatment narrative of UNAIDS program which has set targets of
- 90% of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status (90% diagnosed),
- 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy (90% on HIV treatment) and
- 90% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression (90% suppressed)
World Aids Day:
- World AIDS Day takes place on 1 December each year. World AIDS Day was founded by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1988. It was the first-ever global health day.
- The day is dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection and to commemorate those who have died from an AIDS-related illness.
- The theme for the 2019 observance is “Ending the HIV/AIDS Epidemic: Community by Community”
News: The Rajya Sabha has passed the Chit Funds (Amendment) Bill, 2019.
About Chit Funds:
- A chit fund is a type of saving scheme where a specified number of subscribers contribute payments in installments over a defined period. Periodically, one of the subscribers is chosen by drawing a chit to receive the prize amount from the fund.
- Unlike unregulated deposits and Ponzi schemes, Chit funds are legal and registered.
Chit Funds Legislation in India
- The Supreme Court had classified Chit Funds as contracts and read chit funds as being part of the Concurrent List of the Indian Constitution. Thus, both the centre and state can frame legislation regarding chit funds.
- Chit Funds in India are regulated by the Chit Funds Act, 1982. Under the Act, the chit fund businesses can be registered and regulated only by the respective State Governments.
- The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) does not regulate Chit fund businesses.
- Further, as the regulator of the securities market, SEBI regulates collective investment schemes. But the SEBI Act, 1992 specifically excludes chit funds from their definition of collective investment schemes.
Chit Funds (Amendment) Bill, 2019
- The bill seeks to amend the Chit Funds Act, 1982.
- Aim: To facilitate the orderly growth of the chit fund sector and enable greater financial access to people.
Salient Features of the Bill:
- The Bill proposes to raise the maximum commission of a foreman (manager of the chit fund) from 5% of the chit amount to 7%.
- The Bill allows the foreman a “right to lien”, a legal right against the credit balance from subscribers.
- According to the current bill, chit fund schemes operated by individuals can raise a maximum of Rs.3 lakh, up from the existing Rs.1 lakh. Firms, with four or more partners, can raise amount Rs.18 lakh, up from the existing Rs.6 lakh.
- The principal Act does not apply to any chit started before it was enacted or to any chit where the amount is less than Rs 100. The bill removes the limit of Rs 100 and allows the state governments to specify the base amount over which the provisions of the Act will apply.
News:The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has launched its Accelerator Lab in India.
About UNDP’s Accelerator lab:
- The Accelerator Lab is an innovative initiative by the UNDP, Qatar Government and the Federal Republic of Germany to find 21st century solutions to today's complex new challenges.
- These labs seeks to identify grassroots solutions together with local actors and validate their potential to accelerate development.
Key approaches of Accelerator Lab:The four key approaches sit at the core of the Labs’ work are:
- Building on locally-sourced solutions, finding things that work and expanding on them
- Rapid testing and iteration to implement what works and go beyond the obvious solutions
- Combining the best understanding, ideas and expertise to generate collective knowledge
- Accelerating progress by bringing expertise, creativity and collective intelligence to bear.
About Accelerator Lab in India:
- The lab has been launched by UNDP in collaboration with Atal Innovation Mission and will look to solve issues through innovative solutions.
- It will seek to address some of the most pressing issues facing India, such as air pollution, sustainable water management and client-resilient livelihoods through innovation.
- The vision is also to make faster progress in meeting the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations(UN) by 2030.
- India's Accelerator Lab will be part of a network of 60 global labs covering 78 nations that will test and scale new solutions to global challenges like climate change and inequality.
- The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is the UN’s global development network.
- UNDP was established in 1965 by the General Assembly of the United Nations.It is headquartered in New York,US.
- It provides expert advice, training and grants support to developing countries, with increasing emphasis on assistance to the least developed countries.
- UNDP is central to the United Nations Sustainable Development Group (UNSDG).
- UN SDG is a network that spans 165 countries and unites the 40 UN funds, programmes, specialized agencies and other bodies working to advance the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
About Atal innovation mission:
- The Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) was set up by NITI Aayog in 2016.
- It aims to promote a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship.
- It seeks to create institutions and programs that enhance innovation in schools, colleges, and entrepreneurs in general.
News:Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas has informed the Lok Sabha that SATAT initiative has the potential of addressing environmental problems arising from stubble burning.
About SATAT initiative:
- SATAT stands for Sustainable Alternative Towards Affordable Transportation(SATAT).
- The initiative aims to promote Compressed Biogas as an alternative, green transport fuel.It would benefit both vehicle-users as well as farmers and entrepreneurs.
- The potential for Compressed Biogas production from various sources in India is estimated at about 62 million tonnes per annum.
Features of the initiative:
- Compressed Biogas(CBG) plants are proposed to be set up mainly through independent entrepreneurs.
- CBG produced at these plants will be transported through cascades of cylinders to the fuel station networks of OMCs for marketing as a green transport fuel alternative.
- The entrepreneurs would then be able to separately market the other by-products from these plants including bio-manure, carbon-dioxide to enhance returns on investment.
Significance of the initiative:There are multiple benefits from converting agricultural residue, cattle dung and municipal solid waste into CBG on a commercial scale which are:
- Responsible waste management, reduction in carbon emissions and pollution
- Additional revenue source for farmers
- Boost to entrepreneurship, rural economy and employment
- Support to national commitments in achieving climate change goals
- Reduction in import of natural gas and crude oil
- Buffer against crude oil/gas price fluctuations
- Bio-gas is produced naturally through a process of anaerobic decomposition from waste / biomass sources.
- These include agriculture residue, cattle dung, sugarcane press mud, municipal solid waste, sewage treatment plant waste among others.
- After purification,it is compressed and called CBG which has pure methane content of over 95%.
- Compressed Biogas is exactly similar to the commercially available natural gas in its composition and energy potential.Hence,it can be used as alternative, renewable automotive fuel.
News:Sri Lankan President is on his first overseas visit to India after taking over as Sri Lanka president.
Key takeaways from the visit:
- India has announced a line of credit of USD 400 million for development projects in Sri Lanka besides granting a separate fund of USD 50 million to help the country deal with challenges of terrorism.
- The two countries have also agreed to work closely on matters related to the economy and security in the backdrop of rising competition between China and the US for influence in the Indian Ocean region.
- On India’s concerns on Chinese projects,Sri Lanka has said that cooperation between India and Sri Lanka is multifaceted with priority given to security-related matters.
- While with other countries,initiatives for cooperation are by and large economic and commercial.
- Sri Lanka has also asked for India’s cooperation in the economic development of Sri Lanka’s northern and eastern regions which have a sizeable Tamil population.
- Indian Prime Minister has also raised the issue of Indian fishermen, mainly from Tamil Nadu who have been detained by Sri Lanka for crossing the maritime boundary.
Significance of the visit:
- The visit assumes significance owing to the growing influence of China in the Indian Ocean region.
- The visit could set the tone of India-Sri Lanka relations as Sri Lanka has positively reciprocated India's gesture of partnership and stressed that India remains our relative even as China is its trade partner.
- However,Sri Lanka cannot wish away China completely as by the end of 2017,10% of its debt was owed to China.
News:The joint military exercise ‘SURYA KIRAN between India and Nepal will be conducted at Saljhandi,Nepal.
About the exercise:
- Exercise SURYA KIRAN - XIV is an annual exercise which is conducted alternatively in Nepal and India.
- The aim of the exercise is a joint training of troops in counter-insurgency, counter-terrorism operations in both jungle and mountainous terrain and disaster management.
- The exercise will enhance the level of defence cooperation which will further foster the bilateral relations between the two nations
News:Mauritius has called the UK an illegal colonial occupier after it ignored a UN mandated deadline to return the Chagos Islands.
About Chagos Islands:
- The Chagos Archipelago is an island group in the central Indian Ocean.It is located about 1,000 miles (1,600 km) south of the southern tip of the Indian subcontinent.
- In the 19th century, Chagos were governed from Mauritius which was a British Colony.
- However,UK retained possession of the Chagos archipelago even after Mauritius gained its independence in 1968 by paying compensation to and fishing rights to Mauritius.
- In 1971,UK forced the Chagos islanders to leave their homes so that the largest island named Diego Garcia could be leased to the US for a strategic airbase.
Global Stand on Chagos Islands:
- In 2015,Mauritius had initiated legal proceedings in these matters against the United Kingdom in the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague in the Netherlands.
- The Permanent Court of Arbitration had ruled that the United Kingdom has failed to give due regard to Mauritius’ rights and declared that the United Kingdom had breached its obligations.
- In 2017, at the UN General Assembly, 94 countries voted in support of Mauritius resolution to seek an advisory opinion on the legal status of the Chagos Islands from the International Court of Justice.
- However,the US and the UK were among the 15 countries that voted against the resolution.
- In 2019, International Court of Justice has ruled that the United Kingdom should hand over the administration of the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean to Mauritius in order to legally complete its decolonisation.
- However, as the matter was referred to the Court by the UN General Assembly, it is not binding to either country but will remain only as an advisory for the UN to use in future.
News:Union Minister of Textiles has informed Lok Sabha about the scheme for Integrated Textile Parks.
About Scheme for Integrated Textile Parks:
- The Scheme for Integrated Textile Parks(SITP) has been launched in 2005.
- The objective of the SITP is to provide the industry with world class state of the art infrastructure facilities for setting up their textile units.
- The scheme is a demand driven scheme in which the prospective entrepreneurs can send their proposals to the Government.
- The scheme would facilitate textile units to meet international environmental and social standards.
- It targets industrial clusters/locations with high growth potential which require strategic interventions by way of providing world-class infrastructure support.
- The scheme was launched by merging two schemes namely the Apparel Parks for Exports Scheme(APES) and the Textiles Centre Infrastructure Development Scheme(TCIDS).
Funding of the scheme:
- The total project cost shall be funded through a mix of Equity from the Ministry of Textiles, State Government, State Industrial Development Corporation, Industry and Loan from Banks or Financial Institutions.
- The Government of India’s(GOI) support under the Scheme by way of Grant or Equity will be limited to 40% of the project cost subject to a ceiling of Rs.40 crore.
- The combined equity stake of State Governments or Corporation if any, should not exceed 49%.
- However,Government of India’s grant is up to 90% of the project cost for the first two projects (each) in the States of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura, Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Jammu & Kashmir with ceiling limit of Rs 40 crore for each textile park.
News:Defence Research and Development Organisation(DRDO) has said that state-of-the-art indigenous Anti-Tank Guided Missile(ATGM) Nag is in advanced stages of development.
About Nag missile:
- Nag is a third-generation, fire-and-forget, anti-tank guided missile developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
- The missile is an all weather,top attack missile with a minimum range of 500 metres and maximum range of 4km.
- The missile uses an imaging infrared seeker in lock-on-before-launch mode.It can seek and destroy all known enemy tanks during day and night or under any adverse weather conditions.
- The missile can be launched from both the land and air-based platforms.
- The missile has been indigenously developed under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme(IGMDP).
- The Integrated Guided-Missile Development Programme (IGMDP) was conceived by Dr. APJ. Abdul Kalam to enable India attain self-sufficiency in the field of missile technology.
Missiles under IGMDP:The missiles developed under this IGMDP programme includes:
- Prithvi: Short range surface to surface ballistic missile.
- Agni:Intermediate Range surface to surface ballistic Missile
- Trishul: Short range low level surface to air missile.
- Nag: 3rd generation anti-tank missile.
- Akash: Medium range surface to air missile.
About Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO):
- DRDO was established in 1958 by the government of India.It is under the administrative control of Union Ministry of Defence.
- DRDO aims to enhance India’s self-reliance in Defence Systems.It undertakes design & development leading to the production of a world-class weapon system.
News:The Sri Lankan Army will be participating in the annual joint military exercise Mitra Shakti between the Indian and Sri Lanka Army.
About the exercise:
- Exercise Mitra Shakti is an annual joint military exercise between the Indian Army and the Sri Lanka Army.
- The exercise is being conducted between both the countries since the year 2012.
- The aim of the exercise is to build and promote close relations between the armies of both the countries and to enhance the ability of joint exercise commander to take military contingents of both nations under command.
- The exercise will also involve training in tactical level operations during international Counter Insurgency and Counter Terrorist environment under United Nations mandate.
Other exercises between India and Sri Lanka:
- SLINEX is a bilateral naval exercise between Indian and Sri Lankan Navy.
- The exercise was started in 2005.It was previously held once in two years and now it has been converted to an annual event.
- The exercise is a continuation of ongoing operational interaction between both navies wherein regular ships visits are being undertaken between the two countries.
News:India and Japan are going to hold the 2+2 Dialogue in Delhi.
About 2+2 Dialogue:
- The 2+2 is a format of dialogue where the defense and foreign ministers or secretaries meet with their counterparts from another country.
- India and Japan had started the 2+2 dialogue at the level of officials in 2010.But they decided to upgrade it to the ministerial level during their summit in October,2018.
- Currently,India has a 2+2 ministerial mechanism with the US and 2+2 official level mechanism between India and Australia.
- Hence with this,India has 2+2 mechanism with all the Quad countries.
India-Japan 2+2 Dialogue:
- The 2+2 meeting between India and Japan would provide an opportunity for the two sides to review the status of and exchange further views on strengthening defence and security cooperation.
- The two sides will also exchange views on the situation in the Indo-Pacific region and their respective efforts under India’s ‘Act East Policy’ and Japan’s ‘Free and Open Indo-Pacific Vision’ for achieving their shared objectives of peace, prosperity and progress in the region.
About About the Quad group:
- Quadrilateral Security Dialogue(QSD) is the strategic dialogue between four countries viz. India, United States, Japan and Australia.
- It was originally initiated in 2007 but later disbanded with withdrawal of Australia.It has later revived in 2017.
- The Quad is viewed as a group of four democracies with a shared objective to ensure and support a free, open and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.
- The foundation of Quad is also based on collective effort and shared commitment on counter-terrorism, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, maritime security cooperation, development finance and cybersecurity.
News:According to data released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO),India’s Gross Domestic Product(GDP) growth has fallen to 4.5% for the second quarter (July-September) of the year 2019-20.
About the slowdown in GDP growth rate:
- The GDP growth rate has slowed down for the sixth consecutive quarter at 4.5% from 5% in the preceding quarter.
- The growth is the lowest in six years and three months with the previous low recorded at 4.3% during the January - March 2013.
- In terms of quarterly growth,India has also lost the tag of the fastest growing economy to China which posted a growth of 6% in the September quarter.
Reasons for growth slowdown:
- The slowdown in GDP growth happened due to a number of factors including slowdown in private consumption, investment and export.But the key indicator is lack of credit growth and demand in the market.
- However,only government expenditure has supported the growth by growing at 11.6%.
Steps taken by Government:To overcome the growth slowdown,the government has undertaken a number of measures.
- It has announced a cut in the corporate tax rate to 22% from 30%.It also lowered the tax rate for new manufacturing companies to 15% to attract new foreign direct investments.
- It has also taken other initiatives such as bank recapitalization, mergers of 10 public sector banks into four, support for the auto sector, plans for infrastructure spending as well as tax benefits for startups.
- However, none of these measures directly address the widespread weakness in consumption demand which has been the chief driver of the economy.
Implications of growth slowdown:
- The slowdown in the economy is expected to adversely affect income growth which in turn would further dent consumption demand.
- The decline in household savings and lower buoyancy in government’s revenue collections will also lead to a limited fiscal space to spur economic growth.
- Hence,the continuous slowdown may force the Reserve Bank of India to go for another round of interest rate cuts in its upcoming monetary policy review.