Factly :-News Articles For UPSC Prelims | 12 June, 2021

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“Global Liveability Index” 2021 Released by EIU

What is the News? 

Economist Intelligence Unit(EIU) has released the Global Liveability Index 2021.

About Global Liveability Index:

  • The index assesses the locations that provide the best and the worst living conditions around the world. It assesses 140 cities around the world.
  • Parameters: The index takes into account more than 30 qualitative and quantitative factors. These factors are spanning five broad categories: stability (25%), healthcare (20%), culture and environment (25%), education (10%), and infrastructure (20%).
    • However, due to the pandemic, the EIU added new indicators to it. It includes stress on healthcare resources as well as restrictions around local sporting events, theatres, music concerts, restaurants, and schools.
  • Scores: Each factor in a city is rated as acceptable, tolerable, uncomfortable, undesirable, or intolerable. Factor-wise scores are then compiled and weighted to provide a score of 1–100 where 1 is considered intolerable and 100 is considered ideal.

Key Takeaways from the index:

  • Top Five Liveable Cities: Auckland (New Zealand), Osaka (Japan), Adelaide (Australia), Wellington (New Zealand), and Tokyo (Japan).
  • Top Five Least Liveable Cities: Damascus (Syria), Lagos (Nigeria), Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea), Dhaka (Bangladesh), and Algiers (Algeria).

Other Takeaways from the index:

  • The Covid-19 pandemic has reduced liveability level. Cities experience lockdowns and significant strains on their healthcare system.
    • Impact: This led to an unprecedented level of change in the rankings, with many of the cities that were previously ranked as the most liveable came down.
  • Austria’s Vienna was number one in both 2018 and 2019. However, it is out of the top 10 due to the effects of Covid-19 and now ranks 12.
  • Auckland topped the ranking due to its successful approach in containing the Covid-19 pandemic. It allowed its society to remain open and the city to score strongly on a number of metrics including education, culture, and environment.
  • Damascus remains the world’s least liveable city as the effects of the civil war in Syria continues to take their toll.

Source: Hindustan Times

Sub-Mission on Agricultural Mechanization (SMAM)

What is the News? 

The Government of India released funds for various activities to empower Sub-Mission on Agricultural Mechanization(SMAM).

Various activities include the establishment of Custom Hiring Centres, Farm Machinery Bank and distribution of various agricultural machinery to different states.

Note: Agriculture mechanization is the process of replacing human and animal labour with machines in the agriculture sector. The use of tractors, threshers, harvesters, pump sets is a part of farm mechanization.

About Sub-Mission on Agricultural Mechanization(SMAM):

  • The Sub-Mission on Agricultural Mechanization(SMAM) was launched in 2014-15 by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare.

Objectives of the Scheme:

  • To increase the reach of farm mechanization to small and marginal farmers. Also, to increase the reach in regions where availability of farm power is low;
  • To promote ‘Custom Hiring Centres’ to offset the adverse economies of scale arising due to small landholding and high cost of individual ownership;
  • Also, to create hubs for hi-tech & high-value farm equipment;
  • To create awareness among stakeholders through demonstration and capacity building activities;
  • To ensure performance testing and certification at designated testing centres located all over the country.

Mission Strategy: To achieve the above objectives, the Mission will adopt the following strategies:

  • Conduct performance testing for various farm machinery and equipment at the four Farm Machinery Training and Testing Institutes (FMTTIs), designated State Agricultural Universities (SAUs) and ICAR institutions;
  • Promote farm mechanization among stakeholders by way of on-field and off-field training and demonstrations.
  • Provide financial assistance to farmers for procurement of farm machinery and implements
  • Establish custom hiring centers of the location and crop-specific farm machinery and implements
  • Provide financial assistance to small and marginal farmers for hiring machinery and implements in low mechanized regions.

Source: PIB

All India Survey on Higher Education(AISHE) 2019-20

What is the News?

Ministry of Education has released the report of All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) 2019-20.

About AISHE Report 2019-20:

  • The AISHE Report provides key performance indicators on the current status of Higher education in the country.
  • First Report: The report was initiated in the year 2011. This is the 10th in the series of AISHE reports released annually by the Department of Higher Education.

Key Findings of the Report:

Highest Number of Colleges:

  • The top 8 States in terms of the highest number of colleges in India are Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, and Gujarat.

Total Student Enrollment:

  • During the last five years from 2015-16 to 2019-20, there has been a growth of 11.4% in student enrolment.
  • Total enrollment in higher education has been estimated to be 38.5 million, with 19.6 million boys and 18.9 million females. Females constitute 49% of the total enrolment.
  • Uttar Pradesh has the highest student enrolment in India. It has 49.1% male and 50.9% female students. It is followed by Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra.

Gross Enrolment Ratio:

  • The Gross Enrollment Ratio(GER) has increased by a minuscule 0.8% in 2019-20.
    • Gross Enrolment Ratio(GER) is the percentage of students enrolled in Higher Education from the eligible age group population.
    • In India, GER for higher education is calculated for the age group of 18-23.
  • GER in higher education in 2019-20 was 27.1% against 26.3% in 2018-19 and 24.3% in 2014-2015.

Enrolment of Girls:

  • There has been an overall increase of over 18% in female enrolment in higher education from 2015-16 to 2019-20.
  • However, the share of girl students is lowest in institutes of national importance. Also, female participation in professional courses is lower in comparison to academic courses.

Gender Parity Index:

  • Gender Parity Index(GPI) in Higher Education improved a bit. In 2019-20, it was 1.01 against 1.00 in 2018-19. This indicates an improvement in the relative access to higher education for females.

Teacher Pupil Ratio:

  • Total Number of Teachers stands at 15 lakh comprising 57.5% male and 42.5% female.
  • The Pupil-Teacher Ratio in Higher Education in 2019-20 is 26.

Attractive Disciplines:

  • Nearly 85% of the students (2.85 crores) were enrolled in the six major disciplines such as Humanities, Science, Commerce, Engineering & Technology, Medical Science, and IT & Computers.

Foreign Students:

  • The highest share of foreign students comes from the neighboring countries, of which Nepal is 28.1% of the total. It was followed by Afghanistan 9.1%, Bangladesh 4.6%, Bhutan 3.8%, and Sudan 3.6%.

Source: PIB

Pakistan Passes Bill to let Jadhav Appeal

What is the News?

Pakistan’s Parliament has passed the International Court of Justice (Review and Reconsideration) Bill of 2020.

About the International Court of Justice (Review and Reconsideration) Bill of 2020:

  • The bill provides the right of appeal to death-row prisoner Kulbhushan Jadhav against the death sentence.
  • The bill was passed after the International Court of Justice(ICJ) in its verdict had asked Pakistan to provide a credible review opportunity to Jadhav.

What was the issue?

  • Kulbhushan Jadhav is an Indian National. He was arrested in 2016 by Pakistan on charges of spying and sentenced to death in 2017.
  • India has rejected the charges leveled against the navy officer. Further, it said that he was kidnapped by Pakistani operatives from the Iranian port of Chabahar where he was running a business.
  • He was sentenced to death by the Pakistani Military Court.
  • Hence, India approached the ICJ against Pakistan for denial of consular access to Jadhav and challenging the death sentence.
  • In 2019, the ICJ had ruled that Pakistan must undertake an effective review and reconsideration of the conviction and sentence of Jadhav and also to grant consular access to India without further delay.

What would have happened if Pakistan had not passed this bill?

  • If Pakistan had not passed this bill, India would have gone to the UNSC and could have moved contempt proceedings against Pakistan in the ICJ.

Are decisions of the ICJ binding?

  • Judgments delivered by the ICJ in disputes between States are binding upon the parties concerned.
    • Moreover, the judgements are final and without appeal. If there is a dispute about the meaning of a judgment, the only possibility is for one of the parties to make a request to the Court for an interpretation.
  • As regards advisory opinions, it is usually for the United Nations organs and specialized agencies requesting them to give effect to them or not.

Source: PIB

“G7 summit” takes place in the UK: Indian PM will participate virtually

What is the News?

Indian Prime Minister will participate in the Outreach Sessions of the G7 Summit in virtual format.

What is G7?

  • The G7 (Group of Seven) is an organisation of the world’s seven largest so-called advanced economies. They are Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the United States.
    • The European Union is also represented within the G7.
    • Russia joined the Group in 1998 creating the G8 but was excluded in 2014 for its takeover of Crimea.
  • The group meets annually to discuss issues such as global economic governance, international security and energy policy.
  • The group does not have a formal constitution or a fixed headquarters. The decisions taken by leaders during annual summits are non-binding.

Why is the G7 summit in the UK?

  • The UK is holding the G7 presidency for 2021, so this is where the summit is taking place.
  • Guest Countries: India along with Australia, the Republic of Korea and South Africa are guest countries for the Summit.
  • Theme: The theme for the summit is ‘Build Back Better’
  • Priority Areas: The UK has outlined four priority areas for its summit. These are
    • Leading the global recovery from coronavirus while Restrengthening resilience against future pandemics;
    • Promoting future prosperity by championing free and fair trade;
    • Tackling climate change and preserving the planet’s biodiversity; and
    • Championing shared values and open societies.

Is India attending it for the first time?

  • Since 2014, this is the second time Indian PM will be participating in a G7 meeting.
  • India had been invited by the G7 French Presidency in 2019 to the Biarritz Summit as a “Goodwill Partner”.
  • During the earlier Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s rule, India attended the G8 summit five times.

Source: Indian Express

“Gharials Conservation” – Odisha Forest department Announces Cash Reward

What is the News?

The Mahanadi Wildlife Division in Odisha has announced a cash reward of Rs 1,000 for rescuing Gharials and informing wildlife personnel. The division will also provide compensation to fishermen whose fishing nets are destroyed by gharials.

About Gharials:

  • Gharials are one of the longest of all living crocodilians. They derive their name from ghara, an Indian word for pot. It is named so because of a bulbous knob (narial excrescence) present at the end of their snout.
  • Features: Gharial is a fish-eating crocodile. It is also the only living crocodilian with visible sexual dimorphism.
  • Indicator Species: They are also a crucial indicator of clean river water.
  • Distribution:
    • Gharials were once abundant in the main rivers and tributaries of the Indus, Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Mahanadi-Brahmani river systems.
    • But they are now limited to only 14 widely spaced and restricted localities of India and Nepal.
    • In India, Gharials are present in Son River, Girwa River, the Ganges, Mahanadi River, and the Chambal River.
    • The Satkosia gorge in the Mahanadi is the southernmost limit of gharials.
  • Protected areas: National Chambal Sanctuary and Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary.
  • IUCN Status: Critically Endangered
  • Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972: Schedule I
  • CITES: Appendix I
  • Threat: Construction of Dam, barrages, and water abstraction, entanglement in fishing nets, River bed cultivation, and sand mining.
  • Initiatives: Indian government launched Project Crocodile with UNDP and FAO in 1975. It included an intensive captive rearing and breeding programme intended to revive the dwindling gharial population.

Crocodiles in India: India has three species of Crocodiles, namely:

  1. Gharials (Gharials are genetically weaker than salt water crocodiles and muggers)
  2. Mugger crocodile IUCN Status: Vulnerable
  3. Saltwater crocodile IUCN Status: Least Concern.

Crocodiles in Odisha:

  • Odisha is the only state in India having all three species of crocodiles (gharial, mugger and saltwater crocodiles).
  • Odisha State Forest Department has begun conservation of these three crocodile species since 1975 by establishing three rearing centres
    • Tikarpada for gharials in Angul district,
    • Ramatirtha for muggers in Mayurbhanj, and
    • Bhitarkanika for saltwater crocodiles in Kendrapara district.

Source: Down To Earth

El Salvador makes “Bitcoin a legal currency”

What is the News?

El Salvador has become the first country in the world to officially classify Bitcoin as a legal currency.

What did El Salvador do?

  • El Salvador has made Bitcoin a legal currency. This means that the bitcoin must be accepted when offered as payment for goods and services. The tax contributors can also pay through bitcoin.
  • The US dollar will continue to circulate alongside Bitcoin as the national currency in El Salvador.


  • El Salvador has not had its own monetary policy since 2001 when it made the US dollar the official currency.
  • Along with Ecuador and Panama, El Salvador is currently among three nations in Latin America to have a ‘dollarized economy.

Why did El Salvador make Bitcoin a legal currency?

  • Fewer Remittances: The remittances in El Salvador account for roughly 20% of the nation’s gross domestic product. However, a large amount of this money gets lost in intermediaries fees. Hence, it is expected that Bitcoin adoption may make remittances quicker and cheaper.
  • More Independence: El Salvador is a dollarized economy. So, the fiscal and monetary decisions of the U.S. government and Federal Reserve have a tremendous impact on El Salvador. Hence, adopting Bitcoin could give the nation more independence.
  • Financial Inclusion: Nearly 70% of El Salvador’s population does not have a bank account and relies on the informal economy. So, Bitcoin will help increase financial inclusion in El Salvador.

Concerns against this move:

  • Legalizing bitcoin in the absence of a central regulating authority will have the potential for fraud and money laundering, high energy costs and extreme volatility.

Governments on Cryptocurrencies:

About Bitcoin:

  • Bitcoin is a type of Cryptocurrency that enables instant payments to anyone.
  • Introduced in: Bitcoin was introduced in 2009. It is based on an open-source protocol and is not issued by any central authority.
  • Origin: The origin of Bitcoin is unclear, as is who founded it. A person, or a group of people, who went by the identity of Satoshi Nakamoto are said to have conceptualised an accounting system in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.

Source: Indian Express

PRAGATI (Proactive Governance And Timely Implementation) Portal

What is the News?

The Prime Minister is monitoring several railway projects through the (Proactive Governance And Timely Implementation) PRAGATI portal. He has observed a lack of progress in key railway projects across the country.

About PRAGATI Portal:

  • PRAGATI is a multi-purpose and multi-modal governance platform launched in 2015.
  • Nodal Body: The portal has been designed by the Prime Minister’s Office(PMO) team with the help of the National Informatics Center (NIC).
  • Aim: The portal is aimed at:
    • Addressing the common man’s grievances
    • To simultaneously monitor and review important programmes and projects of the Government of India as well as projects flagged by various State governments.

Key Features of the PRAGATI Portal:

  • Firstly, the platform uniquely bundles the three latest technologies: Digital data management, video-conferencing and geo-spatial technology.
  • Secondly, it is a three-tier system consisting of the PMO, Union Government Secretaries and Chief Secretaries of the States.
  • Thirdly, the platform enables the Prime Minister to hold a monthly programme. In that, he will interact with the Government of India Secretaries and Chief Secretaries through Video-conferencing enabled by data and geo-informatics visuals;
  • Lastly, the issues flagged before the PM are picked up from the available database regarding Public Grievances, ongoing Programmes and pending Projects.

Significance of PRAGATI portal:

  • The platform 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.
  • It is also a robust system for bringing e-transparency and e-accountability with real-time presence and exchange among the key stakeholders.
  • The platform is also an innovative project towards e-governance and good governance.

Source: The Hindu


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