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Factly :-News Articles For UPSC Prelims | Mar 2, 2021

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“Swachhta Saarthi Fellowship”

What is the News?
The Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India has launched the Swachhta Saarthi Fellowship.

About Swachhta Saarthi Fellowship:

  • The fellowship was launched by the Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser under the “Waste to Wealth” Mission.
  • Aim: To recognize students, community workers or Self-Help Groups (SHG), and municipal or sanitary workers engaged in tackling the enormous challenge of waste management, scientifically and sustainably.  Up to 500 fellows will be recognised under this fellowship initiative.

Eligibility Criteria: There are three categories of awards under the Swachhta Saarthi Fellowship. Each category has included a few specific sections. They can apply for the fellowship and get awards. They are,

  • Category-A: School students from 9th to 12th standards engaged in waste management community work.
  • Category-B: College/University/Institution students belongs to UG, PG & Research engaged in waste management community work.
  • Category-C: Individual Citizens working in the community can apply in this category. Apart from that, Persons working through SHGs, municipal or sanitary workers working beyond the specifications of their job requirement/descriptions can also apply.

Significance of Swachhta Saarthi Fellowship initiative:

  • This initiative will encourage interested students and citizens to continuously engage in their attempts to reduce wastes in cities and rural areas.

Waste To Wealth Mission:

  • The Waste to Wealth Mission is one of the nine national missions of the Prime Minister’s Science, Technology, and Innovation Advisory Council (PM-STIAC).
  • Aim: To identify, develop, and deploy technologies to treat waste and generate energy, recycle materials and extract value from waste.
  • The mission is the “scientific arm” of the Swachh Bharat Mission.
  • Objectives of the Waste To Wealth Mission:
    • To support the development of new technologies that can help create a cleaner and greener environment.
    • To boost and augment the Swachh Bharat Mission and Smart Cities Project by leveraging science, technology and innovation.
    • To create circular economic models that are financially viable for waste management.
    • To streamline waste handling in India.
  • Significance: The benefits of effective waste management is huge. As it is predicted that India has the potential to generate 3GW of electricity from waste by 2050.

Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser (PSA) to the Government of India:

  • It was set-up in 1999 by the Cabinet Secretariat. It is currently a Secretary level position.
  • Mandate: It is the chief advisor to the government on matters related to scientific policy. The policies will focus on critical infrastructure, economic and social sectors.
  • PM-STIAC: It is an overarching council. The Principal Scientific Adviser (PSA) is the chairman of the council. The council will perform functions such as,
    • Assess the status of specific S&T domains
    • Comprehends challenges in S&T domains
    • Formulates immediate, mid and long term interventions and presents a roadmap to the Prime Minister.

Source: AIR


“Sugamya Bharat App”

What is the News?

Union Minister for Social justice and Empowerment is going to virtually launch the “Sugamya Bharat App”.

About the Sugamya Bharat App:

It is a mobile application developed to sensitise and enhance accessibility within the 3 pillars of the Accessible India Campaign. These pillars namely- the transportation sector, building an accessible environment and the ICT ecosystem in India.

The app will aid the Accessible India Campaign towards making a barrier-free and conducive environment for Divyangjans (Persons with Disabilities – PwDs)

Features of the Sugamya Bharat App: The app provides five main features:

  • The four features are directly related to enhancing accessibility. These accessibility-related features are:
    1. Registration of complaints of inaccessibility with easy photo uploads and geotagging
    2. Positive feedback of examples and best practices worth emulating being shared by people as jan-bhagidhari (People’s participation)
    3. Departmental updates
    4. Guidelines and circulars related to accessibility.
  • The fifth is a special feature meant only for Divyangjan for COVID related issues.

Other Features of the Sugamya Bharat App:

  • The app is available in 10 regional languages.
  • The app is simple to use with an easy registration process. The Sugamya Bharat App will require only 3 mandatory fields such as Name, Mobile number and Email-id.
  • The App also contains many user-friendly features. For example, easy drop-down menus, videos in Hindi and English, sign language interpretation etc.

Source: PIB


“St. George’s Orthodox Church” is set to become Monument of National Importance

What is the News?

St. George’s Orthodox Church in Kerala is set to become a Centrally-protected monument of national importance. The Archaeological Survey of India(ASI) will recognise the church for protecting it.

Impact of this recognition: This will stop the demolition of the St. George’s Orthodox Church. The demolition started after the road widening project in National Highway(NH) 66.

About St. George’s Orthodox Church:

  • St George Orthodox church is believed to be established in AD 950 but some experts say it was built in AD 1050.
  • The church was rebuilt in 1952. But, the eastern part of the church was retained (not rebuilt) to preserve the murals.
    • The mural is any piece of artwork painted or applied directly on a wall, ceiling or other permanent surfaces.
  • Significance: The most attractive feature of the church is the murals paintings (around 47). These paintings are considered to be over 600 years old. Further, they reflect the blend between traditional Kerala mural art and Persian art.

Monuments of National Importance:

  • Nodal Authority: Monuments of National Importance are designated by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
  • What is a National Monument? ‘Ancient Monument’ is defined under the Ancient Monument and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act,1958. The Act defines Ancient Monument as any structure or monument or any cave, rock-sculpture, an inscription that is of historical, archaeological interest. Further, Ancient Monument has to be in existence for not less than 100 years.
  • Maintained by: The Central Government is authorised to maintain, protect and promote the Monuments of National Importance.
  • Sites: Currently, 3,691 monuments nationwide are protected by the Archaeological Survey of India(ASI). The highest number of them were in Uttar Pradesh followed by Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

Click Here to Read More about Monuments of National Importance

 Source: The Hindu


Russia’s “Arktika-M satellite” to monitor Arctic climate

What is the News?

Russia has successfully launched the Arktika-M satellite. The satellite was launched from the Soyuz carrier rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

About Arktika-M Satellite:

  • Arktika-M satellite is a remote-sensing and emergency communications satellite
  • Objective: It is designed to monitor the climate and environment in the Arctic region.
  • Russia plans to send up a second satellite in 2023. This satellite will be combined with the Arktika-M Satellite. These two satellites will offer round-the-clock, all-weather monitoring of the Arctic Ocean and the surface of the Earth.
  • Significance: The satellite will help create more accurate models for compiling short-term weather forecasts. The compilation will give researchers a large amount of new data for studying global climate change.

Source: TOI


‘USTR report’ mentions India’s policies as trade restrictive

What is the News?

U.S. Trade Representative(USTR) has released a report titled “2021 President’s Trade Agenda and 2020 Annual Report”.

What are the Key Highlights of the USTR report?

The USTR report highlighted a few important updates on trade between India and the US in 2020. They are,

USTR report on Trade Relations:

  • The US continued to engage with India in 2020. The US try to resolve market access issues affecting US exporters. However, India’s policies still remain trade-restrictive.
  • According to the USTR report, the Make in India Initiative has impacted the bilateral trade relationship. As the initiative put emphasis on import substitution, it affected US exports directly.

USTR report on bilateral trade deal:

  • In 2019, the United States had terminated India’s eligibility under the Generalized System of Preferences(GSP) programme.
    • GSP: It is a preferential tariff system provided by developed countries to developing countries. It allows concessional low/zero-tariff imports from developing countries.
  • After the suspension of GSP benefits, the US and India had resumed talks aimed at producing a trade deal. The talks towards better market access outcomes have continued throughout 2020.
  • However, issues remain unresolved leaving inconclusive negotiations.

USTR report on Digital Service Tax(DST)

  • Recently, the USTR Section 301 report has called India’s digital service tax unreasonable or discriminatory.
  • The report has said that the investigation is ongoing on the impact of this tax on US companies.

Source: The Hindu


3rd Phase of “Technical Education Quality Improvement Programme(TEQIP)”

What is the News?

The third phase of the Technical Education Quality Improvement Programme (TEQIP) is coming to an end in March 2021.

About TEQIP project:

  • It was launched in 2002 by the Ministry of Education. World Banks is assisting in its implementation.
  • Aim: The TEQIP project aims to upscale the quality of technical education and enhance the capacities of technical institutions.

Phases under the TEQIP project:

Phase I:

  • TEQIP project was first launched in 2003. It was implemented in 13 States and covered 127 Institutions including 18 Centrally Funded Institutions.
  • It focussed on
    1. Promotion of Academic Excellence
    2. Networking of Institutions for quality enhancement and resource sharing
    3. Enhancing quality and reach of services to Community and Economy.

Phase II:

  • Phase II of the TEQIP project was launched in 2010. The coverage was widened to cover 23 States/Union Territories (UTs) and 191 Institutes.
  • It focussed on
    1. Scaling up Post – Graduate education and demand-driven Research and Development innovation
    2. Establishing Centres of Excellence for focussed applicable research
    3. Training of faculty for effective teaching.

Phase III:

  • It was started in 2017 and will be completed by 2021. It focussed on improving quality and equity in engineering institutions in seven low income, eight northeastern and three hilly States.
  • Under this phase, graduates from elite institutions such as NIT and IIT were recruited to teach in some of the poorest and most remote areas. They were paid salaries in accordance with the Seventh Pay Commission.

What is the next step?

  • The Central Government is planning to replace the TEQIP project with a new programme called MERITE Project.
  • The MERITE project will have similar objectives to improve technical education.
  • However, the MERITE Project is still in the conceptual stage and has not yet received Cabinet approval.

Neither States nor Centre is willing to commit continued funding of the TEQIP project. This may leave 1,200 assistant professors out of the job. Apart from that, it would also impact the rural colleges as they would be deprived of the faculty.

Source: The Hindu

9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – March 2, 2021

 

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