Digital India Initiatives

[pib] National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NIXI

Mains level : Not Much

Two new Internet Exchange points (IXP) of NIXI were inaugurated at Durgapur and Bardhman.

What is NIXI?

  • NIXI is a not for profit Organization under section 8 of the Companies Act 2013 and was registered on 19th June 2003.
  • It’s an initiative under Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) vision 1000 days.
  • It aims for spreading the internet infrastructure to the citizens of India through the following activities:
  1. Internet Exchanges through which the internet data is exchanged amongst Internet Service Protocols (ISPs), Data Centers and CDNs.
  2. .IN Registry, managing and operation of .IN country-code domain and .भारत IDN domain for India.
  3. Indian Registry for Internet Names and Numbers (IRINN), managing and operating Internet protocol (IPv4/IPv6).

Why NIXI?

  • NIXI was set up for peering of Internet Service Protocols (ISPs) among themselves for the purpose of routing the domestic traffic within the country, instead of taking it all the way to US/Abroad.
  • It is thereby resulting in better quality of service (reduced latency) and reduced bandwidth charges for ISPs by saving on International Bandwidth.
  • NIXI is managed and operated on a Neutral basis, in line with the best practices for such initiatives globally.

Utility of NIXI

  • The launch of these new NIXI internet exchanges will contribute to the enhancement and improvement of Internet and Broadband services at local level and in neighbouring regions.
  • The internet service providers connecting at these points will benefit as their broadband services to their end users will improve, bringing about a change in the lives of the people of the region.
  • It will benefit every sector of the state ranging from health, education, agriculture, startup, and ecosystem to MSMEs & other business verticals.
  • Accessibility and convenience will increase for citizens in terms of availing government benefits and improving quality of life.

 

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Agmark, Hallmark, ISI, BIS, BEE and Other Ratings

[pib] BIS develops an Standard for ‘Non-electric Cooling Cabinet made of Clay’

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : IS 17693: 2022

Mains level : NA

Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), the National Standards Body of India, has developed an Indian Standard, IS 17693: 2022 for ‘non-electric cooling cabinet made of clay’.

IS 17693: 2022

  • BIS standard specifies the construction and performance requirements of a cooling cabinet made out of clay, which operates on the principle of evaporative cooling.
  • These cabinets may be used to store perishable foodstuff without the need of electricity.
  • This standard helps BIS in fulfilling 6 out of 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) like No poverty, Zero hunger, Gender equality, Affordable and clean energy, Industry, innovation, and infrastructure, and Responsible consumption and production.

Why such move?

  • Named as ‘Mitticool refrigerator’, Mansukh Bhai Prajapati from Gujarat is the innovator behind the refrigerator which projects an eco-friendly technology.
  • It is a natural refrigerator made primarily from clay to store vegetables, fruits, milk, and also for cooling water.
  • It provides natural coolness to foodstuffs stored in it without requiring any electricity.
  • Fruits, vegetables, and milk can be stored reasonably fresh without deteriorating their quality.

Back2Basics: Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS)

  • BIS is the National Standards Body of India working under the aegis of the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution.
  • It is established by the Bureau of Indian Standards Act, 1986 which came into effect on 23 December 1986.
  • The organization was formerly the Indian Standards Institution (ISI), set up under the Resolution of the Department of Industries and Supplies in September 1946.
  • The ISI was registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860.
  • A new Bureau of Indian standard (BIS) Act 2016 has been brought into force with effect from 12 October 2017.
  • The Act establishes the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) as the National Standards Body of India.

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Innovations in Sciences, IT, Computers, Robotics and Nanotechnology

[pib] Param Ananta Supercomputer

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Param Ananta Supercomputer

Mains level : National Supercomputing Mission

Param Ananta, a state-of the art Supercomputer was commissioned at IIT Gandhinagar.

Param Ananta

  • Param Ananta is capable of offering peak performance of 838 teraflops.
  • It is a joint initiative of Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and Department of Science and Technology (DST).
  • This facility is established under Phase 2 of the National Supercomputing Mission (NSM).
  • The system is equipped with a mix of CPU nodes, GPU nodes, High Memory nodes, High throughput storage and high performance Infiniband.
  • The supercomputer will rank behind C-DAC’s Param Siddhi-AI, which as of November 2021 was the 102nd most powerful supercomputer in the world — with peak performance capability of 3.3 petaflops.

What is a Supercomputer?

  • A supercomputer is a computer with a high level of performance as compared to a general-purpose computer.
  • The performance of a supercomputer is commonly measured in floating-point operations per second (FLOPS) instead of million instructions per second (MIPS).
  • Since 2017, there are supercomputers which can perform over a hundred quadrillion FLOPS (peta FLOPS).
  • Since November 2017, all of the world’s fastest 500 supercomputers run Linux-based operating systems.

Specific features

  • Param Ananta system is based on Direct Contact Liquid Cooling technology to obtain a high power usage effectiveness and thereby reducing the operational cost.
  • Multiple applications from various scientific domains such as Weather and Climate, Bioinformatics, Computational Chemistry, Molecular Dynamics, Material Sciences, Computational Fluid Dynamics etc. have been installed on the system for the benefit of researchers.
  • This high end computing system will be a great value addition for the research community.

Back2Basics: National Supercomputing Mission (NSM)

  • NSM is a proposed plan by GoI to create a cluster of seventy supercomputers connecting various academic and research institutions across India.
  • In April 2015 the government approved the NSM with a total outlay of Rs.4500 crore for a period of 7 years.
  • The mission was set up to provide the country with supercomputing infrastructure to meet the increasing computational demands of academia, researchers, MSMEs, and startups by creating the capability design, manufacturing, of supercomputers indigenously in India.
  • Currently there are four supercomputers from India in Top 500 list of supercomputers in the world.

Aims and objectives

  • The target of the mission was set to establish a network of supercomputers ranging from a few Tera Flops (TF) to Hundreds of Tera Flops (TF) and three systems with greater than or equal to 3 Peta Flops (PF) in academic and research institutions of National importance across the country by 2022.
  • This network of Supercomputers envisaging a total of 15-20 PF was approved in 2015 and was later revised to a total of 45 PF (45000 TFs), a jump of 6 times more compute power within the same cost and capable of solving large and complex computational problems.

When did India initiate its efforts to build supercomputers?

  • India’s supercomputer program was initiated in the late 1980s, when the United States ceased the export of a Cray Supercomputer due to technology embargos.
  • This resulted in India setting up C-DAC in 1988, which in 1991, unveiled the prototype of PARAM 800, benchmarked at 5 Gflops. This supercomputer was the second-fastest in the world at that time.
  • Since June 2018, the USA’s Summit is the fastest supercomputer in the world, taking away this position from China.
  • As of January 2018, Pratyush and Mihir are the fastest supercomputers in India with a maximum speed of Peta Flops.

What are the phases of the National Supercomputing Mission?

Phase I:

  • In the first phase of the NSM, parts of the supercomputers are imported and assembled in India.
  • A total of 6 supercomputers are to be installed in this phase.
  • The first supercomputer that was assembled indigenously is called Param Shivay. It was installed in IIT (BHU) located in Varanasi.
  • Similar systems, Param Shakti (IIT Kharagpur) and Param Brahma (IISER, Pune) were also later installed within the country.
  • The rest will be installed at IIT Kanpur, IIT Hyderabad and Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Advanced Studies (JNIAS).

Phase II:

  • The supercomputers that are installed so far are about 60% indigenous.
  • The 11 systems that are going to be installed in the next phase will have processors designed by the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) and will have a cumulative capacity of 10 petaflops.
  • These new systems are to be constructed more cost-effectively than the previous ones.
  • One of the 11 proposed supercomputers will be installed
  • at C-DAC exclusively for small and medium enterprises so that they can train employees as well as work on supercomputers at a very low cost.

Phase III:

  • The third phase aims to build fully indigenous supercomputers.
  • The government had also approved a project to develop a cryogenic cooling system that rapidly dispels the heat generated by a computing chip. This will be jointly built together by IIT-Bombay and C-DAC.

 

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UDAY Scheme for Discoms

[pib] National Open Access Registry (NOAR)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : National Open Access Registry (NOAR)

Mains level : Not Much

National Open Access Registry (NOAR) has successfully gone live from 1st May 2022.

What is NOAR?

  • NOAR is a centralized online platform through which the short-term open access to the inter-state transmission system is being managed in India.
  • It is an integrated platform accessible to all stakeholders in the power sector, including open access customers (both sellers and buyers), power traders, power exchanges, National/Regional/State LDCs and others.
  • The platform provides automation in the workflow to achieve shorter turnaround time for the transactions.
  • NOAR platform also has a payment gateway integrated for making payments related to interstate short-term open access transactions.
  • NOAR platform provides transparency and seamless flow of information among stakeholders of open access.

Key features

  • Centralized System: Single point electronic platform for all the stakeholders
  • Automated Process: Automated administration process of the short-term open access
  • Common Interface: Interface with the RLDCs scheduling applications and Power Exchanges (s)
  • Payment Gateway: Make payments related to STOA transactions

 

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Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

[pib] Petascale Supercomputer “PARAM Ganga” established at IIT Roorkee

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Param Ganga, Petaflops

Mains level : National Supercomputing Mission

The National Supercomputing Mission (NSM) has now deployed “PARAM Ganga”, a supercomputer at IIT Roorkee, with a supercomputing capacity of 1.66 Petaflops.

What is a Supercomputer?

  • A supercomputer is a computer with a high level of performance as compared to a general-purpose computer.
  • The performance of a supercomputer is commonly measured in floating-point operations per second (FLOPS) instead of million instructions per second (MIPS).
  • Since 2017, there are supercomputers which can perform over a hundred quadrillion FLOPS (peta FLOPS).
  • Since November 2017, all of the world’s fastest 500 supercomputers run Linux-based operating systems.

PARAM Ganga

  • PARAM Ganga is designed and commissioned by C-DAC under Phase 2 of the build approach of the NSM.
  • It is based on a heterogeneous and hybrid configuration of Intel Xeon Cascade lake processors, and NVIDIA Tesla V100.
  • There are 312 (CPU+GPU+HM) nodes with a total peak computing capacity of 1.67 (CPU+GPU+HM) PFLOPS performance.
  • The cluster consists of compute nodes connected with the Mellanox (HDR) InfiniBand interconnect network.
  • The system uses the Lustre parallel file system and operating system is CentOS 7.x.

Back2Basics: National Supercomputing Mission (NSM)

  • NSM is a proposed plan by GoI to create a cluster of seventy supercomputers connecting various academic and research institutions across India.
  • In April 2015 the government approved the NSM with a total outlay of Rs.4500 crore for a period of 7 years.
  • The mission was set up to provide the country with supercomputing infrastructure to meet the increasing computational demands of academia, researchers, MSMEs, and startups by creating the capability design, manufacturing, of supercomputers indigenously in India.
  • Currently there are four supercomputers from India in Top 500 list of supercomputers in the world.

Aims and objectives

  • The target of the mission was set to establish a network of supercomputers ranging from a few Tera Flops (TF) to Hundreds of Tera Flops (TF) and three systems with greater than or equal to 3 Peta Flops (PF) in academic and research institutions of National importance across the country by 2022.
  • This network of Supercomputers envisaging a total of 15-20 PF was approved in 2015 and was later revised to a total of 45 PF (45000 TFs), a jump of 6 times more compute power within the same cost and capable of solving large and complex computational problems.

When did India initiate its efforts to build supercomputers?

  • India’s supercomputer program was initiated in the late 1980s, when the United States ceased the export of a Cray Supercomputer due to technology embargos.
  • This resulted in India setting up C-DAC in 1988, which in 1991, unveiled the prototype of PARAM 800, benchmarked at 5 Gflops. This supercomputer was the second-fastest in the world at that time.
  • Since June 2018, the USA’s Summit is the fastest supercomputer in the world, taking away this position from China.
  • As of January 2018, Pratyush and Mihir are the fastest supercomputers in India with a maximum speed of Peta Flops.

What are the phases of the National Supercomputing Mission?

Phase I:

  • In the first phase of the NSM, parts of the supercomputers are imported and assembled in India.
  • A total of 6 supercomputers are to be installed in this phase.
  • The first supercomputer that was assembled indigenously is called Param Shivay. It was installed in IIT (BHU) located in Varanasi.
  • Similar systems, Param Shakti (IIT Kharagpur) and Param Brahma (IISER, Pune) were also later installed within the country.
  • The rest will be installed at IIT Kanpur, IIT Hyderabad and Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Advanced Studies (JNIAS).

Phase II:

  • The supercomputers that are installed so far are about 60% indigenous.
  • The 11 systems that are going to be installed in the next phase will have processors designed by the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) and will have a cumulative capacity of 10 petaflops.
  • These new systems are to be constructed more cost-effectively than the previous ones.
  • One of the 11 proposed supercomputers will be installed
  • at C-DAC exclusively for small and medium enterprises so that they can train employees as well as work on supercomputers at a very low cost.

Phase III:

  • The third phase aims to build fully indigenous supercomputers.
  • The government had also approved a project to develop a cryogenic cooling system that rapidly dispels the heat generated by a computing chip. This will be jointly built together by IIT-Bombay and C-DAC.

 

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Roads, Highways, Cargo, Air-Cargo and Logistics infrastructure – Bharatmala, LEEP, SetuBharatam, etc.

[pib] Unified Logistics Interface Platform (ULIP)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Unified Logistics Interface Platform (ULIP)

Mains level : NA

National Logistics Portal (NLP) is set to be integrated with Unified Logistics Interface Platform (ULIP) to make the multi-modal logistics ecosystem more efficient.

Unified Logistics Interface Platform (ULIP)

  • ULIP is designed to enhance efficiency and reduce the cost of logistics in India by creating a transparent, one window platform that can provide real-time information to all stakeholders.
  • It was also emphasized that the solution should have the visibility of multi-modal transport, and all the existing systems of various ministries, governing bodies, and private stakeholders should be integrated with the ULIP system.
  • This will create a National Single Window Logistics Portal which will help in reducing the logistics cost.
  • ULIP will provide real-time monitoring of cargo movement while ensuring data confidentiality with end-to-end encryption, comprehensive reduction in logistic cost resulting in competitive costing.

There are three key components which are defining the ULIP platform:

  • Integration with existing data sources of ministries: As authorization, compliance and clearance are some of the critical activities of Logistics; the integration with data points of ministries shall enable a holistic view and interlink the handshaking points.
  • Data exchange with private players: To enable the private players, logistics service providers, and industries to utilize the data available with ULIP and at the same time share their data (transportation, dispatch, delivery, etc.) with ULIP, thereby streamlining the processes to bring better efficiency through data exchange.
  • Unified document reference in the supply chain: To enable a single digitized document reference number for all the documentation processes in a single platform.

 

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Defence Sector – DPP, Missions, Schemes, Security Forces, etc.

[pib] Quantum Key Distribution

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : QKD

Mains level : Secured Communications, QKD

A joint team of scientists from DRDO and IIT Delhi, for the first time in the country successfully demonstrated Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) link between Prayagraj and Vindhyachal in Uttar Pradesh, a distance of more than 100 kilometers.

What is QKD Technology?

  • Quantum key distribution (QKD) is a secure communication method that implements a cryptographic protocol involving components of quantum mechanics.
  • It enables two parties to produce a shared random secret key known only to them, which can then be used to encrypt and decrypt messages.
  • It gives the ability of the two communicating users to detect the presence of any third party trying to gain knowledge of the key.
  • This is a result of a fundamental aspect of quantum mechanics: the process of measuring a quantum system, in general, disturbs the system.
  • By using quantum superposition or quantum entanglement and transmitting information in quantum states, a communication system can be implemented that detects data leak.

How does it work?

  • QKD works by transmitting many light particles, or photons, over fiber optic cables between parties.
  • Each photon has a random quantum state, and collectively, the photons sent make up a stream of ones and zeros.
  • This stream of quantum states that make up ones and zeros are called qubits — the equivalent of bits in a binary system.
  • When a photon reaches its receiving end, it will travel through a beam splitter, which forces the photon to randomly take one path or another into a photon collector.
  • The receiver will then respond to the original sender with data regarding the sequence of the photons sent, and the sender will then compare that with the emitter, which would have sent each photon.

Benefits offered

  • It allows the detection of data leak or hacking because it can detect any such attempt.
  • It also allows the process of setting the error level between the intercepted data in dependence.

 

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Land Reforms

What is the REWARD Project?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : REWARD Program

Mains level : Not Much

The GoI, the State Governments of Karnataka and Odisha, and the World Bank have signed a $115 million for the REWARD Project.

What is REWARD Program?

  • REWARD stands for Rejuvenating Watersheds for Agricultural Resilience through Innovative Development.
  • The project aims to help national and state institutions adopt improved watershed management practices to help increase farmers’ resilience to climate change, promote higher productivity and better incomes.
  • REWARD is being implemented in three to four Indian States.
  • It is proposed as a 6 years Project.

Objectives of the project

  • The outcomes are prevention of soil run-off, regeneration of natural vegetation, rainwater harvesting, and recharging of the groundwater table.
  • This enables multi-cropping and the introduction of diverse agro-based activities, which help to provide sustainable livelihoods to the people residing in the watershed area.

 

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Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

[pib] Extended Producers Responsibility on Plastic Packaging

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Extended Producers Responsibility

Mains level : Need for plastic waste management

The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change has notified the Guidelines on Extended Producers Responsibility on plastic packaging under Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016.

What is EPR?

  • Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) means the responsibility of a producer for the environmentally sound management of the product (plastic packaging) until the end of its life.
  • India had first introduced EPR in 2011 under the Plastic Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011, and E-Waste Management and Handling Rules, 2011.

What are the new EPR rules for Plastic Waste?

(A) Plastic packaging

  • The new EPR guidelines cover three categories of plastic packaging including:
  1. Rigid plastic
  2. Flexible plastic packaging of a single layer or multilayer (more than one layer with different types of plastic), plastic sheets and covers made of plastic sheet, carry bags (including carrying bags made of compostable plastics), plastic sachet or pouches
  3. Multi-layered plastic packaging has at least one layer of plastic and at least one layer of material other than plastic.
  • It has also specified a system whereby makers and users of plastic packaging can collect certificates — called Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) certificates — and trade in them.

(B) Ineligible plastics for EPR

  • Only a fraction of plastic that cannot be recycled will be eligible to be sent for end-of-life disposals such as road construction, waste to energy, waste to oil, and cement kilns.
  • Only methods prescribed by the Central Pollution Control Board will be permitted for their disposal.

Targets for recycling

  • In 2024, a minimum of 50% of their rigid plastic (category 1) will have to be recycled as will 30% of their category 2 and 3 plastic.
  • Every year will see progressively higher targets and after 2026-27, 80% of their category 1 and 60% of the other two categories will need to be recycled.
  • If entities cannot fulfill their obligations, they will on a “case by case basis” be permitted to buy certificates making up for their shortfall.

Effects on non-compliance

  • Non-compliance, however, will not invite a traditional fine.
  • Instead, an “environmental compensation” will be levied, though the rules do not specify how much this compensation will be.

Challenges in mandatory EPR

There are several challenges faced by both producers and bulk consumers that hinder proactive participation.

  • Consumer awareness: Waste segregation has been the greatest challenge in India owing to the lack of consumer awareness.
  • Lack of compliance: The plastic producers do not wish to engage in the process holistically and take the effort to build awareness.
  • Large-scale involvement: The EPR doesn’t take into account the formalization of informal waste pickers, aggregators, and dismantlers.
  • Lack of recycling infrastructure: These challenges range from lack of handling capacity to illegitimate facilities in the forms of multiple accounting of waste, selling to aggregators, and leakages.

Way forward

  • Tracking mechanism: Develop tracking mechanisms and provide oversight of waste compliance, in order to ensure that the mechanism of waste disposal is streamlined.
  • Strict enforcement: While enforcement strictness is of paramount importance, it is also vital to build an incentive structure around this to ensure better complicity by the producers.
  • Innovation: The time is ripe for innovators to come up with an alternative for plastics and the strong will of the Government to rid the toxic waste in a sustainable and safe manner.

Try answering this PYQ:

Q.In India, ‘extended producer responsibility’ was introduced as an important feature in which of the following?

(a) The Bio-medical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 1998

(b) The Recycled Plastic (Manufacturing and Usage) Rules, 1999

(c) The e-Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011

(d) The Food Safety and Standard Regulations, 2011

 

Post your answers here.

 

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Tribes in News

[pib] Scheme for Economic Empowerment of DNTs (SEED)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : SEED Scheme, DNTs, Criminal Tribes Act

Mains level : Welfare of the Denotified and Nomadic Tribes

The Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment has launched the Scheme for Economic Empowerment of De-notified, Nomadic, and Semi Nomadic Communities (SEED).

Who are the DNTs?

  • The term ‘De-notified Tribes’ stands for all those communities which were once notified under the Criminal Tribes Acts, enforced by the British Raj between l87l and I947.
  • These Acts were repealed after Independence in l952, and these communities were “De-Notified”.
  • The DNTs (of whom most are the medieval period Banjaras) are the most neglected, marginalized, and economically and socially deprived communities.
  • Most of them have been living a life of destitution for generations and still continue to do so with an uncertain and gloomy future.

SEED Scheme

  • Under the scheme, the government seeks to provide free coaching to students for civil services examinations, competitive exams for admission to professional courses; health insurance; livelihood support and housing.
  • It has been formulated for families having income from all sources of Rs.2.50 lakh or less per annum and not availing any such benefits from similar Scheme of Centre Government or the State Government.
  • The Scheme will be implemented through a portal, developed by the Department of Social Justice & Empowerment.
  • Post verification, the funds will be transferred directly to the beneficiaries in their account.
  • The other implementing agencies are Ministry of Rural Development, National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) and National Health Authority (NHA).

Components of the scheme

The Scheme will have the following four components:

[I] Free Coaching

  • A component of free Coaching for DNT Students has been envisioned for the educational empowerment of these communities.
  • The objective of this component is to enable them to appear in competitive examinations/ admission to professional courses like medicine, engineering, MBA, etc for obtaining an appropriate job in the Public/Private Sector.
  • The selection of the candidates for each course will be based on system generated merit list through the portal.
  • Approximately, 6250 students will be provided free coaching under this component in five years. The total funds spent in the five years will be Rs.50 crore.

[II] Health Insurance

  • Members of these communities are likely to have little or no access to medical facilities and other benefits available under the mainstream health policies.
  • The primary objective of the scheme is to provide financial assistance to National Health Authority (NHA) in association with State Health Agencies (SHAs).
  • These agencies will provide a health insurance cover of Rs.5 lakhs per family per year for families as per norms of “Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana.

 [III] Livelihood Initiatives

  • The decline of traditional occupations of DNT/NT/SNT communities has exacerbated their poverty.
  • A focus to support livelihood generation for these communities is required.
  • The primary objective of the scheme is to provide financial assistance to National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM).
  • It would enhance productivity growth in key livelihood sectors for employment generation through investments in institutional support, technical assistance.

[IV] Financial support for Housing

  • Considering the shortage of houses for DNTs, it has been proposed to earmark a separate outlay for PMAY to support specific importance in providing houses only for DNTs living in rural areas.
  • It is for those who have not taken benefit of the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana as SC, ST, OBC and are living below the poverty line.
  • The admissible support is Rs 1.20 lakhs in plains and 1.30 lakhs in hilly areas (per unit assistance).

Why need such a scheme?

  • DNTs escaped the attention of our developmental framework and thus are deprived of the support unlike Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
  • Historically, these communities never had access to private land or homeownership.
  • These tribes used forests and grazing lands for their livelihood and residential use and had “strong ecological connections.
  • Many of them are dependent upon various types of natural resources and carve out intricate ecological niches for their survival.
  • The changes in ecology and environment seriously affect their livelihood options.

 

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Primary and Secondary Education – RTE, Education Policy, SEQI, RMSA, Committee Reports, etc.

[pib] New India Literacy Programme for Adult Education

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : New India Literacy Programme

Mains level : Basic literacy and numeracy amongs adults

The Union Government approved a new scheme “New India Literacy Programme (नव भारत साक्षरता कार्यक्रम) for the period FYs 2022-2027 to cover all the aspects of Adult Education to align with National Education Policy 2020.

New India Literacy Programme

  • The scheme will cover non-literates of the age of 15 years and above in all states/UTs in the country.
  • The target for Foundational Literacy and Numeracy for FYs 2022-27 is 5 (five) crore learners @ 1.00 crore per year by using “Online Teaching, Learning and Assessment System (OTLAS)”.
  • A learner may register him/herself with essential information like name, date of birth, gender, Aadhaar number, mobile number, etc.
  • The scheme will be implemented through volunteerism through online mode.
  • The training, orientation, workshops of volunteers, maybe organized through face-to-face mode.
  • All material and resources shall be provided digitally for easy access to registered volunteers.

Objectives of the scheme

The objectives of the scheme are:

  • To impart foundational literacy and numeracy
  • To cover other components which are necessary for a citizen of the 21st century such as critical life skills (including financial literacy, digital literacy, commercial skills, health care and awareness, child care and education, and family welfare)
  • Vocational skills development (with a view towards obtaining local employment)
  • Basic education (including preparatory, middle, and secondary stage equivalency)
  • Continuing education (including engaging holistic adult education courses in arts, sciences, technology, culture, sports, recreation, etc.)

Salient features of the scheme

  • The school will be a Unit for implementation of the scheme
  • Schools to be used for conducting a survey of beneficiaries and Voluntary Teachers (VTs)
  • Foundational Literacy and Numeracy will be imparted through Critical Life Skills to all non-literates in the age group of 15 years and above
  • Performance Grading Index (PGI) for State/UT at the district level
  • CSR/Philanthropic Support may be received by hosting ICT support, providing volunteer support

Need for this scheme

  • As per Census 2011, the absolute number of non-literates of the country in 15 years and above age group is 25.76 crore (Male 9.08 crore, Female 16.68 crore).
  • Even after the Saakshar Bharat program was implemented during 2009-10 to 2017-18, it is estimated that currently around 18.12 crore adults are still non-literate in India.

 

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Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[pib] Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : TOP Scheme

Mains level : Not Much

The Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports (MYAS) has approved the inclusion of Alpine Skiing athlete Mohammad Arif Khan in the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) Core group.

Target Olympic Podium Scheme

  • In order to improve India’s performance at the Olympics and Paralympics, the MYAS started the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) in September 2014.
  • It includes foreign training, international competition, equipment, and coaching camp besides a monthly stipend of Rs. 50,000/- for each athlete.
  • It was particularly launched for India’s Olympic medal dream, at the 2016 (Rio) and 2020 (Tokyo) Olympics.

How does it function?

  • The Mission Olympic Cell is a dedicated body created to assist the athletes who are selected under the TOP Scheme.
  • The MOC is under the Chairmanship of the Director-General, Sports Authority of India (DG, SAI).
  • The idea of the MOC is to debate, discuss and decide the processes and methods so that the athlete receives the best assistance.
  • The MOC also focuses on the selection, exclusion, and retention of athletes, coaches, training institutes that can receive TOPS assistance.

 

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Electoral Reforms In India

[pib] Electoral Bonds Scheme

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Electoral Bonds

Mains level : Not Much

The 19th phase of sale of Electoral Bonds will commence ahead of elections is some states.

What are Electoral Bonds?

  • Electoral bonds are banking instruments that can be purchased by any citizen or company to make donations to political parties, without the donor’s identity being disclosed.
  • It is like a promissory note that can be bought by any Indian citizen or company incorporated in India from select branches of State Bank of India.
  • The citizen or corporate can then donate the same to any eligible political party of his/her choice.
  • An individual or party will be allowed to purchase these bonds digitally or through cheque.

About the scheme

  • A citizen of India or a body incorporated in India will be eligible to purchase the bond
  • Such bonds can be purchased for any value in multiples of ₹1,000, ₹10,000, ₹10 lakh, and ₹1 crore from any of the specified branches of the State Bank of India
  • The purchaser will be allowed to buy electoral bonds only on due fulfillment of all the extant KYC norms and by making payment from a bank account
  • The bonds will have a life of 15 days (15 days time has been prescribed for the bonds to ensure that they do not become a parallel currency)

Objective of the scheme

  • Transparency in political funding: To ensure that the funds being collected by the political parties is accounted money or clean money.

Who can redeem such bonds?

  • The Electoral Bonds shall be encashed by an eligible Political Party only through a Bank account with the Authorized Bank.
  • Only the Political Parties registered under Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 (43 of 1951) and which secured not less than one per cent of the votes polled in the last General Election to the Lok Sabha or the State Legislative Assembly, shall be eligible to receive the Electoral Bonds.

Restrictions that are done away

  • Earlier, no foreign company could donate to any political party under the Companies Act
  • A firm could donate a maximum of 7.5 per cent of its average three year net profit as political donations according to Section 182 of the Companies Act.
  • As per the same section of the Act, companies had to disclose details of their political donations in their annual statement of accounts.
  • The government moved an amendment in the Finance Bill to ensure that this proviso would not be applicable to companies in case of electoral bonds.
  • Thus, Indian, foreign and even shell companies can now donate to political parties without having to inform anyone of the contribution.

Issues with the Scheme

  • Opaque funding: While the identity of the donor is captured, it is not revealed to the party or public. So transparency is not enhanced for the voter.
  • No IT break: Also income tax breaks may not be available for donations through electoral bonds. This pushes the donor to choose between remaining anonymous and saving on taxes.
  • No anonymity for donors: The privacy of the donor is compromised as the bank will know their identity.
  • Differential benefits: These bonds will help any party that is in power because the government can know who donated what money and to whom.

 

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History- Important places, persons in news

Who was P.N. Panicker?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : P.N. Panicker and his contribution

Mains level : Not Much

The President of India has recently unveiled the statue of Shri P.N. Panicker at Poojappura, Thiruvananthapuram.

P.N. Panicker (1909-1995)

  • Puthuvayil Narayana Panicker is known as the Father of the Library Movement of Kerala.
  • June 19, his death anniversary, has been observed in Kerala as Vayanadinam (Reading Day) since 1996.
  • In 2017, PM has declared June 19, Kerala’s Reading Day, as National Reading Day in India.
  • The following month is also observed as National Reading Month in India

Contributions

  • Panicker led the formation of Thiruvithaamkoor Granthasala Sangham (Travancore Library Association) in 1945 with 47 rural libraries.
  • The slogan of the organization was ‘Read and Grow’.
  • Later on, with the formation of Kerala State in 1956, it became Kerala Granthasala Sangham (KGS).
  • He traveled to the villages of Kerala proclaiming the value of reading.
  • Grandhasala Sangham won the ‘Krupsakaya Award’ from UNESCO in 1975.
  • It became the Kerala State Library Council, with an in-built democratic structure and funding.

 

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Seeds, Pesticides and Mechanization – HYV, Indian Seed Congress, etc.

[pib] Seed Village Programme (Beej Gram Yojana)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Seed Village Concept

Mains level : Not Much

The govt is implementing Seed Village Programme (Beej Gram Yojana) since 2014-15 to upgrade the quality of farmers’ saved seeds.

What do you mean by Seed Village?

  • It is a village, wherein a trained group of farmers are involved in the production of seeds of various crops and cater to their needs themselves.

Seed Village Programme

  • This program aims at upgrading the quality of farm-saved seeds.
  • Under this, financial assistance is available for up to one acre per farmer for distribution of foundation/certified seeds at:
  1. 50% of seed cost for cereal crops
  2. 60% for pulses, oilseeds, fodder, and green manure crops

Objectives of the program

  • Increasing the seed production
  • Increasing the seed replacement rate
  • Organizing seed production in cluster (or) compact area replacing existing local varieties with new high yielding varieties
  • Self-sufficiency and self-reliance of the village

Implementation

The present program of seed village scheme is having two phases:

  • Seed production of different crops: The area which is suitable for raising a particular crop will be selected, and raised with a single variety of a kind.
  • Establishing seed processing unit: If the seeds are not processed and handled properly, all the past efforts in production may be lost. Thus seed processing and packaging is a very important aspect of seed production.

Benefits offered

  • Seed is available at the doorsteps of farms at an appropriate time.
  • Seeds are available at affordable costs even lesser than the market price.
  • It has increased the confidence among the farmers about the quality because of known sources of production.
  • It facilitates the fast spread of new cultivars of different kinds.

Back2Basics: Seed Replacement Rate

  • It is the percentage of area sown out of the total area of the crop planted in the season by using certified/quality seeds other than the farm-saved seed.
  • In simple terms, it is a measure of the cropped area covered with quality seed.

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Corruption Challenges – Lokpal, POCA, etc

[pib] Lokpal-Online: Platform for management of complaints

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Online Lokpal

Mains level : Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013

The (first) Chairperson, Lokpal of India, Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose has inaugurated’ a digital Platform for Management of Complaints called ‘Lokpal-Online’.

Lokpal-Online

  • Lokpal-Online is an end-to-end digital solution for the management of complaints against public servants filed under the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013.
  • It is a web-based facility, which will quicken the disposal of complaints in an accountable, transparent and efficient manner with benefits to all stakeholders.
  • It facilitates handling of complaints during the complete lifecycle of the Complaint, right from its filing to the final disposal.
  • It aims to bring more transparency and efficiency to the complaint handling mechanism.

Notable features of Online-Lokpal

  • Convenience to complainants for filing complaints online from anywhere anytime
  • Information to the complainant about action on the complaint at every stage through e-mails and SMS
  • Facility to the complainant to ascertain the status of complaint at anytime
  • Identity of the complaint is kept confidential
  • The CVC, CBI and other inquiry agencies can upload their reports directly on the ‘Lokpal-Online’ platform.
  • Reminders to inquiry agencies through e-mails and SMS
  • Generation of analytical reports as per requirement

Back2Basics: Lokpal

  • The Lokpal, the apex body to inquire and investigate graft complaints against public functionaries, came into being with the appointment of its chairperson and members in March 2019.
  • In March 2019, former SC judge Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose was selected as the first head of the Lokpal.

Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013

  • The Lokpal Act 2013 is anti-corruption legislation that seeks to provide for the establishment of the institution of Lokpal.
  • It seeks to inquire into allegations of corruption against certain important public functionaries including the PM, cabinet ministers, MPs, Group A officials of the Central Government, etc.
  • The Bill was introduced in the parliament following massive public protests led by anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare and his associates.
  • The Bill is one of the most widely discussed and debated Bills in India in recent times.

Its history

  • The term Lokpal was coined in 1963 by Laxmi Mall Singhvi, a member of parliament during a parliamentary debate about grievance mechanisms.
  • The Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) headed by Morarji Desai submitted an interim report on “Problems of Redressal of Citizen’s Grievances” in 1966.
  • In this report, ARC recommended the creation of two special authorities designated as ‘Lokpal’ and ‘Lokayukta’ for a redress of citizens’ grievances.
  • Maharashtra was the first state to introduce Lokayukta through The Maharashtra Lokayukta and Upa-Lokayuktas Act in 1971.

 

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Soil Health Management – NMSA, Soil Health Card, etc.

[pib] Soil Health Card Scheme

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NPK fertilizers, Soil Health Card

Mains level : Soil Health Management

National Productivity Council (NPC) has carried out a study on ‘Soil Testing Infrastructure for Faster Delivery of Soil Health Card in India’ in 2017.

What did the study find?

  • In the study it was found that application of fertilizer and micronutrients based on Soil Health Card (SHC) recommendations resulted in 8-10% of savings.
  • It has led to an overall increase in the yield of crops to the tune of 5-6% reported by adopting the SHC recommendations.

 About Soil Health Card Scheme

  • Soil Health Card (SHC) scheme is promoted by the Department of Agriculture & Co-operation under the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare.
  • An SHC is meant to give each farmer soil nutrient status of his/her holding and advice him/her on the dosage of fertilizers and also the needed soil amendments, that s/he should apply to maintain soil health in the long run.
  • SHC is a printed report that a farmer will be handed over for each of his holdings.
  • It will be made available once in a cycle of 2 years, which will indicate the status of soil health of a farmer’s holding for that particular period.
  • The SHC given in the next cycle of 2 years will be able to record the changes in the soil health for that subsequent period.

Parameters of SHC:

  • N, P, K (Macro-nutrients)
  • Sulfur (S) (Secondary- nutrient)
  • Zn, Fe, Cu, Mn, Bo (Micronutrients)
  • pH, EC (Electrical conductivity) , OC (Organic content)

Try this PYQ:

Q. The nation-wide ‘Soil Health Card Scheme’ aims at:

  1. expanding the cultivable area under irrigation.
  2. enabling the banks to assess the quantum of loans to be granted to farmers on the basis of soil quality.
  3. checking the overuse of fertilizers in farmlands.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 3 only

(c) 2 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

 

Post your answers here.

 

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Panchayati Raj Institutions: Issues and Challenges

[pib] Mysuru Declaration on Service Delivery by Panchayats

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Myusur Declaration

Mains level : Not Much

The Participants from 16 States signed the Mysuru Declaration and resolved to roll out the Common Minimum Service delivery by Panchayats across the country from April 1, 2022.

Mysuru Declaration

  • The Mysuru declaration is aimed at recognising Citizen Centric Services as the “Heart of Governance”.
  • It provides key inputs on various aspects of service delivery that are either provided by the panchayats directly or services of other departments that are facilitated by panchayats.

Highlights of the Declaration

WE, the Representatives and Officials recognise the efforts to promote inclusive and accountable Local Self Governments in delivery of services, in consonance with the priorities and the aspirations of our citizens.

We accepresponsibility for seizing this moment to strengthen our commitments to promote transparency, empower citizens, and harness the power of new technologies towards timely and quality delivery of services; enhancing citizen service experiences

We uphold the value of openness in our engagement with citizens to improve services, incorporating diverse views when designing and delivering services. We embrace principles of transparency and open government with a view towards achieving greater prosperity, well-being, and human dignity for sustainable development of local communities.

 

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Digital India Initiatives

[pib] Digital India Land Record Modernization Program

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : DILRMP

Mains level : Land records management

Union Minister for Rural Development and Panchayati Raj has recently held a workshop on Digital India Land Record Modernization Programme (DILRMP).

About DILRMP

  • The DILRMP was previously known as the National Land Record Modernization Programme (NLRMP).
  • It was launched in 2008 with the purpose to digitize and modernizing land records and developing a centralized land record management system.
  • The DILRMP is the amalgamation of two projects:
  1. Computerization of Land Records (CLR)
  2. Strengthening of Revenue Administration and Updating of Land Records (SRA & ULR)
  • The district will be taken as the unit of implementation, where all activities under the programme will converge.

Components of DILRMP

The DILRMP has 3 major components

  1. Computerization of land record
  2. Survey/re-survey
  3. Computerization of Registration

Key features: Unique Land Parcel Identification Numbers

  • It is just like the Aadhar Number of land parcels.
  • A unique ID based on Geo-coordinates of the parcels is generated and assigned to the plots.
  • This has been introduced to share the computerized digital land record data among different States/Sectors and a uniform system of assigning a unique ID to the land parcel across the country.

Benefits offered

The citizen is expected to benefit from DILRMP in one or more of the following ways;

  • Real-time land ownership records will be available to the citizen
  • Property owners will have free access to their records without any compromise in regard to the confidentiality of the information
  • Abolition of stamp papers and payment of stamp duty and registration fees through banks, etc. will also reduce interface with the Registration machinery
  • These records will be tamper-proof
  • This method will permit e-linkages to credit facilities

 

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Electric and Hybrid Cars – FAME, National Electric Mobility Mission, etc.

[pib] E-Amrit Portal for E-Vehicles

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : E-Amrit

Mains level : Not Much

India today launched ‘E-Amrit’, a web portal on electric vehicles (EVs), at the ongoing COP26 Summit in Glasgow, UK.

It is a must-go portal for every aspirant. Click here to visit E-Amrit.

E-Amrit Portal

  • E-Amrit is a one-stop destination for all information on electric vehicles—busting myths around the adoption of EVs, their purchase, investment opportunities, policies, subsidies, etc.
  • The portal has been developed and hosted by NITI Aayog under a collaborative knowledge exchange programme with the UK government.

Features of the portal

  • It intends to complement initiatives of the government on raising awareness about EVs.
  • It aims to sensitize consumers on the benefits of switching to electric vehicles.

Need for E-Amrit

  • In the recent past, India has taken many initiatives to accelerate the decarbonization of transport and adoption of electric mobility in the country.
  • Schemes such as FAME and PLI are especially important in creating an ecosystem for the early adoption of EVs.

 

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