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Extension of Sub-Categorization of OBCs
- Recently, the Union Cabinet has approved a six-month extension to the commission appointed to examine sub-categorization of Other Backward Classes (OBCs), up to 31st January 2021.
- The commission is headed by Justice (Retd.) G Rohini.
- It was constituted under Article 340 of the Constitution with the approval of the President on 2nd October 2017.
- It had been constituted to complete the task of sub-categorising 5000-odd castes in the central OBC list so as to ensure more equitable distribution of opportunities in central government jobs and educational institutions.
- Article 340 deals with the appointment of a commission to investigate the conditions of backward classes.
- It shall investigate the matters referred them and present a report to the President.
- The President shall cause a copy of the report so presented together with a memorandum explaining the action taken thereon to be laid before each House of Parliament.
National Commission for Backward Classes
- It is a constitutional body established in 1993 under Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
- It was constituted pursuant to the provisions of the National Commission for Backward Classes Act, 1993.
- The 102nd Constitution Amendment Act, 2018 provided constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC), which was previously a statutory body.
- NCBC has the authority to examine complaints and welfare measures regarding socially and educationally backward classes.
- In 2015, the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) had recommended that OBCs should be categorized into extremely backward classes, more backward classes and backward classes.
- The benefits of the reservation in OBCs are being cornered mostly by the dominant OBC groups over the years so there is a need to recognize sub-quotas for the extremely backward classes within the OBCs.
Co-operative Banks under RBI
- Recently, the Central government approved an ordinance to bring all urban and multi-state co-operative banks under the direct supervision of the RBI.
- The decision comes after several instances of fraud and serious financial irregularities, including the major scam at the Punjab and Maharashtra Co-operative (PMC) Bank in 2019.
- Till now, all the co-operative banks came under dual regulation of the RBI and the Registrar of Co-operative Societies.
- Previously, the RBI had no powers to draw up an enforceable scheme of reconstruction of a co-operative bank.
- However, from now onwards the urban and multi-state co-operative will come under the direct supervision of RBI.
- The move will empower the RBI to regulate all urban and multi-state co-operative banks on the lines of commercial banks.
- It is a financial entity which belongs to its members, who are at the same time the owners and the customers of their bank.
- It is distinct from commercial banks.
- They are broadly classified into Urban and Rural co-operative banks based on their region of operation.
- They are registered under the Co-operative Societies Act of the State concerned or under the Multi-State Co-operative Societies Act, 2002.
- The Co-operative banks are also governed by the
- Banking Regulations Act, 1949.
- Banking Laws (Co-operative Societies) Act, 1955.
Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund
- Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has given its nod to set up a Rs.15,000 crore Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund.
- The fund had been proposed as part of the Aatmanirbhar Bharat.
- Eligible beneficiaries under the scheme include the following with a minimum 10% margin money contribution by them,
- Farmer producer organisations,
- Section 8 companies,
- Private companies and
- Individual entrepreneurs
- The balance 90% would be the loan component to be made available by scheduled banks.
- The Centre will provide 3% interest subvention to eligible beneficiaries, with a 2-year moratorium period for the principal loan amount and six-year repayment period after that.
- Union Government has given approval to Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Centre (IN-SPACe)
- It will be the nodal national entity under the Department of Space to drive building of satellites, rockets, or launch services through Indian industry.
- It will provide a level playing field for private companies to use Indian space infrastructure.
- It will also hand-hold, promote and guide the private industries in space activities through encouraging policies and a friendly regulatory environment
- New Space India Limited (NSIL) is a Central Public Sector Enterprise of Government of India.
- It is Head Quartered in Bangalore.
- It was established on March 2019 under the administrative control of Department of Space (DOS), India.
- The main objective is to scale up industry participation in Indian space programs.
- NSIL will endeavor to re-orient space activities from a ‘supply driven’ model to a ‘demand driven’ model, thereby ensuring optimum utilization of our space assets.
World Economic Outlook
- WEO is a survey by the IMF that is usually published twice a year in the months of April and October.
- It analyzes and predicts global economic developments during the near and medium term.
- In response to the growing demand for more frequent forecast updates, the WEO Update is published in January and July between the two main WEO publications released usually in April and October.
- WEO update has projected a sharp contraction of 4.5 % in FY21, a steep drop from its April forecast of a 1.9 per cent expansion, calling it a “historic low” for India.
- In fact, India faced the sharpest cut in the outlook, a 6.4% (WEO April 2020) point revision due to a more severe fallout of the pandemic than anticipated.
- However, India is expected to bounce back in FY22 with a 6 % growth rate.
- In comparison, emerging markets (EMs) and developing countries saw a 2-percentage point reduction in outlook, while the global outlook was cut by 1.9 percentage points.
Global Education Monitoring Report
- It is an editorially independent, authoritative and evidence-based annual report published by UNESCO.
- Formerly known as the Education for All Global Monitoring Report.
- Its mandate is to monitor progress towards the education targets in the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) framework.
- It has also developed the World Inequality Database on Education (WIDE) to draw attention to the extremely high levels of education inequality across countries and between groups within countries.
- According recent GEM report about 40% of low- and lower-middle-income countries have not supported learners at risk of exclusion during this crisis, such as the poor, linguistic minorities and learners with disabilities.
- GEM 2020 had noted that efforts to maintain learning continuity during the pandemic may have actually worsened exclusion trends.
- During the height of school closures in April 2020, almost 91% of students around the world were out of school.
- Imperfect substitutes – Education systems responded with distance learning solutions, all of which offered less or more imperfect substitutes for classroom instruction.
- United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was formed in 1945.
- It is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) based in Paris.
- It has 195 member states and ten associate members.
- India was a founder member of the Organization.
- Its declared purpose is to contribute to peace and security by promoting international collaboration through educational, scientific, and cultural reforms in order to increase universal respect for justice, the rule of law, and human rights along with fundamental freedom proclaimed in the United Nations Charter.
GeM Country of Origin
- Government e-Marketplace (GeM) is a Special Purpose Vehicle launched in 2016, under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
- It is a one-stop National Public Procurement Portal.
- It facilitates online procurement of common use goods & services required by various Central and State Government Departments/Organizations/Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs).
- The procurement of goods and services by Ministries and the Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs) is mandatory for goods and services available on GeM.
- It also provides the tools of e-bidding and reverse e-auction to facilitate the government users achieve the best value for their money.
- Recent Developments – It has made mandatory for sellers to enter the Country of Origin while registering all new products on GeM.
- It has enabled a provision for indication of the percentage of local content in products.
- Now, the Country of Origin as well as the local content percentage are visible in the marketplace for all items.
- Make in India Filter has been enabled on GeM portal so that the buyers can choose to buy only those products that meet the minimum 50% local content criteria.
- The initiative was launched by the Ministry of Human Resource Development.
- It is to help systematically assimilate technologies having commercial potential and information related to incubated startups in higher education institutions.
- It is an extension of ‘YUKTI – Young India combating COVID with Knowledge, Technology and Innovation Portal’.
- YUKTI which was launched to identify ideas relevant in COVID pandemic.
- The Ministry has invited students, faculty members, startups and other stakeholders of higher education institutions to register on the YUKTI portal and share their technologies and innovations.
- Database shared will be showcased to the investor community such as businessmen, farmers and industrialists i.e. students will be able to sell their ideas.
- However, preliminary innovations won’t be showcased on YUKTI 2.0 but only those which have commercialization potential.
- Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism (EAG) is a regional body comprising nine countries.
- Members – India, Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Belarus.
- It is an associate member of the FATF.
- Recently India has participated plenary virtual meeting of EAG, under the aegis of the Financial Action Task Force.
- In the meeting India plans to share more evidence with the key FATF members on the narco-terror cases linked to Pakistan-based syndicates, through which funds are allegedly being supplied to the terrorists operating in Jammu and Kashmir.
- FATF is an inter-governmental body to promote effective measures combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.
- A country is put on the grey list when it fails to curb terrorism financing and money laundering.
- Grey list countries – Pakistan, Myanmar, ,Cambodia, Syria, Mongolia and Yemen in Asia along with few other countries
- Putting a country on the blacklist means shutting all doors to international finance for that country. Countries – North Korea and Iran.
Virtual Healthcare and Hygiene EXPO 2020
- Union Ministry for Chemicals and Fertilizers inaugurated one of India’s largest and first Virtual Healthcare and Hygiene EXPO 2020.
- It is organized by FICCI.
- It aims to give a boost to health and hygiene endeavors.
- Due to COVID-19 in India an ecosystem is being built for a self-reliant India, which will help in ramping up domestic production in Pharmaceutical, Health and Hygiene Sector.
Decarbonizing Transport in India
- NITI Aayog and International Transport Forum (ITF) will collaborate to launch a new online project called ‘Decarbonizing Transport in India’.
- It is to chart out a path for a low-carbon transport system in the country.
- It will offer an opportunity to provide inputs for transport challenges and their relation to CO2 reduction in the country.
- The project will include designing a transport emissions assessment framework for India, providing the government with a detailed understanding of transport activities and CO2 emissions as a basis for decision-making.
- It is a part of the ITF’s DTEE (Decarbonizing Transport in Emerging Economies) series of projects.
- DTEEs aimed at lowering carbon emissions across different regions in the world.
- The current participants in the initiative are India, Argentina, Azerbaijan, and Morocco.
International Transport Forum
- It is an inter-governmental organization within the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) system.
- It is the only global body with a mandate for all modes of transport.
- It acts as a think tank for transport policy issues and organizes the annual global summit of transport ministers.
- India has been a member of ITF since 2008.
- DTEE is a collaboration between the ITF and the Wuppertal Institute, which is supported by the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety.
- Biogas and CNG are the same but for a few differences.
- Origin –
- CNG is found in nature as Natural Gas.
- Biogas, is produced in a sealed tank/ chamber, from an organic feed-stock.
- Composition – Biogas is mainly Methane & Carbon Di Oxide, while Natural Gas is mainly Methane.
- Compressed Biogas proposes to build large biogas plants that will continuously produce biogas from urban, domestic and industrial wastes.
- The biogas produced will be stored under pressure in gas cylinders for easy distribution to urban and semi-urban customers as alternative to charcoal and firewood.
- Union Government is in the process of including Compressed Bio-Gas under Priority Sector Lending.
- Sustainable Alternative towards Affordable Transportation (SATAT) scheme on Compressed Bio Gas was launched in 2018.
- It envisages targeting production of 15 MMT of CBG from 5000 plants by 2023.
- The Government of India has taken various enabling steps to ensure the success of the SATAT scheme.
- Oil Marketing Companies have offered long term pricing on CBG to make projects bankable and have agreed to execute long term agreements on CBG.
- Under SATAT scheme, IOT Biogas Limited (Namakkal, Tamil Nadu) decided to divert part/full biogas production to Compressed Biogas (CBG) generation.
- The Compressed Biogas procured from IOT Biogas plant shall be sold through Retail Outlets (ROs) and Institutional Business (IB).
- This is the first time an alternative to natural gas is being sold by Oil Marketing Companies.
- Researchers from the IIT- Madras are collaborating with their counterparts in Germany, to develop alternative technologies to produce green hydrogen.
- It is to help the transition to hydrogen-based economy.
- The project is taken up under the Scheme for Promotion of academic and Research Collaboration or SPARC.
- Conventional methods of generating hydrogen result in a large quantity of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that imposed serious environmental concerns.
- Electrochemical splitting of water, called ‘Water Electrolysis’ (WE), is clean, facile, and highly efficient technology for large-scale production of high-purity H2.
- Scheme for Promotion of Academic and Research Collaboration (SPARC) is an initiative of the Ministry of Human Resource Development.
- IIT, Kharagpur is the National Coordinating Institute to implement the SPARC programme.
- It aims at improving the research ecosystem of India’s higher educational institutions by facilitating academic and research collaborations between Indian institutions and the best institutions in the world.
Report on the Illegal Wildlife Trade
- Recently, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has released the first global report on the Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT) namely, “Money Laundering and the Illegal Wildlife Trade”.
- The report comes amid increasing international concern that the crime could lead to more zoonotic diseases in the future.
- The report has also described IWT as a “global threat”, which also has links with other organised crimes like modern slavery, drug trafficking and arms trade.
- It also highlighted that criminals are frequently misusing the legitimate wildlife trade, as well as other import-export type businesses, as a front to move and hide illegal proceeds from wildlife crimes.
International Comparison Program
- It is the largest worldwide data-collection initiative, under the guidance of UN Statistical Commission (UNSC).
- It’s goal is to produce Purchasing Power Parities (PPPs) which are vital for converting measures of economic activities to be comparable across economies.
- Along with the PPPs, the ICP also produces Price Level Indices (PLI) and other regionally comparable aggregates of GDP expenditure.
- The World Bank has released new Purchasing Power Parities (PPPs) for reference year 2017, under International Comparison Program (ICP).
- Highlights of recent report
- The Purchasing Power Parities (PPPs) of Indian Rupee per US$ at Gross Domestic Product (GDP) level is now 20.65 in 2017 from 15.55 in 2011.
- India is second largest economy in terms of its PPP-based share in regional Actual Individual Consumption and regional Gross Capital Formation.
- The Price Level Index (PLI)—the ratio of a PPP to its corresponding market exchange rate—is used to compare the price levels of economies, of India is 47.55 in 2017 from 42.99 in 2011.
- India has participated in almost all ICP rounds since its inception in 1970.
- The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation is National Implementing Agency (NIA) for India.
- It has the responsibility of planning, coordinating and implementing national ICP activities.
Increase in Ozone Levels
- Recently, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has observed an increase in ozone (a harmful pollutant) levels in the several cities of the country.
- The analysis is based on Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data from 22 cities in 15 States.
- The ozone is primarily a “sunny weather problem” in India as the presence of sunlight has a direct impact on formation of ground level ozone.
- Heat acts as a catalyst, facilitating photochemical reactions, hence higher concentrations of ozone are seen during the summer months.
- Additionally, the intense heat waves are one of the factors responsible for increased ozone levels in the country.
- Usually, the ozone levels tend to spike when winter conditions subside, and its presence is felt most during the day.
- At night, ozone levels tend to deplete, before spiking again during the afternoon, when sunlight is available.
- Thus, the characteristics of summer pollution include high winds, intermittent rains, thunderstorms, high temperature and heat waves.
- Ozone is not directly emitted by any source but is formed by photochemical reactions between oxides of nitrogen (NOx), other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and gases in the air under the influence of sunlight and heat.
- The ‘good’ ozone present in the earth’s ozone layer protects human beings from harmful Ultraviolet (UV) radiation whereas the ground level ozone is highly reactive and can have adverse impacts on human health.
- Even short-term exposure of an hour is dangerous for those with respiratory conditions and asthma.
- Thus, an 8-hour average is considered for ozone instead of the 24-hour average for other pollutants.
- Ozone pollution is a clear indicator of vehicular pollution, which results in higher concentration of NOx.
Maharashtra-Bengal Friendship Chapter
- Pune-based NGO Sarhad to launch a series of literary and cultural programmes to strengthen connections between Maharashtra and West Bengal.
- It aims in a bid to revive the Independence-era spirit of the ‘Lal-Bal-Pal’, named after nationalists Lala Lajpat Rai, ‘Lokmanya’ Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Bipin Chandra Pal.
- ‘Maharashtra-Bengal friendship chapter’ is a two year long event that will commence on Tilak’s death centenary (August 1, 1920-August 1, 2020).
- The festival will go on till August 15, 2022 to mark the 150th birth anniversary of the great philosopher, Sri Aurobindo Ghosh.
Lala Lajpat Rai
- He was popularly known as Punjab Kesari.
- He was also associated with activities of Punjab National Bank and Lakshmi Insurance Company in their early stages in 1894.
- Following organizations are established by Lala Lajpat Rai,
- Arya Gazaette,
- Hisar congress,
- Hisar Arya Samaj,
- National DAV managing Committee.
Bal Gangadhar Tilak
- He was the first leader of the Indian Independence Movement.
- He is known as the “Father of the Indian unrest.”, Mahatma Gandhi called him “The Maker of Modern India”.
- Tilak was one of the first and strongest advocates of Swaraj (“self-rule”) and a strong radical in Indian consciousness.
- Tilak helped found the All India Home Rule League in 1916–18, with G. S. Khaparde and Annie Besant.
Bipin Chandra Pal
- He was an Indian nationalist, writer, orator, social reformer and Indian independence movement activist.
- He stood against the partition of Bengal by the colonial British government.
- He was recognised as the chief exponent of a new national movement revolving around the ideals of Purna Swaraj, Swadeshi, boycott and national education.
- Aurobindo studied for the Indian Civil Service at King’s College, Cambridge, England.
- He involved in nationalist politics in the Indian National Congress and the nascent revolutionary movement in Bengal with the Anushilan Samiti.
- At Pondicherry, Sri Aurobindo developed a spiritual practice he called Integral Yoga and founded the Sri Aurobindo Ashram.
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