China produces gas from flammable ice under South China Sea

Why in news ?

China has successfully produced natural gas from methane hydrate, also known as flammable ice, in an experimental project in the South China Sea.

What is flammable ice ?

Also called methane hydrate or Methane clathrates or gas hydrate, is a solid  in which methane-hydrate-depositsa large amount of methane is trapped within a crystal structure of water, forming a solid similar to ice.

Natural Deposits : Methane clathrates are restricted to the shallow lithosphere i.e. < 2,000 m depth. Furthermore, necessary conditions are found only in either continental sedimentary rocks in polar regions where average surface temperatures are less than 0 °C; or in oceanic sediment at water depths greater than 300 m where the bottom water temperature is around 2 °C.

What is the use ?

If methane hydrate is either warmed or depressurized, it will revert back to water and natural gas. When brought to the earth’s surface, one cubic meter of gas hydrate releases 164 cubic meters of natural gas. It is thought to have the potential to be a revolutionary energy source that could be key to future energy needs.

Japan reported a similar successful production test . India, Canada and the United States are also believed to be looking at hydrates as an alternative energy source.

Source : The Hindu

GS I : Distribution of key natural resources across the world (including South Asia and the Indian subcontinent)


India among top nations with potential for digital payments

In News

India has emerged strong, exhibiting a high potential in terms of digital payments and has been categorised under the break out segment among 60 countries, according to the Digital Evolution Index 2017.

Break out segment : Refers to countries that have relatively lower absolute levels of digital advancement, yet remain poised for growth and are attractive to investors by virtue of their potential,

What the report says?

  • The Fletcher School at Tufts University in partnership with Mastercard, unveiled the Digital Evolution Index 2017.
  • The Index is a comprehensive research that tracks the progress countries have made in developing their digital economies and integrating connectivity into the lives of billions.
  • The Index measures four key drivers – supply, consumer demand, institutional environment, and innovation.

India in the digital evolution

India has been experiencing rapid strides of progress with an evolving payments landscape, catalysed by the governments demonetisation decision. With new players foraying into the market and an entire gamut of solutions for alternate payments, the India payment ecosystem is growing each day

Source : Economic Times

GS III : Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property right

Muntra, country’s first unmanned tank, rolls out from the Chennai lab

In News 

Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has developed an unmanned, remotely operated tank which has three variants surveillance, mine detection and reconnaissance in areas with nuclear and bio threats named as Muntra.

About the vehicle

  • Muntra-S is the country’s first tracked unmanned ground vehicle developed for unmanned surveillance missions while Muntra-M is for detecting mines and Muntra-N is for operation in areas where there is a nuclear radiation or bio weapon risk.
  • The vehicle has been tested and validated at Mahajan field firing range in Rajasthan under dusty desert conditions where temperatures touched 52 C. Army comfortably tele-operated the vehicle.
  • It has surveillance radar, an integrated camera along with laser range finder which can be used to spy on ground target 15km away – may be a crawling men or heavy vehicles.

Source : Economic Times

GS III : Internal Security

Scheme for banks not applied as envisaged’

In News

The Centre’s Indradhanush scheme to recapitalise public sector banks (PSBs) based on their performance was not implemented in a manner envisaged, according to a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG).

About CAG report

  • According to the CAG report tabled in Parliament on Friday, as per the scheme, a portion of the recapitalisation was to be based on the bank’ performance. However, this was not followed during disbursal of funds.
  • The parameters used to determine whether banks required capital changed from year to year and in some years the rationale for capitalising banks was not even recorded. The scheme’s target of raising Rs. 1.1 lakh crore from the markets by 2018-19 was not likely to be met.
  • Audit also noticed that in some cases the rationale for distribution of GOI capital among different PSBs (Public Sector Banks) was not on record.
  • Some banks that did not qualify for additional capital as per the decided norms, were infused with capital, and in some cases, banks were infused with more capital than required.

Source : The Hindu

GS III : Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment

Ministry of Health releases Operational Guidelines for Planning and Implementation of Family Participatory Care

In news

Ministry of Health and Family Welfare recently released Operational Guidelines for Planning and Implementation of Family Participatory Care (FPC) for improving newborn health.

Details of the guidelines

  • The guidelines will serve as a guiding document for those intending to introduce FPC in their facility as an integral part of facility based newborn care.
  • The document also provides details of infrastructure, training, role of health care providers and steps in the operationalization of FPC in the newborn care unit.
  • The operational guidelines of FPC are for all stakeholders involved in the process of planning and delivering newborn care.
  • Guidelines also addresses various aspects of attitudes, infrastructural modifications and practice that will help in establishing FPC at Special Newborn Care Units (SNCU) such as sensitization of State and District Managers on FPC, prioritization of SNCUs for initiating FPC, making required infrastructural enhancement in SNCU, creating family participatory care environment in SNCU, ensuring availability of supplies for parents-attendants, training of SNCU staff for SNCU, role of healthcare providers for FPC implementation and institutional support for FPC.
  • The capacities of parents-attendants are built in newborn care through a structured training programme (audio -visual module and a training guide). The staff at a newborn care unit would provide continuous supervision and support.

Need for Care

Sick and newborn are highly vulnerable and require careful nurturing in order to survive the neonatal period and first year of life. Under National Health Mission, more than 700 state of the art Special Newborn Care Units (SNCU) have been established across the country to provide 24 X 7 comprehensive care to the newborns by dedicated trained staff.

If parents are trained, during the stay of their babies in the hospital, to provide supportive care to their sick and newborns, it will help in not only improving survival of the babies after discharge but will also provide for psycho-social and developmental needs of the newborn. In this regard, Family Participatory Care has emerged as an important concept of health care which provides for partnership between health care staff and families in care of sick newborns admitted in the SNCU.

Source : Pib

GS II : Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

Post-GST, heavy sacks and small change

In News

It might have adverse consequences for the environment explained in the article.

Why GST adversely affect environment ?

  • The tax rate on recycled plastic shooting up from 5.5% to 18% post-GST, ragpicking as a livelihood is turning unviable.
  • After GST came in, the 18% tax on waste plastic has sparked a downward spiral in prices in the recycling markets.
  • Plastic recyclers, faced with the new tax, are protecting their margins by slashing prices at which they buy from thousands of waste managers and ragpickers.
  • The price of mixed plastic is down from Rs. 19 per kg to around Rs. 13 now.
  • The lower demand, coupled with the “sudden introduction of confusing taxes” has resulted in reduced purchases of waste.

Source : The Hindu

GS III : Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

NASA scientists to chase solar eclipse using special research jets

In News

Scientists are planning to chase the shadow of the Moon using NASA’s research jets during the upcoming total solar eclipse in the US, in order to capture the clearest ever images of the Sun’s outer atmosphere.

Taking observations from twin telescopes mounted on the noses of the planes will capture the clearest images of the Sun’s corona to date and the first-ever thermal images of Mercury, revealing how temperature varies across the planet’s surface.

Solar eclipse

  • As seen from the Earth, a solar eclipse is a type of eclipse that occurs when Untitledthe Moon passes between the Sun and Earth, and the Moon fully or partially blocks  the Sun.
  • This can happen only at new moon when the Sun and the Moon are in conjunction as seen from Earth in an alignment referred to as syzygy.
  • In a total eclipse, the disk of the Sun is fully obscured by the Moon.
  • In partial and annular eclipses, only part of the Sun is obscured.

Why the study ?

The corona is heated to millions of degrees, yet the lower atmospheric layers like the photosphere, the visible surface of the Sun are only heated to a few thousand degrees. Scientists are not sure how this inversion happens.

The high-definition pictures, captured 30 times per second, will be analysed for wave motion in the corona to see if waves move towards or away from the surface of the Sun, and with what strengths and sizes.

Source : Indian Express

GS III : Awareness in the fields of Space

Niti Aayog clears six proposals for high-tech public transport

Why in news ? 

Niti Aayog cleared half-a-dozen proposals of the transport ministry exploring options to improve public transport.

Approval of Niti Aayog to experiment and introduce six latest mass rapid transportation technologies. These technologies include metrino, stadler buses, hyperloop, pod taxis, hybrid buses and freight rail road.

How it helpful in transport?

Mass rapid transportation technologies such as hyperloop, metrino and pod taxis couldpg-15-1 soon be a reality. Approved the proposals of the transport ministry with a condition that the ministry conducts trial run of all these technologies and puts in place safety measures before starting commercially operation. India don’t have any such thing, need to know the global safety standards and ensure that these technology companies are following it.

Need for new technology

The new technologies are being explored as current public transportation is unable to resolve the increasing traffic crisis in the country. Besides, some of them are more cost effective than the existing ones. Metrino (pod taxis) is almost one tenth of the cost of the metro, so there’s a cost advantage as well.

Source : Economic Times

GS III : Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc

Cabinet clears minimum wage code bill

In News

Union cabinet cleared the first of the four labour codes on wages, paving way for consolidation of more than a dozen different central labour laws dealing with wages of labourers.

Features of the Bill

  • Bill also seeks to empower the Centre to set a minimum wage across sectors, and states will have to maintain that. However, states will be able to provide higher minimum wage in their jurisdiction than fixed by the central government since labour is in the concurrent list.
  • Once approved by Parliament, even workers getting monthly pay of higher than Rs 18,000 would be legally entitled to a minimum wage ensure a universal minimum wage for all industries and workers.
  • Besides, the minimum wage will be applicable on all classes of workers. Now it made for all classes.
  • The Centre to notify a national minimum wage below which no state can fix their minimum wages and this will be revised every two years.

Under the code on wages, the labour ministry plans to streamline the definition of wages by amalgamating four wage-related statutes. These include the Minimum Wages Act, 1948, the Payment of Wages Act, 1936, the Payment of Bonus Act, 1965, and the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976. At present, there are about half a dozen definitions of wages in various acts across the Centre and states, which employers have to grapple with.

Source : ET

GS II : Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

States can’t enact law on parliamentary secretaries: SC

Why in news ?

SC ruling : state assemblies hold no power to enact a law that enables them to appoint parliamentary secretaries.

Parliamentary secretary

A Parliament Secretary is similar to a Minister of State who assists a Minister in his or her duties.


The ruling while hearing pleas challenging the appointment of 13 MLAs as parliamentary secretaries by the Assam government in 2015. The verdict would also have an impact on the Aam Aadmi Party government’s decision to appoint 21 MLAs as parliamentary secretaries.

Delhi Ruling : The Delhi High Court too had quashed their appointments, saying it lacked the approval of the lieutenant governor. The matter is currently pending before the Election Commission of India. All 21 MLAs may be disqualified if the poll body finds that AAP MLAs serving as parliamentary secretaries was a case of holding an office of profit.

Assam Ruling : The bench in its 39-page verdict observed that the legislature of Assam lacked the competence to make the impugned act, and declared it unconstitutional.

Why the conflict occur ?

  • The Constitution specifies conditions which disqualify MPs, MLAs, Municipality and Panchayat members from membership of their respective institutions on the reason of holding an “Office of Profit” under the state or central government.
  • The Constitution caps the number of members in the union and state cabinet. Article 164(1A) specifies that the number of ministers including the Chief Minister has to be within 15% of the total number of members of the Assembly. (10% in the case of Delhi, which is not a ‘full’ state).

Source : The Hindu

GS II : Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.


Panel for action against farmers using herbicides on GM mustard


The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee’s (GEAC) sub-committee has drafted several recommendations on GM mustard before it approved the crop for commercial release. These included a proposal for legal action on farmers using the glufosinate-based herbicide (Basta) on the crop unless otherwise approved by the Central Insecticides Board and Registration Committee. Anti-GM activists question how effective such regulation.

Effect of glufosinate-based herbicide (Basta) on Human

Glufosinate-based herbicides act as a neurotoxin and have adverse impacts on humans, according to the U.S. National Institute of Health.

Source : The Hindu

GS III : Agriculture; Biotechnology


Lingayats united in demand for separate religion status

Why in news ?

Veerashaiva/Lingayata Dharma demanded that it is an independent religion and is different from Hinduism and want independent religion status for the same.

Why they Claim a separate religion?

  • There are two main religious streams in Hinduism — Shaivas and Vaishnavas.
  • Veerashaiva is one among the seven sects of Shaivas.
  • Both Shaivas and Vaishnavas uphold Vedas, Agamas, Shastras and Puranas and follow the Vedic religious practices.
  • Historically, it is an independent religion founded by Basaveshwara in the 12th century.
  • However, Lingayat religion founded by Basaveshwara vehemently opposed them.
  • Lingayats are spread across Karnataka, Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and other States.
  • Community leaders, in the memorandum, asked the government not to issue caste certificate as Veerashaiva Lingayat to Lingayat community members and recommend that the Union government recognise Lingayat as an independent religion.

Source : The Hindu

GS I : Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India

Policy boosts care for blood disorders

Why in News ?

People living with Thalassaemia, sickle cell anaemia and other variant haemoglobins can now look forward to better screening and treatment, based on the Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry’s new policy.

Ministry released a policy on the Prevention and Control of haemoglobinopathies in India.

What is Thalassaemia, sickle cell anaemia?

Sickle cell disease and thalassemia are genetic disorders caused by errors in the genesSickle_cell_01 for hemoglobin, a substance composed of a protein (globin) plus an iron molecule (heme) that is responsible for carrying oxygen within the red blood cell. These disorders can cause fatigue, jaundice, and episodes of pain ranging from mild to very severe. They are inherited, and usually both parents must pass on an abnormal gene in order for a child to have the disease. When this happens, the resulting diseases are serious and, at times, fatal.

Thalassaemia : Is the name for a group of inherited conditions that affect a substance in the blood called haemoglobin. People with the condition produce either no or too little haemoglobin, which is used by red blood cells to carry oxygen around the body. This can make them very anaemic (tired, short of breath and pale).

About the policy

  • The policy aims at creating treatment protocol benchmarks, to improve the quality of life of patients.
  • It is also a guide on prevention and control, which includes antenatal and prenatal testing to reduce the incidence of live haemoglobin disorder births (currently pegged at 10,000-15,000 live births a year).
  • Supported by the National Health Mission, Blood Cell and the Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram, the guidelines provide for screening of pregnant women during antenatal check-up, pre-marital counselling at college level and one-time screening for variant anaemia in children.
  • Using public health awareness programmes and education, it highlights various haemoglobinopathies.
  • The guidelines include the creation of a national registry to plan future patient services.
  • The registry will also collect useful data, such as the location of patients to identify areas of high concentration, ethnicity or other characteristics, age distribution, records of deaths and their cause.
  • 20% of patients can afford treatment, the government should ensure that all patients get it free.
  • Such free treatment is given in States such as Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Odisha and Karnataka besides Delhi, and others should follow suit.
  • All chelation drugs should be made available free because one drug does not suit all.

Not Address in the policy

The policy, makes no reference to carrier testing for relatives of patients. In Pakistan, a law making carrier testing compulsory for relatives of Thalassaemia patients was passed in February. A similar system is in place in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia.

Source : The Hindu

GS II : Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

Sunderbans denizen staves off extinction

Why in News ?

A critically endangered resident of the Sunderbans is set to get a new home, beginning a slow journey to recovery from a disastrous decline in the wild. It is more threatened than the Bengal tiger, but far less known.

Northern river terrapin (Batagur baska)

  • The northern river terrapin (Batagur baska) is a species of riverine turtle native toBB4 Southeast Asia.
  • It is classified Critically Endangered by the IUCN and considered extinct in much of its former range.
  • Northern river terrapin is one of Asia’s largest freshwater and brackwater turtles, reaching a carapace length of up to 60 cm and a maximum weight of 18 kg.
  • The species is currently found in Bangladesh (in the Sundarbans),  Cambodia,  India  (parts- West Bengal & Odisha),  Indonesia and Malaysia.
  • It is regionally extinct in Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Source : The Hindu

GS III : Environmental conservation

Jaitley releases National Trade Facilitation Action Plan

Why In news ?

Finance Minister released the National Trade Facilitation Action Plan and  the WTO-Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) coming into force on February 22, 2017.

National Trade Facilitation Action Plan

Aim : To transform cross border clearance ecosystem through efficient, transparent, risk based, coordinated, digital, seamless and technology driven procedures which are supported by state-of-the-art sea ports, airports and land borders.

  • The action plan lists out specific activities which would be carried out by all regulatory agencies like Customs, FSSAI, Drug Controller.
  • It also covers many activities in the areas of infrastructure augmentation, particularly the road and rail infrastructure leading to ports and the infrastructure within ports, airports, ICDs, land customs stations that cuts across all stakeholders for which various ministries like shipping, civil aviation, railways, road transport and highways, home affairs, finance and commerce have been assigned specified targets.
  • The statement said all actions covered under the plan have been categorised by prioritising the activities into short, mid and long term.
  • National plan would be monitored by the steering committee (the operational arm of the National Committee on Trade Facilitation) chaired by the revenue secretary and the commerce secretary.

The NCTF comprises stakeholders from the government and the private sector, including trade community. The NCTF has adopted a 76-point National Trade Facilitation Action Plan (NTFAP) which is a reflection of the government’s commitment to implement the TFA.

Source : The Hindu

GS II : Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

Government mulls insurance cover for digital transaction frauds

Why in news ?

The government is considering based on the recommendations of the Chandrababu Naidu committee on digital payment security, including insurance cover for the victims of fraudulent digital transactions.


  • Interim report suggested several measures for digital payment security, including an insurance scheme to cover losses incurred in digital transactions on account of fraud, etc.
  • In order to address the apprehension of the general public in adopting digital payments, the scheme should target low-ticket transactions to cover the vulnerable sections like small merchants, farmers etc.

Fraudulent digital transaction

According to the report submitted in the Parliament

  • Number of fraudulent digital transactions in comparison to the total number of digital transactions was negligible and the government was taking steps to curb those frauds.
  • Around 1,200 crore digital transactions take place annually in the country. Of these, between 0.005 per cent and 0.007 per cent are fraudulent transactions.
  • Prepaid payment instruments, including e-wallets, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has started maintaining provisional data of fraudulent transactions.

Source : The Hindu

GS II : Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

India, Japan civil nuclear deal comes into force

Why in news ?

The India-Japan Agreement for Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy entered into force on July 20, 2017 with the exchange of diplomatic notes.

About the deal

  • The pact was signed in Tokyo during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Japan on November 11, 2016.
  • India is the first non-member of the non-proliferation treaty (NPT)to have signed such a deal with Japan.
  • The deal will help India access Japan’s nuclear market.
  • Pave the way for enhanced cooperation in energy security and clean energy.
  • It seeks to promote full cooperation between the two countries in the development
  • It helps to use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes on a stable, reliable and predictable basis.
  • The deal is essential for bringing a network of nuclear energy cooperation for India, especially with the U.S. as prominent American nuclear companies are owned by the Japanese nuclear majors like Toshiba.

Source : The Hindu

GS II : Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Untrained teachers get 2 years to qualify

The Lok Sabha passed a Bill that offers untrained teachers teaching in schools time till March 31, 2019, to acquire B.El. Ed (Bachelor of Elementary Education) or D. El. Ed. (Diploma in Elementary Education) qualifications to hold their jobs as teachers.

How it done ?

This was done through an amendment to the Right to Education Act, 2009, as a last chance to such teachers not to lose their jobs. The Compulsory Education (Amendment) Bill, 2017 Bill will now have to pass muster in the Rajya Sabha — and get presidential assent after that — to become an Act.

Need for the Amendment

  • Many new schools had come up in the days of educational expansion under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and the RTE.
  • Many teachers who were hired did not have requisite degrees, some having studied only till school.
  • They were given five years to train themselves, and many did, but 5-6 lakh private schools teachers and 2.5-lakh government school teachers still did not have the requisite degrees.
  • Qualifications are deemed necessary to ensure that teachers are well-qualified to ensure quality of education.
  • Ninety per cent untrained teachers are from eight States.

Source : The Hindu

GS II : Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Draft Guidelines for implementation of Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana

In News

Draft guidelines for implementation of Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY) have been prepared by the Ministry.

Draft Guidlines

The draft guidelines inter-alia provide Aadhaar linkage, Direct Benefit Transfer of Rs. 5000 in beneficiarys bank/post office account in three instalments at the stage of early registration of pregnancy, after six months of pregnancy on at least one antenatal check-up and registration of child birth & first cycle of immunisation of the child.

Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY)

  • Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY) Centrally Sponsored Scheme.
  • It is a conditional cash transfer scheme for pregnant and lactating women of 19 years of age or above for first two live births.
  • It provides a partial wage compensation to women for wage-loss during childbirth and childcare and to provide conditions for safe delivery and good nutrition and feeding practices.
  • Under which the cost sharing ratio between the Centre and the States & UTs with Legislature is 60:40, for North-Eastern States & three Himalayan States, it is 90:10 and 100% Central assistance for Union Territories without Legislature.

Source : Pib

GS II : Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.


Ministry of Rural Development to launch Aajeevika Grameen Express Yojana

In News

The Ministry of Rural Development will launch a new sub-scheme under Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM) which will be named as Aajeevika Grameen Express Yojana (AGEY).

Objective of the scheme

  • The main objectives of AGEY are to provide an alternative source of livelihoods to members of Self Help Groups (SHGs) under DAY-NRLM by facilitating them to operate public transport services in backward rural areas.
  • This will provide safe, affordable and community monitored rural transport services like e-rickshaws, 3 and 4 wheeler motorised transport vehicles to connect remote villages with key services and amenities including access to markets, education and health for the overall economic development of the area.
  • The sub-scheme will be implemented in 250 blocks in the country on a pilot basis for a period of 3 years from 2017-18 to 2019-20.
  • The States have been informed about the number of blocks allocated to them to take up this sub-scheme in the pilot phases.
  • One of the options proposed to be given under the sub-scheme is that the Community Based Organisation (CBO) will provide interest free loan from its own corpus to Self Help Group member for purchase of the vehicle.

Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM)

To reduce poverty by enabling the poor households to access gainful self- employment and skilled wage employment opportunities resulting in appreciable improvement in their livelihoods on a sustainable basis, through building strong and sustainable grassroots institutions of the poor.

  • The Government is implementing DAY-NRLM across the country in all States and Union Territories (except Delhi and Chandigarh).
  • Under DAY-NRLM, till date, 34.4 lakh women SHGs have been promoted under the programme.
  • The financial support under the programme is mainly in the form of Revolving Fund and Community Investment Funds, given as grants to the Self Help Groups (SHGs) and their federations.
  • So far, the total amount released to SHGs is Rs. 1815 crore to about 3.96 lakh SHGs.
  • A sum of Rs. 1088 crore has also been disbursed to 7.28 lakh SHGs as revolving Fund.
  • DAY-NRLM also focuses on bank linkage of the institutions to enable their income.
  • The Cumulative Bank Credit mobilized for women SHGs and their federations since inception is to the tune of Rs 1.19 lakh crores.

Source : Business Standard

GS II : Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections

First meeting of Integrated Monitoring and Advisory Council (IMAC)

Minister of State (I/C) for Petroleum and Natural Gas, Shri Dharmendra Pradhan chaired the first meeting of apex body for policy formulation and implementation of Roadmap to achieve target of 10 % reduction in import dependency in oil and gas by 2021-22 under an institutional mechanism ‘Integrated Monitoring and Advisory Council (IMAC).

Integrated Monitoring and Advisory Council (IMAC)

  • IMAC was envisaged to facilitate better coordination and comprehensive strategy for all energy resources by focusing on supply and demand side management.
  • IMAC is consisted of Secretary, Petroleum & Natural Gas and other Senior Officers from various Ministries such as Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Urban Development, Road and Transport, Agriculture, Power/Bureau of Energy Efficiency, Rural Development, Finance, Petroleum Planning Analysis Cell, PCRA, DGH etc

Source : Pib

GS II : Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies

New 8% Pension Scheme, PMVVY, Launched

Why in news ?

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has formally launched the Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana (PMVVY), or a pension scheme, for senior citizens.

What is the aim of the scheme ?

Under this scheme, senior citizens (60 years and above) in which they will get a guaranteed interest of 8 per cent for 10 years. Pension scheme will offer more avenues to senior citizens to earn steady regular income at a time of falling interest rates. The scheme is exempted from GST or goods and services tax.

  • PMVVY can be purchased offline as well as online through Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) of India which has been given the sole privilege to operate this scheme.
  • The scheme will provide an assured return of 8 per cent per annum payable monthly (equivalent to 8.30 per cent per annum) for 10 years.
  • The pension is payable at the end of each period, during the policy term of 10 years, as per the frequency of monthly/ quarterly/ half-yearly/ yearly as chosen by the pensioner at the time of purchase.
  • There is a minimum and maximum limit for investment in Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana Scheme. The amount varies according to the pension payment mode chosen.
  • On survival of the pensioner to the end of the policy term of 10 years, purchase price along with final pension instalment shall be payable.
  • Loan up to 75 per cent of purchase price (amount invested to earn pension) shall be allowed after three policy years to meet the liquidity needs.
  • The scheme also allows for premature exit for the treatment of any critical/ terminal illness of self or spouse. On such premature exit, 98 per cent of the purchase price shall be refunded.
  • On death of the pensioner during the policy term of 10 years, the purchase price shall be paid to the beneficiary.

Source : Pib

GS II : Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections

200th anniversary celebrations of the Paika Rebellion of Odisha

Why in news ?

President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee inaugurated the 200th anniversary celebrations of the Paika Rebellion of Odisha in NewDelhi

About the Rebellion

The uprising of soldiers led by Buxi Jagabandhu (Bidyadhar Mohapatra) took place in Khurda of Odisha. The revolt came to be known as Paika rebellion.

Who are they ?

The traditional land-owning militia of Odisha and served as warriors.

Why they revolt ?

  • When armies of the East India Company overran most of Odisha in 1803, the Raja of Khurda lost his primacy and the power and prestige of the Paikas went on a decline.
  • The British were not comfortable with these aggressive, warlike new subjects and set up a commission under Walter Ewer to look into the issue.
  • The commission recommended that the hereditary rent-free lands granted to the Paikas be taken over by the British administration and this recommendation was zealously adhered to.
  • They revolted against the British.
  • However, the rebellion had several other underlying causes – like the rise in the price of salt, abolition of the cowrie currency for payment of taxes and an overtly extortionist land revenue policy.

What was the result ?

Although initially the Company struggled to respond they managed to put down the rebellion by May 1817. Many of the Paik leaders were hung or deported. Jagabandhu surrendered in 1825.

Source : Pib

GS I : Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues

Also in Prelims

Half of HIV-infected get treatment now: UNAIDS

Why in news ?

The latest UNAIDS report, reveals that more than half of all People Living with HIV (PLHIV) now have access to HIV treatment. For the first time since the global onset of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the scales have tipped in favour of patients.

  • As of last year, 19.5 million of the 36.7 million HIV+ patients had access to treatment.
  • Deaths caused by AIDS have fallen from 1.9 million in 2005 to 1 million in 2016.

Condition in India

  • The majority of the cases nearly 95 per cent of the cases in 2016 were concentrated in just 10 countries, India being one of them.
  • India has 2.1 million people living with HIV, with 80,000 new infections annually, as of 2016.
  • In 2005, the annual incidence was 1,50,000 people.
  • India is the country where most new HIV infections are occurring in the Asia-Pacific region.
  • While India has made big progress with new infections dropping significantly, the emergence of HIV in some locations that were earlier considered ‘not high-burden’ areas is a cause for concern.,

Why the condition of India is worsening ?

While the world seems to be on track to reach the global target of 30 million people on treatment by 2020 the report states

  1. Access to medicines remains a major barrier and India plays a special role.
  2. Insufficient availability and poor affordability of essential medicines.

Progress towards the 90–90–90 target

The idea behind the 90-90-90 target is to diagnose 90% of people who are HIV positive; get 90% of the diagnosed HIV+ people on antiretroviral treatment, and 90% of those on antiretrovirals should be virally suppressed. This is attained when an HIV+ patient’s viral load reaches an undetectable level, curbing transmission.

Source : The Hindu

GS II : Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

Nurses get pay hike

In News

Nearly three lakh nurses in private hospitals in Kerala who had been on strike for the past 22 days. Their main demand for implementation of the wage recommendations of the Supreme Court-appointed Jagdish Prasad committee had been accepted by the government.

Dr. Jagdish Prasad Committee

It found that adequate salary and basic facilities are not provided to nurses in private hospitals and nursing homes.

  • Private hospitals with number of beds ranging between 50 and 100, the salary of nurses should not be less than 25 per cent of that drawn by government nurses of the same grade.
  • The salary given to private nurses should not be less than Rs. 20,000 per month in any case even for nurses working with hospitals with less than 50 beds.
  • The working hours, medical facilities, transportation, accommodation and other benefits given to private nurses would be on a par with government nurses.

First implemented by Kerala

  • Kerala has become the first State to implement the recommendations of the committee.
  • Accordingly, the minimum salary of nurses working in hospitals with 50 beds has been fixed at ₹20,000.

Source : The Hindu

GS II : Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation