Daily Current Affairs

Prelims Prominence - January 8, 2018

Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports

Vibrant Khelo India

  • The vibrant Khelo India logo, reflecting the freshness, agility and vitality of New India was launched.
  • The logo also conveys an impression of fitness and competitiveness.
  • Khelo India, will go a long way in achieving the twin objectives of mass participation and promotion of excellence in sports..”
  • The three-stroke Khelo India logo, designed by Ogilvy India, has in-built modularity, allowing plenty of adaptability and flexibility into endless pictorial forms.
  • The colour of the Indian flag evoke a sense of National pride and team-work. “
  • The inaugural Khelo India School Games that will begin on January 31,
  • These competitions will act as avenues for identification of budding sporting talents in specific sports disciplines.
  • The Khelo India School Games, to be broadcast by Star Sports, is being held in collaboration with the School Games Federation of India and National Sports Federations by setting up an Organizing Committee as per procedure of the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports.

Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change

National Clean Air Programme

  • The government has formulated National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) as a medium term national level strategy to tackle the increasing air pollution problem across the country in a comprehensive manner.
  • The overall objective is to augment and evolve effective ambient air quality monitoring network across the country besides ensuring comprehensive management plan for prevention, control and abatement of air pollution.
  • The NCAP focuses on collaborative and participatory approach covering all sources of pollution and coordination between relevant Central Ministries, State Governments, local bodies and other stakeholders.
  • In order to ensure use of new technologies to combat the rising challenge of air pollution in India, a separate component on ‘Technology Assessment Cell’ has been envisaged under NCAP to evaluate the technologies for prevention, control and abatement of air pollution.”

HRD Ministry

All India Higher Education Survey (AIHES) released
Released by HRD Ministry

Survey findings -

  • The survey findings were based on responses of 795 universities, 34,193 colleges and 7,496 standalone institutions. There are total of 864 universities, 40,026 colleges and 11,669 standalone institutions in the country
  • The Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in higher education of Indian has registered an increase from 24.5% in 2015-16 to 25.2% in 2016-17

Enlighten about GER

  • GER is statistical measure for determining number of students enrolled in undergraduate, postgraduate and research-level studies within country and expressed as a percentage of population.
  • India is aiming to attain GER of 30% by 2020, but it is still far behind countries like China with GER of 43.39% and US with 85.8%.
  • The proportion of students pursuing higher education in India hasn’t increased dramatically from 2015-16 to 2016-17. It was in range of 23% to 25% since 2013-14.
  • Tamil Nadu has highest GER in India at 46.9%.
  • Six states have registered GER higher than national average (25.2%), with their share of students entering higher education is growing twice as fast as overall rate.
  • These states are Tamil Nadu (46.9%), Himachal Pradesh (36.7%), Kerala (34.2%), Andhra Pradesh (32.4%), Haryana (29%) and Punjab (28.6%).
  • However, eight states UP (24.9%), Madhya Pradesh (20%), Odisha (21%), Bihar (14.4%), Gujarat (20.2%), Rajasthan (20.5%), Mizoram (24.5%) and West Bengal (18.5%) had GER ratio far less than the national average.
  • Bihar has lowest GER with just 14.4% of its eligible population (in age group of 18 to 23 years) pursuing higher education.

Gender Parity Index (GPI):

  • India registered its best performance on the GPI in last seven years — 0.94 in 2016-17 from 0.86 in 2010-11.
  • GPI is calculated as quotient of number of females by number of males enrolled.
  • GPI equal to 1 indicates 1, value less than 1 indicated disparity in favour of males.
  • In Seven states — Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, J&K, Nagaland, Sikkim and Kerala — women in higher education have outnumbered men.
  • College density: States in south India have higher college density.
  • It is defined as number of colleges per lakh eligible population.
  • The college density in top three states/UTs is Puducherry (49), Telangana (59) and Karnataka (53). Bihar (7 colleges/1lakh population), Jharkhand (8) and West Bengal (11) on the other hand, are at the bottom in terms college density.
  • There hasn’t been much improvement in the internationalisation of education in the country.
  • There is marginal improvement in number of foreign students —47,575 in 2016-17 from 45,424 in 2015-16— with 31,779 men and 15,796 women.
  • The highest share comes from the neighbouring countries of Nepal (23.6%), Afghanistan (9.3%) and Bhutan (4.8%).

Economy

India’s foreign exchange (Forex) reserves

  • According to Reserve Bank of India (RBI), India’s foreign exchange (Forex) reserves have scaled to fresh record high of $409.366 billion as on December 29, 2017.
  • The surge was due to massive spike in foreign currency assets, which is key component of the reserves.

Forex Reserves

  • The forex are reserve assets held by a central bank in foreign currencies.
  • It acts as buffer to be used in challenging times and used to back liabilities on their own issued currency as well as to influence monetary policy.
  • Almost all countries in world, regardless of size of their economy, hold significant foreign exchange reserves.
  • The components of India’s FOREX Reserves include Foreign currency assets (FCAs), Gold, Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) and RBI’s Reserve position with International Monetary Fund (IMF).
  • FCAs constitute largest component of Indian Forex Reserves.
  • FCAs are maintained in major currencies like euro, US dollar, pound sterling, Japanese yen etc.
  • Movement in FCA occur mainly on account of purchase and sale of foreign exchange by RBI, income arising out of deployment of Forex reserves, external aid receipts of government and revaluation of assets
  • SDR is an international reserve asset created by IMF and allocated to its members in proportion of their quota at IMF.

National

26th World Book Fair

  • The 26th edition of the annual book fair will be held in New Delhi.
  • Theme: ‘Environment and Climate Change’.
  • Guest of honour country: This year’s book fair will host European Union as the Guest of Honour Country.
  • Organised by National Book Trust, in association with ITPO.

Iceland becomes first country to legalise equal pay

  • It will be illegal to pay men more than women has in Iceland.
  • The legislation makes Iceland the first country in the world to legalise equal pay between men and women.

Enlighten about it –

  • Under the new rules, companies and government agencies employing at least 25 people will have to obtain government certification of their equal-pay policies.
  • Those that fail to prove pay parity will face fines.
  • The move is part of a bid to eradicate the gender pay gap by 2022 in the Nordic nation where 38% of parliamentarians are female – above the global average – including Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir.

Iceland –

  • Iceland, an island country in the North Atlantic Ocean that is home to approximately 323,000 people, has a strong economy, based on tourism and fisheries.
  • For the past nine years, it has been ranked by the World Economic Forum (WEF) as the world’s most gender-equal country.
  • The WEF Global Gender Gap Report uses markers such as economic opportunity, political empowerment, and health and survival to gauge the state of gender equality in a country.
  • According to the latest WEF report, the top five best performers in the global gender gap are Iceland, Norway, Finland, Rwanda and Sweden.
  • Yemen, on the other hand, is currently the lowest-ranked of the 144 countries measured in the report. India is ranked 108.

Economy

Government seeks Parliament nod for Rs 80,000 crore recap bonds

  • The government has sought Parliament’s nod for an additional spending of Rs 80,000 crore for capitalizing state-run banks through issue of government securities
  • This expenditure will be met through enhanced receipts indicating that this additional expenditure will not impact fiscal deficit

Reason behind this -

  • Last year, the finance ministry had announced a Rs2.11 trillion bank recapitalisation plan for state-owned lenders looking to boost bank balance sheets hit by rising bad loans
  • This was done to ensure flow of credit to important sectors of the economy

Social

Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act of 2013
Lack of implementation

  • The Supreme Court has asked the government to respond to a petition questioning the lack of implementation of the various provisions of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act of 2013
  • Five years after the Act came into existence, an NGO has brought to light the sheer lack of initiative on the part of government authorities to monitor the implementation and enforce the law

Enlighten about the law -

  • The 2013 statutory law had replaced the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court in the historic Vishaka case judgment
  • It had stemmed from the brutal gang rape of a social worker in a village of Rajasthan
  • The Supreme Court verdict in 1997 was inspired by international conventions and the spirit of gender equality enshrined in the Constitution

Weak enforcement

  • The petition pointed out that the government at the State level has not even bothered to appoint district officers or local committees under the 2013 Act
  • There are no appointments of nodal officers or internal complaints committees in certain offices
  • There has been no move to ensure the reporting and collection of annual compliance reports from workplaces

Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act of 2013

  • The Act defines sexual harassment at the workplace and creates a mechanism for redressal of complaints
  • It also provides safeguards against false or malicious charges
  • The Act also covers concepts of ‘quid pro quo harassment’ and ‘hostile work environment’ as forms of sexual harassment if it occurs in connection with an act or behaviour of sexual harassment
  • The definition of “aggrieved woman”, who will get protection under the Act is extremely wide to cover all women, irrespective of her age or employment status, whether in the organised or unorganised sectors, public or private and covers clients, customers and domestic workers as well
  • Every employer is required to constitute an Internal Complaints Committee at each office or branch with 10 or more employees.
  • The District Officer is required to constitute a Local Complaints Committee at each district, and if required at the block level
  • The Complaints Committees have the powers of civil courts for gathering evidence
  • Government can order an officer to inspect workplace and records related to sexual harassment in any organisation

Space

GOLD and ICON to explore ionosphere
To be launched by NASA

  • The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will launch two missions — GOLD and ICON later this year. They will team up to explore the ionosphere, located 96 km above Earth’s surface.
  • The Global-scale Observations of the Limb and Disk (GOLD) mission will be launched in January 2018 and Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) will be launched later this year.
  • The ionosphere is located between 60 and 400 km above the mesopause.
  • It contains electrically charged particles known as ions, and hence, it is known as ionosphere.
  • Radio waves transmitted from the earth are reflected back to the earth by this layer and is used for radio propagation to distant places on the Earth.
  • In this layer temperature starts increasing with height

National

Council for Trade Development and Promotion

  • The 3rd meeting of the Council for Trade Development and Promotion.
  • Chaired by Suresh Prabhu, Union Minister for Commerce and Industry

Enlighten about the Council for Trade Development and Promotion

  • The Council for Trade Development and Promotion was constituted in July 2015 under the chairpersonship of the Union Minister for Commerce and Industry, in pursuance to the provisions of Foreign Trade Policy statement 2015-20.
  • The objective was to ensure a continuous dialogue with the governments of states and Union Territories on measures for providing an international trade enabling environment in the states and to create a framework for making the states active partners in boosting India’s exports.
  • The State Ministers of Commerce and Industry, Secretaries of concerned central departments/Ministries and heads of other export related organizations/trade bodies are Members of the Council.

Central Water Commission

  • Central Water Commission has received Central Board of Irrigation and Power (CBIP) Special Recognition Award 2018 for Excellence in Health & Safety of Large Dams.
  • The award has been given in recognition of the contribution made by the Central Water Commission (CWC) for promoting the health and safety of large dams in India through the World Bank aided Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP).

Enlighten about DRIP

  • The Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR), Government of India, with assistance from the World Bank, is implementing the DAM REHABILITATION AND IMPROVEMENT PROJECT (DRIP), which would be a six-year project.
  • The Central Dam Safety Organisation of Central Water Commission, assisted by a Consulting firm, is coordinating and supervising the Project implementation.

Inrernational Organisations

ASEAN India Pravasi Bharatiya

  • The annual ASEAN India Pravasi Bharatiya Divas is being celebrated at Singapore.
  • The conference, which will be attended by top leaders and businessmen from Singapore and India, will discuss the contribution of the Indian diaspora community in Southeast Asia.
  • Aim - To highlight the “ancient human, maritime, cultural, commercial and religious links between India and Southeast Asia” and to promote greater economic, cultural and diplomatic cooperation between the two regions.
  • Theme: “Ancient Route, New Journey: Diaspora in the Dynamic Asean-India Partnership.”

Enlighten about the event -

  • The event coincides with the 25th anniversary of India-Asean dialogue partnership, which will be marked by a summit on Jan. 25 in New Delhi.
  • Asean leaders have been invited by India to be chief guests at the Republic Day parade in New Delhi on Jan. 26.

Enlighten about Pravasi Bharatiya Divas -

  • Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) is celebrated every year on January 9 to mark the contribution of overseas Indian community in the development of India.
  • January 9 was chosen as the day to celebrate this occasion since it was on this day in 1915 that Mahatma Gandhi, the greatest Pravasi, returned to India from South Africa, led India’s freedom struggle and changed the lives of Indians forever.

Report

Bio-toilet project
The Comptroller and Auditor General’s (CAG)

  • The Comptroller and Auditor General’s (CAG) report on bio-toilets has found 1,99,689 defects in 25,000 toilets installed in Railways.
  • Also, according to the data released by national auditor to Parliament, the Indian Railways needs to buy 3,350 truckloads of cow dung at Rs 42 crore in 2018 to “recharge”— add bacteria to activate degradation — leaky, malfunctioning ‘bio-toilets’ that it has fitted on 44.8% of trains and hopes to expand to all trains by 2018.

Enlighten about Bio- toilets -

  • The bio-toilets are fitted underneath the lavatories and the human excreta discharged into them; these toilets incorporate microbes with an anaerobic digestion process to digest human waste.
  • A colony of anaerobic bacteria acts upon the collected waste and converts the waste into water and biogases (mainly methane and carbon dioxide).
  • While the gases escape into the atmosphere, the wastewater is discharged after disinfection onto the track, thus putting an end to the crisis of railway tracks strewn with excreta.
  • Each bio-toilet requires 60 litres — or three large bucketfuls — of inoculum, a mix of cow dung and water.
  • This inoculum begins the process of breaking down 3,980 tons of human excreta.
  • Anaerobic bacteria are abundantly available in cow dung.