Daily Current Affairs

Prelims Prominence - July 7, 2018


Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA) HEFA to allot Rs. 1 lakh crore for education

  • The Union Cabinet on Wednesday permitted the Higher Education Funding Agency (HEFA) to mobilise ₹1 lakh crore to fund research and academic infrastructure in higher educational institutions by 2022.
  • The funding will also be available to government-run schools Kendriya Vidyalayas and Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas.

Future benefits

  • State-of-the-art labs and research facilities will help in retaining the brightest young minds in India, and will attract Overseas Citizens of India back to Indian universities which will convert brain drain to brain gain.

Benefits of project based funding

  • The Minister highlighted that project based funding brings greater discipline in selection and execution of projects.
  • There will be no burden on the new institutions as the Government will take the entire burden of servicing the loans and there will be no increase in student fees on account of this project.

Enlighten about the objectives of RISE( by 2022)

  • Make India into an education hub by making available high quality research infrastructure in Indian higher educational institutions.
  • To allow access of HEFA funding to institutions like Central Universities, AIIMS, IISERs and newly created Institutes of National Importance, without creating any additional burden to the students.
  • To bring greater accountability and speed in execution of infrastructure projects and avoid all cost/time over-runs, moving from the block-grant mode to project-mode for all infrastructure projects.
  • To cater to the requirements of the Kendriya Vidyalayas and Navodaya Vidyalayas, and medical institutions like AIIMSs in a faster time frame.

Enlighten about HEFA

  • It has been set up on 31st May 2017 by the Central Government as a non-profit, Non Banking Financing Company (NBFC) for mobilising extra-budgetary resources for building crucial infrastructure in the higher educational institutions under Central Government..
  • So far, funding proposals worth Rs. 2,016 Cr have already been approved by the HEFA.

Revitalising Infrastructure and Systems in Education (RISE) by 2022

  • The RISE by 2022 is an attempt to translate the objectives into action plan by making available resources from the market.
  • In order to accommodate the needs of all institutions, especially the institutions set up after 2014, Central Universities, and those with limited internal resources, and the school education/health education infrastructure like AIIMSs, Kendriya Vidyalayas
  • The Government has approved the following five windows for financing under HEFA and the modalities of repaying the Principal portion of the fund (interest continues to be serviced through Government grants in all these cases):
  • Newly established Institutions (started after 2014) and other institutions of MHRD with little scope for fee revision/internal resource generation: Grant would be provided for complete servicing of loan including the Principal and interest.
  • Other educational institutions and grant-in-aid institutions of Ministry of Health: All the newly set up AIIMSs and other health institutions, the Kendriya Vidyalayas / Navodaya Vidyalayas would be funded and the Department/Ministry concerned will give a commitment for complete servicing of the principal and interest by ensuring adequate grants to the institution.
  • Central Universities started prior to 2014: Repay 10% of the principal portion from internal resources, and receive grant for the balance of the Principal portion.
  • Technical Institutions started between 2008 and 2014: Repay 25% of the principal portion from internal resources, and receive grant for the balance of the Principal portion.
  • Technical Institutions more than 10 years old: Repay the whole Principal Portion from the internally generated budgetary resources
  • The total amount that would be mobilised would be Rs 1,00,000 crores over the next 4 years till 2022. The likely fund availability is as per annexure enclosed.
  • All projects would be monitored through a project monitoring system with a dashboard for monitoring by the stakeholder Ministries/Organisations including NITI.
  • The money would be raised from the market through Government guaranteed bonds and commercial borrowings

Ministry of Commerce & Industry

Cabinet approves accession to WIPO Copyright Treaty, 1996 and WIPO Performance and Phonograms Treaty, 1996

  • The Union Cabinet has approved the proposal submitted by Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, Ministry of Commerce and Industry regarding accession to the WIPO Copyright Treaty and WIPO Performers and Phonograms Treaty which extends coverage of copyright to the internet and digital environment
  • The approval is a step towards the objective laid in the National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Policy adopted by the Government on 12thMay 2016 which aims to get value for IPRs through commercialization by providing guidance and support to EPR owners about commercial opportunities of e-commerce through Internet and mobile platforms.

Benefits of these treaties

  • To enable creative right-holders enjoy the fruit of their labour, through international copyright system that can be used to secure a return on the investment made in producing and distributing creative works;
  • To facilitate international protection of domestic rights holder by providing them level-playing field in other countries as India already extends protection to foreign works through the International Copyright order and these treaties will enable Indian right holders to get reciprocal protection abroad;
  • To instil confidence and distribute creative works in digital environment with return on investment; and
  • To spur business growth and contribute to the development of a vibrant creative economy and cultural landscape.

Enlighten about Copyright Act, 1957

  • After the administration of Copyright Act 1957 was transferred to DIPP in March 2016, a study was initiated to examine compatibility of Copyright Act 1957 with WCT and WPPT
  • The Copyright Act, 1957 was amended in 2012 to bring it in conformity, with WCT and WPPT, includes amendment in definition of "Communication to the public" to make it applicable to digital environment
  • WIPO Copyright Treaty came in force on March 6, 2002 and has been adopted by 96 contracting parties till date and is A Special agreement under Berne Convention (for protection of literary and artistic works).
  • It has provisions to extend the protection of copyrights contained therein to the digital environment.
  • Further it recognises the rights specific to digital environment, of making work available, to address "on-demand" and other interactive modes of access,

WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty

  • It came in force on May 20, 2002 and has 96 contracting parties as its members.
  • WPPT deals with rights of two kinds of beneficiaries, particularly in digital environment - (i) Performers (actors, singers, musicians etc.) (ii) Producers of Phonograms (Sound recordings).
  • The treaty empowers right owners in the negotiations with new digital platforms and distributors.
  • It recognizes moral rights of the performers for the first time & provides exclusive economic rights to them.

Both the treaties provide framework for creators and right owners to use technical tools to protect their works and safeguard information about their use i.e. Protection of Technological Protection Measures (TPMs) and Rights Management Information (RMI).

State Specific

Gaming University to be set up in Visakhapatnam

  • The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Culture Organisation (UNESCO) will set up ‘Design University for Gaming’ in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh.
  • Agreement between UNESCO and Andhra Pradesh Economic Development Board (APEDB).

Enlighten about the Gaming University

  • The Design University for Gaming will help UNSECO to develop gaming in state, with the target of providing 50,000 jobs in 10 years.
  • UNESCO has requested State Government to provide 100 acres of land Visakhapatnam for developing the city as International Gaming and Digit Learning Hub.

United Nations Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)

  • UNESCO is UN organization that helps preserve historical and cultural site worldwide.
  • It is special multi-country agency, formed in 1945 and based France.
  • It promotes literacy and sex education as well as improving gender equality in countries around world.
  • It is also known for recognising work heritage sites and work to preserve cultural and heritage sites such as ancient ruins, villages and temples, and historic sites.

Government Schemes

Aspirational districts

  • A battalion of Central government IAS officers has been drafted to ensure on the ground implementation as the Centre races to saturate 117 “aspirational districts” with seven flagship social welfare schemes by Independence Day.
  • At least 800 Deputy Secretaries, Under-Secretaries and Director-level officers, drawn from Ministries as diverse as Defence and Urban Affairs, have been assigned about 75 villages to visit, as part of the Extended Gram Swaraj Abhiyan (EGSA) from June 1 to August 15.
  • Over the two-and-a-half month period, these Central officials are being absorbed into EGSA duty for at least 15 working days.
  • In each village, the Central team convenes a meeting of villagers and beneficiaries along with a State government or district official, a lead bank representative and local officials from the agencies responsible for enrolling people into the schemes.

Enlighten about Aspirational Districts

  • The ‘Transformation of Aspirational Districts’ programme aims to quickly and effectively transform districts.
  • The broad contours of the programme are Convergence (of Central & State Schemes), Collaboration (of Central, State level ‘Prabhari’ Officers & District Collectors), and Competition among districts driven by a mass Movement.
  • With States as the main drivers, this program will focus on the strength of each district, identify low-hanging fruits for immediate improvement, measure progress, and rank districts.
  • The Government is committed to raising the living standards of its citizens and ensuring inclusive growth for all – “Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas”.
  • To enable optimum utilization of their potential, this program focusses closely on improving people’s ability to participate fully in the burgeoning economy.
  • Health & Nutrition, Education, Agriculture & Water Resources, Financial Inclusion & Skill Development, and Basic Infrastructure are this programme’s core areas of focus.
  • After several rounds of consultations with various stakeholders, 49 key performance indicators have been chosen to measure progress of the districts.
  • Districts are prodded and encouraged to first catch-up with the best district within their state, and subsequently aspire to become one of the best in the country, by competing with, and learning from others in the spirit of competitive & cooperative federalism.
  • NITI Aayog in partnership with the Government of Andhra Pradesh has created a dashboard for monitoring the real-time progress of the districts.
  • Beginning May 2018, districts will be ranked based on progress made (‘delta ranking’) on a real-time basis. The dashboard will be open to the public to monitor the progress of the aspirational districts.


Recovery Programme for Critically Endangered Species

Implementing committee

  • The standing committee of National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) has recently added four species- Northern River Terrapin, Clouded Leopard, Arabian Sea Humpback Whale and Red Panda into Centre’s Recovery Programme for Critically Endangered Species.
  • Recommended by Wildlife Division of Ministry o Environment and Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC).

Norther River Terrapin:

  • It is species of riverine turtle found in rivers of eastern India
  • It is hunted for its meat and carapace.
  • It is native of Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Clouded Leopard:

  • It is found in Himalayan foothills.
  • It is threatened due to habitat loss, poaching for its skin and is also as a live pet trade.
  • The IUCN in its Red List status - Vulnerable

Arabian Sea Humpback Whale

  • It is a species found in all of major oceans.
  • The species migrates from the Oman coast through the Arabian sea, along the Indian coasts till the Sri Lankan coast.

Red Panda

  • It is closely associated with montane forests with dense bamboo thicket.
  • It is found Sikkim, West Bengal and Arunachal Pradesh.
  • It is poached for its meat, and for use in medicines, The IUCN has categorize Red Panda as ‘Endangered’.

Recovery Programme for Critically Endangered Species

  • The recovery programme is one of the three components of centrally funded scheme Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats (IDWH) which was started in 2008
  • IDWH is meant for providing support to protected areas (national park wildlife sanctuaries, conservation reserves and community reserves except tiger reserves), protection of wildlife outside protected areas and recover programmes for saving critically endangered species and habitats.

Sources – The Hindu , PIB