Daily Current Affairs

Prelims Prominence - November 14, 2018

Science & Technology

Department of Biotechnology (DBT), India and Wellcome Trust, UK-(India Alliance), completes 10 year of partnership.


  • The Department of Biotechnology (DBT) under the Ministry of Science and Technology, in collaboration with the Wellcome Trust ,to support a three-tier fellowship programme on biomedical research at post-doctoral level, celebrated 10 years of their joint partnership

Connect to the Wellcome trust

  • The Wellcome Trust is an independent charity funding research to improve human and animal health.
  • Established in 1936 and with an endowment of around £15 billion, it is the largest non-governmental source of funds for biomedical research in the United Kingdom.
  • The aim of setting up the fellowship jointly with Wellcome Trust was to create a system comparable to the best in the world, taking India on the path of becoming a leader in key areas of life sciences and biomedical research.
  • The partnership emphasized the need for added incentive for biomedical research and creating opportunities that encourage more clinicians to carry out research.

Connect to the programme

  • The current programme is being delivered by a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), a public trust registered as the DBT/Wellcome Trust India Alliance.
  • The Trust receives equal contribution from both DBT and WT for the running the fellowship grant scheme.
  • The joint commitment of DBT and WT has been up to UK £16 million each year (£8 million each), amounting to a total of UK £160 million / INR 1296 crore over a 10-year period.
  • The scheme was announced in 2008. Fellowships are available across the full spectrum of biomedical research (human and veterinary) - from fundamental molecular and cellular studies through to clinical and public health research. Research projects can be based in the laboratory, the clinic or the field and may involve experimental, theoretical approaches as well as translational approaches 93 institutions across 34 Indian cities.
  • More than 900 PhDs, postdoctoral scientists, undergraduates and research technicians trained in the laboratories of India Alliance Fellows.
  • Nearly 2500 researchers were trained in Science Communication workshops and more than 900 PhDs, postdoctoral scientists, undergraduates and research technicians were trained in the laboratories of India Alliance Fellows. Facilitating “Brain Gain” nearly 68% awardees are from India while the rest are from overseas.

Agriculture Economy

New index to check ease of doing agri-business


  • States may soon start receiving extra funding for the Agriculture Ministry’s flagship schemes on the basis of their performance in encouraging agri-business, especially with regard to marketing, land and governance reforms.

Connect to the Ease of Doing Agri-Business Index

  • The Centre expects to roll out a new Ease of Doing Agri-Business Index early next year, which will rank the States on the basis of such reforms, as well as their investment in agriculture, increased productivity, reduction of input costs, and risk mitigation measures.
  • The Ministry may consider rewarding the higher performing States [both in absolute and incremental terms] by linking the performance with allocation from flexi funds made available in various flagship schemes of this Ministry

Agricultural Marketing and Farm Friendly Reforms Index

  • NITI Aayog already brings out a Agricultural Marketing and Farm Friendly Reforms Index ,rating States on their implementation of such reforms.
  • In the initial edition of that Index in 2016, Maharashtra stood first in the rankings, followed by Gujarat.
  • The proposed index has a wider ambit, but the focus is still on reforms, with marketing reforms (25%) and governance and land reforms (20%) carrying almost half of the weight of the parameters in its scoring system.

Human Resource Development

HRD Ministry launches Leadership for Academicians Program (LEAP) and Annual Refresher Programme In Teaching (ARPIT) for higher education faculty


  • Human Resource Development, launched two new initiatives; Leadership for Academicians Programme (LEAP) and Annual Refresher Programme In Teaching (ARPIT)
  • ARPIT will go a long way in empowering the teaching faculty. Committed teachers will develop confidence and competence and must become effective communicators so that they can spread knowledge like the rays of the sun.
  • LEAP will fulfill this critical need which will make higher education institutions perform their roles of developing better students who will be future torch bearers

Connect to LEAP

  • Leadership for Academicians Programme (LEAP) is a three weeks Flagship leadership development training programme (2 weeks domestic and one week foreign training) for second level academic functionaries in public funded higher education institutions.
  • The main objective is to prepare second tier academic heads who are potentially likely to assume leadership roles in the future.
  • The programme would provide senior faculty, with high academic credentials, the required leadership and managerial skills including skills of problem-solving, handling stress, team building work, conflict management, developing communication skills, understanding and coping with the complexity and challenges of governance in HEIs, financial & general administration.
  • The implementation of LEAP Programme will be through 15 NIRF top ranked Indian Institutions namely, Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee; IIT Kanpur; NIT Trichy; Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) Kolkata; Jawaharlal Nehru University; IIT (BHU); University of Delhi; Indian Institute of Technology Bombay; TISS Mumbai; University of Hyderabad ; NIEPA, Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur; Jamia Milia Islamia; Banaras Hindu University and AMU.
  • The foreign Universities identified for the training are also within the top 100 in the world global rankings.

Connect to ARPIT

  • Annual Refresher Programme in Teaching (ARPIT), a major and unique initiative of online professional development of 15 lakh higher education faculty using the MOOCs platform SWAYAM.
  • For implementing ARPIT, 75 discipline-specific institutions have been identified and notified as National Resource Centres (NRCs) in the first phase, which are tasked to prepare online training material with focus on latest developments in the discipline, new & emerging trends, pedagogical improvements and methodologies for transacting revised curriculum.
  • In 2018, the inaugural year itself, the NRCs are expected to cater to around 13 lakh faculty of the total 15 lakh faculty in higher education.
  • The courses cover a diverse range of topics Currently, registrations are open for the online refresher courses on SWAYAM platform, https://swayam.gov.in/courses/public
  • NRCs are located in a mixed range of institutions such as, Central Universities, IISc, IUCAA, IITs, IISERs, NITs, State Universities
  • ARPIT will be an ongoing exercise so that every year NRCs will continuously develop new refresher module in their earmarked discipline each year.
  • The training materials will be uploaded and made available through SWAYAM.
  • NRC will publish the list of the faculty who have been certified.
  • The NRCs will revolutionize professional development of faculty by catering to massive numbers by leveraging ICT and online technology platform of SWAYAM.


INDO-Russian joint exercise INDRA 2018


  • The joint military exercise between Indian and Russia EXERCISE INDRA 2018 on combating insurgency under the aegis of United Nations (UN) is being conducted at Babina Field Firing Ranges, Babina Military Station (near Jhansi) from 18 November 2018.
  • Russia and India will participate in the training exercise spanning for eleven days including induction and de-induction of the Russian contingent.

Connect to the exercise

  • The aim of the exercise is to practice joint planning and conduct to enhance interoperability of the two Armies in the peace keeping/ enforcement environment under the aegis of the UN.
  • It focuses upon training on enhancing team building, special tactical level operations such as Cordon and Search, house intervention, handling and neutralisation of Improvised Explosive Devices and integrated employment of force multipliers.
  • The primary focus of the tactical field exercise is to share best practices amongst the militaries and hone existing skills of the troops in the backdrop of interoperability between the two Armies in the peace keeping/ enforcement environment.
  • The topics chosen for the exercise are both live and contemporary affecting both the nation alike.
  • The tenth exercise in the series of Exercise INDRA is aimed at sending a strong message to the world with an intent of appreciation of interoperability between Indian and Russian Armies for joint tactical level operations in the peace keeping / enforcement environment under the aegis of UN.