Daily Current Affairs

Prelims Prominence - October 30, 2017

Social Issues

NHRC recommended to introduce eggs, milk in mid –day meal, ICDS diet

  • Stressing that food being served under the mid-day meal scheme and Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) do not guarantee the protein intake as envisaged, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has recommended to state governments and the Ministry of Women and Child Development to introduce eggs and milk as part of the meal in all states.
  • While the meal is supplied in schools, the ICDS aims at providing supplementary nutrition through anganwadi centres to children aged below 6 years, besides pregnant and lactating women.

The recommendations of the NHRC

  • For the ICDS scheme, it has been recommended that adequate food testing facilities be created preferably at the district level by all states through the public health department, universities and colleges.
  • For the meal scheme, it was recommended that social audit and evaluation by a third party be conducted annually for each district and the reports be published on state portals.
  • It also said that no child should be deprived of the meal because of non-linking of Aadhaar.
  • The NHRC also questioned the state governments whether they have strictly followed Supreme Court orders banning contractors in supplying nutrition under ICDS and also whether adequate funds have been made available for full implementation of the Maternity Benefit Scheme or not.
  • Moreover, experts said cash transfers instead of hot cooked meals may be counterproductive and must not be encouraged as cash can be used for other expenditure.
  • Citing Kerala and Tamil Nadu as examples, the states were asked to resolve infrastructural gaps in terms of buildings, kitchens, drinking water supply and toilets within three years, by sourcing funds from different schemes and departments.

Mid Day Meal Scheme

  • The Midday Meal Scheme launched in 1995 is a school meal programme of the Government of India designed to improve the nutritional status of school-age children nationwide
  • Covers all children studying in Classes I-VIII in government schools and government aided schools, EGS and AIE centers including Madarasas supported under SSA.
  • The Mid Day Meal is the world’s largest school feeding programme reaching out to about 12 crore children in over 12.65 lakh schools/EGS centres across the country.
  • Under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which India is a party, India has committed to provide adequate nutritious foods for children.

Report

New report on Measles

India has the second highest unvaccined children for measles in World

  • According to a report by the the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United Nations Foundation, UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO), around 20.8 million children across the world are still missing their first measles vaccine dose
  • More than half these unvaccinated children live in six countries (1) Nigeria (3.3 million), (2) India (2.9 million), (3) Pakistan (2.0 million), (4) Indonesia (1.2 million), (5) Ethiopia (0.9 million), and (6) Democratic Republic of the Congo (0.7 million)
  • Measles is one of the important causes of death in children.
  • It is highly contagious and spreads through coughing and sneezing.
  • Can also cause diarrhoea, pneumonia and brain infection.
  • Symptoms of the infection can include cataracts and deafness. It can also affect the heart and the brain

Appointment Of Judges

Steps taken by the SC in regard to the delay in the finalization of the MoP

  • SC issued notice to the Attorney General of India, the Centre’s top law officer, to explain why the finalisation of the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) for appointment of judges to the Supreme Court and the high courts continues to linger.
  • The Supreme Court also wants the government to address it on the delay in appointment of “regular” Chief Justices to various high courts.
  • The apex court underlined that the arrangement of Acting Chief Justices in high courts should not continue for more than a month.

Why the delay -

  • It recorded in a written order that it has been about two years since a five-judge Constitution Bench tasked the Centre with the drafting and finalisation of the MoP.
  • Judicial vacancies continue to be a formidable problem across the 24 high courts.
  • Out of an approved total strength of 1079 high court judges, there are 387 vacancies as of October 1, 2017.

Centre keen on having court administrators

  • Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has written to the Chief Justices of all the High Courts to seek their views on developing a permanent cadre of administrators for court management and administration.
  • The move is aimed at allowing the judiciary to devote more time on judicial work and free them from administrative, managerial and financial work.
  • The situation is particularly bad in lower judiciary
  • As per the Indian Judiciary Annual Report 2016, pendency of cases across district courts is a staggering 2.81 crores and as many as 5,000 judges’ posts are vacant.
  • 13th Finance Commission suggested the creation of the post of Court Managers in every district court and High Court.

Environment

International Conference on Green Initiatives & Railway Electrification

  • Indian Railways shall lead the world by achieving 100 % electrification with “an incentive cum penalty” framework scheme to transform Indian Railways truly into a world class, safe and modern transporter

Main objective

  • Bring green power project developers and other stakeholders on a common platform for making Indian Railways (IR) an efficient and Greener mode of transport
  • Green initiatives including use of renewable energy, shift towards electric traction, development of new locomotive technology, high speed rail traction system and development in generation of Solar/Wind power as well as use of energy in efficient ways.

Action Plan

  • Electrification of Railway Tracks
  • Harnessing Renewable Energy on Indian Railways to reduce energy cost and carbon footprints
  • Production of Energy Efficient High Horsepower Locomotives
  • Head On Generation (HOG) – electrical loads of passenger coaches would be fed directly from electric power drawn by locomotive from grid.

About IREE

  • Institution of Railways Electrical Engineer (IREE) registered at Nasik in 1995 is a professional body of Railway Electrical Engineers.
  • It is a technical body under the auspices of Ministry of Railways sharing knowledge and experience of various Railway engineers and others connected with Electrical Engineering.

Indian Railway’s First set of Solar Power Plant of 5MW capacity launched

  • Indian Railway’s first set of solar plants with total capacity of 5 megawatt peak (MWp) was launched on roof tops of Hazrat Nizamuddin, New Delhi, Anand Vihar and Delhi railway stations.
  • This project was launched under ambitious National Solar Mission in which Indian Railways plans to commission 1000 MWp solar plants across its network.
  • The first set of solar plant will generate 76.5 lakh units of solar power cumulatively per year and will meet about 30% of energy requirement of these stations.
  • The project was awarded in 2016 to the developer under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model.The developer will maintain it for 25 years and Railways will only pay energy consumed at Rs 4.14 per unit.

Economy

Use of Public Finance Management System (PFMS) made mandatory by government for central schemes

  • The Union Government has made use of Public Finance Management System (PFMS) mandatory for all central schemes to ensure that benefits of government schemes reach the last mile.
  • It will help monitor the flow of funds to beneficiaries of different government welfare schemes.
  • So far total of 613 Central Sector Schemes are covered under PFMS having 34.19 crore beneficiaries with help of 21.72 lakh programme registered implementing agencies.
  • These schemes with a budgetary outlay of Rs.6, 66,644 crore covers over 31% of total Central Government expenditure during the current financial year 2017-18.

Public Finance Management System (PFMS)

  • The PFMS scheme has been rolled out by Controller General of Accounts at behest of Union Finance Ministry, Department of Department of Expenditure.
  • It is an electronic fund tracking mechanism compiles, collates and makes available in real-time, information regarding all government schemes.
  • PFMS is poised to develop as one of biggest financial management systems of the world, critical for bringing about transformational accountability and transparency in promoting overall good governance.
  • It aims at providing government real-time information on resource availability and utilisation across schemes.

Economy

SIDBI revamps portal for easy credit access

  • Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) has revamped its portal with enhanced features to provide easy access to credit and hand-holding services for micro small medium enterprises (MSME).

Key Features

  • The portal brings transparency and competition among lenders
  • It removes the need to approach several banks individually
  • The portal is mobile-enabled and provides a self-assessment module.
  • It sends various information on registered MSMEs from time to time.
  • It also allows loan applications to be perused and picked up by multiple lenders.

SIDBI

  • Small Industries Development Bank of India set up on April 2, 1990 under an Act of Indian Parliament, acts as the Principal Financial Institution for the Promotion, Financing and Development of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) sector and for Co-ordination of the functions of the institutions engaged in similar activities.

Science & Technology

Scientists link new virus to kala-azar

  • Parasite Leishmania donovani is believed to be responsible for the dreaded infection.
  • People get infected when bitten by an insect called the sandfly, which harbours the disease-causing parasite.

Discovery

  • Another parasite called Leptomonas seymouri may also be present
  • It’s still early to pointedly blame the virus but its discovery portends a new kind of treatment regime and may aid attempts to eradicating the disease.

Kala-azar

  • Visceral leishmaniasis (VL), also known as kala-azar, black fever, and Dumdum fever, is the most severe form of leishmaniasis and, without proper diagnosis and treatment, is associated with high fatality.
  • Caused by protozoan parasites of the Leishmania genus. migrates to the internal organs such as the liver, spleen (hence “visceral”), and bone marrow
  • Signs and symptoms include fever, weight loss, fatigue, anemia, and substantial swelling of the liver and spleen.
  • Kala-azar is endemic to the Indian subcontinent in 119 districts in four countries (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal)
  • This disease is the second-largest parasitic killer in the world

Environment

Government inks $65.5 Million Loan agreement with ADB to support Coastal Protection in Karnataka

  • The Union Government has inked $65.5 million loan agreement with Asian Development Bank (ADB) to continue interventions to check coastal erosion on the Western Coast in Karnataka.
  • The loan is second tranche of $250 million financing facility under Sustainable Coastal Protection and Management Investment Program for 20-year term.
  • It will be used for to address immediate coastal protection needs and for strengthening institutional capacity of Karnataka’s Inland Water Transport Department and Public Works, Ports.

Sustainable Coastal Protection and Management Investment Program

  • It consist of eight coastal protection subprojects to address issues of medium to severe coastal erosion resulting in protection of about 54 km of coastline in Karnataka.
  • It has already demonstrated benefit of adoption of softer options such as artificial reefs, beach nourishments, and dune management for coastal protection.
  • State Department of Public Works is responsible for implementation of overall program which is due for completion by September 2020.

Awards

Hridaynath Mangeshkar Award 2017

  • Veteran writer-lyricist Javed Akhtar (72) was honoured with the 2017 Hridaynath Mangeshkar Award at event in Mumbai which marked 80th birthday of veteran music composer Hridaynath Mangeshkar and 28th anniversary of Hridayesh Arts
  • The award was established in 2011 by Mumbai-based socio-cultural organisation Hridayesh Art in honour of music composer and singer Hridaynath Mangeskar.
  • It felicitates and recognises successful individuals across country from various walks of life. It carries monetary award of Rs 2 lakh and a memento.
  • The previous recipients of the award include eminent personalities like Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle, Amitabh Bachchan, Hariprasad Chaurasia, A R Rahman. The 2016 award was awarded to five-time world chess champion Vishwanathan Anand

Defence

OPV Vikram: L&T hand overs first defence vessel built in private shipyard to Coast Guard

  • Larsen and Toubro (L&T) handed over offshore patrol vessel (OPV) named “Vikram” to the Indian Coast Guard.
  • It is country’s first-ever such defence vessel to be built in a private shipyard
  • The vessel was indigenously developed in-house at L&T’s Kattupalli shipyard. Its entire design and construction processes have undergone dual certification from American Bureau of Shipping and Indian Registrar of Shipping.
  • OPV Vikram is first of seven vessels for which by Ministry of Defence had awarded Rs. 1,432-crore contract to L&T in March 2015.

Enlighten about it

  • The OPV Vikram is 97 metres long, 15 metre wide and has 2,140 tonne displacement capacity with range of 5,000 nautical miles and can reach speed of up to 26 knots (One knot is 1.852 km/hr).
  • It is equipped with state-of-the-art radars, navigation and communication systems capable of operating in tropical conditions. About 60% components of the ship were sourced from domestic suppliers

International Organisations

14th SAARCLAW Conference held in Colombo, Sri Lanka

  • The 14th South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation in Law (SAARCLAW) Conference was held in Colombo, capital city of Sri Lanka along with 11th SAARC Chief Justices Conference.

SAARCLAW Conference

  • It was established in Sri Lanka in 1991.
  • Since then conference has provided a platform for legal professionals from South Asian region to meet and discuss issues of mutual interests pertaining to justice, legal reforms, good governance and enforcement over a span of 25 years.