Current Affairs 11-15 Dec 2023

Daily Current Capsules

11,12,13,14 and 15 December 2023

NAMO Drone Didi scheme

  • The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has acknowledged the importance of NAMO Drone Didi scheme and said that this scheme helping women to become integral stakeholders of their local farming supply chains and rural prosperity.

Know! about NAMO Drone Didi scheme

  • It aims to provide drones to 15,000 women Self Help Groups (SHGs) during the period 2024-25 to 2025-2026 for providing rental services to farmers for agriculture purposes
  • It enables women’s Self-Help Groups, to rent these drones to farmers for agricultural purposes, thus playing a key role in rural economies.
  • The scheme seeks to empower women Self Help Groups (SHGs) and bring in new technologies through drone services in the agriculture sector.
  • It introduces advanced technology in agriculture. For example, the use of drones for the foliar application of innovative liquid fertilizers like Nano Urea and Nano DAP.

Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI)

  • Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi inaugurated the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI) Summit, at Bharat Mandapam, New Delhi on 12th December 2023

Know! about GPAI

  • GPAI is a multi-stakeholder initiative with 29 member countries, which aims to bridge the gap between theory and practice on AI by supporting cutting-edge research and applied activities on AI-related priorities.
  • India is the lead chair of GPAI in 2024. As one of the founding members of GPAI in 2020, the current incoming Support Chair of GPAI, and the Lead Chair for GPAI in 2024, India hosted the Annual GPAI Summit from December 12 – 14, 2023
  • Multiple sessions on diverse topics like AI & global health, education and skilling, AI and data governance, and ML Workshop, among others were organised during the summit.

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58 AIRPORTS COVERED UNDER THE KRISHI UDAN SCHEME

  • Krishi Udan Scheme was launched in August 2020 on international and national routes to assist farmers in transporting agricultural products to help improve their value realization.
  • Krishi Udan Scheme 2.0 was announced on 27 October 2021 mainly focusing on transporting perishable food products from the hilly areas, North Eastern States and tribal areas.
  • The scheme primarily covers 25 airports focusing on North Eastern, Hilly and Tribal region besides 33 airports in other regions/areas.
  • Krishi Udan Scheme is a convergence scheme where eight Ministries/Departments namely Ministry of Civil Aviation, Department of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare, Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying, Department of Fisheries, Ministry of Food Processing Industries, Department of Commerce, Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Ministry of Development of North-Eastern Region would leverage their existing schemes to strengthen the logistics for transportation of Agri-produce.
  • In order to facilitate and incentivise movement of agri-produce by air transportation, waiver of Landing charges, Parking charges, etc. are provided under the scheme for Indian freighters by Airports Authority of India (AAI) and Ministry of Defence at selected airports under the Scheme.

Exercise VINBAX-2023

  • The Indian Armed Forces contingent comprising 45 personnel reached Hanoi, Vietnam to take part in the fourth edition of Joint Military Exercise VINBAX-2023.
  • The exercise was conducted in Hanoi, Vietnam from 11th to 21st December 2023.
  • Exercise VINBAX was instituted in 2018 and the first edition was conducted at Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh.
  • It is an annual training event conducted alternatively in India and Vietnam.
  • Last edition was conducted at Chandimandir Military Station in August 2022.
  • Aim of the exercise is to foster collaborative partnership, promote inter- operability and share best practices between the two sides under Chapter VII of United Nations Charter on Peace Keeping Operations.

Steps taken by the Government to promote women participation in STEM Courses

  • To promote female students to pursue higher education and research, All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has introduced Pragati Scholarship and TechSaksham Program (TSP) for women.
  • The Pragati Scholarship was started in the year 2014 to award scholarship to meritorious girl students to encourage them to pursue higher education.
  • AICTE is awarding 10000 scholarships (Pragati) to the girls entering in the technical education.
  • TechSaksham Program is a top-up program that uses experiential learning to develop employability skills amongst underserved female students pursuing higher education.
  • With a view to improve female enrolment in the Undergraduate Programmes in Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), supernumerary seats were created which increased the female enrolment from 8% in 2018-19 to 20% in 2020-21.
  • As per All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE), the Female Enrolment in STEM Courses has increased from 38.4% in 2014-15 to 42.6% in 2021-22
  • As per World Bank Gender Data accessed in 2023, female share of graduates from STEM as percentage of tertiary education in India (2018) is 42.7%, in US (2016) is 34%, in UK (2016) is 38.1%, in Australia (2017) is 32.1% and in Germany (2017) is 27.6%.

Indian Forest & Wood Certification Scheme (Parliament winter session Highlights)

  • The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change has launched the Indian Forest & Wood Certification Scheme.

Know! about the Forest Certification scheme

  • This national forest certification scheme offers voluntary third-party certification designed to promote sustainable forest management and agroforestry in the country.
  • The scheme includes forest management certification, tree outside forest management certification, and chain of custody certification.
  • The Indian Forest and Wood Certification Scheme can provide market incentives to various entities that adhere to responsible forest management and agroforestry practices in their operations.
  • This includes state forest departments, individual farmers, or Farmer Producer Organizations engaged in agroforestry and farm forestry, as well as other wood-based industries in the value chain.
  • The Indian Forest and Wood Certification Scheme, will be overseen by the Indian Forest and Wood Certification Council, which will act as a multistakeholder advisory body.
  • Indian Institute of Forest Management, Bhopal will act as the scheme operating agency and will be responsible for overall management of the Indian Forest and Wood Certification Scheme.
  • The National Accreditation Board for Certification Bodies under the Quality Council of India will accredit the certification bodies which will carry out independent audits and assess adherence of various entities on the standards prescribed under the scheme.

National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) – (Parliament winter session Highlights)

  • National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) has been launched in January, 2019 which is a long-term, time-bound national level strategy for prevention, control and abatement of air pollution.
  • Under NCAP, it has been envisaged to achieve target of 20 to 30% reduction in Particulate Matter concentrations by 2024 in 131 cities of 24 States/UTs with respect to base year 2017.
  • Subsequently, the target has been revised to achieve up to 40% reduction or achieve National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) in terms PM concentrations by 2025-26.
  • Due to implementation of city action plans under NCAP, 90 cities out of 131 cities have shown improvement in air quality in terms of annual PM10 concentrations in FY 2022-23 with respect to the baseline of FY 2017-18.
  • 15 cities have met National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for PM10 (60 µg/m3) in FY 2022-23.

National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Ecosystems (NPCA) – (Parliament winter session Highlights)

  • Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has notified the Wetlands (Conservation & Management) Rules, 2017 under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
  • These rules, inter-alia, prohibit conversion for non-wetland uses including encroachment of any kind, solid waste dumping, discharge of untreated wastes and effluents from industries, cities, towns, villages and other human settlements and any construction of a permanent nature except for boat jetties within fifty meters from the mean high flood level observed in the past ten years calculated from the date of commencement of these rules.
  • Further, vide these rules, the State/UT Wetlands Authorities have been constituted which are responsible for protection and conservation of wetlands.
  • MoEF&CC is currently implementing a centrally sponsored scheme namely, National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Ecosystems (NPCA) for conservation and management of wetlands in the country on cost sharing basis between Central Government and respective State/UT Governments.
  • The scheme covers various activities such as interception, diversion and treatment of wastewater.

Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016

  • The Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016, provide the statutory framework for management of solid waste in the country.
  • As per these Rules, the local authorities and village panchayats are responsible for solid waste management. Further, every waste generator shall segregate and store the waste generated by them in three separate streams namely, bio-degradable, non-biodegradable and domestic hazardous wastes in suitable bins and handover segregated wastes to authorised waste pickers or waste collectors as per the direction or notification by the local authorities from time to time.
  • The rules also mandate that no waste generator shall throw, burn or burry the solid waste generated by him, on streets, open public spaces outside his premises or in the drain or water bodies.

Quad Climate Working Group (QCWG) – (Parliament winter session Highlights)

  • The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Government of India along with the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) organised a side event under the Adaptation Pillar of Quad Climate Working Group (QCWG) on “Capturing the Resilience Dividend: Quad Achievements under the Climate Adaptation Pillar” on 9th December 2023 at the India Pavilion, on the sidelines of the UNFCCC COP 28 India Pavilion at Dubai.

Know! about CDRI

  • The Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) is an international coalition of countries, United Nations (UN) agencies, multilateral development banks, the private sector, and academic institutions, that aims to promote disaster-resilient infrastructure.
  • Its objective is to promote research and knowledge sharing in the fields of infrastructure risk management, standards, financing, and recovery mechanisms.
  • It was launched by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit in September 2019.
  • CDRI’s initial focus is on developing disaster resilience in ecological, social, and economic infrastructure. It aims to achieve substantial changes in member countries’ policy frameworks and future infrastructure investments, along with a major decrease in the economic losses suffered due to disasters.
  • Today, or as of 2023, the CDRI has 39 members, incl. 31 member states, such as Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.

URBAN INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT FUND – (Parliament winter session Highlights)

  • Government has set up the Urban Infrastructure Development Fund (UIDF) through use of priority sector lending shortfall for creating urban infrastructure in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities.
  • UIDF aims to supplement the efforts of the State Governments for urban infrastructure development works implemented through Public/State Agencies, Municipal Corporations and Urban Local Bodies, by providing a stable and predictable source of financing.
  • The Fund will be managed by the National Housing Bank.

IMPLEMENTATION OF SMART CITIES MISSION – (Parliament winter session Highlights)

  • Government of India launched Smart Cities Mission (SCM) on 25 June 2015.
  • 100 Smart Cities have been selected through 4 rounds of competition from January 2016 to June 2018.
  • The objective of SCM is to promote cities that provide core infrastructure and decent quality of life to their citizens, clean and sustainable environment through application of smart solutions.
  • The idea is to look at compact areas, create replicable models which will act as lighthouses for other areas in the same city/other aspiring cities.
  • The implementation of SCM at the City level is done by SPV created for the purpose. At State level, Mission implementation is monitored by the State Level High Powered Steering Committee (HPSC).
  • At the National level, implementation is monitored by an Apex Committee headed by Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA).
  • Nominee Directors of MoHUA on the Boards of SPVs monitor progress in respective cities on a regular basis.
  • The period of implementation of SCM has been extended upto June 2024 and all Smart Cities are expected to complete their projects within the stipulated time.

Street Vendors(Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014 – (Parliament winter session Highlights)

  • In order to protect rights of urban Street Vendors (SVs) and to regulate street vending activities, the Government enacted the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014 which is implemented by respective States/UTs by framing Rules, Scheme, Bye-laws and Plan for Street Vending as per provisions of the Act.
  • The Act provides that the States / Urban Local Bodies (ULB) conduct a survey to identify SVs at least once every five years.
  • Under PM SVANidhi Scheme, this Ministry has launched the program of Socio-economic profiling of PMSVANidhi beneficiaries and their families in selected ULBs under the sub-component of ‘SVANidhi se Samriddhi’.
  • The programme aims to link the eligible SVs to select central Govt. welfare schemes including, inter alia, Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana, PM Suraksha Bima Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maandhan Yojana, Janani Suraksha Yojana, and Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY).

 Steel Slag

  • Steel Slag is generated as a solid waste during steel production. For every tonne of steel production around 180 – 200 kg of steel slag is generated in the integrated steel plants, which amounts to around 15 million tonnes steel slag generation  annually.
  • Ministry of Steel has funded a R&D project on “Development of Design Guidelines and Specifications for utilization of steel slag in road construction” being pursued by CSIR-CRRI in association with the steel industry.
  • Under this R&D project, India’s first six lane steel slag based road connecting NH-6 to Hazira port was constructed in May, 2022 at Surat Hazira using processed steel slag aggregates as substitute of natural aggregates in all layers of bituminous pavement.

Steps taken by the Government to promote Skill Development & Entrepreneurship across the country (Parliament Winter Session Highlights)

  • Under the Govt of India’s Skill India Mission (SIM), the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) delivers skill, re-skill and up-skill training through an extensive network of skill development centres/colleges/institutes etc. under various schemes

The brief of these schemes are as under:

  • Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY): PMKVY Scheme is for imparting skill development training through Short-Term Training (STT) and Up-skilling and Re-skilling through Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) to youth across the country including rural areas.
  • Jan Shikshan Sansthan (JSS) Scheme: The main target of the JSS is to impart vocational skills to the non-literates, neo-literates and the persons having rudimentary level of education and school dropouts up to 12th standard in the age group of 15-45 years
  • National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme (NAPS): This Scheme is for promoting apprenticeship training and increasing the engagement of apprentices by providing financial support to industrial establishments undertaking apprenticeship programme under the Apprentices Act, 1961.
  • Craftsmen Training Scheme (CTS): This scheme provides long-term training through Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) across the country. The ITIs offer a range of vocational/skill training courses

Investor Education and Protection Policy in India- (Parliament Winter Session Highlights)

  • The Investor Education and Protection Fund Authority (IEPFA) and the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) jointly organized a dedicated workshop for youth, engaging college students on “Investor Education and Protection Policy in India: Claiming the Unclaimed”

Know! about IEPFA

  • The Investor Education and Protection Fund Authority (IEPFA) was set up on September 7, 2016, under the aegis of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India, for administering the Investor Education and Protection Fund for making refunds of shares, unclaimed dividends, and matured deposits/debentures, among other things, to investors.

Know! about NCAER

  • NCAER is India’s oldest and largest independent economic think tank, set up in 1956 to inform policy choices for both the public and private sectors.
  • It is one of a few independent think tanks worldwide that combines rigorous economic analysis and policy outreach with deep data collection capabilities, particularly for large-scale household surveys.

National Conference on Responsible Business Conduct 2023

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  • The Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs (IICA), an autonomous institution under the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Govt. of India, hold the ‘National Conference on Responsible Business Conduct 2023: Embracing ESG in India’ on 14th and 15th December 2023

Know! about the conference

  • IICA envisions the National Conference to provide a platform for the businesses to address challenges in connection with global issues such as climate change, destruction of natural resources, human rights, resilience, etc. to leverage ESG for the long-term good of the business, its stakeholders, and society.

 ESG stands for Environmental, Social, and Governance. This is often called sustainability. In a business context, sustainability is about the company’s business model, i.e. how its products and services contribute to sustainable development.

National Book Promotion Council

The Union Minister of Education held a meeting of the reconstituted National Book Promotion Council. The purpose was to assess the draft National Book Promotion Policy prepared by the Expert Advisory Committee.

Know! about the draft

  • The National Book Promotion Policy (NBPP) has been drafted under the aegis of the Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Education.
  • It envisions a knowledge society imbued with an awareness from reading books. The overarching theme of NBPP is ‘Books for All: Improving the availability, accessibility, quality and readership’.

The policy seeks to

  • Ensure an adequate supply of books that cater to the needs and interests of all segments of society and all age groups, including persons with print disabilities and other differently-abled persons.
  • Ensure that books are accessible and affordable to readers all over the country, including the disadvantaged and those living in rural and remote areas.
  • Enhance readership among people of all age groups, especially among individuals and groups hitherto unreached.

Indian Tent turtles

  • Acting on the basis of specific intelligence developed by Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), Zonal Unit, Lucknow, seized 436 baby Indian Tent turtles from a person illegally transporting them interstate.
  • After the initial seizure under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, the case was handed over to Forest Department, Varanasi, UP, for further investigation.
  • The Indian Tent Turtle is protected species under Schedule 1 of Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972.

Indian Tent Turtles

  • The Indian tent turtle (Pangshura tentoria) is a species of turtle in the family Geoemydidae. The species is found in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh.

Atal Pension Yojana (APY) – (Parliament winter session Highlights)

  • The total enrolment under the Atal Pension Yojana (APY) has crossed 6 crore, with over 79 lakh enrolments in the current Financial Year.

Know! about APY

  • The APY, a flagship social security scheme of the Government of India, was launched on 9th May 2015 by the Prime Minister to provide old age income security to Indian citizens, with a particular focus on the poor, underprivileged, and workers in the unorganized sectors.
  • The Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA), in the recent past, has taken several initiatives for awareness creation of the scheme including the release of a one-page simple APY flyer/handout in Hindi, English, and 21 regional languages.
  • Under the APY, the subscriber is eligible to get triple benefits, as guaranteed by the Govt. of India, i.e. lifelong monthly pension of Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 5,000 from the age of 60 years, depending on their contributions, which itself would vary based on the age of joining the APY.
  • The same pension would be paid to the spouse of the subscriber after the demise of the subscriber and on the demise of both the subscriber and spouse, the pension wealth as accumulated till age 60 of the subscriber would be returned back to the nominee.

Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY) – (Parliament winter session Highlights)

  • As per data uploaded by Member Lending Institutions (MLIs) on Mudra portal, over 28.89 crore loans involving a sanctioned amount of Rs. 17.77 lakh crore have been extended under Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY) in the last five financial years

Know! about PMMY

  • Under Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY), collateral-free institutional credit up to Rs. 10 lakh is provided by Member Lending Institutions (MLIs) i.e. Scheduled Commercial Banks (SCBs), Regional Rural Banks (RRBs), Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs) and Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs) to micro/small business units for income generating activities in the manufacturing, trading, services sector and also for activities allied to agriculture.

Production Linked Incentive Scheme for Food Processing Industry (PLISFPI) – (Parliament winter session Highlights)

  • The Production Linked Incentive Scheme for Food Processing Industry (PLISFPI) was approved by the Cabinet on 31st March 2021, with an outlay of Rs. 10,900 crores, to be implemented from FY 2021-22 to FY 2026-27.
  • The scheme consists of three components: incentivizing manufacturing in four food product segments (Ready to Cook/ Ready to Eat foods; Processed Fruits & Vegetables; Marine Products; and Mozzarella Cheese), promoting Innovative/Organic products of SMEs, and incentivizing branding and marketing abroad for promoting Indian brands in the global market.
  • Additionally, the PLI Scheme for promoting Millet-based Products was launched in the FY 2022-23 with an outlay of ₹800 crore, utilizing the scheme’s savings.

Global River Cities Alliance (GRCA)

  • The Global River Cities Alliance (GRCA), led by the  National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) under the Ministry of Jal Shakti, Government of India, was launched at COP28, the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Dubai, United Arab Emirates with countries namely India, Egypt, Netherlands, Denmark, Ghana, Australia, Bhutan, Cambodia, Japan and river-cities of The Hague (Den Haag) from the Netherlands, Adelaide from Australia, and Szolnok of Hungary and International funding agencies the World Bank, Asian Development Bank (ADB), Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and knowledge management institution like KPMG entering into a partnership, widely expanding the reach of the existing River Cities Alliance (RCA), formed  by NMCG in association with National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) in 2021.

Know! about GRCA

  • GRCA is a unique alliance covering 275+ global river-cities in 11 countries, international funding agencies and knowledge management partners and is first of its kind in the world.
  • The launch of GRCA, signifies a momentous step in global efforts toward river conservation and sustainable water management.

National Energy Conservation Day

  • The National Energy Conservation Day is celebrated on December 14 every year, in order to spread the message on the importance of conserving energy and to showcase the achievements of the nation in energy efficiency and conservation.
  • On the occasion, the President felicitated the winners of the National Energy Conservation Awards 2023, National Energy Efficiency Innovation Awards 2023 and National Painting Competition on Energy Conservation 2023.
  • The National Energy Conservation Day and the Awards are being organized by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), under Ministry of Power, Government of India, which is mandated as per the Energy Conservation Act 2001, to regulate and promote energy efficiency and its conservation in India.

National Energy Conservation Awards 2023

  • To raise awareness about energy efficiency and its conservation, the BEE, under the guidance of Ministry of Power, recognizes and encourages endeavours of industrial units, institutions, and establishments in reducing energy consumption by felicitating them with Energy Conservation Awards on the occasion of National Energy Conservation Day.

National Energy Efficiency Innovation Awards (NEEIA) 2023

  • To recognize outstanding work and innovative minds of India in the area of Energy Efficiency, NEEIA was started in the year 2021. Applications for NEEIA 2023 were invited online, in various categories viz. Category A: Industries, Building and Transport and Category B: Students and Research Scholars.

Know! about BEE

  • The Government of India set up the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) on March 1, 2002 under the provisions of the Energy Conservation Act, 2001.
  • The mission of the Bureau of Energy Efficiency is to assist in developing policies and strategies with a thrust on self-regulation and market principles, within the overall framework of the Energy Conservation Act, 2001 with the primary objective of reducing the energy intensity of the Indian economy.
  • BEE coordinates with designated consumers, designated agencies and other organizations and recognises, identifies and utilises the existing resources and infrastructure, in performing the functions assigned to it under the Energy Conservation Act.
  • The Energy Conservation Act provides for regulatory and promotional functions.

Renewable Energy Research and Technology Development Programme

  • The Union Minister for New & Renewable Energy and Power has informed that the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy is implementing ‘Renewable Energy Research and Technology Development Programme’ through various research institutions and industry to develop indigenous technologies and manufacturing for widespread applications of new and renewable energy in efficient and cost-effective manner, including international collaboration for joint technology development and demonstration.
  • It provides up to 100% financial support to government / non-profit research organizations and up to 70% to industry, startups, private institutes, entrepreneurs, and manufacturing units.

AKTOCYTE

  • In a breakthrough towards enhancing the quality of life for cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy, scientists from Department of Atomic Energy and M/s. IDRS Labs Pvt. Ltd. Bengaluru have joined hands to develop AKTOCYTE tablets.
  • Experts from Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Mumbai; Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai; Advanced Centre for Training Research and Education in Cancer, Navi Mumbai collaborated with the IDRS Labs with a primary aim of minimizing the side effects of radiotherapy.
  • The AKTOCYTE tablets have shown remarkable results, particularly in pelvic cancer patients suffering from radiotherapy-induced Cystitis (Blood in urine).
  • Patients treated with AKTOCYTE tablets demonstrated an extraordinary recovery, eliminating the need for surgical removal of the urinary bladder.
  • The tablets, designed as an adjuvant to cancer radiotherapy, regenerative nutraceutical, immunomodulator, and antioxidant, mark a significant advancement in cancer care.
  • AKTOCYTE has received approval from the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), operating under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India.

INS Tarmugli

  • The Indian Navy inducted a Fast Attack Craft, INS Tarmugli on 14 Dec 23
  • The ship has a unique distinction of having served under the flag of two nations with three names during her distinguished service till date.
  • Commissioned in the Indian Navy as INS Tillanchang, a Trinkat Class ship, she was in active service till 2006, and thereafter gifted to the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) by the Govt of India, as part of diplomatic outreach in the IOR.
  • The ship was commissioned into MNDF as MCGS Huravee on 16 April 2006, and served there till its decommissioning in May 2023.
  • The ship was returned to the Indian Navy, and decision was taken to refurbish, repair and re-induct it into the force levels of the Indian Navy.

Mission Antarctica

  • Defence Minister flagged-in, in a team of Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Darjeeling that carried out ‘Mission Antarctica’.
  • The expedition, which commenced in 2021, was undertaken by a team of three trekkers, led by Group Captain Jai Kishan.
  • The team hoisted the National Flag, measuring 7,500 sq ft and weighing 75 kilograms across the length and breadth of the country, including atop Mt Rhenock in Sikkim Himalayas at an altitude of 16,500 feet.
  • It was recorded as the biggest Indian National Flag hoisted atop a mountain in the Asia Book of Records and India Book of Records.
  • During the expedition, the team also displayed the Tri-colour over Mount Vinson Peak, the highest peak of South Pole.

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

  • The National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog) and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) signed a Statement of Intent (SoI), aiming to fortify policy and program frameworks contributing to India’s developmental objectives.
  • The five-year SoI grants IFPRI a broad mandate to support NITI’s Agriculture
  • IFPRI will provide policy analytics and support to NITI in mutually identified areas within the broader realm of food systems transformation, initially focusing on agriculture, rural development, trade, and climate change policies in India.

Know! about International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

  • The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) is an international agricultural research center founded in 1975 to improve the understanding of national agricultural and food policies to promote the adoption of innovations in agricultural technology.
  • IFPRI was meant to shed more light on the role of agricultural and rural development in the broader development pathway of a country
  • The mission of IFPRI is to provide research-based policy solutions that sustainably reduce poverty and end hunger and malnutrition.
  • IFPRI carries out food policy research and disseminates it through hundreds of publications, bulletins, conferences, and other initiatives.
  • IFPRI was organized as a District of Columbia non-profit, non-stock corporation on March 5, 1975, and its first research bulletin was produced in February 1976.
  • IFPRI operates in more than 50 countries with offices in several developing countries, including China, Ethiopia, and India, and has research staff working in many more countries around the world.
  • Most of the research takes place in developing countries in Central America, South America, Africa, and Asia.
  • IFPRI is part of a network of international research institutes funded in part by the CGIAR,which in turn is funded by governments, private businesses and foundations, and the World Bank.

WISE-KIRAN – (Parliament winter session Highlights)

  • The ‘Women Scientist Scheme’ is one of the flagship programmes of the Women in Science and Engineering-KIRAN (WISE-KIRAN) Scheme that provides opportunities to women scientists to pursue research careers in the field of Science & Technology (S&T), especially those who had a career break.
  • Under this scheme, thirteen (13) unemployed women scientists have benefitted with the assistance of Rs.1.93 crore in the last five years.
  • The Department of Science and Technology (DST) is implementing a dedicated scheme ‘Women in Science and Engineering-KIRAN (WISE-KIRAN)’to cater women of all walks of life in order to enhance their participation in the field of Science and Technology (S&T)with the ultimate goal to bring gender parity.
  • The WISE-KIRAN Scheme is a holistic approach to address various challenges faced by women in their scientific journey through different kinds of programmes.

VIBRANT VILLAGES PROGRAMME – (Parliament winter session Highlights)

  • Government has approved Vibrant Villages Programme(VVP) as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme on 15thFebruary, 2023, with  financial outlay of ₹4800 crore for the FY 2022-23 to 2025-26, for  comprehensive development  of  the  select villages  in  46  blocks in 19 districts abutting northern border in the States of  Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Uttarakhand and UT of Ladakh.
  • The objective of the programme is comprehensive development of these villages to improve the quality of life of people & thereby reversing outmigration.
  • VVP has been conceived as an outcome oriented programme with outcome indicators at three levels- village, household & individual beneficiary.

Atal Vayo Abhyuday Yojana(AVYAY)

  • The Department of Social Justice and Empowerment is implementing Integrated Programme for Senior Citizens(IPSrC), a component of the scheme of Atal Vayo Abhyuday Yojana(AVYAY), under which grant-in-aid is provided to Non-Governmental/Voluntary Organizations for running and maintenance of Senior Citizens’ Homes, Continuous Care Homes, etc., for providing facilities, like, shelter, nutrition, medicare and entertainments free of cost to indigent senior citizens.
  • Under IPSrC, there is no provision for construction/building of Senior Citizens’ Homes.
  • New Senior Citizens’ Homes run by the Non-Governmental/Voluntary Organizations are included for supporting with grant-in-aid under the IPSrC for running and maintenance, on the basis of request of the respective State/Union Territory for including the concerned district as a Gap District and, thereafter, recommendation of the same State/Union Territory.

COMMISSIONING OF INDIAN NAVAL SHIP TARMUGLI

  • Indian Navy commissioned INS Tarmugli, a Fast Attack Craft, at an impressive ceremony held at Naval Dockyard Visakhapatnam under the aegis of the Eastern Naval Command on 14 Dec 23.
  • The ship is a Trinkat Class FAC which was gifted to the Maldivian Naval Defence Forces (MNDF) in 2006 by the Govt of India.
  • The ship was returned to the Indian Navy in May this year, which also provided an in-service Waterjet Fast Attack Craft, to MNDF as the new MCGS Huravee.
  • Post extensive restoration work by the Naval Dockyard, Visakhapatnam the FAC has been reincarnated in its present avatar.
  • The warship is fitted with MTU engines, the latest communication equipment, a 30 mm gun and an advanced Radar system and will be extensively used for coastal surveillance and protection of our ODAs in the KG Basin area along the East Coast of India.

Sammakka Sarakka Central Tribal University ,Telangana

  • Recently the Parliament passed the Central Universities (Amendment), Bill, 2023 further to amend the Central Universities Act, 2009 for establishment Sammakka Sarakka Central Tribal University at Mulugu in the State of Telangana.
  • The Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Teachers’ Cadre) Act, 2019 ensured the rights of  SC/ST/OBC/EWS of reservation envisaged under the Constitution.
  • The University has been named “Sammakka Sarakka Central Tribal University” on the mother and daughter, Sammakka and Saralamma (commonly known as Sarakka), who are believed to be manifestations of Adi Parashakti sent to protect the tribal communities of Telangana.

Moving Off Information Systems (MOIS)

  • National Highways Authority India (NHAI) has developed a Computer Aided Dispatch System to assist the 1033 call centre operators to locate the nearest available on-road unit (ambulance/crane/patrol unit) and developed NHAI ERS Mobile Application to relay the dispatch related information to the on-road units.
  • This system has been developed to make the response to emergency calls faster.

Know! about MOIS

  • The technical committees of the Government viz., Central Motor Vehicle Rules-Technical Standing Committee (CMVR-TSC) and Automotive Industry Standards Committee (AISC) has taken up the work to formulate standard on Moving Off Information Systems (MOIS) for vehicles of categories M2 (Category M2 means a motor vehicle used for carriage of passengers, comprising nine or more seats in addition to the driver’s seat and having a maximum Gross Vehicle Weight not exceeding five tonnes), M3 (Category M3 means a motor vehicle used for carriage of passengers, comprising nine or more seats in addition to the driver’s seat and having a Gross Vehicle Weight exceeding five tonnes), N2 (Category N2 means a motor vehicle used for carriage of goods and having a Gross Vehicle Weight exceeding 3.5 tonnes but not exceeding 12 tonnes) and N3 (Category N3 means a motor vehicle used for carriage of goods and having a Gross Vehicle Weight exceeding 12 tonnes).
  • MOIS is an advanced driver assistance system to aid drivers in low-speed moving off from rest manoeuvres that may involve collisions between above referred category vehicles and vulnerable road users (pedestrians and cyclists).
  • MOlS detects and informs the driver of the presence of pedestrians and cyclists in the close-proximity forward blind-spot of the vehicle.

Bharat New Car Assessment Program (BNCAP)

  • Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has inserted a new rule 126E in CMVR (Central Motor Vehicles Rules), 1989 regarding the Bharat New Car Assessment Program (BNCAP).

The following has been prescribed: –

  • Bharat new car assessment program.- The car assessment programme under this rule shall be applicable on the type approved vehicles of category M1, manufactured or imported in the country on or after the 1st day of October, 2023.
  • BNCAP shall be a voluntary program monitored by the Agency.
  • On and from the 1st day of October 2023, the manufacturer or importer of motor vehicles shall submit an application in FORM 70A, to the designated agency, designated by the Central Government to get their motor vehicle examined and assessed for star rating in accordance with AIS:197.
  • The cost of the motor vehicle for the purpose of assessment for star rating and the cost of such assessment shall be borne by the respective manufacturer or importer.

Lady without Mehram (LWM) category

  • The Lady without Mehram (LWM) category was introduced in Haj 2018 by the Government of India and since then there has been an emphasis on encouraging more and more women to apply under this category.
  • In 2023, a historical high of more than 4000 women successfully applied under LWM category.
  • Traditionally, a major deterrent for increased participation of Muslim women was their dependence on an accompanying male haji, i.e. mehram for performing this sacred religious pilgrimage.
  • This restriction was done away by Government of India by allowing ladies of forty five (45) years of age or above to apply without Mehram for Haj in 2018 wherein provision was made for eligible women to perform pilgrimage under LWM category in groups of four (4).
  • In Haj-2023, for the first time, the Government of India allowed single eligible women also to apply for Haj -2023 under the LWM category

Naya Savera scheme

  • The Ministry of Minority Affairs launched ‘Naya Savera’ scheme (‘Free Coaching and Allied’ scheme) in 2007 to assist students/candidates belonging to the six notified minority communities namely Sikh, Jain, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist and Parsi by way of special coaching for qualifying examinations for admission in technical/professional courses and competitive examination for recruitment to Group ‘A’, ‘B’, & ‘C’ services and other equivalent posts under the Central and State Governments including public sector undertakings, banks and railways.

Autonomous Flying Wing Technology Demonstrator

  • Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has successfully carried out a flight trial of Autonomous Flying Wing Technology Demonstrator, an indigenous high-speed flying-wing Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) from the Aeronautical Test Range, Chitradurga in Karnataka.
  • The successful flying demonstration of this autonomous stealth UAV is a testimony to maturity in the technology readiness levels in the country.
  • With this flight in the tailless configuration, India has joined the elite club of countries to have mastered the controls for the flying wing technology.

Know! about the UAV

  • This UAV is designed and developed by DRDO’s Aeronautical Development Establishment.
  • The aircraft prototype, with a complex arrowhead wing platform, is designed and manufactured with lightweight carbon prepreg composite material developed indigenously.
  • The autonomous landing of this high-speed UAV, without the need for ground radars/infrastructure/pilot, showcased a unique capability demonstration, allowing take-off and landing from any runway with surveyed coordinates.
  • This was possible using onboard sensor data fusion with indigenous satellite-based augmentation using GPS Aided GEO Augmented Navigation (GAGAN) receivers to improve the accuracy and integrity of GPS navigation.

Dare to Dream (D2D)

  • Dare to Dream (D2D) 1.0 (2019), D2D 2.0 (2020) and D2D 3.0 (2021) have been successfully conducted, wherein, more than 5,600 applications were received and out of which 86 technologies/ideas have been recognized
  • DRDO also supports best-awarded ideas to realize them into prototypes through the Technology Development Fund (TDF) scheme.
  • The individual innovators (Indian Citizen above 18 years age) and Start-ups (Registered with Department for Promotion of Industry & Internal Trade and with Indian founder) are eligible to participate in the D2D contest.
  • D2D winners are awarded with cash prize money in the Individual and start-up categories.
  • The winners are also encouraged and further considered for funding for the realisation of Prototypes under TDF scheme of Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO), Ministry of Defence on merit and feasibility basis.

Know! about TDF

  • Technology Development Fund (TDF) has been established to promote self-reliance in Defence Technology as a part of the ‘Make in India’ initiative.
  • It is a program of the Ministry of Defence.
  • This program is executed by the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) to meet the requirements of the Tri-Services, Defence Production, and DRDO.
  • The Scheme encourages the participation of public/private industries, especially MSMEs and startups, so as to create an ecosystem for enhancing cutting-edge technology capability in the defense sector.

Saint Lucia’s Tax Inspectors without Borders (TIWB) programme launched in partnership with India

  • Tax Inspectors Without Borders (TIWB), a joint initiative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), launched a programme in Saint Lucia on 14th December, 2023.
  • India has been chosen as the Partner Administration and will provide Tax Experts for this programme.
  • This programme is expected to be of 12-18 months’ duration in which India, in collaboration with the TIWB Secretariat and support of the UNDP Country Office, Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, aims to aid Saint Lucia in strengthening its tax administration by transferring technical knowledge and skills to its tax administration, and through sharing of best practices.
  • The focus of the programme will be on effective use of the automatic exchange of information under the Common Reporting Standard (CRS) framework.
  • This programme is the seventh TIWB programme which India has supported by providing Tax Experts.

PM-JANMAN Mission

  • Union Minister for Tribal Affairs and Agriculture & Farmers Welfare inaugurated the Manthan Shivir 2023 to finalize the implementation plan of Pradhan Mantri Janjati Adivasi Nyaya Maha Abhiyan (PM JANMAN)
  • The mission was launched by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi on Janjatiya Gaurav Divas (15th November 2023), from Khunti Jharkhand on the birth anniversary of Bhagwan Birsa Munda.

Know! about PM JANMAN

  • The PM JANMAN Mission targets the development of 75 Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) who have been left out by the schemes of various Ministries/Departments.
  • This Mission has a financial outlay of around Rs. 24,000 crores, and focuses on 11 critical interventions related to 9 key Ministries.
  • The Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs will be nodal and coordinating Ministry, whereas each of other 8 sectoral ministries and departments will implement the interventions related to them.