Current Affairs 21-25 Dec 2023

Daily Current Capsules

21 to 25 December 2023

OPERATIONALISATION OF MAITRI – II STATION IN ANTARCTICA

  • The government intends to operationalize a new research station in East Antarctica, near existing Indian research base Maitri. Site for new station has been identified. Preliminary topographical survey for approach road is underway.

The details of the scheduled timelines for its completion are as follows:

  • Development of Master plan, hiring of consultant & designing: 18 months.
  • Drafting of tender and tendering, award and signing of contract, site survey by consultants, road cutting and formations at site: 18 months.
  • Prefabrication/procurement’s at mainland, transportation to Cape Town/ Antarctica/ Indian Barrier to site and preparation for construction in Antarctica by the construction company: 18 months.
  • Transportation of final components from Indian Barrier to site and construction in Antarctica by the construction company: 12 months.
  • Completion of construction: January 2029.

India has three research stations in Antarctica, namely Bharati, Dakshin Gangotri and Maitri. They research the age of the Antarctic ice, and the speed of it’s melting. They also research and explore nearby land species.

HIMADRI ‘the abode of snow’ is India’s first research station located at the International Arctic Research base, NyÅlesund, Svalbard, Norway. It is located at a distance of 1,200 kilometres from the North Pole.

Protection of Black Tiger – (Parliament Winter Session Highlights)

  • Melanistic tigers have been recorded only in the Similipal Tiger Reserve in Odisha.
  • The rare melanistic tigers with distinctive dark stripe patterns are Bengal big cats with a gene mutation
  • As per the 2022 cycle of the All India Tiger Estimation, 16 individuals were recorded at Similipal Tiger Reserve, out of which 10 were melanistic.
  • Based on genetic composition, the Similipal Tiger Reserve has been identified as a distinct genetic cluster for conservation.

DATA ABOUT CITIES – (Parliament Winter Session Highlights)

  • The National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy (NDSAP) was published in 2012.
  • The National Policy has helped foster accessibility and easier sharing of non-personal data for scientific, economic and social developmental purposes.
  • Introduction of the Data Smart Cities strategy in 2019 by the Smart Cities Mission (SCM) was a key milestone in the journey towards data-driven governance in India’s cities.
  • The strategy has helped catalyze extensive work on data-driven policies and implementation across the 100 smart cities.

Assessment and Monitoring Platform for Liveable, Inclusive, and Future-ready Urban India(AMPLIFI)

  • Launch of the Urban Outcomes Framework in 2022 enabled the sharing of data across 14 sectors, on 400+ parameters for 200+ cities on a portal called AMPLIFI- an acronym for Assessment and Monitoring Platform for Liveable, Inclusive, and Future-ready Urban India.

India Urban Data Exchange (IUDX)

  • Besides AMPLIFI, the Mission has created the India Urban Data Exchange (IUDX) as an access controlled, safe mechanism for sharing of sensitive data amongst specific entities.
  • This has helped create innovative solutions in areas of mobility, health etc. in many Smart Cities of the country.
  • All Mission Cities actively share non-personal data on the Government of India’s open data portal.

Press and Registration of Periodicals Bill, 2023

  • Parliament passed the Press and Registration of Periodicals Bill, 2023, repealing the colonial era law of the Press and Registration of Books Act, 1867.

SALIENT FEATURES OF PRESS AND REGISTRATION OF PERIODICALS BILL 2023

  • The Bill provides for a simple online mechanism to apply for title verification and grant of certificate of registration by the Press Registrar General to a periodical as a simultaneous process.
  • This would enable the Press Registrar General to fast track the process, thereby ensuring that publishers, especially small and medium publishers, face little difficulty in starting a publication.
  • Most importantly, the publishers would no longer be required to file a declaration with the District Magistrates or the local authorities and get such declarations authenticated.
  • Furthermore, printing presses would also not be required to furnish any such declaration; instead, only an intimation would be sufficient.
  • A person who has been convicted by any court for an offence involving terrorist act or unlawful activity, or having done anything against the security of the State shall not be permitted to bring out a periodical.
  • Facsimile edition of a foreign periodical can be printed in India with prior approval of the Central Government and its registration with the Press Registrar General
  • For certain violations, financial penalties have been proposed instead of conviction as earlier.
  • Further, a credible appellate mechanism, headed by the Chairperson, Press Council of India has been provided
  • The Bill envisages minimalistic role of the District Magistrate/local authority with regard to grant of Certificate of Registration and title allotment.
  • On receipt of an application, the District Magistrate is expected to provide its comments/NOC to the Press Registrar General within 60 days; thereafter the Press Registrar General can proceed to take a decision for grant of registration even where the comments/NOC are not received from the DM/local authority after 60 days.
  • No requirement for a publisher to file any declaration before the District Magistrate

Difference between the Press and Registration of Books Act 1867 and the Press and Registration of Periodicals Bill 2023

  • Books which were part of the PRB Act 1867 have been taken away from the purview of the PRP Bill 2023, as books as a subject are administered by the Ministry of HRD.
  • Printing presses do not have to file any declaration before the District Magistrate; only an online intimation has to be filed before the Press Registrar General and the District Magistrate.
  • No declaration has to be filed by the publisher of the periodical before the District authority; application for title allotment and grant of Certificate of Registration would be made simultaneously to the Press Registrar General and the district authority and decision would be taken by the Press Registrar General.
  • Statute has been substantially decriminalized as against the PRB Act 1867 which had severe penalties leading to conviction and imprisonment up to 6 months for various violations of the Act.
  • In the 2023 Bill, punishment of jail up to six months is envisaged only in the extreme cases where a periodical is published without a Certificate of Registration and the publisher fails to cease the printing of such publication even after six months of direction has been issued to that effect by the Press Registrar General.
  • In the 1867 Act, only the DM could cancel the declaration of a periodical, the Press Registrar General did not have suo motu powers to cancel or suspend Certificate of Registration granted by it. The PRP Bill 2023 empowers the Press Registrar General to suspend/cancel the Certificate of Registration.

e-SHRAM portal – (Parliament Winter Session Highlights)

  • Ministry of Labour & Employment has launched e-SHRAM portal, a National Database of the Unorganised Workers on 26th August, 2021.
  • It has been made available to the States/UTs for registration of unorganised workers including migrant workers and domestic workers on e-SHRAM portal.
  • It allows an unorganised worker to register himself or herself on the portal on self-declaration basis, under 400 occupations in 30 broad occupation sectors.
  • The main objective of the e-SHRAM portal is to create a national database of unorganised workers seeded with Aadhaar.
  • It is also to facilitate delivery of Social Security and welfare Schemes to such workers. As on 15.12.2023, more than 29.23 Crore unorganized workers have been registered on this portal.

The Government is also implementing various social security and welfare schemes for unorganized workers including migrant workers and Domestic Workers.

Some of the prominent schemes are as follows;

  1. The PM Vishwakarma Scheme envisages to provide end-to-end holistic support to artisans and craftspeople who work with their hands, using tools, in the 18 trades covered.
  2. Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana (PMJJBY) and Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (PMSBY) launched in 2015 provide for life & disability cover due to natural or accidental death.
  3. Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Man Dhan Pension Scheme (PM-SYM) launched in 2019 provides for old age social security in the form of monthly pension.
  4. The Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PM-JAY) provides health cover of Rs.5 lakhs per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization to vulnerable families.
  5. PM-SVANidhi Scheme facilitates collateral free working capital loan of upto Rs.10,000/- for one-year tenure to street vendors.
  6. Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana caters to the housing needs of all eligible beneficiaries.

National Career Service (NCS) Portal – (Parliament Winter Session Highlights)

  • The National Career Service (NCS) Portal was launched by the Government to provide a variety of career-related services like job search and matching, career counseling, vocational guidance, information on skill development courses etc. through a digital platform [www.ncs.gov.in].
  • The NCS Portal brings together jobseekers and employers on one platform for job matching, provides decent employment opportunities to the aspiring youth of the country and facilitates career development assistance.

The key features of NCS Portal are as follows

  • More than 1100 approved career counsellors for providing career guidance to the jobseekers.
  • Knowledge repository of career content on more than 3600 job roles.
  • Online Employability skill assessment to view the employability quotient.
  • Online employability enhancement training offered on digital and soft skills.
  • Integration with 28 State Employment portals (including 7 States/UTs directly using NCS portal) for sharing of jobseeker data.
  • Integration with multiple private job portals for sharing of vacancies.
  • Integration with Udyam portal of Ministry of Micro Small and Medium Enterprises, EPFO and ESIC for auto registering employers.

National Scheduled Caste Scheduled Tribe Hub (NSSH) – (Parliament Winter Session Highlights)

  • National Scheduled Caste Scheduled Tribe Hub (NSSH), a central sector scheme of the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, Government of India was launched in 2016 by the Prime Minister.
  • The scheme aims at capacity enhancement of SC-ST entrepreneurs and promoting ” entrepreneurship culture” amongst the SC-ST population.
  • NSSH scheme is empowering SC-ST population to participate in the public procurement process and fulfil the mandated target of 4% procurement from SC-ST enterprises under Public Procurement Policy by the Ministries, Departments and CPSEs.
  • To provide handholding support to the SC/ST entrepreneurs across their business lifecycle, 15 National SC-ST Hub Offices (NSSHOs) have been established by NSIC in various parts of the country

Udyam Sakhi Portal – (Parliament Winter Session Highlights)

  • The Udyam Sakhi Portal provides information on various financial schemes, policies & programmes and the supporting institutions functioning under the administrative control of the Ministry of MSME to make women entrepreneurs self-reliant.

The Udyam Sakhi portal provides the following services to women:

  • Financial Schemes of Ministry of MSME and other central Ministries/Departments such as PMEGP; CGTMSE; MUDRA; TReDS etc.
  • Policies and Programmes of Ministry of MSME & other Central Ministries.
  • Information about preparation of Business plan.
  • Details of Nodal offices / supporting organisations of the Ministry of MSME in the respective States/UTs.
  • Information about exhibitions, trade fairs & international events organised by the Ministry of MSME.

Know! about Udyam Sakhi Portal

  • The Udyam Sakhi Portal helps disseminate information on the Government’s schemes, policies, and activities to women entrepreneurs, thus helping in women’s empowerment.
  • The Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) implements various schemes for promotion and development of MSMEs, including women-owned MSMEs namely Mahila Coir Yojana under Coir Vikas Yojana, Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP), Micro and Small Enterprises Cluster Development Programme (MSE-CDP), Tool Rooms & Technology Centres, Scheme of Fund for Regeneration of Traditional Industries (SFURTI), Procurement and Marketing Support Scheme, Entrepreneurship and Skill Development Programme (ESDP), Credit Linked Capital Subsidy and Technology Upgradation Scheme (CLCS-TUS) etc.

SHREYAS – (Parliament Winter Session Highlights)

  • The umbrella scheme of “SHREYAS” comprises 4 central sector sub- schemes namely “Top Class Education for SCs”, “Free Coaching Scheme for SCs and OBCs”, “National Overseas Scheme for SCs” and “National Fellowship for SCs”.

Free Coaching Scheme for SCs and OBCs:

  • The objective of the Scheme is to provide coaching of good quality for economically disadvantaged Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Other Backward Classes (OBCs) candidates to enable them appear in competitive and entrance examinations for obtaining appropriate jobs in Public/Private Sector as well as for securing admission in reputed technical and professional higher education institutions.
  • The scheme is implemented by DAF (Dr. Ambedkar Foundation) through empanelled Central Universities.

Top-Class Education for SCs:

  • The Scheme aims at recognizing and promoting quality education amongst students belonging to SCs, by providing financial support. The Scheme will cover selected meritorious SC students for pursuing studies beyond 12th class. The scholarship, once awarded, will continue till the completion of the course, subject to satisfactory performance of the student.

National Overseas Scheme for SCs:

  • Under this scheme financial assistance is provided to the selected students from SCs (115 slots); De-notified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Tribes (6 slots); landless agricultural labourers and traditional artisan categories (4 slots), for pursuing masters and Ph.D. level courses abroad. Presently, 125 slots are allotted under the scheme.

National Fellowship for SC Students:

  • Under the scheme fellowship is provided to Scheduled Castes students for pursuing higher education leading to M.Phil./Ph.D. degrees in Sciences, Humanities and Social Sciences in Indian Universities/Institutions/ Colleges recognized by University Grants Commission (UGC). The scheme is being implemented by National Scheduled Castes Finance and Development Corporation.

Paat-Mitro

  • To provide important information about MSP and agronomy to jute farmers, the Ministry of Textiles launched “Paat-Mitro” – a mobile application, developed by The Jute Corporation of India Limited (JCI) during ‘Jute Symposium’
  • The ‘Jute Symposium’ was organised to create awareness and popularize Jute based technical textiles with special emphasize on Jute Geotextiles. The event was attended by representatives from different ministries, research institutes.

Adi Vyakhyan

  • Union Minister for Tribal Affairs inaugurated a two-day tribal orientation programme – Adi Vyakhyan – in New Delhi
  • The programme has been organized by the National Tribal Research Institute (NTRI), with an objective to have a deeper understanding of complexities of tribal traditions and culture and to explore the challenges to their existence.
  • This is an initiative to explore tribal identity and the tribal contributions to the nation’s cultural diversity.
  • The Adi Vyakhyan will familiarize the tribal communities with the statistical input of India and the Constitutional safeguards in order to unfold the nuances of the Panchayats (Extension of Scheduled Areas) (PESA) Act, 1996, the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006, Prevention of SC/STs Atrocities Act, 1989.
  • It is expected to provide valuable insights into the legal frameworks that shape tribal governance and land rights and will set the stage for a deeper understanding for tribal people.
  • Representatives of Munda communities from 5 states (Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Odisha and Assam) actively participated in the inaugural programme.

Good Governance Day

On the occasion of Good Governance Day, Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh launched the Extended Version of Mission Karmayogi

  • Three new features launched on the iGOT Karmayogi platform are My iGOT, Blended Programs and Curated Programs.
  • Besides, Dr Jitendra Singh also launched a new blended learning programme named VIKAS (Variable & Immersive Karmayogi Advanced Support).

The Union Government has been celebrating nationwide ‘Good Governance Week/Day’ since 2014 in honour of our beloved former Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee to promote citizen-centric, efficient and transparent governance and improve service delivery.

Details of new features launched on Mission Karmayogi platform:

  • My iGOT delivers targeted training courses on home page of individual officer that directly address the unique capacity building needs of  the officer as identified  in the Capacity-Building Plan for their Ministries/Departments
  • Blended Programs on iGOT-Karmayogi platform will facilitate equitable access to training methodologies across all levels to meet dynamic training needs of the officials.
  • Curated Programs on iGOT Karmayogi are designed to cater to diverse learning needs of the Ministries/Departments and Training Institutions.
  • 12 domain specific capacity building e-learning courses have been developed in a span of two months as part of Annual Capacity Building Plan (ACBP) of the DOPT by Karmayogi Digital Learning Lab (KDLL) of DoPT.
  • VIKAS (Variable & Immersive Karmayogi Advanced Support) is a new blended learning programme meant for capacity building of Middle management civil servants in Central Secretariat. VIKAS is a blended programme with iGOT consisting of 33 hours complemented by 30 hours of offline training at ISTM with focuses on development of functional, behavioural and technological competencies required in Central Government.

Milli-second burst detected by AstroSat

  • AstroSat, India’s first multi-wavelength space-based observatory, has detected bright sub-second X-ray bursts from a new and unique neutron star with ultrahigh magnetic field (magnetar), which can help understand the intriguing extreme astrophysical conditions of magnetars.
  • Magnetars are neutron stars having an ultrahigh magnetic field that are much stronger than the terrestrial magnetic field.
  • Simply put, the magnetic field of a magnetar is over one quadrillion time stronger than the magnetic field of Earth.
  • The decay of magnetic fields in these objects powers the emission of high-energy electromagnetic radiation in them.
  • Besides, magnetars display strong temporal variability, typically including a slow rotation, a rapid spin-down, bright but short bursts going on upto months-long outbursts.
  • One such magnetar was called SGR J1830-0645, was discovered in October 2020 by NASA’s Swift spacecraft. It is relatively young (about 24,000 years) and isolated neutron star.

MedTech Mitra

  • Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare launched ‘MedTech Mitra’: A Strategic Initiative to Empower MedTech Innovators and Advance Healthcare Solutions
  • “MedTech Mitra is a platform that will help the young talents of the country by holding their hands and giving them final shape to their research, knowledge, logic etc. and help them in getting regulatory approval.
  • MedTech Mitra brings together various stakeholders in the field of medical technology to enhance cooperation among various stakeholders and partner with them to promote progress in the health sector.
  • MedTech Mitra will empower emerging start-ups and ensure ease of innovation, ease of doing research and development, ease of rendering service in building an Atmanirbhar Bharat.

National Consumer Day 2023

  • The Department of Consumer Affairs celebrated the National Consumer Day 2023 with focus on leveraging technology for consumer protection and grievance redressal.
  • India celebrates National Consumer Rights Day on 24th December every year to raise awareness about consumer rights and responsibilities.
  • The day commemorates the day when the Consumer Protection Act 1986 received the President’s assent on December 24, 1986.
  • The Act aims to protect consumers from defective goods, negligent services, and unfair trade practices.
  • The six fundamental rights of the Consumer Protection Act are the Right to safety, the Right to choose, the Right to be informed, the Right to be heard, the Right to seek redressal and the Right to consumer education.
  • The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 was passed by the Parliament to replace the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.
  • The World Consumer Rights Day is observed on 15 March.

Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023 , Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita , Bharatiya Sakshya bill

  • Parliament has passed the Bharatiya Nyaya (Second) Sanhita, 2023, the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha(Second) Sanhita, 2023 and the Bharatiya Sakshya (Second) Bill, 2023

Highlights

  • The Bharatiya Nyaya (Second) Sanhita, 2023 will replace the Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860, which is the principal law on criminal offences in the country.
  • The new bill adds community service as a form of punishment.
  • The Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha (Second) Sanhita, 2023 seeks to replace the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 (CrPC).
  • The CrPC provides for the procedure for arrest, prosecution, and bail.
  • The Bharatiya Sakshya (Second) Bill, 2023 replaces the Indian Evidence Act, 1872. The Act governs the admissibility of evidence in Indian Courts.
  • It applies to all civil and criminal proceedings.
  • The provisions have been made in these legislations to digitize the entire process from FIR to case diary, case diary to charge sheet, and charge sheet to judgment.
  • Indian Penal Code, Code of Criminal Procedure and Indian Evidence Act were made to protect British rule after the 1857 freedom struggle.
  • After the implementation of the bills, all processes – from FIR to judgment – will be online.
  • India will be the country in which the technology will be utilized in the criminal justice system.
  • The implementation of new criminal code laws will ensure speedy justice within three years instead of giving date after date to the people.
  • The government has taken a historic decision and completely removed the section of sedition.
  • The government has replaced sedition with treason in Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita.
  • Various provisions have been made in these laws for the safety of women and children.
  • A new chapter in this regard has been added in the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita as there is a provision for life imprisonment and death penalty for the crime of rape of a woman under 18 years of age.
  • In cases of gang rape, there is a provision of imprisonment of 20 years or imprisonment till death.
  • For the first time, the government has defined terrorism in the criminal justice system.
  • Organized crime has also been defined and explained in these laws for the first time.
  • In case of culpable homicide, there is a provision for lesser punishment if the accused goes to police to report the case and takes the victim to the hospital for medical treatment.
  • For the hit-and-run cases, there is a  provision of 10 years of imprisonment.Now the police will have to register an FIR within 3 days of the complaint and in cases involving a punishment of 3 to 7 years, the FIR will have to be registered after preliminary investigation.
  • Now the government have made a provision to send the medical examination report of the rape victim directly to the police station and court within 7 days without any delay.
  • Now the time limit for filing the charge sheet has been fixed at 90 days and after this, the investigation can be conducted only for another 90 days.
  • The magistrate will have to take cognizance of the case within 14 days and then action will start.
  • The request for acquittal by the accused will also have to be made within 60 days.
  • The accused can be tried and sentenced even in his absence within 90 days. Now the judge will have to give his decision within 45 days of the end of the case.
  • Along with this, there will be only 7 days between decision and punishment. Mercy petitions can be filed only within 30 days of the Supreme Court rejecting the appeal.

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