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The Hindu Newspaper 30/06/2020

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Shillong Declaration sometimes seen in the news recently is associated with which of the following?

a.  e-governance

b.  Artificial Intelligence

c.  River Sharing Agreement

d.  None of the above

Answer : a

The Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances (DARPG), in association with Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY) and the State Government of Meghalaya organized the 22nd National Conference on e-Governance (NCeG) 2019 on 8-9thAugust, 2019 at Shillong, Meghalaya.

The theme of this Conference was “Digital India: Success to Excellence”.

2)Brunhes–Matuyama refers to?

a.  Magnetic field flip

b.  CERN’s Large hadron collider

c.  Sixth mass extinct event

d.  None of the above

Answer : a

Earth’s most recent geomagnetic reversal — a phenomenon where the planet’s overall magnetic field flips — took at least 22,000 years to complete.

This is more than twice than previously thought, according to a study by University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The magnetic field, which protects the Earth from potentially dangerous solar radiation, last flipped some 770,000 years ago and is named Matuyama-Brunhes after the scientists who discovered it, according to the journal Science Advances.

3)Pattachitra, a style of painting is one of the oldest and most popular art forms of which of the following states?

a.  Odisha

b.  Tamil Nadu

c.  Maharashtra

d.  Andhra Pradesh

Answer : a

Pattachitra style of painting is one of the oldest and most popular art forms of Odisha.

1)Agreement for Indo-Bhutan joint venture hydroelectric project signed

News: The Concession Agreement was signed between the Royal Government of Bhutan and Kholongchu Hydro Energy Limited for the Kholongchhu (Joint Venture) Hydroelectric Project.

Facts:

  • Kholongchu Hydroelectric Project: It is a run-of-the-river project located on the lower course of the Kholongchu River in Trashiyangtse district in eastern Bhutan.
  • Implementation: The project will be implemented by Kholongchhu Hydro Energy Limited, a joint venture company formed between Druk Green Power Corporation(DGPC) of Bhutan and Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited(SJVN) of India.

2)Ministry of Culture to celebrate “Sankalp Parva”

News: The Ministry of Culture is celebrating ‘Sankalp Parva’ from 28th June to 12th July 2020.

Facts:

  • Sankalp Parva: It is an initiative that has been taken on the call of the Prime Minister to plant at least five trees either in office campus or wherever it is possible to ensure a clean and healthy environment of the country.
  • Trees: The Ministry of Culture has recommended planting five trees which represent the herbal heritage of the country namely: Bargad, Awla, Pepal, Ashok and Bel.

3)Union Minority Affairs minister inaugurates Sanskritik Sadbhav Mandap

News: Union Minister of Minority Affairs has laid the foundation stone for “Sanskritik Sadbhav Mandap” in Rampur(Uttar Pradesh).

Facts:

  • Sanskritik Sadbhav Mandap: It is a community center which is being established by the Ministry of Minority affairs under Pradhan Mantri Jan Vikas Karykram(PMJVK).
  • Purpose: Thecentre will be utilized for various socio-economic-cultural activities, skill development training, coaching, relief activities during disaster such as Corona and different sports activities.

Additional Facts:

  • Pradhan Mantri Jan Vikas Karyakram(PMJVK): It is implemented by the Ministry of Minority Affairs to provide better socio economic infrastructure facilities to the minority communities particularly in the field of education, health & skill development.

4)India’s first COVID-19 vaccine candidate COVAXIN gets DCGI approval

News: India’s first COVID-19 vaccine candidate COVAXIN has received the approval of Drug Controller General of India(DCGI) for phase I and II of human clinical trials.

Facts:

  • COVAXIN: It is an inactivated vaccine created from a strain of the infectious SARS-CoV-2 virus.
  • Developed by: Ithas been developed by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the National Institute of Virology (NIV).

Additional Facts:

  • DGCI: It is responsible for approval of licences of specified categories of drugs such as blood and blood products, IV fluids and vaccines in India.It comes under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.

EDITORIAL ANALYSIS

STARS project – Improving quality and governance of school education

Source – The Hindu

Syllabus – GS 2- Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

Context – Instead of building state capability, the World Bank education project gives a larger role to non-state actors.

Objective of STARS

  1. Strengthening Teaching-Learning and Results for StatesProgram (STARS) aims to improve the quality and governance of school education in six Indian states.
  2. It will also help –
  • Improve learning assessment systems;
  • Strengthen classroom instruction and remediation;
  • Facilitate school-to-work transition; and
  • Strengthen governance and decentralized management.
  1. Funding– World Bank’s contribution to the project is only 15%, with central and state governments contributing the remaining 85%. World bank is contributing $3 billion towards this goal.

Flawed Approach under STARS

  1. Capacity issues– Major vacancies across the education system from District Institutes of Education and Training (DIETs), district and block education offices, to teachers in schools, remain unaddressed.
  2. Empowering with decision making power– Decentralising decision-making requires the devolution of funds and real decision-making power to functionaries. Greater decentralisation can allow accountability to flow to the people.
  3. Including non-state players– Outsourcing basic governance functions by “expanding private initiatives” and “reducing government tasks” will not make education “more relevant to local needs” rather will shift problems to a new entity.

Solutions for effective governance

  1. Adequate physical, financial and humanresources – An overburdened bureaucracy with vacancies and without basic equipment cannot be expected to be effective. A critical minimum level of resources is a precondition. For better functioning of systems.
  2. Decentralization of decision-making– Administrative or governance reforms must give greater discretion to the front-line bureaucracy to address local issues and innovate if required. For reforms to be successful, public sector entities need to be able to try new things, and at times, to fail.
  3. Trust factor– There needs to be trust within the administration among peers and across different levels within the administration. If suspicion is the guiding principle, institutional arrangements will be geared to monitoring and surveillance, not support and improvement. The goal must be to improve, not to judge and punish.

Way Forward – Atmanirbhar Bharat calls for an India that is able to produce and deliver local goods and services to its citizens. This applies equally to education for all children. Delivering a service, like education, requires a capable state which is able to design and conduct reforms when needed.

2)Legitimate concern: on law and order in Nagaland

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS-2 Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein

Context: The Governor R.N. Ravi of Nagaland has written a letter to its CM alleging that law and order has collapsed in the State.

Background:

  • Concern over law and order:The Governor have written a strong letter that armed gangs who question the sovereignty and integrity of the nation had challenged its authority by engaging in blatant extortion and siphoning off funds meant for development work.
  • The Governor writes that functions such as transfer and posting of officials who are in charge of law and order above the district level will be done with his approval as proposed under Article 371A(1)(b) of the Constitution.
  • Response of NSCN-IM: The insurgent National Socialist Council of Nagalim-Isak Muivah (NSCN-IM) has been observing a ceasefire with the government for the last 23 years. They said that the group was only engaged in collecting “taxes”.
Naga Peace Talks:· The talks seek to settle disputes that date back to colonial rule.· Nagas: They are not a single tribe but an ethnic community that comprises several tribes who live in the state of Nagaland and its neighbourhood.· Demand of Naga groups: It has been a Greater Nagalim that would cover not only the state of Nagaland but parts of neighbouring states and even of Myanmar.· The British had annexed Assam in 1826 and subsequently created the Naga Hills district and went on to extend its boundaries.· Assertion of Naga nationalism: It began during British rule and has continued after Independence and even after Nagaland became a state.· The unresolved issues gave rise to decades of insurgency that claimed thousands of lives, including of civilians.

Issues in Naga Peace Accord:

  • The peace accord with the insurgent groups is yet to be achieved despite the Centre’s push to conclude it last year.
  • Mr Ravi has been the center’s interlocutor since 2015 and remained at the position even after becoming the State Governor in August 2019.
  • Peace Accord not finalised: Due to the NSCN-IM’s obstinacy such as its insistence on retaining a separate flag and a Constitution for the State of Nagaland and its unwillingness to dismantle its parallel administrative and paramilitary structure.
  • Distrust among Naga Organisations: The NSCN-IM has created distrust among other Naga organisations besides other north-eastern governments due to its core ideology of a “greater Nagalim”. The other insurgent actors are not coming on board due to inherent difficulties.

Way Forward

  • The Centre has to find a way to address this complex issue by refocusing on the peace process and not by usurping the authority of the State government in governance matters.

3)Making Data a Public Good

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS-2 Government policies and interventions aimed at development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Context: The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the unsatisfactory state of India’s data collection and processing system.

Importance of Data Sharing:

  • Optimal Use:Easy access to government data will encourage more extensive use of a valuable public resource for the benefit of the community.
  • Avoiding duplication:By sharing data the need for separate bodies to collect the same data will be avoided resulting in significant cost savings in data collection.
  • Better Decision making:Ready access to quality information will help in better decision making, evidence-based policy and better targeting of welfare programmes.
  • Accountability in public services:Sharing non-sensitive government data with public will ensure accountability in public services.

Government Initiatives for Data Sharing:

  1. National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy (NDSAP):Launched in 2012, it aims to promote data sharing and enable access to Government of India owned data for national planning, development and awareness.
  2. Open Government Data (OGD) initiative:launched in 2012, allows citizens to access a range of government data in machine-readable form in one place. The portal allows union ministries and departments to publish datasets, documents, services, tools and applications collected by them for public use.

Issues with Covid-19 data sharing by Indian government:

  • The Indian government did not release district-wise, demographic-wise case statistics and anonymous contact traces in the public domain. This hindered reliable model forecasts of disease spread and targeted regional lockdown protocols.
  • Further, violating the NDSAP guidelines, OGD portal provides COVID-19 data only as a graphic image unsuitable for any analysis.
  • Other government sources such as Indian Council of Medical Research and mygov.in, have also not provided district-wise statistics, and the available data are not in usable formats. Lack of accessible data has obstructed data-driven research, innovation and useful outcomes.

Suggested Reforms:

  • The government should share unreleased Census and socio-economic data, publicly funded research data, and scientific data to foster data-driven research and innovation
  • While making data a public good, the government must consider the privacy implications and inherent fairness of data being used.

Conclusion: As the Economic Survey 2018-19 suggested, since data of societal interest are generated by the people, it should be “of the people, by the people, for the people”.

One nation one ration card

Source – The Hindu

Syllabus – GS 3 – Public Distribution System- objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security

Context – The focus on One Nation One Ration Card is misplaced when what is needed is a universal Public Distribution System.

National Food Security Act – Under the NFSA, 2013, about 81 crore persons are entitled to buy subsidized food grain — rice at Rs 3/kg, wheat at Rs 2/kg, and coarse grains at Re 1/kg — from their designated Fair Price Shops (FPS) of the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS).

Measures taken for COVID crises

  1. Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana(PMGKY) – It would provide 5kg of food grains and 1 kg of pulses for free to all those who are beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) for three months.
  2. Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan– NFSA expanded to cover an additional eight crore individuals for two months to ensure that migrants are included under the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan package.

Issues with present system

  1. Exclusion of migrants– In the present system, a ration cardholder can buy food grains only from an FPS that has been assigned to her in the locality in which she lives.

Solution – Under One Nation, One Ration Card’ system, the beneficiary will be able to buy subsidised food grains from any FPS across the country.

Issues with One nation one ration card

  1. Family card vs individual card – Many urban workers migrate to the cities without their families. In such cases, they are likely to leave their ration card behind for the family to use at home. With family-card based system either one (in the city) or the other (in the village) can use the ration card.
  2. Concern relates to inter-state arrangements– Many states also give more commodities – for instance, dal and edible oil – at a subsidised price than the central government, which only covers the cost of wheat and rice.
  • For instance, rice is free in Tamil Nadu instead of being given at the central price of Rs 3 per kg. So, if a worker from other state goes to Tamil Nadu to work, would he get free rice, and also get dal and oil? Or will the worker be denied these extra commodities?
  1. Logistics– Currently, logistics are designed to supply a fixed quantity to each PDS outlet once a month, based on the number of people it serves. “One Nation, One Ration” would mean that the number of people served by a PDS outlet will fluctuate each month, so the supply logistics would have to be redesigned as well.
  2. Biometric authentication – The experience of biometric authentication using electronic point of sale (ePoS) machines so far suggests that it results in exclusion of some of the most marginalised because of multiple reasons including network issues, authentication failure and so on.

Way Forward– A universal PDS is much better than having an arbitrary cap on coverage at 67% imposed by the NFSA which is based on 2011 census and excluded many.

News: About NIV :-

The National Institute of Virology, Pune is an Indian virology research institute, and one of the translational science cells part of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

It was previously known as ‘Virus Research Center’ and was founded in collaboration with the Rockefeller Foundation. It has been designated as a WHO H5 reference laboratory for SE Asia region.

The Virus Research Center (VRC), Pune came into existence in 1952 under the joint auspices of the ICMR and the Rockefeller Foundation.

NIV is also the National Monitoring Centre for Influenza, Japanese encephalitis, Rota, Measles, Hepatitis and Coronavirus.

News:- About Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) is a department of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization of the Government of India responsible for approval of licences of specified categories of drugs such as blood and blood products, IV fluids, vaccines, and sera in India. Drug Controller General of India, comes under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.

DCGI also sets standards for manufacturing, sales, import, and distribution of drugs in India.

News:- Portal for street vendors’ loan scheme launched:- The Union Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry launched the portal for a loan scheme for street vendors that was started on June 1.
The Pradhan Mantri Street Vendors’ AtmaNirbhar Nidhi (PM SVANidhi)
scheme, which is part of the economic package for sectors affeted by by the COVID19 pandemic and lockdown, provides small loans for street vendors to restart their operations. The portal — pmsvanidhi.mohua.gov.in — provides an “integrated end-to-end IT interface to users for availing benefits under the scheme,” a Ministry statement said. A beta version of the portal was also launched.
The portal will help in managing loan applications, collection of documents, integration with Aadhaar etc. The portal will start accepting applications from July 2.

News:- TN custodial deaths highlight need for police reforms: CHRI:-

About CHRI :-

The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) is an independent, non-partisan & nonprofit international non-governmental organisation which works towards the practical realisation of human rights in the countries of the Commonwealth.

Formation : 1987

CHRI’s objectives are to promote awareness and adherence to the Commonwealth’s Harare Declaration, to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to other internationally recognised human rights instruments, and to advocate for the domestic institutions supporting human rights in the Commonwealth member states.

The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (commonly known as the United Nations Convention against Torture (UNCAT)) is an international human rights treaty, under the review of the United Nations, that aims to prevent torture and other acts of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment around the world.

The text of the Convention was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December 1984 and, following ratification by the 20th state party, it came into force on 26 June 1987. 26 June is now recognized as the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, in honor of the Convention. 

India has signed(997) but not ratified.

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