Currents Affairs & GK – Jul 19, 2017


General Studies-I
Indian Heritage
Measures Taken by Government to Protect Ancient and Traditional Knowledge of Indigenous Medicinal Systems

Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) is a pioneering Indian initiative to prevent exploitation and to protect Indian traditional knowledge from wrongful patents mainly at International Patent Offices. India’s rich and time-tested traditional medicinal knowledge which exists in languages such as Sanskrit, Hindi, Arabic, Persian, Urdu, Tamil etc. is neither accessible nor comprehensible for patent examiners at the international patent offices. TKDL contains Indian traditional medicine knowledge available in public domain and pertains to classical/ traditional books related to Ayurveda, Unani and Siddha in a digitized format and is available in five international languages (English, French, German, Spanish and Japanese).

Till date 3,35,260 formulations have been transcribed, 220 wrongful patent filings have been prevented and 12 patent offices have been provided access to TKDL database namely European Patent Office, US Patent Office, Japanese Patent Office, German Patent Office, Canadian Patent Office, Chile Patent Office, Australian Patent Office, CGPDTM (India), UK Patent Office, and Malaysian Patent Office, Rospatent (Russia)and Peru Patent Office.

Under the Scheme funds are provided only to CSIR, the implementation agency of the TKDL Project. No funds have been allocated/ released to any State under the Scheme.

Besides setting up of TKDL, Yoga has since been inscribed in UNESCO’s representative list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Indian Patent Office has also brought out Guidelines for processing Patent Applications relating to Traditional Knowledge and Biological Material to help Patent examiner to analyze what constitutes novelty and inventive step in Traditional Knowledge (TK) related invention.

UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists

UNESCO established its lists of Intangible Cultural Heritage with the aim of ensuring the better protection of important intangible cultural heritages worldwide and the awareness of their significance. This list is published by Intergovernmental Committee for the safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage and the members to this are elected by States parties meeting in UN general assembly. Through a compendium of the different oral and intangible treasures of humankind worldwide, the program aims to draw attention to the importance of safeguarding intangible heritage, which UNESCO has identified as an essential component and as a repository of cultural diversity and of creative expression.
The list was established in 2008 when the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage took effect.

As of 2010 the programme compiles two lists. The longer Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity comprises cultural practices and expressions that help demonstrate the diversity of this heritage and raise awareness about its importance. The shorter List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding is composed of those cultural elements that concerned communities and countries consider require urgent measures to keep them alive.



General Studies-II
Important International institutions, agencies
International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is a UN specialized agency, established by States in 1944 to manage the administration and governance of the Convention on International Civil Aviation (Chicago Convention). ICAO works with the Convention’s 191 Member States and industry groups to reach consensus on international civil aviation Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) and policies in support of a safe, efficient, secure, economically sustainable and environmentally responsible civil aviation sector. These SARPs and policies are used by ICAO Member States to ensure that their local civil aviation operations and regulations conform to global norms, which in turn permits more than 100,000 daily flights in aviation’s global network to operate safely and reliably in every region of the world. In addition to its core work resolving consensus-driven international SARPs and policies among its Member States and industry, and among many other priorities and programmes, ICAO also coordinates assistance and capacity building for States in support of numerous aviation development objectives; produces global plans to coordinate multilateral strategic progress for safety and air navigation; monitors and reports on numerous air transport sector performance metrics; and audits States’ civil aviation oversight capabilities in the areas of safety and security.

The ICAO conducts audit in areas related to legislation, organisation, licensing, operation, airworthiness, accident investigation, air navigation and aerodromes.


Indian Constitution
Aadhaar: 9-judge Bench to consider whether privacy is a basic right

A nine-judge Bench of the Supreme Court will hear the question whether privacy is a fundamental human right and is part of the basic structure of the Constitution. The nine judges will be Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar, Justices J. Chelameswar, S.A. Bobde, R.K. Agrawal, Rohinton Fali Nariman, A.M. Sapre, D.Y. Chandrachud, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and S. Abdul Nazeer.
The decision was taken by a five-judge Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice Khehar is on the basis of a bunch of petitions contending that the Aadhaar scheme, is a violation of the citizens’ right to privacy. The petitioners have argued that right to privacy is part of Article 21, the right to life, and interspersed in Article 19, though not explicitly stated in the Constitution.

Two judgments of the Supreme Court — the M.P. Sharma case verdict pronounced by an eight-judge Bench in 1954 shortly after the Constitution came into force in 1950 and the Kharak Singh case verdict of 1962 by a six-judge Bench — had dominated the judicial dialogue on privacy since Independence. Both judgments had concluded that privacy was not a fundamental or ‘guaranteed’ right.

Though smaller Supreme Court Benches have, over the years, differed and held that privacy is indeed basic to our Constitution and a fundamental right, the arithmetical supremacy of the MP Sharma and Kharak Singh cases continues to hold fort.

Now, by forming a Bench of nine judges, Chief Justice Khehar’s Supreme Court has decided to determine once and for all whether privacy is negotiable or not. The nine-judge Bench seeks to bring a quietus to the divergent judicial pronouncements of the past.


Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India
Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)

Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a proposed free trade agreement (FTA) between the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam) and the six states with which ASEAN has existing free trade agreements (Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand).

RCEP negotiations were formally launched in November 2012 at the ASEAN Summit in Cambodia. The agreement is scheduled to be finalized by the end of 2017. RCEP is viewed as an alternative to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a proposed trade agreement which includes several Asian and American nations but excludes China and India.

In 2017, prospective RCEP member states accounted for a population of 3.4 billion people with a total Gross Domestic Product (GDP, PPP) of $49.5 trillion, approximately 39 percent of the world’s GDP, with the combined GDPs of China and India making up more than half that amount.


JITSIC Tackling Global Tax Risks 

India participated in the fourth Joint International Taskforce on Shared Intelligence and Collaboration (JITSIC) meeting reconvened in Paris to pursue the work on the Panama Papers in the last week of June 2017. Based on legal instruments under the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Council of Europe Multilateral Convention and tax treaties, a number of countries shared information in confidential Competent Authorities sessions, on structures that facilitate, enable and promote tax avoidance / evasion. India also shared its experience in this regard.

Demonstrating the value and strength of JITSIC, 30 project participant countries have continued to exchange, analyse and act on information about taxpayers and intermediaries connected to Mossack Fonseca. In the past six months, more than 570 requests for information have been sent to 32 countries. India has also sent several requests for information to various jurisdictions in the Panama Paper cases since the last meeting in January 2017.

JITSIC members have established the capability to allow for fast, effective and coordinated multilateral responses to any future data leaks and are sharing the same. JITSIC will continue to identify more arrangements as countries continue their investigations and share intelligence and new data comes to light. Collaboration with JITSIC has been useful for India in its fight against offshore tax evasion.


Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors
National Board for Promotion and Development of Yoga & Naturopathy (NBPDYN)

The Ministry of AYUSH has constituted a National Board for Promotion and Development of Yoga & Naturopathy (NBPDYN) for regulation of education and practice of Yoga and Naturopathy.

The Ministry of AYUSh constituted a Task Force to promote AYUSH system in the country. In its recommendations, it suggested to constitute a National Board for Promotion and Development of Yoga & Naturopathy under the Chairmanship of Secretary (AYUSH) with the following objectives:

i. To enhance the quality of Yoga & Naturopathy education, training, therapy and research;

ii. To develop human resource in Yoga & Naturopathy;

iii. To develop standards for Yoga & Naturopathy training and practices for voluntary adoption;

iv. To promote accreditation frame work relating to Yoga and Naturopathy for voluntary implementation by institution including drafting of curriculum and syllabus for various degrees, diploma and programmes;

v. To promote, propagate Yoga & Naturopathy at International level;

vi. To institute national awards for outstanding for outstanding contribution to Yoga & Naturopathy;

vii. To develop methods of competence, and evaluation of Yoga & Naturopathy practitioners


National Bamboo Mission renamed as National Agro-Forestry & Bamboo Mission (NABM)

National Bamboo Mission has been renamed as National Agro-Forestry & Bamboo Mission (NABM) and is being implemented as per the set objectives and targets of the Mission.
Under the Mission, 108 nos. of markets (Bamboo wholesale & retail markets near villages, etc.) have been established for providing marketing avenues to bamboo farmers for their raw bamboo as well as finished products.  Besides, efforts are being made to popularize bamboo products through participation in domestic/national/international trade fairs. Under the Mission, Steps have already been taken & are being taken to provide assistance to farmers/bamboo growers for nursery establishment, plantations in non-forest area, imparting training for preparation of nurseries & bamboo plantations, establishing of bamboo markets for farmer products, etc.


Farmers Welfare Schemes

Government of India is according high priority for welfare of the farmers and is implementing several farmers’ welfare schemes to revitalize agriculture sector and to improve their economic conditions. The Government has rolled out a number of new initiatives like Soil Health Card Scheme, Neem Coated Urea, Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY), Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY), National Agriculture Market (e-NAM), Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) and Interest Subvention Scheme.  These schemes are for the benefit of all farmers.

The details of the schemes are as below:

(i)         Soil Health Card Scheme: Launched in 2015, the scheme has been introduced to assist State Governments to issue Soil Health Cards to all farmers in the country.  The Soil Health Cards provide information to farmers on nutrient status of their soil alongwith recommendation on appropriate dosage of nutrients to be applied for improving soil health and its fertility. Against target of 12 crore Soil Health Cards, so far 9 crore (76%) cards have been distributed to farmers.

(ii)        Neem Coated Urea (NCU): Scheme being promoted to regulate use of urea, enhance availability of nitrogen to the crop and reduce cost of fertilizer application.  NCU slows down the release of fertilizer and makes it available to the crop in an effective manner. The entire quantity of domestically manufactured and imported urea is now neem coated. The reports from field are positive. The expected saving is 10% of urea consumption, thereby resulting in reduced cost of cultivation and improved soil health management.

(iii)       Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana  (PKVY): Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) is being implemented with a view to promote organic farming in the country.  This will improve soil health and organic matter content and increase net income of the farmer so as to realise premium prices. Under this scheme, an area of 5 lakh acre is targeted to be covered though 10,000 clusters of 50 acre each.

(iv)       Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY): Launched on 1st July, 2015 with the motto of ‘Har Khet Ko Paani’, the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) is being implemented to expand cultivated area with assured irrigation, reduce wastage of water and improve water use efficiency. PMKSY not only focuses on creating sources for assured irrigation, but also creating protective irrigation by harnessing rain water at micro level through ‘Jal Sanchay’ and ‘Jal Sinchan’.  Micro irrigation is also incentivized through subsidy to ensure ‘Per drop-More crop’.

(v)       National Agriculture Market (e-NAM): The National Agriculture Market scheme (e-NAM) envisages initiation of e-marketing platform at national level and to support creation of infrastructure to enable e-marketing in 585 regulated markets across the country by March 2018. This innovative market process is revolutionizing agri markets by ensuring better price discovery, bringing in transparency and competition to enable farmers to get improved remuneration for their produce moving towards ‘One Nation One Market’.

(vi)       Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY)/ Restructured Weather Based Crop Insurance Scheme (RWBCIS):  Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) & Restructured Weather Based Crop Insurance Scheme (RWBCIS) were launched from Kharif 2016 to provide comprehensive crop insurance coverage from pre-sowing to post harvest losses against non-preventable natural risks.  These schemes are only risk mitigation tools available to farmers at extremely low premium rates payable by farmers at 2% for Kharif crops, 1.5% for Rabi Crop and 5% for annual commercial/horticultural crops.  The balance of actuarial premium is shared by the Central and State Governments on 50 : 50 basis.  The schemes are voluntary for States and available in areas and crops that are notified by the State Governments.    Further, the schemes are compulsory for loanee farmers and voluntary for non-loanee farmers.

(vii)    Interest Subvention Scheme (ISS): The Government provides interest subvention of 3% on short-term crop loans up to Rs.3.00 lakh.  Presently, loan is available to farmers at an interest rate of 7% per annum, which gets reduced to 4% on prompt repayment.  Further, under Interest Subvention Scheme 2016-17, in order to provide relief to the farmers on occurrence of natural calamities, the interest subvention of 2% shall continue to be available to banks for the first year on the restructured amount. In order to discourage distress sale by farmers and to encourage them to store their produce in warehouses against negotiable warehouse receipts, the benefit of interest subvention will be available to small and marginal farmers having Kisan Credit Card for a further period of upto six months post harvest on the same rate as available to crop loan. Agriculture is a State subject and the State Governments are primarily responsible for the growth and development of agriculture sector in their respective States. The Government supplements the efforts of States through appropriate policy measures and budgetary support.  Presently the approach of the Government of India has shifted from production centric to income centric platform in the agriculture sector and the above schemes are being implemented for making farming viable.


Auto Mission Policy

The Department of Heavy Industry has finalised the Automotive Mission plan 2016-26 (AMP 2026) jointly with Indian Automobile Industries after series of consultations with other stakeholders including Government departments including Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways to achieve following objectives.

i. To propel the Indian Automotive industry to become the engine of the “Make in India” programme.

ii. To make the Indian Automotive Industry a significant contributor to the “Skill India” programme.
iii. Promote safe, efficient and comfortable mobility for every person in the country, with an eye on environmental protection and affordability through both public and personal transport options.

iv. To seek increase net exports of the Indian Automotive industry several fold.

v. Promote comprehensive and stable policy dispensation for all regulations impacting the industry.

AMP 2026 seeks to define the path of evolution of the automotive ecosystem in India including   specific regulations and policies that govern research, design, technology, testing, manufacturing, imports/exports, sales, use, repair, and recycling of automotive vehicles, components and services. This includes new technologies like electric vehicles and associated infrastructure and new fuel efficiency regulations as well.


FAME India

As a part of the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan 2020 (NEMMP 2020), the Government of India formulated a scheme namely Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid & Electric vehicles in India [FAME-India] for a period of 6 years, till 2020, wherein it is intended to support the hybrid /electric vehicle market development and its manufacturing eco-system to achieve self-sustenance at the end of the stipulated period. The scheme is one of the green initiatives of the Government of India, which will be one of the biggest contributors in reducing pollution from road transport sector in near future.

The scheme has 4 focus areas i.e. Technology Development, Demand Creation, Pilot Projects and Charging Infrastructure.

Market creation through demand incentives is aimed at incentivizing all vehicle segments i.e. 2-Wheelers, 3-Wheeler Auto, Passenger 4-Wheeler Vehicles, Light Commercial Vehicles and Buses. The demand incentive is available for buyers (end users/consumers) in the form of an upfront reduced purchase price to enable wider adoption.  Under FAME India Scheme, 148275 electric/hybrid vehicles (xEVs) have been given direct support by way of demand incentives amounting to Rs. 192.56 Crore (Approx) since its launch on 1st April 2015 and till 30th June 2017. This has resulted in approximately fuel saving of 13553917 litre and CO2 reduction of 33971052 Kg.


Schemes for Minorities in Rural areas

This Ministry of Minority Affairs is currently implementing the following schemes/programmes in the country, including rural areas, for upliftment of the minorities, namely, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Parsis and Jains:-

(1)        Pre-Matric Scholarship Scheme

(2)        Post-Matric Scholarship Scheme

(3)        Merit-cum-Means based Scholarship Scheme

(4)        Maulana Azad National Fellowship for minority

(5)        Free coaching and allied Scheme

(6)       “Padho Pardesh”– Scheme of Interest Subsidy on Educational Loans for Overseas Studies for the Students belonging to the Minority Communities

(7)       Support for students clearing Prelims conducted by UPSC, SSC, State PublicService Commission (PSC) etc. (Nai Udaan)

(8)        Jiyo Parsi

(9)        Nai Roshni

(10)      Seekho Aur Kamao

(11)      Nai Manzil

(12)      USTTAD (Upgrading the Skills and Training in Traditional Arts/Crafts for Development)

(13)     Multi Sectoral Development Programme (MsDP), a Centrally Sponsored Scheme, is implemented in 710 Minority Concentration Blocks, 66 Minority Concentration Towns & Clusters of Contiguous Villages. This programme provides financial support for creation of assets for education (viz., school buildings, ACRs, Polytechnics, ITIs , Hostels, etc.), Health Centers, Sadbhav Mandap, Drinking Water Project, Road, Income Generation Projects etc. to States/UTs.

(14)      Grants-in-Aid to NGOs/Trust/Society {implemented through Maulana Azad Education Foundation (MAEF)}.

(15)      Begum Hazrat Mahal National Scholarship for Meritorious Girls belonging to the Minorities(implemented through MAEF).

(16)      Gharib Nawaz Skill Development Training for providing short-term job oriented skill development courses to youths belonging to minority communities (implemented through MAEF).

(17)      In addition, National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation (NMDFC), a CPSE under this Ministry, provides concessional loans to minorities for self-employment and income generating ventures. The schemes of NMDFC are implemented through respective State Channelizing Agencies.


Commercial Transport Scheme in Ganga River

The Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP) is being implemented with the technical and investment support of the World Bank to strengthen the navigation capacity and promote transportation of cargo and passengers on National Waterway-1, on the Haldia-Varanasi stretch of Ganga-Bhagirathi-Hooghly River System. The project has been appraised by the Public Investment Board, at an estimated cost of Rs. 5,369.18 crore, and is scheduled to be completed by 2021-22. The project includes construction of multimodal terminals at Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, Sahibganj in Jharkhand and Haldia in West Bengal, and a new navigational lock at Farakka in West Bengal.



General Studies-III
Awareness in the fields of IT, Space
Indian Weather Forecast System

India Meteorological Department (IMD) operates a dedicated weather and climate monitoring, detection and warning services useful for various sectors of economy. Monsoon prediction and the weather forecasting systems in the country are comparable to the best in the world. However, efforts are continuously being made to further enhance the level of efficiency of the forecasting systems.
Government has initiated a comprehensive modernization programme for IMD covering

(i) up-gradation of observation systems

(ii) advanced data assimilation tools

(iii) advanced communication and IT infrastructure

(iv) high performance computing systems and

(v) intensive/sophisticated training of IMD personnel.

Forecasts, early warning of severe weather events and advisories are issued by IMD at national, state and district levels. In order to provide early warning of severe weather events, IMD has setup a network of State Meteorological Centres to have better coordination with the state and district level agencies.

To improve the prediction of Monsoon, National Monsoon Mission was launched in 2012. Under the National Monsoon Mission initiative, the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune, Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), Hyderabad and National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF), Noida have embarked upon to build state-of-the-art coupled ocean atmospheric models for (i) improved prediction of monsoon rainfall on extended range to seasonal time scale (11 days to one season) and (ii) improved prediction of temperature, rainfall and extreme weather events on short to medium range time scale (up to 10 days) so that forecast skill gets quantitatively improved further for the operational services of IMD.

Through Indo-US collaboration, a “Monsoon Desk” has been set up for working jointly for improving seasonal forecast of Indian monsoon rainfall. Through this forum, Indian and US Scientists are exchanging their ideas and sharing their expertise. This effort has led to appreciable improvements in the efficiency of models in making better forecasts.

The monsoon forecast for the country is prepared by Climate Prediction Unit of Climate Research and Services Division (CR&S), IMD, Pune. The present long range forecast system based on the statistical models has shown some useful skill in predicting all India seasonal rainfall including the deficient monsoon season rainfall during 2015. However, in order to overcome the limitations of the statistical models used so far, a state of the art dynamical prediction system was implemented by MoES for generating operational long range monsoon forecasts.

The Gramin Krishi Mausam Seva (GKMS) of IMD has been successful in providing the crop specific advisories to the farmers through different print/visual/Radio/IT based media including short message service (SMS) and Interactive Voice Response Service (IVRS) facilitating for appropriate field level actions. Weather forecast based agro-meteorological advisories are disseminated through Kisan portal launched by the Ministry of Agriculture and also under public private partner. At present, the GKMS products are disseminated through SMS and IVRS to about 21million farmers in the country. As per the recent National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) report, farming community of the country is using the GKMS service products of India Meteorological Department (IMD) for critical farm operations Viz. (i) Management of sowing (Delayed onset of rains); (ii) Changing crop variety (Delay in rainfall); (iii) Spraying Pesticides for disease control (occurrence of rainfall); (iv) Managing Irrigation (Heavy rainfall Forecast).

The third party assessment by the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) on the agromet services provided by the ministry concluded that the annual economic benefit for the farmers cultivating 4 principal crops (Wheat, Rice, Sugarcane and Cotton) was Rs 42,000 Crore in 2015.


Indigenization of technology
Conversion of Sea Water Into Drinking Water

The National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT), an autonomous body of the Ministry of Earth Sciences, has indigenously developed and demonstrated Low Temperature Thermal Desalination (LTTD) technology for conversion of sea water to drinking water. Three desalination plants each with a capacity of 1 lakh litre of potable water per day, based on LTTD technology have been successfully commissioned by NIOT one each at Kavaratti, Minicoy, and Agatti islands of the Union Territory of Lakshadweep. Recently, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation has approved the proposal of Lakshadweep Administration for establishment of 6 LTTD plants each with capacity 1.5 lakh liters per day in the islands of Amini, Androth, Kadamat, Chetlat, Kalpeni and Kiltan of Lakshadweep.

One experimental LTTD plant using condenser waste heat from power plant was set up at North Chennai Thermal Power Station (NCTPS).

The experimental LTTD plant uses the surface seawater to condense the vapours generated from the thermal effluent to produce potable water as well as boiler quality water.


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