Bhima Koregaon anniversary
January 1st, 2018 marks the 201st anniversary of the Bhima Koregaon battle.
About the Bhima- Koregaon battle:
A battle was fought in Bhima Koregaon, a district in Pune with a strong historical Dalit connection, between the Peshwa forces and the British on January 1, 1818. The British army, which comprised mainly of Dalit soldiers, fought the upper caste-dominated Peshwa army. The British troops defeated the Peshwa army.
Outcomes of the battle:
The victory was seen as a win against caste-based discrimination and oppression. Peshwas were notorious for their oppression and persecution of Mahar dalits. The victory in the battle over Peshwas gave dalits a moral victory a victory against caste-based discrimination and oppression and sense of identity.
However, the divide and rule policy of the British created multiple fissures in Indian society which is even visible today in the way of excessive caste and religious discrimination which needs to be checked keeping in mind the tenets of the Constitution.
Why Bhima Koregaon is seen as a Dalit symbol?
The battle has come to be seen as a symbol of Dalit pride because a large number of soldiers in the Company force were the Mahar Dalits. Since the Peshwas, who were Brahmins, were seen as oppressors of Dalits, the victory of the Mahar soldiers over the the Peshwa force is seen as Dalit assertion.
On 1 January 1927, B.R. Ambedkar visited the memorial obelisk erected on the spot which bears the names of the dead including nearly two dozen Mahar soldiers. The men who fought in the battle of Koregaon were the Mahars, and the Mahars are Untouchables.
Source: The Hindu
Indian Bridge Management System
The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has inventorized 1,72,517 bridges/structures under Indian Bridge Management System (IBMS). These structures comprise 1,34,229 culverts, 32,806 minor bridges, 3,647 major and 1,835 extra-long bridges.
IBMS crates an inventory of all bridges in the country and rate their structural condition so that timely repair and rehabilitation work can be carried out based on the criticality of the structure.
IBMS is the largest platform in the world owned by a single owner, with database that could exceed 1,50,000 bridge structures. So far 1,15,000 bridges have been inventorized, of which 85,000 are culverts and the rest are bridges.
Why was it necessary?
Lack of any data base on bridges in the country has led to a situation where there is no clear idea about the exact number and location of bridges. Hence, it has become difficult to maintain bridges in proper working condition. Poor condition of bridges hampers efficient transport and has also led to accidents and loss of lives on several occasions.
How it operates?
During inventory creation each bridge is assigned a unique identification number or National Identity Number based on the state, RTO zone and whether it is situated on an National Highway, State Highway or is a district road.
Then the precise location of the bridge in terms of latitude-longitude is collected through GPS and based on this, the bridge is assigned a Bridge Location Number.
Thereafter, engineering characteristics like the design, materials, type of bridge, its age, loading, traffic lane, length, width of carriage way etc are collected and are used to assign a Bridge Classification Number to the structure.
These are then used to do a structural rating of the structure on a scale of 0 to 9, and each bridge is assigned a Structural Rating Number.
In addition to the structural rating, the bridges are also being assigned Socio-Economic Bridge Rating Number which will decide the importance of the structure in relation to its contribution to daily socio-economic activity of the area in its vicinity.
Based on this inventory IBMS will analyse data and identify bridges that need attention. Further inspection will be carried out wherever required to improve the operational availability of the structure, enhance its life and prioritize repair and rehabilitation work. The data will help to decide which bridge needs critical attention, or which needs to be rebuilt.
Source: The Hindu
Maharashtra has completed the 100% electrification under the central scheme of ‘Saubhagya’ and has illuminated 10,93,614 homes before the stipulated deadline of December 31.
Under the Saubhagya scheme, the target of 100% electrification of the state was to be achieved by December 31, 2018. However, the State Power Utility (SPU) achieved the target on December 27, 2018 itself.
About SAUBHAGYA Scheme:
Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana – ‘Saubhagya’ was launched in September, 2017.
Under Saubhagya free electricity connections to all households (both APL and poor families) in rural areas and poor families in urban areas will be provided.
Rural Electrification Corporation (REC) has been designated as nodal agency for the Saubhagya scheme.
The scheme aims to achieve universal household electrification in all parts of the country.
All DISCOMs including Private Sector DISCOMs, State Power Departments and RE Cooperative Societies shall be eligible for financial assistance under the scheme in line with Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY).
Eligibility: The prospective beneficiary households for free electricity connections under the scheme would be identified using SECC 2011 data. However, un-electrified households not covered under SECC data would also be provided electricity connections under the scheme on payment of Rs. 500 which shall be recovered by DISCOMs in 10 instalments through electricity bill.
Scope of the Scheme:
Providing last mile connectivity and electricity connections to all un-electrified households in rural areas.
Providing Solar Photovoltaic (SPV) based standalone system for un-electrified households located in remote and inaccessible villages / habitations, where grid extension is not feasible or cost effective.
Providing last mile connectivity and electricity connections to all remaining economically poor un-electrified households in urban areas. Non-poor urban households are excluded from this scheme.
Mains Question: Electrification, in contemporary times, is a basic human necessity. With reference to the scheme Saubhagya, examine the feasibility of a national universal electrification program.
Source: The Hindu
Kasturirangan report on Western Ghats
The Committee on Government Assurances in the Rajya Sabha has urged the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change to constitute a committee to address the issues and grievances of local people in Western Ghats. The committee has submitted a report in this regard.
Important observations made by the committee:
Over 56,000 square kilometres of ecologically sensitive areas (ESA) in the Western Ghats could not be earmarked as ‘no-go’ zones due to State governments’ ‘insensitivity’.
The recent monsoon floods in Kerala and parts of Karnataka should serve as alarm bells for the administrations in the States of Goa, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, which have failed to mark ESA in the Western Ghats.
The panel had examined issues regarding the categorisation of the Western Ghats as ESA as per the recommendations of two committees led by Madhav Gadgil and K. Kasturirangan. The panel examined 62 assurances during its deliberations with various State governments and other organisations, and had visited Pune, Mumbai, Chennai and Bengaluru, before preparing its report.
The committee is of the view that implementation of the recommendations of the Kasturirangan report is only possible with active support of local population. It also requires consultation with the State government at micro level to achieve the objectives of saving the Western Ghats.
What did the Gadgil Committee say?
It defined the boundaries of the Western Ghats for the purposes of ecological management. It proposed that this entire area be designated as ecologically sensitive area (ESA).
Within this area, smaller regions were to be identified as ecologically sensitive zones (ESZ) I, II or III based on their existing condition and nature of threat.
It proposed to divide the area into about 2,200 grids, of which 75 per cent would fall under ESZ I or II or under already existing protected areas such as wildlife sanctuaries or natural parks.
The committee proposed a Western Ghats Ecology Authority to regulate these activities in the area.
What was the need for the subsequent Kasturirangan Committee?
None of the six concerned states agreed with the recommendations of the Gadgil Committee, which submitted its report in August 2011.
In August 2012, then Environment Minister constituted a High-Level Working Group on Western Ghats under Kasturirangan to “examine” the Gadgil Committee report in a “holistic and multidisciplinary fashion in the light of responses received” from states, central ministries and others.
Recommendations of Kasturirangan Committee:
A ban on mining, quarrying and sand mining.
No new thermal power projects, but hydro power projects allowed with restrictions.
A ban on new polluting industries.
Building and construction projects up to 20,000 sq m was to be allowed but townships were to be banned.
Forest diversion could be allowed with extra safeguards.
Source: The Hindu
ISRO launches Samwad with Students on New Year Day
As part of the enhanced outreach programme of Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), a new platform named “Samwad with Students” (SwS) was launched in Bengaluru.
About the SwS Initiative:
ISRO aims to engage youngsters across India to capture their scientific temperament.
The new conversation mission will inspire students cutting across schools and colleges.
The first SwS event saw 40 wards and 10 teachers from select schools interact with ISRO Chairman Dr K Sivan at the Anthariksh Bhavan.
Institutions in News- NALSA
President Ram Nath Kovind has nominated Justice AK Sikri as Executive Chairman of National Legal Services Authority (NALSA).
NALSA has been constituted under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987, to provide free legal services to weaker sections of society. The aim is to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reasons of economic or other disabilities.
Important functions performed by NALSA:
NALSA organises Lok Adalats for amicable settlement of disputes.
NALSA identifies specific categories of the marginalised and excluded groups and formulates various schemes for the implementation of preventive and strategic legal service programmes.
Services provided by the agency include free legal aid in civil and criminal matters for the poor and marginalised people who cannot afford the services of a lawyer in any court or tribunal.
Free legal services include provision of aid and advice to beneficiaries to access the benefits under the welfare statutes and schemes and to ensure access to justice in any other manner.
The Union Home Ministry has approved the proposal of the Uttar Pradesh Government to rename Allahabad as Prayagraj.
The city of Allahabad was originally known as Prayag in ancient times. Between 1574 and 1583, the 16th-century Mughal emperor Akbar founded a fort near the confluence of the Ganga and the Yamuna, known as Sangam, as he was impressed with its strategic position.
Hence, Akbar named the fort and its neighbourhood as Ilahabad, which meant the “Abode of God”, inspired by the religion he had founded, Din-i-Illahi. In the later years, Akbar’s grandson Shah Jahan renamed the entire city as Allahabad. However, the area near the Sangam, which is the site of the Kumbh Mela, continued to be called Prayag.
Women’s Wall in Kerala
Kerala government had on January 1st organised the Women’s Wall or Vanitha Mathil to “protect renaissance values.
Around thirty lakh women formed a human chain across the National Highway from Kasargod to Thiruvananthapuram, around 620-kilometre long, extending their support to the state government’s resolve to implement the Supreme Court’s verdict allowing women of all ages access to Sabarimala and to protect the secular and progressive values of Kerala.
Organised by the government and supported by various social organisations having links with the renaissance movement, the Women’s Wall is an attempt by the government to defend the state from communal forces.
Survey on Retail Payment Habits of Individuals (SRPHi)
It is a survey launched by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). The survey will capture payment habits of individuals in six cities, including four metropolitan towns.
The survey will cover a sample of 6,000 individuals from various socio-economic backgrounds across six cities — Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru and Guwahati.
The survey seeks qualitative responses from individuals on their payment habits.
The findings may provide some idea about awareness and usage habits of digital payment products.
Panda Bonds Pakistan
For the first time in history, the federal cabinet has approved a new financial strategy called Panda-Bonds in Pakistan. These bonds will become the new and favorable method to raise foreign exchange.
A Panda bond is a Chinese renminbi-denominated bond from a non-Chinese issuer, sold in the People’s Republic of China. These bonds were first issued in 2005 by the International Finance Corporation and the Asian Development Bank.
The Chinese government had been negotiating for several years about implementation details before permitting the sale of such bonds; they had been concerned about the possible effects on their currency peg.
How Will Panda Bonds Benefit Pakistan?
The bonds will help Pakistan’s government to diversify the current investor base in capital market insurance and will also be used as a source of raising Renminbi. Furthermore, the tenor, size and pricing will be determined according to the market response at the time of issuance.
Bird watchers and researchers recently sighted Cinereous vulture in Hazaribagh in Jharkhand.
During the winter, the Cinereous vulture migrates from the mountainous regions of Europe and Asia to warmer places, including India.
Cinereous vulture (Aegypius monachus) draws its name from “monachus”, which means hooded (like a monk) in Latin.
It is also known as the black vulture, monk vulture, or Eurasian black vulture.
It is classified as Near Threatened under the IUCN Red List.