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08 Feb Current Affairs

Motion of thanks to President’s Address

In News:

The President makes an address to a joint sitting of Parliament at the start of the Budget session, which is prepared by the government and lists its achievements. It is essentially a statement of the legislative and policy achievements of the government during the preceding year and gives a broad indication of the agenda for the year ahead.

Details:

The address is followed by a motion of thanks moved in each House by ruling party MPs. During the session, political parties discuss the motion of thanks also suggesting amendments.

Amendments to the “Motion of Thanks”:

Notices of amendments to Motion of Thanks on the President’s Address can be tabled after the President has delivered his Address. Amendments may refer to matters contained in the Address as well as to matters, in the opinion of the member, the Address has failed to mention. Amendments can be moved to the Motion of Thanks in such form as may be considered appropriate by the Speaker.

Limitations:

The only limitations are that members cannot refer to matters which are not the direct responsibility of the Central Government and that the name of the President cannot be brought in during the debate since the Government and not the President is responsible for the contents of the Address.

Provisions governing them:

President’s Address and Motion of Thanks are governed by Articles 86 (1) and 87 (1) of the Constitution and Rules 16 to 24 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha.

Its passage:

Members of Parliament vote on this motion of thanks. This motion must be passed in both of the houses.

A failure to get motion of thanks passed amounts to defeat of government and leads to collapse of government. This is why, the Motion of Thanks is deemed to be a no-confidence motion.

Constitutional provisions on this:

Article 86(1) of the Constitution provides that the President may address either House of Parliament or both Houses assembled together, and for that purpose require the attendance of members.

Article 87 provides for the special address by the President. Clause (1) of that article provides that at the commencement of the first session after each general election to the House of the People and at the commencement of the first session of each year, the President shall address both Houses of Parliament assembled together and inform Parliament of the causes of its summons. No other business is transacted till the President has addressed both Houses of Parliament assembled together.

Source: The Hindu

Small Grants Programme(SGP)

In News:

A workshop on Small Grants Programme (SGP) was recently held in New Delhi.

About Small Grants Programme (SGP):

The Global Environment Facility GEF Small Grants Programme (SGP) provides financial and technical support to communities and Civil Society Organizations to meet the overall objective of global environmental benefits secured through community-based initiatives and actions.

It was launched in 1992 with 33 participating countries.

The Program is specifically designed to mobilize bottom-up actions by empowering local civil society organizations, and poor and vulnerable communities, including women and Indigenous Peoples.

How it functions?

Through a decentralized, national-level delivery mechanism, SGP finances community-led initiatives to address global environmental issues.

It is currently implemented by UNDP on behalf of the GEF partnership.

The Programme funds grants up to a maximum of $50,000. In practice, the average grant has been around $25,000. In addition, the SGP provides a maximum of $150,000 for strategic projects. These larger projects allow for scaling up and cover a large number of communities within a critical landscape or seascape.

Significance:

Community-driven and civil society-led initiatives can generate environmental benefits, while supporting sustainable livelihoods, gender equality and civil society empowerment. These are actions needed at the local and regional level to address global environmental challenges and complement other areas where the GEF works.

Need for SGP:

Environment degradation such as the destruction of ecosystems and the species that depends upon them, increasing level of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, pollution of international waters, land degradation and the spread of persistent organic pollutants are life – threatening challenges that endanger us all. However, it is the poor and vulnerable communities that are most at risk as they are directly dependent on natural resources for their livelihoods and subsistence. SGP aims to support these vulnerable communities through community led approaches towards environmental conservation and livelihoods enhancement.

Source: PIB

Ujjwala Utsav

In News:

Ujjwala Utsav observed recently to celebrate the stellar role played by various stakeholders in making PMUY a success.

Details:

The event was organised under the aegis of Ministry of Petroleum &Natural Gas to encourage, motivate as well as felicitate all frontline field force for their outstanding contribution to PMUY.

The occasion also saw the launch of the PMUY anthem – Ujjwala Bharat Ujjwala – composed and developed by eminent singer and film industry personality Padma Shri Kailash Kher.

About Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana:

Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana aims to provide LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) connections to poor households.

Under the scheme, an adult woman member of a below poverty line family identified through the Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) is given a deposit-free LPG connection with financial assistance of Rs 1,600 per connection by the Centre.

Identification of households: Eligible households will be identified in consultation with state governments and Union territories. The scheme is being implemented by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.

Key objectives of the scheme are:

Empowering women and protecting their health.

Reducing the serious health hazards associated with cooking based on fossil fuel.

Reducing the number of deaths in India due to unclean cooking fuel.

Preventing young children from significant number of acute respiratory illnesses caused due to indoor air pollution by burning the fossil fuel.

What makes LPG adoption necessary?

A large section of Indians, especially women and girls, are exposed to severe household air pollution (HAP) from the use of solid fuels such as biomass, dung cakes and coal for cooking. A report from the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare places HAP as the second leading risk factor contributing to India’s disease burden.

According to the World Health Organization, solid fuel use is responsible for about 13% of all mortality and morbidity in India (measured as Disability-Adjusted Life Years), and causes about 40% of all pulmonary disorders, nearly 30% of cataract incidences, and over 20% each of ischemic heart disease, lung cancer and lower respiratory infection.

Way ahead:

The PMUY is a bold and much-needed initiative, but it should be recognised that this is just a first step. The real test of the PMUY and its successor programmes will be in how they translate the provision of connections to sustained use of LPG or other clean fuels such as electricity or biogas. Truly smokeless kitchens can be realized only if the government follows up with measures that go beyond connections to actual usage of LPG. This may require concerted efforts cutting across Ministries beyond petroleum and natural gas and including those of health, rural development and women and child welfare.

Source: The Hindu

River Information System

In News:

To boost cargo movement on Ganga, the second phase of river information system (RIS) was recently inaugurated between Farakka and Patna.

About RIS:

It is a combination of modern tracking equipment related hardware and software designed to optimize traffic and transport processes in inland navigation.

RIS is being implemented under the overall responsibility of Inland Waterway Authority of India, a statutory body administered by the Ministry of Shipping.

The system enhances swift electronic data transfer between mobile vessels and shore (Base stations) through advance and real-time exchange of information. This would facilitate:

  • Enhancement of inland navigation safety in ports and rivers.
  • Better use of the inland waterways.
  • Environmental protection.

RIS enables achievement of safe and efficient inland water transport by avoiding the following risks:

  • Ship- to – Ship collisions.
  • Ship – Bridge collisions.
  • Groundings

Source: The Hindu

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria

In News:

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (or simply the Global Fund) is an international financing organization that aims to “attract, leverage and invest additional resources to end the epidemics of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria to support attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals established by the United Nations.”

Details:

Founded in 2002, the Global Fund is a partnership between governments, civil society, the private sector and people affected by the diseases.

The organization maintains its secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland.

Historical background:

The Global Fund was formed as an independent, non-profit foundation under Swiss law and hosted by the World Health Organization in January 2002. In January 2009, the organization became an administratively autonomous organization, terminating its administrative services agreement with the World Health Organization.

Source: The Hindu

Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA)

In News:

The Union Home Ministry has banned the Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen (TuM) under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for promoting terrorism and radicalising and recruiting youth for terrorist activities in India.

Set up in the 1990s, TuM claims to be fighting for the “liberation of Kashmir.”

About the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA):

This law is aimed at effective prevention of unlawful activities associations in India.

Its main objective is to make powers available for dealing with activities directed against the integrity and sovereignty of India.

The Act makes it a crime to support any secessionist movement or to support claims by a foreign power to what India claims as its territory.

The UAPA, framed in 1967, has been amended twice since: first in 2008 and then in 2012.

The law is contested for few draconian provisions:

The Act introduces a vague definition of terrorism to encompass a wide range of non-violent political activity, including political protest.

It empowers the government to declare an organisation as ‘terrorist’ and ban it. Mere membership of such a proscribed organisation itself becomes a criminal offence.

It allows detention without a chargesheet for up to 180 days and police custody can be up to 30 days.

It creates a strong presumption against bail and anticipatory bail is out of the question. It creates a presumption of guilt for terrorism offences merely based on the evidence allegedly seized.

It authorises the creation of special courts, with wide discretion to hold in-camera proceedings (closed-door hearings) and use secret witnesses but contains no sunset clause and provisions for mandatory periodic review.

Source: The Hindu

Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative

In News:

Launched by the US, it is an effort aimed at helping 50 million women in the developing world get ahead economically over the next six years.

Details:

It is a government wide project led by the senior adviser and daughter to President Donald Trump- Ivanka Trump. The initiative will involve the State Department, the National Security Council and other agencies.

It aims to coordinate current programs and develop new ones to assist women in areas such as job training, financial support, and legal or regulatory reforms.

It seeks to reach 50 million women in the developing world by 2025 through U.S. government activities, private-public partnerships, and a new, innovative fund at USAID.

Kerala to get country’s 2nd longest rail tunnel

In News:

A 10.7-km railway line, including a 9.02-km tunnel, has been proposed to connect the upcoming Vizhinjam International Multipurpose Deepwater Seaport to the railway network.

Details:

The 9.02-km tunnel, mooted by Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd (KRCL), will be the second longest railway tunnel in the country. The 11.26-km Pir Panjal rail tunnel, connecting Banihal and Hillar Shahabad, is the longest.

LAIRCM Self-Protection Suites

In News:

US has approved a foreign military sale to India — two 777 Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM) Self-Protection Suites (SPS), for an estimated $190 million.

Details:

LAIRCM is a programme meant to protect large aircraft from man-portable missiles. It increases crew-warning time, decreases false alarm rates and automatically counters advanced infrared missile systems.

These systems will protect two Boeing-777 Head-of-State aircraft. This would bring the security of Air India One at par with that of Air Force One, the aircraft used by the American President.

It consists of missile warning sensors (MWS), a laser transmitter assembly, control interface unit (CIU) and processors to detect, track, jam and counter incoming infrared missiles.

Dard Aryans

In News:

A seminar was held recently in New Delhi that extensively discussed the need to preserve the legacy of Dard Aryans.

Details:

Some 200 km from Leh are the villages of Dha, Hanu, Garkone and Darchik on both sides of the Indus River, inhabited by the Buddhist Dard Tribes. The villages are together called the “Aryan valley”. The word ‘Dard’ is derived from a Sanskrit word, ‘Daradas’, which means people who live on hillsides.

They might have descended from soldiers in Alexander’s army who had come to the region over 2,000 years ago. The Dard Aryans, however, do not document their history. These tribals are mainly dependent on agriculture.

Threats and the need for their protection:

There is a threat to the heritage of the community owing to modernisation, migration and religious conversion.

The community now numbers about 4,000. Over the last few decades, many of them have embraced Islam or Buddhism.

The community prohibits marriage with outsiders to keep the gene pool intact. Of late, the Dard men have been migrating to other parts of the region (in search of livelihood) and marrying outside the tribe.

The tribe is struggling to find a balance between modernity and traditional values.

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