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10 July Current Affairs

Gujarat government grants religious minority status to Jews

In News:

Gujarat Government has granted religious minority status to Jews living in the state.

Impact:

Now, Jews living in Gujarat will get religious minority rights envisaged in Constitution of India and various acts and rules of the state government.

Facts for Prelims:

  • Gujarat is third state in India to grant religious minority status to Jews after West Bengal and Maharashtra.
  • The Synagogue Judah Hyam Hall is the only place of worship in Delhi for Jews.
  • Constitution of India has not defined word ‘Minority’ and only refers to ‘Minorities’ but it speaks of those ‘based on religion or language’ and rights of minorities have been spelt out in Constitution in detail.
  • Six religious communities, viz. Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Zoroastrians (Parsis) and Jains have been notified in Gazette of India as minority communities by Union Government all over India.

Judaism:

  • Judaism originated in the Middle East over 3500 years ago
  • Judaism was founded by Moses, although Jews trace their history back to Abraham.
  • Jews believe that there is only one God with whom they have a covenant.
  • In exchange for all the good that God has done for the Jewish people, Jewish people keep God’s laws and try to bring holiness into every aspect of their lives.
  • Judaism has a rich history of religious text, but the central and most important religious document is the Torah.
  • Jewish traditional or oral law, the interpretation of the laws of the Torah, is called halakhah.
  • Spiritual leaders are called Rabbis.
  • Jews worship in Synagogues.
  • They follow Hebrew calendar. They have special thanks giving ceremony known as Eliyahoo-ha-Nabiore. ‘gratitude to Elijah the Prophet’, on festive occasions.
  • 6 million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust in an attempt to wipe out Judaism.

Jews in India:

The Jewish community in India is one among a large number of groups who had come from outside the country’s modern territorial borders and made India their home.

Main Jews groups in India:

  • Cochin Jews.
  • Chennai/Madras Jews.
  • Bene Israel.
  • Baghdadi Jews.
  • Delhi Jews.
  • Bnei Menashe.
  • Bene Ephraim (Telugu Jews).

Source: The Hindu

‘Institutions of Eminence’

In News:

Government declares 6 educational ‘Institutions of Eminence’; 3 Institutions from Public Sector and 3 from Private Sector shortlisted.

The institutions selected are:

Public Sector: (i) Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, Karnataka; (ii) Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, Maharashtra; and (iii) Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi.

Private Sector: (i) Jio Institute (Reliance Foundation), Pune under Green Field Category; (ii) Birla Institute of Technology & Sciences, Pilani, Rajasthan; and (iii) Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Manipal, Karnataka.

Implications of the decision:

Each ‘Public Institution’ selected as ‘Institution of Eminence’ will get financial assistance up to Rs. 1000 Crore over a period of five years.

These Institutions shall be provided with greater autonomy to admit foreign students up to 30% of admitted students; to recruit foreign faculty upto 25% of faculty strength; to offer online courses upto 20% of its programmes.

They will also be allowed to enter into academic collaboration with top 500 in the world ranking Institutions without permission of UGC; free to fix and charge fees from foreign students without restriction; complete flexibility in fixing of curriculum and syllabus, among others.

At the same time, they will get more opportunity to scale up their operations with more skills and quality improvement so that they become World Class Institutions in the field of education.

Need for world-class institutes:

India lacks world-class universities according to international rankings, and Indian academics, compared internationally, are rather poorly paid. Students also suffer an immense shortage of places in top academic institutions and throughout the higher education system. India today educates only half as many young people from the university age group as China and ranks well behind most Latin American and other middle-income countries.

Way ahead:

If India is to succeed as a great technological power with a knowledge-based economy, world-class universities are required. The first step, however, is to examine the problems and create realistic solutions. Spending large sums scattershot will not work. Nor will copying the American academic model succeed.

Facts for Prelims:

N Gopalaswami committee was constituted to select 20 institutes of higher education in India that will be developed into “world-class” institutes.

Institutions of Eminence scheme:

  • The institutes of eminence scheme under the Union human resource development (HRD) ministry aims to project Indian institutes to global recognition.
  • The 20 selected institutes will enjoy complete academic and administrative autonomy.
  • The government will run 10 of these and they will receive special funding.
  • The selection shall be made through challenge method mode by the Empowered Expert Committee constituted for the purpose.
  • Only higher education institutions currently placed in the top 500 of global rankings or top 50 of the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) are eligible to apply for the eminence tag.
  • The private Institutions of Eminence can also come up as greenfield ventures provided the sponsoring organisation submits a convincing perspective plan for 15 years.

Source: The Hindu

Global Housing Construction Technology Challenge

In News:

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs is set to launch the Global Housing Construction Technology Challenge as part of the technology sub-mission of PMAY-U.

Global Housing Construction Technology Challenge:

  • The challenge aims to provide more dynamism to the scheme.
  • It will invite ideas from across the globe for alternative technologies that go beyond the brick-and-mortar building model used widely in Indian construction.
  • The four parameters in the global challenge would be time, cost, quality, and sustainability. The technology will have to be better than the existing ones on all these four fronts.
  • It will be tested in geographically different urban areas across the country with varying terrains such as say hilly, plain, or earthquake-prone.
  • The winning technologies would be used to build mass houses, in a tie-up with the states, for the economically weaker sections and low-income groups under the affordable housing project vertical of PMAY-U.

PMAY- Urban:

The Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) Programme launched by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (MoHUPA), in Mission mode envisions provision of Housing for All by 2022.

Under the scheme, the government is providing an interest subsidy of 6.5% on housing loans which can be availed by beneficiaries for 15 years from start of loan date.

The Mission seeks to address the housing requirement of urban poor including slum dwellers through following programme verticals:

  • Slum rehabilitation of Slum Dwellers with participation of private developers using land as a resource.
  • Promotion of Affordable Housing for weaker section through credit linked subsidy.
  • Affordable Housing in Partnership with Public & Private sectors.
  • Subsidy for beneficiary-led individual house construction /enhancement.

Source: The Hindu

Asian Development Bank (ADB)

In News:

Centre and ADB signed $84 million loan for water supply in Bihar. The ADB loan is part of the $200 million multi-tranche financing facility for the Bihar Urban Development Investment Programme, and it will facilitate improvement and expansion of water supply in Bhagalpur and Gaya towns in the state.

About ADB:

It is a regional development bank established on 22 August 1966 and is headquartered in Philippines. It aims to facilitate economic development of countries in Asia. It also aims for an Asia and Pacific free from poverty.

Membership:

The bank admits the members of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP, formerly known as the United Nations Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East) and non-regional developed countries.

Currently, it has 67 members – of which 48 are from within Asia and the Pacific and 19 outside.

Voting:

ADB was modelled closely on the World Bank, and has a similar weighted voting system where votes are distributed in proportion with member’s capital subscriptions.

Funding:

  • ADB raises funds through bond issues on the world’s capital markets.
  • ADB also rely on its members’ contributions, retained earnings from its lending operations, and the repayment of loans.
  • Japan holds the largest proportions of shares at 15.67%. The United States holds 15.56%, China holds 6.47%, India holds 6.36%, and Australia holds 5.81%.

Board of Governors:

  • It is the highest policy-making body of the bank.
  • It is composed of one representative from each member state.
  • The Board of Governors also elect the bank’s President who is the chairperson of the Board of Directors and manages ADB.
  • The Alternate Board of Governors are nominated by Board of Governors of ADB’s 67 to represent them at the Annual Meeting that meets formally once year to be held in a member country.

Loans:

It offers both Hard Loans and Soft loans. The ADB offers “hard” loans from ordinary capital resources (OCR) on commercial terms, and the Asian Development Fund (ADF) affiliated with the ADB extends “soft” loans from special fund resources with concessional conditions.

Source: The Hindu

GRACE-FO mission

In News:

About three weeks after their launch, the twin climate-monitoring satellites- GRACE-FO satellites (short for Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On)- that NASA deployed in Earth’s orbit have switched on their powerful lasers for the first time, showing that their systems are shipshape.

About GRACE- FO mission:

The Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-on (GRACE-FO) mission is a partnership between NASA and the German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ).

GRACE-FO is a successor to the original GRACE mission, which began orbiting Earth on March 17, 2002. The GRACE missions measure variations in gravity over Earth’s surface, producing a new map of the gravity field every 30 days.

GRACE-FO will carry on the extremely successful work of its predecessor while testing a new technology designed to dramatically improve the already remarkable precision of its measurement system.

GRACE-FO will continue the work of tracking Earth’s water movement to monitor changes in underground water storage, the amount of water in large lakes and rivers, soil moisture, ice sheets and glaciers, and sea level caused by the addition of water to the ocean. These discoveries provide a unique view of Earth’s climate and have far-reaching benefits to society and the world’s population.

Source: The Hindu

Pak Spy Satellites Launched By China

In News:

China successfully launched two remote sensing satellites PRSS-1 and PakTes-1A of Pakistan on board of Long March-2C rocket from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre.

Details:

It was overall 279th mission for the Long March rocket series (mainly used to send satellites into low Earth or Sun-synchronous orbits) and first international commercial launch in nearly two decades after it carried Motorola’s Iridium satellites into orbit in 1999.

The satellites:

PRSS-1:

It is China’s first optical remote sensing satellite sold to Pakistan. It can carry out day and night monitoring. It also has viewing capacity even in clouded conditions.

It will be used for land and resources surveying, agriculture research, urban construction, monitoring of natural disasters and to provide remote sensing information for (CPEC) under China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

It is China’s first optical remote sensing satellite sold to Pakistan and overall 17th satellite developed by China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) for an overseas buyer.

PakTES-1A:

It is Pakistan’s indigenously developed scientific experiment satellite developed by engineers from its space agency SUPARCO (Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission).

Source: The Hindu

First ever ‘India Tourism Mart’

In News:

First ever ‘India Tourism Mart’ will be hosted in New Delhi from 16th to 18th September by the Ministry of Tourism in partnership with the Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism and Hospitality (FAITH). India Convention Promotion Board (ICPB) shall coordinate the whole event.

Details:

The objective of the event is to  create  an annual Global  Tourism  Mart  for  India  in line with  major  international  travel  marts  being  held  in  countries   across  the world.

ITM will be the best platform for the States to showcase their products to international buyers, opinion makers and bloggers and attract more tourists to their respective states.

The Mart will provide a  platform  for  all stakeholders  in the  tourism  and   hospitality industries  to  interact  and   transact  business

Source: PIB

World’s Oldest Color Discovered In Rocks Deep Beneath Sahara Desert

Scientists have discovered the oldest color in the geological record- the bright pink pigment aged 1.1 billion years old. The bright pink pigments are the molecular fossils of chlorophyll that were produced by ancient photosynthetic organisms inhabiting an ancient ocean that has long since vanished.

The ancient pigment was extracted from marine black shales of the Taoudeni Basin in Mauritania, West Africa.

India Smart Cities Fellowship Program

  • Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) will engage 30 young graduates/post graduates and PhDs from the selected fields as Smart Cities Fellows.
  • The fields are Urban Planning, Urban Design, Engineering, Information and Technology, Urban Mobility, Finance, Social Sector, and Environmental issues.
  • They engage with office of mission director, Smart Cities and CEOs of selected Smart Cities for the period of 1-year extendable upto 3 years.
  • It is designed to provide valuable experience to the youth interested in smart cities specifically, and urban renewal sector in general.

India Smart Cities Internship (ISCI) Program

  • MoHUA will engage students pursuing Under Graduate/Graduate/Post Graduate degree as Interns to help implementation of Smart City Projects in various States/Cities.
  • The internship will be on unpaid basis for a period of 6 to 12 weeks.
  • It is designed to give them exposure in the areas of development under Smart cities Mission.
  • The areas include Urban Planning, Urban Design, Engineering, Information and Technology, Urban Mobility, Finance, Social Sector, and Environmental issues.
  • They will be given an Experience Certificate at the end successful completion of the program.

National Green Tribunal

  • Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel recently assumed charge as chairperson of the NGT.
  • Justice Goel, who retired as a Supreme Court judge on July 6, has been appointed for five years.
  • He is the third chairperson of the NGT since its inception in 2010.
  • NGT was established in 2010 under NGT Act with its principal bench in Delhi.
  • Its objective is to provide an effective and speedy disposal of cases pertaining to environment protection, conservation of forests and for seeking compensation for damages caused to people or property due to violation of environmental laws.
  • The NGT has the power to hear all civil cases relating to environmental issues that are linked to the following laws –
  1. The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974;
  2. The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980;
  3. The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981;
  4. The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986;
  5. The Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991;
  6. The Biological Diversity Act, 2002.
  • There is a bar on civil court to take cases under these listed laws in Schedule 1 of NGT act.

The NGT has not been vested with powers to hear any matter relating to the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, the Indian Forest Act, 1927 and various laws enacted by States relating to forests, tree preservation etc.

The NGT is not bound by the procedure laid down under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, but shall be guided by principles of natural justice.