Utkarsh Bangla, Sabuj Sathi bag prestigious UN awards
West Bengal’s Utkarsh Bangla and Sabuj Sathi schemes have won the prestigious World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) awards under the United Nations.
Utkarsh Bangla and Sabuj Sathi were selected out of 1,062 nominations and they also topped the list in their respective categories.
Utkarsh Bangla got the topmost award and emerged a winner in the Capacity Building category.
Sabuj Sathi ranked in the first five as a champion project under the ICT application: E-Government category.
About Utkarsh Bangla:
Under Utkarsh Bangla, skill development training is given to youths. Several centres have been opened and youths are being given training there. The trained youths are then absorbed in different industries.
About Sabooj Sathi:
Sabooj Sathi is a scheme for distribution of bicycles to the students of class IX to XII studying in Govt. run and Govt. aided Schools and Madrashas.
World Summit on the Information Society Awards:
Aims to create an effective mechanism to evaluate and recognize individuals, governments, civil society, local, regional and international agencies, research institutions and private-sector companies for outstanding success in implementing development oriented strategies that leverage the power of ICTs as an enabler of the development.
WSIS is, at global level, the world’s largest annual gathering of the ‘ICT for development’ community and provides an opportunity for information exchange, knowledge creation and sharing of best practices, while identifying emerging trends and fostering partnerships, taking into account the evolving Information and Knowledge Societies.
The WSIS Forum is co-organized by The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
In 2019, The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Forum will celebrate its 10th anniversary of the establishment of WSIS Forum from April 8 to 12 in Geneva at the International Telecommunication Union, under the theme “Information and Communication Technologies for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals”.
Source: The Hindu
RailWire Wi-Fi by RailTel is now live at 1600 railway stations across the country, with Santacruz railway station in Mumbai becoming the 1600th station to become a RailWire Wi-Fi zone.
RailWire is a retail Broadband initiative of the RailTel. It envisages extending broadband and application services to the public. RailTel is working to establish bringing fast and free Wi-Fi at all stations (except the halt stations) within a year.
The Wi-Fi at 415 A, A1 and C category stations has been provided in association with Google as the technology partner. Wi-Fi connections at 200 stations were provided with support from the Universal Service Obligatory Fund of the Government of India.
RailTel Corporation a “Mini Ratna(Category-I)” PSU of Ministry of Railways, is the largest neutral telecom services providers in the country owning a Pan-India optic fiber network covering all important towns & cities of the country and several rural areas covering 70% of India’s population.
RailTel is in the forefront in providing nationwide Broadband Telecom & Multimedia Network in all parts of the country in addition to modernization of Train operations and administration network systems for Indian Railways.
With its Pan India high capacity network, RailTel is working towards creating a knowledge society at various fronts and has been selected for implementation of various mission-mode Govt. of India projects in the telecom field.
Source: The Hindu
Namami Gange gets global recognition at world summit
The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) was awarded the distinction of “Public Water Agency of the Year” by Global Water Intelligence at the Global Water Summit in London.
Global Water Awards:
The Global Water Awards are presented at the Global Water Summit, the major business conference for the water industry worldwide.
The awards recognise excellence across the international water industry and reward those initiatives in the water, waste water, and desalination sectors, which bring remarkable improvements in the lives of people.
Global Water Summit:
Global Water Summit is the annual business conference for the water industry worldwide. The summit attracts high-level executives from industry, municipalities and international water companies and provides the opportunity to connect with hard-to-reach industry insiders that will not attend any other water event.
The summit provides a platform for connecting the public and private sector and for accelerating change and innovation within the sector, it attracts the most influential industry representatives and also becomes a forum for business development and expanding your network.
About Namami Gange Programme:
Namami Gange Programme – is an umbrella programme which integrates previous and currently ongoing initiatives by enhancing efficiency, extracting synergies and supplementing them with more comprehensive & better coordinated interventions. Government of India is supplementing the efforts of the state governments in addressing the pollution of river Ganga by providing financial assistance to the states.
Need: Each day, more than 500 million liters of wastewater from industrial sources are dumped directly into Ganga. In many places, this wastewater entering the rivers is completely raw, completely untreated.
Main Pillars of the Namami Gange Programme are:
Its implementation has been divided into:
National Mission for Clean Ganga, endeavors to deploy best available knowledge and resources across the world for Ganga rejuvenation. Clean Ganga has been a perennial attraction for many international countries that have expertise in river rejuvenation.
Source: The Hindu
India’s Official Secrets Act
Supreme Court has rejected the Centre’s twin arguments and ruled that classified documents accessed by the media on the Rafale fighter jet deal can be admitted as evidence and agreed to review its own order that the government had interpreted as a clean chit.
The court upheld the right of The Hindu newspaper to publish documents that the government had described as “stolen”. “The right of such publication would seem to be in consonance with the constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech.
About Official Secrets Act:
The law meant for ensuring secrecy and confidentiality in governance, mostly on national security and espionage issues.
The Indian Official Secrets Act, 1904 was enacted during the time of Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India from 1899 to 1905.
One of the main purposes of the Act was to muzzle the voice of nationalist publications.
The Indian Official Secrets Act (Act No XIX of 1923) replaced the earlier Act, and was extended to all matters of secrecy and confidentiality in governance in the country.
Ambit of the Act:
The secrecy law broadly deals with two aspects — spying or espionage, which is dealt with in Section 3 of the Act, and disclosure of other secret information of the government, which is dealt with in Section 5. The secret information can be any official code, password, sketch, plan, model, article, note, document or information.
Need for review:
Since the classification of secret information is so broad, it is argued that the colonial law is in direct conflict with the Right to Information Act.
Under Section 5, both the person communicating the information, and the person receiving the information, can be punished by the prosecuting agency.
The SARC report states that as the OSA’s background is the colonial climate of mistrust of people and the primacy of public officials in dealing with the citizens, it created a culture of secrecy.
Another contentious issue with the law is that its Section 5, which deals with potential breaches of national security, is often misinterpreted. The Section makes it a punishable offence to share information that may help an enemy state. The Section comes in handy to book journalists when they publicise information that may cause embarrassment to the government or the armed forces.
Source: The Hindu
The Commerce Ministry has asked the Health Ministry to frame a law banning manufacture and sale of e-cigarettes in the country as in the absence of a domestic legislation, it would not be possible to put a blanket ban on its imports.
An electronic cigarette (or e-cig) is a battery-powered vaporizer that mimics tobacco smoking. It works by heating up a nicotine liquid, called “juice.”
Nicotine juice (or e-juice) comes in various flavors and nicotine levels. e-liquid is composed of five ingredients: vegetable glycerin (a material used in all types of food and personal care products, like toothpaste) and propylene glycol (a solvent most commonly used in fog machines.) propylene glycol is the ingredient that produces thicker clouds of vapor.
Proponents of e-cigs argue that the practice is healthier than traditional cigarettes because users are only inhaling water vapor and nicotine.
As e-cigarettes contain nicotine and not tobacco, they do not fall within the ambit of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003 (COTPA), which mandates stringent health warnings on the packaging and advertisements of tobacco products.
Need for regulation: The current unregulated sale of e-cigarettes is dangerous for a country like India where the number of smokers is on the decline (WHO Global Report, 2015) as it increases the possibility of e-cigarettes becoming a gateway for smoking by inducing nicotine addiction and perpetuating smoking by making it more attractive, thereby encouraging persons to become users of tobacco as well as e-cigarettes.
WHO report on e- cigarettes and effects:
As per the report, Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) (also known as e-cigarettes) emits nicotine, the addictive component of tobacco products. In addition to dependence, nicotine can have adverse effects on the development of the foetus during pregnancy and may contribute to cardiovascular disease.
The WHO report further says that although nicotine itself is not a carcinogen, it may function as a “tumour promoter” and seems to be involved in the biology of malignant disease, as well as of neurodegeneration.
Foetal and adolescent nicotine exposure may have long-term consequences for brain development, potentially leading to learning and anxiety disorders.
The evidence is sufficient to warn children and adolescents, pregnant women, and women of reproductive age against ENDS use and nicotine.
Studies say ENDS have cancer-causing properties, are highly addictive and do not offer a safer alternative to tobacco-based products. Experts say e-cigarettes are just a mechanism to deliver nicotine in an attractive format.
The government should also impose appropriate restrictions on the sale and advertisement, online and otherwise, of e-cigarettes, including proper health warnings, in order to plug the existing regulatory vacuum. This should be done with immediate effect, and simultaneously the government should also commission independent scientific research on the benefits and risks posed by these products in the Indian context.
Source: The Hindu
GIC India chief awarded Freedom of the City of London
The Chairman and Managing Director of the General Insurance Corporation (GIC) of India, the country’s reinsurance major, has been awarded the Freedom of the City of London in recognition of her work to promote insurance ties between India and the UK.
The Freedom of the City of London dates back to the 13th century and has since developed into an honour bestowed upon individuals who make an impact in the financial hub of London, referred to as the City or the Square Mile.
Hong Kong Overtakes Japan as World’s Third Largest Stock Market
Hong Kong’s equity market has overtaken Japan to be the world’s third largest in value, behind only the U.S. and mainland China.
Bold Kurukshetra is a Joint Military Exercise of India and Singapore. The latest edition is being held at Babina Cantonment of Jhansi. The joint exercise is aimed at developing military technology, enhance the maritime security and bolster the nations’ fight against terrorism.
International Day of Human Space Flight
The International Day of Human Space Flight was observed across the world on April 12, 2019. The day celebrates the anniversary of the first ever human space flight undertaken by Yuri Gagarin, a Soviet Union citizen then. The spacecraft was launched by Vostok-K launch vehicle.
SpaceX launches its first commercial flight with Falcon Heavy
US space flight company SpaceX recently carried out its first commercial launch with its Falcon Heavy rocket by placing a Saudi satellite in orbit. The 13,000-pound Saudi Arabian telecommunication satellite is operated by Arabsat and is expected to provide television, internet and mobile phone service to the Middle East, Africa and Europe.
Google ‘Wing’ launches first drone delivery service in Australia
Air delivery service developer ‘Wing’, owned by Google parent company Alphabet, began delivering its first orders to customers in Canberra, Australia through flying drones. The drones will deliver food and drinks as well as medication directly to clients’ homes. Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) gave its approval after testing the safety of the drones, its traffic management system, drone pilot training and operational plans.
Four decades later, bamboo rice shows up in Odisha. The rare variety, which was last harvested in Chandaka-Dampara Wildlife Sanctuary in 1979, grows twice or thrice in a century
Bamboo rice is special rice that is grown out of a dying bamboo shoot. When the bamboo shoot breathes its last, it flowers into a rare variety of rice seeds, which are known as bamboo rice.
The Process of Storing Bamboo Rice:
Given the unpredictable flowering and thorniness of the bamboo, this makes no easy rice harvest. To get perfect polished bamboo rice, the area around the base of each bamboo is cleaned and all the debris formed is removed. The base is then smoothed with a slush of clay and kept to dry. Once dried, the bamboo rice is then stored in to the prepared surface and gathered to be consumed.