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February 11, 2019
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February 13, 2019
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12 Feb Current Affairs

India-Norway Marine Pollution Initiative

In News:

The Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change has signed a Letter of Intent (LoI) with the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to launch the ‘India-Norway Marine Pollution Initiative’.

India-Norway Marine Pollution Initiative:

The Initiative will combat marine pollution, which is one of the fastest growing environmental concerns.

Both countries will share experiences, competence and collaborate on efforts to develop clean and healthy oceans.

Both the sides will jointly collaborate for sustainable use of ocean resources and growth in the blue economy.

Through a range of implementing partners, this initiative will seek to support local governments in implementing sustainable waste management practices, develop systems for collecting and analysing information about sources and scope of marine pollution.

They will also work towards beach clean-up efforts, awareness raising campaigns and pilot project using plastic waste as fuel substitution for coal in cement production.

Bilateral efforts in this regard:

In January, 2019, the Indian and Norwegian governments agreed to work more closely on oceans by signing a MoU and establishing the India-Norway Ocean Dialogue during the Norwegian Prime Minister’s visit to India in January.

A joint Task Force on Blue Economy with government officials, researchers and experts as well as private sector was established to develop sustainable solutions within strategic areas of the blue economy, such as maritime and marine sector in addition to energy sector.

Causes of marine pollution:

Major sources of marine pollution are the inflow of chemicals, solid waste, discharge of radioactive elements, industrial and agricultural effluents, man-made sedimentation, oil spills, and many such factors. The majority portion of the marine pollution comes from the land that contributes to 80% of the marine pollution, air pollution also carries pesticides from farms and dust into the marine waters.

Types of marine pollution:

  • Eutrophication
  • Acidification
  • Toxins
  • Plastics

Effects of Marine Pollution:

The contamination of water by excessive nutrients is known as nutrient pollution, a type of water pollution that affects the life under water. When excess nutrients like nitrates or phosphates get dissolved with the water it causes the eutrophication of surface waters, as it stimulates the growth of algae due to excess nutrients.

Most of Benthic animals and plankton are either filter feeders or deposit feeders take up the tiny particles that adhere to potentially toxic chemicals. In the ocean food chains, such toxins get concentrated upward. This makes estuaries anoxic as many particles combine chemically depletive of oxygen.

When the marine ecosystem absorbs the pesticides, they are incorporated into the food webs of the marine ecosystem. After getting dissolved in the marine food webs, these harmful pesticides causes mutations, and also results in diseases, which can damage the entire food web and cause harm to the humans.

When toxic metals are dumped or flown into the oceans through drains, it engulfs within the marine food webs. These can cause a change to tissue matter, biochemistry, behavior, reproduction, and suppress and alter the marine life’s growth.

Marine toxins can be transferred to several animals feeding on the fish or fish hydrolysate as a meal, toxins are then transferred to dairy products and meat of these affected land animals.

Source: The Hindu

Constitutional and Legislative Measures to Protect and Safeguard Land Rights of Scheduled Tribes

In News:

The Scheduled Tribes (STs) have been the most marginalized, isolated and deprived population.


To protect and safeguarding the land rights and other rights of Scheduled Tribes, following constitutional and legislative measure have been put in place:

“The Scheduled Tribes (STs) and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (OTFDs) (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006” to recognize and vest the forest rights and occupation in forest land to forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes.

“Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013” (RFCTLARR Act, 2013) safeguards against displacement of Scheduled Tribes.

“The Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996”, also provides that the Gram Sabha or the Panchayats at the appropriate level shall be consulted before making the acquisition of land in the Scheduled Areas or development projects and before resettling or rehabilitating persons affected by such projects in the Scheduled Areas; the actual planning and implementation of the projects in the Scheduled Areas shall be coordinated at the State Level.

Constitutional provisions under Schedule – V also provide for safeguards against displacement of tribal population because of land acquisitions etc. The Governor of the State, having scheduled Areas, is empowered to prohibit or restrict transfer of land from tribals and regulate the allotment of land to members of the Scheduled Tribes in such cases. Land being a State subject, various provisions of rehabilitation and resettlement as per the RFCTLARR Act, 2013 are implemented by the concerned State Governments.

“The Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987” provides for legal services to members of Scheduled Tribes.

“The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989” has been introduced to prevent the commission of offences of atrocities against members of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, to provide for the trial of such offences and for the relief of rehabilitation of the victims of such offences and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

Apart from the above, this Ministry being the nodal Ministry for the welfare of Scheduled Tribes, implements several schemes and programmes for upliftment and development of Scheduled Tribes in the country.

Source: The Hindu

‘GiveItUp’ campaign

In News:

As on 06.02.2019, nearly 1.04 crore LPG consumers have voluntarily surrendered their LPG subsidy under ‘GiveItUp’ campaign.

About the campaign:

‘Give it Up’ scheme encourages well-to-do households to voluntarily give up their liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) subsidy so that it could be targeted to the poor who remain reliant on polluting cooking fuels such as wood, dung, crop residues and coal.

The money surrendered under this movement will be utlised for poor to get LPG connection in rural as well as in urban areas who are still using firewood for cooking.

Promotion and Protection of Maithili Language and its scripts

In News:

A committee constituted for making a report for the Promotion and Protection of Maithili Language and its scripts, has submitted its report to MHRD in which it has made several recommendations for promotion and protection of Maithili language.

Important recommendations of the committee are as follows:

To establish a Script and Manuscript Centre at Darbhanga in any one of the Universities viz. Kameshwar Singh Sanskrit University or Lalit Narayan Mithila Unviersity.

Early completion of the work pertaining to Unicode Scripts of Mithilakshar by Technology Development of Indian Languages (TDIL) and

To prepare audio-visual teaching materials for teaching the Mithilakshar scripts.


Mithilakshar or Tirhuta is the script of broader cultural Mithila. It is an extremely ancient script and is one of the scripts of the broader North Eastern India.

The scripts of Mithilaksar, Bangla, Assamese, Nebari, Odia and Tibetan are part of the family.

Mithilakshar had come to its current shape by 10th Century AD. The oldest form of Mithilakshar is found in the Sahodara stone inscriptions of 950 AD. Afterwards, the scripts has been used throughout Mithila from Champaran to Deoghar.

Need for protection:

Use of this script has been on decline since last 100 years and therefore our culture is getting decimated. Because its own script is not being used, the Maithili language is getting developed in a composite manner despite having been accorded a constitutional status in the constitution.

“Light House Projects challenge”

In News:

The Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs has instituted a challenge for States/ UTs to select six sites across the country for constructing the Lighthouse projects under GHTC-India.

Key facts:

The winning six States/ UTs that score the highest marks across the prescribed criteria will be awarded lighthouse projects.

The States/ UTs will receive Central Assistance to construct these projects as per PMAY (U) guidelines.

In addition to this, a Technology Innovation Grant (TIG) for the States/ UTs is provisioned to offset the impact of any additional cost implication due to the use of new technology and to absorb the issues related to economies of scale and other related factors.

The selected sites for lighthouse projects will be used as an ‘open laboratory’ for live demonstration and will receive due attention from academia (Civil Engineering, Planning, Architecture), practitioners (Public/ Private), policy makers (Central/ State) and media apart from felicitation/ recognition in Grand Expo-cum-Conference.

 “Global Housing Technology Challenge-India (GHTC- India)”:

The Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs has already launched a “Global Housing Technology Challenge-India (GHTC- India)”.

The challenge has three components viz. i) Conduct of Grand Expo-cum-Conference, ii) Identifying Proven Demonstrable Technologies from across the globe and iii) Promoting Potential Technologies through the establishment of Affordable Sustainable Housing Accelerators- India (ASHA-I) for incubation and accelerator support.

Defence Innovation Hubs

In News:

The Defence Innovation Organisation set up under Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) framework has announced setting up of two Defence Innovation Hubs (DIHs) in Tamil Nadu (Coimbatore) and Maharashtra (Nashik).

About Defence Innovation Hubs (DIHs):

The Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) framework of the Government envisages setting up and managing independent Defence Innovation Hubs (DIHs).

These DIHs will serve as platforms where innovators can get information about needs and feedback from the Services directly and create solutions for India’s major defence platforms. This structure is also geared towards attracting more innovators to work for the defence sector in India.

The Framework to Fund Defence Innovation Hubs under iDEX, approved by the Board of Defence Innovation Organisation (DIO) prescribes the following minimum criterion for setting up Defence Innovation Hubs:

Any Central Government recognized Incubator including but not limited to:

Department of Science and Technology (DST) recognized Incubators.

Atal Innovation Mission, NITIAayog created Atal Incubation Centers (AICs) and Established Incubation Centers (EICs).

Ministry of MSME recognized incubators.

Any other incubator recognized or funded through any Central government scheme.

The incubator located in districts mentioned in the list of SME clusters hosted by the Ministry of MSME in collaboration with UNIDO.

Incubator / Hub promoted by local industry associations.

National Productivity Week

In News:

National Productivity Council (NPC), an autonomous registered society under Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, NPC is celebrating its 61st Foundation Day on 12th February with the theme “Circular Economy for Productivity & Sustainability”.


NPC observes foundation day as Productivity Day and the National Productivity Week from February 12-18, 2019.

Significance of the theme:

This year theme represents a unique opportunity for circular business model for Make à Use à Return. It presents an opportunity for long term economic prospects and regeneration of materials.

Transitioning to an efficient circular economy will benefit industry and all stakeholders now and in future.

What is circular economy and why is it important?

The circular economy follows the principle of preservation and enhancement of natural capital by controlling finite stocks and balancing renewable resource flows. The other principles suggest optimizing of resource yields by circulating products, components, and materials at their highest utility at all times, in both technical and biological cycles.

Circular economy has the potential to increase productivity and create jobs, whilst reducing carbon emissions and preserving valuable raw materials.

It provides for a way of creating value. It works by extending product life span through improved design and servicing and relocating waste from the end of the supply chain to the beginning – in effect, using resources more efficiently by using them over and over.

About NPC:

NPC is national level organization to promote productivity culture in India.

Established by the Ministry of Industry, Government of India in 1958.

It is an autonomous, multipartite, non-profit organization with equal representation from employers’ & workers’ organizations and Government, apart from technical & professional institutions and other interests.

NPC is a constituent of the Tokyo-based Asian Productivity Organisation (APO), an Inter Governmental Body, of which the Government of India is a founder member.

Functions: NPC teams up with its clients to work out solutions towards accelerating productivity, enhancing competitiveness, increasing profits, augmenting safety and reliability and ensuring better quality. It provides reliable database for decision-making, improved systems and procedures, work culture as well as customer satisfaction both internal & external.

Akshaya Patra Foundation

In News:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently unveiled a ceremonial plaque to mark the serving of “3rd billionth meal” by Akshaya Patra Foundation at Vrindavan Chandrodaya Mandir campus.

About Akshaya Patra:

Funded by International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), Akshaya Patra is a Bengaluru-based not-for-profit organisation that works with the government on mid-day meal schemes. It has a state-of-the-art kitchen in Vrindavan.

Today, Akshaya Patra is the world’s largest (not-for-profit run) Mid-Day Meal Programme serving wholesome food every school day to over 1.76 million children from 14,702 schools across 12 states in India.

National Gas Grid

In News:

The Union Government has envisaged the development of the National Gas Grid.

The objectives of the National Gas Grid are:

To remove regional imbalance within the country with regard to access for natural gas and provide clean and green fuel throughout the country.

To connect gas sources to major demand centres and ensure availability of gas to consumers in various sectors.

Development of City Gas Distribution Networks in various cities for the supply of CNG and PNG.


The National Gas Grid together with providing gas connections to households will provide better infrastructure for automobiles using gas. The National Gas Grid will also aid in renewing of the fertilizer sector and also give a boost to the Power and Automotive sector.

Bill to counter exploitation by NRI spouses

In News:

In a bid to counter growing incidents of exploitation of Indian women by NRI (Non Resident Indian) spouses, the government has introduced a Bill in the Rajya Sabha.

Highlights of the Bill:

The Bill is aimed at prevent victimisation of Indian nationals in fraudulent marriages.

The Bill will create accountability and protect those who are trapped in fraudulent marriages and are abandoned by their spouses.

According to the new Bill, a marriage between an NRI and an Indian citizen will have to be registered within 30 days from the date of marriage.

Necessary legal provisions have been created in the criminal code and the Passports Act, 1967, to initiate action against erring NRI spouses.

What necessitated this?

The introduction of the Bill was necessitated by the Ministry of External Affairs due to numerous complaints received from Indian nationals, mostly women deserted or harassed by their Non-Resident Indian spouses. It is expected that the Bill will serve as a deterrent for NRI spouses, who use marriages as a tool of exploitation.

Source: The Hindu

LAWASIA Human Rights Conference

In News:

The first LAWASIA Human Rights Conference was organised by LAWASIA, in association with the Bar Association of India recently.


The conference aims to provide a unique opportunity for lawyers and associated professional members to exchange insights and expertise on topics of significant importance to all.

Theme: “State Power, Business and Human Rights: Contemporary Challenges”.

The conference explored a wide range of human rights issues of relevance in the Asia Pacific region.


It is a regional association of lawyers, judges, jurists and legal organisations and it advocates for the interests and concerns of the Asia Pacific legal profession.

It provides a platform to promote the cross-jurisdictional exchange of legal knowledge; as a voice of the legal profession; and as a conduit for encouraging adherence to mutually-held principles of the rule of law, professional integrity and the protection of human rights.

Source: ToI

African Union

In News:

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has taken over as the chair of the African Union (AU). The post of AU’s chair rotates annually between the five regions of the continent.

About AU:

The African Union (AU) is a continental union consisting of 55 countries of the continent of Africa, with exception of various territories of European possessions located in Africa.

The bloc was founded on 26 May 2001 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and launched on 9 July 2002 in South Africa.

The intention of the AU is to replace the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), established on 25 May 1963 in Addis Ababa by 32 signatory governments.

The most important decisions of the AU are made by the Assembly of the African Union, a semi-annual meeting of the heads of state and government of its member states.

The AU’s secretariat, the African Union Commission, is based in Addis Ababa.

Key objectives: To achieve greater unity and solidarity between the African countries and Africans. To defend the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of its Member States. To accelerate the political and social-economic integration of the continent.

Source: The Hindu

40th anniversary of Iran revolution

In News:

Iran marks 40th anniversary of Islamic revolution.

About the Iranian Revolution:

Iranian Revolution, also known as Islamic Revolution or the 1979 Revolution, was a series of events involving the overthrow of the monarch of Iran, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, and replacing his government with an Islamic republic under the Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, a leader of one of the factions in the revolt.

The reason for the revolution was to stop the oppression under the western secular policies.

The movement against the United States-backed monarchy was supported by various leftist and Islamist organizations and student movements.

Outcome: A multiclass opposition overthrew an autocratic ruler, leading to the establishment of a theocratic state. This outcome contrasts sharply with other modern revolutionary movements, which have been fought in the name of nationalism or socialism and which have concluded with the transfer of power to a secular, modernizing intelligentsia.

Source: The Hindu

DRDO’s ‘Dare to Dream’ contest

In News:

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has launched ‘Dare to Dream’, a contest to encourage startups and individuals to come up with innovative defence and aerospace technologies.


Applicants are invited to send innovative, workable proposals that can impact various related domains. The winning entries, which should specify the plan of executing it into a prototype, stand to get one of five prizes ranging from ₹3 lakh to ₹10 lakh in two categories.

The military R&D organisation has asked for solutions in the areas of Artificial Intelligence, Autonomous Systems, Cybersecurity, Hypersonic Technologies, Smart Materials, Quantum Computing, and Soldier as a System.

‘Sarthi Sandesh Vahini’

In News:

Uttar Pradesh has launched ‘Sarthi Sandesh Vahini’ mission.


The ‘Sarthi Sandesh Vahini’ is a mission started by the state family welfare department with an aim to spread awareness regarding family planning in urban and rural areas.

Under this campaign, vehicles will provide family planning information to the viewers through various documentaries and films.