17 December Current Affairs
December 17, 2019
19 December Current Affairs
December 19, 2019
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18 December Current Affairs

India to Host International Geological Congress 2020

In News:

India is set to host the 36th International Geological Congress (IGC) in New Delhi during the first week of March 2020. The theme for next year conference is ‘Geosciences: The Basic Science for a Sustainable Development’.

About International Geological Congress (IGC):

It is popularly described as ‘Olympics of Geosciences’.

The IGCs are a prestigious global geoscientific events held once in four years and participated by nearly 5000-6000 geoscientists from all across the world.

IGC 2020: The 36th IGC is expected to provide a platform for international cooperation in all major field of geosciences including launching of collaborative programs, provision of investment opportunities in environmental management, mineral exploration, mining and related enterprises.

It would also help in dealing with problems of sustainability, energy crisis, water crisis, climate change, environmental issues and resource management.

Geological Survey of India: 

It is the nodal agency for organizing the IGC 2020.

The event is being funded by Union Ministry of Mines (MoM) and Union Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) with support of the Indian National Science Academy (INSA) and National Science Academies of Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

India and IGC:

India is the only Asian country to host the IGC event twice.

India had earlier hosted the event for the first time in 1964, which was 22nd IGC.

The event was inaugurated by then President of India Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan.

The IGC is making a comeback to India after 56 long years much to the enthusiasm of the entire geoscientific community.

Accessible India Campaign

In News:

Recently GoI extended the deadline for Accessible India Campaign to March 2020.


The main objective of the campaign is to make public spaces friendly for persons with disabilities.

About the campaign:

The campaign is also called Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan.

The scheme was launched by Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

The initiative is in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to which India signed in 2007.

The scheme was also launched under Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995.

Under the act, the scheme comes under the jurisdiction of sections 44, 45 and 46 that provides equal opportunities and protection of rights in transport sector to those who are physically challenged.

Targets of the campaign:

The campaign aims at making at least 50% of government owned buildings as disabled-friendly.

It was aimed at doing in three phases.

In phase 1, the campaign focused on making international airports disabled-friendly by 2016.

In phase 2, it aimed at making 25% of public transport vehicles disabled-friendly by 2017.

In phase 3, it aimed at making 50% of government buildings disabled-friendly.

Global Gender Gap Index

In News:

On December 17, the World Economic Forum released its report according to which India ranked 112th in terms of gender gap.


The report said that the India was ranked in bottom-five in terms of survival and economic participation.

Highlights: India

India was in 108th position in 2018. Its performance weakened in the year 2019 according to the report.

India’s performance was lagging in three out of four metrics used for ranking the countries.

India slipped to 150th rank in health and survival, 149th in economic participation, 112th in educational attainment.

India improved to 18th place in terms of political empowerment.

The report also said that opportunities for women in India is very low.

India was ranked below countries like Bangladesh (50th), Indonesia (85th), Brazil (92nd), Nepal (101st), Sri Lanka (102nd), China (106th).

The World Economic Forum published its first report in 2006. Since then performance of India has deteriorated. In 2006, India was ranked at 98th place.

Opportunities for women in the country is 35.4%. Sex ratio of India was low as compared to other countries (91 girls for every 100 boys).

Highlights: World

Iceland was the topmost gender-neutral country.

Next to Iceland, other Nordic Countries like Norway, Finland and Sweden were the top performers.

At the top 10, countries like Nicaragua (5th), New Zealand (6th), Ireland (7th), Spain (8th), Rwanda (9th) and Germany (10th).

United States continued to decline falling to 53rd place.

Though there are several hinderance for the situation to get improved, role model effect will start to have impact in terms of leadership.

For instance, eight out of top 10 countries had high political empowerment with greater participation from women.

Breast Milk Banks

In News:

Established under “National Guidelines on Establishment of Lactation Management Centres in Public Health Facilities” by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.


They are known as Comprehensive Lactation Management Centres (CLMC) and Lactation Management Unit (LMU), depending on the level of health facilities where these units are established.

Need for Milk Banks:

It is universally accepted that breast milk is the optimum exclusive source of nutrition for the first six months of life, and may remain part of the healthy infant diet for the first two years of life and beyond.

Unicef India mentions mothers, both in high- and low-income countries, face challenges such as poor healthcare and nutrition. Sometimes, families end up giving babies honey or sugared water as their first oral feed, referred to as prelacteal feed.

Milk banks have a dedicated set of counsellors to answer such queries about lactation management and convince new mothers about the benefits of donating milk.

Initiatives by India:

MAA – “Mothers Absolute Affection”: A nationwide programme of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to promote breastfeeding.

Vatsalya – Maatri Amrit Kosh: Established in collaboration with the Norwegian government.

Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY)

In News:

Concerns have been expressed over the implementation of the Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY).


Three years after it was first announced, the chorus on its many exclusions is growing louder leading to a demand for a scheme that is truly universal.

Besides, lengthy documentation work is seen as a deterrent to illiterate sections.

Women have to pay a hefty bribe during the application process.

About PMMVY:

Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY) is a maternity benefit rechristened from erstwhile Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana (IGMSY). The IGMSY was launched in 2010.

The scheme is a conditional cash transfer scheme for pregnant and lactating women.

It provides a partial wage compensation to women for wage-loss during childbirth and childcare and to provide conditions for safe delivery and good nutrition and feeding practices.

They receive a cash benefit of Rs. 5,000 in three installments on fulfilling the respective conditionality, early registration of pregnancy, ante-natal check-up and registration of the birth of the child and completion of first cycle of vaccination for the first living child of the family.

The eligible beneficiaries also receive cash incentive under Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY). Thus, on an average, a woman gets Rs. 6,000.

Exceptions: The maternity benefits are available to all Pregnant Women & Lactating Mothers (PW&LM) except those in regular employment with the Central Government or State Government or Public Sector Undertaking or those who are in receipt of similar benefits under any law for the time being in force.

Funding: The scheme is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme under which cost sharing ratio between the Centre and the States & UTs with Legislature is 60:40 while for North-Eastern States & three Himalayan States; it is 90:10. It is 100% Central assistance for Union Territories without Legislature.

Government Instant Messaging System (GIMS)

In News:

Government testing GIMs, its secure messaging App.

About Government Instant Messaging System (GIMS):

Designed and developed by National Informatics Centre (NIC).

It is being packaged for employees of Central and state government departments and organisations for intra and inter organisation communications.

It is an Indian equivalent of popular messaging platforms, such as WhatsApp and Telegram, for secure internal use.

It is being developed as a secure Indian alternative without the security concerns attached with apps hosted abroad or those owned by foreign entities.

Like WhatsApp, GIMS employs end-to-end encryption for one-to-one messaging.

Need for and significance:

The launch of the new app comes amid the recent controversy over the WhatsApp breach. Some Indian users’ mobile devices were targeted through a spyware called Pegasus recently.

GIMS is being touted as a safer bet as the platform has been developed in India, the server hosting it is installed within the country and the information stored would be in government-based cloud — NIC-operated data centres that are only meant for captive use by the government and its departments.

Namami Gange

In News:

Review meeting of the National Ganga Council was recently held.

About Namami Gange Programme:

It 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.

Implemented by the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), and its state counterparts—State Programme Management Groups.

National Ganga Council (NGC):

Created in October 2016 under the River Ganga (Rejuvenation, Protection and Management) Authorities Order, 2016, dissolving the National Ganga River Basin Authority.

Headed by the Prime Minister.

It replaced the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA).

NGC would have on board the chief ministers of five Ganga basin states—Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh (UP), Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal—besides several Union ministers and it was supposed to meet once every year.

Main Pillars of the Namami Gange Programme are:

Sewerage Treatment Infrastructure

River-Surface Cleaning


Industrial Effluent Monitoring

River-Front Development


Public Awareness

Ganga Gram