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August 20, 2019
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19 August Current Affairs

Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation or KALIA Scheme

In News:

The Odisha government’s much-hyped Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation (KALIA) scheme has gone haywire. The authorities are now facing a gigantic task of removing bogus beneficiaries who have already availed of the benefits.

Issues:

A total of 51 lakh cultivators, loanee and non-loanee farmers, sharecroppers and landless agricultural labourers have been provided with financial assistance under the scheme so far.

The authorities have now found out that all beneficiaries were not entitled to the benefits under the scheme and have asked the ineligible people to refund the money.

More than one member of a family have managed to get assistance.

In a majority of blocks, the number of applicants have outnumbered the number of ration card-holding families.

Key features of Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation or KALIA Scheme:

Involves payments to encourage cultivation and associated activities.

Primary targetsare small farmers, cultivators and landless agricultural labourers.

All farmers will be provided Rs 10,000 per family as assistance for cultivation.

Each family will get Rs 5,000 separately in the kharif and rabi seasons, for five cropping seasons between 2018-19 and 2021-22.

Targets 10 lakh landless households, and specifically SC and ST families. They will be supported with a unit cost of Rs 12,500 for activities like goat rearing, mushroom cultivation, beekeeping, poultry farming and fishery.

Exception: A critical trade, dairy production, has deliberately been kept out because keeping a cow is more expensive, while milk production needs to have a collection route or agency that processes and refines this low shelf-life product.

It will assist the elderly, sick and differently-abled populationwho are unable to take up cultivation, by providing Rs 10,000 per household per year.

The scheme includes a life insurance cover of Rs 2 lakh and additional personal accident coverageof the same amount for 57 lakh households.

Crop loans up to Rs 50,000 are interest-free.

This is also going to be an area-specific schemein the sense that an input support for a particular trade, say mushroom cultivation, will be provided if it is prevalent throughout that locality so that there is aggregation of produce.

How different will KALIA be from a loan waiver?

Unlike a loan waiver, (through which) banks appease a few farmers, KALIA’s main targets are rural activities as a whole.

It will support farming on a small scale, sharecropping, fishing, animal herding, which are not covered under bank loans, but are caught in debt traps set up by local moneylenders.

Also, a farm loan waiver will reduce credit available to farmers in the long term, while income support can be used to make a repayment or at least activate a bank account which can then receive a loan.”

Char Dham pilgrimage

In News:

Supreme Court has cleared decks for Chardham highway project, which will connect four holy places of Uttarakhand through 900 km all-weather roads.

What has the court said?

The court has directed Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) to form high-powered committee by 22 August 2019 so as to look into environmental concerns.

Representatives from Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Physical Research Laboratory under government’s space department and Ministry of Defence will be part of the new high powered committee.

As per SC, committee shall hold quarterly meetings thereafter to ensure compliance and may suggest any further measure after each review meeting.

It shall consider cumulative and independent impact of Chardham project on entire Himalayan valleys.

Committee will also suggest areas in which afforestation should be taken and kind of saplings to be planted.

What’s the issue?

The proposed four-lane expressway to Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath and Bardinath in the hill state has been among the flagship projects of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.

But the idea of the 900-kilometre road network in the sensitive mountains of Uttarakhand drew scepticism from environmental activists who fear the highways and the tourists they would bring in will be at the cost of the ecological balance.

About Chardham project:

The project involves developing and widening 900-km of national highways connecting the holy Hindu pilgrimage sites of; Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri at an estimated cost of Rs.12,000 crores.

The highway will be called Char Dham Mahamarg(Char Dham Highway) and the highway construction project will be called as Char Dham Mahamarg Vikas Pariyojana(Char Dham Highway Development Project).

The roads will be widened from 12m to 24m and the project will involve construction of tunnels, bypasses, bridges, subways and viaducts.

India Bhutan Ties

In News:

PM Narendra Modi, during his second visit to Bhutan, held wide ranging talks with Bhutanese PM to further expand the bilateral partnership. The two countries also signed 10 MoUs to infuse new energy in their ties.

About: 

PM Modi inaugurated the Mangdechhu hydroelectric power plant. Most of the electricity generated by it will meet the energy requirements of Bhutan and the surplus electricity will be exported to India.

He also launched the RuPay Card in Bhutan by making a purchase at Simtokha Dzong, built in 1629 by Shabdrung Namgyal, which functions as a monastic and administrative centre and is one of the oldest dzongs in Bhutan.

India announced that an additional $100 million will be available to Bhutan under the SAARC currency swap framework to meet the foreign exchange requirement.

The two countries also signed 10 MoUs in the fields of space research, aviation, IT, power and education.

Some of the key MoU/Agreement exchanged during the State Visit of Prime Minister to Bhutan: 

Power Purchase Agreement Between PTC India Limited and Druk Green Power Corporation Limited for Sale and Purchase of Mangdechhu Power.

MoU between ISRO and Department of Information Technology and Telecom (DITT) of Bhutan on the establishment of SATCOM Network for the Utilization of South Asia Satellite in Bhutan.

MoU between the Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU), Bhutan, and Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau, India on cooperation on Aircraft Accident and Incident Investigation.

MoU for interconnection between India’s National Knowledge Network and Bhutan’s Druk Research and Education Network.

Navroz

In News:

Parsis in India celebrated New Year or Navroz on August 17. In Iran, Zoroastrians celebrated the New Year on the Spring Equinox, March 21.

About: 

Navroz also pronounced as Nowruz is the beginning of the Parsi New Year.

It is celebrated for health, wealth, prosperity and productivity.

The day is filled with exciting celebrations, wearing new clothes, greetings relatives and friends, exchanging sweets and presents and so on. This is also a day to rejoice the chosen range of delicacies.

The central feature of the day is visiting the Fire Temple and offering prayers to the deities Khorshed and Meher, who are considered the presiding deities of sun and moon respectively.

Parsi community in India: 

Male-female ratio: According to the 2001 Census, there 1,050 females per 1,000 males, much higher than India’s average of 933 females.

Population: According to Demographic predictions, by 2020, only 23,000 Parsis will be left in the country which will take away their community tag and label them as The government-of India launched Jiyo Parsi Scheme in 2013 to prevent the decline in population of the Parsi community in India.

Literacy: According to the 2001 census, they have the highest literacy rate in the country.

Language: Their native language is Avestan, although they are commonly seen speaking in Gujarati or English.

Religion: Zoroastrianism was founded by Prophet Zoroaster in ancient Iran about 3,500 years ago. The Avesta is the primary collection of religious texts of Zoroastrianism.

Contribution to India: Scientist Homi Jehangir Bhabha was a pioneer in atomic research. JRD Tata was a legendary businessman. Sam Manekshaw was India’s first field Marshal.

Basic 28th Ministerial On Climate Change

In News:

In the run-up to the UNFCC Conference of Parties (COP-25) meet to be held in December 2019, the BASIC countries – Brazil, South Africa, India and China – held its 28th Ministerial meeting on Climate Change from 14th to 16th August in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Key highlights of the meeting:

With issue of finance being considered a major sticking point in negotiations ahead of future climate summit, the BASIC nations jointly urged developed countries to fulfill their climate finance commitments of mobilizing $100 billion annually by 2020 for developing countries.

This support should be new and additional, and over and above their 0.7% of Gross National Product (GNP) commitment with respect to Official Development Assistance (ODA).

Under the Green Climate Fund (GCF) mechanism, the developed countries are expected to jointly mobilize $100 billion per year by 2020, from a variety of sources, to address the mitigation and adaptation needs of developing countries.

The BASIC countries are a bloc of four advanced developing countries namely Brazil, South Africa, India and China.

It was formed by an agreement in 2009. The four committed to act jointly at the Copenhagen climate summit, including a possible united walk-out if their common minimum position was not met by the developed nations.

Since 2009, the BASIC group of countries have cooperated in international climate negotiations, reflecting their aspiration to have a larger say in global politics.

BASIC countries put together one-third of world’s geographical area and nearly 40% of the world’s population.

Know India Programme

In News:

A group of Indian Origin youth have visited India under the 54th Edition of ‘Know India Programme’ (KIP). The 54th KIP is scheduled from 1st August to 25th August, 2019 in association with the partner sates of Punjab and Haryana.

About:

Implementing agency: The KIP is a 25-day orientation programme organized by the Ministry of External Affairs in partnership with the states of India.

Objective: To make Indian origin youth (between 18-30 years) aware about India, its cultural heritage, art and to familiarize them with various aspects of contemporary India.

Background: The programme has been in existence since 2003.

Salient features:

In 2016, the scheme was revamped to increase duration from 21 to 25 days, with a 10-day visit to one or two States and preference given to PIOs from Girmitiya countries.

Since 2016, six KIPs are being organised in a year.

A maximum of 40 Indian Diaspora youth are selected for each programme and provided full hospitality in India.

Girmitiyas?

“Girmitiyas” or Indentured Labourers, is the name given the Indians who left Indian in the middle and late 19th Century to serve as labourers in the British colonies, where the majority eventually settled.

Mauritius, Fiji, Suriname, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago are known as Girmitiya Countries.

Recession

As per the latest Global Fund Manager Survey by Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BofAML), recession fears are highest since 2011.

Key findings of the survey: 

A record 50% of fund managers surveyed — as many as 171 fund managers with collective assets under management (AUM) of $455 billion were polled — felt that corporates were overleveraged and should improve their balance sheets.

34% of the managers said that they think that a recession is likely in the next 12 months. This is the highest recession probability since October 2011.

In terms of the health of companies, 46% of the investors surveyed wanted corporates to spend cash on improving their balance sheets.

On the contrary, only 13% of the fund managers said that corporates should return cash to shareholders with 36% saying that companies should use cash for capital expenditure plans.

National Essential Diagnostics List (NEDL)

In News:

India has got its first National Essential Diagnostics List (NEDL) finalised by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

About:

This NEDL aims to bridge the current regulatory system’s gap that do not cover all the medical devices and in-vitro diagnostic device (IVD). The current system is equipped to manage only the few notified devices.

With this, India has become the first country to compile such a list that would provide guidance to the government for deciding the kind of diagnostic tests that different healthcare facilities in villages and remote areas require.

The list is meant for facilities from village till the district level.

Implementation of NEDL would enable improved health care services delivery through evidence-based care; effective utilisation of public health facilities; effective assessment of disease burden, disease trends, surveillance, and outbreak identification etc.

Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award

In News:

Para-athlete Deepa Malik and wrestler Bajrang Punia have been nominated for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award.

About: 

It is the highest sporting honor of India.

The recipient(s) is/are honored for their outstanding performance in the field of sports over a period of four years at international level.

It was instituted in 1991–92.

The first recipient of the award was Chess Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand.

Bajrang Punia?

He had last year won the gold medal in the 65-kg freestyle event at the Asian Games held in Jakarta. He had also won the gold medal in the same category at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

Bajrang is only the fourth wrestler to be finalised for the Khel Ratna award after Sushil Kumar, Yogeshwar Dutt and Sakshi Malik.

Deepa Malik?

Para-athlete Deepa Malik became the first Indian female athlete to win a Paralympics medal, when she won a silver at the 2016 Games.

A previous recipient of Padma Shri & Arjuna Award, Deepa started her sports career at the age of 36 and won a silver in shot put in 2016 Rio Paralympics Games.

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