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6 August Current Affairs

Bhoomi Rashi and PFMS linkage

In News:

The government has proposed to integrate Bhoomi Rashi with Public Financial Management System (PFMS). Integration of Public Financial Management System (PFMS) with Bhoomi Rashi is one of the key functionalities to facilitate payment related to compensation for land acquisition to all the beneficiaries directly through the Bhoomi Rashi system.

Details About Bhoomi Rashi:

  • Bhoomi Rashi, the portal developed by MoRTH and NIC, comprises the entire revenue data of the country, right down to 6.4 lakh villages.
  • The entire process flow, from submission of draft notification by the State Government to its approval by the Hon. Minister of State for RT&H and publication in e-Gazette, is online.
  • The portal, created for expediting the process of publication of notifications for LA, is now being fully utilised for issuing the notifications.
  • Bhoomi Rashi portal has been instrumental in reducing the time taken for approval and publication of notifications pertaining to land acquisition.

About PFMS:

The Public Financial Management System (PFMS) is an end-to- end solution for processing payments, tracking, monitoring, accounting, reconciliation and reporting.

  • It is administered by the Department of Expenditure.
  • It is implemented by the Controller General of Accounts.

Functions:

  • It provides scheme managers a unified platform for tracking releases and monitoring their last mile utilisation.
  • It provides platform for efficient management of funds through tracking of funds and real time reporting of expenditure and receipts through treasury and bank interface.
  • The line ministries/departments utilise this platform to monitor the utilisation of funds provided to the implementing agencies and state governments.
  • PFMS is also used for DBT payments under MGNREGA and other notified schemes of the Government of India.

Significance of PFMS:

Introduction of the PFMS resulted in effectiveness and economy in public finance management through better cash management for government transparency in public expenditure and real-time information on resource availability and utilisation across schemes. It also resulted in improved programme administration and management, reduction of float in the system, direct payment to beneficiaries and greater transparency and accountability in the use of public funds.

Source: PIB

Digital Literacy Library

In News:

Facebook Launches Digital Literacy Library to Help Youth Build Skills Online.

About the Digital Literacy Library:

The Library aims to help young people build the skills they need to safely enjoy online technology.

The library is a collection of lessons to help young people think critically and share thoughtfully online.

Divided into themes such as privacy and reputation, identity exploration, security, safety and well-being, the lessons reflect the voices of young people from diverse socio-economic backgrounds, ethnicities, geographies, and educational levels.

The lessons can be found on Facebook’s Safety Center as well as on Berkman Klein’s Digital Literacy Resource Platform.

Significance of the library:

There are 830 million young people online around the world, and this library is a resource for educators looking to address digital literacy and help these young people build the skills they need to safely enjoy digital technology.

Source: The Hindu

Defence India Startup Challenge

In News:

Defence Minister has unveiled the Defence India Startup Challenge.

About Defence India Startup Challenge:

Defence India Startup Challenge is part of iDEX (Innovation for Defence Excellence) scheme announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in April meant to build an eco-system of innovation and entrepreneurship in India for the defence sector to make India self-reliant.

It is an initiative to tap startups for finding safe and futuristic Indian solutions to critical needs of the three Armed Forces.

A list of 11 technologies that the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force need, have been chosen. They included remote air vehicles, laser weapons, secure and safe communication systems and bandwidth, precision targeting systems, sensors, and protected and informed movement of soldiers in battle tanks.

Those that come up with prototypes of usable products would be supported with ₹1.5 crore each and friendly procurement procedures from the Ministry under SPARK or Support for Prototype & Research Kickstart in Defence.

Source: The Hindu

Asia-Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development

In News:

India has been elected as the president of the Asia-Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development.

Details:

First time opportunity: India got the presidency of the organisation, servicing countries of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN-ESCAP) in the field of electronic media development, for the first time by defeating Iran in the election that took place in Sri Lanka.

About Asia-Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development (AIBD):

The Asia-Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development (AIBD) was established in 1977 under the auspices of UNESCO.

It is a unique regional inter-governmental organisation servicing countries of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN-ESCAP) in the field of electronic media development.

It is hosted by the Government of Malaysia and the secretariat is located in Kuala Lumpur.

Mandate:

The AIBD is mandated to achieve a vibrant and cohesive electronic media environment in the Asia-Pacific region through policy and resource development.

The Institute seeks to fulfill this mandate by mobilizing the intellectual and technological resources available within the national broadcasting organizations of its member countries as well as regional and international bodies through a well-established infrastructure and networking mechanism which includes government agencies, non-governmental organizations, institutions of higher learning, private sector and individual professionals.

Membership:

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) are founding organisations of the Institute and they are non-voting members of the General Conference.

The Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU) is also a founding organisation of the Institute and is a non-voting member of the General Conference.

Full membership of the AIBD is confined to sovereign states and they are invited to designate the broadcasting authority of the country to be the beneficiary.

The AIBD currently has 26 Full Members (countries), represented by 34 organisations, and 67 Affiliate Members (organisations) with a total membership of 101 representing 48 countries and regions and over 50 partners in Asia, Pacific, Europe, Africa, Arab States and North America.

Source: The Hindu

Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)

In News:

The nominating committee of Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has selected Ajay Data, Founder & CEO of Data XGen Plus and a global leader in email linguistic services, as a new council member of Country Code Supporting Organisation (ccNSO).

Details:

Ajay Data is the first Indian to have been selected as a member of ccNSO and will be representing India at a global level. He will be the custodian of Asia, Australia and Pacific Islands as a member of ccNSO.

About ccNSO:

ccNSO of the ICANN is the policy-development body for global issues regarding country code top-level domains (ccTLD) within the ICANN structure.

The members of ccNSO, which is ICANN’s policy development body for ccTLD (country code top-level domains) issues, are all country code top level domain operators from around the world.

What is the ICANN?

The Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is a non profit organization that was set up in 1998 to oversee the administration of domain names.

ICANN coordinates and ensures the smooth and secure functioning of the cybernetic framework.

What it does?

The global nature of the Web today means that there are constantly increasing numbers of Domain Names, Host Names, IP addresses and web sites that are emerging on a daily basis. ICANN oversees this interconnected network and ensures that computers across the internet can find one another through defined unique pathways and identifiers.

ICANN performs four major functions namely:

  • Approval of companies that can become accredited registrars for domain names.
  • Decision making regarding the addition of new Top Level Domains (TLDs) to the Root system.
  • Coordinating technical parameters to maintain universal connectivity.
  • Creating a Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) for competing domain names.

Source: The Hindu

India’s first Blockchain district in Telangana

In News:

Tech Mahindra and the Telangana government have signed an agreement to establish a Blockchain district in Hyderabad, a first-of-its-kind Centre of Excellence for Blockchain in India.

Details:

  • Initially it would be a virtual cluster, connecting with the stakeholders working in the emerging technology. It would have a physical building at a later phase.
  • In short, it will be “a cluster of buildings”, which will house start-ups and other stakeholders working on the development of the platform.
  • Tech Mahindra, as a founding member of the Blockchain district, will provide platform and technology assistance to all the incubators in the district.
  • On its part, the Telangana government would provide regulatory and policy support to promote the growth of Blockchain.

 About Blockchain technology:

Blockchain is a new-age technology that helps in record-keeping through the use of cryptography, a secure method of writing digital codes. With blockchain, many people can write entries into a record of information, and a community of users can check the records to reduce the scope of fraudulent practices in altering information.

Benefits of blockchain technology:

  • As a public ledger system, blockchain records and validate each and every transaction made, which makes it secure and reliable.
  • All the transactions made are authorized by miners, which makes the transactions immutable and prevent it from the threat of hacking.
  • Blockchain technology discards the need of any third-party or central authority for peer-to-peer transactions.
  • It allows decentralization of the technology.

How blockchain can be used in public administration?

Blockchain has the potential to optimize the delivery of public services, further India’s fight against corruption, and create considerable value for its citizens.

By maintaining an immutable and chronologically ordered record of all actions and files (“blocks”) linked together (“chain”) in a distributed and decentralized database, Blockchain creates an efficient and cost-effective database that is virtually tamper-proof. By doing so, blockchain promises to create more transparent, accountable, and efficient governments.

In addition to creating a more efficient government, blockchain can also help create a more honest government. A public blockchain, like the one Bitcoin uses, records all information and transactions on the decentralized database permanently, publicly, and most importantly, securely. By allowing governments to track the movement of government funds, blockchain can hold state and local actors accountable for any misappropriations.

Blockchain not only deters corruption through accountability, but it can also do so by bypassing the middleman entirely. Earlier this year, the World Food Programme began testing blockchain-based food and cash transactions in Pakistan’s Sindh province. Refugees in Jordan’s Azraq camp are now using the same technology, in conjunction with biometric registration data for authentication, to pay for food.

Source: The Hindu

IMPRINT-2

In News:

For advancing research in the high education institutions, the government has approved 122 new research projects at a cost of Rs 112 crore under IMPRINT-2 covering Energy, Security, Healthcare, Advanced Materials, ICT and Security/Defence domains.

About IMPRINT:

IMPacting Research, INnovation and Technology (IMPRINT) is a national initiative of the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) designed to address all major engineering challenges relevant to India through an inclusive and sustainable mode of translational research.

IMPRINT-2 has been approved by Government of India (GoI) with a revised strategy under which, this national initiative will be jointly funded and steered by MHRD and Department of Science and Technology (DST).

While any faculty member from an MHRD funded Higher Education Institute (HEI) including Centrally Funded Technical Institution (CFTI) may lead as the Principal Investigator (PI), single or multiple partners from stake holder ministry, institutions, PSUs, strategic agencies and industry are welcome as Co-PI, partner or collaborator.

Proposals under IMPRINT II Projects should (a) address any declared theme (thrust area) under one of the 10 domains of IMPRINT, and (b) connect either with already identified or new research topics defined by the PI under the same 10 domains.

Projects proposals should provide clear and convincing evidence of promise for translational research leading to viable technology (product, process or prototype) development.

Source: PIB

Jal Marg Vikas Project

In News:

IWAI recently held a large public outreach along Ganga for Jal Marg Vikas Project. Two-Day long advocacy meetings were held in Jharkhand leg of Ganga.

About Jal Marg Vikas Project:

The Jal Marg Vikas Project seeks to facilitate plying of vessels with capacity of 1,500-2,000 tonnes in the Haldia- Varanasi stretch of the River Ganga. The major works being taken up under JMVP are development of fairway, Multi-Modal Terminals, strengthening of river navigation system, conservancy works, modern River Information System (RIS), Digital Global Positioning System (DGPS), night navigation facilities, modern methods of channel marking etc.

Implementation: The JMVP, which is expected to be completed by March, 2023, is being implemented with the financial and technical support of the World Bank. The project will enable commercial navigation of vessels with the capacity of 1500-2,000 tons on NW-I.

Benefits of this project: Alternative mode of transport that will be environment friendly and cost effective. The project will contribute in bringing down the logistics cost in the country. Mammoth Infrastructure development like multi-modal and inter-modal terminals, Roll on – Roll off (Ro-Ro) facilities, ferry services, navigation aids. Socio-economic impetus; huge employment generation.

Environmental challenges:

Though the project is ambitious in its intent, it does not account for the monetary value of the environmental costs that are imposed upon society. The river Ganga meanders across the landscape and spreads over its riverbed making pools and shallow areas. Fish and turtles lay eggs in these shallow areas. But thanks to dredging, which is already being done in the Ganga under the NW-1 project, the river is now channelised in one deep channel. The river no longer meanders and no longer has pools and shallow areas, destroying the habitat of fish and turtles. The stretch of the Ganga near Varanasi has been declared as a turtle sanctuary and studies in other countries indicate that large numbers get hit by fast-moving tourist boats because turtles move slowly.

The stretch of the Ganga near Bhagalpur has been declared a wildlife sanctuary for the conservation of the Ganges Dolphin. This animal does not have eyes. It navigates and catches its prey by the sound made by the movement of other aquatic creatures. The plying of large barges will create a high level of sound and make it difficult for them to survive. The paint on ships and barges will also pollute the water. The carbon dioxide released by the ships will be is absorbed more by the water because of its proximity and this too pollutes the river.

What can be done to minimize impacts in sensitive zones?

A ban on dredging in protected habitat areas. In other areas that are known to be the habitat of valued aquatic species, no dredging should be allowed in the breeding and spawning seasons.

The speed of barges travelling along the protected areas of the sanctuaries should be restricted to 5km per hour. All vessels plying on the Ganga should be fitted with noise control and animal exclusion devices so that aquatic life is not unduly disturbed. All vessels will also have to comply with `zero discharge’ standards to prevent solid or liquid waste from flowing into the river and affecting its biodiversity.

Way forward:

It is time to ensure that the small direct benefits from cheaper transportation shall not have large environmental costs.

Know about IWAI:

Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) is the statutory authority in charge of the waterways in India. Its headquarters is located in Noida, UP. It does the function of building the necessary infrastructure in these waterways, surveying the economic feasibility of new projects and also administration.

Source: PIB

‘Mosquito Terminator’

In News:

It is a special train which will help in preventing mosquito breeding along the railway tracks in Delhi. It has been launched jointly by the Delhi Division of Northern Railway and South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC).

Details:

The train has been envisaged to control and mitigate the menace of mosquito breeding in the burrow pits alongside railway tracks, as a measure to contribute towards public health and, more importantly, for the health safety of people residing at places adjoining the tracks.

Source: PIB

Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR)

  • The IACHR is an independent, multinational court that handles the human rights cases of people affected by the laws of countries that are members of the Organisation of American States (OAS).
  • It has recently given its advisory opinion on the issue of institution of asylum and its recognition as a Human Right.
  • It has ruled that all nations have an obligation to ensure safe passage for asylum seekers to their final territory of asylum.
  • This assumes significance in the light of asylum of Julian Assange, Editor-in-chief of Wiki Leaks, in Eucadorian embassy in U.K.
  • He has been granted political asylum and citizenship by Eucador in 2012.
  • But he is unable to come out of the embassy in U.K because of the arrest warrant issued by U.K court in the charges of sexual assault and rape allegations.
  • In this scenario, the advisory opinion by IACHR gives him the moral victory.
  • The ruling would meant that, U.K. has an obligation to allow safe passage for Mr. Assange to Ecuador, where he has been granted political asylum as well as citizenship.

Organisation of American States (OAS)

  • OAS is the world’s oldest regional organization, which came into being in 1948.
  • OAS brings together all 35 independent states of the Americas.
  • It constitutes the main political, juridical, and social governmental forum in the Hemisphere.
  • In addition, it has granted permanent observer status to 69 states, as well as to the European Union (EU).
  • The Organization’s four main pillars are democracy, human rights, security, and development.

Relaxation in Cabotage Law

  • Cabotage in shipping refers to the transport of goods or passengers between two ports within the same country by a foreign shipping operator.
  • The shipping ministry has recently lifted the restrictions on foreign registered vessels on transportation of loaded or empty containers between Indian ports.
  • Earlier, it was the prerogative of Indian registered shipping lines that paid taxes and were governed by Indian laws.
  • It is expected that this move will lead to cargo growth in India.
  • It will also improve the competitiveness of the Indian traders by reducing transhipment cost at a foreign port.
  • For instance, Colombo port thrives on Indian cargo containers that passes through it and it is one of the major container transshipment hubs in the region.
  • After the relaxation of rules, Colombo has cut the transshipment rates by 9.5 per cent, allowing foreign ships to operate on local routes.

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