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PIB 12th December

URANIUM IMPORTS

  • MOU with Kazakhshtan.
  • Kazakhstan contains about 13% of the world’s recoverable uranium. Tortkuduk & Myunkum, Inkai, Kharasan etc. are the major uranium mines in Kazakhstan.
  • India imports from Canada, Argentina, Namibia, Russia, Uzbekisthan Etc.

Backgrounder

Natural uranium contains about 0.7% of the U-235isotope (the fissile isotope) and 99.2% of the U-238. 

Major uses for uranium are as a fuel for nuclear power reactors for electricity generation, in the manufacture of radioisotopes for medical applications and in nuclear science research.

Uranium deposits of India

Image result for uranium deposits in india

Recoverable source of Uranium in World

UNIVERSAL HEALTH COVERAGE AWARDS

Conferred by Ministry of Health and Family welfare on the occasion of 6th Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Day 2019 with the theme ‘Keep the promise’

  • to best performing Primary Healthcare teams of States and Uts

Backgrounder

Universal Health Coverage (UHC) aims that ‘all people have access to needed promotive, preventive, curative and rehabilitative health services, of sufficient quality to be effective, while also ensuring that people do not suffer financial hardship when paying for these services’.

In 2012, the United Nations passed a landmark resolution endorsing universal health coverage. In 2015, the achievement of UHC was enshrined in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a key target to be reached by 2030. UHC Day, first commemorated on 12 December 2014, marks the anniversary of the landmark UN resolution. In 2017, the same day  was officially designated as International Universal Health Coverage Day by the United Nations.

PROMOTING RESEARCH FACILITIES IN INDIA

Government has taken following initiatives to promote research in the field of science & engineering and to develop world class research facilities. 

  1. Prime Minister Research Fellowship: Under this scheme, meritorious students of IITs, IIITs, NITs and IISERs, after completing their B.Tech programme can straightaway get admission in PhD programme at IITs and IISc.  They are given fellowship
  2. National Initiative for Technology Transfer (Establishment of Research Parks): Complementing the renewed focus of the Government on developing indigenous Research & Development  capabilities, boosting manufacturing and creating a successful startup culture in the country, five new Research Parks at IIT Delhi, IIT Guwahati, IIT Kanpur, IIT Hyderabad, and IISc Bangalore at a total cost of Rs.75.00 crore each have been approved by the Government under Startup India Initiative in Higher Education (SIIHE) Scheme.
  3. Impacting Research, Innovation and Technology (IMPRINT): IMPRINT is a flagship national initiative of the Government, which aims at providing solutions to the most relevant engineering challenges and translating knowledge into viable technology in 10 selected technology domains. It is a pan IITs and IISc Joint Initiative seeking to develop a roadmap for research.
  4. Institutions of Eminence (IoE): In order to empower the Higher Educational Institutions and to help them in becoming world class teaching and research institutions, government has recently declared 20 institutions (10 public and 10 Private institutions) as Institutions of Eminence. 

ATAL BHUJAL YOJANA

Why in News?

The World Bank has approved Atal Bhujal Yojana (ABHY), a Rs.6,000 Crore Central Sector Scheme, for sustainable management of ground water resources with community participation. The funding pattern is 50:50 between Government of India and World Bank.

Details

  • The scheme envisages active participation of the communities in various activities such as
    • formation of Water User Associations
    • monitoring and disseminating ground water data
    • water budgeting
    • preparation and implementation of Gram-Panchayat wise water security plans
    • Information, Education & Communication (IEC) activities related to sustainable ground water management.
  • The identified over-exploited and water stressed areas are in the States of Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
  • The States have been selected according to a number of criteria, including degree of groundwater exploitation and degradation, institutional readiness, and experience in implementing initiatives related to groundwater management.

India Design Council launches two Initiatives to promote Design Education and Standards

The India Design Council (IDC) launched the Chartered Designs of India (CDI) and the Design Education Quality Mark (DEQM)

Aim

These two initiatives of IDC and National Institute of design, Ahmedabad will help to address the 5 challenges of scale, quality of design, quality of education for design, raising the priority for design in industry and design for public purpose.

The two initiatives launched today will aid and support the profession of design and help in growing the profession and to establish professional standards.

  1. Design Education Quality Mark: The DEQM will benchmark design education programmes on predetermined standards and it will be accorded to institutions that meet the provisions of the published standard.
    1. The Quality Mark includes a trademark-protected logo, which could be used by the recipient institutions in all forms of internal and external communication.
    2. The Quality Mark will help students to choose the right design programme from a wide choice, help prospective employers to employ designers
  2. Chartered Designs of India: It is envisaged as an institution that will establish and uphold the professional standards of design practice in India.
    1. The focus of CDI is the “Professional Designer” identified by a design qualification and or experience.
    2. CDI is a cohesive platform that adheres to the design practice to standards in professional design competence, ethics and service.

What is the need?

As Design Education gains momentum in India, it is necessary that commissioners of Design projects and designers are able to distinguish qualified professional designers as against hobbyists and non-professionals.

  • India has a growing design ecosystem that has resulted in growth both in employment of creative skills and impact in the service sector.
  • Creative manufacturing and design innovation will be the key drivers in the Make in India initiative of 2020 and beyond and further strengthening the brand “designed in India”.

About: India Design Council

  • An autonomous body under the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
  • National strategic body for multi-disciplinary design and is involved in promotion of design to make India a design enabled country.
  • IDC is mandated to implement the National Design Policy (2007) and is committed to work towards raising the standards of design education in India and ensure that it meets global benchmarks.
  • IDC is working with other government agencies, the design community, industry and educational institutions to promote design in business, society and public service.

RIVER INTERLINKING 

Why in news?

These interlinking projects have not been approved 

  1. Burhi Gandak-Noon-Baya-Ganga link of Bihar
  2. Kosi-Mechi link of Bihar
  3. Ponnaiyar-Palar Link of Tamil Nadu
  4. Wainganga (Gosikhurd)-Nalganga (PurnaTapi)

What it is ?

The National River Linking Project (NRLP) formally known as the National Perspective Plan, envisages the transfer of water from water ‘surplus’ basins where there is flooding, to water ‘deficit’ basins where there is drought/scarcity, through inter-basin water transfer projects.

Backgrounder:

The National Perspective Plan (NPP) was prepared by the then Ministry of Irrigation (now Ministry of Jal Shakti) in 1980 for water resources development through inter basin transfer of water, for transferring water from water surplus basins to water-deficit basins.

Under the NPP, the National Water Development Agency (NWDA) has identified 30 links (16 under Peninsular Component & 14 under Himalayan Component) for preparation of Feasibility Reports (FRs).

The stage of implementation of a project would be reached after its Detailed Project Report is prepared with the consensus of concerned States and the requisite statutory clearances are obtained.

  • In October 2002, the Supreme Court ordered the Central Government to initiate work on inter-linking the major rivers of the country.
  • In the same year, a task force was appointed and a deadline of 2016 was set to complete the entire project that would link 37 rivers.

An enabling allocation of Rs.100 lakhs for inter-linking of river programme has been made in the budget of each of the last three years including current year. No fund has been utilized as no inter-linking of rivers project has reached the stage of execution.

Ministry involved :

Ministry of Irrigation, now known as Ministry of Jal Shakti.

Benefits of River Interlinking

  • Hydropower generation
  • Irrigation benefits
  • Round the year navigation
  • Employment generation
  • Resolution of problem of droughts and floods
  • Ecological benefits as dried up forests and lands will be replenished

Concern of River Interlinking:

  • Feasibility of project: In addition to the huge costs involved, it also requires huge engineering structures which requires constant monitoring. 
  • It will also require more power to lift the water from water surplus region to water deficit regions to produce the power
  • Environmental impacts: The project will change the entire ecosystem of rivers. It will impact all kinds of flora, fauna, wetlands and other ecosystems. 
  • It may reduce the flow of fresh water into sea, thus it can impact the various marine life organisms  
  • Societal impacts: This project will lead to displacement of millions of people from their home which cannot be calculated. For eg. Tehri dam in Uttarakhand had displaced 1 lakh people and submerged of 70 plus villages. 
  • Federal Disputes: Water is a state subject and inter-state dispute may further rise as water surplus state would not be ready to share water with water-deficit state. 
  • International disputes: Interlinking of rivers would likely increase the conflicts at the international level like with Bangladesh, Pakistan. 

Scheme of Vocationalisation of School Education

Ministry of Human Resource Development is implementing the Scheme of Vocationalisation of School Education under the umbrella of ‘Samagra Shiksha – an integrated scheme for school education’.

Details

Under the scheme a vocational subject is offered for Classes IX to XII along with the general education to provide necessary employability and vocational skills for variety of occupations.

  • The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has accordingly included certain basic contents in relevant subjects in their textbooks
  • The Scheme of Vocationalisation of School Education is implemented in all the States and Union Territories.
  • Education being a subject in the Concurrent List of the Constitution and the majority of schools are under the jurisdiction of the State Governments, it is for the respective State/Union Territory Government to adopt/adapt the NCERT model textbooks

About: Samagra Shiksha

Samagra Shiksha is an overarching programme for the school education sector extending from pre-school to class 12 has been prepared with the broader goal of improving school effectiveness measured in terms of equal opportunities for schooling and equitable learning outcomes.

It subsumes the three erstwhile Schemes of

  • Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA),
  • Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) and
  • Teacher Education (TE).

This sector-wide development programme/scheme would also help harmonise the implementation mechanisms and transaction costs at all levels, particularly in using state, district and sub-district level systems and resources

MULLAPERIYAR DAM

Why in news?

  • Increasing the height. 
  • Across river – Periyar – flows in Kerala and TN. 

Backgrounder:

Image result for mullaperiyar dam upsc
  • The Mullaperiyar Dam  is a masonry gravity dam on the Periyar River in Kerala
  • The dam situated at the confluence of the Mullayar and Periyar rivers on the Cardamom Hills of the Western Ghats.
  • It was constructed between 1887 and 1895
  • The Periyar National Park in Thekkady is located around the dam’s reservoir.
  • The dam is located in Kerala on the river Periyar, but is operated and maintained by Tamil Nadu state.
  • Dam was given to British-ruled Madras Presidency on a 999-year lease in 1886.
  • The agreement was renewed in 1970.
  • Tamil Nadu was given rights to the land and the water from the dam as well as the authority to develop hydro-power projects at the site, and Kerala would receive rent in return.

Controversy around it?

  • For Tamil Nadu, the Mullaperiyar dam  waters act as a lifeline for Theni, Madurai, Sivaganga and Ramnad districts, providing water for irrigation and drinking, and also for generation of power in Lower Periyar Power Station.
  • Tamil Nadu has insisted on exercising its unfettered rights to control the dam and its waters, based on the 1886 lease agreement.
  • Kerala has pointed out the unfairness in the 1886 lease agreement and has challenged its validity.
  • However, safety concerns posed by old dam to the safety of the people of Kerala in the event of a dam collapse, have been the focus of disputes from 2009 onwards.
  • Kerala’s proposal for decommissioning the dam and constructing a new one has been challenged by Tamil Nadu.
  • Idukki district, where the dam is located, is earthquake-prone and has experienced multiple low-intensity quakes. So, the dam is situated in a seismically active zone
  • A 2009 report by IIT Roorkee stated that the dam “was likely to face damage if an earthquake of the magnitude of 6.5 on the Richter scale struck its vicinity when the water level is at 136 feet”
  • It poses danger to life and property to people living downstream
  • Three million people living in the vicinity of the reservoir.

Extra coverage:

Image result for mullaperiyar dam upsc

Questions:

  1. Recently, linking of which of the following rivers was undertaken? (CDS I 2018)

(a) Cauvery and Tungabhadra
(b) Godavari and Krishna
(c) Mahanadi and Son
(d) Narmada and Tapti

Answer: (b) Godavari and Krishna

2. Consider the following rivers:

1. Vamsadhara
2. Indravati
3. Pranahita
4. Pennar
Which of the above are tributaries of Godavari?
(a) 1, 2 and 3
(b) 2, 3 and 4
(c) 1, 2 and4
(d) 2 and 3 only

Answer. (d) 2 and 3 only

INTERNAL COMPLAINTS COMMITTEE

The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal  Act, 2013’ mandates all the workplaces having more than 10 workers to constitute Internal Committee (IC) for receiving complaints of sexual harassment

Drawback

There is no centralized mechanism to collect information about complaints filed with Internal Committees.

However, Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India has developed an online complaint management system titled Sexual Harassment electronic–Box (SHe-Box) to facilitate women in registering complaints related to sexual harassment of women at workplace.

About: The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013

It seeks to protect women from sexual harassment at their place of work.

  • This statute superseded the Vishaka Guidelines for prevention of sexual harassment introduced by the Supreme Court of India.
  • It provides safeguards against false or malicious charges.
  • The Act also covers concepts of ‘quid pro quo harassment’ and ‘hostile work environment’ as forms of sexual harassment
  • While the “workplace” in the Vishaka Guidelines is confined to the traditional office set-up where there is a clear employer-employee relationship, the Act goes much further to include any place visited by the employee during the course of employment including the transportation. Even non-traditional workplaces which involve tele-commuting will get covered under this law.
  • Every employer is required to constitute an Internal Complaints Committee at each office or branch with 10 or more employees. The District Officer is required to constitute a Local Complaints Committee at each district, and if required at the block level.
  • The Committee is required to complete the inquiry within a time period of 90 days. On completion of the inquiry, the report will be sent to the employer or the District Officer, as the case may be, they are mandated to take action on the report within 60 days.
  • The Complaints Committees have the powers of civil courts for gathering evidence.
  • The Complaints Committees are required to provide for conciliation before initiating an inquiry, if requested by the complainant.
  • The inquiry process under the Act should be confidential and the Act lays down a penalty of Rs 5000 on the person who has breached confidentiality.
  • The Act requires employers to conduct education and sensitisation programmes and develop policies against sexual harassment, among other obligations.
  • Penalties have been prescribed for employers. Non-compliance with the provisions of the Act shall be punishable with a fine of up to ₹ 50,000. Repeated violations may lead to higher penalties and cancellation of licence or deregistration to conduct business.
  • Government can order an officer to inspect workplace and records related to sexual harassment in any organisation.
  • Under the Act, which also covers students in schools and colleges as well as patients in hospitals, employers and local authorities will have to set up grievance committees to investigate all complaints. Employers who fail to comply will be punished with a fine of up to 50,000 rupees.
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