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PIB 24th June

Contents

  1. Commission to examine Sub-Categorization of OBCs
  2. Mali awards contract to NTPC for Solar Park
  3. Interest Subvention approved for Shishu Loans: PMMY
  4. Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund
  5. Reforms initiated in the Space sector
  6. Annual TB Report 2020
  7. New biomolecules to fight drug resistance in Kala- azar

COMMISSION TO EXAMINE SUB-CATEGORIZATION OF OBCS

Focus: GS-II Social Justice

Why in news?

The Union Cabinet has approved the extension of the term of the Commission to examine the issue of Sub-categorization of Other Backward Classes.

Commission for sub-categorization of OBCs

  • G. Rohini Commission is constituted to examine the issue of Sub-categorization of Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in Central List.
  • The commission has been established under Article 340 of Constitution.
  • This is the first government-mandated exercise to quantify the skewed flow of benefits among different OBC communities and suggest steps to correct the imbalance.
  • The Commission had clarified its stand on fixing OBC quotas based on current representation in reserved seats, and not on social hierarchy.

Functions of the Commission:

  1. The commission will examine extent of inequitable distribution of benefits of reservation among castes included in broad category of OBCs.
  2. It will also take up exercise of identifying respective castes/sub-castes/communities synonyms in Central List of OBCs and classify them into their respective sub-categories.
  3. It will work out mechanism, norms, criteria and parameters, in scientific approach, for sub-categorization within such OBCs.

History of Sub-categorization

  • The First Backward Class Commission report of 1955, also known as the Kalekar report, had proposed sub-categorisation of OBCs into backward and extremely backward communities.
  • In 2015, former National Commission for OBCs asked for sub-categorisation within OBCs into Extremely Backward Classes (Group A), More Backward Classes (Group B) and Backward Classes (Group C).
  • Presently, ten states, including Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Haryana, Jharkhand, Bihar, West Bengal, Maharashtra, and Jammu, have sub-categorised OBCs.
  • The criteria used by the states were various, including the ascribed status such as denotified, nomadic or semi-nomadic tribes, the religion of a community, caste status before conversion to Christianity or Islam, and perceived status socially or traditional occupation.

Importance and Need of Sub-categorisation

  • Sub-categorisation of OBCs aims to ensure more equitable distribution of reservations in government jobs and educational institutions.
  • Sub-categorisation is important to ensure that dominant groups among OBCs do not corner all benefits.
  • Five-year data on OBC quota implementation in central jobs and higher educational institutions showed that a very small section has cornered the lion’s share.
  • In the past under article 340, Mandal commission was appointed had recommended 27% reservation for socially and educationally backward classes.
  • At present, there is no sub-categorisation and 27% reservation is a rigid and uniform entity.
  • This Commission will address the inefficiency in preventing large sections of the creamy layer from taking advantage of the quota system to the detriment of the poorer sections among their own caste groups in the past.

Article 340

The President may by order appoint a Commission to investigate the conditions of socially and educationally backward classes within the territory of India, and the difficulties under which they labour. The commission is mandated to make recommendations as to the steps that should be taken by the union or any state to remove such difficulties and as to improve their condition.


MALI AWARDS CONTRACT TO NTPC FOR SOLAR PARK

Focus: GS-II International Relations, Prelims

Why in news?

  • Republic of Mali has awarded Project Management Consultancy contract to National Thermal Power Corporation Limited (NTPC) for development of 500 MW Solar Park.
  • The contract was awarded in an event chaired by Minister of State for Power, Skill Development and President of International Solar Alliance (ISA).

International Solar Alliance (ISA)

  • The International Solar Alliance (ISA) is an alliance of 121 countries initiated by India, most of them being sunshine countries, which lie either completely or partly between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn.
  • It is headquartered in India.
  • The focus is on solar power utilization.
  • The primary objective of the alliance is to work for efficient exploitation of solar energy to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.
  • This initiative was first proposed by Indian Prime Minister, and was announced during COP21 held in Paris in 2015.
  • The alliance is a treaty-based inter-governmental organization. Countries that do not fall within the Tropics can join the alliance and enjoy all benefits as other members, with the exception of voting rights.
  • After the United Nations, it is the largest grouping of states world-wide.

Mali’s efforts

  • The Republic of Mali has been taking various initiatives towards energy security of the country, especially to increase access to electricity for its citizens, with a focus on solar power and applications.
  • Development of Solar Projects in Mali will make a considerable impact in socio-economic growth of Mali.
  • Mali and neighbouring Countries:

INTEREST SUBVENTION APPROVED FOR SHISHU LOANS: PMMY

Focus: GS-II Social Justice

Why in news?

Union Cabinet approved a scheme for interest subvention of 2% for a period of 12 months, to all Shishu loan accounts under Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY) to eligible borrowers.

Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana (PMMY)

  • The Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana (PMMY) is a scheme launched by the Union Government in 2015 for providing loans upto Rs. 10 lakh to the non-corporate, non-farm small/micro enterprises.
  • Under PMMY, all banks including Non-Banking Finance Companies (NBFCs)/Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs), re required to lend to non-farm sector income generating activities below Rs.10 lakh, are classified as MUDRA loans under PMMY.
  • For implementing the Scheme, government has set up a new institution named, MUDRA (Micro Units Development & Refinance Agency Ltd.) for development and refinancing activities relating to micro units, in addition to acting as a regulator for the micro finance sector, in general.

Loan offerings under PMMY

  1. Shishu: covering loans upto Rs. 50,000/- provided with no collateral, at 1% rate of interest/month repayable over a period of 5 years
  2. Kishor: covering loans above Rs.50,000/- and upto Rs. 5 lakh
  3. Tarun:   covering loans above Rs. 5 lakh to Rs. 10 lakh

ANIMAL HUSBANDRY INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT FUND

Focus: GS-III Agriculture

Why in news?

In pursuance of recently announced Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan stimulus package, Cabinet approved setting up of Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund (AHIDF).

Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund (AHIDF)

  • The AHIDF approved today would incentive infrastructure investments in dairy, meat processing and animal feed plants.
  • The eligible beneficiaries under the Scheme would be Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs), MSMEs, Section 8 Companies, Private Companies and individual entrepreneur with only 10% margin money contribution by them.
  • The balance 90% would be the loan component to be made available to them by scheduled banks.
  • Government of India will provide 3% interest subvention to eligible beneficiaries.

Benefits of AHIDF

  • The AHIDF with the interest subvention scheme for private investors will ensure availability of capital to meet upfront investment required for these projects and also help enhance overall returns/ pay back for investors. Such investments in processing and value addition infrastructure by eligible beneficiaries would also promote exports.
  • Since almost 50-60% of the final value of dairy output in India flows back to farmers, the growth in this sector can have significant direct impact on farmer’s income.
  • Size of dairy market and farmers’ realization from milk sales is closely linked with development of organized off-take by cooperative and private dairies.

REFORMS INITIATED IN THE SPACE SECTOR

Focus: GS-III Science and Technology

Why in news?

Union Cabinet approved far reaching reforms in the Space sector aimed at boosting private sector participation in the entire range of space activities.

Highlights

  • Space sector can play a major catalytic role in the technological advancement and expansion of our Industrial base.
  • The proposed reforms will enhance the socio-economic use of space assets and activities, including through improved access to space assets, data and facilities.
  • With these reforms, the space sector will receive new energy and dynamism, to help the country leapfrog to the next stages of space activities.
  • The newly created Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Centre (IN-SPACe) will provide a level playing field for private companies to use Indian space infrastructure.
  • It will also hand-hold, promote and guide the private industries in space activities through encouraging policies and a friendly regulatory environment.
  • The Public Sector Enterprise ‘New Space India Limited (NSIL)’ will endeavour to re-orient space activities from a ‘supply driven’ model to a ‘demand driven’ model, thereby ensuring optimum utilization of our space assets.

Highlights of Space Sector and Privatisation from the Economic Survey 2020

  • India’s government space expenditure still lags behind that of the major players in the space sector, such as the USA, which spent about 13 times more than India in the space sector in 2018.
  • China, which has become a key player in the space sector in recent years, also spent about seven times more than India in 2018.

ISRO has been pursuing the policy of engaging Indian industries in delivering space-related goods and services, especially in light of the growing number of satellite and launch vehicle missions and application programmes.

In this direction, the following areas have been identified for attracting private investments in the space sector:

  1. Production of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV):
  2. Satellite integration and assembly;
  3. Production of composite materials;
  4. Production of solid, liquid, cryogenic and semi-cryogenic propellants; and
  5. Production of electronic packages, Testing & Evaluation for avionics and satellite subsystems.
GOVERNMENT BUDGET FOR SPACE SECTOR IN 2018 
CountryExpenditure (US$ billion)
1. USA (NASA)19.5
2. China (CNSA)11.0
3. Russia (Roskosmos)3.3
4. India (ISRO)1.5

ANNUAL TB REPORT 2020

Focus: GS-III Science and Technology

Why in news?

Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare released the annual TB Report 2020, along with a Joint Monitoring Mission (JMM) report, a manual on Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) to TB patients under NIKSHAY system, a Training Module, and the quarterly newsletter NIKSHAY Patrika.

The key achievements listed in the Report

  • 2019 has amounted to a 14% increase in TB notification as compared to the year 2018.
  • A near-complete on-line notification of TB patients through the NIKSHAY system has been achieved.
  • Reduction in the number of missing cases to 2.9 lakh cases as against more than 10 lakhs in 2017 has been achieved.
  • Expansion of treatment services has resulted in a 12% improvement in the treatment success rate of notified patients.

NIKSHAY also expanded the provision of four Direct Benefit Transfers (DBT) schemes of the programme –

  1. Nikshay Poshan Yojana (NPY) to TB patients
  2. The incentive to Treatment Supporters
  3. Incentive to Private Providers and
  4. Transport incentive to TB patients in the notified tribal areas

Other Details

  • Revised National Tuberculosis Control Program (RNTCP) has been renamed to National Tuberculosis Elimination Program (NTEP).
  • India is committed to achieving the SDG goal of eliminating TB in the country by 2025, five years ahead of the Global Target at 2030.
  • The salient feature of this year is that for the first time Central TB Division (CTD) introduced a quarterly ranking on TB elimination efforts by all the states and UTs.

Nikshay Poshan Yojana (NPY)

  • Nikshay Poshan Yojana (NPY) is a direct benefit transfer (DBT) scheme for nutritional support to Tuberculosis (TB) patients rolled out by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
  • The scheme is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme under National Health Mission (NHM).
  • This scheme is implemented across all States and UTs in India.
  • All TB patients, including all existing TB patients under treatment are eligible to receive incentives.

Note: The scheme is not related to Poshan Mission which is an initiative of Ministry of Women and Child Development.

Tuberculosis

  • Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease usually caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) bacteria.
  • Tuberculosis generally affects the lungs, but can also affect other parts of the body.
  • Most infections do not have symptoms, in which case it is known as latent tuberculosis.
  • The bacteria that cause TB are spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
  • In 15–20% of active cases, the infection spreads outside the lungs, causing other kinds of TB.

NEW BIOMOLECULES TO FIGHT DRUG RESISTANCE IN KALA- AZAR

Focus: GS-III Science and Technology

Why in news?

A team of researchers designed peptides and were the first to have shown allosteric modulation of transporter proteins of Leishmania using computationally-designed synthetic peptides.

Leishmaniasis

Leishmaniasis is a neglected tropical disease affecting almost 100 countries including India. It is caused by a parasite called Leishmania, which is transmitted through the bite of sand flies.

There are three main forms of leishmaniasis –

  1. Visceral, which affects multiple organs and is the most serious form of the disease,
  2. Cutaneous, which causes skin sores and is the most common form);
  3. Mucocutaneous, which causes skin and mucosal lesion).

Visceral leishmaniasis

  • Visceral leishmaniasis, which is commonly known as Kala-azar in India is the most severe form of leishmaniasis and, without proper diagnosis and treatment, is associated with high fatality.
  • The parasite migrates to the internal organs such as the liver, spleen (hence “visceral”), and bone marrow, and, if left untreated, will almost always result in the death of the host.
  • Signs and symptoms include fever, weight loss, fatigue, anemia, and substantial swelling of the liver and spleen.
  • This disease is the second-largest parasitic killer in the world (after malaria).
  • Kala-Azar is fatal in over 95% of the cases, if left untreated.
  • The only drug available against leishmaniasis, miltefosine, is rapidly losing its effectiveness because of emerging resistance to this drug due to a decrease in its accumulation inside the parasite, which is necessary for the drug to kill the parasite.
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