National Current Affairs – UPSC/KAS Exams- 30th January 2019

Success for golden langur breeding project in Assam


Topic: Environment and Ecology

IN NEWS: Assam Environment and Forest Minister  announced the success of the Golden Langur Conservation Breeding Programme in the State.

More on the Topic:

  • The golden langur conservation project was undertaken at the Assam State Zoo in Guwahati during the 2011-12 fiscal.
  • Funded by the Central Zoo Authority, an isolated and undisturbed site within the zoo was chosen to provide a natural habitat for the primates with a golden coat endemic to Assam.
  • Gee’s golden langur or simply the golden langur, is an Old World monkey found in a small region of western Assam, India[ and in the neighboring foothills of the  Black Mountains of Bhutan. It is one of the most endangered primate species of India.

Source: The Hindu

Swadesh Darshan project


Topic: Government Policies

IN NEWS: Shri. K.J. Alphons, Union Minister for Tourism will be inaugurating the project “Development of North East Circuit: Rangpo– Rorathang- Aritar- Phadamchen- Nathang-Sherathang- Tsongmo- Gangtok-Phodong- Mangan- Lachung-Yumthang- Lachen- Thangu-Gurudongmer- Mangan- Gangtok-Tuminlingee- Singtam” implemented under Swadesh Darshan Scheme of Ministry of Tourism, Government of India.

More on the Topic:

  • The development of Tourism in North Eastern Region being prime area of focus for the Ministry of Tourism, several initiatives for growth of domestic and international tourism in the region has been taken by the Ministry. One of the many challenges region faces in development of tourism is the absence of quality infrastructure, services and awareness about the array of tourism products region has to offer.
  • the Ministry has given great impetus to the tourism infrastructure in the region under its flagship schemes of Swadesh Darshan and PRASHAD.

About Swadesh Darshan Scheme:

  • Government of India, Ministry of Tourism (MoT) launched the Swadesh Darshan Scheme (Central Sector Scheme)– for integrated development of theme based tourist circuits in the country in 2014-15.
  • This scheme is envisioned to synergise with other Government of India schemes like Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Skill India, Make in India etc. with the idea of positioning the tourism sector as a major engine for job creation, driving force for economic growth, building synergy with various sectors to enable tourism to realise its potential.
  • Tourist circuits will be developed on the principles of high tourist value, competitiveness and sustainability in an integrated manner
  • They will be developed by synergizing efforts to focus on concerns and needs of all stakeholders to enrich tourist experience and enhance employment opportunities
  • Under this scheme, 13 thematic circuits have been identified for development
  • They are Buddhist Circuit, North-East India Circuit, Coastal Circuit, Himalayan Circuit, Krishna Circuit, Desert Circuit, Eco Circuit, Wildlife Circuit, Tribal Circuit, Rural Circuit, Spiritual Circuit, Ramayana Circuit and Heritage Circuit
  • The scheme is 100% centrally funded for the project components undertaken for public funding
  • It also leverages Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives of Central Public Sector Undertakings and corporate sector.

About PRASAD Scheme:

  • Aims at integrated development of pilgrimage destinations in planned, prioritised and sustainable manner to provide complete religious tourism experience.
  • It was launched in 2014-15 by Union Ministry of Tourism.
  • It focuses on the development and beautification of the identified pilgrimage destinations.
  • Under it, Ministry of Tourism provides Central Financial Assistance (CFA) to State Governments for promoting tourism at identified destinations.
  • For components within public funding under this scheme, Central Government will provide 100% fund. For improved sustainability of project, it also seeks to involve Public Private Partnership (PPP) and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as wel

Source:The Hindu

Programme For International Student Assessment

Topic: Education/HRD

In news: India is all set to rejoin the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) in 2021 with the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) signing an agreement with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation Development (OECD)

More on the Topic:

  • PISA is an educational outcome measurement systems that tests the performance of 15-year-old school pupils’ scholastic aptitude in mathematics, science, and reading. It then ranks the participating countries. The two-hour computer-based test conducted once in three years is to be taken students who have completed at least six years of formal school education.
  • India had last participated in the exercise in 2009, where the country achieved a low rank of 72 among 74 participating nations. The MHRD under the then United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government had withdrawn from the test and dubbed the questions in the test as “out of context”.
  • India would be participating to the 2021 edition of PISA with students from Kendriya Vidyalayas, Navodaya Vidyalayas, private and public schools of Chandigarh.

About OECD:

  • The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development is an intergovernmental economic organisation with 36 member countries,founded in 1961 to stimulate economic progress and world trade.
  • It is a forum of countries describing themselves as committed to democracy and the market economy, providing a platform to compare policy experiences, seeking answers to common problems, identify good practices and coordinate domestic and international policies of its members.
  • Most OECD members are high-income economies with a very high Human Development Index (HDI) and are regarded as developed countries.

India and the OECD

  • India is one of the many non-member economies with which the OECD has working relationships in addition to its member countries.The OECD has been co-operating with India since 1995.

Source: The Hindu

Delhi To Introduce MSP based on Swaminathan Commission Report

Topic: Agriculture

In news: The Delhi government has decided to introduce Minimum Support Price (MSP) for farmers based on the report of the MS Swaminathan Commission.

More on the Topic:

  • A three-member committee was formed in December to study the MS Swaminathan Commission’s report. The committee has submitted its report. The report will be put before experts for suggestions. Once the MSP is finalised, the government will hold meetings with farmers, seeking their views and thereafter it will be sent to the Cabinet.
  • The commission submitted five reports between December 2004 and October 2006. The fifth and final report is considered the most crucial as it contains suggestions for the agriculture sector as a whole.
  • According to the Report,Farmers need an assured access to and control over basic resources of farming. These include land, water, fertilizers and pesticides, credit and crop insurance. Knowledge of farming technology and markets is also key.
  • Farmers’ concerns and other agriculture-related issues must be implemented in the concurrent list, to make it a high priority for both state and central governments.

Recommendations of the Commission:

  • Distribute ceiling-surplus and wasteland among farmers, prevent the non-agricultural use of farmland, secure grazing rights and seasonal forest access to forest tribals.
  • Establish a National Land Use Advisory Service, which would link land use decisions with ecological and marketing factors of season and geography-specific basis.
  • Reform irrigation resources and its distribution among farmers. Use rainwater harvesting, water level recharging to increase water supply.
  • Spread outreach of institutional credit by reducing crop loan interest rates, provide a moratorium on debt recovery, agricultural risk fund and a separate Kisan Credit Card for women farmers.
  • To address the growing farmer suicides, provide affordable health insurance at primary health centres in rural areas. The recommendations included an extension of national rural health mission to suicide-prone areas. Restructuring of microfinance policies, covering all crops by insurance and social security net for support were also sought.
  • Give farmers a minimum support price at 50% profit above the cost of production classified as C2 by the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP).

Model Mains Question: Analyse the Swaminathan Commission Report on Agriculture. How it will help sustainable agriculture revolution in India?

Source: The Hindu

Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) Fund


Topic: Environment And Ecology

In news: Three former Tata Group executives in partnership with Quantum Advisors will launch a $1 billion Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) Fund.

More on the Topic:

  • The Fund will invest in Indian companies that value the environment, society and corporate governance to the core.
  • The proposed equal joint venture(JV) would mobilise funds from long-term foreign investors such as pension funds, sovereign wealth funds and family offices of high networth individuals (HNIs) who value ESG.
  • The fund will aim to drive higher ESG performance in Indian corporates and it will adopt an engaged, private equity approach to public markets investing, with a focus on working with companies willing to recognize the long-term advantages of actively adopting ESG standards of excellence.
  • There is pressing need for such a fund in India as there are concerns on standards of corporate governance in the country and Indian companies will need to play a central role to help achieve global climate change targets.

Source: The Hindu

Chabahar Port


Topic: International Relations

In news: Afghanistan is all set to ship its first cargo of five containers to India through the Chabahar port within a months time .

More on the Topic:

  • The delivery of the cargo, containing mung beans and weighing about 22 tonne, will be carried out under the International Road Transports (TIR) system. TIR system streamlines procedures at borders and reduces the administrative burden for custom authorities.
  • Iranian Prime Minister’s office release announced that India has formally established shipping lines to Chabahar with the first ship arriving on (27 January).
  • It has been reportedly decided that ships from 3 Indian ports – Mumbai, Kandla and Mundra – will now regularly go to the Iranian port every 2 weeks.

About Chabahar Port:

  • Iran’s Chabahar port is located on the Gulf of Oman and is the only oceanic port of the country. The port gives access to the energy-rich Persian Gulf nations’ southern coast.
  • The Chabahar Agreement was signed in June 2015 and approved by Iran’s Guardian Council in November 2016. Chabahar is being seen as a gateway for trade by India, Iran and Afghanistan with Central Asian countries.
  • The first and foremost significance of the Chabahar port is the fact that India can bypass Pakistan in transporting goods to Afghanistan. Chabahar port will boost India’s access to Iran, the key gateway to the International North-South Transport Corridor that has sea, rail and road routes between India, Russia, Iran, Europe and Central Asia.
  • Chabahar port will be beneficial to India in countering Chinese presence in the Arabian Sea which China is trying to ensure by helping Pakistan develop the Gwadar port. Gwadar port is less than 400 km from Chabahar by road and 100 km by sea.
  • With Chabahar port being developed and operated by India, Iran also becomes a military ally to India. Chabahar could be used in case China decides to flex its navy muscles by stationing ships in Gwadar port to reckon its upper hand in the Indian Ocean, Persian Gulf and Middle East.

Model Mains Question: Why is investing in this port so important for India? What are the strategic implication of doing so?

Source: Swarajya

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