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Prelims Booster

16th July – Prelims Booster

World Youth Skills Day

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the occasion of World Youth Skills Day which is celebrated on 15 July has delivered a video address.

The Skill India Mission was launched 5 years ago on this day. Therefore, the day marks the 5th anniversary of the launch of Skill India Mission. Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship organised a digital conclave to mark the occasion.

About ‘Skill India Mission’ –

  • The chief objective of the Skill India Mission is to provide market-relevant skills training to more than 40 crore young people in the country by the year 2022.
  • The mission intends to create opportunities and space for the development of talents in Indian youth.
  • It aims to develop those sectors which have been put under skill development for the last many years, and also to recognise new sectors for skill development.
  • The focus is on improving the employability of the youth so that they get employment and also enhances entrepreneurship among them.
  • The mission offers training, guidance and support for all traditional types of employment like weavers, cobblers, carpenters, welders, masons, blacksmiths, nurses, etc.
  • New domains will also be emphasised on such as real estate, transportation, construction, gem industry, textiles, banking, jewellery designing, tourism and other sectors where the level of skill is inadequate.
  • Training imparted would be of international standards so that India’s youth get jobs not only in India but also abroad where there is demand.
  • An important feature is the creation of a new hallmark ‘Rural India Skill’.
  • Customised need-based programmes would be started for specific age groups in communication, life and positive thinking skills, language skills, behavioural skills, management skills, etc.
  • The course methodology would also not be unconventional and would be innovative. It would involve games, brainstorming sessions, group discussions, case studies and so on.
  • There are several sub-schemes under the ‘Skill India Mission’ – Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana, National Skill Development Mission, National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Pradhan Mantri Yuva Udyamitra Vikas Abhiyan, Apprenticeship Protsahan Yojana etc.

About World Youth Skills Day –

  • Every year World Youth Skills Day (WYSD) is celebrated on 15 July to recognise the strategic importance of equipping young people with the skills of employment, decent work, and entrepreneurship. The day also highlights the important role of skilled youth in addressing current and future global challenges.
  • 15 July is declared as World Youth Skills Day by adopting a resolution by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2014. The main aim of the day is to achieve better socio-economic conditions for today’s youth in terms of challenges of unemployment and under-employment.
  • On December 18, 2014, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted a resolution, by consensus that was earlier spearheaded by Sri Lanka, and declared July 15 as the World Youth Skills Day. Sri Lanka initiated this resolution, with the assistance of the G77 & China, in order to highlight the importance of youth skills development at a global level.
  • The theme for 2020 World Youth Skills Day is “Skills for a Resilient Youth”.

Disturbing facts –

  • Globally, one in five young people are NEET: Not in Employment, Education or Training. Three out of four of young NEETs are women.
  • While the youth population grew by 139 million between 1997 and 2017, the youth labour force shrank by 58.7 million.
  • Almost two out of five young workers in emerging and developing economies live on less than US$3.10 a day.
  • Prior to current crisis, young people were three times as likely as adults (25 years and older) to be unemployed. Currently, more than 1 in 6 young people are out of work due to COVID-19
  • Blending distance learning with practical skills development has proved effective in TVET for more than 100 years. For example, in 1910, in response to an urgent need following a typhoid epidemic, Australia introduced its first distance TVET courses to train health inspectors by correspondence while they worked.

Pneumococcal Polysaccharide Conjugate Vaccine

Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) has given approval to the first fully indigenously developed Pneumococcal Polysaccharide Conjugate Vaccine. This vaccine has been developed by M/s. Serum Institute of India Pvt. Ltd, Pune. Serum Institute first obtained the approval of DCGI to conduct Phase I, Phase II and Phase III clinical trials of Pneumococcal Polysaccharide Conjugate Vaccine in India.

This vaccine is used for active immunisation against invasive disease and pneumonia caused by “Streptococcus pneumonia” in infants.  The vaccine is administered in a intramuscular manner.

What are pneumococcal infections?

  • The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) and the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23) protect against pneumococcal infections.
  • The bacteria that cause these infections spread through person-to-person contact. They can lead to serious infections like pneumonia, blood infections, and bacterial meningitis.
  • Polysaccharide protein conjugate vaccines are primarily used for the prevention of bacterial infections. Some pathogenic bacteria are covered with a polysaccharide capsule that primarily helps protect the bacteria from phagocytosis, or uptake of the bacteria by immune cells.

About Streptococcus Pneumonia –

  • Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus) is a Gram-positive bacterium that is responsible for the majority of community-acquired pneumonia. It is a commensal organism in the human respiratory tract, meaning that it benefits from the human body, without harming it.
  • However, in susceptible individuals with weaker immune systems, such as the elderly and young children, the bacterium may become pathogenic and spread to other locations to cause disease. 
  • Many people carry the bacteria in their nose and throat without becoming ill. Streptococcus pneumoniae is spread from person to person by inhaling or direct exposure to the bacteria droplets through coughing or sneezing from an infected person.
  • The contagious period varies and may last for as long as the organism is present in the nose and throat. A person can no longer spread S. pneumoniae after taking the proper antibiotics for 1-2 days.

About Drug Controller General of India –

  • DCGI is responsible for approval of licences of specified categories of drugs such as blood and blood products, IV fluids, vaccines and sera in India.
  • It comes under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.

Azad Pattan Hydel Project

Recently, Pakistan and China have signed an agreement for the 700MW Azad Pattan hydel power project on the Jhelum river in Sudhoti district of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.

Details –

  • The $ 1.5-billion project is the second power project under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), for which an agreement has been signed in the recent times.
  • The first agreement, for the 1,100 MW Kohala project, was signed on June 23. That project, worth $ 2.3 billion, too will come up on the Jhelum near Muzaffarabad.

Azad Pattan hydel project –

  • According to the EPC (Engineer, Procurement and Contract) agreement, the project is a run-of-the-river scheme with a reservoir located near Muslimabad village, 7 km upstream from the Azad Pattan bridge, in district Sudhnoti, one of the eight districts of PoK.
  • According to the details in the 2017 agreement, the construction of the project, which was first proposed in 2002, will take 69 months, and the project will be commissioned by 2024. The project will comprise a 90-metre-high dam, with a 3.8 sq km reservoir.
  • The project was cleared in June 2016 by the government of PoK through Private Power Infrastructure Board – a single-window facilitator created by Pakistan’s government in 1994 to promote private investment in power projects – which nominated Power Universal Co. Ltd., which is wholly owned and controlled by the China Gezhouba group, a Chinese state-owned multinational corporation, as the main sponsor and initial shareholder. The JV will develop the project on the ‘build, own, operate, transfer’ (BOOT) model. The project will be transferred to the government of Pakistan after 30 years.
  • The Azad Pattan project is one of five hydropower schemes on the Jhelum. Upstream from Azad Pattan are the Mahl, Kohala, and Chakothi Hattian projects; Karot is downstream. Like Kohala and Azad Pattan, Karot too, is being developed under the CPEC framework.

EU-India BTIA

Seven years after talks on a free trade agreement were suspended, India and the European Union are set to agree on a “high-level dialogue on trade and investment” to restart negotiations.

The trade and investment dialogue, to be conducted between Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal and EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan, is expected to give a boost to negotiations on the Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) as the EU-India FTA is known.

Some facts on India-EU trade relationship –

  • The EU is India’s largest trading partner, accounting for €85 billion (95 billion USD) worth of trade in goods in 2017 or 13.1% of total India trade, ahead of China (11.4%) and the USA (9.5%).
  • India and the EU are in the process of negotiating a bilateral Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) since 2007.
  • Even after a decade of negotiations, India and EU have failed to resolve certain issues which have led to a deadlock. As of late, both sides are discussing the modalities of resumption of BTIA talks on a fast track.

Issues – 

  • India’s pitch for a ‘data secure’ status (important for India’s IT sector specially in lieu of new GDPR regulations) as well as to ease norms on temporary movement of skilled workers.
  • EU’s demands on elimination of India’s duties on goods such as automobiles and wines and spirits.
  • EU is keen on finalisation of an India-EU Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) before the re-launch of the FTA talks.
  • EU wants India to liberalise accountancy and legal services (foreign legal firms cannot operate in India yet).
  • India wants to make ‘investment protection’ a part of the negotiations on the proposed comprehensive FTA.
  • Other issues – Labour standards; Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) issues; Complex system of quotas/tariffs; Environmental issues, etc.

Tatya Tope

The Government of Maharashtra has informed the Bombay High Court that more than ₹2.5 crore had already been spent on the construction of a national monument of the general Tatya Tope at Yeola in Nashik district.

What is the issue?

  • The Bombay High Court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by a social worker Anand Gulabrao Shinde, who is involved in various activities in Yeola taluka.
  • The PIL sought a direction to authorities to change the place sanctioned for the monument from Yeola taluka to a plot in Angangaon village in Yevla tehsil of the same district, which belongs to the Irrigation department.
  • On June 30, the HC declined to provide an interim relief on the belated approach of Mr. Shinde and said 50% of the construction work of the monument had already been completed. In the year 2018, the State ministry of tourism and cultural affairs approved the proposal for building the monument. The Central government has sanctioned funds to the extent of 75% of the estimated cost while the rest will be borne by the State.

About Tatya Tope –

  • Tatya Tope was born Ramachandra Panduranga in the year 1814 in Nasik district, Maharashtra.
  • His father, Pandurang Rao, was a noble in the court of the Maratha Peshwa Baji Rao II. Tope got acquainted with the Peshwa’s adopted son Nana Saheb and the two became close friends. They were also associates in the 1857 Revolt against the British.
  • Tatya Tope adopted the surname ‘Tope’ which means commanding officer. It is derived from the Hindi word for canon.
  • He played an active part in the rebellion at Kanpur and then at Gwalior, where he came to the aid of Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi.
  • He had captured Kanpur in 1857 with remarkable skill and established Nana Saheb’s authority there. However, at the Second Battle of Cawnpore, the British managed to recapture the city forcing Tope to retreat.
  • After this, he went to Gwalior to join the rebels there. He operated from Narmada, Sagar, etc. and dodged the British for a while.
  • He stayed with the Raja of Narwar, Man Singh for some time. However, the Raja had a troubled relationship with the ruler of Gwalior and the British were able to take advantage of this. Man Singh betrayed the trust that Tope had in him and this led to the arrest of Tope from the forest region at Paron, where he had been camping. The British tried him at a court at Shivpuri and executed him on 18 April 1859.

HOPE – UAE’s first Mission to Mars

The launch of the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) first mission to Mars has been delayed by two days due to bad weather conditions. The UAE’s Hope spacecraft was scheduled to take off from its launch site, Tanegashima Space Centre, in Japan on July 14. The mission is now scheduled for July 16 launch.

What is this mission?

  • The Emirates Mars Mission called “Hope” was announced in 2015 with the aim of creating mankind’s first integrated model of the Red planet’s atmosphere.
  • Hope weighs over 1500 kg, and will carry scientific instruments mounted on one side of the spacecraft, including the Emirates eXploration Imager (EXI), which is a high-resolution camera, the Emirates Mars Ultraviolet Spectrometer (EMUS), a far-UV imaging spectrograph, the Emirates Mars InfraRed Spectrometer (EMIRS), and FTIR scanning spectrometer.
  • The spacecraft will orbit Mars to study the Martian atmosphere and its interaction with outer space and solar winds. Hope will collect data on Martian climate dynamics, which should help scientists understand why Mars’ atmosphere is decaying into space.
  • Hope is the Arab world’s first mission to Mars. Apart from the UAE, US, China and the European Space Agency have future missions to Mars planned. According to the Planetary Society, Mars has historically been “unfriendly” to Earth’s attempts to visit it and more missions have been planned to reach Mars than any other planet or place in the solar system, barring the Moon.

Unified Gas Pricing System

Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas, Dharmendra Pradhan has said that the government is planning to rationalise tariffs for the transportation of natural gas to boost its consumption in the country.

What is being planned?

The Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) has also published a discussion paper on moving from a system where buyers of gas are charged for every pipeline they use in the system to a single charge across a pipeline network. The proposal, the government says, is part of a larger effort by it to boost the share of natural gas in India’s energy basket from around 6 per cent currently to 25 per cent by 2030.

How tariffs are decided currently?

  • Currently, tariffs for transportation of gas are set by the PNGRB separately for each pipeline based on the assumptions of volume of gas transported on the pipeline and its operating life aimed at providing the operator a pre-tax return of 18%.
  • Tariffs for pipeline usage are divided into zones of 300km, with the tariff increasing for zones further away from the point where gas is injected. Further, if a buyer needs multiple pipelines even from the same operator, that transport tariff would increase.

What is the issue?

  • These tariffs increase the cost for buyers of gas further away from the point of injection of natural gas. All of India’s imported natural gas arrives at terminals on the west coast leading to costs for buyers increasing, the further east they are located.
  • The transport cost accounts or as much as 10% of the final cost of gas to an industry currently because of low international prices but usually accounts for around 2-3% of the price of natural gas. This cost would increase significantly for buyers of gas in far flung areas of the country because of the current gas transport tariffs.

What is proposed?

  • The government is aiming to cut down the cost of transportation of natural gas by setting a fixed tariff for longer distances to boost consumption.
  • The government is proposing a unified price system with one price for those transporting gas nearby within 300 km and one price for those transporting gas beyond 300km.
  • The move would fix tariff prices within an integrated pipeline network such as that of GAIL, which has India’s largest gas transportation pipeline network in the country preventing buyers from having to pay charges for the use of multiple pipelines.

Another fallout –

  • The cost of gas transportation for oil marketing companies such as Indian Oil corporation and fertiliser plants that are closer to the points of gas injection may go up if the government lowers rates for transportation of gas to areas farther away from points of supply.
  • GAIL would hope that the average tariff per unit of gas transported will not be very different from current tariffs, and experts say that the company would hope for increased utilisation as demand for gas increases. GAIL had also proposed a system with a unified tariff to boost gas consumption.

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