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Prelims Booster

13th October – Prelims Booster

Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog

Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog has started a nationwide campaign to celebrate “Kamdhenu Deepawali Abhiyan” this year on the occasion of Deepawali festival.

Details –

  • Through this campaign, the RKA is promoting extensive use of cow-dung/ Panchgavya products during the Diwali Festival.
  • Manufacture of Cow dung based Diyas, Candles, Dhoop, Agarbatti, Shubh-Labh, Swastik, Samrani, Hardboard, Wall-piece, Paper-weight, Havan samagri, Idols of Lord Ganesha and Goddess Lakshmi for this year’s Diwali festival has already started.
  • RKA aims reaching 11 crore families to ignite 33 crore Diyas made of cow-dung during this year’s Deepawali festival.
  • The feedback received so far is very encouraging and approximately 3 lakh Diyas will be ignited in the holy city of Ayodhya alone, 1 lakh Diyas will be lit in holy city of Varanasi.

Significance –

  • Apart from generating business opportunities to thousands of cow-based entrepreneurs/farmers/ women entrepreneurs, the use of cow-dung products will lead to cleaner and healthier environment.
  • It will help in making Gaushalas ‘Atma Nirbhar’ too. By providing an environment friendly alternative to Chinese made Diyas, the campaign will boost up Make in India vision and mission of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and also promote ‘Swadeshi’ movement while reducing environmental damage.

About Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog –

  • Union Finance Minister in 2019’s interim budget had announced that Rs 750 crore would be allocated for the Rashtriya Gokul Mission. Under the scheme, a ‘Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog’ would be set up.
  • The Aayog will work in collaboration with Veterinary, Animal Sciences or Agriculture University or departments or organisations of the Central/State Government engaged in the task of research in the field of breeding and rearing of cow, organic manure, biogas etc.
  • It will take up scientific activities for genetic upgradation and increasing productivity of cows.
  • It will provide the policy framework and direction to the cow conservation and development programmes in the country and for ensuring proper implementation of laws with respect to the welfare of cows.

Financial Stimulus

Union Minister for Finance Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman here today announced measures of Rs 73,000 crore to stimulate consumer spending in the economy in an effort to fight the slowdown due to COVID-19 pandemic following lockdown.

Proposals by the Finance Minister –

The proposals presented today by the Finance Minister are designed to stimulate spending in a fiscally prudent manner as some of the proposals are for advancing or front-loading of expenditure with offsetting changes later while others are directly linked to increase in GDP.

  1. LTC Cash Voucher Scheme –
  • Under LTC Cash Voucher Scheme, the Government has decided to give cash payment to employees in lieu of one LTC during 2018-21, in which full payment on Leave encashment and tax-free payment of LTC fare in 3 flat-rate slabs depending on class of entitlement will be given.
  • An employee, opting for this scheme, will be required to buy goods / services worth 3 times the fare and 1 time the leave encashment before 31st March 2021.The items bought should be those attracting GST of 12% or more. Only digital transactions are allowed, GST Invoice to be produced.
  • The biggest incentive for employees to avail the LTC Cash Voucher Scheme is that in a four-year block ending in 2021, the LTC not availed will lapse, instead, this will encourage employees to avail of this facility to buy goods which can help their families.
  • Estimated cost of LTC Cash Voucher Scheme: For Central govt. : ₹ 5,675 crore; for PSBs & PSUs: ₹ 1,900 crore.

2. Special Festival Advance Scheme –

  • Special Festival Advance Scheme which was meant for non-gazetted government employees is being revived as a one-time measure, for gazetted employees too.
  • All central govt. employees can now get interest-free advance of Rs. 10,000, in the form of a prepaid RuPay Card, to be spent by March 31, 2021.
  • The one-time disbursement of Special Festival Advance Scheme is expected to amount to Rs. 4,000 crore; if given by all state governments, another Rs. 8,000 crore is expected to be disbursed. Employees can spend this on any festival.

3. Capital Expenditure Boost for States –

  • A special interest-free 50-year loan to states is being issued, for ₹12,000 crore capital expenditure –
    • ₹ 200 crore each for 8 North East States
    • ₹ 450 crore each for Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh
    • ₹ 7,500 crore for remaining states, as per share of Finance Commission’s devolution 
  • All the above interest-free loans given to states are to be spent by March 31, 2021; 50% will be given initially, remaining upon utilisation of first 50%.
  • Under Part 3 of ₹ 12,000 crore interest-free loans to states, ₹ 2,000 crore will be given to those states which fulfil at least 3 out of 4 reforms spelled out in Aatma Nirbhar Bharat package. This is over and above other borrowing ceilings.

4. Capital Expenditure Boost for the Centre –

Additional budget of ₹ 25,000 crore (in addition to ₹ 4.13 lakh crore given in Budget 2020-‘21) is being provided for capital expenditure on roads, defence, water supply, urban development and domestically produced capital equipment.

Blue Flag Certification

It is a proud moment for India as 8 beaches of India, spread across five states and two union territories, have been awarded the “BLUE FLAG” by an International Jury comprising of eminent members viz UNEP, UNWTO, FEE, IUCN.

Details –

  • The beaches that have been awarded the ‘BLUE FLAG” are Shivrajpur (Dwarka-Gujarat), Ghoghla (Diu), Kasarkod and Padubidri (Karnataka), Kappad (Kerala), Rushikonda (AP), Golden (Puri-Odisha) and Radhanagar (A&N Islands).
  • India has also been awarded a 3rd Prize by the International Jury under the “International Best Practices” for pollution control in coastal regions.
  • It is an outstanding feat considering that no ‘Blue Flag’ nation has ever been awarded for 8 beaches in a single attempt.
  • India is also the first country in “Asia-Pacific” region which has achieved this feat in just about 2 years’ time. Japan, South Korea and UAE are the only other Asian nations who have been conferred with a couple of Blue Flag beaches, however, in a time frame of about 5 to 6 years.

BEAMS Programme –

  • Society for Integrated Coastal Management (SICOM), MoEFCC in pursuit of promoting its policies for sustainable development in coastal regions have embarked upon a highly acclaimed program “BEAMS” (Beach Environment & Aesthetics Management Services) under its ICZM (Integrated Coastal Zone Management) project.
  • This is one of the several other projects of Integrated Coastal Zone Management that Government of India is undertaking for the sustainable development of coastal regions, striving for globally recognised and the coveted eco-label ‘Blue flag”.
  • The objective of BEAMS program is to abate pollution in coastal waters, promote sustainable development of beach facilities, protect & conserve coastal ecosystems & natural resources, and seriously challenge local authorities & stakeholders to strive and maintain high standards of cleanliness, hygiene & safety for beachgoers in accordance with coastal environment & regulations. This program promotes beach recreation in absolute harmony with nature.
  • It is Indias own eco-label.

About ‘Blue Flag’ certification –

  • The ‘Blue Flag’ beach is an ‘eco-tourism model’ and marks out beaches as providing tourists and beachgoers clean and hygienic bathing water, facilities/amenities, a safe and healthy environment, and sustainable development of the area.
  • The Blue Flag Programme for beaches and marinas is run by the international, non-governmental, non-profit organisation FEE (the Foundation for Environmental Education).
  • The Blue Flag Programme started in France (by the Foundation for Environmental Education) in 1985 and has been implemented in Europe since 1987, and in areas outside Europe since 2001, when South Africa joined.
  • Forty-seven countries currently participate in the program, and 4,573 beaches, marinas, and boats have this certification.
  • Spain tops the list with 566 such beaches; Greece and France follow with 515 and 395, respectively.

RTI Act

Fifteen years after the Right to Information (RTI) Act came into force, more than 2.2 lakh cases are pending at the Central and State Information Commissions, which are the final courts of appeal under the transparency law.

The increasing backlog is exacerbated by the fact that most commissions are functioning at a reduced capacity, including the Central Information Commission (CIC), which has been headless since August.

What does the statistics say?

  • A report card brought out by the Satark Nagrik Sangathan and the Centre for Equity Studies to mark the 15th anniversary of RTI found that Maharashtra had the highest number of pending appeals, with over 59,000 cases, followed by Uttar Pradesh (47,923) and the CIC (35,653).
  • At the current rate of disposal, the Odisha commission would take more than seven years to dispose of all pending complaints, while the CIC would take more than two years, the report said.
  • Odisha is functioning with just four commissioners, while Rajasthan has only three. Jharkhand and Tripura have no commissioners at all, and have been defunct for months. The CIC has no chief, and only five commissioners.
  • Under the law, every commission should have a chief and up to 10 commissioners.
  • The analysis also found that government officials face hardly any punishment for violating the law. Analysing data from 16 commissions in 2019-20, the report found that penalties were imposed in only 2.2% of cases that were disposed of, despite previous analysis showing a rate of about 59% violations which should have triggered the process of penalty imposition.

About Central Information Commission  –

  • Under the provision of Section-12 of RTI Act 2005 the Central Government shall, by notification in the Official Gazette, constitute a body to be known as the Central Information Commission.
  • Composition: The Central Information Commission shall consist of the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) and such number of Central Information Commissioners not exceeding 10 as may be deemed necessary.
  • Appointment – Section 12(3) of the RTI Act 2005 provides as follows – The Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners shall be appointed by the President on the recommendation of a committee consisting of – The Prime Minister, who shall be the Chairperson of the committee; The Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha; and a Union Cabinet Minister to be nominated by the Prime Minister.
  • Eligibility – Section 12(5) of the RTI Act 2005 provides that the Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners shall be persons of eminence in public life with wide knowledge and experience in law, science and technology, social service, management, journalism, mass media or administration and governance. Section 12(6) of the RTI Act 2005 provides that Chief Information Commissioner or an Information Commissioner shall not be a Member of Parliament or Member of the Legislature of any State or Union Territory as the case may be, or hold any other office of profit or connected with any political party or carrying on any business or pursuing any profession.
  • Term duration and service conditions – Section 13 of the RTI Act 2005 provides that the Chief Information Commissioner shall hold office for a term of five years from the date on which he enters upon his office and shall not be eligible for reappointment. Section 13(5)(a) of the RTI Act 2005 provides that the salaries and allowances payable to and other terms and conditions of service of the Chief Information Commissioner shall be the same as that of the Chief Election Commissioner.

About RTI Act –

  • Article 19(1) of the Indian Constitution specifies that the Right to Information (RTI) is a part of the fundamental rights. It says that every citizen has freedom of speech and expression.
  • In 1976, in the Raj Narain vs the State of UP, it was held by the Supreme Court that people cannot speak unless they know. Hence the Right to Information is embedded in Article 19. It was also said in the same case that the in the Indian democracy, people are the masters which give them the right to know about the functioning of the government. RTI Act provides machinery for exercising this fundamental right.
  • As per the RTI Act 2005, every citizen has the right to receive a timely response from the government for any information that is sought by them with respect to the functioning of the government.

Beaten or broken: Informality and COVID-19

The World Bank in its latest South Asia report titled “Beaten or broken: Informality and COVID-19” has said that extended closure of schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic could dent India’s future earnings by anywhere between $420 billion and $600 billion, as depleted learning levels of students will translate into poorer productivity going forward, the World Bank has said.

Findings of the report – 

  • Warning that as many as 5.5 million students could drop out of schools across South Asia, the bank has said dropouts, combined with substantial learning losses for those who remain enrolled in schools, would cost South Asia as much as $622 billion in future earnings and gross domestic product.
  • This figure could climb further to $880 billion, as per a more pessimistic scenario envisaged by the bank on the lifetime impact of school closures on the productivity of this generation of students.
  • The average child in South Asia may lose $4,400 in lifetime earnings once having entered the labour market, equivalent to 5% of total earnings.
  • The projected learning loss for the region is 0.5 years of learning-adjusted years of schooling at present, and this will already lead to substantial future earning losses, the bank estimated.
  • Disruptions to training, schooling and other education in the event of severe income losses, even once restrictions are lifted, will also lower human capital and labour productivity over the long term,” the report concluded.

MCQs

1. Which of the following statement(s) is/are correct about the ‘Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog’?

  1. It was formed in the year 2019 under the Rashtriya Gokul Mission.
  2. It is engaged in research in the field of breeding and rearing of cow, organic manure, biogas etc.
  3. It aims to take up scientific activities for genetic upgradation and increasing productivity of cows.

Select the correct codes from below –

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1 and 3 only
  4. All of the above

Answer – D

Explanation – Union Finance Minister in 2019’s interim budget had announced that Rs 750 crore would be allocated for the Rashtriya Gokul Mission. Under the scheme, a ‘Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog’ would be set up. The Aayog will work in collaboration with Veterinary, Animal Sciences or Agriculture University or departments or organisations of the Central/State Government engaged in the task of research in the field of breeding and rearing of cow, organic manure, biogas etc. It will take up scientific activities for genetic upgradation and increasing productivity of cows. It will provide the policy framework and direction to the cow conservation and development programmes in the country and for ensuring proper implementation of laws with respect to the welfare of cows.

2. Which of the following statement(s) is/are correct?

  1. ‘Blue Flag Certification’ is an eco-tourism model and marks out beaches as providing tourists and beachgoers clean and hygienic bathing water, facilities/amenities, a safe and healthy environment, and sustainable development of the area.
  2. India is the only country in the world that has been awarded ‘Blue Flag’ certification for 8 beaches in a single attempt.
  3. India currently tops the list with 37 beaches, followed by Greece and France.

Select the correct codes from below –

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1 and 3 only
  4. All of the above

Answer – A

Explanation – The ‘Blue Flag’ beach is an ‘eco-tourism model’ and marks out beaches as providing tourists and beachgoers clean and hygienic bathing water, facilities/amenities, a safe and healthy environment, and sustainable development of the area. The Blue Flag Programme for beaches and marinas is run by the international, non-governmental, non-profit organisation FEE (the Foundation for Environmental Education). The Blue Flag Programme started in France (by the Foundation for Environmental Education) in 1985 and has been implemented in Europe since 1987, and in areas outside Europe since 2001, when South Africa joined. Forty-seven countries currently participate in the program, and 4,573 beaches, marinas, and boats have this certification. Spain tops the list with 566 such beaches; Greece and France follow with 515 and 395, respectively. It is a proud moment for India as 8 beaches of India, spread across five states and two union territories, have been awarded the “BLUE FLAG” by an International Jury comprising of eminent members viz UNEP, UNWTO, FEE, IUCN. It is an outstanding feat considering that no ‘Blue Flag’ nation has ever been awarded for 8 beaches in a single attempt. India is also the first country in “Asia-Pacific” region which has achieved this feat in just about 2 years’ time. Japan, South Korea and UAE are the only other Asian nations who have been conferred with a couple of Blue Flag beaches, however, in a time frame of about 5 to 6 years.

3. Which of the following statement(s) is/are correct about the ‘BEAMS Programme’?

  1. It was launched by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change to promote sustainable development in coastal regions.
  2. It aims to abate pollution in coastal waters, promote sustainable development of beach facilities, protect and conserve coastal ecosystems and natural resources.

Select the correct codes from below –

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Answer – C

Explanation – Society for Integrated Coastal Management (SICOM), MoEFCC in pursuit of promoting its policies for sustainable development in coastal regions have embarked upon a highly acclaimed program “BEAMS” (Beach Environment & Aesthetics Management Services) under its ICZM (Integrated Coastal Zone Management) project. This is one of the several other projects of Integrated Coastal Zone Management that Government of India is undertaking for the sustainable development of coastal regions, striving for globally recognised and the coveted eco-label ‘Blue flag”. The objective of BEAMS program is to abate pollution in coastal waters, promote sustainable development of beach facilities, protect & conserve coastal ecosystems & natural resources, and seriously challenge local authorities & stakeholders to strive and maintain high standards of cleanliness, hygiene & safety for beachgoers in accordance with coastal environment & regulations. This program promotes beach recreation in absolute harmony with nature. It is Indias own eco-label.

4. Which of the following statement(s) is/are correct about the ‘Central Information Commission’?

  1. The Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners are appointed by the Central Government.
  2. As per the Section 12 of the RTI Act, 2005, the Central Government shall, by notification constitute a body to be known as the Central Information Commission.
  3. The Chief Information Commissioner is not eligible for reappointment.

Select the correct codes from below –

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1 and 3 only
  4. All of the above

Answer – B

Explanation – Under the provision of Section-12 of RTI Act 2005 the Central Government shall, by notification in the Official Gazette, constitute a body to be known as the Central Information Commission. Composition: The Central Information Commission shall consist of the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) and such number of Central Information Commissioners not exceeding 10 as may be deemed necessary. Appointment – Section 12(3) of the RTI Act 2005 provides as follows – The Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners shall be appointed by the President on the recommendation of a committee consisting of – The Prime Minister, who shall be the Chairperson of the committee; The Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha; and a Union Cabinet Minister to be nominated by the Prime Minister. Eligibility – Section 12(5) of the RTI Act 2005 provides that the Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners shall be persons of eminence in public life with wide knowledge and experience in law, science and technology, social service, management, journalism, mass media or administration and governance. Section 12(6) of the RTI Act 2005 provides that Chief Information Commissioner or an Information Commissioner shall not be a Member of Parliament or Member of the Legislature of any State or Union Territory as the case may be, or hold any other office of profit or connected with any political party or carrying on any business or pursuing any profession. Term duration and service conditions – Section 13 of the RTI Act 2005 provides that the Chief Information Commissioner shall hold office for a term of five years from the date on which he enters upon his office and shall not be eligible for reappointment. Section 13(5)(a) of the RTI Act 2005 provides that the salaries and allowances payable to and other terms and conditions of service of the Chief Information Commissioner shall be the same as that of the Chief Election Commissioner.

5. ‘Beaten or Broken: Informality and COVID-19’ report is prepared by –

  1. World Economic Forum
  2. UNICEF
  3. United Nations Development Programme
  4. None of the above

Answer – D

Explanation – The World Bank in its latest South Asia report titled “Beaten or broken: Informality and COVID-19” has said that extended closure of schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic could dent India’s future earnings by anywhere between $420 billion and $600 billion, as depleted learning levels of students will translate into poorer productivity going forward, the World Bank has said.

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