United Nations Peacekeeping
Major Suman Gawani, an Indian Army officer who served as a women peacekeeper with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) in 2019 is being awarded the prestigious “United Nations Military Gender Advocate of the year Award”. She will share the award with Commander Carla Monteiro de Castro Araujo from Brazil who has also been chosen for the award.
About the award –
The award was created in 2016. It recognises the dedication and effort of an individual military peacekeeper in promoting the principles of UN Security Resolution. For the first time, two peacekeepers will receive the award jointly for their contribution to this important cause.
What is UN Peacekeeping?
- UN Peacekeeping helps countries navigate the difficult path from conflict to peace.
- It deploys troops and police from around the world, integrating them with civilian peacekeepers to address a range of mandates set by the UN Security Council (UNSC) and the General Assembly.
- 29th May is celebrated annually as International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers. The theme for this year’s Day is “Women in Peacekeeping: A Key to Peace” to help mark the 20th anniversary of the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.
UN Peacekeeping and India –
- Currently, there are more than 6,700 troops and police from India who have been deployed to UN peacekeeping missions, the fourth highest amongst troop-contributing countries.
- More than 200,000 Indians have served in 49 of the 71 UN peacekeeping missions established around the world since 1948.
- India has a long tradition of sending women on UN peacekeeping missions. In 2007, India became the first country to deploy an all-women contingent to a UN peacekeeping mission.
Foundation stone for a Missile Park ‘AGREEPRASTHA’ was laid recently at INS Kalinga.
What is AGREEPRASTHA?
- The Missile Park ‘AGNEEPRASTHA’ once completed will be dedicated to all the Officers, Sailors and Support Staff of INS Kalinga, who have served in this premier op-support Base of the ENC since its establishment in 1981. The Park also commemorates the award of the prestigious Unit Citation to INS Kalinga for the year 2018-19.
- The Missile Park has been set up with a replica of missiles and Ground Support Equipment (GSE) that showcase the evolution of missiles handled by the unit.
- The exhibits have been created from scrap / obsolete inventory which have been reconditioned in-house.
- The main attraction is P-70 ‘Ametist’, an underwater launched anti-ship missile from the arsenal of the old ‘Chakra’ (Charlie-1 submarine) which was in service with IN during 1988-91.
- ‘AGNEEPRASTHA’ aims to capture glimpses of Missile History of INS Kalinga since 1981 till date.
- ‘AGNEEPRASTHA’ will also provide a one-stop arena for motivation and stimulation of inquisitive minds regarding the missiles and related technologies, from school children to Naval personnel and their families.
- It is also intended to encourage a feeling of ownership and pride in the role of the Unit, and highlight the necessity of contribution of all personnel irrespective of rank/trade towards the overarching objective of ordnance availability, reliability and delivery on target, each and every time.
Consumer Price Index for Industrial Workers (CPI-IW)
The All-India CPI-IW for April, 2020increased by 3 points and stood at 329 (three hundred and twenty nine). On 1-month percentage change, it increased by (+) 0.92 per cent between March and April, 2020compared to (+) 0.97 per cent increase between corresponding months of previous year.
What is Consumer Price Index?
Consumer Price Index or CPI is the measure of changes in the price level of a basket of consumer goods and services bought by households. CPI is a numerical estimation calculated using the rates of a sample of representative objects the prices of which are gathered periodically. Depending upon the socio-economic differentiations among consumers, India has four differing sets of CPI with some differentials in the basket of commodities allotted to them.
- CPI-IW – The Consumer Price Index for the industrial workers (CPI-IW) has 260 items (plus the services) in its basket with 2001 as the base year. Dearness Allowance is announced twice a year based on this index. Pay Commission recommends pay revisions based on CPI(IW). Labour Bureau compiles CPI-IW.
- CPI-UNME – The Consumer Price Index for the Urban Non- Manual Employees (CPI-UNME) has 1984–85 as the base year. This price index has limited use and it is basically used for determining dearness allowances (DAs) of employees of some foreign companies operating in India. It is also used under the Income Tax Act to determine capital gains and by the CSO (Central Statistical Organisation) for deflating selected services sector’s contribution to the GDP at factor cost and current prices to calculate the corresponding figure at constant prices. Labour Bureau compiles CPI-UNME.
- CPI-AL – The Consumer Price Index for Agricultural Labourers (CPI-AL) has 1986–87 as its base year. This index is used for revising minimum wages for agricultural labourers in different states. The governments at the Centre and states remain vigilant regarding the changes in this index as it shows the price impact on the most vulnerable segment of the society, this segment spends almost 75 per cent of its total income on the purchase of food articles. Labour Bureau compiles CPI-AL.
- CPI-RL – There is yet another Consumer Price Index for the Rural Labourers (CPI-RL) with 1983 as the base year. The agricultural and rural labourers in India create an overlap, i.e., the same labourers work as the rural labourers once the farm sector has either low or no employment scope. The Central Statistics Office (CSO) which is now the National Statistical Office (NSO) compiles this data.
National Career Service Project
The Ministry of Labour and Employment under its National Career Service (NCS) project has now started offering free online ‘career skills training’ in partnership with TCS ION for its registered job seekers.
What is National Career Service Project?
- It is implemented as a mission mode project to provide a variety of employment related services like career counselling, vocational guidance, information on skill development courses, apprenticeship, internships etc.
- The NCS project has also been enhanced to interlink all employment exchanges with the NCS Portal so that services can be delivered online.
- The scheme provides for part funding to states for IT upgradation and minor refurbishing of employment exchanges and for organising job fairs.
- NCS also offers the functionality of creation of video profiles for job-seekers in partnership with HIREMEE, a platform which provides online assessment and hiring services. Job-seekers can showcase their ability to recruiters using short video clips. All services on NCS are free.
Minor Forest Produce
Ministry of Tribal Affairs has announced Inclusion of 23 additional Minor Forest Produce (MFP) items and stipulation of their Minimum Support Price (MSP) under the Centrally Sponsored Scheme titled “Mechanism for Marketing of Minor Forest Produce (MFP) through Minimum Support Price (MSP) and development of value chain of MFP”. This decision enhancing the coverage from 50 to 73 items comes in view of the exceptional and very difficult circumstances currently prevailing in the country on account of the COVID-19 Pandemic, and the potential of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs scheme to offer the much needed support to the tribal MFP gatherers.
What is ‘minor forest produce’ (MFP)?
Section 2(i) of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 defines a Minor Forest Produce (MFP) as all non-timber forest produce of plant origin and includes bamboo, brushwood, stumps, canes, Tusser, cocoon, honey, waxes, Lac, tendu/kendu leaves, medicinal plants and herbs, roots, tuber and the like.
About MSP for MFP Scheme –
- It is a central sector scheme (started in 2013) for marketing of Minor Forest Produce through Minimum Support Price (MSP) and development of value chain to ensure fair monetary returns to MFP gatherers for their efforts in collection, primary processing, storage, packaging, transportation etc.
- The scheme envisages fixation and declaration of MSP for the selected MFP based on the suggestions/inputs received from the Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India (TRIFED), which came into existence in 1987, and the States concerned.
- Procurement and marketing operation at pre-fixed MSP is undertaken by the designated state agencies.
- Initially, the scheme was being implemented by states having areas under the 5th Schedule of the Constitution of India (Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Jharkhand, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana).
Social Media Regulation
Recently, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order aimed at removing certain protections for social media platforms that aim to safeguard them from any liabilities arising out of the content that is posted on their websites. The order gives federal regulators the agency to take action against online platforms that are seen as censoring speech.
What is an executive order?
An executive order is a written directive issued by the President. Such orders are not legislations and do not require the approval of the Congress (or Parliament in case of India).
What is changed after this executive order?
- Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) of the United States provides immunity to online platforms and protects them from being liable for the content billions of people post on their platform every day.
- Further, under this section, providers of “interactive computer services” are free from being treated as the publisher or speaker of any information posted by the users, rendering these platforms “unfettered by Federal or State regulation”.
- Significantly, the Act also protects online platforms from civil liability, which means that they may not be liable for restricting access to certain content that platforms may consider being, “obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing or otherwise objectionable” and when such content is removed in “good faith”.
- However, with the recent executive order when online platforms remove or restrict access to content, which are not based on the aforementioned criteria, or is in bad taste, it engages in editorial conduct and thereby becomes the “publisher” of all the content posted on its website. Based on this, the order seeks to revoke the liability shield offered to platforms and exposes them to liability “like any traditional editor and publisher that is not an online provider.”
- Further, the order directs the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) to file a petition for making rules with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) along with the Attorney General to clarify the conditions under which an action taken by an online platform to restrict access or availability of certain content is not “taken in good faith” and therefore such action is excluded from being protected under Section 230.
The order can give rise to a policy debate about the liabilities and responsibilities of social media platforms.
Indian Coronavirus Vaccine
Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India has said that the coronavirus vaccine being developed in India is likely to begin to be tested in people in October 2020.
- A group is working on a vaccine on a flu backbone. Preclinical studies are likely to be completed by October after which it is likely to move on to human trials.
- Another vaccine group had developed a promising protein that would be ready to be tested by next February.
Procedure for vaccine development –
It usually takes 10 to 15 years to develop vaccines at a cost of 200-300 million dollars. There are four categories of vaccines –
- MRNA Vaccines – Under this category, a component of genetic material of the virus is injected. Our body translates it into viral protein and develops immune system when the virus attacks.
- Standard Vaccine – Under this category, a weak version of the virus is used to develop immunity against the viral disease.
- In the third category, the protein coding region of the virus is attached to the backbone of another virus to develop vaccine. A group is working on this vaccine of coronavirus which will be tested in October.
- In the last category, the virus protein is developed in laboratory and is used with another stimulant.
Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients
Export of active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) of paracetamol from the country is all set to resume with the Centre moving it out of the ‘restricted for export’ list.
What is an ‘Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient’?
- The Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API) is the part of any drug that produces the intended effects. Some drugs, such as fixed-dose combination drugs (such as D-Cold Total), have multiple active ingredients to treat different symptoms or act in different ways.
- All drugs are made up of two core components: the API, which is the central ingredient (i.e. the raw material of the drug), and the excipient, the substances other than the drug that helps deliver the medication to your system.
- The largest manufacturers of APIs are India and China (with China leading the market).