Namami Gange Programme
The World Bank and the Government of India have signed a loan agreement to enhance support for the Namami Gange programme that seeks to rejuvenate the Ganga river.
- The Second National Ganga River Basin Project will help stem pollution in the iconic river and strengthen the management of the river basin which is home to more than 500 million people.
- The $400 million operation includes a proposed Guarantee of up to $19 million to backstop the government’s payment obligations for three Hybrid-Annuity-Model Public Private Partnership (HAM-PPP) investments on the Ganga’s tributaries.
- The $381 million variable spread loan has a maturity of 18.5 years including a grace period of 5 years. The $19 million Guarantee Expiry Date will be 18 years from the Guarantee Effectiveness Date.
The sprawling Ganga Basin provides over one-third of India’s surface water, includes the country’s largest irrigated area, and is key to India’s water and food security. Over 40 percent of India’s GDP is generated in the densely populated Basin.
Namami Gange Programme –
The Union government approved “Namami Gange” Program in May 2015. It integrates the efforts to clean and protect the Ganga river in a comprehensive manner. Among other things, the programme will focus on pollution abatement interventions namely Interception, diversion & treatment of wastewater flowing through the open drains through bio-remediation / appropriate in-situ treatment / use of innovative technologies.
- The program has a budget outlay of Rs. 20,000 crore for 5 years (starting from 2015).
- Under this programme, the focus of the Government is to involve people living on the banks of the river to attain sustainable results.
- The programme also focuses on involving the States and grassroots level institutions such as Urban Local Bodies and Panchayati Raj Institutions in implementation.
- The program would be implemented by the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), and its state counterpart organisations i.e., State Program Management Groups (SPMGs).
- In order to improve implementation, a three-tier mechanism has been proposed for project monitoring comprising of a) High level task force chaired by Cabinet Secretary assisted by NMCG at national level, b) State level committee chaired by Chief Secretary assisted by SPMG at state level and c) District level committee chaired by the District Magistrate.
- The program emphasises on improved coordination mechanisms between various Ministries/Agencies of Central and State governments.
National Ganga Council –
- The National Ganga Council, also known as the National Council for Rejuvenation, Protection, and Management of River Ganga was set up in 2016. It replaced the National River Ganga Basin Authority (NRGBA).
- It is chaired by the Prime Minister.
- It has been given overall responsibility for the superintendence of pollution prevention and rejuvenation of River Ganga Basin, including Ganga and its tributaries.
National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) –
- It is the implementation wing of the National Council for Rejuvenation, Protection, and Management of River Ganga also known as National Ganga Council (setup in 2016; which replaced the NRGBA).
- NMCG was established in the year 2011 as a registered society.
- It has a two-tier management structure and comprises of Governing Council and Executive Committee.
- The aims and objectives of NMCG are – To ensure effective control of pollution and rejuvenation of the river Ganga by adopting a river basin approach to promote inter-sectoral coordination for comprehensive planning and management.
Recently, Mohali Police arrested an alleged match-fixer who has been linked to two betting scandals. He has been charged with cheating under Section 420 of the IPC.
Why is he arrested for cheating rather than match-fixing?
- Match-fixing is not an independent offence in India and there are no laws covering it.
- After every match-fixing scandal, investigators, legislators and lawyers have called for reforms, arguing that the absence of laws makes it difficult for them to incriminate someone for match-fixing. Additionally, there is little scope for them to go after those who orchestrate match-fixing, other than the players.
- A study by the International Olympic Committee, Interpol and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime noted: “A criminal justice response against match-fixing would demonstrate that sporting manipulation is not a ‘simple’ breach of sporting rules, but also an offence against the public in a broader sense.”
How match-fixers have been punished in the past?
- Those punishments were handed out by the cricket board under its anti-corruption rules and not by law enforcement (these punishments, too, were later reduced or overturned by courts). In fact, lawyers use these cases to illustrate the need to have separate, foolproof laws for match-fixing.
- There have been two high-profile match-fixing scandals involving Indian cricketers in the last two decades: the 2000 scam involving former captain Mohammad Azharuddin and the 2013 Indian Premier League spot-fixing controversy, with S Sreesanth at its centre. In both cases, investigators had to fall back on other sections of the law to hold them guilty. In both cases, they were unsuccessful.
What is the definition of ‘match-fixing’?
In its report on the 2000 scandal, the CBI defined match fixing as –
- Instances where an individual player or group of players received money individually/collectively to underperform;
- Instances where a player placed bets in matches in which he played that would naturally undermine his performance;
- Instances where players passed on information to a betting syndicate about team composition, probable result, pitch conditions, weather, etc.;
- Instances where groundsmen were given money to prepare a pitch in a way that suited the betting syndicates; and
- Instances of current and ex-players being used by bookies to gain access to Indian and foreign players to influence their performances for a monetary consideration.
Background for match-fixing legislations –
- In 2013, the Sports Ministry drafted the Prevention of Sporting Fraud Bill, which suggested a jail term for offenders. That Bill has died a slow death.
- Two Private Member’s Bills too were introduced in the Lok Sabha, one by Anurag Thakur (National Sports Ethics Commission Bill) in 2016 and the other by Shashi Tharoor — The Sports (Online Gaming and Prevention of Fraud) Bill – in 2018. Neither has been debated yet.
Researchers have turned to Raman Spectroscopy to detect RNA viruses present in saliva samples. It has been reported that novel coronavirus is found in sufficient numbers in human saliva.
What is ‘Raman Spectroscopy’?
Raman Spectroscopy is a non-destructive chemical analysis technique which provides detailed information about chemical structure, phase and polymorphy, crystallinity and molecular interactions. It is based upon the interaction of light with the chemical bonds within a material.
Raman Scattering –
- Raman scattering or the Raman effect is the inelastic scattering of photons by matter, meaning that there is an exchange of energy and a change in the light’s direction.
- Typically this involves vibrational energy being gained by a molecule as incident photons from a visible laser are shifted to lower energy.
- Basically, it is a light scattering technique, whereby a molecule scatters incident light from a high intensity laser light source.
- Most of the scattered light is at the same wavelength (or colour) as the laser source and does not provide useful information – this is called Rayleigh Scatter. This scattering is responsible for the blue colour of the sky; it increases with the fourth power of the frequency and is more effective at short wavelengths.
- It is also possible for the incident photons to interact with the molecules in such a way that energy is either gained or lost so that the scattered photons are shifted in frequency. Such inelastic scattering is called Raman Scatter.
Raman spectroscopy has found some application in remote monitoring for pollutants. For example, the scattering produced by a laser beam directed on the plume from an industrial smokestack can be used to monitor the effluent for levels of molecules which will produce recognisable Raman lines.
When Vladivostok, the main city of the Russian Far East, marked the 160th anniversary of its founding on July 2, it resulted in a wave of abuse from Chinese social media users across various platforms who claimed that the territory of Primorsky Krai of which Vladivostok is the administrative capital, historically belonged to China.
Historical background –
- Before Primorsky Krai (far eastern Russian federal district) became Russian territory in 1860, it was a relatively small Manchu settlement under the sovereignty of the Qing dynasty. At that time, Vladivostok was called Haishenwei or the Bay of Sea Slugs.
- During the First Opium War that occurred between September 1839 and August 1842, fought between Britain and the Qing Dynasty, the former began exploring and mapping this stretch of the coast. During that time, Vladivostok harbour was named Port May by the British.
- In discussions concerning the Opium Wars, the focus is mostly on Britain, France and China under the Qing dynasty, while Russia is often neglected. However, it is because of its unique role, particularly during the Second Opium War, that Russia acquired a significant amount of former Manchu territory, including Vladivostok that is its largest port on the Pacific coast. Today, Vladivostok is the base for the Russian Pacific Fleet.
- The south eastern part of Russia, that borders North Korea and China, has historically been a bone of contention between Russia and China, in part because of China’s claims that this region once formed ‘Outer Manchuria’. Some researchers believe that the term ‘Outer Manchuria’ was coined by China in an attempt to lend credence to their territorial claims over this region.
Zardozi artists in India are suffering from economic distress due to the lockdown, demonetisation and expensive local raw material.
What is ‘Zardozi art’?
- Zardozi embroidery is a beautiful metal embroidery, which once used to embellish the attire of the Kings and the royals in India.
- It was also used to adorn walls of the royal tents, scabbards, wall hangings and the paraphernalia of regal elephants and horses.
- Zardozi embroidery work involves making elaborate designs, using gold and silver threads. Further adding to the magnificence of the work are the studded pearls and precious stones.
- Zardosi embroidery has been in existence in India from the time of the Rig Veda. There are numerous instances mentioning the use of zari embroidery as ornamentation on the attire of gods.
- Initially, the embroidery was done with pure silver wires and real gold leaves. However, today, craftsmen make use of a combination of copper wire, with a golden or silver polish, and a silk thread.
Historical Background –
- The word ‘Zardozi’ is made up of two Persian terms, Zar meaning gold and Dozi meaning embroidery.
- A Persian embroidery form, Zardozi attained its peak in the 17th century, under the patronage of Mughal Emperor Akbar.
- Under the rule of Aurangzeb, the royal patronage stopped and this led to the decline of the craft. Since the cost was high and raw materials quite rare, craftsmen could not carry on with the embroidery on their own.
- Many craftsmen left Delhi and went to the courts of Rajasthan and Punjab in search of work. With the 18th and 19th century bringing industrialisation, the craft suffered another setback. It was only after receiving independence in the year 1947 that the Indian government undertook steps to promote Zari embroidery.
Ranking of Roads for Quality Service
NHAI has decided to undertake performance assessment and ranking of the highways in the country.
How will it be done?
- The criteria for the assessment have been broadly categorised in three main heads –
- Highway efficiency (45%)
- Highway safety (35%)
- User services (20%)
- The score obtained by each Corridor in each of the parameters will provide feedback and corrective recourse for higher standards of operation, better safety and user experience to improve existing highways.
- This will also help in identifying and filling gaps of design, standards, practices, guidelines and contract agreements for other NHAI projects.
Other parameters –
Other important parameterslike operating speed, access control, time taken at toll plaza, road signages, road markings, accident rate, incident response time, crash barriers, illumination, availability of Advanced Traffic Management System (ATMS), functionality of structures, provision for grade-separated intersections, cleanliness, plantation, wayside amenities and customer satisfaction will also be considered while conducting the assessment.