16th January – Prelims Booster

Hallmarking made must for gold jewellery

No jeweller will be allowed to sell gold jewellery or artefacts without hallmark from the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) (under Ministry of Consumer Affairs) from January 15, 2021 onwards.

Details –

  • If jewellery or artefacts made of 14, 18 and 22 carat gold are sold without a BIS hallmark, then the jeweller could be charged penalty five times the cost of the object or even given imprisonment up to one year.
  • Jewellers have been given a year’s time to register themselves with the BIS.
  • Instead of 10 grades earlier, hallmarked gold jewellery will now be available in three grades of 14 carat, 18 carat and 22 carat

About Gold Hallmarking –

  • Gold hallmarking is a purity certification and is voluntary in nature now.
  • The BIS is already running a hallmarking scheme for gold jewellery since April 2000 and 40% of gold jewellery is now hallmarked.
  • Jewellers will be allowed to sell only 14, 18 and 22 carat gold jewellery.

Significance –

  • Consumers have to watch out for four marks on hallmarked gold jewellery: BIS mark, purity in carat, assay centre’s name and jewellers’ identification mark.
  • It has been clarified that people who want to exchange their old gold jewellery which doesn’t carry a hallmark won’t be troubled. This is only for jewellers who are selling new gold jewellery.

ASER flags poor learning outcomes in rural schools

Only 16% of children in Class 1 in 26 surveyed rural districts can read text at the prescribed level, while almost 40% cannot even recognise letters, according to the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2019.

Details –

  • Only 41% of these children could recognise two digit numbers.
  • The survey shows that among Class 1 children who could correctly do none or only one of the tasks requiring cognitive skills, about 14% could read words, while 19% could do single digit addition.
  • Among children who could correctly do all three cognitive tasks, 52% could read words, and 63% could solve the math problem.

About ASER –

  • The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) is being released by a non-governmental organisation Pratham since 2005.
  • It is an annual publication. Each year’s report has been presenting a dismal picture of primary education in India.
  • The reports focus on children aged between 6 years and 14 years in rural India.
  • It maps the schooling status of and the impact of primary education on a child’s ability to complete basic reading and arithmetic tasks.

Way forward –

ASER found that the solution is not to spend longer hours teaching children the 3Rs. Counter-intuitively, the report argues that a focus on cognitive skills rather than subject learning in the early years can make a big difference to basic literacy and numeracy abilities.

CRZ rules eased for ‘Blue Flag’ beaches

The Environmental Ministry has relaxed Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) rules that restrict construction near beaches to help States construct infrastructure and enable them to receive ‘Blue Flag’ certification.

Why such relaxation?

The Blue Flag certification requires beaches to create certain infrastructure — portable toilet blocks, grey water treatment plants, a solar power plant, seating facilities, CCTV surveillance and the like. However, India’s CRZ laws don’t allow the construction of such infrastructure on beaches and islands. Therefore, the Environment Ministry eased these restrictions for the “purposes of Blue Flag certification”.

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.
  • Spain tops the list with 566 such beaches; Greece and France follow with 515 and 395, respectively.

National Draft Policy on Rare Diseases

The Government of India has recently released its National Draft Policy on Rare Diseases. The policy has proposed one-time fund of Rs 15 lakhs to treat rare diseases under Ayushman Bharat. The policy was drafted by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Details –

  • Under the policy, certain medical institutes will be certified as Centre of Excellence for rare diseases. It includes AIIMS. New Delhi, Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Science, Lucknow, King Edward Medical Hospital, Mumbai and four others.
  • The policy has been framed based on the recommendations of the following committees – V K Paul Committee; IC Verma Sub Committee Report, and; D K Tempe Committee Report.

Features of National Draft Policy on Rare Diseases –

  • An inter-ministerial consultative committee is to be set up at national level. The committee will be led by MoHFW.
  • A patient registry of rare diseases is to be constituted under ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research).
  • To create Administrative Committee that will develop guidelines to determine which rare diseases to fund.

Daily MCQs

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