At science congress, Modi to hold ‘chai pe charcha’

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is slated to inaugurate the Indian Science Congress (ISC)-2019 at Lovely Professional University (LPU) on January 3, will hold ‘chai pe charcha’ with three Nobel laureates, two scientists and two students.

The theme of ISC – Future India: Science and Technology

“Government’s aim is to deliver the benefits of Science & Technology to the last man in the society and scientists being a pivot should put their heart and soul into finding new solutions to the problems facing the nation and improve the quality of life of common man”.

It is the only second time for a University of Punjab to organize their herculean science spectacle.

The Indian Science Congress Association (ISCA) owes its origin to the foresight and initiative of two British Chemists, namely, Professor J.L. Simonsen and Professor P.S. MacMohan.

  • To advance and promote the cause of science in India.
  • To hold an annual congress at a suitable place in India.
  • To publish such proceedings, journals, transactions, and other publications as may be considered desirable.
  • To secure and manage funds and endowments for the promotion of Science.
  • The first meeting of the Congress was held from January 15-17, 1914 at the premises of the Asiatic Society, Calcutta.
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Releases commemorative stamp on Maharaja Suheldev

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, visited Ghazipur in Uttar Pradesh today. He released a commemorative postage stamp on Maharaja Suheldev. He also laid the Foundation Stone of a Medical College in Ghazipur.

The Prime Minister recalled Maharaja Suheldev, like a brave warrior, and a hero who inspires the people. He spoke of the martial and strategic prowess and administrative skills of Maharaja Suheldev. The Prime Minister said the Union Government is determined to preserve the legacy of all those who contributed to the cause of India’s defence and security, and to its social life.

The Prime Minister said that the Union Government and the State Government in Uttar Pradesh, are both sensitive to the concerns of the people. He said the mission is to ensure a life of dignity for everyone.

The Prime Minister said that the medical college for which the Foundation Stone has been laid will provide the region with modern healthcare amenities. He said this has been a long-standing demand of the people of this region, and it shall soon become a reality. He said this is one of many important hospitals that are being set up to improve healthcare facilities in the region. In this context, he also mentioned hospitals that are coming up in Gorakhpur and Varanasi.

The Prime Minister said that healthcare is receiving this magnitude of attention from the Union Government, for the first time since independence. He mentioned the Ayushman Bharat Yojana, and treatment being offered to patients. He said that in just 100 days, over 6 lakh people had benefited from the Pradhan Mantri Jan ArogyaYojana.

The Prime Minister also mentioned the insurance schemes launched by the Union Government and said 20 crore people across the country have joined the Jeevan Jyoti or Suraksha Beema schemes.

The Prime Minister mentioned several projects in the region, which are associated with agriculture. These include the International Rice Research Institute in Varanasi, cargo centres in Varanasi and Ghazipur, fertilizer plant in Gorakhpur, and Bansagar irrigation project. He said such initiatives will benefit farmers and help improve their incomes.

The Prime Minister emphasized that steps taken only for immediate political gain, do not help solve the country’s problems. He said the Union Government has fixed MSP of 22 crops based on 1.5 times the cost. He mentioned various other initiatives taken for the agriculture sector.

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REDD+ has failed to achieve its objectives: CSE report

A new study by Delhi-based non-profit Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has revealed that Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+), the programme initiated by the United Nations in 2005 to mitigate climate change through enhanced forest management in developing countries, has largely failed to achieve its objectives.

Highlights of the study:

Large-scale finance for REDD+ has been a major issue as carbon markets have not materialised and international funding commitments for REDD+ have been much lower than expected.

“REDD+ implementation costs have been high and benefits for local communities from REDD+ projects have been minimal.

There is a need to rethink the REDD+ mechanism based on these experiences and the findings emerging from new research on the potential of forests to mitigate climate change.

India’s REDD+ strategy:

Complying with the UNFCCC decisions on REDD+, India has prepared its National REDD+ Strategy. The Strategy builds upon existing national circumstances which have been updated in line with India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change, Green India Mission and India’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to UNFCCC.

The strategy report has been prepared by the Indian Council of Forestry Research & Education (ICFRE), Dehradun.

Since its formalisation in 2006, REDD+ had emerged as the most prominent global mechanism to integrate the role of forests in climate change.  It was touted as a win-win situation for biodiversity conservation, carbon sequestration, and local livelihoods.

More than 300 REDD+ initiatives have taken off since 2006. The mechanism has been enshrined in the Paris Agreement of 2015, and its implementation is transitioning from smaller, isolated projects to larger, jurisdictional programmes with support from bilateral and multilateral agencies.

About REDD+:

In simple terms, REDD+ means “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation”, conservation of forest carbon stocks, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries.

REDD+ is a mechanism developed by Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

It creates financial value for the carbon stored in forests by offering incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions from forested lands and invest in low-carbon paths to sustainable development.

Developing countries would receive results-based payments for results-based actions. REDD+ goes beyond simply deforestation and forest degradation and includes the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.

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China probe readies to land on dark side of the moon – Xinhua

A Chinese space probe is moving into position to land on the dark side of the moon for the first time, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Sunday, a mission seen as an important step as the country looks to push forward its space programme.

The Moon is tidally locked to Earth, rotating at the same rate that it orbits our planet, so the far side is never visible from Earth. The probe, the Chang’e-4, is expected to make the first-ever soft landing on the far side of the Moon. Previous spacecraft have seen the far side of the Moon, but none has landed on it.

The far side of the moon known as ‘South Pole-Aitken Basin’ still remains a mystery among space scientists and by sending a probe there, China will outdo the historical achievements of the US and USSR.

Chang’e 4 is the fourth mission in the country’s lunar mission series which is being named after the Chinese moon goddess.

The tasks of the Chang’e-4 probe include low-frequency radio astronomical observation, surveying the terrain and landforms, detecting the mineral composition, and measuring the neutron radiation and neutral atoms to study the environment on the far side of the moon.

The significance of the mission:

According to experts, landing on the far side of the moon is undoubtedly one of the most challenging missions ever launched by any of the world’s superpowers.

History of China’s lunar exploration programmes:

China began their lunar exploration program in 2007 by launching a simple lunar orbiter named ‘Chang’e 1’. The second mission in the program named ‘Chang’e 2’ was launched in 2010, and it was later followed by the third mission ‘Chang’e 3’. ‘Chang’e 3’ made headlines all around the world as it marked the first soft moon landing since 1976.

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Mahua flower comes under minimum support price

At a time when the Union government is scrambling to fix its rural agenda, it has declared inclusion of 17 new minor forest produce (MFP) under the government’s minimum support price scheme.

The new MFP under the scheme includes Mahua flowers (dried), Tejpatta (dried) and Kokum (dry). On December 27, the ministry of tribal affairs made the announcement, while also increasing the MSP of MFPs already included in the scheme since 2013.

The new MFP under the scheme includes Mahua flowers (dried), Tejpatta (dried) and Kokum (dry).

The Pricing Cell, constituted by the Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India Ltd (TRIFED), recommended the inclusion of new MFPs under the scheme, given their importance to the economy of local communities.

A Planning Commission report had noted that MFP contributes to 20 to 40 per cent of the income of forest-dependent communities, especially the landless with a dominant population of tribals, and “provides critical subsistence during lean seasons.”

The MFP economy, however, is also known to suffer from unorganised and uncertain market demands, affecting economic returns to these communities.

In theory, an MSP is a minimum price set by the Government at which farmers can expect to sell their produce for the season. When market prices fall below the announced MSPs, procurement agencies step in to procure the crop and ‘support’ the prices.

The Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs announces MSP for various crops at the beginning of each sowing season based on the recommendations of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP). The CACP takes into account demand and supply, the cost of production and price trends in the market among other things when fixing MSPs.

Price volatility makes life difficult for farmers. Though prices of agri commodities may soar while in short supply, during years of bumper production, prices of the very same commodities plummet. MSPs ensure that farmers get a minimum price for their produce in adverse markets. MSPs have also been used as a tool by the Government to incentivise farmers to grow crops that are in short supply.

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6th International Rice Research Institute to be dedicated to the nation at Varanasi by Prime Minister

Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi will visit Varanasi and Ghazipur in Uttar Pradesh on 29th December 2018. During the visit, he will dedicate the 6th International Rice Research Institute South Asia Regional Centre (ISARC) campus to the nation in Varanasi and attend the One District, One Product Regional Summit at Deendayal Hastakala Sankul in Varanasi. A commemorative postal stamp on the Maharaja Suheldeo will be released by the Prime Minister in Ghazipur where he will also a public rally..

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) is an international agricultural research and training organization known for its work in developing rice varieties that contributed to the Green Revolution in the 1960s.

The Institute, established in 1960 aims to reduce poverty and hunger, improve the health of rice farmers and consumers, and ensure environmental sustainability of rice farming.

IRRI is one of 15 agricultural research centers in the world that form the CGIAR Consortium of International Agricultural Research centres, a global partnership of organizations engaged in research on food security. It is also the largest non-profit agricultural research centres in Asia.

IRRI has successfully collaborated with the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) to introduce drought- tolerant, flood-tolerant and salt-tolerant varieties of rice in India. The Varanasi Centre would help increase farmers’ income by enhancing and supporting rice productivity, reducing the cost of production, value addition, diversification and enhancement of farmers’ skills.

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One District, One Product Regional Summit

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 29, 2018 visited Varanasi and Ghazipur in Uttar Pradesh on December 29, 2018.

The Prime Minister laid the foundation stone of medical College in Ghazipur during the visit in the presence of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. He took stock of the preparations for the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas

About ODOP:

ODOP is aimed at giving a major push to traditional industries synonymous with the respective districts of the state.

The objective of the ODOP is to optimise production, productivity, and income, preservation and development of local crafts, promotion of art, improvement in product quality and skill development.

ODOP is basically a Japanese business development concept, which gained prominence in 1979. It is aimed at promoting a competitive and staple product from a specific area to push sales and improve the standard of living of the local population. Over time, it has been replicated in other Asian countries as well.

The main objectives of the One District One Product Scheme of Uttar Pradesh are as follows:

  • Preservation and development of local crafts/skills and promotion of the art.
  • Increase in the incomes and local employment (resulting in the decline in migration for employment).
  • Improvement in product quality and skill development.
  • Transforming the products in an artistic way (through packaging, branding).
  • To connect the production with tourism (Live demo and sales outlet – gifts and souvenir).
  • To resolve the issues of economic difference and regional imbalance.

To take the concept of ODOP to national and international level after successful implementation at the State level.

Committee to monitor DFI implementation soon

The government is in the process of setting up a panel to monitor the implementation of the recommendation of the Doubling Farmers’ Income (DFI) committee, a senior agriculture ministry official said.

The government in 2016 constituted an expert committee headed by Dalwai to look into the entire agriculture ecosystem in the country to suggest ways and means to reform it so that farmers’ income can be doubled by 2022. The panel, in the last two-and-a-half years, came out with 14 voluminous reports that deal with all aspects of agriculture including agri inputs, risk management, post-harvesting, and agri-logistics.

The final recommendations, submitted by the committee a few months ago, were accepted by the government, paving the way for their implementation. The immediate and greater attention will be given to tapping the low-hanging fruits in the production and post-production stages of agriculture.

There is a need to make the States understand the value of undertaking reforms in the agricultural marketplace.

 

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New Rajasthan govt’s move is a welcome one

Rajasthan will once again have direct elections for mayors  and chairpersons in urban municipal bodies.

The education criteria were introduced by the previous government, which stipulated that for contesting the Zila Parishad or Panchayat Samiti polls, a contestant must have a minimum qualification of secondary education (Class X).

To contest the sarpanch elections, an aspirant from the general category must have passed Class VIII and an SC/ST aspirant must have passed Class V.

Few experts are of the opinion that the requirement of minimum qualification for contesting elections is against the very spirit of 73rd and 74th amendments.

It also violates the right of every citizen to vote and to contest elections, which form the basic structure of the constitution.

It may be noted here that due to these restrictions, many able candidates were debarred from contesting elections. In one way, it can be said that this law has prevented many people from coming to the mainstream.

What has the Supreme Court said in this regard?

  • Even Haryana had passed a similar law mandating minimum education qualification for those contesting in Panchayat Raj Institutions. The constitutional validity of this law of Haryana was questioned in the Supreme Court.
  • The Supreme Court had upheld the constitutional validity of the law enacted by Haryana government to bar the illiterate from contesting panchayat polls in the state. The Supreme Court had ruled that “it is only education which gives a human being the power to discriminate between right and wrong, good and bad”.
  • The Supreme Court’s interpretation is based on the fact that uneducated or illiterate people getting elected to the local bodies can easily be misled by officials if they don’t know to write and read. In such cases, administrative actions that they are going can pose many challenges. The Court has further observed that it is only the education which can give people the power to differentiate between right and wrong, and good and bad.
  • Rajasthan Literacy Rate 2011: Literacy rate in Rajasthan has seen an upward trend and is 66.11 percent as per 2011 population census. Of that, male literacy stands at 79.19 percent while female literacy is at 52.12 percent. In 2001, the literacy rate in Rajasthan stood at 60.41 percent.
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Mahila Police Volunteers

The Ministry of Women and Child Development in collaboration with the Ministry of Home Affairs has envisaged engagement of Mahila Police Volunteers (MPVs) in the States and Union Territories who will act as a link between police and community and help women in distress.

All Chief Secretaries of States/UTs have been requested to adopt this initiative in their respective States.

Haryana is the first state to adopt the initiative at Karnal and Mahindergarh District on a pilot basis under Nirbhaya Fund during the financial year 2016-2017. Further, the proposals of Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Mizoram, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, and Madhya Pradesh have also been approved for implementation of MPVs.

Originally conceived by the Union Ministry of Women & Child Development, Mahila Police Volunteer is a joint initiative with the Union Ministry of Home Affairs.

The Mahila Police Volunteers scheme envisages the creation of a link between the police authorities and the local communities in villages through police volunteers who will be women specially trained for this purpose.

Their primary job will be to keep an eye on situations where women in the village are harassed or their rights and entitlements are denied or their development is prevented.

In order to provide a link between police and community and facilitate women in distress, one Mahila Police Volunteer (MPV) is envisaged per Gram Panchayat across the country. MPV must be at least 21 years old and class 12th These will be selected through a laid out procedure from among the empowered, responsible, socially aware women who will facilitate police outreach on gender concerns.

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Dharmendra Pradhan launches Ujjwala sanitary napkin initiative

Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan launched the Ujjwala Sanitary Napkin initiative in Bhubaneswar, which will expand women’s access to hygiene products and provide them with employment opportunities in every district of the state.

The Central scheme will be a counter to the Odisha government’s Khushi scheme, in which sanitary napkins are provided free of cost to female students of government and government-aided schools in the state.

In the first phase of the Ujjwala Sanitary Napkin initiative, around 100 local manufacturing units will be set up by oil marketing companies at Common Service Centres (CSCs) across 93 blocks in all 30 districts of Odisha. CSCs are facilities set up to deliver the Central government’s e-services in rural and remote locations.

Key highlights of the scheme:

  • The mission, which forms part of the CSR initiative of OMCs in Odisha, is aimed to educate women on female hygiene and health, improve accessibility to low cost eco-friendly sanitary pads and boost rural employment and economy.
  • The three companies will set up 100 manufacturing units at the Common Service Centres (CSC) covering 93 Blocks across 30 districts of Odisha at an estimated cost of ₹2.94 crore.
  • At least 10 Ujjwala beneficiary women will get employment at each CSC. Each facility will have a capacity to produce 1,200-2,000 pads per day and will have a sterilisation room to ensure that the napkins are sterilised before they are packed for use by rural women.
  • The CSCs are also being provided with raw material, enough to make 45,000-50,000 pads. These napkins will be priced at ₹40 per pack, each containing eight pads.
  • The Ujjwala pads will be made of virgin wood pulp sheet, non-woven white sheet and a gel sheet which are all biodegradable in nature and will leave a minimal carbon footprint.
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