Postage stamp on Bengal’s Rosogolla

A postage stamp and special cover were released here on Friday to mark 150 years of the invention of ‘Bengal’s Rossogolla’ by Nabin Chandra Das.

Mayor of Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) Firhad Hakim, who released them along with J. Charukeshi, Post Master General, Kolkata Region, referred to the long dispute between Odisha and West Bengal over Rosogolla. After years of contesting claims, the Geographical Identification tag for “Bengal Rosogolla” was given to West Bengal in November 2017.

Earlier this year, the State government observed November 14 as Rosogolla Day to mark one year of obtaining the GI tag

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Capacity Building Programme for Elected Women Representatives (EWRs) of Panchayati Raj Institutions

The Government of India has initiated the Capacity Building Programme for Elected Women Representatives (EWRs) of Panchayati Raj Institutions with an objective of empowering them by developing leadership capacities so that they serve as catalysts for social change and function as peer facilitators in the field, become vocal for their rights and participate effectively in the governance processes.

The objective of the Capacity Building Programme – to empower EWRs by developing leadership capacities so that they serve as catalysts for social change and function as peer facilitators in the field, become vocal for their rights and participate effectively in the governance processes.

It is a significant endeavor in creating a forum for EWRs to understand their roles and responsibilities in a more prolific manner.

Although it is the first step towards harnessing the full potential of EWRs, this is envisioned as a continuous process in order to instil confidence, courage, conviction, motivation and above all providing hand-holding support to EWRs for mainstreaming them in the governance process.

State Governments’ Contribution:

State Governments have been actively involved in imparting these training. Mainly, State Institute of Rural Developments (SIRDs) and State Resource Centers (SRCs) are actively collaborating with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in conducting training programmes across the States.

This involves collaborating with institutions of the Departments of Panchayati Raj, Agriculture, Women & Child Development, Rural Development, etc.

Background:

The project is being implemented by the National Institute of Public Cooperation and Child Development (NIPCCD), an autonomous body functioning under the aegis of the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India.

Ministry of Women & Child Development has also developed training modules regarding laws for the protection of women and children, development schemes and programmes (State and Center), Information Communication Technology (ICT) for the EWRs, participatory planning, and asset creation, monitoring of Public Works and leadership qualities.

This approach to building capacities of these grassroots leaders has been envisaged to yield more desired development outcomes.

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Govt invites nominations for Subhash Chandra Bose Aapda Prabandhan Puraskar

The Government of India invites nominations for the “Subhash Chandra Bose Aapda Prabandhan Puraskar” for excellence in the field of disaster management. The winners will be declared on 23rd January 2019, on the occasion of the birth anniversary of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.

Key facts:

Three eligible institutions and individuals will be given the ‘Subhash Chandra Bose Aapda Prabandhan Puraskaar’ every year with cash rewards ranging from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 51 lakh.

If the awardee is an institution, it will be given a certificate and a cash prize of Rs 51 lakh and the prize money will be utilized for disaster management-related activities only.

If the awardee is an individual, the person shall receive a certificate and a cash prize of Rs 5 lakh.

An application by an institution does not debar any individual from that institution to apply for the award in his individual capacity.

Eligibility:

Only Indian nationals and Indian institutions can apply for the award.

For institutional awards, voluntary organizations, corporate entities, academic, research institutions, response, uniformed forces or any other institution may apply for the award.

The applicant must have worked in the area of disaster management like prevention, mitigation, preparedness, rescue, response, relief, rehabilitation, research, innovation or early warning related work in India.

The application must be accompanied by details of the work done in disaster management and must highlight achievements in any one or more of the areas like saving human lives, reduction in the impact of disasters on lives, livestock, livelihoods, property, society, economy, or environment.

Mobilization and provision of resources for effective response during disasters, immediate relief work in disaster-hit areas and communities, effective and innovative use of technology in any field of disaster management and disaster mitigation initiatives in hazard-prone areas are some of the other criteria.

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Bimal Jalan to head six-member panel on RBI’s economic capital framework

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), in consultation with the government, has set up a six-member committee to review the economic capital framework of the central bank.

Former RBI Governor Bimal Jalan will be the committee’s chairman and former Deputy Governor Rakesh Mohan deputy chairman.

The committee would submit its report within 90 days from the date of its first meeting, the RBI said in a statement on Wednesday.

The terms of reference of the committee would be to review status, need and justification of various provisions, reserves, and buffers presently provided for by the RBI, keeping in mind ‘public policy mandate of the RBI, including financial stability considerations.’

The committee will also review best practices followed by the central banks globally in making assessment and provisions for risks, to which central bank balance sheets are subjected.

The panel would also suggest an adequate level of risk provisioning that the RBI needs to maintain and to determine whether it is holding provisions, reserves, and buffers in the surplus or deficit of the required level.

The committee would also propose a suitable profit distribution policy taking into account all the likely situations of the RBI, including holding more provisions than required and the RBI holding fewer provisions than required, the statement said.

After the government started pushing the central bank to review its economic capital framework, the RBI board, at its meeting on November 19, decided to set up a committee to review the issue.

The economic capital issue was a bone of contention, among other issues, between the central bank and the Finance Ministry.

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Cabinet approves bill for setting up of National Commission for Indian System of Medicine

The Union Cabinet approved the draft National Commission for Indian Systems of Medicine (NCIM) Bill, 2018, which seeks to replace the existing regulator, the Central Council for Indian Medicine (CCIM), with a new body to ensure transparency and accountability, an official statement said.

The draft bill provides for the constitution of a National Commission with four autonomous boards entrusted with conducting overall education of Ayurveda under the Board of Ayurveda and Unani, Siddha and Sowarigpa under the Board of Unani, Siddha and Sowarigpa.

There are two common boards namely Board of assessment and rating to assess and grant permission to educational institutions of Indian systems of Medicine and Board of ethics and registration of practitioners of Indian systems of medicine to maintain National Register and ethical issues relating to practice under the National Commission for Indian Medicine, the statement stated.

Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, “It also proposes a common entrance exam and an exit exam, which all graduates will have to clear to get practicing licenses. Further, a teacher’s eligibility test has been proposed in the Bill to assess the standard of teachers before appointment and promotions.”Till now things were ad-hoc, he added.

The draft bill, according to the statement, is aimed at bringing reforms in the medical education of Indian medicine sector in lines with the National Medical Commission proposed for setting up for Allopathy system of medicine.

The proposed regulatory structure will enable transparency and accountability for protecting the interests of the general public, it said.

The NCIM will promote the availability of affordable healthcare services in all parts of the country, according to the statement.

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China’s BeiDou navigation satellite, rival to US GPS, starts global services

China’s BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS), touted as a rival to the widely-used American GPS, has started providing global services.

The construction of the BDS-3 primary system had been completed, BDS spokesperson Ran Chengqi said Thursday.

The positioning accuracy of the system has reached 10 metres globally and five metres in the Asia-Pacific region. Its velocity accuracy is 0.2 metres per second, while its timing accuracy stands at 20 nanoseconds.

Pakistan has become the first country to use the BeiDou system ending its reliance on the Global Positioning System (GPS).

Significance:

It will be the fourth global satellite navigation system after the US GPS, Russia’s GLONASS and the European Union’s Galileo.

About BeiDou Satellite System:

Named after the Chinese term for Big Dipper, the BeiDou system started providing independent services over China in 2000. It is being projected by Beijing as a rival to the American Global Positioning System (GPS).

The full constellation is scheduled to comprise 35 satellites.

BeiDou has two separate constellations, BeiDou-1 and BeiDou-2. BeiDou-1 also known as first generation was a constellation of three satellites.

BeiDou-2, also known as COMPASS, is the second generation of the system. It became operational in the year 2011.

The four global GNSS systems are – GPS (US), GLONASS (Russia), Galileo (EU), BeiDou (China). Additionally, there are two regional systems – QZSS (Japan) and IRNSS or NavIC (India).

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CPEC has no military dimensions: Pakistan

China on dismissed as untrue a US media report that alleged that it has hatched a secret plan to build fighter jets and other military hardware in Pakistan as part of the USD 60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.

About CPEC:

The CPEC is the flagship project of the multi-billion dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a pet project of Chinese President Xi Jinping, aimed at enhancing Beijing’s influence around the world through China-funded infrastructure projects.

The 3,000 km-long China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) consisting of highways, railways, and pipelines is the latest irritant in the India–China relationship.

CPEC eventually aims at linking the city of Gwadar in South Western Pakistan to China’s North Western region Xinjiang through a vast network of highways and railways.

The proposed project will be financed by heavily-subsidised loans, that will be disbursed to the Government of Pakistan by Chinese banking giants such as Exim Bank of China, China Development Bank, and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.

But, why is India concerned?

It passes through PoK. Any Indian participation would inextricably be linked to the country’s legitimate claims on PoK.

CPEC rests on a Chinese plan to secure and shorten its supply lines through Gwadar with an enhanced presence in the Indian Ocean. Hence, it is widely believed that upon CPEC’s fruition, an extensive Chinese presence will undermine India’s influence in the Indian Ocean.

It is also being contended that if CPEC were to successfully transform the Pakistan economy that could be a “red rag” for India which will remain at the receiving end of a wealthier and stronger Pakistan.

Besides, India shares a great deal of trust deficit with China and Pakistan and has a history of conflict with both. As a result, even though suggestions to re-approach the project pragmatically have been made, no advocate has overruled the principle strands of contention that continue to mar India’s equations with China and Pakistan.

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Cabinet approves Submission of India’s Second Biennial Update Report (BUR) to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

The Union Minister for Science & Technology, Earth Sciences and Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Dr. Harsh Vardhan addressing at the inauguration of the Indian Pavilion at COP24, at Katowice, Poland on December 03, 2018.
The Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri C.K. Mishra are also seen.

The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved Submission of India’s second Biennial Update Report (BUR) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change towards fulfillment of the reporting obligation under the Convention.

The submission of India’s second BUR would fulfill the obligation of India to furnish information regarding the implementation of the convention, being a party. The scope of the BUR is to provide an update to India’s first BUR to the UNFCCC.

The second biennial update report aims to provide an update to India’s first biennial report to the United Nation’s body on climate change. The report contains five major components including national circumstances, national greenhouse gas inventory, mitigation actions, finance, technology and capacity building needs and support received and domestic monitoring, reporting and verification arrangements.

Key findings:

Out of the total emissions, the energy sector accounted for 73%, IPPU 8%, agriculture 16% and waste sector 3%. About 12% of the emissions were offset by the carbon sink action of forestland, cropland, and settlements.

INDC- India’s proposed targets:

Reduce emissions intensity of its GDP by 33 to 35% by 2030 from 2005 level.

Achieve about 40% electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel based energy resources by 2030 with help of transfer of technology and low-cost international finance.

Create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030.

The UNFCCC was adopted in 1992 at the Rio Earth Summit, which marked the beginning of the international community’s first concerted effort to confront the problem of climate change.

Known also like the Rio Convention, the UNFCCC established a framework for action to stabilize concentrations of greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere.

The UNFCCC entered into force in 1994, and nearly all of the world’s nations—a total of 195—have now signed on.

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Proposals of several states approved for implementation of Mahila Police Volunteer Scheme

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/UTs who will act as a link between police and community and help women in distress. All Chief Secretaries of States/UTs were 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.

Under the scheme, the Mahila Police volunteer is required to mobilize the community to form Mahila and ShishuRakshak Dals (MASRD) to act as community watch groups. As the scheme is at the nascent stage of operationalisation at the field level, no impact assessment on MPVs scheme has been done so far.

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Zika warning: India asks US health agency to ‘withdraw or modify’ travel advisory

India has asked the United States’ public health agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to “withdraw or modify” an advisory it issued on December 13 warning people against travelling to Rajasthan due to an outbreak of the Zika virus,

The government took exception to the use of “endemic” in the advisory as Zika outbreaks in India have been contained within small areas.

The CDC had said the virus was endemic to India and pointed out “there is an unusual increase in the number of Zika cases in Rajasthan and surrounding states”. It cautioned pregnant women against travelling to such areas. This is because Zika infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects. The health agency classified its alert under Level 2, which requires “enhanced protection”. Level 1 advises “usual precautions” and Level 3 advises against “non-essential travel”.

What is Zika Virus?

Zika virus is similar to dengue fever, yellow fever and West Nile virus. Carried by infected Aedes aegypti mosquitos, Zika is largely transmitted through bites, but can also occur through intrauterine infection.

It was first identified in 1947 in Zika Forest, Uganda from where it derives its name.

If a woman is bitten by an infected mosquito and becomes infected, Zika can cross into the placenta and affect the fetus. While anyone can contract Zika, pregnant women are the most at risk due to the potential for fetal microcephaly and other neurologic abnormalities.

Symptoms include fever, headache, red eyes, skin rash, fatigue, muscle pain etc.

Treatment and Prevention: There is no specific treatment or vaccine currently available to treat Zika. The best form of prevention is protection against mosquito bites and clearing stagnant water where mosquitoes breed.

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