Development projects in Coimbatore
Why in News?
- The Prime Minister, dedicated to the nation the 1000 MW Neyveli New Thermal Power Project and 709 MW Solar Power Project of NLCIL.
- Also laid the foundation stone for design, supply, installation and commissioning of a 5MW grid connected ground based solar power plant at V.O.Chidambaranar Port and for the extension, renovation and modernisation of Lower Bhavani Project System.
- Laid the foundation stone for development of Integrated Command and Control Centers (ICCC) in nine Smart Cities including Coimbatore, Madurai, Salem, Thanjavur, Vellore, Tiruchirappalli, Tiruppur, Tirunelveli and Thoothukudi.
- Inaugurated the 8-laning of Korampallam Bridge and Rail Over Bridge (ROB) at V.O.Chidambaranar Port and the tenements constructed under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) scheme.
- Modernization of Bhawani Sagar Dam will irrigate over 2 lakh acres of land and farmers of several districts will benefit from this project.
- The Prime Minister asserted that the Government of India’s commitment to port-led development can be seen through the Sagarmala Scheme.
- About 575 projects at a total cost of over six lakh crore rupees have been identified for implementation during the 2015-2035 period. These works cover: Port modernisation, New port development, Port connectivity enhancement, Port-linked industrialisation and Coastal community development.
- A new Multi-Modal Logistics Park is going to be launched soon at Mappedu near Sriperumbudur in Chennai.
- The ‘8-laning of Korampallam Bridge and Rail Over Bridge was also taken up under ‘Sagarmala programme’.
India Toy Fair 2021
Why in News?
- Prime Ministe will inaugurate The India Toy Fair 2021 on 27th February.
- Toys play a significant part in the development of a child’s mind and also help improve psychomotor and cognitive skills in children.
- In his Mann ki Baat address in August 2020, the Prime Minister had said that toys not only augment activity, but also give flight to aspirations.
About the Fair
- The Fair will be held from 27th February to 2nd March 2021.
- It aims to bring together all stakeholders including buyers, sellers, students, teachers, designers etc. on a virtual platform to create sustainable linkages and encourage dialogue for the overall development of the industry.
- Through this platform, the Government and the Industry shall come together to discuss how India can be made the next global hub for manufacturing and sourcing of toys by way of attracting investments in the sector and promoting exports.
Indian Pharmaceutical Industry 2021: future is now
Why in News?
- Union Chemicals and Fertilizers Minister inaugurated a four day Global Investors meet: India Pharma 2021 & India Medical Devices 2021 organized by FICCI along with Department of Pharmaceuticals, Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers, Government of India, and Invest India.
- EY-FICCI report titled ‘Indian Pharmaceutical Industry 2021: future is now’ was also launched during the event.
Key Highlights of the EY-FICCI report titled: ‘Indian Pharmaceutical Industry 2021: future is now
- The opportunities that have emerged to accelerate the growth of Indian pharmaceutical and healthcare industry are – innovation led research and development, healthcare delivery (R&D), manufacturing and supply chain, and market access.
- Accelerating research and innovation:
- There is a need to move up India’s share of trade in value
- To meet this objective, the industry must consider setting up an overarching regulatory body and a central body to streamline research infrastructure and ﬁnancing from all government bodies, to explore new models for ﬁnancing R&D to increase private investments and also make available funds for high risk and long-term projects, improve industry-academia collaboration and establish a strong innovation ecosystem.
- Achieving equitable and sustainable healthcare:
- The increased acceptability of digital technologies has the potential to improve healthcare delivery. This explores the progress towards achievement of universal healthcare access, establishing efﬁcient processes like the use of Aadhar card to identify and simplify the delivery based on healthcare coverage category.
- Enabling teleconsulting and focusing on preventive healthcare are some other areas for consideration with the role of the role of the industry, government, healthcare sector and insurers carved out.
- Strengthening manufacturing and supply base in domestic and global markets:
- The focus of manufacturing and supply chain initiatives would be to develop capabilities in APIs and enable the manufacturing of complex generics. Ease of doing business is a critical enabler to set up world class manufacturing facilities.
- The attractiveness of the manufacturing sector too needs to be enhanced in order to attract the best talent in India and abroad.
- Given the growth ambitions, it is vital to encourage and setup pharma machine manufacturing facilities in India to lower ﬁxed costs, enable savings in forex and reduce time to set up additional facilities.
- There is also a need to bolster the logistics infrastructure for connecting the key pharma hubs in the country in order to facilitate quick and cost efficient movement of goods including cold chain facilities.
- Improving access to medicines:
- The market access to prescription drugs needs to improve in the country.
- Various global best practices in drug pricing and procurement models can be contextualized for developing geographies Digital marketing of pharma products too must be considered.
MCA & CBIC sign MoU for exchange of data
Why in News?
- The Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) and Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC), signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for data exchange between the two organisations.
- The MoU is in line with the vision of MCA and CBIC to harness data capabilities to ensure effective enforcement.
- Both the organisations are going to benefit from access to each other’s databases which include details of import-export transactions and consolidated financial statements of companies registered in the country.
- The data sharing arrangement gains significance in light of development of MCA21 Version 3 which will utilise state of the art technology for enhancing ease of doing business in India and improve the regulatory enforcement and similar steps by CBIC like the launch of ADVAIT (Advanced Analytics in Indirect Taxation) a 360-degree taxpayer profiling tool.
Why in News?
- Under the amended Companies Act, 2013 and the Nidhi Rules, 2014, companies need to get themselves updated (those companies which were earlier declared as Nidhi company under the Companies Act, 1956) or declared as Nidhi company (those companies which were incorporated as Nidhi company after 01.04.2014) by applying to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA).
- While examining the applications in form NDH-4, it has been observed by the Central Government that these companies have not been complying with the provisions of the rules in-toto.
- This has resulted in rejection of applications filed by the companies for declaration since they have not been found fit to be declared as Nidhi Company.
- Investors are advised to verify the antecedents / status of a Nidhi Company especially their declaration of their status as Nidhi Company by the Central Government before becoming its member and investing their hard earned money in such companies.
- A nidhi company is a type of company in the Indian non-banking finance sector, recognized under section 406 of the Companies Act, 2013.
- Their core business is borrowing and lending money between their members.
- They are also known as Permanent Fund, Benefit Funds, Mutual Benefit Funds and Mutual Benefit Company.
- They are regulated by Ministry of Corporate Affairs, which is also empowered to issue directions to them in matters relating to their deposit acceptance activities.
- Nidhi means a company which has been incorporated with the object of developing the habit of thrift and reserve funds amongst its members and also receiving deposits and lending to its members only for their mutual benefit.
- Nidhi companies existed even prior to the existence of companies Act 2013. The basic concept of nidhi is “Principle of Mutuality”.
- These companies are more popular in South India, and 80% of Nidhi companies are located in Tamil Nadu.
24th India-USA Executive Steering Group (ESG) Meeting
Why in News?
- The 24th edition of the India-USA Executive Steering Group (ESG) meeting was held at New Delhi.
- The forum is an Army to Army engagement that meets every year alternately in India and USA to discuss Army to Army cooperation.
- A number of contemporary issues of mutual interests where discussed with an aim to enhance the engagements in diverse fields.
City Innovation Exchange (CiX)
Why in News?
- The City Innovation Exchange (CiX) platform was launched.
- The platform will be a significant addition to the growing innovation ecosystem of India and focuses on fostering innovative practices in cities.
- CiX, through an ‘open innovation’ process, engages with innovators to design-test-deliver on solutions to pressing urban challenges.
- Designed on the philosophy of ‘everyone is an innovator’, the platform will bring together Citizen Organisations-Academia- Businesses- Government to co-create for the future of Urban India in a transparent and sustainable manner.
- The Smart Cities Mission will partner and effectively collaborate with Startup India, Atal Innovation Mission, AGNIi and other initiatives in the Indian Innovation ecosystem.
City Innovation Exchange (CiX)
- The City Innovation Exchange (CiX) will connect cities to innovators across the national ecosystem to design innovative solutions for their pressing challenges.
- The platform will ease the discovery, design & validation of solutions through a robust, transparent and user centric process that will reduce barriers for innovators and cities to discover fitting solutions.
- Built on the concept of ‘open innovation’, the platform will help in the flow of ideas ‘outside in and inside out’, enhancing the skills and capacity required to deliver smart urban governance.
- Through interaction with the Academia and Businesses/Startups, the platform will benefit cities in the transfer of ideas from ‘labs’ to real environment. Similarly, by helping urban governments interact with citizens, the platform will ensure adoption of tested solutions that will be impactful and sustainable.
- The platform in due time will help our cities in adopting solutions that will enhance the quality of life for its residents and significantly improve the Ease of Doing Business.
Swachh Iconic Places
Why in News?
- Taking forward the vision of Prime Minister for transforming iconic heritage, spiritual and cultural places in the country as ‘Swachh Tourist Destinations’ under Swachh Iconic Places (SIP) initiative of Swachh Bharat Mission Grameen (SBM-G), the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation (DDWS), Ministry of Jal Shakti has announced the selection of the following Twelve (12) iconic sites under Phase IV of SIP.
- Ajanta Caves, Maharashtra
- Sanchi Stupa, Madhya Pradesh
- Kumbhalgarh Fort, Rajasthan
- Jaisalmer Fort, Rajasthan
- Ramdevra, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan
- Golconda Fort, Hyderabad, Telangana
- Sun Temple, Konark, Odisha
- Rock Garden, Chandigarh
- Dal Lake, Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir
- Banke Bihari Temple, Mathura, Uttar Pradesh
- Agra Fort, Agra, Uttar Pradesh
- Kalighat Temple, West Bengal
The initiative aims at enhancing the experience of both domestic and foreign visitors by improving the sanitation and cleanliness standards at and around the sites.
The objective of SIP is to achieve a distinctly higher level of Sanitation/Cleanliness at these places, especially on the peripheries and in approach areas.
This project is being coordinated by the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation (DDWS), Ministry of Jal Shakti in association with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA), Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Culture and the concerned State/UT governments.
Why in News?
- A Memorandum of Understanding is signed between IWAI and MOL (Asia Oceania) Pte. Ltd for transportation of LPG (Liquified Natural Gas) through barges on National Waterways-1 and National Waterways-2.
Inland Waterways Authority of India will provide support for:
- Facilitating with adequate fairway.
- Handling of LPG cargo on IWAI terminals/ Multimodal Terminals at Haldia, Sahibganj and Varanasi as per notified provisions and rates on request of MOL.
- Providing Lease Available Depth (LAD) information on fortnightly/ monthly basis.
- MOL Group is the world’s largest gas carrier company and will invest for construction and operation of dedicated LPG barges under Make-in-India initiative of the Government of India. A
- Presently, 60% of the LPG is moved through road to the various locations with a cost of Rs. 5 to 6 per metric tonne per kilometre, which the oil companies are interested in reducing.
- Also at times, there are issues of strikes by transporters, road blockages which cause delay in transportation.
- Therefore, the main area of interest for the companies is to use waterways to have a cheaper alternative to the existing mode of transportation, which is also cleaner and greener mode.
Pakistan to remain on FATF ‘Greylist’
Why in News?
- The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) decided to retain Pakistan on the “greylist” till the next review of its performance on the recommendations during the June Plenary session.
- The three points on which the FATF has sought urgent action by Pakistan pertain to effective steps — in terms of financial sanctions and penalties — against the terror funding infrastructure and the entities involved.
- The FATF assesses the strength of a country’s anti-money laundering and anti-terror financing frameworks and does not go by individual cases.
Inscription on Vijayanagar king’s death discovered
Why in News?
- The first-ever epigraphical reference to the date of death of Vijayanagar king Krishnadevaraya has been discovered at Honnenahalli in Tumakuru district.
- As per the inscription, Krishnadevaraya, one of the greatest emperors of India who ruled from the South, died on October 17, 1529, Sunday, and incidentally this day was marked by a lunar eclipse.
- The inscription is engraved on a slab kept on the north side of the Gopalakrishna temple at Honnenahalli in Tumakuru district and is written in Kannada.
- The Kalahasti inscription refers to the date of Achyutaraya’s coronation as October 21, 1529 AD.
- Normally, the death of kings was not recorded in the inscriptions and this was one of those rare records.
Why in News?
- International travellers are particularly vulnerable to virulent strains of drug-resistant bacteria – often picking up several different types during a trip through spending time in the company of other tourists, a new study has revealed.
- The global spread of intestinal multidrug resistant gram-negative (MDR-GN) bacteria poses a serious threat to human health worldwide, with MDR clones of E.coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae threatening more antibiotic resistant infections around the world.
- The impact of travel on the global spread of multidrug-resistant E. coli is well documented – up to 80% of travellers returning from high-risk regions are colonised by MDR-GN bacteria, with colonisation lasting up to a year.
- Researchers found that, of the group of 20 European volunteers visiting Laos, 70% had been colonised at the end of the study. Daily sampling revealed that all participants had acquired extended-spectrum beta-lactamases (ESBL) at some time point during their overseas stay.
- ESBL enzymes create resistance within the body to most beta-lactam antibiotics, including penicillins, cephalosporins, and aztreonam. Infections with ESBL-producing organisms have proved difficult to treat.
Effect of Arctic ice loss
- Polar bears and narwhals are using up to four times as much energy to survive because of major ice loss in the Arctic, according to scientists.
- Once perfectly evolved for polar life, apex predators are struggling as their habitats shrink and unique adaptations become less suited to an increasingly ice-free Arctic, researchers say.
- The mammals are physiologically designed to use as little energy as possible. Polar bears are primarily “sit and wait” hunters, adapted to catching seals by breathing holes, and narwhals have evolved to dive very deep for prey without making fast movements.
- Polar bears feed mainly on the energy-rich blubber of ringed and bearded seals, but this food source is harder to come by. The sea ice on which they hunt has shrunk by 13% every decade since 1979.
- Land-based resources are unlikely to compensate for the decline in seal feeding opportunities, meaning the bears are significantly more vulnerable to starvation.
- Narwhals are endurance swimmers that can reach depths of 1,500 metres (5,000ft) in search of Greenland halibut, their favourite prey. They need reliable breathing holes, but the ice is changing rapidly and moving in new ways, meaning holes have shifted and in some cases disappeared.
Two-thirds of poor countries slashed education budget
- Two-thirds of low- and lower-middle-income countries cut public education budgets since the onset of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, a recent United Nations report flagged.
- Among upper-middle and high-income countries, only a third did so.
- Education budgets have not adjusted proportionately to the challenges brought about by COVID-19, especially in poorer countries.
- It observed that the challenge was also about improving the effectiveness of funding.
- It found that despite increases in public education spending before the pandemic, the funding has only resulted in relatively small improvements in educational outcomes.
- Although access to education has improved in low and middle-income countries, the learning poverty rate — the proportion of 10-year-olds unable to read a short, age-appropriate text — was at around 53 per cent compared to only nine per cent for high-income countries in pre-COVID-19 times.
- COVID-19-related school closures are likely to increase this 53 per cent share to as much as 63 per cent in poorer countries.
- Global spending on education increased 21 per cent over the last 10 years.
- Funding for education grew most rapidly in low- and lower-middle-income countries, where the gaps between the funding needed to achieve the United Nations-mandated Sustainable Development Goals and current allocations are the widest.