4TH March 2021. PIB+The Hindu+Indian Express

4TH March 2021. PIB+The Hindu+Indian Express

QS World University Rankings

GS Paper 1: Education 

Why in News?

12 Indian institutions have made it to the top 100 of the world in QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021.

Rank
 Institutes And Global Ranks

1

Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay (49)

2

Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi (54)

3

Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras (94)

4

Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur (101)

5

Indian Institute of Science (103)

6

Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur (107)

7

Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Roorkee (176)

8

Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Guwahati (253)

9

Anna University (388)

10

Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani (401-450)

11

The University of Delhi (401-450)

12

Vellore Institute of Technology (401-450)

About QS World University Rankings
  • QS World University Rankings is an annual publication of university rankings by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) which is a British company specialising in the analysis of higher education institutions around the world. 
  • In partnership with Elsevier, the QS system now comprises the global overall and subject rankings (which name the world's top universities for the study of 51 different subjects and five composite faculty areas), alongside five independent regional tables (Asia, Latin America, Emerging Europe and Central Asia, the Arab Region, and BRICS).
Significance of QS World University Rankings
  • One of the biggest challenges faced by India is educational – providing highquality tertiary education in the face of exploding demand: this much was recognized by last year’s NEP, which set the ambitious target of a 50% gross enrolment ratio by 2035.
  • Several programs at India’s privately-run prospective Institutions of Eminence have made progress this year, demonstrating the positive role that well-regulated private provision can have in enhancing India’s higher education sector.
  • These rankings serve to showcase India’s aspirations and ability to fulfil them. This is a historic moment for India to acknowledge, appreciate and encourage its world-class institutions that have made a mark at the highest level in these rankings.
  • The National Education Policy 2020 has also underscored India’s aspiration to build world-class universities.”

Source: PIB + Hindustan Times + The Hindu+ https://www.topuniversities.com/university-rankings-articles/world-university-rankings/world-university-rankings-frequently-asked-questions + Wikipedia


Ease of Living Index 2020 and Municipal Performance Index 2020

Paper 1: Urbanisation

Why in news?
  • Housing and Urban Affairs announced the release of the final rankings of Ease of Living Index (EoLI) 2020 and the Municipal Performance Index (MPI) 2020.
  • 111 cities participated in the assessment exercise that was conducted in 2020. The analysis categorises them into Million+ populated cities (those with a population of more than a million) and Less than Million populated cites (those with a population of less than a million).
  • Bengaluru emerged as the top performer in the Million+ category,
  • In the Less than Million category, Shimla was ranked the highest in ease of living.
The Ease of Living Index (EoLI)
  • It is an assessment tool that evaluates the quality of life and the impact of various initiatives for urban development.
  • It provides a comprehensive understanding of participating cities across India based on quality of life, economic-ability of a city, and its sustainability and resilience.
  • The assessment also incorporates the residents' view on the services provided by city administration through a Citizen Perception Survey.
Municipal Performance Index 2020
  • The MPI examined the sectoral performance of 111 municipalities
  • The assessment framework under MPI 2020 has classified municipalities based on their population- Million+ (municipalities having over a million population) and Less than Million Population. In the Million+ category, Indore has emerged as the highest ranked municipality, In the Less than Million category, New Delhi Municipal Council has emerged as the leader.
  • The Municipal Performance Index (MPI) was launched as an accompaniment to the Ease of Living Index.
  • It seeks to examine local government practice in municipalities across areas of services, finance, policy, technology and governance. It seeks to simplify and evaluate the complexities in local governance practice and promote the ethos of transparency and accountability.

 

 

  • Both the indices represent an attempt to gauge the performance of cities across India on various parameters of urban living.
  • The Ease of Living Index encapsulates the outcome indicators while the Municipal Performance Index captures the enabling input parameters.
  • These indices provide a holistic assessment of cities based on their efforts to cultivate better quality of life, create infrastructure, and address challenges of urbanization.
  • Learnings gathered from these indices can help the government identify gaps, tap into potential opportunities, and increase efficiency in local governance to improve lives of citizens and fulfil broader development outcomes.
  • The framework for these assessments were prepared by MoHUA with the Institute for Competitiveness as the knowledge partner.

Source- PIB


Freedom in the World report

GS Paper 2 : Freedom of Expresson

  • It is a report published by Freedom House, which assesses each country's degree of political freedoms and civil liberties, is frequently cited by political scientists, journalists, and policymakers. 
  • Freedom of the Press and Freedom on the Net, which monitor censorship, intimidation and violence against journalists, and public access to information, are among its other signature reports.
Freedom House
  • It is a U.S.-based, U.S. government-funded non-profit non-governmental organization (NGO) that conducts research and advocacy on democracy, political freedom, and human rights.
  • Freedom House was founded in October 1941, and Wendell Willkie and Eleanor Roosevelt served as its first honorary chairpersons.
  • It describes itself as a "clear voice for democracy and freedom around the world", although critics have stated that the organization is biased towards US interests.
  • The organization was 66% funded by grants from the U.S. government in 2006, a number which has increased to 86% in 2016.
  • The reliance on US funding has been acknowledged as "a problem" within Freedom House but accepted as a "necessary evil".
Why in news?
The report states that Indian is partly free.
  • India’s score was 67 It is a report published by Freedom House, which assesses each country's degree of political freedoms and civil liberties, is frequently cited by political scientists, journalists, and policymakers. 
  • Freedom of the Press and Freedom on the Net, which monitor censorship, intimidation and violence against journalists, and public access to information, are among its other signature reports. (reflecting 2019 data) downgrading it from the free category last year (based on 2020 data).

Source- IE, The Hindu


Letting go linguistic barriers in education

GS Paper 2- Governance & Policy Making

Why in News?

The Union Budget, had broadened the government’s efforts to link education with employability and entrepreneurial capability

  • Key takeaways from PM of India Budget Discussion
    • The focus on learning in local languages was one of the most important improvements being brought through the new National Education Policy.
    • those who knew only their own languages should not be excluded from the development journey of the country.
  • National Research Foundation-  It is a soon-to-be-set-up autonomous body envisaged under the New Education Policy (NEP) 2020, with an earmarked budget of 50,000 crore. It is considered to be one of the biggest announcements under NEP, it will look after funding, mentoring, and building ‘quality of research’ in India. The NRF aims to fund researchers working across streams in India.
  • Back to basics This must be done from primary to higher education, with content creation in Indian languages for all subjects, whether medical, engineering, technology or management.
  • The National Language Translation Mission
    • It is one of the key missions identified by the Prime Minister’s Science, Technology and Innovation Advisory Council (PM-STIAC).
    • The Ministry of Electronics and IT will soon place before the Union Cabinet a 450 crore proposal for Natural Language Translation. The proposal is part of the 100-day action plan charted out by MeitY, 
Role of language in self reliant India:
  • “For building an Atmanirbhar Bharat, it is important that the youth have self confidence. Self confidence comes when youth have faith in their language, education, skills and knowledge,”

Source- IE, The Hindu


CoWIN- Covid Vaccine Intelligence Network

General Studies- 2, Good Governance Paper-3 Health 

  • It is the Covid Vaccine Intelligence Network (CoWIN) system, an online platform launched by government of India to facilitate World’s largest Covid-19 vaccination programme.
  • CoWIN is essentially an extension of eVIN.
  • CoWIN is a cloud-based IT solution for planning, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of Covid-19 vaccination in India.
  • The system allows for creation of users (admins, supervisors, vaccinators), registration of beneficiaries (bulk upload and individual registration), facilities/planning unit and session sites followed by planning and scheduling sessions and implementation of vaccination process.

For several years now under its universal immunisation programme, India has been using a vaccine intelligence system called eVIN (electronic vaccine intelligence network), which provides real-time feedback of vaccine stocks, power outages, temperature fluctuations etc.

Why in News?

The prime Minister of India launched the CoWIN platform .

Significance-
  • The CoWIN platform is implementing the vaccination program, with the help of Information Communication Technology.

Source- IE, The Hindu

 


Free Education

GS Paper-2 : Fundamental rights & Governance

GS Paper-1 Education

Why in News?
  • Delhi High Court asked the Ministry of Education to respond to a contempt petition against the authorities for not taking decision on extension of free education under the Right To Education (RTE) Act to children of Economically Weaker Section (EWS) beyond Class 8 and up to Class 12 in school.
  • The question is to extend the RTE Act, as per court’s directions passed in 2019.
Background:
  • The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act or Right to Education Act (RTE), is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted on 4 August 2009, which describes the modalities of the importance of free and compulsory education for children between 6 and 14 in India under Article 21a of the Indian Constitution.
  • India became one of 135 countries to make education a fundamental right of every child when the Act came into force on 1 April 2010.
Note - The following suggestion is to be used while writing the answers.
Suggestion-
The High Court had in December 2019, asked the Centre to take a decision on the extension of free education to EWS children even after attaining the age of 14 years or beyond.
Source-IE

NIA- National Investigation Agency 

GS Paper 3 : Internal Security- Security institutions and their mandate

  • The National Investigation Agency (NIA) is India's counter-terrorist task force.
  • The agency is empowered to deal with terror related crimes across states without special permission from the states.
  • The Agency came into existence with the enactment of the National Investigation Agency Act 2008 by the Parliament of India on 31 December 2008, which was passed after the deadly 26/11 terror attack in Mumbai.
  • NIA has its headquarters in New Delhi and some branches in - Hyderabad, Guwahati, Kochi, Lucknow, Mumbai, Kolkata, Raipur and Jammu. 
The National Investigation Agency (Amendment) Bill, 2019
  • Scheduled Offences
    • The schedule to the Act specifies a list of offences which are to be investigated and prosecuted by the NIA. 
    • These include offences under Acts such as the Atomic Energy Act, 1962, and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967. 
    • The Bill seeks to allow the NIA to investigate the following offences, in addition:
      • (i) human trafficking,
      • (ii) offences related to counterfeit currency or bank notes,
      • (iii) manufacture or sale of prohibited arms,
      • (iv) cyber-terrorism, and
      • (v) offences under the Explosive Substances Act, 1908.       

For REF: The Atomic Energy Act, 1962 isan Act to  provide  for  the  development,  control  and use  of  atomic  energy  for  the welfare  of  the  people  ofIndia and  for other peaceful purposes and  for matters connected therewith.

Jurisdiction of the NIA: 
  • The Act provides for the creation of the NIA to investigate and prosecute offences specified in the schedule. 
  • The officers of the NIA have the same powers as other police officers in relation to investigation of such offences, across India. 
  • The Bill states that in addition, officers of the NIA will have the power to investigate scheduled offences committed outside India, subject to international treaties and domestic laws of other countries. 
  • The central government may direct the NIA to investigate such cases, as if the offence has been committed in India. 
  • The Special Court in New Delhi will have jurisdiction over these cases.
Special Courts:
  • The Act allows the central government to constitute Special Courts for the trial of scheduled offences. 
  • The Bill amends this to state that the central government may designate Sessions Courts as Special Courts for the trial of scheduled offences. 
  • The central government is required to consult the Chief Justice of the High Court under which the Sessions Court is functioning, before designating it as a Special Court. 
  • When more than one Special Court has been designated for any area, the senior-most judge will distribute cases among the courts. 
  • Further, state governments may also designate Sessions Courts as Special Courts for the trial of scheduled offences. 
Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967. 

An Act to provide for the more effective prevention of certain unlawful activities of individuals and associations [and for dealing with terrorist activities, and for matters connected therewith.

Scheduled offence may refer to:
  • An offence listed in a schedule to a statute indicating that the statute's provisions apply to such offences:
    • Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Ordinance, 1999, Pakistan—scheduled offences are considered terrorist acts
    • Arms Offences Act, Singapore—scheduled offences are liable to the death penalty
    • Firearms (Increased Penalties) Act 1971, Malaysia—scheduled offences are liable to the death penalty
    • Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, India—dealing with the proceeds of crime of scheduled offences
    • Terrorism Act 2000, United Kingdom—scheduled offences may have juryless trials
  • In particular, an offence which is tried in a special court instead of the ordinary criminal courts:
    • Diplock court—Northern Ireland, 1973–2007
    • Special Criminal Court—Republic of Ireland 1939–1946, 1961–62, and since 1972

Source- Wikipedia

Source- http://forestsclearance.nic.in/

Source- https://www.mha.gov.in/


Similipal Biospheres reserve-

GS Paper 3 – Environment and Ecology : In the questions related to forest fires

Why in News?

A massive fire has caused damage to Similipal Biosphere. The fire that broke out in isolated places of Similipal in Mayurbhanj district in the first week of February has spread to eight forest ranges and is raging.

About Similipal Biosphere reserve-
  • Similipal biosphere is one of the largest biospheres in India.
  • The biosphere spread over 4,374 sq. km. has 845 sq. km. of core forest (tiger reserve), 2,129 sq km buffer area and 1,400 sq km of transition space.
  • Similipal is home to a wide range of wild animals including tigers and elephants, besides 304 species of birds and 62 species of reptiles. It also hosts 1,076 flowering species.
Significance of an event:

Government need to ensure the expediate implementation of real time fire forewarning system. To act swiftly and timely to avoid lifeloss of fauna (such as Melanistic tigers) and flora.

Melanistic Tigers

The tiger is listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List and it is endemic to Similipal Biosphere Reserve

Source: The Hindu + wikipedia


India is the pharmacy to the world

GS Paper 3 : Health

Why in news?

The Vice President express his concern over the issue is his speech while inaugurating Amara multi specialty hospital in Tirupati

Reasons why India is the pharmacy to the world?
  • The life-saving role played by Indian pharmaceutical firms in poorer countries of Africa is one of the real global success stories of our time.
  • The price constrain: the western drug companies charge very heavy amount from the buyer whereas Indian generic drug manufacturing companies fills this place and make medicine available at the much cheaper prices.
  • Diseases Such as AIDS, Malaria add cost of medicines in Africa continent and Indian Pharma companies reduced this cost from USD 150b to USD 2b.
  • COVID 19 outbreak: Indian Pharma companies such as Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute of India along with ICMR proved the capability of Indian Pharma sector by producing two vaccines at a very large scale.

Source : PIB


Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA)

GS Paper 3: Agriculture Marketing + Agriculture Exports + Food Processing Industry

  • It is an Apex-Export Trade Promotion Active government body set up by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of under the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority Act passed by the Parliament in December, 1985.
  • The Authority replaced the Processed Food Export Promotion Council (PFEPC).
Why in news?
  • APEDA is promoting rice exports through collaborations with various stakeholders in the value chains. The government had set up the Rice Export Promotion Forum (REPF), under the aegis of the APEDA.
  • The first consignment of ‘red rice’ was flagged off today to the USA which is a major boost to India’s rice export potential.
Background-
  • Iron rich ‘red rice’ is grown in Brahmaputra valley of Assam, without the use of any chemical fertilizer. The rice variety is referred as ‘Bao-dhaan’, which is an integral part of the Assamese food.
Deep Water Rice (DWR) cultivation
  • It is the technique in Brahmaputra valley of Assam popularly known as Bao Dhan, includes traditional rice landraces generally grown in low, swampy lands and flood-prone areas with water stagnation beyond 50 cm height that remains for periods of 2–6 months in their growing season.
  • The rice having a high content of iron, protein, vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus, selenium, thiamine, niacin, manganese and is high in fibre.
Bao- Dhaan
Key Takeaways-
  • APEDA is promoting rice exports through collaborations with various stakeholders in the value chains. The government had set up the Rice Export Promotion Forum (REPF), under the aegis of the APEDA.
  • The exports of non-Basmati witnessed a growth of 125 % in Rupee term and 115 % Dollar terms.
  • The sharp spike in rice exports especially during a phase where globally the COVID19 pandemic has disrupted supply changes many commodities, has been attributed to the government taking prompt measures to ensure exports of rice while taking all the COVID19 related safety precautions.
About REPF : Rice Export Promotion Forum
  • The REPF was set up in order to provide special support to rice export.
  • The new body will comprise representatives from the rice industry, exporters, and officials from APEDA, Commerce Ministry, Agriculture Ministry and Directors of Agriculture from major rice producing states such as West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh and Odisha.
  • “The export promotion forum will make concerted efforts to identify, document particulars and reach out to stakeholders across the entire production/ supply chain of export of rice for increasing these exports significantly to the global market, through various interventions,” the notification said.
  • The new forum will monitor, identify and anticipate developments pertaining to production and exports and recommend necessary policy measures. It will be in touch with rice producers, exporters and other relevant stakeholders and hear their problems, and facilitate, support and provide solutions to them.
India’s edge in rice export
  • With the newly dedicated forum, exporters can now focus on how to increase rice exports with other countries.
  • Rice is the only agri-commodity from India currently that maintained its competitiveness in the overseas market, as exports of other grains such as wheat and maize are unviable due to the higher production costs.
  • Currently, India is the second largest producer of rice in the world and production has been increasing for years.
  • As per the per Second Advance Estimates of 2019-20, rice production is seen touching a record 117.47 million tonnes in 2019-20, against 96 million tonnes or rice produced in 2010-11.

Source : PIB + APEDA Website + https://www.researchgate.net/publication/343380803_Bao_Dhan_of_Assam_organically_grown_indigenous_rice_slated_to_increase_farmer's_income/download


Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)

Paper 3: Indian Economic Development

Why in news?

FDI equity inflow grew by 40% in first 3 Quarters ofF.Y. 2020-21
  • India has attracted total FDI inflow of US$ 67.54 billion during April to December 2020. It is the highest ever for the first ninth months of a financial year.
  • FDI equity inflow grew by 40% in the first 9 months of F.Y. 2020-21 (US$ 51.47 billion) compared to the year ago period (US$ 36.77 billion).
About FDI
  • Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is a major driver of economic growth and an important source of non-debt finance for the economic development of India.
  • It has been the endeavour of the Government to put in place an enabling and investor friendly FDI policy which intends tomake the FDI policy more investor friendly and remove the policy bottlenecks that have been hindering the investment inflows into the country resulting in ever-increasing volumes of FDI inflows being received into the country.
  • Measures taken by the Government on the fronts of FDI policy reforms, investment facilitation and ease of doing business have resulted in increased FDI inflows into the country.

Source: PIB


“CSIR Floriculture Mission”

GS Paper 3: Agriculture

  • Recently, CSIR Floriculture Mission has been approved for implementation in 21 States and Union Territories of India wherein available knowledgebase in CSIR Institutes will be utilized and leveraged to help Indian farmers and industry re-position itself to meet the import requirements..
This Mission is being implemented in collaboration with
  • Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR)-Directorate of Floriculture;
  • Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC);
  • Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA),
  • Ministry of Commerce;
  • Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India Ltd. (TRIFED);
  • Fragrance and Flavour Development Centre (FFDC), Kannauj,
  • Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) and
  • Universities.
Significance of Floriculture
  • Floriculture has the potential to provide employment to many people through nursery raising, floriculture farming, entrepreneurship development for nursery trade, value addition and export.
  • India has a share of 0.6 % of global floriculture market.
  • At least 1200 million USD worth of floriculture products are being imported by India every year from different countries.
Initiatives till now
  • Since 1953, CSIR has been developing new floral varieties and several value addition technologies.
  • Through Floriculture Mission of CSIR, agro-technologies, new varieties and value addition technologies available with the CSIR institutions, efforts are being made to take these to farmers and entrepreneurs, and help them in multiplying their income”.
Key points of Mission
  • “Market linkage and trade issues will be solved with partnership of APEDA, state horticulture departments and TRIFED”. 
  • The convergence of Floriculture with Apiculture as envisaged in the mission will yield even greater benefits.
  • The CSIR Floriculture Mission is expected to create opportunity for entrepreneurship development in floriculture .
  • Infusion of latest technologies in the field of floriculture can be successfully led by CSIR.
  • The mission will focus on  commercial floral crops, seasonal/annual crops, wild ornaments and  cultivation of flower crops for honey bee rearing.
  • Some of the popular crops include  Gladiolus, Canna, Carnation, Chrysanthemum, Gerbera, Lilium, Marigold, Rose, Tuberose etc. The Indian floriculture market was worth Rs 15700 cr in 2018.
  • The market is projected to reach Rs47200 cr by 2024 during 2019-24.

Source- PIB


Fact for preliminary exam

CERAWeek Global Energy and Environment Leadership Award
Key Takeaways-
  • CERAWeek was founded in 1983 by Daniel Yergin and is held in Houston annually.
  • CERAWeek is an annual energy conference organized by the information and insights company IHS Markit in Houston, Texas.
  • The conference provides a platform for discussion on a range of energy-related topics; CERAWeek 2019 featured sessions on the world economic outlook, geopolitics, energy policy and regulation, climate change and technological innovation, among other topics
  • The CERAWeek Global Energy and Environment Leadership Award was instituted in 2016.
  • It recognises the commitment of leadership on the future of global energy and environment, and for offering solutions and policies for energy access, affordability and environmental stewardship.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi received the CERAWeek Global Energy and Environment Leadership Award 0n 05 march 2021.

Source: PIB