· UNSUNG HEROES: For the first time, Padma Awards became People’s Awards: doors were opened to unsung heroes.
· For the first time in the 62-year old history of Padma Awards, ordinary citizens were also given the opportunity to nominate others.
· Previously only Union Ministers, MoS, Chief Ministers, Governors, Members of Parliament, previous recipients and important persons could nominate others for these Awards.
· Exemplary people who normally went unrecognized were honoured for the first time. Eg:
- Shri Karimul Hak, who runs a ‘Bike-Ambulance-service’ for the people of Dhalabari Village in Jalpaiguri district of West Bengal. He was awarded Padma Shri in 2017.
- Ms. Subhasini Mistry, who had worked as a domestic help and saved money to build a Humanity Hospital to provide free healthcare to poor was awarded Padma Shri in 2018
Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) during 2017 were 10.18 million with a growth of 15.6% over the same period of the previous year, compared to FTAs of 8.8 million with a growth of 9.7% in 2016 over 2015.
During 2017, a total of 1.7 million foreign tourists arrived on e-Tourist Visa as compared to 1.08 million during 2016, registering a growth of 57.2%.
Foreign Exchange Earnings (FEEs) during 2017 was Rs.1,80,379 Crore with a growth of 17% over same period of previous year. Whereas, the FEEs during 2016 were Rs.1,54,146 Crore with a growth of 14% over 2015.
INCREDIBLE INDIA 2.0: · Launched on 27.9.2017 to promote tourism in India · Niche tourism products: Heritage Tourism, Adventure Tourism, Cruise Tourism, Rural Tourism, Wellness & Medical Tourism, MICE, etc. being promoted through the Incredible India 2.0 Campaign
INDIA’S RANK IMPROVES India’s rank in the Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index (TTCI) in 2017 jumped 25 places ahead of 2013. Rank of India in TTCI report of 2017 was 40th as compared to 52nd in 2015 and 65th in 2013.
RENOVATION OF RIVER GHATS · Several River Ghats are developed under the Swadesh Darshan and PRASHAD Scheme
AADARSH SMAARAK: 100 ASI monuments are named as Aadarsh Smaarak for upgradation of existing facilities/amenities to promote tourism.
· For development of tourism infrastructure in the country, the Ministry launched the Swadesh Darshan scheme – Integrated Development of Theme-based Tourist Circuits in January 2015.
· Aims to develop theme based tourist circuits on theme based principles of high tourist value, competitiveness and sustainability in an integrated manner.
· Under the scheme, 15 thematic circuits have been identified so far namely North-East India Circuit, Buddhist Circuit, Himalayan Circuit, Coastal Circuit, Krishna Circuit, Desert Circuit, Tribal Circuit, Eco Circuit, Wildlife Circuit, Rural Circuit, Spiritual Circuit, Ramayana Circuit, Heritage Circuit, Sufi Circuit and Teerthankar Circuit.
· The Ministry as on date has sanctioned 67 projects worth projects for Rs. 5638.87 Crore to 29 States and UTs covering fourteen thematic circuits under the Swadesh Darshan Scheme.
· For North Eastern States the Ministry has sanctioned 14 projects worth Rs. 1267.49 Crores covering all the 8 states. · Under Tribal Crcuit Ministry has sanctioned 4 projects worth Rs. 381.37 Crore to the SG of Nagaland, Chhattisgarh and Telangana.
· For Buddhist Circuit the Ministry has sanctioned 5 projects worth Rs. 361.97 Crore to the SG of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat. · The timelines of the projects varies from 18-36 months. All these projects are at various stages of implementation.
PRASHAD (National Mission on Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual, Heritage Augmentation Drive) · Launched on January 2015 to beautify, develop and improve amenities of important pilgrimage and heritage destinations of the country.
· 23 projects pilgrimage sites have been sanctioned so far for a total amount of Rs. 687.91 Crore. 11 projects/major components thereof under the scheme would be completed during the FY 2018-19.
· Aims to preserve and revitalize India’s heritage cities by encouraging an aesthetically appealing, informative & secure environment.
· Being implemented in 12 cities, Ajmer, Amaravati, Amritsar, Badami, Dwarka, Gaya, Kanchipuram, Mathura, Puri, Varanasi, Velankanni, and Warangal
NATIONAL MISSION ON CULTURAL MAPPING OF INDIA To preserve rich Indian Art and Cultural Heritage and develop an objective Cultural Mapping. Profiles of about 6000 artistes have been recorded in the database.
INTERNATIONAL YOGA DAY · Yoga gets international acclaim: 21st June every year is now the International Yoga Day
· IDY 2015: New Delhi, IDY 2016: Chandigarh, IDY 2017: Lucknow RASHTRIYA EKTA DIWAS- To mark the Birth Anniversary of Sardar Patel on 31st October
125TH BIRTH ANNIVERSARY OF Dr. B R AMBEDKAR 14 April 2015
350TH ANNIVERSARY OF GURU GOBIND SINGH 05 January 2017
CENTENARY CELEBRATIONS OF CHAMPARAN SATYAGRAHA Concluding ceremony on 10th April 2018 in Champaran, Bihar
· National Implementation Committee (NIC) set up for commemoration of the event on 2nd October 2019
· First Meeting of the National Implementation Committee (NIC) for commemoration of the event on 2nd October 2019 held on 2.5.2018
· Rs 150 Cr earmarked for 2018-19 for activities leading to the commemoration
Key facts: LPG is being supplied beyond commercial considerations with the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana initiated by the Ministry of Petroleum. With three bottling plants at Kochi, Kozhikode, and Kollam, LPG is being brought to 49.79 lakh customers through 308 distributors.
Background: Kerala is one of the States with the highest penetration of LPG, which is transforming lifestyles. The target has almost been achieved in most villages, towns and cities in the Kerala.
LPG consumption was 933.3 TMT (thousand tonnes) in the Kerala in 2017-18. It is estimated that one crore tonnes of emissions, from poisonous gases like firewood cooking, have been contained and 25 lakh trees have been saved.
About Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana: Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana aims to provide LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) connections to poor households.
Who is eligible? Under the scheme, an adult woman member of a below poverty line family identified through the Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) is given a deposit-free LPG connection with financial assistance of Rs 1,600 per connection by the Centre.
Identification of households: Eligible households will be identified in consultation with state governments and Union territories. The scheme is being implemented by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.
Some of the objectives of the scheme are: Empowering women and protecting their health. Reducing the serious health hazards associated with cooking based on fossil fuel. Reducing the number of deaths in India due to unclean cooking fuel. Preventing young children from significant number of acute respiratory illnesses caused due to indoor air pollution by burning the fossil fuel.
What makes LPG adoption necessary? A large section of Indians, especially women and girls, are exposed to severe household air pollution (HAP) from the use of solid fuels such as biomass, dung cakes and coal for cooking. A report from the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare places HAP as the second leading risk factor contributing to India’s disease burden.
According to the World Health Organization, solid fuel use is responsible for about 13% of all mortality and morbidity in India (measured as Disability-Adjusted Life Years), and causes about 40% of all pulmonary disorders, nearly 30% of cataract incidences, and over 20% each of ischemic heart disease, lung cancer and lower respiratory infection.
Significance of the project: PMUY has been a revolutionary initiative that has transformed the lives of more than 3.57 crore households spanning across the length and breadth of the country. The initiative is in line with Governments aim to eradicate energy poverty, thereby promoting economic empowerment.
Way ahead: The PMUY is a bold and much-needed initiative, but it should be recognised that this is just a first step. The real test of the PMUY and its successor programmes will be in how they translate the provision of connections to sustained use of LPG or other clean fuels such as electricity or biogas. Truly smokeless kitchens can be realized only if the government follows up with measures that go beyond connections to actual usage of LPG. This may require concerted efforts cutting across Ministries beyond petroleum and natural gas and including those of health, rural development and women and child welfare.
Performance of India: India was ranked as the 58th most competitive economy with a score of 62.0 on the Global Competitiveness Index 2018. India jumped five spots from 2017, the largest gain among G20 economies. India ranked highest among South Asian countries. Sri Lanka was ranked 86th, Bangladesh 103rd, Pakistan 107th and Nepal 109th.
As per the report, India leads the region in all other areas of competitiveness except for health, education and skills. As per the report, India’s greatest competitive advantages include its market size and innovation.
Global performance: On the list of 140 economies, the United States topped the list with a score of 85.6, followed by Singapore and Germany at the second and the third positions respectively. Other countries in the top 10 include Switzerland (4th), Japan (5th), Netherlands (6th), Hong Kong (7th), United Kingdom (8th), Sweden (9th) and Denmark (10th).
In Europe, Sweden is ranked the highest among the Nordic economies at 9th position, while France (17th) is among the top 20. Countries such as Germany and Switzerland set the global standards for innovation. Competitiveness performance in the Middle East and North Africa remains diverse, with Israel (20th) and the United Arab Emirates (27th), leading the way in their respective regions.
17of the 34 sub-Saharan African economies are among the bottom 20. Mauritius (49th) leads the region, ahead of South Africa and nearly 91 places ahead of Chad (140th). Among the BRICS economies, China topped the list at 28th place with a score of 72.6, followed by Russia, India, South Africa and Brazil respectively.
Background: The Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) is prepared on the basis of country-level data covering 12 categories or pillars of competitiveness.
Institutions, infrastructure, macroeconomic environment, health and primary education, higher education and training, goods market efficiency, labour market efficiency, financial market development, technological readiness, market size, business sophistication and innovation are the 12 pillars.
The Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) is an informal process of dialogue and cooperation bringing together the 28 European Union member states, 2 other European countries, and the European Union with 21 Asian countries and the ASEAN Secretariat.
The ASEM dialogue addresses political, economic and cultural issues, with the objective of strengthening the relationship between the two regions, in a spirit of mutual respect and equal partnership. It was officially established on 1 March 1996 at the first summit in Bangkok, Thailand.
The ASEM Summit is a biennial meeting between the Heads of State and Government, the President of the European Council, the President of the European Commission, and the Secretary-General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
About “OneerTM”: Use: It is useful for continuous treatment of water and eliminates all disease causing pathogens such as virus, bacteria, fungi, protozoa and cyst to provide safe drinking water to domestic and communities settings as per National and International standards prescribed for potable water (BIS, WHO etc.).
Significance: According to the World Health Organization, “access to safe drinking-water is essential to health, a basic human right and a component of effective policy for health protection”.
However, currently, a large proportion of India’s rural community is consuming water that does not meet the WHO drinking water quality standards. And infection through drinking water results in an increase in morbidity and mortality particularly amongst children.
Oneer developed by CSIR-IITR, will provide access to safe and clean drinking water at a cost of just 2 Paise / Ltr. The Community level model is of 450 LPH capacity which can be scaled up to 5000 to 1 lakh L/day; and is also maintenance and membrane free. The technology will be helpful especially for rural people since it can be solar powered.
The galaxy has been found using new measurements made by the visible multi-object spectrograph of ESO’s Very Large Telescope and pouring over vast arrays of archive data.
Key facts: Hyperion’s unimaginably enormous mass is estimated to be a million billion times that of our own Sun (which is approximately 1,048 Jupiters, or 333,000 Earths).
Hyperion is an adolescent in astronomy terms. Its distance from earth means astronomers are viewing it as it was created just over 2 billion years after the Big Bang, which gave rise to the universe about 13.8 billion years ago. The Milky Way galaxy, which hosts our Solar System, is about 13.6 billion years old.
Understanding Hyperion and how it compares to similar recent structures can give insights into how the universe developed in the past and will evolve into the future, and allows us the opportunity to challenge some models of supercluster formation. Unearthing this cosmic titan helps uncover the history of these large-scale structures.
Significance: This is the first time that such a large structure has been identified at such a high redshift, just over two billion years after the Big Bang. Normally, these kinds of structures are known at lower redshifts, which means when the universe has had much more time to evolve and construct such huge things.
About visible multi-object spectrograph: The VIMOS, an instrument that measures objects at a distance of billions of light years away, in practice allows experts to see what the early universe was like in the distant cosmic past. The spectrograph is hosted by the Chile-based Very Large Telescope.
About VLT: The Very Large Telescope (VLT) is a telescope facility operated by the European Southern Observatory on Cerro Paranal in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile.
The VLT consists of four individual telescopes, each with a primary mirror 8.2 m across, which are generally used separately but can be used together to achieve very high angular resolution. The four separate optical telescopes are known as Antu, Kueyen, Melipal and Yepun, which are all words for astronomical objects in the Mapuche language.
The VLT operates at visible and infrared wavelengths. Each individual telescope can detect objects roughly four billion times fainter than can be detected with the naked eye, and when all the telescopes are combined, the facility can achieve an angular resolution of about 0.001 arc-second.
This is equivalent to roughly 2 meters resolution at the distance of the Moon. The VLT is the most productive ground-based facility for astronomy, with only the Hubble Space Telescope generating more scientific papers among facilities operating at visible wavelengths.
Man Booker Prize: Context: Northern Irish writer- Anna Burns has won the 2018 Man Booker Prize for her third full-length novel- “Milkman”.
About Man Booker Prize: The leading literary award in English, The Man Booker Prize was launched in 1969. It aims to promote the ‘finest in fiction’ and is awarded each year to the book adjudged as the best novel of the year written in English and published in the United Kingdom.
The winner of The Man Booker Prize receives £50,000. Sponsored by Man Group, the foundation also awards £2,500 and a designer bound copy of their book to each of the six shortlisted authors. The winner and shortlisted authors are also guaranteed a worldwide readership as well as a dramatic spike in book sales.
The judges of The Man Booker Prize are chosen from a wide range of disciplines including critics, writers, academics, poets, politicians, actors and ‘all with a passion for quality fiction’. Subject to widespread speculation before the official announcement, the prize usually brings the winner a huge boost in sales and profile.