International Anti-Corruption Day: December 9
Every year, the International Anti-Corruption Day is observed on December 9. The United Nations and several other international organizations mark this day. The theme of this year’s International Anti-Corruption Day was: Recover with Integrity.
International Anti-Corruption Day in India
Every year on December 9, the International Anti-Corruption Day is celebrated by the Central Bureau of Investigation in New Delhi.
United Nations Convention against Corruption
It is the only officially requisite universal anti-corruption instrument. Five major fields are covered in it such as international cooperation, criminalisation and law enforcement, preventive measures, asset recovery, technical assistance and information exchange. The different kind of corruption covered by the agreement are abuse of function, trading functions, trading influence and some other acts of corruption in private sector.
Corruption Insights Index, 2019
The position of India in the Corruptions Perceptions Index has slipped from 78 in 2018 to 80 in 2019. Transparency International releases the Corruption Perception Index. The organization is based in Berlin, Germany. According to the ranking, the following are the main reasons for the rise in corruption-
- Undue Influence in decision-making.
- Unfair and Opaque Political Financing.
- Lobbying by influential corporate interest groups.
The following were advised by Transparency International to fight corruption in India-
- To control political financing.
- To empower citizens.
- To manage conflicts of interests.
- To reinforce electoral integrity.
- To strengthen checks and balances.
Corruption in India
According to the India Corruption Survey, 2019 the percentage of people who paid corruption was 58% in 2018. In 2019 it fell to 51%. However, it was 45% in 2017.
Lokpal of India
It is an anti-corruption body. It has authority to query into allegations of corruption against public officials. However, it till date faces implementation issues even after six years of its constitution. According to Government of India, no one could be renowned as the Leader of Opposition after the 2014 election and hence the nomination of the members is getting delayed.
Human Rights Day: December 10
Every year on 10th December the Human Rights Day is celebrated. Also called the International Human Rights Day. This day is celebrated as International Human Rights Day to honour the United Nations General Assembly adoption of Universal Declaration of Human Rights. On this day, the United Nations Prize in the field of Human Rights is awarded. This year, the Human Rights Day was celebrated under the following theme: Recover Better-Stand Up for Human Rights.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
On 10 December 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted. The Allied powers of World War II formally known as the United Nations adopted four freedoms namely freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom from want and freedom from fear. Based on the faith in fundamental human rights the allied powers created the Charter of United Nations. And this is the reason that, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is significant and so is the Human Rights Day. As it forms one of the bases of the United Nations.
United Nations Human Rights Council
This body of United Nations protects and promotes human rights. It investigates the implications of violations of human rights in the United Nations. The council has 47 seats. The tenure of each seat is three years. No member of the council can occupy a seat for more than two consecutive terms.
Why is Human Rights Day celebrated?
Human Rights Day is celebrated to achieve real rights for human beings all over the world. It aims to improve socio-cultural and physical well-being of the people throughout the world. The day is celebrated for the following reasons-
- To create consciousness about human rights among people in the world.
- To improve the efforts of the United Nations General Assembly.
- To interact and discuss crucial issues of human rights.
- To encourage minorities, women, poor and disabled person to participate in the event.
Lakshadweep declared 100% Organic
The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmer’s welfare declared the Union Territory of Lakshadweep as 100% Organic Agricultural Area. The UT is second after Sikkim to attain the rank of 100% organic region. It is first in the Union Territories of India to attain the status.
The entire 32 sq km area of the UT has been specialised as organic under the Union Government’s Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (organic farming improvement programme). Lakshadweep has been detached from the main stream India geographically. For the last 15 years there has been no shipment of chemicals and fertilizers to the island group. The UT administration has been practicing farming only using inputs like compost, poultry manure, and green leaf manure. The UT has not made any spending for procurement of chemicals.
What is Organic Farming?
It is technique that includes cultivation of plants and rearing animals in natural ways. It evades use of synthetic substances to avoid soil fertility and ecological balances. By this, organic farming aims to minimize wastages and pollution. It includes biological methods.
Schemes of Central Government to promote Organic Farming
To endorse organic farming with participatory guarantee system certification Government launched the Paramparaghat Krishi Vikas Yojana. It includes training, cluster formation, marketing and certification.
National Mission on Oil Seeds and Oil Palm was launched to rise irrigation coverage of oilseeds from 26% to 36%. It aims to rise seed replacement ratio.
National Food Security Mission was launched to increase rice, wheat and pulses production to ensure food security in the country on maintainable basis. Financial assistance was provided to bio-fertilizers under the mission.
Other States and Organic Farming
Uttarakhand was the first state to launch Organic Farming Policy in 2000. Sikkim was the first state to become 100% organic.
The main benefits of organic farming are inferior input costs, environmental friendly, improve soil structure, premium price, etc.
One Nation One Card-Recent Developments
Around nine states have finished One Nation One Card Reform schemes. They are Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Telangana, Kerala, Haryana, Gujarat, Goa, Uttar Pradesh & Tripura.
What are the recent developments?
The Central Government has permitted these nine states to increase their additional 23,523 crores of rupees under One Nation One Card Scheme. Uttar Pradesh is the biggest receiver of the scheme as the state was provided with an additional borrowing window of Rs 4,851 crores. It was followed by Karnataka with additional borrowing window of Rs 4,509 crores and Gujarat receiving Rs 4,352 crores. These allocations are made based on the suggestion of Department of Food and Public Distribution. It is the nodal department that certifies if a state has met the conditions stipulated under the One Nation One Card Scheme. The Department of Food and Public Distribution functions under Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution. In order to become entitled to the reforms, the state has to complete applying the reforms by December 31, 2020.
In addition to the One Nation One Card Scheme, the reforms specified comprises ease of doing business, power sector reforms and urban local body reforms.
One Nation One Card
The scheme was launched to make sure all the beneficiaries, especially the immigrants can access the Public Distribution System from anywhere in the country. This will boost the freedom of the beneficiaries as they are not tied to one PDS shop. The scheme is being applied under the National Food Security Act.
It aims to remove bogus ration cards, ineligible ration cards and duplicate ration cards.
Concerns of One Nation One Card
First major concern is that every state has its own rules in implementing the Public Distribution System and it can be tough in proper implementation of one card in all states. Another concern expressed is that One Nation One Card scheme will further boost corruption in the already corrupted PDS system.
Public Wi-Fi Access Network Interface (PM-WANI)
The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi newly permitted the setting up of Wi-Fi Networks all over India. The Public Wi-Fi Access Network Interface is called PM-WANI. The PM-WANI will promote the growth of Wi-Fi networks in the country. This is expected to unleash a massive Wi-Fi revolution in the country. This is very much alike to that of the PCO model (PCO is Public Call Office).
What is the plan?
About one crore data centres are to be set up to launch the massive Wi-Fi network. There will be no registration fee no license fee to set up the Wi-Fi network or the data centres. The Public Wi-Fi Networks are to be set up by Public Data Office Aggregators (PDOAs). The public Wi-Fi services are to be provided by Public Data Offices.
The Public Data Office will uphold, establish and operate WANI compliant Wi-Fi Access points. These PDOs will deliver broadband services to subscribers.
The Public Data Office Aggregators are to execute the functions of accounting and authorisation.
The Application provider is to develop an app to register users. It will determine WANI compliant Wi-Fi hotspots in the nearby areas.
The Central Registry is to uphold details of PDOs, PDOAs. It will be upheld by C-DoT.
No registration is mandatory for PDOAs or PDOs. The app providers will get themselves registered with DoT without registration fee. The registration shall be granted within seven days of application.
Benefits of PM-WANI
It will promote the growth of public Wi-Fi networks in the country. This will in turn help in propagation of broadband internet, employment, enhancement of income and empowerment.
The National Digital Communication Policy, 2018 has set the target of providing internet to 5 million people by 2020 and 10 million by 2022. India is way behind these targets. Therefore, it is essential to give a boost to the Wi-Fi programmes in the country.
Union Cabinet Decisions: Key Highlights
The Union Cabinet chaired by PM Modi newly approved on several decisions.
The cabinet permitted on the Memorandum of Understanding signed among India and Luxembourg. The agreement was signed between SEBI (Securities and Exchange Board of India) and Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier (CSSF) of Luxembourg. The MoU will help the SEBI to enrich its controlling functions and enable effective enforcement of laws.
The Union Cabinet approved the Memorandum of Understanding signed between Ministry of Health and the Republic of Suriname for cooperation in the field of Health and medicine. The salient features of the agreement are as follows-
- Exchange of training officials and health professionals
- Assistance in development of human resources
- Regulation of pharmaceuticals
- Promotion of business development
- Tobacco control
- Mental Health promotion
- Generic and Essential Drug Procurement
- Regulation of medical devices, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.
- Public Wi-Fi Networks.
The Cabinet approved the setting up of Public Wi-Fi networks by the Public Data Office Aggregators. This is to provide public Wi-Fi services through Public Data Offices. No license fee is charged to provide broadband internet through these public Wi-Fi networks.
Optic Fibre Connectivity between Kochi and Lakshadweep Islands
The Cabinet has provided endorsement for the provision of Submarine Optical Fibre Cable connectivity between Kochi located in the Indian mainland and the Lakshadweep islands. The projected cost of implementation of the project is Rs.1072 crores.
Universal Service Obligation Fund Scheme
The cabinet permitted the scheme to provide mobile coverage in Arunachal Pradesh and Assam. This is being done underneath the Comprehensive Telecom Development Plan for North East Region.
Atma Nirbhar Bharat Rojgar yojana
The cabinet also approved the Atma Nirbhar Bharat Rojgar Yojana to lift the employment opportunities in formal sectors. Around 22,810 crores of rupees has been allocated for the scheme. The scheme is to be implemented between 2020-23.
New sports centers to be opened across India
The Union Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports newly proclaimed that the Government is to start 1000 Khelo India centres all over India.
The announcement was made at the tenth Global Sports Summit systematized by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry. The centres will help the retired sportspersons to get employment. Also, the centres will aid in encouraging sports culture in the country.
The Sports Ministry is presently working on the target of making India one of the top ten medal grossing countries in the Los Angeles 2028 Olympics.
Earlier in June 2020, the Khelo India Centres of Excellence were launched under the Khelo India programme. These centres were established to make a robust sporting ecosystem in the country.
Khelo India Programme
The programme was launched in 2018. It aims to mainstream sports as a tool for economic development, national development, community development and individual development. The accomplishment of the programme was done by combining the previous initiatives such as Rajiv Gandhi Khel Abhiyan, Urban Sports Infrastructure Scheme and the National Sports Talent Search System.
The Scheme was 100% funded by the Central Government. The selected athletes under the scheme were qualified to receive a scholarship of five lakhs of rupees for the eight successive years.
Recent Development in Khelo India Scheme
The Government of India freshly incentivised 500 private Sports Academies under the scheme. This was done largely to support institutes located in remote areas.
The Sports Authority of India newly sanctioned Rs 5.78 crores to the Khelo India Talent Development Scheme.
Khelo India State Centres of Excellence were established.
The Khelo India Programme transferred 30,000 rupees in May 2020 to help the athletes keep up their diet at home during the COVID-19 times.
It is to be noted that the above actions were done during COVID-19 times.
Harvesting Water from Air
A team of researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology-Guwahati (IIT-G) have developed a method for harvesting water from humid.
About the Method
This method comprise spraying a sponge-like porous polymeric material on a normal printer paper. As per the researchers, this method can also be used in underwater hulls of ships and submarines to prevent bio-fouling; and to prevent icing on aircraft windows. The method generally uses the principle of hydrophobicity. The lotus leaves exhibit the property of hydrophobicity.
The Researchers have used the action of the insect-eating pitcher plant whose slippery surface makes insects landing on it to fall into itself to be digested. They used ‘Slippery liquid-infused porous surface’ (SLIPS) to effectively harvest water from foggy air. The SLIPS are capable of harvesting water from air without the use of an external cooling arrangement.
Predictably, the Atmospheric water generator (AWG) that extracts water from humid ambient air, uses condensation, exposing to desiccants or pressurizing water.
Atmospheric Water Generator
The main norm of operation is condensation. Here the water vapour in the air is taken out as water by pressuring the air, cooling the air below its dew point and exposing the air to desiccants. A Desiccant is a hygroscopic substance. Dew Point is the point to which air should be cooled to make its wet with water vapour. When cooled further, it will condense into liquid water (or dew).
Water Scarcity in India
India is presently facing one of the biggest water calamity in the world. More than 50% of Indian population has no safe access to drinking water. More than 200,000 people die of lack of access to safe water. More than 82% of households are deprived of piped water supply. The Composite Water Management Index, 2018 noted that India will lose 6% of its economic GDP by 2050.
United Nations approves Epidemic Preparedness Day
The United Nations General Assembly recently accepted the resolution that declared to mark December 27 as the International Day of epidemic preparedness.
The day is to be marked to enable exchange of information, transmission of scientific knowledge and best practices locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. This will help to prevent and respond to the epidemics. The resolution adopted expressed grave concern stating impacts created by epidemics and infectious diseases. The covid-19 was demonstrated during the consensus.
The day mainly aims to prevent COVID-19 like situations and to equip the world to fight such scenarios.
Major epidemics in the world
The epidemics mostly comprise infectious diseases. The cancer and cardiovascular diseases and other non-communicable diseases are not included. An endemic is a disease that spreads rapidly to a large number of people within a short period of time.
In 1200 BC, the Babylon influenza epidemic hit the Persians, Mesopotamians, Central Asia and South Asia.
Amid 429 BC and 426 BC plague infested the regions of Libya, Greece, Egypt and Ethiopia. Since then different forms of plague began to infect large number of people till 14th century. They were predominantly Bubonic plague.
In 737 BCE, smallpox infected Japan.
In 2019, Lassa fever outbreak happened in Nigeria.
A new type of measles called Samoa measles infected Samoa. Kuala Koh measles affected Malaysia in 2019.
In 2018, Nipah virus infected several Keralites in India.
In 2017, Japanese Encephalitis infected the state of UP in India.
In 2016, Yemen Cholera outbreak occurred in Yemen and is continuing till date.
Between 2015 and 2016, Zika virus affected different regions of the world.
In 2015, India faced swine flu outbreak.
In 2014, the Odisha state of India faced Jaundice outbreak mainly due to Hepatitis A.
In 2013, Chinkungunya outbreak affected the US.
In 2011, the hand, foot and mouth disease outbreak occurred in Vietnam.
In 2010, the African Meningitis outbreak occurred in West Africa.