Facts in News

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    Facts in News

    District Mineral Foundation Funds

    Recently, the Centre has taken complete control of the district mineral foundation (DMF) funds from the states.

    Key Points:

    • This would negate states’ right to sanction or approve any expenditure out of the funds accrued from mandatory contributions from mining leaseholders.
    • As per the recently released guidelines, 60% of the DMF funds have to be utilised for ‘high priority sectors’ such as drinking water supply and education, 40% is earmarked for ‘other priority sectors’ such as physical infrastructure, energy and cowshed development.

    Rationale Behind the Move:

    • According to the Ministry of Mines, the move was necessitated as “there are instances where a part of the funds of the DMF are being transferred to the treasury/consolidated fund of the state or state-level funds.

    District Mineral Funds:

    • Instituted under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) (MMDR) Amendment Act 2015.
    • Objective & Utilization: DMFs are required to use these funds for the welfare of persons and areas affected by mining-related operations. Thus, the tribal populations are the principal beneficiary. The scheme is also called “Pradhan Mantri Khanij Kshetra Kalyan Yojana”.
    • The Pradhan Mantri Khanij Kshetra Kalyan Yojana is meant to provide relief for the welfare of areas and people affected by mining-related operations, using the funds generated by District Mineral Foundations (DMFs).
    • Jurisdiction:As per Sub-section 3 of Section 9(B) of the MMDR Act, its manner of operation comes under the jurisdiction of the relevant State Government but now states are barred from this as per this notification.
    • The fund is collected at the district level. 

    Criticism:

    • This move will usurp the states’ fiscal powers and undermine their constitutionally defined role in governance.

    Monk Fruit: 1st Cultivation Begins in HP

    • For the first time, the ‘monk fruit’ from China was introduced for field trials in Himachal Pradesh, Kullu by the Palampur-based Council of Scientific Research and Industrial Technology Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology (CSIR-IHBT).

    Key Points

    About:

    • Monk fruit is known for its properties as a non-caloric natural sweetener. The sweet taste of monk fruit is because of the content of a group of cucurbitane-type triterpene glycosides called mogrosides.
    • It is about 300 times sweeter than sucrose or cane sugar.

    Benefits:

    • It can help in preventing life-threatening diseases such as insulin resistance, Type 2 diabetes, liver problems, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, etc.
      • As per the world health organization, (WHO) report, worldwide 346 million people are diabetic. 
    • Several synthetic sweeteners of low calorific value still have health hazards due to harmful side effects, this can be a better replacement.
    • This can help in exports as the demand for monk fruit is gradually increasing in the international market, as of now, only China is producing it. 

    Naming:

    • Monk Fruit gets its name from the Buddhist monks who first used it. During the 20th century, Professor GW Groff had also made an unsuccessful attempt to grow the Monk plant because flowers did not appear.

    Environmental Conditions:

    • It is a perennial crop having a life span ranging between four to five years and its fruiting starts eight to nine months after germination.
    • The plant prefers mountainous areas with an annual mean temperature of about 16–20 °C and humid conditions.
    • Seed germination rate of monk fruit is slow and low
    • Flowering pattern, pollination behaviour and fruit setting time were also documented in order to draw the complete life-cycle of monk fruit in agro-climatic conditions of the region.

    Image Courtesy: Tribune

    School Innovation Ambassador Training Program

    Recently, the Education Minister and Tribal Affairs Minister jointly launched the ‘School Innovation Ambassador Training Program’.

    About

    • The program has been designed by the Innovation Cell of the Ministry of Education and AICTE for School Teachers. The training will be given in online mode only.
    • Aim: To train 50 thousand school teachers on Innovation, Entrepreneurship, Design Thinking, Product development and Idea generation.
    • Role of the Innovation Ambassadors under School Innovation Ambassador Training Program: Help in creating the culture of Innovation in their respective schools;
      • Mentor the teachers and students of their respective schools and nearby schools;
      • Provide support to other schools as a resource person
      • Spread the message of innovation and start-ups among the students and faculties
      • Act as an evaluator for Idea Competitions conducted at the national level
      • Act as a Mentor for the national level program on Innovation and related activities
    • Eklavya Model Residential Schools also represent one of the most powerful tools for empowerment of our tribal youth in the remotest parts of the country by enabling them to pursue quality education along with holistic development.

    AICTE

    • Established in 1965.
    • It is as a national-level Apex Advisory Body to conduct a survey on the facilities available for technical education. 
    • The AICTE Act was constituted to provide for the establishment of an All India Council for Technical Education.
    • Chairman: Minister for Human Resource Development.
    • Objectives: Promotion of Quality in Technical Education.
      • Planning and Coordinated Development of Technical Education System.
      • Regulations and Maintenance of Norms and Standards.

    Doppler Radars

    Recently, the India Meteorological Department’s (IMD) Doppler radar in Colaba observatory, Mumbai has stopped working.

    • In radars, a beam of energy, called radio waves, is emitted from an antenna. When this beam strikes an object in the atmosphere, the energy scatters in all directions, with some reflecting directly back to the radar.
      • The larger the object deflecting the beam, the greater is the amount of energy that the radar receives in return.
    • Observing the time required for the beam to be transmitted and returned to the radar allows weather forecasting departments to “see” raindrops in the atmosphere and measure the distance from the radar.
    • What makes a Doppler radar special is that it can provide information on both the position of targets as well as their movement.
      • It does this by tracking the ‘phase’ of transmitted radio wave pulses; phase meaning the shape, position, and form of those pulses. 
      • As computers measure the shift in phase between the original pulse and the received echo, the movement of raindrops can be calculated and it is possible to tell whether the precipitation is moving toward or away from the radar.
    • In India, Doppler radars of varying frequencies are commonly used.
      • An X-band radar is used to detect thunderstorms and lightning whereas C-band guides in cyclone tracking.
    • It tracks the movement of weather systems and cloud bands, and gauges rainfall over its coverage area of about 500 km.
    • In an hour, a Doppler radar transmits a signal for only over seven seconds, and spends the remaining 59 minutes and 53 seconds listening to returned signals.
    • Doppler Effect
      • The dependence of the frequency of a wave on the motion of the source is called the Doppler effect.
      • The phase shift in doppler radars works on the same lines as the “Doppler effect” observed in sound waves, in which the sound pitch of an object approaching the observer is higher due to compression of sound waves (a change in their phase).
      • As this object moves away from the observer, the sound waves stretch, resulting in lower frequency. 
      • The discovery of the phenomenon is attributed to Christian Doppler, a 19th-century Austrian physicist.

    (Image Courtesy: sketchplanations)

    World Youth Skills Day

    Recently, the Prime Minister of India has wished the nations on the occasion of the World Youth Skills Day.

    • In 2014, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) declared 15th July as World Youth Skills Day, to celebrate the strategic importance of equipping young people with skills for employment, decent work and entrepreneurship.
    • Since then, it has provided a unique opportunity for dialogue between young people, Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutions, firms, employers’ and workers’ organizations, policy makers and development partners.
    • Participants have highlighted the ever-increasing significance of skills as the world is embarking on a transition towards a sustainable model of development.
    • Once again, the celebrations are taking place amid unprecedented times due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
    • Theme for 2021: ‘Reimagining Youth Skills Post-Pandemic’, which will pay a tribute to the resilience and creativity of the youth.
    • It aims to achieve the Incheon Declaration: Education 2030, “which devotes considerable attention to technical and vocational skills development, specifically regarding access to affordable quality TVET, the acquisition of technical and vocational skills for employment, decent work and entrepreneurship, the elimination of gender disparity and ensuring access for the vulnerable”.
    • Skill India Mission
      • The day also marks the annual anniversary of the launch of Skill India Mission, launched on the same day in 2015.
      • It is an initiative by the Indian government to empower the youth of the country with skill sets which make them more employable and more productive in their work environment.
      • It offers courses across several sectors which are aligned to the standards recognised by both, the industry and the government under the National Skill Qualification Framework (NSQF).
        • NSQF is a nationally integrated education and competency-based framework that enables persons to acquire desired competency levels.

    National Mission on Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual, Heritage Augmentation Drive (PRASHAD)

    Recently, the Prime Minister of India has inaugurated various development projects in Varanasi under the PRASHAD Scheme.

    • PRASHAD is a Central Sector Scheme launched by the Ministry of Tourism in the year 2014-15.
    • It has the objective of integrated development of identified pilgrimage and heritage destinations.
    • It was launched with a focus on identifying and developing pilgrim sites across the country to promote religious tourism.
    • It covers infrastructure development such as entry points (Road, Rail and Water Transport), last mile connectivity, basic tourism facilities like Information/ Interpretation Centers, ATM/ Money exchange, drinking water, toilets, cloak room, etc.
      • The project “Development of Varanasi Under PRASHAD Scheme: Phase II” and the project “Development of River Cruise in Varanasi under PRASHAD Scheme” were approved by the Ministry of Tourism in February 2018.
    • National Steering Committee (NSC) steers the mission objectives and vision of the scheme.
    • The entire project would be ‘outcome oriented‘ rather than ‘process oriented‘.
    • Monitoring: The Ministry of Tourism periodically monitors the scheme through designated officers and both, online & offline mode.
    • Programme Duration: This scheme is proposed to be implemented during the 14th finance commission period i.e. March 2020 and beyond.
    • Selection criteria for pilgrimage sites/destinations 
      • Pilgrimage footfall
      • Cultural, historical and heritage importance of the places
      • Status on existing level of development
      • Resident population of the destination
      • Credibility of Implementation
      • Parity for pan India development in selection of destinations
    • Selection criteria for integrated development of heritage cities
      • Tourist footfall 
      • Accreditation of heritage destinations in the cities 
      • Number of heritage monuments 
      • Funding Need
      • Credibility of Implementation