A) Schemes, Policies, Initiatives, Awards and Social Issues
1. Accessible India Campaign (Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan) (PIB)
- Accessible India Campaign (AIC) is the nationwide flagship campaign of the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD), Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
- The aim of the Campaign is to make universal accessibility, barrier free and conducive environment for Divyangjans all over the country.
- It was launched on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3rdDecember, 2015.
- For creating universal accessibility for Persons with Disabilities, the campaign has been divided into three components:
- Built Environment;
- Information & Communication Technology (ICT) ecosystem.
- The Built Environment Accessibility component of Accessible India Campaign entails following targets:
- (i) Completing accessibility audit of at least 25-50 most important government buildings in 50 cities and making them fully accessible by the end of 2017;
- (ii) Making 50% of all the government buildings of NCT and all the State capitals fully accessible by December 2018;
- (iii) Completing accessibility audit of 50% of government buildings and making them fully accessible in 10 most important cities/towns of States not covered in targets (i) and (ii) by December 2019.
- This component would include not only buildings, but also footpaths, curb cuts, and obstacles that block the flow of pedestrian traffic.
- The Transport accessibility component of Accessible India Campaign aims
- to make all international airports fully accessible immediately and domestic airports by March 2018.
- all A1, A & B categories of railway stations are to be made fully accessible.
- to make 25% of government owned public transport carriers to be made fully accessible by March 2018.
- The Accessibility of Information and Communication System is another crucial pillar of Accessible India Campaign. The target set under this vertical is to make at least 50% of Central and State Government websites accessible by March 2017.
- Department launched ‘Sugamya Pustakalaya’- an online library for Persons with Print Disabilities centred on achieving ‘Universal Accessibility’.
United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD)
- India is a signatory of the United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).
- It ratified this Convention in 2007 and submitted its First Country Report on Status of Disability in India in 2015.
- The UN Committee on CRPD in its 22ndSession took up India’s First Country Report for consideration during 2nd & 3rd September 2019 at UNHRC, Geneva.
- Secretary, DEPwD specifically drew attention of the UN Committee on enactment of the Comprehensive RPwD Act, 2016, launch of Accessible India Campaign, establishment of National Institute of Mental Health Rehabilitation (NIMHR) to address issues concerning psycho-social disability, establishment of Centre for Disability Sports, achievements in distribution of aids and assistive devices, etc.
Incheon Strategy to “Make the Right Real” for PwDs in Asia and Pacific
- Governments at the High Level Inter Governmental Meeting organized by the Govt. of Republic of Korea adopted the ministerial declaration and Incheon Strategy to “Make the Right Real” for PwDs in Asia and Pacific.
- The Incheon Strategy provides the Asian and Pacific Region, and the world the first set of regionally agreed distinct – inclusive development goals.
- In Dec 2019, the deadline for the government’s Accessible India campaign that aims at making public spaces friendly for persons with disabilities has been extended to March 2020 due to “slow progress,” the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment had informed the Lok Sabha.
- Under the Rights of PwD Act, 2016, all existing and new public buildings have to follow the accessibility standards. The existing buildings were given five years to comply.
- The original deadlines under the Accessible India campaign were July 2016 for conducting an accessibility audit of 25-50 of the most important government buildings in 50 cities and making them completely accessible and March 2018.
B) Polity, Bills, Acts and Judgments
2. Municipal Corporation: 21-year-old student set to become Mayor (TH)
- Context: If the party’s seniors approve the nomination, a 21-year-old woman college student who is a member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) will become the youngest Mayor of Thiruvananthapuram.
- Municipal corporations are created for the administration of big cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bangalore and others.
- They are established in the states by the acts of the concerned state legislatures, and in the union territories by the acts of the Parliament of India.
- There may be one common act for all the municipal corporations in a state or a separate act for each municipal
- A municipal corporation has three authorities, namely, the council, the standing committees and the commissioner.
- The Council is the deliberative and legislative wing of the It consists of the Councillors directly elected by the people, as well as a few nominated persons having knowledge or experience of municipal administration.
- In brief, the composition of the Council including the reservation of seats for SCs, STs and women is governed by the 74th Constitutional Amendment Act.
- The Council is headed by a Mayor. He is assisted by a Deputy He is elected in a majority of the states for a one-year renewable term.
- He is basically an ornamental figure and a formal head of the corporation. His main function is to preside over the meetings of the Council.
- The standing committees are created to facilitate the working of the council, which is too large in size. They deal with public works, education, health, taxation, finance and so on. They take decisions in their fields.
3. Does the Governor in India have pocket veto? (TH)
- Context: Rajasthan Chief Minister said the Amendment Bills passed in the State Assembly last month to counter the Centre’s farm laws were held up in Raj Bhavan, as the Governor was not sending them for Presidential assent.
Article 200 of the Constitution of India: Assent to Bills
- When a Bill has been passed by the Legislative Assembly of a State or, in the case of a State having a Legislative Council, has been passed by both Houses of the Legislature of the State, it shall be presented to the Governor and the Governor shall declare either that he assents to the Bill or that he withholds assent therefrom (Absolute Veto) or that he reserves the Bill for the consideration of the President:
- Provided that the Governor may, as soon as possible after the presentation to him of the Bill for assent, return the Bill if it is not a Money Bill together with a message requesting that the House or Houses will reconsider the Bill or any specified provisions thereof and, in particular, will consider the desirability of introducing any such amendments as he may recommend in his message (Suspensive Veto) and, when a Bill is so returned, the House or Houses shall reconsider the Bill accordingly, and if the Bill is passed again by the House or Houses with or without amendment and presented to the Governor for assent, the Governor shall not withhold assent therefrom:
- Provided further that the Governor shall not assent to, but shall reserve for the consideration of the President, any Bill which in the opinion of the Governor would endanger the position of the state high court (such reservation is obligatory).
- In addition, the governor can also reserve the bill if it is of the following nature:
- (i) Ultra-vires, that is, against the provisions of the Constitution.
- (ii) Opposed to the Directive Principles of State Policy.
- (iii) Against the larger interest of the country.
- (iv) Of grave national importance.
- (v) Dealing with compulsory acquisition of property under Article the Constitution.
- So, from the above discussion we can conclude that unlike the President, the Governor in India does not enjoy pocket veto (In this case, the Governor neither ratifies nor rejects nor returns the bill, but simply keeps the bill pending for an indefinite period).
C) Science and Technology, Defence, Space
4. IISER scientists identify the gene that greens plants (TH)
- Researchers at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) have identified a gene (BBX11) that facilitates in the greening of plants by playing a crucial role in regulating the levels of protochlorophyllide — an intermediate in the biosynthesis of the green pigment chlorophyll.
- The green colour comes from a part of the cell called chlorophyll, which processes sunlight into sugars that the tree can ‘eat.’
- The synthesis of chlorophyll in plants is a lengthy, multi-step process. When a seedling emerges from under the soil it must quickly synthesise chlorophyll to start supporting its own growth.
- In order to facilitate quick synthesis of chlorophyll, plants make a precursor of chlorophyll called ‘protochlorophyllide’ in the dark, which glows red when blue light is shone on the plant.
- As soon as the plant comes out into the light from under the soil, light-dependent enzymes convert protochlorophyllide to chlorophyll.
- The amount of protochlorophyllide synthesised needed to be proportional to the number of enzymes available to convert them to chlorophyll.
- If there is excess of free protochlorophyllide, then exposure to light converts it into molecules that cause ‘photobleaching’.
- If it is less, plants are unable to efficiently ‘green’ in order to harvest sunlight.
- Thus, it is very important to regulate the amount of protochlorophyllide synthesized by the plant and here comes the vital plant played by the ‘BBX11’ gene.
D) Economic Developments: India and World
5. Interest Coverage Ratio (TH)
- It is a financial metric that comes in handy for ascertaining the number of times a company can pay off its interest with its current earnings before applicable taxes and interests are deducted.
- In simple words, the interest coverage ratio is a metric that enables to determine how efficiently a firm can pay off its share of interest expenses on debt. This ratio is also known as ‘times interest earned’.
- A lower ratio indicates less capability to pay interest from operating earnings.
- It must be noted that this particular ratio is not concerned with the repayment of the principal debt amount. The interest coverage ratio is entirely about a firm’s ability to settle interest on its debt.
How is Interest Coverage Ratio Calculated?
- The interest coverage ratio is calculated by dividing the earnings generated by a firm before expenditure on interest and taxes by its interest expenses in the same period.
- Interest Coverage Ratio = Earnings before Interest and Taxes or EBIT/ Interest Expense
- The interest coverage ratio formula is used extensively by lenders, creditors and investors to gauge a specific firm’s risk when it comes to lending money to the same. It also helps to assess the profitability of the aforementioned company.
6. Water Quality Testing Innovation Challenge (PIB)
- The National Jal Jeevan Mission has launched an innovation challenge in partnership with Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade to develop portable devices for water testing.
- The main objective of the exercise is to bring an innovative, modular, and cost-effective solution to develop portable devices that can be used at the household level to test the drinking water quality instantly, easily and accurately.
7. Good Governance Day (PIB)
- Good Governance Day is observed annually on December 25.
- The day aims to let the citizens, the students, who are the future of the country know about the government’s responsibilities and duties that it needs to fulfill.
- The day is also celebrated to commemorate the birth anniversary of India’s former Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee.