National Current Affairs
National Current Affairs April 4th Week
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1. Bengal’s Digambarpur, India’s Best Gram Panchayat.

Bengal has once again topped in the country with Digambarpur Gram Panchayat (GP) bagging the Centre’s award for the best GP in the country. Besides this, some more Gram Panchayats in districts including Purulia, Birbhum and Burdwan have also been awarded special prizes for certain achievements.

A survey was conducted to find out the best Gram Panchayat in the country and in a letter to the state government the Ministry of Panchayati Raj has stated that Digambarpur GP at Patharpratima block in South 24-Parganas has come up as the best out of 2.5 lakh Gram Panchayats in the country.

In this connection, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said: “Bengal is first in implementing the scheme of 100 days work in rural employment creation. We have reduced 40 percent unemployment and now the best Panchayat is also in Bengal.”

It may be mentioned that after the change of guard in the state in 2011, massive development work was carried out in the rural parts of Bengal, ushering in a new change. Starting from construction of roads to helping the populace in improving their standards of living — everything has been ensured by the Mamata Banerjee government in the past few years.


2. Cabinet Nod To Restructured Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan Scheme.

he Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi today gave its approval for restructured Centrally sponsored scheme of Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan (RGSA).

The Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan (National Rural Self Governance Scheme) will be implemented during the period from 01.04.2018 to 31.03.2022 at the total cost of Rs. 7,255.50 crore with the Central share of Rs. 4,500 crore and that of State share of Rs. 2,755.50 crore.

The scheme will extend to all States and union territories (UTs) of the country and will also include institutions of rural local government in non-Part IX areas, where Panchayats do not exist. The scheme will have both Central component - National Level activities including "National Plan of Technical Assistance", "Mission Mode project on e-Panchayat", "Incentivisation of Panchayats" and State component - Capacity Building of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs).

 The Central component will be fully funded by the Government of India. However, Centre:State funding pattern for State component will be 60:40 for all States, except North East and Hill States where Centre:State funding pattern will be 90:10. For all UTs, the Central share will be 100%.

 The implementation and monitoring of the activities of the scheme will broadly be aligned for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with main thrust on Panchayats identified under Mission Antyodaya and 115 aspirational districts as identified by NITI Aayog. The scheme will converge capacity building initiatives of other ministries with particular focus on those ministries which will be impacted substantially by this scheme. Sunset date for RGSA will be 31.03.2030.

This scheme will extend to all States and UTs of the country and will also include institutions of rural local government in non-Part IX areas, where Panchayats do not exist.


3. Diu, 1st To Run On 100% Renewable Energy During Daytime.

Diu Smart City has become the first city in India that runs on 100 per cent renewable energy during daytime setting a new benchmark for other cities to become clean and green. Diu had been importing 73 per cent of its power from Gujarat until last year. It has now adopted a two-pronged approach whereby a 9 MW solar park spread over 50 hectares rocky barren land has been developed besides installing solar panels on the roof tops on 79 Government buildings thereby generating 1.3 MW annually.

To further enhance its solar capacity, Diu offers its residents a subsidy of Rs 10, 000-50,000 for installing 1-5KW roof top solar panels. Diu is saving about 13,000 tonnes of carbon emissions every year. Due to low-cost solar energy, power tariffs have been cut in residential category by 10 per cent last year and 15 per cent this year. 

To improve traffic management in Bengaluru Smart City, a prototype of an intelligent traffic management solution is currently being tested in collaboration with the Electronics City Township Authority (ELCITA). It will provide traffic information that is currently unavailable, and help improve management of commuter traffic. It involves capturing video streams from several cameras and processing them using artificial intelligence so that typical traffic management tasks such as vehicle detection, traffic density estimation and control of traffic lights can be automated for real-time performance. 

To revitalise urban public spaces and socially activating the area besides generating economic activity, Jaipur Smart City Ltd (JSCL) has planned to develop night bazaar at Chaura Rasta, in the heart of Pink city. The JSCL would register up to 700 vendors who will be allowed to set up stalls, including eateries, between 9pm and 1am. The project will provide entertainment, culture and shopping to citizens after office hours. 


4. Nitin Gadkari Inaugurates 29th Road Safety Week In New Delhi.

Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Shipping, Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Shri Nitin Gadkari has said that India is exploring an agreement with South Korea for introduction of Highways Information System in the country. This would be developed on lines of the system run by the Express Highways Information Corporation of South Korea, with integrated monitoring of a highway at a centralized control room.

 Inaugurating the 29th National Road Safety Week in New Delhi’s Vigyan Bhavan today, the Minister spelt out the ministry’s priorities in ensuring safety of road users in the country. He informed that he has fixed a target of bringing down the number of road fatalities to half from the around 1.5 lakh accidental deaths reported when he took over. Shri Gadkari said, though progress has been achieved in this respect, he is still not satisfied and aspires to keep working in this direction.

The Ministry organizes the Road Safety Week every year to create awareness among general public and improve upon the safety of road users. This year, Road Safety Week is being organized from 23rd to 29th of April and the focus is on schools and commercial drivers. Addressing the participants Shri Gadkari requested that every student be made a road safety ambassador for his family and for the society. Various activities have been organized for school / college students, drivers and all road users.

The Minister gave away awards to fifteen school children who won the national level essay competition on road safety. The top three winners were given cash prizes of Rs 15,000, Rs 10,000 and Rs 5,000 and a certificate each. Shri Gadkari also administered the road safety pledge to all those present on the occasion.


5. National Panchayati Raj Day: 24 April

The nation celebrates the National Panchayati Raj Diwas (24th Aril) as this date marks a defining moment in the history of decentralization of political power to the grassroots level. 
Activities of PM Modi on NPRD 2018: Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Mandla in Madhya Pradesh on the National Panchayati Raj Day. He launched the Rashtriya Gramin Swaraj Abhiyan, at a public meeting, and addressed Panchayati Raj representatives across the country, from Mandla.
 Background: The Constitution (73rd Amendment) Act, 1992 that came into force with effect from 24th April 1993 has institutionalized Panchayati Raj through the village, Intermediate and District level Panchayats. The impact of the 73rd Amendment in rural India is very visible as it has changed power equations irreversibly. Accordingly, the Government of India decided in consultation with the States to celebrate 24th April as National Panchayati Raj Day. Ministry of Panchayati Raj organises National Conference on 24th April every year to commemorate the National Panchayati Raj Diwas.
6. Foreigners Can Now Travel To Nagaland, Mizoram, Manipur Without Permit.
Foreign tourists, except those from Pakistan, China and Afghanistan, would now be allowed to visit some of the most pristine locations of the country which, so far, were out of bounds for them without a special permit, officials said on Monday.
The home ministry has decided to relax the six-decade-old Protected Area Permit regime from Nagaland, Mizoram and Manipur for five years with effect from April 1, a ministry official said.
Under the Foreigners (Protected Areas) Order, 1958, all areas falling between the Inner line and the International Border of some states were declared as protected areas.
The protected areas currently include whole of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim, besides parts of Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Jammu and Kashmir. Some parts of Sikkim fall under the protected area regime while others under the restricted area.
“A review is underway to lift the PAP from other areas too,” another official said.
Citizens from Pakistan, China and Afghanistan, however, continue to be banned from all PAP areas, including Nagaland, Mizoram and Manipur.
As per a December 30, 2010 circular of the ministry, Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland were excluded from the protected area regime initially for a period of one year from January 1, 2011, subject to some conditions.
As per the guidelines, a foreign national is not normally allowed to visit a protected or restricted area unless the government is satisfied that there are extraordinary reasons to justify his or her visit.
Every foreigner, except a citizen of Bhutan, who desires to enter and stay in a protected or restricted area, is required to obtain a special permit from a competent authority having the power to issue such permits.
In cases, where the power to issue such permits has not been delegated to a subordinate authority by the Union government, the application for the special permit has to be referred to the home affairs ministry for prior approval, at least eight weeks before the date of the expected visit.
7. Important Cabinet Approvals- 25th April 2018. 
The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given the following set of approvals. The important Cabinet Approvals are given as follows-

The Cabinet has approved-
1. MoU between India and Sao Tome and Principe for Cooperation in the field of Traditional Systems of Medicine and Homoeopathy.
2. The Memorandum of Agreement between India and World Health Organisation represented by its Regional Office for South-East Asia acting through its Country Office in India.
3. MoU on cooperation in the field of regulation of medical products for human use amongst the medicine regulatory agencies of the BRICS countries.
4. Long-Term Agreements for the supply of iron ore (lumps and fines) to Japan and South Korea through MMTC Limited.
5. Declaration of Scheduled Areas in respect of Rajasthan under Fifth Schedule to the Constitution of India.
6. Restructured National Bamboo Mission- An outlay of Rs.1290 crore (with Rs. 950 crore as Central share) is provisioned for implementation of the Mission during the remaining period of 14th Finance Commission (2018-19 and 2019-20).
7. Minimum Support Prices for Raw Jute for 2018-19 season- The Minimum Support Price (MSP) for Fair Average Quality (FAQ) of Raw Jute has been increased to Rs.3700/- per quintal for 2018-19 season from Rs. 3500/- per quintal in the 2017-18 season.
8. HRD Ministry Launches 2nd Edition Of Unnat Bharat Abhiyan.
 The HRD ministry on Wednesday launched the second edition of the Unnat Bharat Abhiyan under which students from 750 higher educational institutions from across the country will adopt villages and visit them to get acquainted with lifestyle of people there and the problems faced by them.
The minister advised the students to involve local village people at every stage of problem identification and solving issues relating to health, cleanliness, waste management, plantation, financial inclusion, women and child development. The mission involves students from colleges and universities will go to nearby villages to get acquainted with the life of village people and the problems faced by them in day-to-day life. Students are the real agents of change who can develop, empower and brighten the future of the country, Union HRD minister Prakash Javadekar said while addressing the launch ceremony.
He said that this was also an opportunity for them to learn about the basic challenges faced by the rural people and to bring out practical solutions for their betterment. "India had witnessed the migration of rural population in the past, but now the process of sustainable development through the Unnat Bharat Abhiyan 2.0 will help to reverse this migration, Minister of State for HRD Satya Pal Singh said. Secretary (Higher Education), HRD ministry, R Subrahmanyam appealed to the student community to take the lead of this programme to make it a national movement. 750 institutions chosen in the first lot have participated in today`s seminar; however, thousands of institutions have offered their willingness to joint this movement.
9. CSIR And DoT Enter Into MoU For Establishing Nationwide Time Stamping.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on technical knowledge sharing for establishing a nationwide Time Stamping & Time Synchronization network and traceability of Time signal to UTC NPL Time, was signed between Council of Scientific and Industrial Research -National Physical Laboratory (CSIR-NPL) and Department of Telecommunications (DoT), Ministry of Communications.
The MoU was signed by Dr. D.K. Aswal, Director, CSIR-NPL and by Mr. Amit Mishra, DDG, Department of Telecommunications in the presence of Dr.Girish Sahni, Director General, CSIR and Secretary, DSIR and Shri Prabhash Singh, Member (Technology), Department of Telecommunications, senior officials from DoT, CSIR and CSIR-NPL.
Dr. D K Aswal, Director, CSR-NPL, emphasized that the Nationwide, Time Stamping & Time Synchronization network consisting of 22 numbers of Time Synchronization Centers (TSC’s) will be set up by DoT with technical assistance from CSIR-NPL.  This network will provide synchronizing pulse in Indian Standard Time(IST) to all Telecom & Internet Service providers in all the 22 LSA (Licensed Service Areas) in the country. The project will be implemented in two phases.  In the first phase TSC’s is to be set up in four metro LSA’s and in the second phase remaining of the 22 LSA’s will be covered.
The primary purpose of synchronizing the telecom network with IST time stamp is to enable the security agencies to overcome the difficulty in analyzing and correlating the cyber events in this era of greatly increasing network speed with advancement of telecom technology (2G to 3G to 4G to 5G etc.).The implementation of the project will also improve the telecom network efficiency by reducing packet loss due to reduced slips in better synchronized digital
10. Government To Tie Up With US And Finland To Jointly Develop New Pollution-Forecast System.
While India has taken some steps to address its serious air pollution problem, many believe that it hasn’t done enough, and without accurate data and forecasting systems, the battle against air pollution will prove to be futile.
One step towards changing this perception came earlier this week with The Hindu reporting that India will partner up with Finland and the United States to develop a new pollution forecast system.
As per the report, this system is expected to help forecast “particular matter (PM) levels, two days in advance and at a greater resolution” than the current system in place.
he current system that is based out of the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology in Pune, which runs the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), can forecast pollution trends (PM levels) in cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Ahmedabad and Pune one day in advance.
With the Ministry of Earth Sciences acting as the nodal agency leading India’s efforts, the government hopes to have a system in place by the upcoming winter season.
11. Coastal Security Exercise `Sagar Kavach` Held In Kerala.
Over 75 ships, Fast Interceptor Craft, patrol boats participate
Sagar Kavach, a composite coastal security exercise involving all stakeholders of security, was conducted by the Coast Guard along the coasts of Kerala, Mahe and Lakshadweep between November 21 and 23.
Rear Admiral R.J. Nadkarni, Chief of Staff of the Southern Naval Command, reviewed the progress of the exercise on Wednesday at the Joint Operations Centre at the Naval Base. All participating agencies were represented at the review meeting.
Over 75 ships, Fast Interceptor Craft, patrol boats of the Indian Coast Guard, Indian Navy, Coastal Police, Customs, Fisheries and other coastal security agencies participated in the exercise and undertook round-the-clock patrolling at sea. All radar stations under the Remote Operating Station in Kochi were extensively used for monitoring the movements of vessels operating in the area during the exercise. Extensive aerial surveillance of the adjoining seas was also mounted by naval and Coast Guard aircraft to detect vessels being used by the opposing force for carrying out simulated attacks.
So far, 14 coastal security exercises have been held by the Coast Guard along Kerala and Lakshadweep coasts since 2009. The exercise was conducted by DIG Neeraj Tiwari, Commander, Coast Guard District No 4, based at Fort Kochi.
12. 48th Foundation Day Of HUDCO Celebrated.
The Minister of Housing & Urban Development Hardeep Singh inaugurated the 47th Foundation Day of Housing and Urban Development Corporation (HUDCO) today.
He said that HUDCO is playing an important role in taking financial inclusion forward in the country, as it is taking care of the housing finance needs of the economically deprived sections
The government has urged the Housing and Urban Development Corporation to expand its activities and cover a large number of stakeholders under its lending operations.
Addressing an event organized to celebrate the 48th Foundation Day of HUDCO Urban Development minister Hardeep Singh Puri suggested that HUDCO may focus on the needs of aspirational districts thus helping in the balanced development across the country.
Puri later presented awards in various categories in the field of housing and infrastructure. These included the Best Practice Awards for improving the Living Environment, Design Awards, and best performance awards.