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Indian Polity

National Commission for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (NSEBC): The government will soon be introducing a bill in the Parliament to accord Constitutional Body status to National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC). This will be done by inserting Article 338 B through a Constitutional Amendment in the Indian Constitution. This amendment will provide NCBC status equivalent to NCSC (Article 338) and NCST (Article 338A). The amendment will also add Article 342 A that will make requirement of Parliamentary approval necessary for any addition or omission of any class as OBC. Further the amendment will also add clause 26 C under Article 366 of the Indian Constitution to define ‘Socially and Educationally Backward Classes’. The amendment will also repeal The NCBC Act 1993 and dissolve the NCBC. It is proposed to have a chairman, a vice chairman and 3 other members on board.
National Commission for Backward Classes: It is a statutory body constituted under NCBC Act 1993 after the famous Mandal Case / Indira Sawhney Case. It examines the requests for inclusion of any class of citizens as a backward class in the lists. It also hear complaints related to under-inclusion or over-inclusion of any backward class in such lists. Tender such advice to the Central Government.
HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2014: The bill has been passed by Rajya Sabha and seeks to safeguard the rights of people living with HIV. It targets social stigma and discrimination against such people.
National Health Policy 2017: The policy will replace the 15 year old policy framed 15 years ago. It intends to provide healthcare in an ‘assured manner’ to all by addressing current and emerging challenges arising from the ever changing socio-economic, epidemiological and technological scenarios. It will increase the public expenditure on health to 2.5% of GDP from present 1.4% with majority of this share being diverted towards primary healthcare. It shall provide enlarged scope comprehensive primary healthcare through ‘Health and Wellness Centre’. It proposes free diagnostics, free drugs and free emergency and essential healthcare services in all public hospitals in order to provide healthcare access and financial protection. It seeks to establish regular tracking of disability adjusted life years (DALY) Index as a measure of burden of disease and its major categories trends by 2022. It aims to improve and strengthen the regulatory environment by putting in place systems for setting standards and ensuring quality of healthcare. It also looks at reforms in the existing regulatory systems both for easing drugs and devices manufacturing to promote Make in India and also reforming medical education. It advocates development of mid-level service providers, public health cadre, nurse practitioners to improve availability of appropriate health human resource.
Targets under National Health Policy: It aims to ensure availability of 2 beds per 1000 population to enable access within golden hour. It proposes to increase life expectancy from 67.5 to 70 years by 2025. It aims to reduce total fertility rate (TFR) to 2.1 at sub-national and national level by 2025. It also aims to reduce mortality rate (MR) of children under 5 years of age to 23 per 1000 by 2025 and maternal mortality rate (MMR) to 100 by 2020. It also aims to reduce infant mortality rate to 28 by 2019 and reduce neo-natal mortality to 16 and still birth rate to ‘single digit’ by 2025.

International Affairs

World Water Day: World Water Day is observed every year on 22 March. The day focusses on importance of universal access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities in developing countries. It also advocates for sustainable management of freshwater resources. The WWD was first formally proposed in Agenda 21 of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992. The theme for the WWD 2017 is ‘Why Wastewater?’
World Happiness Report: This is the annual report prepared by United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network. It was presented on the eve of World Happiness Day i.e. March 20th. The first World Happiness Report was presented in 2012 and in 2017 it is the sixth report. India has been ranked 122nd out of 155 countries. Norway followed by Denmark and Iceland are the top 3 nations on the chart. Tanzania, Burundi and Central African Republic are the least happy countries in the world. India has been shockingly placed 7th among the SAARC nations – Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. India is also 5th among the BRICS Nations – Brazil, Russia, China, South Africa and India.
Economic Affairs
Amendment to NABARD Act, 1981: NABARD or National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development is an apex development bank in India with RBI having majority stake in it. Its headquarters is in Mumbai, Maharashtra. It was established on recommendations of Shivaraman Committee to implement the NABARD Act, 1981. The amendments have been sought to increase the authorised capital of NABARD from present Rs. 5,000 crore to Rs. 30,000 crore and beyond, if necessary (in consultation with RBI). The amendment will also transfer the 0.4% equity of RBI in NABARD to Union Government thereby settling alleged conflict of interest between role of RBI as regulator of banks as well as stakeholder in NABARD.
North East Road Network Connectivity Project: The phase 1 of the project has been approved by Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs. In Phase 1 403 kilometres of National Highway will be constructed. The project has been financed by JICA – Japan International Cooperation Agency.
Human Development Index: India has been ranked 131 in the Human Development Index out of 188 countries for the year 2016. India scored 0.624 out of 1 that places India in the medium human development category. The top 3 countries were Norway, Australia and Switzerland. Among the SAARC Countries Sri Lanka bagged the top position followed by Maldives, India, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Sri Lanka and Nepal were placed in the high human development categories. India performed the poorest in the BRICS countries. Russia begged the top position amongst the BRICS nations followed by Brazil, China, South Africa and India. India’s overall rank fell by 1 rank i.e. it was 130 in 2015 and is 131 in 2016. India’s life expectancy at birth is 68.3 years (69.9 for males and 66.9 for females). Gross National Income based on per capita purchasing power parity also increased from $5,497 to $5,663. Gender Inequality Index: India ranked 125 out of 159 countries in the GII. Inequality-adjusted Human Development Index yields new HDI value for India as 0.455 which is a fall of 27.2%.
Cheneni-Nashiri Road Tunnel: India’s longest surface tunnel in J&K has successfully completed its trial run. It is constructed in Udhampur district. It is 9 kilometre in length at an elevation of 1,200.
Medha: It is first fully India made train rake. It has been dedicated to serve as local train in Mumbai Local Railway.
National Hydrology Project: India’s National Hydrology project was in news recently as World Bank has approved loan for the project. The project improving extent, quality, and accessibility of water resources information, decision support system for floods and basin level resource planning and strengthen capacity of institutions in India.

Environment

SaCReD Initiative: SaCReD stands for Sustainable Action for Climate Resilient Development. The initiative has been launched by the Assam Government to make the Majuli island carbon neutral island and thereby first carbon neutral district. The move also aims to make Majuli a biodiversity heritage site which will be first in the state of Assam.
Arsenic Contamination Report: A recent report tabled in Parliament has found West Bengal to have largest number of cases of Arsenic-affected people in the country. Arsenic is a natural component of earth’s crust and is highly carcinogenic. Arsenic contamination is highest in Gangetic Delta where people use deep wells to extract water and the greater depth correlates with higher concentration of Arsenic in water.

Science & Tech

India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO): It is the most ambitious basic science project proposed to come up in west Bodi Hills in Theni district of Tamil Nadu. It is jointly supported by Dept. of Atomic Energy (DAE) and Dept. of Science and Technology (DST) with DAE acting as nodal agency. The government did not conduct Environment Impact Assessment of INO, classifying it as a category-B project. However, the National Green Tribunal has stayed this decision of the Government and held that INO is a category-A project that needs EIA. Based on this tussle between Union Government and NGT, the project has been stayed as of now.
Discovery of 5 new sub-atomic particles at CERN:
Scientists using the Large Hadron Collider accelerator at CERN have discovered 5 new sub-atomic particles. These particles are baryons i.e. they are made up of three quarks (2 strange and 1 charm quarks). These particles decays from their class i.e. Omega-c-zero to another class of baryons i.e. Xi-c-plus and kaon.
Baryons:
It is a composite subatomic particle made up of 3 quarks. It belongs to the hadron family and some of the most common examples are protons and neutrons. Baryons forms the majority of mass in the universe. Other set of family members of hadron family are the mesons which are made up of 2 quarks and are called biquarks.

Person in News

Manhar Valji Bhai Zala: He is former legislator from Gujarat. He has been appointed as the Chairperson of the National Commission for Safai Karamcharis. The NCSK was established in 1994 to deal with the grievances of persons engaged in manual scavenging. It has a sanctioned strength of four members and a chairperson. It is statutory body established under National Commission for Safai Karamcharis Act, 1993. It aims to promote and safeguard the interests and rights of Safai Karamcharis. Its mandate is to study, evaluate and monitor the implementation of various schemes for Safai Karamcharis as an autonomous organisation.

Sports

Vijay Hazare Trophy: It is trophy dedicated to domestic cricket in the country. It is given for limited over cricket matches tournament and was started in 2002-03. It is played between the teams from Ranji Trophy plates. It is also known as Ranji One Day Trophy, named after the famous Indian cricketer Vijay Hazare.
Sports