India Current Affairs 2017

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Government launches VAJRA Scheme

Department of Science and Technology has launched  VAJRA (Visiting Advanced Joint Research) Faculty scheme that enables NRIs and overseas scientific community to participate and contribute to research and development in India.

on 8th January 2017, during the 14th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention, Prime Minister had announced that a new scheme called VAJRA (Visiting Advanced Joint Research) Faculty scheme would be launched by the Department of Science and Technology.

Salient Highlights

The Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB), a Statutory body of the Department of Science and Technology will implement the Scheme.

Under this scheme, foreign researchers abroad of Indian origin or otherwise can collaborate with faculties in public funded Indian institutions. The researchers would receive endowments at par with those in their own countries. They would be given USD 15,000 in the first month of residency and USD 10,000, for the remaining months.

The scheme would promote broad areas of research like energy, health, advance material among others.

Public funded academic institutions and national laboratories will be eligible for hosting the VAJRA Faculty.

The VAJRA faculty can reside in India for a minimum of 1 month and a maximum of 3 months a year.

The applications received from the interested foreign researchers would be evaluated by a Selection Committee of eminent scientists. The Committee will meet twice a year in January and July and make recommendations.

DST

Department of Science & Technology (DST) was established in May 1971 and functions under the ambit of Ministry of Science and Technology. The department functions with an objective of promoting new areas of Science & Technology. It acts as a nodal department for organising, coordinating and promoting S&T related activities in the country. The DST funds scientific projects in India and supports researchers in the country to attend conferences abroad and to conduct experimental works.

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Government announces 30 new Smart Cities

Union Minister for Urban Development and Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation, M. Venkaiah Naidu has announced a new batch of 30 smart cities under Smart City Mission, which was launched on June 25, 2015. 

Salient Highlights

The newly selected cities include Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala,  Naya Raipur in Chhattisgarh, Rajkot in Gujarat, Amravati in Andhra Pradesh, Patna in Bihar, Karimnagar in Telangana, Muzaffarpur in Bihar, Puducherry, Gandhinagar in Gujarat, Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir, Sagar in Madhya Pradesh, Karnal in Haryana, Satna in Madhya Pradesh, Bengaluru in Karnataka, Shimla in Himachal Pradesh, Dehradun in Uttarakhand, Tirupur in Tamil Nadu, Pimpri Chinchwad in Maharashtra, Bilaspur in Chhattisgarh, Pasighat in Arunachal Pradesh, Jammu in Jammu & Kashmir, Dahod in Gujarat, Tirunelveli, Thootukkudi and Tiruchirapalli in Tamil Nadu, Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh, Aizawl in Mizoram, Allahabad and Aligarh in U.P. and Gangtok in Sikkim.

With the addition of these 30 smart cities, the total cities picked up under the Smart City Mission has reached 90.

The government has selected 30 cities against the available 40 smart city slots to ensure feasible and workable plans that fulfill the aspirations of the citizens.

Out of the 30 cities, 26 had proposed affordable housing projects, 26 had proposed new schools and hospitals and 29 had proposed redesign and development of roads.

The government will further select 10 more cities under smart city mission as 100 cities were supposed to be selected for the Smart Cities Mission in total. The remaining 20 cities that will be contesting for the remaining 10 slots are: Itanagar (Arunachal Pradesh), Biharsharif (Bihar), Diu (Daman & Diu), Silvassa (Dadra and Nager Haveli), Kavaratti (Lakshadweep), Navimumbai, Greater Mumbai and Amaravati (Maharashtra), Imphal (Manipur), Shillong (Meghalaya), Dindigul and Erode(Tamil Nadu), Bidhannagar, Durgapur and Haldia (West Bengal), Meerut,Rai  Bareilly, Ghaziabad, Sharanpur and Rampur (UP).

Total proposed investment for the development of 30 cities is Rs.57,393 crores. It includes Rs.46,879 crores for ensuring core infrastructure and Rs.10,514 crores technology-based solutions for improving governance, service delivery and utilization of infrastructure.

Background

The Smart City Mission is flagship scheme of Union Government that will cover 100 cities and its duration is five years (2015-16 to 2019-20).

The focus of the smart city mission is on sustainable and inclusive development and set examples which can be replicated in other parts of the city and other cities of the country. There are 10 core infrastructure elements viz. adequate water supply; assured electricity supply; sanitation, including solid waste management; efficient urban mobility and public transport; affordable housing, especially for the poor; robust IT connectivity and digitalization; good governance, especially e-Governance and citizen participation; sustainable environment; safety and security of citizens, particularly women, children and the elderly; and health and education.

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Uttarakhand and Haryana Declared Open Defecation Free States

Under the Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin (SBM-G), rural Uttarakhand and rural Haryana have been declared as the 4th and 5th Open Defecation Free (ODF) States of India. Already, Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh and Kerala, have been declared ODF.

As per the government sources, nationally the sanitation coverage has increased from 42% to over 64% since the launch of SBM. Uttarakhand has 13 districts, 95 blocks, 7256 gram panchayats and 15751 villages while Haryana has 21 districts, 124 blocks, and 6083 gram panchayats. All these have been declared as ODF. With this, the total number of ODF states in the country have increased to 5 covering more than 2 lakh villages and 147 districts across the country.

Background

The Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) was launched in October 2014 to achieve universal sanitation coverage and to put focus on sanitation. The mission aims to achieve Swachh Bharat or make India clean by 2019, as a fitting tribute to the 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. The SBM consists of two sub-missions Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin), implemented in rural areas, and Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban), implemented in urban areas. SBM-G seeks to eliminate open defecation in rural areas by improving access to sanitation by ensuring the use of toilets, besides their construction. It also seeks to generate awareness to motivate communities to adopt sustainable sanitation practices, and encourage the use of appropriate technologies for sanitation.

Open defecation is an important factor for causing various diseases like intestinal worm infections, diarrhoea, polio, hepatitis etc.

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