17th Sep, 2020


India elected as the member of the Commission on Status of Women 

India has been elected as the member of the Commission on Status of Women (CSW), a body of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

India will be a member for four years (2021 to 2025).

Commission on Status of Women (CSW)

The CSW is the principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.

It is a functional commission of the ECOSOC.

It was established by ECOSOC resolution 11(II) of 21 June 1946.

It promotes women’s rights, highlights the reality of women’s lives throughout the world and helps in shaping global standards on gender equality and the empowerment of women.

45 member states of the United Nations serve as members of the Commission at any one time.


Petroleum projects in Bihar inaugurated

The Indian Prime Minister recently inaugurated three key projects related to the Petroleum sector in Bihar.

Ministry: Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas

Commissioned by: IndianOil and HPCL

The projects include the Durgapur-Banka section (about 200 km) of the Paradip-Haldia-Durgapur Pipeline Augmentation Project and two LPG Bottling Plants in Banka and Champaran.

The line from Paradip – Haldia will now be further extended to Patna, Muzaffarpur and the pipeline coming from Kandla which has reached Gorakhpur will also be connected to it.

These LPG plants will meet the LPG requirements of Godda, Deoghar, Dumka, Sahibganj, Pakur districts and some areas of Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand.


Proposed Amendment to Railways Act 1989

Recently, the Ministry of Railways has proposed to decriminalise begging on trains or railway premises. 

It has also proposed to compound the offence of smoking by levying spot fine.

These changes are part of an exercise to decriminalise/rationalise penalties under the provisions of the Railway Act, 1989.

Section 144 (2) of the Act: If any person begs in any railway carriage or upon a railway station, s/he shall be liable for punishment of either imprisonment for a term that may extend to one year, or with a fine that may extend to Rs. 2,000, or with both.

Proposed Amendment: No person shall be permitted to beg in any railway carriage or upon any part of the Railway.

Section 167 of the Act: No person in any compartment of a train shall, if objected to by any other passenger, smoke therein. Irrespective of any objections raised, the railway administration may prohibit smoking in any train or part of a train. Whosoever contravenes these provisions shall be punishable with a fine that may extend to Rs.100.

Proposed Amendment: If the person liable to pay the fine is willing to pay it immediately, the officer authorised may compound the offence by charging the maximum fine which will be paid to the railway administration. Provided that, the offender shall be discharged and no further proceeding shall be taken against him/her in respect of such offence.


Important bridges and road improvement projects inaugurated in Gadchiroli

Three important bridges and two road improvement projects were inaugurated in Gadchiroli, Maharashtra. 

Foundation stones for four other major bridge projects across the rivers Wainganga, Bandiya, Perikota and Perimili were also laid down.

Ministry: Ministry for Road Transport & Highways

Wainganga Bridge Project

Wainganga river, which divides Gadchiroli & Chandrapur Districts is one of the important rivers in the State of Maharashtra.

To eliminate hardships of the people, Union Minister proposed construction of an ambitious project to construct bridge on Wainganga River, along National Highway 353 B, at a total cost of

Rs. 99 Crore, to be completed by NHAI and PWD.


Alternatives for paddy stubble utilisation 

The Punjab Energy Development Agency (PEDA) in association with the Government of Punjab is creating alternatives for paddy stubble utilisation.

Alternatives for paddy stubble utilisation

Biomass power plants: In these plants, 8.80 lakh metric tonnes of paddy stubble is used annually to generate power 

Producing Bio CNG: These will need around 3-lakh metric tonnes of paddy stubble annually.

Bioethanol Project: This will require 2 lakh metric tonnes of paddy stubble annually.

Advantages of these Projects

After commissioning of all these projects, Punjab will be able to utilise 1.5 million tonnes (7% of the total) paddy stubble.

Farmers can benefit hugely if they can sell paddy stubble to the industry instead of burning it.

It will reduce the pollution caused by stubble burning.

The fertility of the soil will also be preserved.

The youth can start such projects under the ‘start-up’ concept, which will create entrepreneurship among them.

Educated unemployed youth in rural Punjab can get big job opportunities.


Current usage of stubble in these plants is very small compared to the generation of stubble. 


Net Present Value of Forests

The Ministry of Mines has requested the Forest Advisory Committee to exempt digging exploratory boreholes from Net Present Value (NPV).

Net Present Value

It is a mandatory one-time payment that a user has to make for diverting forestland for non-forest use, under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980.

This is calculated on the basis of the services and ecological value of the forests.

It depends on the location and nature of the forest and the type of industrial enterprise that will replace a particular parcel of forest.

These payments go to the Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF) and are used for afforestation and reforestation.

Decided by: The Forest Advisory Committee.

The Committee is constituted by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) and decides on whether forests can be diverted for projects and the NPV to be charged.

It is a statutory body constituted by the Forest (Conservation) Act 1980.


Some projects have been provided exemption from paying NPV like construction of Schools, Hospitals, village tanks, laying down of optical fibre etc. 

Projects like underground mining and wind energy plants have been given a 50% exemption from NPV.

In the N. Godavarman Thirumulpad v. Union of India case, 2008, the Supreme Court mandated the payment of NPV.

The Kanchan Gupta Committee developed the concept of NPV after this case.

Exploratory Boreholes: It is drilled for the purpose of identifying the characteristics, location, quantity and quality of a resource (coal, metal or petroleum). It is a part of prospecting a site for future use for mining and extraction activities.


Contraction in July Factory Output: IIP

Recently, the National Statistical Office (NSO) has released data which highlighted the decline in the factory output (also called Industrial Production) for the fifth consecutive month.

July 2020 posted a contraction of 10.4% compared to July 2019.

The data also recorded a sequential improvement from 15.8% contraction seen in June. This reflects some resumption in industrial activity with the lifting of lockdown restrictions.

Index of Industrial Production (IIP)

It is an indicator that measures the changes in the volume of production of industrial products during a given period.

It is compiled and published monthly by the National Statistical Office (NSO).

Ministry: Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.

Base Year for IIP is 2011-2012.

Core Sector Industries comprise 40.27% of the weight of items included in IIP.

The eight core Industries in decreasing order of their weightage:

(1) Refinery Products;

(2) Electricity;

(3) Steel;

(4) Coal;

(5) Crude Oil;

(6) Natural Gas;

(7) Cement;

(8) Fertilisers.

Significance of IIP:

(1) It is used by government agencies for policy-making purposes;

(2) It is extremely relevant for the calculation of the quarterly and advance GDP estimates.


K.N. Dikshit Committee constituted

An expert committee has been set up for conducting holistic study of origin and evolution of Indian culture 

Ministry: Ministry of Culture.

The committee is chaired by K.N. Dikshit (Chairman of Indian Archaeological Society, New Delhi and former Joint Director General, Archaeological Survey of India).