• Current Affairs, 23 December 2019

    • December 23, 2019
    • Posted By : upliftlife
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    1. CGHS services to be extended to 100 cities
    2. 61 Lakh IHHL Toilets & 5.6 Lakh Community Toilets Completed, thus exceeding targets.
    3. Misleading analysis of the report on the 76thround of the NSS by Mint
    4. Can the strength of Lok Sabha be increased?
    5. Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY)
    6. Government contracts additional 12,500 MT of Onions from Turkey
    7. Foundation Stone Laid for 100 Bedded ESI Hospital at Vijaynagaram
    8. Ministry of Railways signs MoU with University of Birmingham for establishment of Centre of Excellence for Next Generation Transportation Systems
    9. Year End Review -2019 of Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship
    10. Cuba names Manuel Marrero Cruz prime minister
    11. WHO prequalifies first biosimilar medicine– trastuzumab
    12. Donald Trump has become the third President to be impeached by the US House
    13. 3rd leg of HCL-SRFI India Tour
    14. US Open Championships
    15. IOC chief thanks President Kovind for co-sponsoring UN Olympic Truce Resolution


    1. CGHS services to be extended to 100 cities


    • “CGHS services shall be now be extended to 100 cities”. This was stated by Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare as he inaugurated the new CGHS Wellness Centre at Vikaspuri, New Delhi, in the presence of Shri Parvesh Saheb Singh Verma, Member of Parliament, West Delhi. The Union Health Minister added that at present the scheme is operational across 72 Cities through 329 Allopathic Wellness Centres and 86 AYUSH Centres. It serves 12.09 lakh primary cardholders and 35.72 lakh beneficiaries, out of which around 17 lakh beneficiaries belong to Delhi/NCR. There are more than 2.5 lakh beneficiaries aged 75 years and above. About 58% of CGHS beneficiaries avail of CGHS facilities at least once in a year.
    • Dr Harsh Vardhan stated that after 2014, the number of CGHS Wellness centres have expanded to 72 cities from the earlier figure of 30, which shows the exemplary commitment of the government to the health and wellness of the employees. Soon CGHS shall be extended to other cities like Itanagar, Kannur, and Kozhikode, he stated. He added that recently the Ministry has elicited the feedback and suggestions from the various stakeholders, beneficiaries and others to improve the delivery of health services through CGHS centres. As an innovative feature, for beneficiaries above 80 years of age, doctors from CGHS wellness centres call at least once in a month to enquire about their wellbeing / make a home visit if residing within 5 km.
    • The Union Health Minister stated that it is a reflection of the commitment to the health sector by the government, that the number of AIIMS have now increased to 21. Six of the AIIMS are now operational, he stated. Work is also progressing on setting up 157 Medical Colleges mainly in the aspirational districts of the country to ensure that people of these regions are provided superior health services, and they do not have to travel long distances to avail of them. He also highlighted the “Eat Right India” and “Fit India” campaigns of the Government aimed towards preventive, promotive and positive health, which also is the underpinning thought for the Ayushman Bharat Health and Wellness Centres. “It is sad that the people of Delhi have been deprived of the invaluable tertiary health services under Ayushman Bharat PMJAY, which have benefitted more than 69 lakh people from various parts of the country through more than 19,000 empanelled hospitals”, Dr Harsh Vardhan stated. He added that these needy and poor people could not have dreamed of such health care facilities earlier, in the absence of PMJAY.
    • The Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) is a contributory health scheme for serving / retired Central Government employees and their dependent family members. The scheme was started in 1954 in Delhi. It provides comprehensive health care facilities to the beneficiaries that include OPD Consultation from CGHS Medical Officers and specialists, issue of medicines, investigations at Govt. hospitals and private empanelled centres, specialist consultation and hospitalization at Govt. and private empanelled hospitals, etc. OPD consultation from CGHS empanelled private hospitals on referral from CGHS Wellness Centre is also done as part of the scheme.

    2. 61 Lakh IHHL Toilets & 5.6 Lakh Community Toilets Completed, thus exceeding targets.


    • Shri Hardeep S Puri, Minister of State(I/C) for Housing & Urban Affairs has stated that urban areas of 35 states / UTs have become ODF (All states/UTs except a few ULBs from West Bengal) and in all, 4,320 cities have declared themselves ODF, of which 4,166 cities have been certified through third party verification. He also informed that about 61 lakh individual toilets and 5.6 lakh Community Toilets have been completed, thus exceeding the targets.
    • Today, 96% of wards in the country are covered by door to door collection, 73% of wards are practicing source segregation, and 60% waste generated is being scientifically processed. He was addressing the MPs of the Consultative Committee attached to the Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs, here today.
    • Earlier, he welcomed all the Members of the Parliament of the Consultative Committee attached to the MoHUA and informed that the Government is implementing – Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation(AMRUT), Smart Cities Mission(SCM), Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban(SBM-U) Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Urban(PMAY-U), Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Urban Livelihoods Mission(DAY-NULM), Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana(HRIDAY) and Metro Rails.
    • These complement each other helping the all-round development of our cities. The meeting was attended by Members of Parliament, Shri M.V.V.Satyanaraya, Shri Ramcharan Bohra, Shri Abir Ranjan Biswas, Shri Rajmani Patel, Shri K.T.S.Tulsi, and Shri Sanjay Singh. Shri Durga Shanker Mishra, Secretary, MoHUA and senior officers of the Ministry also attended the meeting. Shri Durga Shanker Mishra, Secretary, MoHUA gave an overall view of various Missions of the Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry. This was followed by presentation by the respective Mission Directors about their Missions.
    • Providing details of the Smart City Mission, Shri Puri informed that the Mission covers 100 cities selected through a challenge process at the national level. A comprehensive exercise of citizen engagement laid foundation for preparing Smart City Proposals (SCPs) for participating in national level Challenge. Investments worth Rs 2.05 lakh crore have been proposed by 100 Smart Cities as part of their smart city plans with Central Assistance of Rs 48,000 crore. These projects will be funded through – Central Assistance & State contribution, PPP, debt/loans and through convergence from other schemes. Projects worth Rs 1.06 lakh crore have either been completed or are under implementation. Remaining projects are at different stages of implementation. It is heartening to see that projects with an investment of about Rs 20,000 crore are being implemented or are under tendering on PPP basis. This shows the interest the Mission has evoked in the private sector.
    • Speaking about Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Urban, Shri Puri informed that it seeks to provide houses to all eligible families/ beneficiaries by 2022. 4421 cities/towns have been covered under the Mission. Of the validated demand of 1.12 crore houses, construction of 96.50 lakh houses involving central assistance of Rs.1.51 lakh crore has been approved. Central assistance of Rs. 57,914 crore has been released out of budgetary allocations and Extra Budgetary Resources (EBR). More than 57 lakh houses have been grounded of which construction of about 29 lakh is complete. As part of PMAY-U a Technology Sub-Mission envisaging adoption of modern, innovative, disaster resistant and green technologies for various geo-climatic zones has been launched. 24 Emerging Technologies have been identified, evaluated and promoted under the Mission. Over 14 Lakh houses are being constructed using these technologies all over the country.
    • As regards, Atal Mission for Rejuvenation & Urban Transformation, he informed that the scheme focuses on development of basic urban infrastructure in 500 Mission cities- potable water for every household; improvement treatment capacity of sewerage; develop city parks and Reform implementation. Against the total plan size of Rs. 77,640 crore of all the SAAPs, Rs. 39,000 crore (50%) has been allocated to water supply followed by sewerage & septage project at over Rs. 32,000 crore (42%). Works have been completed for 2,326 projects worth Rs. 7,221 crore, contracts awarded & work in progress on 2,962 projects with an investment of Rs. 65,000 crore, 460 projects costing over Rs. 10,000 crore are under tendering and DPRs worth about Rs.1000 crore are under preparation. AMRUT also focuses on Reforms-11 reforms comprising 54 milestones. These reforms broadly cover online services to citizens, establishing single window for all approvals, establishing municipal cadre, achieving at least 90% of billing and collection of taxes/user charges, etc. Against a target for replacement of 99 lakh streetlights with LED lights, 67 lakh streetlights have been replaced so far. Online Building Permission System (OBPS) has been implemented in 1,887 cities across the country including 440 AMRUT towns. Implementation of OBPS resulted in a quantum jump in India’s rank in the World Bank Doing Business Report (DBR) in construction permits component of Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) to 27 in 2020 from 181 in 2018.
    • In so far as Deendayal Antodaya Yojana – National Urban Livelihood Mission is concerned, it addresses livelihoods concerns of urban poor by enabling them access to self-employment and skilled wage employment opportunities, provide shelters equipped with essential services to the urban homeless and assists the urban street vendors by facilitating access to suitable spaces, institutional credit, social security, etc. The primary target of DAY-NULM is urban poor, including urban homeless and particular emphasis is laid on mobilization of vulnerable sections of urban population such as SCs/STs, minorities, female-headed households, street vendors, rag pickers etc. The Mission has made 42.95 lakh urban poor households part of Self Help Groups (SHGs).Over 3 lakh SHGs provided Revolving Fund and about 6 lakh loans provided to SHGs.4.62 lakh beneficiaries assisted for setting up of individual/group micro enterprises. Over 10 lakh individuals/youth trained and certified in different skills fit for livelihood in urban areas; 5.58 lakh got placement. Central Assistance amounting to Rs 2,753 Cr released to States/UTs since 2014 under DAY-NULM.
    • As regards Urban Transport, Shri Puri informed that 667 km of metro rail lines are presently operational in 18 cities and about 934 km (including 82 km Delhi-Meerut RRTS) are under construction in various cities. “Our other initiatives in urban transport include: National Urban Transport Policy, which seeks to promote greater use of public transport and non-motorized modes of travel and use of cleaner technologies; Metro Rail Policy which bridges the much-needed gap for ascertaining and enhancing the feasibility of metro rail projects from economic, social and environmental perspective. Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Policy, 2017 to encourage compact mixed-use development which reduces the need for travel and improve the access to public transport within the walkable distance of transit stations; National Common Mobility Card to enable seamless travel by different metros and other transport means across the country besides retail shopping and purchases. This is India’s first indigenously developed AFC System which fulfils the dream of One Nation One Card; Metrolite- Cost effective Metro system for tier-2 and tier-3 cities; and Metroneo being formulated envisages standards for rubber tyre-based mass rapid transit system named ‘Metroneo’ with exclusive right of way as an option for public transport in smaller cities” he added.

    3. Misleading analysis of the report on the 76thround of the NSS by Mint


    • This is with reference to an article published in the Mint on 19thDecember 2018 titled “India’s toilet stats raise a stink” which questions the administrative date on SBM by citing the recently released report on the 76thround of the NSS. This, in spite of the fact that the NSS report itself unequivocally mentions that its results on sanitation and LPG coverage are likely to be significantly under-reported due to large scale respondent bias.
    • The author of the article had also reached out to the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation(DDWS) prior to publishing it, seeking clarifications on respondent bias, processes followed by the enumerators, and claims of other smaller surveys by certain entities with vested interests. It is rather unfortunate that the author has chosen to disregard the Department’s clear explanations on all of these topics, and portray them as supporting arguments for her flimsy hypothesis.
    • The articleattempts to question the commentary on respondent bias of NSS itself, by quoting a former Chief Statistician of India as saying that the extent of bias “depends much on how the respondent is reading the purpose of the survey”. This actually strengthens the argument of respondent bias as put forth by NSS, as the respondents were asked a leading question on “benefits received from the government” for these facilities prior to asking whether the households had access to these facilities, as clarified by the NSS in the report and reiterated by the DDWS in its response to the author. This makes it clear thatthe respondents were likely to perceive the purpose of the survey to be an assessment of the receipt of government benefits for sanitation and other facilities.
    • After confirming with the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI), DDWS has also clarified to the author that the enumerators are not required to physically verify the presence of toilets/LPG or any other facility. Yet, the author says that the respondents would not “conceal information on a large benefit like a toilet, especially since it can be physically verified”. Further, the author seems unaware that in many parts of the country, toilets are at a distance from the house,making it even more difficult for the enumerators to verify its presence. This further displays the author’s lack of understanding of the sanitation context in rural India.
    • The article also cites surveys by the biased R.I.C.E to support the hypothesis. The DDWS has previously, on multiple occasions, requested the media to exercise caution in publishing biased and non-representative studies with poor methodologies. R.I.C.E. in particular, has been one of those perennial critics who,while having no positive suggestions to offer, have continually attempted to raise false doubts about the sanitation status in the country, based on incorrect, non-representative, and often non-existent data gathered from dubious statistical methods. Further, the survey methods of the National Annual Rural Sanitation Survey (NARSS), which happens to be the most procedurally robust large scale sanitation survey in India, supervised by an Expert Working Group comprising the World Bank, UNICEF, Water Aid, Niti Aayog etc, and chaired by stalwarts like Prof Amitabh Kundu and Dr. N.C. Saxena.
    • And lastly, the article questions the usage of toilets in rural India by citing an IDInsight study. Again, this seems to support the NARSS findings of 95% toilet usage as it says that one person in a quarter of households with access to toilets defecate in the open in Darbhanga district, Bihar. A simple calculation for average five membered households will show that this amounts to only one in 20 people who have access to a toilet but don’t use it, meaning usage of 95%.

    4. Can the strength of Lok Sabha be increased?


    • Former President Pranab Mukherjee has advocated for increase in the number of seats in Lok Sabha should be increased to 1,000 from the present 543.
    • Article 81 of the Constitution defines the composition of the House of the People or Lok Sabha.
    • It states that the House shall not consist of more than 550 elected members of whom not more than 20 will represent UTs.
    • It also mandates that the number of Lok Sabha seats allotted to a state would be such that the ratio between that number and the population of the state is, as far as possible, the same for all states. This is to ensure that every state is equally represented.
    • Exceptions: However, this logic does not apply to small states whose population is not more than 60 lakh.
    • So, at least one seat is allocated to every state even if it means that its population-to-seat-ratio is not enough to qualify it for that seat.
    • As per Clause 3 of Article 81, population, for the purpose of allocation of seats, means “population as ascertained at the last preceding Census of which the relevant figures have been published” — in other words, the last published Census.
    • However, as a result of an amendment to this Clause in 2003, the “population” now means population as per the 1971 Census — and will be so until the first Census that is taken after 2026.
    • The composition of the Lower House has remained more or less the same for four decades. Every MP currently represents an average 16-18 lakh Indians — too large a number to be kept in touch with in a meaningful way. Therefore, the number of Lok Sabha seats should be rationalized on the basis of population.
    • The Constitution (126th Amendment) Bill passed by Parliament last week, while extending the reservation for SC/STs, did away with the provision for nomination of Anglo Indians. This has brought the strength of Lok Sabha down to 543 now.

    5. Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY)


    • Under the PMGSY-III Scheme, it is proposed to consolidate 1,25,000 Km road length in the States.
    • It involves consolidation of Through Routes and Major Rural Links connecting habitations to Gramin Agricultural Markets (GrAMs), Higher Secondary Schools and Hospitals.
    • The funds would be shared in the ratio of 60:40 between the Centre and State for all States except for 8 North Eastern states and Himachal Pradesh & Uttarakhand for which it is 90:10.
    • A total of 5,99,090 Km road length has been constructed under the scheme since inception till April, 2019 (inclusive of PMGSY-I, PMGSY-II and RCPLWEA Scheme.
    • PMGSY was launched in December, 2000 with an objective to provide single all-weather road connectivity to eligible unconnected habitation of designated population size (500+ in plain areas and 250+ in North-East, hill, tribal and desert areas as per Census, 2001) for overall socio-economic development of the areas.

    6. Government contracts additional 12,500 MT of Onions from Turkey


    • MMTC has contracted an additional 12,500 MT of Onions from Turkeyas directed by the Price Stabilisation Fund Management Committee (PSFMC) of the Department of Consumer Affairs.
    • The latest contract of Onions will begin arriving in India from Mid-January onwards. With this additional 12,500 MT, the total contracted Onions so far for imports have gone upto 42,500 MT.
    • A bulk of the contracted Onions to the tune of approximately 12,000 MT will arrive in India before 31st December, 2019 which will then be supplied to various States in line with their respective demand. This is likely to immediately reduce the prices and improve overall availability.

    7. Foundation Stone Laid for 100 Bedded ESI Hospital at Vijaynagaram


    • Shri Santosh Kumar Gangwar, Minister of State (I/C) for Labour and Employment laid the foundation stone of ESI Hospital, Vijaynagaram, Andhra Pradesh today. Smt Pamula Pushpa Sreevani, Dy. Chief Minister & Minister for Tribal Welfare, Govt. of Andhra Pradesh was the Chief Guest of the function.
    • Shri Gangwar informed about various initiatives taken by the government to provide better health care and services to the work force of India. He said that 159 hospitals in country are providing ESIC services and 47 out of them are run by ESIC and rest by State Governments. The Minister said that recruitment drive has been initiated to fill the post of medical staff in hospitals of ESIC.
    • The 100 bedded ESI Hospital in Vijaynagaram will be built over five acres area with an estimated cost of Rs. 75.26 Crores. The hospital will consist of G+2 levels, including residential campus and will be equipped with all modern medical facilities like OPD, Wards, Labs and Emergency Facility. This hospital will help in catering the needs of two north-eastern districts of Andhra Pradesh viz. Srikakulam and Vijaynagaram, that currently has over 1 lakh IPs and 3.88 lakh beneficiaries who are taking secondary care treatment at Vishakhapatnam.
    • In Andhra Pradesh, initially, the ESI Scheme was implemented centre wise with just 4 centres viz. Vijayawada, Guntur, Eluru and Vishakhapatnam w.e.f. 09.10.1955. The scheme was gradually extended to 136 centres. Presently, the scheme is in force in 663 mandals of Andhra Pradesh with over 42,880 Employers, 12,90,051 IPs and 43,39,208 Beneficiaries. The ESI Scheme is administered in Andhra Pradesh through 1 Regional Office, 2 Sub-Regional Offices and 22 Branch Offices. Medical services to the beneficiaries are being provided through 4 ESIS Hospitals, 3 Diagnostic Centres, 78 ESIS Dispensaries, 79 Panel Clinics and mobile dispensaries in 34 centres. For providing secondary care and super speciality treatment, tie-up arrangements have been made with 38 private hospitals in all districts and at important centres.
    • Shri Gummanur Jayaram, Minister for Labour and Employment, Training & Factories, Govt. of Andhra Pradesh assured full cooperation of State Govt. in running the upcoming hospital. The other dignitaries present during the event acknowledged the efforts of central govt. and assured the state government cooperation. The project is expected to be completed in two years. After construction of this hospital of ESIC, the same will be handed over to State Govt. for running it.

    8. Ministry of Railways signs MoU with University of Birmingham for establishment of Centre of Excellence for Next Generation Transportation Systems


    • The National Rail Transport Institute, a deemed to be university under the Ministry of Railways, signed an MoU with the University of Birmingham in Rail Bhawan, New Delhi on December 18th, 2019 to set up its first Centre of Excellence for Next Generation Transportation Systems. The MoU was signed by Mr. Vinod Kumar Yadav, Chairman, Railway Board and Chancellor of NRTI, and Professor Clive Roberts, Head of the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE) at the University of Birmingham.
    • Indian Railways is a founding partner of this centre and would provide proprietary data, professional expertise, spare equipment and other available resources directly or through its Centralised Training Institutes and research organisations. The centre would also invite partnerships from other industry and academic organisations as it develops in the future.
    • This Centre will be involved in promoting development of the Rail and Transportation sector in India which include offering post-graduate, doctoral and post-doctoral programmes, customized training programmes for in-service professionals, undertaking joint research projects in areas such as signalling, communication, asset maintenance, traction and safety and developing benchmarks, standards and certifications for specialized skills. It will also be involved in organising knowledge events, conferences, workshops to disseminate trends, latest research, global best practices and developments in the transportation sector, accessible to industry and academia.
    • The establishment of this centre is yet another step towards building our capacity in the transportation sector, which would prepare our youth for participating in building and operation of national projects such as High-Speed Railways, modernizing Indian Railways signalling systems, rolling stock and operations. Its pedagogy would nurture creativity and entrepreneurship among NRTI students providing them an opportunity to become best in class professionals, influential leaders, nation-builders and value driven citizens.
    • About the National Rail Transport Institute
    • The National Rail Transport Institute has been set up as a deemed to be university and has been operational since 2018. In addition to Schools and Departments in various disciplines, NRTI aims to develop interdisciplinary Centres of Excellence which would be collaborative constructs to promote research and education to the transportation sector. NRTI’s strategy is focussed upon sourcing the best expertise from around the world from leading global institutions through institutional partnerships for collaborating on developing curriculum, research projects and executive education programs.Further details about the institution are available at www.nrti.edu.in
    • About University of Birmingham
    • The University of Birmingham is home to the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE) with over 150 academics, researchers and professional services staff, delivering world-class research, education and leadership to the global rail industry. The BCRRE is the largest university-based centre for railway research and education in Europe, involved in developing world-leading new technologies alongside higher education programmes, research and innovations in Climate Change, Aerodynamics and International Benchmarking, Power Systems and Energy Use, Railway Control and Operations Simulation.

    9. Year End Review -2019 of Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship


    • The Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship is responsible for co-ordination of all skill development efforts across the country, removal of disconnect between demand and supply of skilled manpower, building the vocational and technical training framework, skill up-gradation, building of new skills, and innovative thinking not only for existing jobs but also jobs that are to be created. The Ministry aims to Skill on a large Scale with Speed and high Standards in order to achieve its vision of a ‘Skilled India’.
    The Vision Statement of the Ministry has been “To create an ecosystem of empowerment by skilling on a large scale at speed with high standards and to promote a culture of innovation based entrepreneurship which can generate wealth and employment so as to ensure Sustainable Livelihoods for all citizens in the Country.”
    The Ministry has strived towards this vision, by putting special emphasis in 2019 on Convergence, Increased Scale, Meeting Aspiration and Improved Quality. This has led to enhanced skilling opportunities and trained workforce in the country, and also inculcation and support to the entrepreneurial spirit among the people. The initiatives of the Ministry are as follows:


    1. National Skill Development Mission (NSDM): Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE) formed in 2014 to give a fillip and focus to the skill development and entrepreneurship efforts in the country. Because of the efforts under NSDM, more than One Crore youth are being imparted skills training annually under various programs of the Central Government.

    2. Skill India Portal: A strong IT Platform, namely Skill India portal launched to converge the skilling data of various Central Ministries, State Governments, Private Training Providers and Corporates on a single platform. This will now enable data driven decision making by the policymakers and help remove information asymmetry in the skilling ecosystem. This will also be single touch point for the citizens of India to access skilling opportunities and seeking related services.

    Increased Scale
    3. Industrial Training Centres (ITIs): Expanded and modernized the existing Long-Term Training eco-system in India. The total number of Industrial Training Centres (ITIs) increased by 12% from 11964 in 2014 to 14939 in 2018-19. The trainee enrolment has increased by 37% from 16.90 Lakh to 23.08 Lakh during the period.

    4. Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY): Launched the Flagship Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (1.0 & 2.0) in 2015 to provide free skill training avenues to youths of India. Under the program about 87 Lakhs youth have been trained till date. Under the placement linked program under PMKVY 2016-19, more than 54% have been linked to employment.

    5. Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendra (PMKK): Out of the 812 allocated PMKKs, 681 centres had been established and target to train over 18 Lakh candidates under PMKVY scheme was allotted out of which training has been imparted to 9,89,936 candidates, 8,85,822 Assessed, 7,40,146 certified and 4,35,022 candidates have been placed successfully. 501 centres had been inaugurated by Hon’ble Members of Parliament for the respective parliamentary constituency and/or other representatives for their respective constituency.

    6. Recognition of Prior Learning: There is the deepening of the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). RPL program, under PMKVY 2016-19, was launched to recognize the prior skills acquired by Individuals. Till date, more than 26 lakh people have been oriented under the RPL program of Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY). Under the Best in Class Employer category of RPL, more than 11 lakh employees have been oriented into formal skilling with the assistance of companies.

    7. RPL in Supreme Court: Under Recognition of Prior Learning Program (RPL) Training in Supreme Court, TATA Strive and Maruti Suzuki have completed training one batch of cooks and drivers respectively of Supreme Court. Training was spread over two days in which safety aspects, personal grooming, soft skills and few technical aspects were covered.

    8. MoU with India Post Payments Bank: BFSI (Banking, Financial Services & Insurance) Sector Skill Council under MSDE has entered into a MoU with India Post Payments Bank to certify 1,70,000 Grameen Dak Sewaks under RPL Best in Class Employers. As on date, a total of 9,046 candidates have been certified under the same.

    9. Centre Accreditation: Significant creation of Short-term standardized skilling capacity through Centre Accreditation and Affiliation portal – SMART. 11,977 Centres have been accredited and affiliated till date which has an annual Training capacity of about 50 Lakh/Annum.

    10. Skill Development in Jammu & Kashmir: A meeting held between officials of MSDE, Govt. of J&K, and State Skill Development Mission (JKSSDM) to discuss ways to ensure 100% coverage of all the eligible beneficiaries from J&K and the steps to be undertaken thereby for this. Officials from various Organisations including NSDC, DJSS and various Sector Skill Councils (SSCs) were also present in the meeting. To promote long term skilling, NSTI Jammu has been made operational. Trainers are being trained to impart NSQF LEVEL-6 training.

    11. Skill Development in Leh: For better outreach of the skill training to all parts of the country, a NSTI extension centre was opened in Leh. Ministry is taking all possible steps to create a precision trained workforce in the nation.

    12. SANKALP: A regional workshop on SANKALP was held in Kohima, Nagaland on 3rd–4th September, 2019. Six States namely Nagaland, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Jharkhand, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim participated in the workshop. Workshops with District Officials and trainers were also held alongside the regional workshop. Apart from it, a workshop was also held in Delhi and Maharashtra under SANKALP. Further, a delegation visit to Seoul, Korea was undertaken which was organized by the World Bank and video conferences were held with States/ UTs for reviewing the status of State Incentive Grant (SIG) baseline and submission of State proposal under SANKALP.

    13. STRIVE: The main focus of the scheme is to improve the performance of ITIs. Under phase one, 314 ITIs have been selected & 198 Performance Based Grant Agreements have been signed. The scheme also works towards increasing Capacities of State Governments to Support ITIs and Apprenticeship training. Till date, 31 States have signed MoU i.e. Performance Based Funding Agreement (PBFA). To improve Teaching and Learning techniques, NSQF Trainings are being imparted to training officers, Principals and Instructors across the 36 States and UTs for NSQF.

    14. International Collaboration: Minister of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship met officials from counterparts working in skill development across countries like Singapore, UAE, Japan, Canada, Australia to further build capacity for skilled workforce in the country, jointly work on transnational standards and bridging demand for skilled workforce in these countries by collaborating with them and supplying them with trained professionals.

    15. PM-YUVA Yojana (Pradhan Mantri Yuva Udyamita Vikas Abhiyan) is implementing a pilot project in 300 institutes (200 Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs)/National Skill Training Institutes (NSTIs), 50 Polytechnics, 25 PMKKs/ PMKVY and 25 Jan Shikshan Sansthan (JSS)), across 12 States and Union Territories (Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Telangana, Kerala, West Bengal, Bihar, Assam, Meghalaya, Uttarakhand, Maharashtra).

    The project aims to promote entrepreneurship as an alternative career choice and enable sustained long-term mentoring support through the journey to potential and early stage entrepreneurs, by imparting entrepreneurship education and mentoring support to trainees/ beneficiaries from skilling ecosystem. The pilot project is expected to reach out to around 70,000 youth through entrepreneurship awareness and education sessions. The project is likely to create 600 new and 1000 scale-up enterprises by March, 2020. The approved budget for the pilot project is Rs 12 crores.

    16. Collaboration with Reliance Jio: To strengthen the industry connect, DGT and MSDE have collaborated with Reliance Jio to set up training labs at 6 NSTIs for their home connect division. A job mela was organised at 6 locations. i.e. NSTI Chennai, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Hyderabad & Kolkata along with Govt, ITI Pusa New Delhi. 4OO candidates have been selected for this training.

    17. MoU with Cisco, Quest Alliance & Accenture: Employability skill Labs at 6 NSTIs have been set up under this partnership with the Directorate General of Training (DGT) of the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) and Cisco, Quest Alliance & Accenture. Youth across India enrolled in industrial training institutes(ITIs) will be trained in digital literacy, career readiness, employability skills, and advanced technology skills such as data analytics.

    Meeting Aspirations

    18. Kaushalyacharya Awards: To recognize and appreciate the good works done by trainers, Kaushalacharya Awards 2019 ceremony was organized on 5th Sept 2019 to felicitate 53 trainers from different sectors for their exceptional contribution towards creating a future-ready and skilled workforce.

    19. National Entrepreneurship Awards 2019: MSDE conferred NEA 2019 to 30 Young Entrepreneurs and 6 Organizations / Individuals, building Entrepreneurship eco-system in the country. The awards were presented to honor outstanding contributions in entrepreneurship development. The award included a trophy, a certificate and prize money up to Rs 10 lakhs. This is in line with promoting entrepreneurship amongst the youth so as to create more job givers than job seekers in the nation.

    20. Skill Saathi Counseling Program: MSDE also launched the Skill Saathi program which was aimed to sensitize the youth of the country on various avenues under Skill India Mission and increase the aspiration for skill development. Close to 40 lakh students were counselled under the program.

    21. Policy action to offer vocational courses: Under this, the MSDE initiated a drive to create a policy action on offering vocational courses in schools and equal weightage to vocational courses for admission in UG courses. The Draft Credit Framework for vertical and horizontal mobility from vocational to general and vice-versa has been developed. The framework is under finalization in consultation with Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD).

    22. 500 skills hubs in government schools: MSDE has also finalized a plan for setting up 500 skill hubs and labs in government schools. Working closely with CBSE to develop “Hubs of Excellence in Skills” for school students, MSDE will introduce high quality, technology-oriented skill programs to schools. Skill India currently engages with 9100+ schools and has integrated skills from 20 sectors. So far 7.5 lakh students have benefited from it. These initiatives are being planned in conjunction with States.

    23. Embedded apprenticeship degree program: MSDE and MHRD have together rolled out the SHREYAS program where apprenticeship degree programs in retail, media and logistics are embedded into degree programs such as BA/BSc/BCom (Professional) courses in the higher educational institutions. So far, the program has been included in 25 colleges with 643 students enrolled.

    24. Catalyzing demand for formal skills by promoting Apprenticeship through Apprenticeship Pakhwada: MSDE held an Apprenticeship Pakhwada which was celebrated across the nation where industries and State Governments committed close to training of 7 lakh apprentices in this current fiscal year, which if converted will almost double the number of apprentices trained over the last amendment made to the Apprenticeship Act of 1961. MSDE is also promoting Third Party Aggregators (TPAs) who will be key catalysts for promoting apprenticeship training which is one of the most sustainable form of skill development.

    25. India Institute of Skills (IIS): In order to bring a certain standard and stature in terms of quality and quantity to skills, MSDE recently announced setting up of the Indian Institute of Skills (IIS) in Mumbai which would be to the stature and repute of IIMs and IITs of the country. This project is in partnership with the Tata Group, with over 4.5 acres of land provided by the Government. The Tata Group will invest around Rs. 300 crores and on completion, IIS will have a capacity of training 5,000 trainees every year.

    26. MoU with SBI: MSDE has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with SBI for engagement of 5000 apprentices as banking front office executive and tele-callers in the current financial year 2019-20, as part of an initiative to launch partnerships for promotion of apprenticeship in the financial sector.

    27. Skill Vouchers: MSDE is also developing a skill vouchers program for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME), as a provision model to enhance the delivery and quality of the programs. Vouchers are expected to be provided to learners and entrepreneurs towards the training program they see most value in.

    28. WorldSkills International Kazan 2019: The 22 winners of IndiaSkills 2018 and their experts had represented the country with their outstanding performance at the WorldSkills International 2019 (WSK), held in Kazan, Russia. India won one gold, one silver, two bronze and 15 Medallions of Excellence at the biggest competition for skills. India ranked 13th among 63 countries that participated at WorldSkills International 2019, marking it to be the best finish for the country in the coveted skill championship. They were felicitated with certificates and cash prizes for their remarkable performance.

    Improved Quality

    29. Reforms to Apprenticeship Act of 1961: The ministry introduced a wide range of reforms to the Apprenticeship Act of 1961, to make it significantly easier for industry to take on much needed apprentices. The comprehensive reforms under Apprenticeship rules 1962 include:
    • Increasing upper limit for engaging apprentices from 10% to 15%;
    • Decreasing the size limit of an establishment with mandatory obligation to engage apprentices from 40 to 30;
    • Payment of stipend for 1st year has been fixed rather than linking it to minimum wages;
    • 10% to 15% hike in stipend for 2nd and 3rd year to apprentice;
    • Duration of apprenticeship training for optional trade can be from 6 months to 36 months.

    30. Dual System of Training: The MSDE is also scaling up the ITIs Dual System Training (DST) scheme to at least 1000 ITIs. The DST is a model of training inspired by the German method and provides industry exposure through industry led trainings to students of the various ITIs. In the first 100 days, 40 National Skill Training Institutes (NSTIs) have signed partnership agreements and as many as 739 MoUs have been signed. The duration of the practical training portion of the course has also been made flexible and adaptive to the industry schedule. All the 138 plus courses under CTS have been brought under the ambit of DST, as against only 17 courses earlier. ITIs are exclusively permitted to conduct training under DST with deemed affiliation in the 3rd shift.

    31. New Age Skills: In a bid to keep up with the times, MSDE has also launched new age courses in 12 NSTIs. These include Internet of Things – Smart Healthcare; Internet of Things – Smart cities; 3D printing; Drone pilots; Solar Technicians and Geo Informatics among many others.

    32. Formation of District Skill Committees: In order to get to the grass roots of the country with its various reforms and empower every citizen, the ministry has formed District Skill Committees (DSC) in all Districts as part of its Aspirational Skilling Abhiyaan under the Sankalp program, which is funded by World Bank. The MSDE is handholding these District Skill Committees through the Directorate General of Training (DGT) to further identify skill gap at a local level and then strengthen the ecosystem for local market driven skill development opportunities.

    33. Mahatma Gandhi National Fellowship (MNGF): MSDE has also constituted the Mahatma Gandhi National Fellowship (MNGF) for 75 districts across 6 states. Under these 75 young professionals shall be selected and will be deputed in identified 75 districts for supporting the district officials in district level planning, monitoring of activities related to skilling’ management of data/information, coordination among different stakeholders in districts’ assistance to District Skill Development Committee.

    34. Indian Skill Development Services (ISDS): To ensure that the skilling of the country’s youth gets the importance that it deserves, the government has carved out an altogether new administrative service much like the Indian Revenue Service or the Post and Telegraph Service. The Indian Skill Development Services (ISDS) has been created through a notification by the MSDE. This service has been created for the Training Directorate of the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship. ISDS will be a Group ‘A’ service where induction will take place through Indian Engineering Service Examination, conducted by UPSC. The fresh batch of the newest central government services, the Indian Skill Development Services commenced their training program at the Administrative Training Institute (ATI), Mysuru on September 9, 2019. The Indian Skill Development Service (ISDS) has 263 All India posts. The cadre comprises of 3 posts at Senior Administrative Grade, 28 posts at Junior Administrative Grade, 120 posts at Senior Time Scale and 112 posts at Junior Time Scale.

    35. Community mentors called Business Sakhis: Based on the learnings from various schemes and programmes introduced for women’s entrepreneurship promotion, in 2018, NIESBUD in association with UNDP, NIRDPR and TISS jointly developed a new concept and system that is providing mentorship support services of both psycho-social and business supports through a cadre of community mentors called Business Sakhis (Biz-Sakhis).The curriculum was released on 9th Nov.2019 on the occasion of NEA ceremony. These mentors will provide backward (with financial institutions for example) and forward (with more lucrative business ideas and market) linkages. Moreover, the mentor will provide the aspiring entrepreneur with the much-needed psychological support that a woman will need to face all the obstacles that prevent her from starting or sustaining her own business. They act as community-based business consultants for enterprise development.

    36. Train the trainer programme: The curriculum for Five days TOT programmes for the faculty of ITI was developed and the Trainers Training programmes on employability, entrepreneurship and life skills are designed and organized for 4068 trainers of PMKVY at pan-India Level. The institute has organized the Entrepreneurship Development programmes for the most-needy skilled unemployed youth from OBC/SC/ST/Manual Scavengers and women.

    37. Launch of an MIS portal for Jan Shikshan Sansthan: An MIS portal was launched for Jan Shikshan Sansthans (JSS). The benefits from the adoption and implementation of the solution have been enhanced monitoring & management capabilities, along with scaling up scheme operation. The ministry now plans create a JSS setup in every district in the country.

    38. eSkill India platform: In a technology driven environment, e-learning is pivotal in deepening the reach of skilling opportunities for the Indian youth. NSDC created an e-Skill India, a multilingual e-learning aggregator portal, providing e-skilling opportunities to the Indian youth. eSkill India leverages the skilling opportunities from Indian and global leaders in online learning, by consolidating online courses curated by leading knowledge organizations that share NSDC’s commitment of making India a Skill Capital of the World. eSkill India provides anytime, anywhere skilling —beyond the boundaries of location and time. Today, eSkill India has onboarded organizations such as TCS, BetterU, IBM, SAS, BSE, Apollo Medvarsity, Enguru, Amrita Technologies, iPrimed, Wadhwani Foundation, English Edge, Fair and Lovely, AIFMB, etc. offering high-quality courses in diverse sectors such as Agriculture, Healthcare, Telecom, Employability, Management, Retail, Pharma, Banking and Finance, Data Science, Artificial Intelligence, etc. which enable a one stop shop to the skill seekers via a single learning platform. The courses are available in English, Hindi and 9 regional languages. The learners are guided through self-paced interactive videos and quizzes.


    10. Cuba names Manuel Marrero Cruz prime minister


    • In Cuba, President Miguel Díaz-Canel has appointed Manuel Marrero Cruz as the country’s first prime minister in more than 40 years.
    • It was reinstated under the rules of a new constitution for the communist-run island passed earlier this year.
    • Marrero, who has served as tourism minister for 16 years and is an architect by trade, helped boost Cuba’s economy by making tourism one of the engines of growth. The post of prime minister was scrapped in 1976 by the then-revolutionary leader Fidel Castro.
    • On the other hand, critics say any such changes are purely cosmetic as the Cuban Communist Party and the military remain the only two real decision-making institutions in the country.

    11. WHO prequalifies first biosimilar medicine– trastuzumab


    • WHO prequalifies first biosimilar medicine– trastuzumab- to increase worldwide access to life-saving breast cancer treatment.
    • Trastuzumab – a monoclonal antibody – was included in the WHO Essential Medicines List in 2015 as an essential treatment for about 20% of breast cancers.
    • Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women. 2.1 million women contracted breast cancer in 2018. 630 000 of them died from the disease, many because of late diagnosis and lack of access to affordable treatment.
    • It is a biologic medical product that is almost an identical copy of an original product that is manufactured by a different company.
    • They are officially approved versions of original “innovator” products and can be manufactured when the original product’s patent expires.
    • Reference to the innovator product is an integral component of the approval.

    12. Donald Trump has become the third President to be impeached by the US House

    • Donald Trump has become the third President to be impeached by the US House. He was accused of enlisting foreign government to investigate political rival before 2020 election.
    • So far only two American presidents have been impeached. In 1998, President Bill Clinton was impeached on charges of sexual relationship with his intern. However, the senate acquitted him. Before him, in 1868, President Andrew Johnson was impeached. He was acquitted by one vote in the Senate.
    • In 1974, President Nixon resigned over water gate corruption charges. The judiciary committee approved the articles of impeachment before the house could even pass them.
    • Impeachment is a provision that allows Congress to remove the President of the United States.
    • The House of Representatives (Lower House) has the “the sole power of impeachment” while the Senate (Upper House) has “the sole power to try all impeachments”.
    • The Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court has the duty of presiding over impeachment trials in the Senate
    • The President can be removed from office for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors”.
    • Essentially, it means an abuse of power by a high-level public official. This does not necessarily have to be a violation of an ordinary criminal statute. Historically, in the US, it has encompassed corruption and other abuses, including trying to obstruct judicial proceedings.
    • It begins with an investigation by a House committee. If they find that there is enough evidence of wrongdoing, it will refer the matter to the full House.
    • HOUSE VOTE: When the full House votes, if one or more of the articles of impeachment gets a majority vote, the President is impeached. Next, the proceedings move to the Senate.
    • SENATE TRIAL & VOTE:The Senate holds a trial, overseen by the chief justice of the Supreme Court. A team of lawmakers from the House, known as managers, play the role of prosecutors. The President has defence lawyers, and the Senate serves as the jury. If at least two-thirds of the Senators present find the President guilty, he is removed and the Vice President takes over as President.


    13. 3rd leg of HCL-SRFI India Tour


    • Indian squash player Harinder Pal Singh Sandhu clinched the men’s title while Hana Ramadan of Egypt won the women’s crown in the third leg of the HCL-SRFI India Tour Squash Tournament in Mumbai today.
    • Harinder defeated Tomotaka Endo of Japan 3-0 in a match that lasted for 30 minutes, while Hana beat England’s Lucy Turmel 3-1 in the women’s final.

    14. US Open Championships


    • Indian paddler Mudit Dani secured his maiden International Table Tennis Federation senior medal after progressing to the men’s doubles semifinals in the US Open Championships in Fort Worth, USA .
    • Mudit, playing alongside Canada’s Marko Medjugorac, won 4-2 against the US pairing of Tian Ye and Si Zhigao in a hard-fought quarterfinal match.
    • The Indo-Canadian duo will take on Hiromitsu Kasahara and Fujimura Tomoya of Japan.

    15. IOC chief thanks President Kovind for co-sponsoring UN Olympic Truce Resolution


    • International Olympic Committee (IOC) chief Thomas Bach has thanked President Ram Nath Kovind for co-sponsoring the United Nation Olympic Truce Resolution.
    • In keeping with the tradition dating back to the original Olympic Games in Ancient Olympia in 776 BC, the resolution will aim to ensure a halt to all hostilities, allowing the safe passage and participation of athletes and spectators for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.
    • Bach in a letter addressed to the Indian President expressed gratitude for Indian government’s active support for the Olympic Games by co-sponsoring the UN Olympic Truce Resolution.
    • The resolution entitled Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal, was adopted in the United Nation General Assembly on December 9.

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