DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS: 26th MARCH 2020: THE HINDU + PIB

Daily Current Affairs: 26th March 2020: The Hindu+PIB

The following compilation has been made keeping in mind the need of the UPSC IAS exam. Each and every topic which has been included in this compilation is taken from very authentic and relevant source including The HinduThe Indian ExpressBusiness Standard, Press Information Bureau, etc.

As per the evolving pattern of the UPSC IAS prelims and mains exam each and every topic has been handpicked keeping in mind the syllabus of the exam.


Table of Contents

    RECAPITALIZATION OF REGIONAL RURAL BANKS (RRBs)



    Context: The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has given its approval for continuation of the process of recapitalization of Regional Rural Banks (RRBs) by providing minimum regulatory capital to RRBs for another year beyond 2019-20.




    REGIONAL RURAL BANKS (RRBs)





    This recapitalization drive which will run for up to 2020-21 for those RRBs which are unable to maintain minimum Capital to Risk weighted Assets Ratio (CRAR) of 9%, as per the regulatory norms prescribed by the Reserve Bank of India. 


    The CCEA also approved utilization of Rs.670 crore as central government share for the scheme of Recapitalization of RRBs (i.e. 50% of the total recapitalization support of Rs.1340 crore), subject to the condition that the release of Central Government’s share will be contingent upon the release of the proportionate share by the sponsor banks.

    HOW IT WILL HELP?


    A financially stronger and robust Regional Rural Banks with improved CRAR will enable them to meet the credit requirement in the rural areas.   


    According to the RBI guidelines, the RRBs have to provide 75% of their total credit under PSL (Priority Sector Lending). RRBs are primarily catering to the credit and banking requirements of agriculture sector and rural areas with focus on small and marginal farmers, micro & small enterprises, rural artisans and weaker sections of the society. 


    In addition, RRBs also provide lending to micro/small enterprises and small entrepreneurs in rural areas. With the recapitalization support to augment CRAR, RRBs would be able to continue their lending to these categories of borrowers under their PSL target, and thus, continue to support rural livelihoods.

    BACKGROUND

    Consequent upon decision of the RBI to introduce disclosure norms for Capital to Risk Weighted Assets Ratio (CRAR) of RRBs w.e.f March 2008, a committee was set up under the Chairmanship of Dr. K.C. Chakrabarty.


    Based on the recommendation of the Committee, a Scheme for Recapitalization of RRBs was approved by the Cabinet in its meeting held on 10th February, 2011 in order to provide recapitalization support of Rs. 2,200 crore to 40 RRBs with an additional amount of Rs. 700 crore as contingency fund to meet the requirement of the weak RRBs, particularly in the North Eastern and Eastern Region. Therefore, based on the CRAR position of RRBs, as on 31st March of every year, National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) identifies those RRBs, which require recapitalisation assistance to maintain the mandatory CRAR of 9%.


    Post 2011, the scheme for recapitalization of RRBs was extended upto 2019-20 in a phased manner with a financial support of Rs. 2,900 crore with 50% Government of India’s share of Rs. 1,450 crore. Out of Rs. 1,450 crore approved as GoI’s share for recapitalization, an amount of Rs. 1,395.64 crore has been released to RRBs, upto 2019-20 so far.


    During this period, Government has also taken various initiatives for making the RRBs economically viable and sustainable institutions. With a view to enable RRBs to minimize their overhead expenses, optimize the use of technology, enhance the capital base and area of operation and increase their exposure, the Government has initiated structural consolidation of RRBs in three phase, thereby reducing the number of RRBs from 196 in 2005 to the present 45.

      WHAT ARE REGIONAL RURAL BANKS (RRBs)?


      Regional Rural Banks (RRBs) are Indian Scheduled Commercial Banks (Government Banks) operating at regional level in different States of India. 


      PURPOSE: They have been created with a view of serving primarily the rural areas of India with basic banking and financial services.

      COVERAGE: The area of operation of RRBs is limited to the area as notified by Government of India covering one or more districts in the State.   

      FORMATION: Established under the provisions of an Ordinance passed on 26 September 1975 and the RRB Act 1976 in order to provide sufficient banking and credit facility for agriculture and other rural sectors. As a result, 5 Regional Rural Banks were set up on 2 October 1975 on the recommendations of The Narshimham committee Working Group during the tenure of Indira Gandhi’s Government. First RRB,the Prathama Bank with its Head Office at Moradabad (U.P.) with authorised capital of Rs 5 crore at its starting was set up and it was sponsored by Syndicate Bank. 

      SHARE: The Regional Rural Banks were owned by the Central Government, the State Government and the Sponsor Bank (Any commercial bank can sponsor the regional rural banks) who held shares in the ratios as follows Central Government – 50%, State Government – 15% and Sponsor Banks – 35%.

      AMALGAMATION: Currently, RRB’s are going through a process of amalgamation and consolidation. 
      • 25 RRBs have been amalgamated in January 2013 into 10 RRBs. This counts 67 RRBs till the first week of June 2013
      • This counts 56 as of March 2015
      • On 31 March 2016, there were 56 RRBs (post-merger) covering 525 districts with a network of 14,494 branches. All RRBs were originally conceived as low cost institutions having a rural ethos, local feel and pro poor focus. However, within a very short time, most banks were making losses. 
      • With the third phase of amalgamation of RRB bringing down the number of such entities to 38 from 56
      • As of 4 January 2019, there are 45 RRBs in India. 
      LEGAL EXISTENCE AND PROTECTION: RRB are recognized by the law and they have legal significance as per the Regional Rural Banks Act, 1976 Act No. 21 Of 1976. 

      Also Read: ULTIMATE GUIDE TO WRITE AN EFFECTIVE ESSAY IN UPSC IAS MAINS

      QUANTUM CHEMISTRY


      Context: Recipient of the INSPIRE Faculty Award instituted by Department of Science & Technology Dr. Achintya Kumar Dutta from IIT Bombay along with his research group is working to develop new methods for quantum chemistry and implement them in efficient and free software to study electron attachment to aqueous DNA which has big implications in radiation therapy-based treatment of cancer.


      QUANTUM CHEMISTRY





      WHAT IS QUANTUM CHEMISTRY?


      Quantum chemistry is a branch of chemistry focused on the application of quantum mechanics in physical models and experiments of chemical systems. It is also called molecular quantum mechanics. It studies the ground state of individual atoms and molecules, and the excited states, and transition states that occur during chemical reactions. 


      Quantum chemistry is one of the new branches of chemistry which tries to understand the chemical properties of atoms and molecules without performing a lab experiment. Instead, in quantum chemistry, the Scientists try to solve the Schrödinger equation for the molecules, and it gives every measurable quantity about that particular molecule, without actually doing the measurement. 


      However, the mathematical equations resulting from the application of the Schrodinger equation are very complicated and can only be solved using computers. Therefore, one needs to develop new theories and write efficient computer programs to solve these equations.


      HOW IT COULD HELP IN TREATMENT OF CANCER?


      This study can help in the development of a new class of radio-sensitizers, which makes tumor cells more sensitive to radiation therapy and thereby protects the normal cells. Computational modeling can greatly reduce the development cost of new radio-sensitizers, both in terms of money and time.


      The efficiency of these newly developed quantum chemistry methods allows the research group to solve the Schrodinger equation for the attachment of electrons to DNA in the presence of the bulk aqueous environment. The deoxyribonucleic acid or DNA is the carrier of genetic information in human body, and electron attachment to DNA is one of the crucial steps in radiation damage to human cells. 


      It has been shown by this team of researchers that electron attachment to DNA solvated in bulk water happens through a doorway mechanism, and the presence of the aqueous environment allows this electron attachment to take place at an ultrafast time scale. This newly proposed mechanism of electron attachment to aqueous DNA has big implications in radiation therapy-based treatment of cancer.

      BACKGROUND

      According to some, the birth of quantum chemistry took place with the discovery of the Schrödinger equation and its application to the hydrogen atom in 1926. However, the 1927 article of Walter Heitler (1904–1981) and Fritz London, is often recognized as the first milestone in the history of quantum chemistry. This is the first application of quantum mechanics to the diatomic hydrogen molecule, and thus to the phenomenon of the chemical bond


      The history of quantum chemistry also goes through the following discoveries: 

      • 1838 discovery of cathode rays by Michael Faraday, 
      • 1859 statement of the black-body radiation problem by Gustav Kirchhoff
      • 1877 suggestion by Ludwig Boltzmann that the energy states of a physical system could be discrete, and 
      • 1900 quantum hypothesis by Max Planck that any energy radiating atomic system can theoretically be divided into a number of discrete energy elements “ε” such that each of these energy elements is proportional to the frequency “ν” with which they each individually radiate energy and a numerical value called Planck’s constant.
      • 1905, explanation of the photoelectric effect (1839), i.e., that shining light on certain materials can function to eject electrons from the material, Albert Einstein postulated, based on Planck’s quantum hypothesis, that light itself consists of individual quantum particles, which later came to be called photons (1926).



      ABOUT INSPIRE

      Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research (INSPIRE) is an innovative programme sponsored and managed by the Department of Science & Technology for attraction of talent to Science. 


      OBJECTIVE: The basic objective of INSPIRE is to communicate to the youth of the country the excitements of creative pursuit of science, attract talent to the study of science at an early age and thus build the required critical human resource pool for strengthening and expanding the Science & Technology system and R&D base.


      A striking feature of the programme is that it does not believe in conducting competitive exams for identification of talent at any level. 


      COMPONENTS: INSPIRE has three components as follows: 

      • Scheme for Early Attraction of Talent (SEATS): It aims at attracting talented youth to study science by providing INSPIRE Award, to experience the joy of innovations, of Rs.5,000/- to one million young learners in the age group 10-15 years
      • Scholarship for Higher Education (SHE): It aims at attracting talented youth into undertaking higher education in science intensive programmes, by providing scholarships and mentoring through ‘summer attachment’ to performing researchers. 
        • The scheme offers 10,000 scholarships every year @ Rs 0.80 lakh per year to talented youth in the age group 17-22 years, for undertaking Bachelor and Masters level education in Natural and Basic sciences. 
        • However, the 18 Science subject such as (1) Physics, (2) Chemistry, (3) Mathematics, (4) Biology, (5) Statistics, (6) Geology, (7) Astrophysics, (8) Astronomy, (9) Electronics, (10) Botany, (11) Zoology, (12) Bio-chemistry, (13) Anthropology, (14) Microbiology, (15) Geophysics, (16) Geochemistry, (17) Atmospheric Sciences and (18) Oceanic Sciences, either as major/honours or their combination in BSc/Integrated MSc/Integrated MS course will be under the scope of INSPIRE Scholarship.
      • Assured Opportunity for Research Careers (AORC): It aims at attracting, attaching, retaining and nourishing talented young scientific Human Resource to strengthened the R&D foundation and base by offering doctoral INSPIRE Fellowship in the age group 22-27 years, in both Basic and Applied sciences (including engineering and medicine). 
        • It also aims at assuring opportunities for post-doctoral researchers through a scheme (similar to the New Blood programme of the Royal Society of UK) through contractual and tenure track positions for five years in both Basic and Applied sciences areas through an INSPIRE Faculty Scheme.


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      INTERNAL COMBUSTION ENGINES


      Context: International Advanced Centre for Powder Metallurgy & New Materials (ARCI), an autonomous R&D Centre of Department of Science and Technology (DST), has developed ultrafast laser surface texturing technology, which can improve the fuel efficiency of internal combustion engines.


      INTERNAL COMBUSTION ENGINE




      WHAT ARE INTERNAL COMBUSTION ENGINES?


      An Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) is a heat engine in which the combustion of a fuel occurs with an oxidizer (usually air) in a combustion chamber that is an integral part of the working fluid flow circuit. 


      In an internal combustion engine, the expansion of the high-temperature and high-pressure gases produced by combustion applies direct force to some component of the engine. The force is applied typically to pistons, turbine blades, rotor or a nozzle. This force moves the component over a distance, transforming chemical energy into useful work. 


      The first commercially successful internal combustion engine was created by Étienne Lenoir around 1859 and the first modern internal combustion engine was created in 1876 by Nikolaus Otto.


      HOW IS IT DIFFERENT FROM AN EXTERNAL COMBUSTION ENGINE?


      In an External Combustion Engine, such as steam or Stirling engines, energy is delivered to a working fluid not consisting of, mixed with, or contaminated by combustion products. Working fluids can be air, hot water, pressurized water or even liquid sodium, heated in a boiler. Whereas, ICEs are usually powered by energy-dense fuels such as gasoline or diesel fuel, liquids derived from fossil fuels. While there are many stationary applications, most ICEs are used in mobile applications and are the dominant power supply for vehicles such as cars, aircraft, and boats.


      NOTE: Typically an ICE is fed with fossil fuels like natural gas or petroleum products such as gasoline, diesel fuel or fuel oil. There is a growing usage of renewable fuels like bio-diesel for CI (compression ignition) engines and bio-ethanol or methanol for SI (spark ignition) engines. Hydrogen is sometimes used, and can be obtained from either fossil fuels or renewable energy.

      HOW THIS RECENTLY DEVELOPED TECHNOLOGY CAN INCREASE EFFICIENCY OF “ICE”?

      Laser surface micro-texturing, which offers precise control of the size, shape and density of micro-surface texture features has gained momentum as a way to control friction and wear


      In this technology, a pulsating laser beam creates micro-dimples or grooves on the surface of materials in a very controlled manner. Such textures can trap wear debris when operating under dry sliding conditions and sometimes provide effects like enhancing oil supply (lubricant reservoir) which can lower friction coefficients and may enable reduced wear rate.

      ABOUT INTERNATIONAL ADVANCE CENTRE FOR POWDER METALLURGY & NEW MATERIALS (ARCI)

      Established in the year 1997, ARCI is an Autonomous Research and Development Centre of Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India.






      LOCATION: The Main Campus of ARCI is located at Balapaur, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh . ARCI’s Centre for Fuel Cell Technology (CFCT) and Centre for Automotive Energy Materials (CAEM) are located at Chennai. ARCI’s liason office is located at Gurgaon, Haryana.





      MANDATE: ARCI’s mandate is:

      • Development of High Performance Materials and Processes for Niche Markets

      • Demonstration of Technologies at Prototype / pilot scale

      • Transfer of Technology to Indian Industry

      FUNCTIONING: The activities are pursued through 11 Research Centres, with main focus on development of nationally unique technologies and application oriented programmes. Synonymous to its name, ARCI is also open to collaborate with Indian and foreign laboratories, universities and industries for successful achievement of its goals.

      ACHIEVEMENTS: ARCI has successfully transferred 15 technologies to 27 receivers and few other technologies are under transfer.

        GLACIERS IN SIKKIM ARE LOSING MASS MUCH FASTER THAN OTHER HIMALAYAN REGIONS


        Context: Scientists from Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology (WIHG), Dehradun an autonomous research institute for the study of Geology of the Himalaya under the Department of Science and Technology, have found that glaciers in Sikkim are melting at a higher magnitude as compared to other Himalayan regions.


        STUDY OF GLACIERS IN SIKKIM





        HIGHLIGHTS OF THE STUDY


        The study published in “Science of the Total Environment” assessed the response of 23 glaciers of Sikkim to climate change for the period of 1991-2015 and revealed that glaciers in Sikkim have retreated and de-glaciated significantly from 1991 to 2015. Small-sized glaciers in Sikkim are retreating while larger glaciers are thinning due to climate change.



        It was further noticed that as compared to other Himalayan regions, the magnitude of dimensional changes and debris growth are higher in the Sikkim. A major shift in glacier behavior has occurred around 2000. Contrary to the western and central Himalaya, where glaciers are reported to have slowed down in recent decades, the Sikkim glaciers have shown negligible deceleration after 2000. Summer temperature rise has been prime driver of glacier changes.


        The behavior of glaciers in the region is heterogeneous and found to be primarily determined by glacier size, debris cover, and glacial lakes. Though a generalized mass loss is observed for both small (less than 3 km square) and large-sized glaciers (greater than 10 km square), they seem to adopt different mechanisms to cope with the ongoing climatic changes. While the former adjust mostly by de-glaciation, the latter lose mass through down-wasting or thinning.

        WHY SIKKIM GLACIERS ARE STUDIED NOW?

        The Sikkim glaciers have been poorly studied till now, and field-based mass balance measurements have been limited to only one glacier (ChangmeKhangpu) and for a short period (1980-1987). The studies are regional in nature and do no give emphasis on individual glacier behavior. Besides, most of the existing measurements in this region have been focused on length/area changes only. Velocity estimations have also been extremely rare.

        WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF THIS NEW COMPREHENSIVE STUDY?

        This study, for the first time, studied multiple glacier parameters, namely length, area, debris cover, snowline altitude (SLA), glacial lakes, velocity, and downwasting, and explored inter-linkage among them to present a clear picture about status and behavior of glaciers in the Sikkim.

        Accurate knowledge of magnitude as well as the direction of glacier changes, as highlighted in the present study, can lead to awareness among common people regarding water supplies and possible glacier hazards, particularly to those communities that are living in close proximity. 

        The study can provide ample baseline data on glacier changes and systematically explore the causal relationship between glacier parameters and various influencing factors. A clear understanding of glacier state will help orienting future studies as well as taking necessary measures.   


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          MACS-4028: BIOFORTIFIED DURUM WHEAT VARIETY



          Context: Scientists from Agharkar Research Institute (ARI), Pune, an autonomous institute under the Department of Science & Technology, Government of India, have developed a biofortified durum wheat variety MACS 4028, which shows high protein content.


          BIOFORTIFIED WHEAT VARIETY: MACS 4028




          ABOUT MACS-4028 

          MACS 4028, the development of which was published in the Indian Journal of Genetics and Plant Breeding, is a semi-dwarf variety, which matures in 102 days and has shown the superior and stable yielding ability of 19.3 quintals per hectareIt is resistant to stem rust, leaf rust, foliar aphids, root aphids, and brown wheat mite

          SIGNIFICANCE OF MACS-4028  

          • The wheat variety developed by the ARI scientists group on Wheat improvement, shown high protein content of about 14.7%, better nutritional quality having zinc 40.3 ppm, and iron content of 40.3ppm and 46.1ppm respectively, good milling quality and overall acceptability
          • The MACS 4028 variety is also included by the Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) programme for United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in an effort to alleviate malnutrition in a sustainable way and can boost the Vision 2022 “Kuposhan Mukt Bharat”, the National Nutrition Strategy. An endeavor to tackle the hidden hunger in the rural areas of India is being continued using traditional plant breeding approach to achieve “Kuposhan Mukt Bharat.”
          • This wheat variety i.e., MACS 4028 has been notified by the Central Sub-Committee on Crop Standards, Notification and Release of Varieties for Agricultural Crops (CVRC) for timely sown, rainfed condition of Peninsular Zone, comprising Maharashtra and Karnataka
          • Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has also tagged this variety under the Bio-fortified category during the year 2019.

          AGRO-CLIMATIC ZONES FOR WHEAT IN INDIA


          India is divided in to six  wheat growing zone based on the agro-climatic conditions. These zone are mentioned as follows:


          1. North-Western Plains Zone (NWPZ): This zone covers part of sub-humid Satlej-Ganga Alluvial plains and arid western plains comprises Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Rajasthan, western Uttar Pradesh, part of Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh and contributes nearly 45% production from 37% of total area under wheat in India. Growing season is relatively short starting from November to April. “Triticum aestivum“species of wheat is dominates in this zone. 


          2. North-Eastern Plains Zone (NEPZ):  This zone covers sub-humid Satluj-Ganga alluvial plains, humid Bengal-Assam basin, humid eastern Himalayan region and Bay of Island. The zone comprises eastern Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa, West Bengal, Assam, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and other eastern states and contributes about 24% of total production of wheat from 27% area. Crop season start from November till March/April, however, cool seasons are relatively short in this zone. Sowing is often delayed due to higher moisture conditions in the field after rice.


          3. Central Zone (CZ): Parts of arid western plains, semi-arid lava plateau, Central highland (north) India and sub-humid to humid eastern and south-eastern upland comprise this zone. This zone contributes nearly 17% area and 13% production. Crop is sown during October and harvested by March. Triticum durum is exclusively grown  in this zone.


          4. Peninsular Zone (PZ): The Deccan plateau, Western Ghats, central highlands (south) and Karnataka plateau comprise this zone. This zone contributes 6% area and 2.5% production of wheat. The crop is sown during later half of October and harvested by March. “T. aestivum”, “T. durum” and “T. dicoccum” are cultivated in this zone. Thermo-sensitive varieties are most preferred.


          5. Northern Hill Zone (NHZ): It covers the humid western Himalayan regions which includes Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. Nearly 4% of area and 3% of production of the Indian wheat is contributed by this zone. Crop durations are long starting from October/November, end in May/June. On higher hills the crop is sown in May/June and harvested in October/November.


          6. Southern-hills Zone (SZ): The zone comprises hilly areas of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Wheat has a minor importance with respect to area and production. Though “T. aestivum” is the predominant species, “T. dicoccum” is also grown in some areas. Wheat is grown twice a year in this zone, i.e. May-September and October-April. Stem rust perpetuates in this zone.

          Also Read: ULTIMATE GUIDE TO UPSC IAS EXAM PREPARATION

          INDELIBLE INK



          Context: Election Commission has decided to allow usage of indelible ink on persons for stamping for home quarantine by health authorities in view of COVID-19.


          INDELIBLE INK





          WHAT IS IT?


          Indelible ink refers to the violet-coloured ink in India that is applied on a voter’s forefinger after she exercises her vote. It is known to contain silver nitrate and is manufactured in secrecy. Indelible ink remains bright for about 10 days, after which it starts fading. 


          WHY IS IT USED DURING ELECTIONS?


          Also known as Electoral ink, electoral stain or phosphoric ink, it is a semi-permanent ink or dye that is applied to the forefinger (usually) of voters during elections in order to prevent electoral fraud such as double voting. It is an effective method for countries where identification documents for citizens are not always standardised or institutionalised


          SPECIFICATIONS OF THE INK

          • COMPOSITION: Electoral stain typically contains a pigment for instant recognition, a silver nitrate which stains the skin on exposure to ultraviolet light, leaving a mark that is impossible to wash off and is only removed as external skin cells are replaced.
          • LONGEVITY: Election stain typically stays on skin for 72–96 hours, lasting 2 to 4 weeks on the fingernail and cuticle area.  It can take up to 4 months for the stain to be replaced completely by new nail growth.
          • COLOUR: Electoral stain is traditionally violet in colour, before the photosensitive element takes effect to leave a black or brown mark.
          • EFFICIENCY: Marker pens are the most efficient use of ink, with one 5ml pen able to mark 600 people, although dipping bottles are often preferred, despite a 100 ml bottle only marking 1000. 

          BACKGROUND  


          In 1962, the Election Commission in collaboration with the Law Ministry, the National Physical Laboratory of India and the National Research Development Corporation made an agreement with Mysore Paints and Varnish Ltd. to manufacture ink that couldn’t be wiped off easily.



          Mysore Paints and Varnish Ltd. was founded in 1937 by Maharaja Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV. The company is the sole supplier of indelible ink for civic body, Assembly and Parliamentary polls. It also supplies ink to about 25 countries. 


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          COVID-19: UGC REQUEST STUDENTS TO FOCUS ON ONLINE LEARNING


          Context: University Grants Commission (UGC) has requested students and teachers in a letter to stay at home at utilize this time to focus on ONLINE LEARNING.


          COVID-19: UGC REQUEST STUDENT FOR ONLINE LEARNING





          KEY INFORMATION

          As per the letter from UGC, there are several ICT initiatives of the MHRD, UGC and its Inter University Centres (IUCs)Information and Library Network (INFLIBNET) and Consortium for Educational Communication (CEC), in the form of digital platforms which can be accessed by the teachers, students and researchers in Universities and Colleges for broadening their horizon of learning. 


          Following is the list of some of the ICT initiatives along with their access links:
          1. SWAYAM On-line Courses (https://storage.googleapis.com/uniquecourses/online.html: It provides access to  best teaching learning resources which were earlier delivered on the SWAYAM Platform may be now viewed by any learner free of cost without any registration. Students/learners who registered on SWAYAM (swayam.gov.in) in the January 2020 semester can continue their learning as usual.






          2. UG/PG MOOCs (http://ugcmoocs.inflibnet.ac.in/ugcmoocs/moocs_courses.php): It hosts learning material  of the SWAYAM UG and PG  ( Non-Technology ) archived courses. 





          3. e-PG Pathshala (epgp.inflibnet.ac.inhosts high quality, curriculum-based, interactive e-content containing  23,000 modules ( e-text and video) in 70 Post Graduate disciplines of social sciences, arts, fine arts and humanities, natural & mathematical sciences.,


          4. e-Content courseware in UG subjects : e-content courseware in 87 Undergraduate courses with about 24,110 e-content modules is available  on the CEC website at http://cec.nic.in/

          5. SWAYAMPRABHA (https://www.swayamprabha.gov.in/)  is a group of 32 DTH channels  which provides high quality educational curriculum based course contents covering diverse disciplines such as arts, science, commerce, performing arts, social sciences and humanities subjects, engineering, technology, law, medicine, agriculture etc  to all teachers, students and citizens across the country interested in lifelong learning. These channels are free to air and can also be accessed through your cable operator. The telecasted videos/lectures are also as archived videos on the Swayamprabha portal.

          6. CEC-UGC YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/user/cecedusat) provides access to unlimited educational curriculum based lectures absolutely free.

          7. National Digital Library (https://ndl.iitkgp.ac.in/) is a digital repository of a vast amount of academic content in different formats and provides interface support for leading Indian languages for all academic levels including researchers and life-long learners, all disciplines, all popular form of access devices and differently-abled learners.

          8. Shodhganga (https://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/)  is a digital repository platform of 2,60,000  Indian Electronic Theses and Dissertations for research students to deposit their Ph.D. theses and make it available to the entire scholarly community in open access.

          9. e-Shodh Sindhu (https://ess.inflibnet.ac.in/provides  current as well as archival access to more than 15,000 core and peer-reviewed journals and a number of bibliographic, citation and factual databases in different disciplines from a large number of publishers and aggregators to its member institutions including centrally-funded technical institutions, universities and colleges that are covered under 12(B) and 2(f) Sections of the UGC Act.

          10. Vidwan (https://vidwan.inflibnet.ac.in/ is a database of experts which provides information about experts to peers, prospective collaborators, funding agencies policy makers and research scholar in the country. Faculty members are requested to register on the Vidwan portal to help expand the database of experts.


          ABOUT UNIVERSITY GRANTS COMMISSION (UGC)

          The University Grants Commission of India (UGC India) is a statutory body set up by the Government of India in accordance to the UGC Act 1956 under Ministry of Human Resource Development, and is charged with coordination, determination and maintenance of standards of higher education. 


          FORMATION: 28 December 1953


          MOTTO: Gyan-Vigyan Vimuktaye (Knowledge and Science Liberates)


          HEADQUARTERS: New Delhi, India


          CHAIRMAN: D. P. SINGH


          FUNCTIONS: It provides recognition to universities in India, and disbursements of funds to such recognised universities and colleges. UGC, along with CSIR currently conducts NET for appointments of teachers in colleges and universities.  It has made NET qualification mandatory for teaching at Graduation level and at Post Graduation level since July 2009. However, those with Ph.D are given five percent relaxation.


          BACKGROUND:  The UGC was first formed in 1945 to oversee the work of the three Central Universities of Aligarh, Banaras and Delhi. Its responsibility was extended in 1947 to cover all Indian universities.

          • In 1952 the government decided that all grants to universities and higher learning institutions should be handled by the UGC. Subsequently, an inauguration was held on 28 December 1953 by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, the Minister of Education, Natural Resources and Scientific Research.
          • In November 1956 the UGC became a statutory body upon the passing of the “University Grants Commission Act, 1956” by the Indian Parliament.
          • In 1994 and 1995 the UGC decentralised its operations by setting up six regional centres at Pune, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Bhopal, Guwahati and Bangalore. The head office of the UGC is located at Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg in New Delhi.
          • In December 2015 the Indian government set a National Institutional of Ranking Framework under UGC which will rank all educational institutes by April 2016.
          • In December 2017, D.P. Singh, former director of National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), was appointed chairman for a period of five years, replacing UGC member Virander Singh Chauhan, who officiated the position since the retirement of Ved Prakash in April 2017.

          WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF UNIVERSITIES CONTROLLED BY UNIVERSITY GRANTS COMMISSION (UGC)?

          (i) Central universities, or Union universities, are established by an Act of Parliament and are under the purview of the Department of Higher Education in the Union Human Resource Development Ministry. (As of 12 December 2018, The list of central universities published by the UGC includes 49 central universities.)





          (ii) State universities are run by the state government of each of the states and territories of India and are usually established by a local legislative assembly act. (As of 6 October 2017, the UGC lists 370 state universities.) 





          NOTE: The oldest establishment date listed by the UGC is 1857, shared by the University of Mumbai, the University of Madras and the University of Calcutta

          (iii) Deemed university, or “Deemed to be University”, is a status of autonomy granted by the Department of Higher Education on the advice of the UGC, under Section 3 of the UGC Act. (As of 6 October 2017, the UGC lists 123 deemed universities.)  In many cases, the same listing by the UGC covers several institutes. For example, the listing for Homi Bhabha National Institute covers the Institute of Mathematical Sciences, the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research and other institutes.

          NOTE: According to this list, the first institute to be granted deemed university status was Indian Institute of Science, which was granted this status on 12 May 1958. 

          (iv) Private universities are approved by the UGC. They can grant degrees but they are not allowed to have off-campus affiliated colleges. (As of 6 October 2017, the UGC list of private universities lists 282 universities.)
          The University Grants Commission (UGC) has also released the list of 24 fake Universities operating in India.

            #StayHomeIndiaWithBooks INITIATIVE

            Context: National Book Trust of HRD Ministry, in its efforts to encourage people to read books while at home, is providing its select and best-selling titles for FREE Download as part of its initiative of #StayHomeIndiaWithBooks!


            #StayHomeIndiaWithBooks Initiative





            WHAT IS IT?:  As part of the Initiative launched by the National Book Trust of HRD Ministry, 100+ books, in PDF format, can be downloaded from the NBT’s website https://nbtindia.gov.in


            These books are available in Hindi, English, Asamiya, Bangla, Guajarati, Malayalam, Odia, Marathi, Kokborok, Mizo, Bodo, Nepali, Tamil, Punjabi, Telugu, Kannada, Urdu and Sanskrit; the books cover all genres of fiction, biography, popular science, teacher’s handbook, and majorly books for children and young adults. 


            In addition, there are books by Tagore, by Premchand, and books on Mahatma Gandhi — all in all there are books for everyone in the family to read and enjoy. More titles will be added to the list.


            Some select titles include, Holidays Have Come, Animals You can’t Forget, Nine Little Birds, The Puzzle, Gandhi Tatva Satkam, Women Scientists in India, Activity-Based Learning Science, A Touch of Glass, Gandhi: Warrior of Non-Violence, and many more.


            ABOUT NATIONAL BOOK TRUST


            National Book Trust (NBT) is an Indian publishing house, founded in 1957 as an autonomous body under the Ministry of Education of the Government of India. It now functions under aegis of Ministry of Human Resource Development, Govt. of India.


            DIRECTOR: Lt.Col Yuvraj Malik.


            FUNCTIONS: The activities of the Trust include publishing, promotion of books and reading, promotion of Indian books abroad, assistance to authors and publishers, and promotion of children’s literature. NBT publishes reading material in several Indian languages for all age-groups, including books for children and neo-literates.



            NBT’s children’s books are known for their illustrations, by illustrators such as Pulak Biswas, Jagdish Joshi, Mrinal Mitra, Subir Roy, Atanu Roy, Manjula Padmanabhan, Mickey Patel and Suddhasattwa Basu. Painters Jatin Das and Krishen Khanna have also illustrated books for the Trust. 



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