News: The Urban Governance Index 2020 has been released.
- Published by: The index has been published by Praja Foundation, a Mumbai-based think tank.
- Purpose: The index ranks states to indicate where they stand in terms of real empowerment of grassroot democracy and local self government.
- Themes: The ranking is based on these main themes— how empowered elected city representatives and legislative structures are; how empowered the state’s city administration is; how empowered the citizens are and finally the fiscal empowerment and financial autonomy of the state.
- Topped by: Odisha was ranked first in the index followed by Maharashtra, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
- Worst States: Jharkhand, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur and Nagaland performed the worst in the index.
News: Union Cabinet has approved a public Wi-Fi access network called PM-WANI (Wi-Fi Access Network Interface).
- Aim: To enable easily accessible public Wi-Fi hotspots spread across the country.
- Stakeholders: PM-WANI will be operated by different players as described herein under:
- Public Data Office(PDO): It will establish, maintain and operate only WANI compliant Wi-Fi Access Points and deliver broadband services to subscribers.
- Public Data Office Aggregator(PDOA): It will be an aggregator of PDOs and perform the functions relating to Authorization and Accounting.
- App Provider: It will develop an App to register users and discover WANI compliant Wi-Fi hotspots in the nearby area and display the same within the App for accessing the internet service.
- Central Registry: It will maintain the details of App Providers, PDOAs and PDOs.To begin with, the Central Registry will be maintained by Centre for Development of Telematic (C-DOT).
- Other Features:
- There would be no licence fee for providing broadband internet through these public Wi-Fi networks.
News: Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare has addressed the Inter Ministerial Conference by Partners in Population and Development(PPD).
- Partners in Population and Development(PPD): It is an Intergovernmental alliance formed during the International Conference on Population and Development(ICPD) held in Cairo in 1994.
- Aim: To expand and strengthen South-South collaboration between and among the developing countries in the field of reproductive health, population and development.
- Members: Currently, PPD has the membership of 26 developing countries, representing more than 59% of the world’s population.
- Secretariat: Dhaka, Bangladesh.
- South–South cooperation: It is a term used by policymakers and academics to describe the exchange of resources, technology and knowledge between developing countries also known as countries of the Global South.
- Triangular cooperation: It is collaboration in which traditional donor countries and multilateral organizations facilitate South-South initiatives through the provision of funding, training, management and technological systems as well as other forms of support.
News: A new drug called Molnupiravir has been shown to stop the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) in 24 hours.
- Molnupiravir: It is an experimental antiviral drug which is orally active (can be taken orally) and was developed for the treatment of influenza.
- Developed by: The drug is being developed by the biotechnology firm Ridgeback Biotherapeutics in collaboration with pharmaceutical firm Merck.
- Significance: This is the first demonstration of an orally available drug to rapidly block SARS-CoV-2 transmission and it can be a game-changer
News: Union Cabinet has given its approval for Provision of Submarine Optical Fibre Cable Connectivity between Mainland (Kochi) and Lakshadweep Islands (KLI Project).
- Objective: The Project envisages provision of a direct communication link through a dedicated submarine Optical Fibre Cable(OFC) between Kochi and 11 Islands of Lakshadweep viz. Kavaratti, Kalpeni, Agati, Amini, Androth, Minicoy, Bangaram, Bitra, Chetlat, Kiltan and Kadmat.
- Funding: The project would be funded by Universal Service Obligation Fund(USOF).
- Implementation: Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL) has been nominated as Project Execution Agency and Telecommunications Consultant India Ltd. (TCIL) as the Technical Consultant of the Project.
- Target: The project is targeted to be completed by May 2023.
- Universal Service Obligation Fund(USOF): It was set up in 2002 and was given statutory status under the Indian Telegraph (Amendment) Act, 2003.
- Objective: Enabling rural Indians to achieve their fullest potential and participate productively in the development of the nation by virtue of being effectively connected through a reliable and ubiquitous telecommunications network.
News: US State Department has designated Pakistan and China among eight other countries that are of particular concern for violation of religious freedom.
- Countries of Particular Concern(CPC): It is a designation by the United States Secretary of State under the International Religious Freedom Act enacted by USA in 1998.
- Why is it given? It is given to countries which engage in or tolerate systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom.
- Countries on the CPC list: The nations on the CPC list are Pakistan, China, Myanmar, Eritrea, Iran, Nigeria, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.
- Note: The US State Department did not accept the US Commission on International Religious Freedom(USCIRF) recommendation that India, Russia, Syria and Vietnam be also designated as CPCs.
- Special Watch List country: It is one that is deemed not to meet all of the CPC criteria but engages in or tolerates severe violations of religious freedom.
- USCIRF: It is an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission which seeks to defend the universal right to freedom of religion or belief abroad.
News: Bangladesh has send the first group of more than 1,500 Rohingya refugees to an isolated Bhasan Char island.
- Bhasan Char also known as Char Piya is an island in Hatiya Upazila, Bangladesh.It is located in the Bay of Bengal and was formed by Himalayan silt in 2006.
- Concerns: As Bhashan Char falls in an ecologically fragile area prone to floods, erosion and cyclones, it is not considered safe for human settlements.
- Rohingya: They are an ethnic group largely comprising Muslims who predominantly live in the Western Myanmar province of Rakhine. In Myanmar, they are classified as resident foreigners or as associate citizens.
- Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees also known as the 1951 Refugee Convention is a United Nations multilateral treaty.The core principle of convention is non-refoulement which asserts that a refugee should not be returned to a country where they face serious threats to their life or freedom.India is not a signatory to this Convention.
- International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights(ICCPR): It is a multilateral treaty adopted by the United Nations in 1966.The covenant commits its parties to respect the civil and political rights of individuals including the right to life, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, electoral rights and rights to due process and a fair trial.