GK Today: Daily Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Preparation: 24 August 2018

NITI Aayog launches 5 Thematic Reports on Sustainable Development in Indian Himalayan Region

Recognizing the uniqueness of the Himalayas and the challenges for sustainable development, NITI Aayog had set up 5 Working Groups (WGs) in June 2017 to prepare a roadmap for actions in 5 thematic areas. The themes include:   Inventory and Revival of Springs in Himalayas for Water Security, Sustainable Tourism in Indian Himalayan Region, Transformative Approach to Shifting Cultivation, Strengthening Skill & Entrepreneurship Landscape in Himalayas and Data/Information for Informed Decision Making. These thematic areas are quite significant for the Himalayas. Mountain specificities require specific solutions for resilience building that address socio-economic and environmental challenges in the mountain setting. The reports from the five working groups discuss the significance, the challenges, the ongoing actions and a future roadmap. The reports lists challenges in all 5 thematic areas. Nearly 30% of springs crucial to water security of people are drying and 50% have reported reduced discharge. Himalayan Tourism growing annually at 6.8% has crated huge challenge related to solid waste, water, traffic, loss of bio-cultural diversity etc. With the projected arrival of tourists in IHR States to more than double by 2025, urgent actions will be needed to address critical issues of waste management and water crisis in addition to other environmental and social issues. In the north eastern States, thousands of the households continue to practice slash and burn (shifting cultivation) that need to be addressed in view of ecological, food and nutritional security. Predominantly unskilled workforce remains a challenge for the mountains as well that need high priority to address migration of youths. Also challenges related to data availability, data authenticity, compatibility, data quality, validation, user charges for Himalayan States need addressal for informed decision making at different levels of governance. The call for actions includes setting up of a Himalayan Authority for coordinated and holistic development of entire Himalayan region and launching of “Himalaya Calling”: An Awareness to Action Campaign as people’s movement. The call for actions  also includes suggestions for setting up of Mission on Spring Water Management in Himalayas, National Mission/Program  on Transforming Shifting Cultivation in North Eastern States, demand driven  network of skill and entrepreneurship development Centers in Himalayan States, consortium of institutions of high learning for mountain specific research and technology, link  with Hindukush Himalaya Monitoring and Assessment program (HIMAP) and Setting  up Central Data Management Agency for Himalayan Database at GB Pant National Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development.

 

Department of Commerce Developing National Logistics Portal

A National Logistics Portal is being developed by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to ensure ease of trading in the international and domestic markets. The portal will link all the stakeholders of EXIM, domestic trade and movement and all trade activities on a single platform. In this year’s budget speech, Finance Minister had announced that the Department of Commerce will create a portal which will be a single window online market place for trade and will connect business, create opportunities and bring together various ministries, departments and the private sector. Stakeholders like traders, manufacturers, logistics service providers, infrastructure providers, financial services, Government departments and groups and associations will all be on one platform. India’s logistics sector is highly defragmented and the aim is to reduce the logistics cost from the present 14% of GDP to less than 10% by 2022. India’s logistics sector is very complex. As per the Economic Survey 2017-18, the Indian logistics sector provides livelihood to more than 22 million people and improving the sector will facilitate 10 % decrease in indirect logistics cost leading to the growth of 5 to 8% in exports. Further, the Survey estimates that the worth of Indian logistics market would be around USD 215 billion in next two years compared to about USD 160 billion currently.  The portal will be implemented in phases and will fulfil the commitment of the Government of India to enhance trade competitiveness, create jobs, boost India’s performance in global rankings and pave the way for India to become a logistics hub.

 

Two New Facilities for ESIC Beneficiaries Launched

In order to empower Insured Persons and their beneficiaries and create awareness among other Stakeholders, ESIC has come up with two new user friendly initiatives. The initiatives include the facility of ‘IVR (Interactive Voice Response)/Help Desk’ for ESIC Toll Free No. – 1800 – 11 – 2526 and production of seven Audio-Visual clips on ESI Benefits. ESIC has started recently a landmark facility with ‘Launching of IVR / Help Desk’ for ESIC Toll Free No. – 1800 – 11 – 2526. Apart from on the spot redressal of callers’ queries, this facility also receives the complaints / grievances simultaneously. Complaints requiring longer period are given unique ticket number and forwarded to PG Portal of ESIC for early redressal. The callers are satisfied and happy to experience interactive response from ‘Help Desk’ for the first time. To educate and spread awareness about ESI Benefits among the Stakeholders, mainly the workforce, ESIC has produced seven Audio-Visuals using info graphics and simple language. These Audio-Visuals are already available on You Tube (ESIC HQ You Tube Channel) and the response is very encouraging. The Audio-Visual clips have been produced for ‘UMANG’ platform of Govt. of India which will host the ESIC Mobile App ‘Chinta Se Mukti’. The App will be launched very shortly.  The Audio-Visual clips are also being produced in English and all other major regional languages for the benefit of ESIC Insured Persons spread across the country. The Clips will help all the Stakeholders, Insured Persons and their family members, employers and employees of ESIC to understand the various benefits being provided under ESI Scheme.

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