GK Today: Daily Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Preparation: 30 August 2018

Centre constitutes new scientific advisory body to the Prime Minister

The Narendra Modi Government has constituted a high power committee to advise it on policy matters related to science, technology and innovation. Named as PM-STIAC (Science, Technology, Innovation Advisory Committee), the 21-member committee, including a dozen special invitees, will be chaired by K Vijay Raghavan, Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government. Among the key 9 permanent members are VK Saraswat, Member NITI Aayog and former DG of DRDO; A S Kiran Kumar, ex Chairman, ISRO; Baba Kalyani, MD of Bharat Forge, Sangamitra Bandopadhyay, Director, Indian Statistical Institute, Manjul Bhargava, Princeton University, US & Field Medal winner in Mathematics; Madhuri Kanitkar of Armed Forces Medical College; Ajay Sood, IISc; and Subhash Kak, Oklahoma University, US. According to an official notification, secretaries of all science & technology related ministries are part of the special invitees. These include atomic energy, space, biotechnology, new & renewable energy, environment & forests, agriculture, health & higher education.The committee will advise the Prime Minister on all matters related to S&T, innovation and monitor the implementation of PM’s vision on the same. It will facilitate the formulation and implementation of policies and decisions, provide action-oriented and future preparedness advise and assist in directing S&T to solve the socio economic problems in the country. It will also have a large focus on driving innovation in education, research, industry etc.


Union Health Ministry asks States to ban e-cigarettes

The Union Health Ministry has instructed all the States that e-cigarettes and other Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) should not be sold under their jurisdiction. Punjab, Karnataka, Kerala, Mizoram, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have already prohibited the use of e-cigarettes, heat-not-burn devices, E-Shisha and e-nicotine-flavoured hookahs, and have prohibited the manufacture, import, sale and distribution of ENDS. The Health Ministry has issued an advisory for the other States to follow suit. ENDS products are a great health risk to the public at large, especially to children, adolescents, pregnant women and women of reproductive age. States and Union Territories are advised to ensure that ENDS are not sold. Thirty countries including Australia, Singapore and Sri Lanka have already brought in such bans.


NMCG Approves Projects Worth Nearly 150 Crore Rupees for Cleaning the River And Its Banks

In its 5th Executive Committee meeting held in New Delhi, the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) approved projects worth nearly Rs 150 crores in Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal under the Namami Gange programme. These projects include I&D works where small rivers, rivulets and drains are intercepted before they empty into the main river, and are diverted to Sewage Treatment Plants (STP), so that the water that finally drains into the main river is clean and totally devoid of any pollutants. The projects also include STPs and development of Ghats. The Eexcutive Committee also accorded approval to a proposal to document the cultural heritage of River Ganga from Gaumukh to Gangasagar through INTACH. The proposal seeks to develop an appreciation of the river as a cultural stream embedded in the soul of India, by documenting its associated cultural narrative, including features like an annual calendar of events and rituals. This would cover archaeological heritage, intangible cultural heritage and environmental heritage. NMCG is fully committed to cleaning and sustaining the cleanliness of the river Ganga. The Mission is making all out efforts to achieve this task and meet the timelines of the Namami Gange programme.


MoU signed for skill development of Arogyamitras under the PMJAY

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) and National Health  Agency (NHA), to provide capacity building for Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) to ensure effective rollout and continued quality implementation. The MoU was signed by Dr Indu Bhushan, CEO, NHA and Sh Manish Kumar, MD & CEO, NSDC, in the presence of Shri Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of skill Development and entrepreneurship & Petroleum and Natural Gas, Shri J.P.Nadda, Minister of Health and family Welfare, Shri Ashwini Kumar Choubey, MoS (H&FW) and Smt Anupriya Patel, MoS (F&HW). As per the MoU, NSDC will ensure quality training of Arogyamitra through its network of Skill Development Centres functioning under PMKVY and Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendras (PMKK). All the currently recruited/ deputed Pradhan Arogyamitras will be certified by health care sector skill council, the body notified as non-statutory body for health sector under the aegis of NSDC.