Sarat Chandra IAS Academy

Daily Current Affairs 17th August

Sarat Chandra IAS Academy -UPSC Civils Daily Current Affairs 17th August-2021

Daily Current Affairs 17th August – Topics

  • Various initiatives announced on 75th Independence Day
  • Second Phase of ‘SAMVAD’ Initiative
  • Van Dhan’ producer companies
  • Greater Adjutant Storks (Garuda)
  • Congressional Gold Medal


 1.Various initiatives announced on 75th Independence Day

#Gs2 # Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation # Welfare Schemes for Vulnerable Sections 

Context: On the occasion of 75th Independence Day, Prime Minister Modi announced a several initiatives and called for making the next 25 years a glorious one for India.

  • The Prime minister also declared 14th August would now be observed as Partition Horrors Remembrance Day.

Focus of next 25 years until India celebrates 100 years of its Independence:

  • To create an India where the level of facilities is not dividing the village and the city.
  • To build an India where the government does not interfere unnecessarily in the lives of citizens.
  • To build an India where there is world’s every modern infrastructure.

Initiatives announced:

  1. Gati Shakti Master Plan:
    • This plan is envisaged for developing ‘holistic infrastructure’ with an outlay of Rs.100 lakh-crore.
    • It will aid in elevating the global profile of local manufacturers and support them contend with their counterparts worldwide. It also increases the chances of new future economic zones.
    • It will be a source of employment opportunities for the youth in future.
    • The PM Gati Shakti scheme is intended at breaking the silos between road, rail, air and waterways to reduce travel time and improve industrial productivity.
    • India has been working for a reset of its logistics sector involving railways, highways, inland waterways and airports to put in place an operative transportation grid.
      • Logistics make up about 13% of costs for Indian companies, making exports uncompetitive vis-a-vis China.
  1. National Hydrogen Mission:
    • The National Hydrogen Mission and the green hydrogen sector will give India a significant push in meeting its climate targets.
    • Green Hydrogen is generation of hydrogen (a universal, light and highly reactive fuel) through a chemical process known as electrolysis.
      • This method uses an electrical current to separate the hydrogen from the oxygen in water. If this electricity is obtained from renewable sources we will, therefore, produce energy without emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
    • It will also help India to become energy independent which imports 85% of its oil and 53% of its gas demand.
    • Leveraging the India’s large land mass and low solar and wind tariffs to produce low-cost green hydrogen and ammonia for exports, thereby strengthening India’s geopolitical heft.
    • The Union government is also planning to implement the Green Hydrogen Consumption Obligation (GHCO) in fertilizer production and petroleum refining, similar to what was done with renewable purchase obligations (RPO).
      • RPOs require electricity distribution companies to buy a fixed amount of renewable energy to cut reliance on fossil fuels.
    • The present cost of green hydrogen produced by electrolysis is estimated at around ?350 per kg, the idea is to more than halve it to ?160 per kg by 2029-30.
    • The government is also working on extending the production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme for manufacturing electrolysers to produce green hydrogen.

Rice Fortification Plan:

  • The rice distributed under different government schemes will be fortified by 2024. It includes the Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-Day Meals in schools and Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS).
  • It is an important move as high number of women and children in India are suffering from Malnutrition.
    • As per the Union government, every second woman in India is anaemic and every third child is stunted.
    • India ranks 94 out of 107 countries and is in the ‘serious hunger’ category on the Global Hunger Index (GHI).
  • 06 states, including Maharashtra and Gujarat, have started distributing fortified rice as part of the pilot scheme.
  • As per World Health Organisation (WHO), food fortification is the practice of deliberately increasing the content of crucial micronutrients so as to improve the nutritional quality of the food supply and to provide a public health benefit with minimal risk to health.

  • FSSAI operationalized the Food Safety and Standards (Fortification of Foods) Regulations, 2016 for fortifying staples namely Wheat Flour and Rice (with Iron, Vitamin B12 and Folic Acid), Milk and Edible Oil (with Vitamins A and D) and Double Fortified Salt (with Iodine and Iron) to address the issue of high burden of micronutrient malnutrition in India.

Vande Bharat Trains:

  • 75 Vande Bharat’ trains will connect different parts of the country in 75 weeks to mark the ongoing ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’.
  • Vande Bharat trains is being given a boost, with the Railways gearing to roll out at least 10 of them, linking around 40 cities, by August 2022 to commemorate 75 years of Independence.
  • Manufactured under the ‘Make in India’ initiative, Vande Bharat Express is India’s 01st semi high speed train, that boasts several world class passenger amenities.
  • It has numerous features and facilities like, quick acceleration, automatic sliding doors, on board infotainment, passenger information system based on Global Positioning System (GPS), vacuum bio toilets with zero discharge, retractable footsteps, etc.
  • The Vande Bharat train can run up to a maximum speed of 160 kmph. The coaches of this semi high speed train set have a regenerative braking system, which can save electrical energy of up to 30 per cent.

Sainik Schools for Girls:

  • All Sainik Schools in India will now be open for girls also. At present, 33 Sainik schools are operating in the country.
  • Sainik schools are run by the Sainik Schools Society which is under the administrative control of the Ministry of Defence.
  • They were conceived in 1961 by V. K. Krishna Menon, the then Defence Minister of India, to correct the regional and class disparity amongst the Officer cadre of the Indian Military, and to prepare students mentally and physically for entry into the National Defence Academy (NDA) and Indian Naval Academy (INA)

E-commerce platform for Self-Help Groups:

  • This digital platform will connect the products of women Self-Help Groups with people in remote areas of the country as well as abroad and it will have extensive value.
  • The government will create an e-commerce platform to ensure a enormous market in the country and abroad for their products.
  • More than 08 crore women in the villages are associated with Self-Help Groups and they design top-end products.

Partition Horrors Remembrance Day:

  • 14th August would now be observed as Partition Horrors Remembrance Day.
  • This day will remind Indians of the need to get rid of the poison of social divisions, disharmony and further reinforce the spirit of oneness, social harmony and human empowerment.


  1. Second Phase of ‘SAMVAD’ Initiative

#GS2 # Government Policies & Interventions for Development # Welfare Schemes for Vulnerable Sections #Issues related to Children and Disabled

Context: Recently, the Ministry of Women and Child Development has launched the 2nd phase of the SAMVAD programme on the completion of o1 year of programme.

  • SAMVAD Stands for Support, Advocacy & Mental health interventions for children in Vulnerable circumstances and Distress.

About the Initiative:

  • Main aim of the programme is to improve child and adolescent psychosocial well-being, particularly of children in difficult circumstances (abandoned and orphaned, child survivors of trafficking, or in conflict with law), through promotion of integrated approaches to mental health and protection.
  • The programme is funded by the Ministry of Women and Child Development and implemented by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS).
    • The NIMHANS is the apex centre of mental health and neuroscience education. It operates autonomously under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Strategic objectives:

  • To develop standardised child-centric modules and resources for the capacity building of primary, secondary and tertiary level psychosocial and mental health care service providers.
  • To strengthen knowledge and skills in child and adolescent protection and psychosocial care in various cadres of child service providers in the country through training and capacity building initiatives at primary, secondary and tertiary level psychosocial and mental health care service providers.
  • Education and mental health support to children with special needs, protection and care in the context of adoption.
  • The initiative is providing coping mechanisms for children in distress by training close to 1 lakh stakeholders comprising Child Protection Functionaries, tele-counsellors, educators, law professionals among others.
  • The initiative aims to foster care and integration of child protection and mental health in the local bodies in aspirational districts across India to ease awareness generation and improve service delivery at the grassroot level.

Need for Interventions:

  • In India, most child and adolescent mental healthcare services are located in tertiary healthcare facilities that too very few in number, thus limiting access to many in need.
  • There have been many initiatives by NGOs, including through public-private partnerships, to address child protection and mental health needs. However, these initiatives have been scattered and of varying quality, with few efforts to standardize, consolidate and scale up useful initiatives.
  • In the context of children in difficult circumstances, having serious protection risks, are least likely to access specialized mental health services.
  • Many child welfare committees and juvenile justice boards, particularly those functioning at district level, but also those located in urban areas, have very limited understandings of child mental health needs and so do not refer children to psychiatry departments located in district hospitals or tertiary healthcare facilities.
  • The polarization of child mental health and protection work and interventions is not beneficial to children who are most vulnerable.
  • Only a cohesive approach that includes both sets of interventions, addressing protection and mental health needs of children in difficult circumstances can be effective in ensuring their immediate and long-term care and rehabilitation.

Mental Health in India:

  • According to the WHO, mental health is ‘a state of well-being in which the person comprehends his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.’
  • As per the report by Lancet, there were 197.3 million people with mental disorders in India.
  • The contribution of mental disorders to the total disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) in India increased from 2.5% in 1990 to 4.7% in 2017.
  • In order to address the huge load of mental disorders and shortage of skilled professionals in the field of mental health, the government has worked out various programmes and initiatives like,
    • National Mental Health Program
    • Mental HealthCare Act 2017 in line of United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which India ratified in 2007.


  1. ‘Van Dhan’ producer companies

#GS2 #Mechanisms, Laws, Institutions & Bodies Constituted for Protection & Betterment of Vulnerable Sections #Issues related to SC & ST

Context: The Union government has planned to set up 200 ‘Van Dhan’ producer companies in all the 27 states in the next 05 years with focus on the aspirational districts under the Van Dhan programme of the Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India Limited (TRIFED).

  • Aspirational Districts are those districts in India that are burdened with poor socio-economic pointers. The Transformation of Aspirational Districts’ Programme (TADP) is being lead by the NITI Aayog at the central level.

Van Dhan Programme:

  • It is a tribal entrepreneurship development initiative of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs and TRIFED launched on 14th April, 2018 and seek out improving tribal incomes through value addition of tribal products.
  • TRIFED acts as Nodal Agency at the National Level.
  • Locally the Kendras are proposed to be managed by a Managing Committee (an SHG) consisting of representatives of Van Dhan SHGs in the cluster.
  • The initiative targets livelihood generation for tribals by harnessing the wealth of forest i.e. Van Dhan.
  • The Van Dhan tribal start-ups, a component of the same scheme, is a programme for value addition, branding & marketing of Minor Forest Produces by establishing Van Dhan Kendras to facilitate creation of sustainable livelihoods for the forest-based tribes.
    • It has emerged as a source of employment generation for tribal gatherers and forest dwellers and the home-bound tribal artisans.

Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India Limited (TRIFED):

  • TRIFED is a national-level apex organization functioning under the administrative control of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs.
  • TRIFED works on empowering tribal people with knowledge, tools and pool of data so that they can undertake their operations in a more systematic and scientific manner.
  • It organises Tribal Artisan Melas (TAMs) to recognize new artisans and new products at the sourcing level in States/Districts/Villages for expanding the tribal producers base.
  • It is also involved in Minor Forest Produce (MFP) Through Minimum Support Price (MSP) and TRIFOOD Schemes.
  • TRIFED is also intensifying the Skills Development and Micro entrepreneurship programme, together with the Tribal Livelihoods program.
  • Convergences with various Ministries and Departments have been initiated by TRIFED all with the aim of improving sustainable livelihoods and income opportunities for these tribals

Success story:

  • A Van Dhan producer company, the Jawadhu Hills Tribal Farmer Producer Company situated in Tamil Nadu’s Tiruvannamalai district, has sold processed products worth up to Rs Twelve lakh in less than 04 months.
  • It has comprised members of farmers interest groups, producer groups and self-help groups that have been formed at community level. The entire team of directors and key managerial persons of the FPO are tribals.
  • Jawadhu hills is an extension of the Eastern Ghats. The Malayalam speaking tribal people constitute 92.60 per cent of the total population in this part and they earn significant portion of their income through non-timber forest produce and a variety of trees grown on this ‘patta’ land such as tamarind, jackfruit, coconut, lemon and gooseberry.


  1. Greater Adjutant Storks (Garuda)

#GS3 #Conservation and Biodiversity #Environment and degradation

Context: Bihar is planning to tag endangered greater adjutant storks locally known as ‘Garuda’ with GPS trackers to monitor their movement as part of efforts to conserve them.

Key Details:

  • Bhagalpur’s Kadwa Diara floodplains range is the 03rd -most popular breeding centre for the greater adjutant stork in the globe next to Assam and Cambodia.
  • As per various surveys, population of greater adjutant storks has been slowly increasing in recent years because of conservation efforts.
  • The greater adjutant is one of the most threatened stork species of the world and is widely considered to be a rare bird.
    • In the last 14 years, with active support and involvement of the local community, its population has increased to nearly 700 in 2021, from 78 in 2007.
    • The global population of Greater Adjutant Storks is estimated at 800-1,200
  • The project to tag greater adjutants with GPS trackers was delayed due to the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic, followed by the lockdown.
  • This is being done with the assistance of non-profit Bombay Natural History Society along with the state forest, environment and climate change department to start the process of tagging greater adjutant storks with GPS tracker.

About greater adjutant storks:

  • Scientific Name: Leptoptilos dubius
  • The greater adjutant is one of member of the stork family called, ‘Ciconiidae’ among 20 other species.
  • Threat: The widespread destruction and degradation of the wetlands that this scavenger bird needs to forage (i.e. search for food) and the loss of its nesting trees, led to a decline.
    • Their population has fallen over the years mainly because of the presence of plastic in garbage. There have been many instances of the scavenger birds dying after ingesting plastic bags.
  • The greater adjutant stork is classified as ‘endangered ‘on the IUCN’s Red List 2004 of threatened species and listed under Schedule IV of the Indian Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972.


  • Religious Icon: They are considered the mount of Vishnu, one of Hinduism’s prime deities.
    • Some worship the bird and call it “Garuda Maharaj” (Lord Garuda) or “Guru Garuda” (Great Teacher Garuda).
  • They help farmers by killing rats and other farm pests.


  1. Congressional Gold Medal

#GS1 #Modern Indian history #the freedom struggle #important personalities

Context: Recently, A US lawmaker from New York reintroduced a resolution in the US House of Representatives to posthumously award the prestigious Congressional Gold Medal to Mahatma Gandhi in recognition of his promotion of peace and nonviolence.

  • If given the award, Mahatma Gandhi would become the first Indian to receive the Congressional Gold Medal, which is the highest civilian award in the US.

About the Award:

  • The Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom are the highest civilian awards in the United States.
  • Since American revolution, the US Congress has commissioned gold medals as its expression of national gratitude for eminent accomplishments and contributions.
  • In every session of the Congress, the legislation to award Congressional Gold Medals are introduced.
  • It is essential that all Congressional Gold Medal legislations be co-sponsored by at least two-thirds of the Members of the House.
  • The first recipients of the medal were participants of the American Revolution (1775-83), the War of 1812 and the Mexican War (1846-48).
  • The scope was widened to include actors, authors, entertainers, musicians, explorers, athletes, humanitarians and foreign recipients among pioneers in some other fields.
  • It has been awarded to the 1980 US summer Olympics team, Rosa Parks, Nelson Mandela and George Washington among many others.
  • Most recently, the medal was awarded to the US Capitol Police and those who protected the US Capitol on 6th January 2021, the day of the siege.

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