Current Affairs - PIB News

National Non-Communicable Disease Monitoring Survey (NNMS)

Union Health Minister released the ‘National Non-communicable Disease Monitoring Survey (NNMS)’, the largest comprehensive national Survey on risk factors and health systems preparedness of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs).

  • NNMS was conducted during the period of 2017 – 18.
  • The purpose of the survey was to collect reliable baseline data on key indicators (risk factors, select NCDs and health systems response) related to the National NCD monitoring framework and NCD Action Plan.
  • This is the first of its kind of a comprehensive survey on NCDs using standardised tools and methods, covering the age groups of 15-69 years, males and females residing in urban and rural areas of the country.
  • The survey covered a national sample of 600 primary sampling units from 348 districts in 28 States in collaboration with eleven reputed institutions across the country.

Key Findings

Risk Factors for NCDs: Two in five adults had three or more risk factors for NCDs.

The status of health system in responding to the disease burden is also underscored:

  • Use of Tobacco and Alcohol: One in every three adults and more than one-fourth proportion of men used any form of tobacco and consumed alcohol in past 12 months respectively.
  • Salt Intake: Average daily intake of salt was 8gms
  • Physical Activity: More than two in five adults and one in four adolescents were doing insufficient physical activity.
  • Obese: More than one in every four adults and 6.2% adolescents were overweight or obese.
  • BP & Blood Glucose: Almost three out of ten adults had raised blood pressure and 9.3% had raised blood glucose.

New Ant Species Discovered From Kerala

  • Two new species of a rare ant genus have been discovered in India.
  • The species of the ant genus Ooceraea found in Kerala, and Tamil Nadu add to the diversity of this rare genus. They differ from others of the same genus on the basis of the number of antennal segments.
  • One of them found in the Periyar Tiger Reserve of Kerala, has been named Ooceraea joshii, in honour of Prof. Amitabh Joshi, a distinguished evolutionary biologist from Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR).
  • The two new species, the first ones spotted with ten-segmented antennae among this rare genus, were discovered by a team led by Prof. Himender Bharti of Punjabi University, Patiala.
  • The genus is currently represented by 14 species of which eight possess nine-segmented antennae, while five possess eleven- segmented antennae and one species has recently been reported with eight-segmented antennae. In India, the genus was so far represented by two species with nine- and eleven-segmented antennae respectively.
  • The newly discovered ant species with ten segmented antennae discovered, establish an old world lineage that contains a species emerging as the only model organism among the ant subfamily.

51st IFFI: Awards And Accolades

  • The 51st edition of International Film Festival of India (IFFI) held its coveted award ceremony on the closing day of the festival in Goa at Shyama Prasad Mookerjee Stadium.
  • While Danish World War II drama ‘Into the Darkness’ won the Golden Peacock Award (Best Film), Tzu-Chuan Liu and Zofia Stafiej won the top acting honours.
  • 51st IFFI jury chairman was Pablo Cesar of Germany.

Awards and Accolades

Golden Peacock Award (Best Film)

  • Into the Darkness, directed by Anders Refn won the Best Film (Golden Peacock) award.
  • The film chronicles the complex, emotional turmoil which the people of Denmark had to undergo, during the Nazi occupation of the country.

Silver Peacock Award

  • Best Actor (Male): Tzu-Chuan Liu (Taiwan), The Silent Forest
  • Best Actor (Female): Zofia Stafiej (Poland), I Never Cry
  • Best Director: Chen-Nien Ko (Taiwan), The Silent Forest

Other Awards

Best Debut Director Award: Cássio Pereira dos Santos (Brazil), Valentina

  • Special Mention Award: Kripal Kalita (Assam, India), Bridge
    • Indian film director Kripal Kalita from Assam has brought laurels to the country and the state after winning the IFFI 51 Special Mention Award for his Assamese film ‘Bridge’.
    • ‘Bridge’ reflects the life amidst hardships caused by annual floods in rural Assam.
    • The film tells the story of the annual phenomenon in the state, wherein the mighty Brahmaputra and its tributaries flood many villages and ruin cultivation.
  • Special Jury Award: Kamin Kalev (Bulgaria), February
  • Lifetime Achievement Award: Vittorio Storaro (Italy)
  • ICFT UNESCO Gandhi Award: '200 Meters'
    • Ameen Nayfeh’s 2020 Arabic film '200 Meters' won the ICFT UNESCO Gandhi Award – for best reflecting Gandhiji's ideals of peace, tolerance & non-violence.

  • Indian Personality of the Year Award: Biswajit Chatterjee

Other Felicitations

  • Yesteryear actress Zeenat Aman and Bhojpuri superstar Ravi Kishen were felicitated for their contribution to films.

Modified Scheme To Enhance Ethanol Distillation Capacity

  • To achieve 20% blending by 2025 as well as to meet out the requirement of ethanol production capacity in the country, the Department of Food & Public Distribution has modified earlier scheme & notified the modified scheme for extending financial assistance to project proponents for enhancement of their ethanol distillation capacity or to set up distilleries for producing 1st Generation (1G) ethanol from feed stocks such as cereals (rice, wheat, barley, corn & sorghum), sugarcane, sugar beet etc. or converting molasses based distilleries to dual feedstock.
  • Under the scheme , Government would bear interest subvention for five years including one year moratorium against the loan availed by project proponents from banks @ 6% per annum or 50% of the rate of interest charged by banks whichever is lower for setting up of new distilleries or expansion of existing distilleries or converting molasses based distilleries to dual feedstock.

Objective of this Scheme

  • To boost agricultural economy
  • To reduce dependence on imported fossil fuel
  • To save foreign exchange on account of crude oil import bill
  • To reduce the air pollution

Benefits of Grain based Distilleries

  • Sugarcane and ethanol is produced mainly in three states viz. Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka. Transporting ethanol to far flung States from these three states involves huge transportation cost.
  • By bringing new grain based distilleries in the entire country would result in distributed production of ethanol and would save a lot of transportation cost and thus prevent delays in meeting the blending target & would benefit the farmers across the country.

Targets (Now & Then)

  • The Government had fixed target of 10% blending of fuel grade ethanol with petrol by 2022 & 20% blending by 2030.
  • Now it has been proposed to prepone the 20% blending of ethanol with petrol by 2025.

NCAVES India Forum 2021

Natural Capital Accounting and Valuation of the Ecosystem Services (NCAVES) India Forum 2021 is being organised by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) virtually over three separate days, on 14, 21, and 28 January 2021.

  • India is one of the five countries taking part in this project - the other countries being Brazil, China, South Africa and Mexico.

Implementing Agencies in India

  • In India, the NCAVES project is being implemented by the MoSPI in close collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) and the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC).


  • The NCAVES India Forum will be organized in collaboration with United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD), European Union and UN Environment.


  • The NCAVES Project, funded by EU, has been jointly implemented by the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Secretariat of the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD).
  • Natural Capital Accounting and Valuation of Ecosystem Services (NCAVES) can help integrate the concerns of sustainability and conserving the environment for future use while charting the course for economic development.

NCAVES Status of India

  • Since the work related to environment accounting in India is still in its early stages, primarily because of the large number of subjects to be covered under this domain, India would need a collaborative effort involving various stakeholders, including Line Ministries, state governments, multilateral organizations and research institutions for compiling a complete suite of accounts.
  • With a view to facilitate this collaboration and highlight the uses to which natural capital accounts can be put, especially in the areas of decision making and policy analysis, the ministry is conducting the NCAVES India Forum (in a virtual format).


  • To present India’s achievements in the domain of Natural Capital Accounting (NCA);
  • To prioritize the emerging opportunities for NCA in India;
  • To familiarize stakeholders with the work undertaken by the different international agencies in the area of NCA; and
  • To provide a platform to selected Research Institutions to present their research conducted in the valuation of ecosystem services.

Reserve Bank Of India Introduces The RBI-Digital Payments Index

The Reserve Bank of India has constructed a composite Digital Payments Index (DPI) to capture the extent of digitisation of payments across the country.

The RBI-DPI comprises of 5 broad parameters that enable measurement of deepening and penetration of digital payments in the country over different time periods:

  1. Payment Enablers (weight 25%)
  2. Payment Infrastructure – Demand-side factors (10%)
  3. Payment Infrastructure – Supply-side factors (15%)
  4. Payment Performance (45%)
  5. Consumer Centricity (5%)
  • Each of these parameters have sub-parameters which, in turn, consist of various measurable indicators. The major sub-parameters under each parameter are available here.
  • The RBI-DPI has been constructed with March 2018 as the base period, i.e. DPI score for March 2018 is set at 100.
  • The DPI for March 2019 and March 2020 work out to 153.47 and 207.84 respectively, indicating appreciable growth.
  • Going forward, RBI-DPI shall be published on RBI’s website on a semi-annual basis from March 2021 onwards with a lag of 4 months.

Sagarmala Seaplane Services (SSPS)

Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways is initiating the process of commencing operations of the Seaplane services, on the select routes, under a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) framework through prospective airline operators.

  • The project execution and implementation would be through Sagarmala Development Company Ltd (SDCL), which is under the administrative control of the Ministry.
  • The proposed Origin-Destination pairs under Hub and Spoke model include:
  • various islands of Andaman & Nicobar and Lakshadweep, Guwahati Riverfront & Umranso Reservoir in Assam, Yamuna Riverfront / Delhi (as Hub) to Ayodhaya, Tehri, Srinagar(Uttrakhand), Chandigarh and many other tourist places of Punjab & HP; Mumbai (as Hub) to Shirdi, Lonavala, Ganpatipule; Surat (as Hub) to Dwarka, Mandvi & Kandla; Khindsi Dam, Nagpur & Erai Dam, Chandrapur (in Maharashtra) and/or any other Hub & Spoke suggested by the Operator.

  • One such Seaplane Service is already in operation between Kevadia and Sabarmati Riverfront in Ahmedabad, which was inaugurated on 31st October 2020.

Electricity (Rights Of Consumers) Rules, 2020

  • On 21st December 2020, the Union Ministry of Power has for the first time promulgated rules laying down the rights of power consumers in the country.
  • Distribution companies across the country are monopolies – whether government or private – and the consumer had no alternative – therefore this step will prove a milestone towards the consumers’ rights.
  • These rules are also an important step towards furthering the ease of doing business across the country.
  • Implementation of these Rules shall ensure that new electricity connections, refunds and other services are given in a time bound manner.
  • Willful disregard to consumer rights will result in levying penalties on service providers.

Other Major Provisions

Rights and Obligations

  • It is the duty of every distribution licensee to supply electricity on request made by an owner or occupier of any premises in line with the provisions of Act.
  • It is the right of consumer to have minimum standards of service for supply of electricity from the distribution licensee.

Release of New Connection and Modification in Existing Connection

  • Maximum time period of 7 days in metro cities and 15 days in other municipal areas and 30 days in rural areas identified to provide new connection and modify an existing connection

Reliability of Supply

  • The distribution licensee shall supply 24x7 power to all consumers. However, the Commission may specify lower hours of supply for some categories of consumers like agriculture.
  • The distribution licensee shall put in place a mechanism, preferably with automated tools to the extent possible, for monitoring and restoring outages.

Consumer as Prosumer

  • While the prosumers will maintain consumer status and have the same rights as the general consumer, they will also have right to set up Renewable Energy (RE) generation unit including roof top solar photovoltaic (PV) systems – either by himself or through a service provider.
  • Net metering for loads up to ten kW and for gross metering for loads above ten kW.

Standards of Performance

  • The Commission shall notify the standards of performance for the distribution licensees.
  • Compensation amount to be paid to the consumers by the distribution licensees for violation of standards of performance

Compensation Mechanism

  • Automatic compensation shall be paid to consumers for which parameters on standards of performance can be monitored remotely.

Call Centre for Consumer Services

  • Distribution licensee shall establish a centralised 24x7 toll-free call centre.
  • Licensees shall endeavour to provide all services through a common Customer Relation Manager (CRM) System to get a unified view.

Grievance Redressal Mechanism

  • Consumer Grievance Redressal Forum (CGRF) to include consumer and prosumer representatives.
  • The consumer grievance redressal has been made easy by making it multi-layered and the number of consumers representatives have been increased from one to four.
  • The licensee shall specify the time within which various types of grievances by the different levels of the forums are to be resolved. Maximum timeline of 45 days specified for grievance redressal.

General Provisions

  • Use of online access to various services such as application submission, monitoring status of application, payment of bills, status of complaints raised ,etc., to consumers through its website, web portal, mobile app and its various designated offices area-wise.
  • The distribution licensee shall provide all services such as application submission, payment of bills, etc., to senior citizens at their door-steps.
  • The details of scheduled power outages shall be informed to the consumers. In case of unplanned outage or fault, immediate intimation shall be given to the consumers through SMS or by any other electronic mode along with estimated time for restoration.

Three DRDO Products Handed Over To Three Services

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh handed over three systems developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation to chiefs of the three armed forces.

I. Border Surveillance System (BOSS) (Army)

  • It is an all-weather electronic surveillance system successfully designed and developed by Instruments Research & Development Establishment (IRDE), Dehradun. The system has been deployed at Ladakh border area for day and night surveillance.
  • The system facilitates monitoring and surveillance by automatically detecting the intrusions in harsh high-altitude sub-zero temperature areas with remote operation capability.
  • The system is being produced by Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), Machlipatnam.

II. Indian Maritime Situational Awareness System (IMSAS) (Navy)

  • The IMSAS is state-of-the-art, fully indigenous, high performance intelligent software system that provides Global Maritime Situational Picture, Marine planning tools and Analytical capabilities to Indian Navy.
  • The system provides Maritime Operational Picture from Naval HQ to each individual ship in sea to enable Naval Command and Control (C2). Centre for Artificial Intelligence & Robotics (CAIR), Bengaluru and Indian Navy has jointly conceptualised and developed the product and the BEL, Bengaluru has implemented it.

III. ASTRA Mk-I BVR Missile System (Air Force)

  • It is the indigenously developed first Beyond Visual Range (BVR) Missile, which can be launched from Sukhoi-30, Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), Mig-29 and Mig-29K.
  • Globally, very few countries have expertise and capabilities to design and produce this class of weapon system.
  • Successful development of ASTRA weapon system by Defence Research & Development Laboratory (DRDL) Hyderabad & production by Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL), Hyderabad is a major contribution towards ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’.

Role Of Aerosols Behind High Precipitation Over The Himalayan Region

  • Scientists have found that aerosols like black carbon and dust, which makes the Indo-Gangetic Plain one of the most polluted regions of the world, have led to increased incidents of high rainfall events in the foothills of the Himalayan Region.
  • The Indo-Gangetic Plain is located south and upwind of the Himalayan foothills. The region is associated with high aerosol loading, much of which is black carbon and dust, and thus provides an opportunity for studying how aerosol affects extreme rainfall events, particularly when air mass is forced from a low elevation to a higher elevation as it moves over rising terrain technically called orographic forcing.
  • Scientists highlighted the crucial role of the aerosol direct radiative effect on high precipitation events over the Himalayan region.
  • They showed that particulate emissions can alter the physical and dynamical properties of cloud systems and, in turn, amplify rainfall events over orographic regions downwind of highly polluted urban areas.
  • Thy found clear associations between high precipitation events, high aerosol loading, and high moist static energy (MSE) values (Moist static energy of an air mass includes the potential energy due to its height above the ground and the latent heat due to its moisture content). The findings also highlight the crucial role of the radiative effect of aerosol on high precipitation events over the Himalayan region.
  • The results of the study indicate that aerosols can play a vital role in exciting high precipitation (HP) events over the Himalayas during the monsoon season. Thus, aerosols, including chemistry, are essential to consider when forecasting HP events over the Himalayan region in regional modelling studies.
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