1. Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies (CIHTS)
Context: Prime Minister of India recently honoured the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies (CIHTS) as part of celebrations to mark Buddha Purnima. The PM also highlighted ₹360 crore allocation made for the development of the Buddhist circuit.
- CIHTS is a centrally funded institute that was started in 1967 following a discussion between Dalai Lama and Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in the early 1960s.
- It was started with a view to educating the young Tibetan Diaspora and those from the Himalayan border regions of India, who have religion, culture and language in common with Tibet.
- Originally the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies (CIHTS), began to function as a constituent wing of the Sampurnananda Sanskrit University, and eventually emerged as an autonomous body in 1977 under the Ministry of Culture.
- It is located at Sarnath, Varanasi.
2. Gujarat to offer PNG subsidy
Context: Gujarat is planning to launch the new PNG/LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) Sahay Yojana—an extension to the Ujjwala Yojana.
- The scheme for select urban areas will supplement Ujjwala for BPL-AAY households not covered under Ujjwala to help supply households with clean fuel.
- As per the scheme, the government will pay Rs1,600 as one-time subsidy per connection and Rs1,725 as loan to customers opting for a new PNG connection. As a result, a beneficiary will have to pay only Rs118 to get a new connection and a refundable security deposit of Rs50 per month for a period of 100 months.
- The pipeline infrastructure and maintenance charges will be borne by city gas distribution companies.
About the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana:
Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana aims to provide LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) connections to poor households.
- Under the scheme, an adult woman member of a below poverty line family identified through the Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) is given a deposit-free LPG connection with financial assistance of Rs 1,600 per connection by the Centre.
- Eligible households will be identified in consultation with state governments and Union territories.
- The scheme is being implemented by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.
What makes LPG adoption necessary?
About 75 crore Indians, especially women and girls, are exposed to severe household air pollution (HAP) from the use of solid fuels such as biomass, dung cakes and coal for cooking. A report from the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare places HAP as the second leading risk factor contributing to India’s disease burden.
According to the World Health Organization, solid fuel use is responsible for about 13% of all mortality and morbidity in India (measured as Disability-Adjusted Life Years), and causes about 40% of all pulmonary disorders, nearly 30% of cataract incidences, and over 20% each of ischemic heart disease, lung cancer and lower respiratory infection.
3. ‘Gobar Dhan’ scheme
Context: Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation has launched the ‘Gobar Dhan’ scheme for Nation. The government is also planning to create an online platform for trading cow dung and agricultural waste under the scheme.
What is the GOBAR-Dhan Yojana?
The Galvanizing Organic Bio-Agro Resources Dhan (GOBAR-DHAN) scheme was first announced by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley during his budget speech on February 1. The scheme would focus on managing and converting cattle dung and solid waste in farms to compost, biogas and bio-CNG. It will help in keeping the village clean while increasing the income of farmers and cattle herders.
Benefits of the scheme:
- This is hugely helpful for the country as India is home to the highest cattle population in the world, close to 300 million in number, with a daily output of 3 million tonnes of dung.
- The Scheme will encourage the farmers to consider dung and other waste not just as a waste but as a source of income.
- It will provide many benefits to the rural people. It will be easier to keep the village clean and sanitized, livestock health will improve and farm yields will increase.
- Biogas generation will increase self-reliance in energy utilized for cooking and lighting.
- Farmers and cattle herders will be helped in augmenting their income. There will be novel opportunities for newer jobs linked to waste collection, transportation, biogas sales etc.
- The scheme also provides a stable fuel supply in the market for oil companies and accessible credit in the market through government schemes and banks for entrepreneurs.
4. New Shepard rocket and space capsule
Context: Blue Origin, the US aerospace company owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, has launched its suborbital New Shepard rocket and space capsule. The mission marked the company’s first test flight of the year and second flight of the New Shepard 2.0 spacecraft.
About New Shepard system:
- The New Shepard system is a fully reusable vertical takeoff, vertical landing (VTVL) space vehicle. The system consists of a pressurized capsule atop a booster.
- The name New Shepard makes reference to the first American astronaut in space, Alan Shepard, one of the original NASA Mercury Seven astronauts.
- New Shepard 2.0 space capsule is designed to fly commercial payloads and up to 6 passengers on suborbital space flights for science and tourism. The capsule features giant windows to give future passengers a stunning view of their launch into space.
5. 15th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas:
Context: 15th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas will be held in the holy city of Varanasi in January. It will be organised by the Ministry of External Affairs in association with the Uttar Pradesh government.
Theme: “Role of Indian Diaspora in building a New India”.
About Pravasi Bharatiya Divas:
- Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) is celebrated every year on January 9 to mark the contribution of overseas Indian community in the development of India. January 9 was chosen as the day to celebrate this occasion since it was on this day in 1915 that Mahatma Gandhi, the greatest Pravasi, returned to India from South Africa, led India’s freedom struggle and changed the lives of Indians forever.
- These conventions provide a platform to the overseas Indian community to engage with the government and Indian communities in India for mutually beneficial activities. These conventions are also very useful in networking among the overseas Indian community residing in various parts of the world and enable them to share their experiences in various fields.